The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has confirmed at least one case of the Omicron Covid-19 variant in the North East, but not said which local authorities are affected.
UKHSA has added the North-East to its list of regions where Omicron had been detected this lunchtime. In total UKHSA said there had been a total of 246 cases of the new strain of the virus, an increase of more than 50% since yesterday.
The UKHSA confirmed the variant had been detected in at least one of the North East’s 12 local authorities – that’s those between Northumberland and Redcar and Cleveland.
Over the weekend, health experts warned it was “too late” to effectively halt the spread of the Omicron variant, after it arrived in the UK from South Africa as travel restrictions eased. From Tuesday, all travellers arriving in England will be required to take a Covid-19 pre-departure test.
Ministers said the extra test was intended to be a temporary measure and was in response to new data showing an increase in the number of cases of the new strain linked to foreign travel. Omicron was first detected in the UK on November 27th, and in response the Government brought back in rules requiring the wearing of facemasks in shops and on public transport.
Experts including Newcastle’s Director of Public Health Prof Eugene Milne have also urged people to continue to book vaccine appointments when offered, wear masks and follow social distancing rules to help stop the spread of the variant.
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Rishi Sunak boasts of taking money from ‘deprived urban areas’
A recently leaked video shows the former chancellor saying that Labour “shoved all the funding into deprived urban areas” and that “needed to be undone”.
The video shows the former chancellor proudly telling grassroots Conservatives that he had started changing public funding formulas to ensure more prosperous towns receive “the funding they deserve”.
Shadow levelling up secretary Lisa Nandy reaced to the video saying “Rishi Sunak is openly boasting that he fixed the rules to funnel taxpayers’ money to rich Tory shires.
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Michael Gove proposes House of Lords sit in Sunderland during Parliament refurbishment
Sunderland has been suggested as one of several locations for the House of Lords to relocate to while Parliament undergoes refurbishment.
York had been previously been proposed but the Government vetoed the plans.
Michael Gove, who is Levelling Up Secretary, is said to have written to Lord McFall of Alcluith suggesting locations including Stoke-on-Trent, Burnley and Sunderland.
In the letter, Mr Gove said he knows “cities and towns across the United Kingdom would be pleased to extend their hospitality to peers”.
He is quoted as saying that having “carefully reviewed the proposed arrangements”, he “will not support the use of the QEII Centre as an alternative location”.
The Queen Elizabeth II Centre conference and exhibition space is just a few minutes’ walk from the Palace of Westminster in London.
In the letter, which the Sunday Times said was also sent to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, Mr Gove suggested a move elsewhere in England, Scotland or Wales.
He is reported to have written: “As the minister responsible for levelling up, it is clear to me that the House of Lords moving elsewhere, even for a temporary period, would be widely welcomed.
“I have carefully reviewed the proposed arrangements and…I will not support the use of the QEII Centre as an alternative location.
“I propose to establish dedicated liaison points for you in my department to support you in identifying a suitable location for the House of Lords in the North, Midlands, South West, Scotland or Wales. I would, of course, be happy to meet you to discuss this.”
Keir Starmer visits Sunderland charity
Labour leader Starmer visited the Beacon of Light charity in Sunderland this Valentines Day.
As part of the Labour party’s ‘Security Prosperity and Respect’ tour, Starmer went to see how the charity is helping reduce youth crime.
The Foundation of Light Charity uses the “power of football” to improve lives.
Since it began in 2001, the official charity of Sunderland A.F.C delivers inclusive sport, health and education programmes.
The charity was “delighted” to welcome the politician to the Beacon of Light so he could discover more about their work with Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness.
Whilst visiting, Starmer joined in with some cooking, had a look in the engineering zone and spoke to their Women’s Football and Education scholars.
Starmer announced the new “contract with the British people” based on “security,” “prosperity” and “respect” at the beginning of the year.
He hopes the contract will be for a government “worthy of the fine nation in which we live.”
In a speech in Birmingham, he discussed how Labour is a “national party,” not a “nationalist party.”
He said: “I don’t think you cease to be a patriot because you notice your country has flaws. On the contrary, the reason we in this party want to correct those flaws is precisely because we are patriotic.”
The Labour leader wants to “create a new Britain in the 21st century,” taking after the party’s former leaders Clement Attlee, Harold Wilson and Tony Blair.
He said: “What a record we have! These three chapters of change – Attlee, Wilson and Blair – made Britain a better country. We must be the people who write the fourth chapter.”
In his speech, Starmer hit out at Johnson for acting as if politics is “a brand of the entertainment industry.”
He compared this to his own attitude of it being a “serious business of getting things done.”
What are your thoughts?
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