Tag Archives: panic

Lockdown POLL: Should Boris delay June 21 'Freedom Day' due to panic over new wave?

Next week the Prime Minister will announce the Government’s decision on lifting all restrictions on June 21 but it is feared he may delay the date amid fears over the transmission of the Delta variant. Although the Government has ramped up its vaccine rollout, which now includes those over 25, ministers are believed to have been given a downbeat assessment of the data. Cabinet met this week to discuss measures but, according to inside reports, Sir Patrick Vallance and professor Chris Whitty put forward a plan to delay the lockdown by two weeks due to the variant.

Amid the fears over the new wave of infections, Express.co.uk is asking in today’s exclusive online poll: “Should Boris delay June 21 ‘Freedom Day’ due to panic over new wave?”

According to The Times, the Government’s chief advisers warned the transmission rate of the variant is much quicker than first expected.

They also concluded, vaccinations do not provide 100 percent protection as millions remain unvaccinated across the country.

It is thought the Government may be forced to retain some restrictions moving past June 21 in order to try and curb the spread of infection.

By delaying the June 21 date, it is hoped all over-50s could be fully vaccinated while giving time for the jabs to take full effect.

One cabinet source added: “They emphasised again that the vaccine did not provide 100 per cent protection and there were real concerns about the transmissibility of the new variants.

“I think you’re looking at a delay of between two weeks and a month.

“As long as we have fully opened things up by the school holidays then I don’t think the political damage will be too great.”

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“People have planned on the basis of a full reopening.

“It’s important that the messaging is consistent.”

To combat the spread of the virus, the UK has deployed surge vaccination teams across the country where it has been detected.

In a sign the vaccine strategy is working, the Office for National Statistics has revealed the number of deaths in the week ending May 2 was 9,628.

That number was 232 fewer than the previous week and 312 fewer than five-year average for week 21.

Of the 9,628 deaths registered, 95 mentioned coronavirus which is a decrease of 12 on the previous week.

According to the Government’s own data, 259,941 people received a second shot of the vaccine on June 7.

A further 127,345 received the first shot while 154 people were admitted to hospital taking the total number of a week to 69 – a 0.3 percent drop on the previous seven days.

One death was reported while 5,683 cases were recorded across the country taking the seven day total to 35,796.

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: UK Feed

Polish Air Force hijacking alert sparks panic as plane turned towards the west

Earlier this morning, France News 24 tweeted that hijackers have taken control of the jet over Europe.

But the online news source later tweeted this could also be part of an ongoing training exercise.

France News 24 wrote: “Renegade/Sarex-21 exercises are taking place in Poland.

“Hijacking this aircraft may be an element of these exercises.”

The Polish Armed Forces also referred to the “tactical-special exercise renegade/Sarex-21” aimed at countering terrorist threats from the air, as well as conducting search and rescue operation on land and at sea.

This began on May 17 and is running until tomorrow (May 21).

The Polish Armed Forces wrote on its website: “During the exercise, four episodes will be conducted. The first will concern the abduction of a civilian aircraft as a possible means of terrorist attack posing a threat to national security.

“The second episode will be massevac in connection with the collision of two ships with injured people on burning and sinking units.

“The scenario involves carrying out a rescue operation, rescuing military property and transporting the victims to medical facilities.

“The next two episodes will be related to the conduct of search and rescue operations after air events (application crash of aircraft in hard-to-reach areas).”

The air force explained the training drill is being in airspace over Poland and in areas of the West Pomeranian, Pomeranian and Mazovian provinces.

This involves several military teams, as well as a host of emergency service operations.

The Polish Air Force added: “The main objective of the exercise is to test the capabilities of the Polish Armed Forces and the non-military system, as part of the state security system, to deal with crises specific to the air defence and air and sea rescue systems.

“The organizer of the project is the Operational Command of the Armed Forces of General Bronisław Kwiatkowski.

“The training project will be held in the airspace of The Republic of Poland and in the areas of the West Pomeranian, Pomeranian and Mazovian provinces.

“The exercise will involve, inter alia, the following entities responsible for national security and rescue and rescue operations: Operational Command of the RSZ with subordinate centres and centres, General Command of the Polish Army with subordinate military units, Military Gendarmerie, Territorial Defence Forces, Polish Air Navigation Agency, Police, Border Guard, State Fire Brigade, Maritime Search and Rescue Service, Air Ambulance, Polish Red Cross and military university officers.”

This is a breaking story. More to follow…

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: World Feed

Edinburgh shopping centre panic after 'explosion' – emergency services rush

Pictures posted on social media showed smoke filling the sky of the surrounding area to the shopping centre. One, who posted images on Twitter, wrote: “Just been an explosion outside Westside Plaza Shopping Centre, Wester Hailes – thick black smoke in surrounding air”. The shopping centre is home to a range of shops, including a cinema and supermarkets.
Westside Plaza Shopping Centre confirmed the incident to Express.co.uk.

Emergency services have rushed to the scene. 

It is understood a gas canister caught alight, causing the “explosion”. 

Local fire crews are now on the scene at the shopping centre. 

Police are also thought to be on the scene to attend the blaze. 

As it stands, it is not known if there have been any injuries from the explosion. 

The incident is ongoing as fire crews deal with the fire. 

This is a breaking story…more to follow

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: UK Feed

Brixham Harbour panic as bomb squad scrambled to Devon hotspot – Sea Wolf missile fears

The units rushed to the Brixham Yacht Club this afternoon. According to reports, a trawler landed a large part of a Seawolf missile on the landing berth at the harbour. Royal Navy bomb units have since exploded the Sea Wolf missile.
Royal Navy bomb experts have since blown up the missile out at sea off the harbour after it was brought in on a fishing trawler.

It was blown up 14 metres below the surface and made a ‘pop’ as explosives rigged to the side of it went off, according to bomb officials brought in from Plymouth.

A naval spokesman at the scene told DevonLive: “A fisherman brought in what he thought was an old Sea Wolf rocket. He wasn’t sure of its full type at the time.

“About 9am that came in to Brixham Harbour.

“Police phoned us up, we went up, identified it as a Sea Wolf rocket motor, so low explosive content, and the safest option to us was to take it out to sea and detonate it out at sea.”

He added: “We get in touch with the coastguard, they provide assistance with cordons, they let all the fishermen know…we put our own explosives next to the explosives from the rocket motor, lower that down to the sea bed and then we detonate it on the surface.”

Brixham coastguard confirmed Solent maritime colleagues from Berry Head were involved.

Police officials from the Ministry of Defence are also down at the scene.

One eye witness said: “Bomb disposal hurtling down New Road.”

Others said they had seen teams drive down by the water.

A Sea Wolf is a naval surface-to-air missile system and is an automated point-defence weapon system.

It is designed as a short-range defence against both sea-skimming and high-angle anti-ship missiles and aircraft.

More to follow…

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: UK Feed

Boris Johnson warns lockdown lift could have ‘serious disruption’ amid Indian strain panic

During a briefing at Downing Street on Friday, the Prime Minister said if the new variant was found to be “significantly” more transmissible, there could be “some hard choices”. Over the past week, cases of the strain first detected in India nearly tripled, according to Public Health England.
Mr Johnson explained how there is “no evidence” that the variant can evade vaccines.

He also assured the nation that the next phase of easing lockdown on Monday will continue as planned.

However, the Prime Minister warned that his hopes of lifting lockdown on June 21 could be crushed by the Indian strain.

He said: “I do not believe that we need, on the present evidence, to delay our roadmap and we will proceed with our plan to move to step three in England from Monday.

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He said: “I would urge people just to think twice about that.

“We want people in those areas to recognise that there is extra risk, an extra threat of disruption to progress caused by this new variant and just to exercise their discretion and judgment in a way I’m sure that they have been throughout this pandemic.”

On Friday, official figures showed that the UK has recorded 2,193 COVID-19 cases and a further 17 deaths in the latest 24-hour period.

On Monday, as part of the next stage in the roadmap out of lockdown, people in England will be allowed to meet indoors in homes and hospitality venues.

Non-essential international travel will also be permitted following a traffic light system with ‘green, ‘amber’ and ‘red’ countries.

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: UK Feed

Vaccine rolled out for over-18s in three UK areas as panic rises over Indian variant spike

Fears the Indian Covid variant is spreading in the UK has prompted the government to accelerate the rollout of the vaccine to people over the age of 18 in specific areas. The coronavirus vaccine rollout will kick off in parts of Lancashire amid growing concern at the spread of the Indian variant. 
Jabs will be offered to all remaining adults around Blackburn and Darwen from next week, the council said. 

Officials and NHS partners have secured extra doses of the jab, and will also conduct surge testing in the area after a increase in cases linked to the new deadly strain.

Boris Johnson has previously signalled that local lockdowns may be necessary in hotspots, saying the Government is “anxious” and “ruling nothing out”.

Pressed on the possibility, the Prime Minister replied at lunchtime: “There are a range of things we could do, we want to make sure we grip it. Obviously there’s surge testing, there’s surge tracing.”

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“At the moment, I can see nothing that dissuades me from thinking we will be able to go ahead on Monday and indeed on June 21, everywhere, but there may be things we have to do locally and we will not hesitate to do them if that is the advice we get.”

How worried should we be about the new Indian variant?

Public Health England initially classified the coronavirus variant B.1.617.2, informally known as the Indian variant, as a variant of concern due to evidence it was more transmissible.

However, concerns over the Indian variant have grown in recent weeks as the proportion of Indian variant cases went from one per cent to 11 per cent of COVID-19 infections in England, with other variants less than one per cent.

“We are worried about the Indian variant,” Matt Hancock told Times Radio earlier this week.

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He continued: “You will have seen the very stringent measures that we have taken at the border.

“We have got enhanced tracking and tracing of all of those Indian variants that we see.

“The evidence is that it is much easier to transmit than the original strain and easier to transmit even than the so-called Kent variant which is now the predominant type in the UK.

“It just shows that we have got to be vigilant.”

However, he also stressed: “There isn’t any evidence yet that the vaccine does not work against it, in the same way that the vaccine works very, very effectively against the Kent variant.”

There are also mounting concerns about the full unlocking of restrictions on 21 June.

A member of the government’s scientific advisory committee, Sage, has raised alarm bells while next Monday’s step 3 of easing of restrictions in England would go ahead, concerns over the Indian variant might derail the final step on 21 June.

“A delay is possible,” he told i.

The group of scientists monitoring new variants, COG-UK, has identified a total of 1723 cases of B1617.2, and while some of these will be duplicates, if the figure is confirmed by Public Health England in its weekly update this would be more than triple last week’s number of 520.

Public Health England (PHE) has suggested the variant, first detected in India, is at least as transmissible as B.1.1.7 (the Kent variant).

The cases are spread across the country, however, the majority of the cases are in two areas – the North West (predominantly Bolton) and London – and this is where we are seeing the greatest transmission.

“There is currently insufficient evidence to indicate that any of the variants recently detected in India cause more severe disease or render the vaccines currently deployed any less effective,” reported PHE.

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Health Feed
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AAA Texas: Colonial Pipeline shutdown will have little impact to state gas supply, urges people not to panic

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A message for calm is coming from AAA Texas after many worried what effect the cyberattack against the Colonial Pipeline might have on the state’s gas supply.

Josh Zuber, a spokesman for AAA Texas, said in fact the pipeline’s temporary shutdown would have “little to no impact” on gas availability across the state. More of that concern, he said, should be concentrated for those living in East Coast states because the pipeline delivers about 45% of the fuel used along the Eastern Seaboard.

“Specifically Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia [and] into Delaware, markets within these states are likely to experience reduced fuel availability,” Zuber said.

He said if people stop at gas stations throughout Texas and find any supply issues, that’s more likely due to another issue unrelated to the pipeline.

“If they’re seeing anything, which we haven’t heard any reports in Texas or Austin of low- to no-fuel situations, that’s because of delayed deliveries stemming from a shortage of fuel truck drivers — again, not the Colonial Pipeline,” Zuber said.

“There is ample supply of gasoline in the U.S.,” he added. “It’s just a matter of getting deliveries to stations to meet demand.”

Nationally overnight, AAA reported the average price of regular unleaded is $ 2.98 per gallon — an increase of about a penny. However, Zuber said the average in Texas is $ 2.70 per gallon, making it the third cheapest in the country.

“Yes, we’re going to see fuel prices possibly continue to rise,” Zuber said, “but are there going to be significant jumps? More than likely not throughout the Austin area and Texas.”

He also urged people not to “panic buy” gasoline or to carry extra gas in their vehicles because of the danger that poses.

Even though the price and supply of fuel remained stable in Texas on Monday, experts told KXAN a build-up of supply could shake the state economy.

Author: Will DuPree
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Covid panic: Indian variant spreads across UK as case numbers rise

The Indian variant is believed to be more contagious than previous forms of the deadly virus. It contains a mutation to the spike protein, which allows the virus to penetrate human cells. Scientists have identified three distinct strains of the variant, which was first detected in the UK back in October.
The version causing most concern is known as B.1.617.2, which now makes up the majority of all Indian variant cases in the UK.

It is estimated that more than 500 cases of B.1.617.2 have now been detected across the nation.

Just over a week ago there were only 202 official cases, showing the explosive potential for transmission of this virus strain.

In particular, it is spreading rapidly in London where it could easily become dominant by the end of May or early June, according to Dr Deepti Gurdasani, a clinical epidemiologist and senior lecturer at Queen Mary University of London, who spoke to The Guardian.

Although the virus strain appears to be much more contagious, experts believe that it is not resistant to current vaccines.

It does not have the E.484K mutation that could help the virus avoid detection by the the human immune system and may also impact the efficacy of existing vaccines.

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“This should prompt a complete overhaul of our travel policy for the summer.”

The Prime Minister’s roadmap out of lockdown envisages the return of non-essential foreign travel from May 17.

The Government is planning to introduce a traffic light system, which will determine the risk levels for foreign destinations, along with testing and quarantine requirements.

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: UK Feed

Portugal & Greece holidays: PCR test shortage panic if hotspots make it to 'green' list

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Travel Feed

However, the addition of popular holiday hotspots could cause an “insurmountable problem” according to Mr Boland.

“If Greece opens up and goes onto the green list, or Portugal, one of those big countries and we see hundreds of thousands or even millions of people asking for these tests it’s simply not possible,” he warned.

“That is the truth of the moment. So you face two problems.

“You may struggle to book a test and if you can’t book a test the airline is not going to let you get onboard.

India variant panic: Three cases of terrifying Covid mutation found in Leicester

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: UK Feed

The variant – also known as B.1.617 – was first noted internationally in October and first identified in the UK on February 22. It has 13 mutations including two in the virus’ spike protein known as E494Q and L452R.

Public Health England (PHE) said this morning three cases of the Indian variant were found in Leicester.

Express.co.uk understands local public health officials are not conducting surge testing or mass testing of communities as all cases are all linked to travel from the country. 

It is understood the cases originated from passengers who travelled into the UK before India was officially added to the UK’s coronavirus travel red list.

The restrictions come in response to mounting concern about the number of coronavirus cases in India and the emergence there of a variant of the virus.

As of 4am last Friday, people returning from India must quarantine in a Government-approved hotel for 10 days, while anyone who is not a UK or Irish resident or a British citizen will be banned from entering the country if they have been in India in the previous 10 days. 

Professor Ivan Browne, Leicester City Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “Public Health England notified us on Sunday that it had identified three cases of the variant known as VUI-21-APR in Leicester.

“PHE had already been in touch with the people concerned and some of their contacts.

“Since then we have been working closely with PHE to ensure that all close contacts of those affected are identified and advised to self-isolate for 10 days.

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“Targeted testing is also taking place in a city school as a precautionary measure.”

PHE experts are currently unsure whether any of the mutations mean the variant can be transmitted more easily, is more deadly or can evade the effectiveness of vaccines or natural immunity.

The news on the variant has put pressure on the UK Government on whether to restart International Travel after May 17, with First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford warning the explosive surge in coronavirus cases should give “real pause for thought” on the matter.

Mr Drakeford warned that the improving public health situation in the UK could be put at risk by the “wild card” of an imported strain of the virus from another part of the globe.

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Wales has eight confirmed cases of the Indian variant of COVID-19 from people who have returned from India, with each being monitored by their area’s public health teams.

Mr Drakeford said that an expected third wave of the virus in the UK could be triggered by a newer strain from elsewhere.

He added: “Just remember that there is another sort of big wild card in all of this, and that is the importation of the virus from other parts of the world.

“We have cases of the Indian variant in Wales, as we’ve had cases of the South African variant.

“The UK Government has a very important decision to make about May 17 and the reopening of international travel.

“I really hope that what we’ve seen in India in the last week will give them real pause for thought and that we don’t run the risk of opening up international travel too quickly on too broad a front, and that results in the virus coming back into Wales.

“That could make a difference to all our calculations.”