G7 summit fantastic opportunity for Cornwall

Hosting the G7 summit in Cornwall will provide a “fantastic opportunity” to showcase the county on the world stage, local leaders have said.

Carbis Bay, near St Ives, will host the event in June, with incoming US President Joe Biden among the world leaders set to attend.

Visit Cornwall estimates the summit could provide a £50m economic boost.

Cornwall Council’s leader said he was “determined that this event delivers a lasting legacy for our residents”.

Juilan German said the G7 summit, set to take place from 11 to 13 June, was “a fantastic opportunity to showcase the best of Cornwall and the UK on the world stage, and to build our strength and prosperity at home”.

The UK, US, Germany, France, Canada, Italy and Japan make up the G7 and leaders from Australia, India, South Korea and the EU are also due to attend as guests.

International delegates are set to stay at the Tregenna Castle Resort and other locations around Cornwall, while Cornwall Airport Newquay and the National Maritime Museum Cornwall in Falmouth will also play an official role.

Kim Conchie, from Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, said there was a “need to make sure the love is spread” around the county and “make sure people in Bude and Saltash are as proud of the fact this event is coming… as people in St Ives and Falmouth”.

Mr Conchie said people should not be surprised Cornwall had been chosen because it had “exactly the sort of economy that the world is going to be interested in as the 21st Century moves into full gear after Covid”.

He pointed to “floating offshore wind, our digital businesses, our premium food and drink businesses [which are] produced ethically and with a huge interest in provenance”.

Mr Conchie warned there was a need to get the event “right” in a way sympathetic to the deprivation in the county, adding: “There will be people who don’t want this to be an excuse for another glossy coating of Cornwall.”

The £50m economic boost for the region suggested by Visit Cornwall includes an increase in future tourism.

Chief executive Malcolm Bell said the summit would showcase Cornwall’s beauty, adding: “The G7 leaders’ summit will focus the world’s press and TV on this very special place and this exposure is promotion we could never buy.”

Devon and Cornwall Police’s Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer said the force had been preparing for the summit, which will require a high level of security, for several months, including speaking to colleagues who had managed similar events.

“It provides an opportunity for all my colleagues to demonstrate our operational excellence and world-class policing skills on a global stage,” he said.

“We are excited to be playing our part working with and supporting our partners to deliver a safe and secure G7 summit.”

Peter Andrew MBE, chair of Corserv Group, which will support the event’s logistical arrangements, said: “We are committed to ensure that the event is a great success for Cornwall and see it shine on the world stage.”

Weather and flood warning as Wales set for three-day rainstorm

People are being warned of potential flooding to their homes and businesses as a three-day rainstorm is forecast to batter most of Wales.

The Met Office has issued a yellow ‘be aware’ rain weather warning from 18:00 GMT on Monday until 18:00 on Wednesday.

Up to 200mm of rain expected to fall, with the heaviest rain forecast for the north west of both Wales and England.

Forecasters warned heavy rainfall and snowmelt across hills could lead to properties and roads being flooded.

The Met Office warn spray and flooding could lead to “difficult driving conditions and some road closures” and the downpours could cause delays or cancellations to train and bus services

Forecasters also said fast flowing and deep floodwater “could cause a danger to life”.

The Met Office warned flooding could lead to some communities being cut off and possible power cuts.

Strong winds will also follow the torrential rain, with forecasters predicting this may cause “travelling difficulties across areas higher and more exposed routes”.

Covid: Nurseries teetering on the edge during pandemic

Nurseries are “teetering on the edge” and will “find it hard to survive with next-to-no funding” as children are kept home in lockdown, an owner said.

Little Stars near Pontypool has seen numbers drop by 35% – and Emma Matthews says nurseries are “running on empty”.

Unlike schools, they have remained open and an industry association wants support so they are around to “provide places for children in the future”.

A Welsh Government spokeswoman said funding was available through councils.

Describing childcare workers as “frontline”, the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) Cymru also called for anxious staff to be made a priority for the Covid vaccine as they work with little protective equipment.

“We feel we have poured our heart into serving families and want acknowledgement for the early years and the vital part we play in the community,” Ms Matthews said.

Little Stars furloughed some staff during the lockdown last March, with nurseries open for children of keyworkers only.

They reopened fully last summer and this has remained under Welsh Government guidance.

However, many parents have decided not to send children – some because they are adhering to stay-at-home rules, are self-isolating, have lost their jobs and are struggling to pay bills, or are on furlough.

“The reasons are varied and valid why parents decide to pull children out,” Ms Matthews added.

“The situation isn’t great and some say ‘we will wait and see next week’. It’s very difficult to formulate a plan then or to furlough. We are teetering on the edge.”

Before coronavirus, the nursery looked after 65 children each day – but last week, 47 attended, made up of six babies, nine tots, 12 toddlers and 20 pre-schoolers.

There were also 11 babies due to start in January – but only one is attending because of reasons such as new mothers extending their maternity leave.

Ms Matthews believes facilities should be open for children of keyworkers only – allowing nurseries to access support for those not attending.

A baby, a toddler and a staff member from Little Stars had coronavirus – and employees are worried for themselves and their families.

They are unable to wear personal protective equipment because of their close contact with children, and describing workers as “frontline” who “keep the economy going”, Ms Matthews said they should be in the priority group for the vaccine and weekly testing.

“Social distancing is the challenge,” she added.

“Face, space and hands… we can only do hands. The others are impossible.”

The facility received a grant of £10,000 at the start of the pandemic and a rate relief grant of £1,000, but Ms Matthews wants more support.

“It’s about valuing the service,” she said. “It wasn’t a very stable industry pre-Covid. But it’s made it very fragile now.”

The Welsh Government has been urged to give more help, allowing nurseries to survive and “provide places for children in the future” by NDNA Cymru.

It also said early years staff “must be a priority for the vaccine to enable them to continue providing support for our youngest children and their families”.

“We all know it’s impossible to social distance from toddlers and babies who need close care from nappy changing to the contact and affection that supports their development and learning,” added chief executive Purnima Tanuku.

A Welsh Government spokeswoman said while the rates of coronavirus in Wales remain high, cases in children under five continue to be relatively low.

“Childcare providers have worked very hard to ensure settings are safe, with low numbers of children on site,” she added.

The spokeswoman said funding is provided to councils, enabling them to help childcare settings experiencing financial difficulties and the Childcare Offer for Wales continues to be in place for all eligible children.

“We are following the advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation about the people who should be vaccinated first – all those in the priority groups will be immunised as safely and as quickly as possible,” she added.

Children’s commissioner Sally Holland said she”empathises with the concerns of staff” and thanked them for their work “during an extremely difficult period”.

“Nurseries play a really important part in young children’s wellbeing and development,” she said.

“Any services that can remain open for children is to be welcomed due to the importance for their health and wellbeing.”

Covid-19: 22 further virus-related deaths announced in NI

Twenty-two more Covid-19-related deaths have been announced in Northern Ireland on Saturday.

It brings the total number of deaths recorded by the Department of Health since the start of the pandemic to 1,581.

A further 705 cases were also announced by the department on Saturday.

Sixty-two Covid patients are currently in intensive care in Northern Ireland’s hospitals, with 45 being ventilated.

There are 840 Covid hospital inpatients.

In the Republic of Ireland, 60 more Covid-related deaths were announced on Saturday, of which 59 occurred in January and one in December.

There has now been a total of 2,595 Covid-19 related deaths in the Republic.

The Irish Department of Health also announced 3,231 confirmed cases of the virus.

While numbers can’t reflect the real human cost of the pandemic, they can give us an insight into how we are doing in our battle against Covid-19.

Deaths are counted in different ways by authorities in Northern Ireland.

The Department of Health counts the number of people who die within 28 days of a having a positive Covid test. This is published daily on the department’s dashboard.

The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) counts the number of death certificates that mention Covid-19, regardless of whether that person had a test for the virus. This is usually published on Friday mornings.

This means that the two numbers will always be different. Both numbers are helpful in assessing the impact of the virus in Northern Ireland.

But there are other ways of measuring the death toll rather than just the raw numbers.

One is the Department of Health’s rolling seven-day average death rate. This is a good indicator of whether the death rate is rising or falling.

During the first wave of the pandemic, this rolling average peaked at 14 between April 22 and 24 April 2020.

This time round, that figure was eclipsed, peaking at 18 between 10-11 January, but it now looks to be falling.

The rolling average indicates trends over time – and it now shows that Northern Ireland is going through a longer, tougher peak in comparison to the first wave.

Another way of interpreting statistics around the Covid death rate is to look at how many people have died in comparison to the population. And this is frequently expressed as deaths per 100,000 people.

Using information from health departments,

However, this measure (like most others) has its flaws: It doesn’t take account of societal differences like age, health and wealth of a population, all of which can have a bearing on the eventual impact of Covid.

So, let’s look at another way of analysing Covid death rates – by comparing the number of deaths to the number of positive cases, over the course of the pandemic.

This gives us a rate which is much easier to visualise and it gives us some indication about outcomes for those people who have had the virus.

And it starts to show a clear difference between the island of Ireland and Great Britain.

In Northern Ireland, out of every 60 positive Covid cases, we can expect one person to die.

In the Republic of Ireland, the equivalent rate is one death in every 65 positive cases.

However, England, Scotland and Wales all have considerably worse rates by comparison. Indeed, Scotland’s equivalent rate is one in every 30 positive cases – double the rate seen in Northern Ireland.

The speed at which the infection is spreading is another indicator of how we’re faring against coronavirus.

The Department of Health publishes detailed figures about the infection rate. The BBC’s data unit also collates and analyses figures from across the UK.

Both of these sets of data are calculated to give a rate of infection per 100,000 population over the course of a week.

Long gone are the days when areas in Northern Ireland had some of the worst infection rates in the UK.

But that is not to say that Northern Ireland’s infection rate is low. It is not. It’s just that some places in England have much higher rates.

The figures suggest that the infection rate in Northern Ireland is starting to fall after a bad start to the year.

Recent areas of concern have been in south Armagh and south Down.

According to BBC figures for the week up to 10 January, the Newry, Mourne and Down council area had the highest infection rate in Northern Ireland, with 750 cases per 100,000 people.

The infection rates published by the Department of Health allow for analysis by postcode and indicate that areas in south Armagh have the highest prevailing infection rate.

Comparing these rates to the Republic of Ireland is not straight forward. The Republic calculates its infection rates over a different time span.

That said, all indications are that border areas – both north and south – have high infection rates.

There have been more people in Northern Ireland’s hospitals suffering from Covid in January than at any point in the pandemic.

And the difference is stark.

At the peak of the first wave, there were 354 people in hospital with Covid-19 on 8 April 2020.

This has been dwarfed in the new year – with a peak of 933 inpatients in Northern Ireland’s hospitals on 10 January.

However, ICU beds are not under quite the same pressure as previously.

Of the 834 people in Northern Ireland’s hospital with Covid, 62 are in intensive care.

While this is a positive, hospitals are currently running at a 95% occupancy rate, and at times this figure has exceeded 100%.”

Northern Ireland’s vaccination programme has been a leading light – not just for the UK, or even Europe, but right across the world.

The UK was one of the first nations to start vaccinating, and has a good record to date in the speed at which vaccines are being rolled out.

And Northern Ireland has been the quickest of all parts of the UK.

So far, more than 110,000 people – almost 6% of the entire population – have been vaccinated.

Almost 20,000 of those have received their second dose.

The Republic of Ireland has managed to vaccinate almost 2% of the population – while obviously lower than Northern Ireland, that remains one of the best vaccination rates in Europe.

Read more: What is Northern Ireland’s Covid-19 vaccine plan?

Home Office working to restore lost police records

Work to restore hundreds of thousands of fingerprint, DNA and arrest records accidentally wiped from police databases is ongoing, the Home Office has said.

Around 400,000 records were lost, according to The Times, which first reported the story.

The Home Office did not comment on how many records were likely to be restored, or how long it would take.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the issue was “a result of human error”.

Data was wiped from the Police National Computer (PNC) – which stores and shares criminal records information across the UK – after being inadvertently flagged for deletion.

The PNC is used in police investigations and provides real-time checks on people, vehicles and crimes, as well as whether suspects are wanted for any unsolved offences.

The coding that caused the problem was introduced in November 2020, and the deletions started earlier this week.

Initially, it was thought some 150,000 records were lost, but it since has emerged the number could be significantly higher.

Commenting on the error, Ms Patel said: “Engineers continue to work to restore data lost as a result of human error during a routine housekeeping process earlier this week.

“I continue to be in regular contact with the team, and working with our policing partners, we will provide an update as soon as we can.”

Earlier, Labour shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds called on Ms Patel to take responsibility for the error and be clear about the impact it had had.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, he described the situation as “extraordinarily serious”, adding: “Priti Patel will be responsible for criminals walking free.

“We’re not going to be able to link suspects to crime scenes without the DNA and fingerprint evidence.”

The National Police Chiefs’ Council said the lost data had resulted in a couple of “near misses” for serious crimes when trying to identify an offender.

Policing minister Kit Malthouse insisted the affected records “apply to cases where individuals were arrested and then released with no further action”.

He added: “We are working to recover the affected records as a priority. While we do so, the Police National Computer is functioning and the police are taking steps to mitigate any impact.”

Arrests at Birmingham anti-lockdown protest

Eleven people have been arrested after an anti-lockdown protest in Birmingham.

West Midlands Police had warned people against attending the city centre protest, but said “sadly nearly 150 people chose to ignore our pleas”.

Police and crime commissioner David Jamieson said he was “outraged” people had travelled to “protest against lockdown measures that are keeping us safe”.

The force said the 11 people who were arrested remain in custody.

Ch Supt Kim Madill said: “Although under normal circumstances we accept and protect people’s right to protest, under current legislation, attending a protest is not considered an exception to leaving your house and is unlawful.”

Ch Supt Madill said while some of the protesters had listened to police who asked them to move on “a large amount chose to ignore our pleas and put the safety of themselves and others at risk”.

Officers on routine patrols around the city centre also issued 25 fixed penalty notices to people who were failing to follow the rules, the force said.

The rate of coronavirus infections for Birmingham is 721.6 per 100,000 people in the seven days to 11 January, down slightly from 752.5 in the previous week.

Covid-19: Further 1,295 deaths recorded in the UK

A further 1,295 deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test have been reported in the UK, the third-highest daily total since the pandemic began.

It brings the total number of deaths by this measure to 88,590.

There have also been a further 41,346 lab-confirmed cases, and 4,262 more people have been admitted to hospital.

On Friday, England’s chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty said he feared the “peak of the deaths” was yet to come.

The latest figures come ahead of Monday’s change in travel rules for the UK, with all arrivals having to quarantine amid fears over new strains.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the changes at a Downing Street news conference on Friday, saying they would “protect against the risk of as yet unidentified new strains” of Covid.

While daily figures can fluctuate due to delays in reporting, the seven-day average of Covid deaths in the UK has now risen slightly to 1,103.

For cases, however, there has been a drop in the seven-day average, with the figure now at 48,565.

There are now 37,475 people in hospital with the virus, government figures show.

On Friday, Prof Whitty said the number of patients being admitted to hospital with coronavirus is set to peak within the next 10 days.

And he added that he hoped the peak in infections had already happened in the South East, East and London, where there was a surge in the new, more transmissible variant.

“The peak of deaths I fear is in the future, the peak of hospitalisations in some parts of the country may be around about now and beginning to come off the very, very top,” he said at a Downing Street briefing.

“Because people are sticking so well to the guidelines we do think the peaks are coming over the next week to 10 days for most places in terms of new people into hospital.”

However, chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance stressed it was a “suppressed peak” that would “boil over for sure” if controls were eased.

He said: “This is not the natural peak that’s going to come down on its own, it’s coming down because of the measures that are in place.

“Take the lid off now and it’s going to boil over for sure and we’re going to end up with a big problem.”

RAF veteran receives Covid jab at Salisbury Cathedral

Salisbury Cathedral has been transformed into a vaccination centre with an RAF veteran being one of the first to receive the Covid-19 jab.

Former Flight Sergeant Louis Godwin, 95, gave a thumbs-up after being vaccinated in the cathedral, which dates back more than 800 years.

“I was so pleased to get it, especially in a setting like this,” he said.

Organisers were aiming to vaccinate 1,000 people aged over 80 with the Pfizer/BioNTech jab on Saturday.

Mr Godwin, a great-grandfather of 12, joined the RAF aged 18 in 1943 and served as an air gunner during World War Two.

“I’ve had many jabs in my time, especially in the RAF. After the war, I was sent to Egypt and I had a couple of jabs which knocked me over for a week,” he said.

“This one, the doctor said to me ‘well that’s done’ and I thought he hadn’t started. So it’s no trouble at all and no pain.”

Stella Bennett, 88, said she felt “safer” after receiving the jab.

“It was easy. I live on my own so it has been hard but I’ve managed. At least I’m at home and not in hospital with it,” she said.

Derek Burnett was also among those inoculated against the virus on Saturday.

“I feel unbelievably relieved as lockdown has been a big strain. It takes a big weight off my mind,” said the 81-year-old.

The Very Rev Nicholas Papadopulos, Dean of Salisbury described the vaccines as “a real sign of hope for us at the end of this very, very difficult year”.

“I doubt that anyone is having a jab in surroundings that are more beautiful than this so I hope it will ease people as they come into the building,” he said.

Coronavirus: William and Kate hear from emergency workers

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been told the pandemic will leave many emergency workers “broken”

Many police and NHS workers are too concerned with battling the pandemic to look after their mental health, they were told.

Insp Phil Spencer from Cleveland Police said staff did not engage enough with counselling “because we don’t want to take anybody else’s valuable time”.

Prince William said he “really worries” about the effect on front-line workers.

“When you’re surrounded by that level of intense trauma and sadness and bereavement, it really does, it stays with you at home, it stays with you for weeks on end,” he said.

Insp Spencer said emergency workers “run towards danger, run towards a terrorist attack, we run towards the pandemic”.

“Perhaps further down the line when all this is gone we’re going to have some broken police officers and emergency services staff, because we’re too busy focusing on protecting the most vulnerable,” he said.

The couple also spoke to counsellors from Hospice UK’s Harrogate-based Just B support line for NHS staff, social care workers, carers and emergency services, which their foundation helps financially.

The prince said he feared “you’re all so busy caring for everyone else that you won’t take enough time to care for yourselves”.

He and Catherine said the stigma surrounding seeking help for mental health issues must end.

Gerry Marsden: Funeral held for Pacemakers star

The funeral of Gerry and the Pacemakers singer Gerry Marsden has been held at a church near his beloved River Mersey.

Marsden died, aged 78, in hospital on 3 January following a blood infection.

As the frontman in the band Gerry and the Pacemakers, his hits included Ferry Cross The Mersey and a cover version of You’ll Never Walk Alone.

Ex-Liverpool boss Sir Kenny Dalglish was among the mourners at the funeral which had to remain small because of Covid restrictions.

Sir Kenny managed the club at the time of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, which led to the deaths of 96 fans who were attending an FA Cup game between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

While You’ll Never Walk Alone had been sung by Liverpool fans since its 1963 release, the song became an anthem for the club following the tragedy.

Sir Kenny said: “You’ll Never Walk Alone has huge meaning to the lives of Liverpool supporters around the world and is synonymous with the club.

“He will be sadly missed by those who knew him and the millions he never got to meet.”

You’ll Never Walk Alone was played during the funeral by a guitarist while a version of Marsden singing Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying, a song he wrote for his wife Pauline, also featured.

She said: “We, his family, are totally devastated and have been so moved and amazed at the extent of the respect, love and affection received from all over the world.

“When the time is right and we have come out of this terrible pandemic we hope a fitting memorial can be held for him in the city he loved so much.”

Referring to the lyrics from Ferry Cross the Mersey, close friend Arthur Johnson said: “He lived close to the banks of the Mersey for all his life and as the words of his song say: ‘This land’s the place I love and here I’ll stay’.”

Liverpool City Region mayor Steve Rotheram said: “I feel privileged he let me into his life, although that makes his passing even more painful.”

In 1962, Beatles manager Brian Epstein signed up Gerry and the Pacemakers and, a year later, they became the first band to have their first three songs top the charts – How Do You Do It, I Like It and You’ll Never Walk Alone.

They were one of the successes of the Merseybeat era, with former Beatles star Sir Paul McCartney saying at the time of Marsden’s death that: “Gerry was a mate from our early days in Liverpool”.

“He and his group were our biggest rivals on the local scene.”