Tag Archives: America

Reactions as UK offer visas to Hong Kong expats


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Hong Kong expatriates living in Britain have welcomed London’s pledge of “a pathway to future citizenship” for millions of the territory’s residents after China imposed a controversial security law there.

But they warned this “message of hope” would not help many, including those born after Hong Kong’s 1997 return to Chinese rule and now aged over 18 — people at the forefront of protests against Beijing.

“It is helpful — it sends a strong message of hope to Hong Kongers, many of whom are waiting to be rescued from their city,” a 35-year-old financial analyst living in London since 2005, who asked to remain anonymous, said.

With relatives still in Hong Kong, he is very worried about their fate, especially those of university age.

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“These guys won’t be helped directly by this but they are the ones who are more vulnerable — they stopped their university degrees to join the movement,” he added, referring to pro-democracy protests that erupted last year.

Beijing enacted the sweeping security law for the restless city of around 7.5 million people on June 30, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces.

The move has sparked international condemnation.

The UK has said in response it will allow anyone with British National (Overseas) (BNO) status and their dependants — husbands, wives, civil partners and children under 18 years old — to come to Britain.

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They will be able to remain and work for five years, compared to the current limit of six months, before being able to apply for citizenship.

More than 350,000 people currently have BNO passports, and the government estimates there is around 2.9 million eligible for the status in total in Hong Kong.

– ‘Main target‘ –
“This proposal will definitely help some of the people who fear for their life — at least they have somewhere safe to go,” said Abby Yau, 40, a naturalised British citizen after 19 years in the UK.

“But at the same time, I wonder how much it will benefit the majority of the people who are oppressed by the (Chinese) government.”

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Britain created the BNO status ahead of Hong Kong’s 1997 handover, allowing its residents to apply for a form of British nationality and a BNO passport.

But it conferred no automatic right to citizenship, could only be applied before the end of 1997 and cannot be passed on to future generations.

Critics of Britain’s proposed changes note they still fail to help swathes of people who missed out on that opportunity.

“The British government forgets the fact that most of the protesters are from my generation, in particular citizens born between 1997 and 2002,” said another 22-year-old former Hong Kong resident studying in the UK since 2015.

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“These generations have suffered the most throughout the years and now they are the main target of the (Hong Kong) government.

“The British government needs to consider this generation or otherwise, this proposal won’t be meaningful.”

However, he expected “a wave of people fleeing” to Britain once the new immigration measures are formalised.

“Social media such as Facebook has been flooded with questions regarding working in the UK,” he added, noting it reflected “how anxious and hopeless Hong Kongers are at the moment”.

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– ‘Valuable workforce‘ –
Yau said she too had been contacted by friends asking about life in Britain and argued the new arrivals “could be an unbelievably valuable workforce for the UK post-Brexit”.

But she does not expect large numbers to leave Hong Kong, noting not everyone can afford to relocate and navigate Britain’s costly immigration system while others may not want such a different lifestyle.

The 22-year-old Hong Kong emigre echoed the sentiment.

“It will be a big challenge and sacrifice for the sandwich-class in Hong Kong as they work hard throughout their entire life to promote their social status,” he said, referring to the city’s middle class.

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“Immigrating to here would mean restarting a new life as second-class citizens, and their social status might be dropped if they are not professional or wealthy.”

Meanwhile, the financial analyst who left Hong Kong 15 years ago agreed there will be “reluctance” to start over in Britain, but noted two of his relatives who had long been mulling relocating have finally been convinced by recent events.

“Can you call a place home when someone has taken away its core values, freedom and spirit?” he said.

“To me, that place ceased to be home — and the real home for Hong Kongers is where we can carry on contributing as a world citizen.”


#Newsworthy…

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America reveal £30bn package in move to secure Jobs

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The UK government on Wednesday unveiled a package worth £30 billion ($37 billion, 33 billion euros) to save jobs and help the young to work to kickstart the coronavirus-hit economy.

Delivering a mini-budget to parliament, finance minister Rishi Sunak’s measures included bonuses to companies retaining staff and taking on apprentices, investment in ‘green’ jobs and allowing the whole country to enjoy discounted meals in restaurants.


#Newsworthy…

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Another Man shot dead in broad daylight in UK

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A man in his early twenties was reportedly shot dead in broad daylight near a children’s playground in north London.

Metropolitan Police disclosed that they were called at 3.20pm to Roman Way in Islington, north London, following reports of shots fired on Saturday.

According to eyewitnesses, multiple gunshots were heard before seeing someone on a moped speeding away from the area.

Attempts were made to rescue the man who suffered severe gunshots but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

There have been no arrests and police are investigating the case. The area has been sealed off by officers.

A police statement on Sunday July 5, said:

‘Officers were called at 3.20pm on 4 July to Roman Way N7 following reports of shots fired.’

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‘Officers attended with LAS and found a man, believed to be aged in his early 20s, suffering from gunshot injuries.

‘Despite their best efforts, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

“Next of kin have been informed. There have been no arrests and enquiries into the circumstances continue.’

‘The public have a huge role in helping to both prevent and detect crime. ‘We need to hear from anyone who has information about this crime, or about someone they suspect to be carrying a weapon or involved in organised crime.’

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A London Ambulance Service spokesperson said:

‘We were called at 3.21pm to reports of an incident on Atlas Mews, Islington. We dispatched an ambulance crew, three medics in fast response cars and an incident response officer to the scene, with the first of our medics arriving in under four minutes.

‘We also dispatched London’s Air Ambulance. Sadly, despite the efforts of medics, a man died at the scene.’

The shooting incident is coming weeks after the brother Nigerian reality star, Khafi was shot dead in the UK, in what police has described as a case of mistaken identity.


#Newsworthy…

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Election’20: Trump vows to protect American ‘way of life’

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On a day meant for unity and celebration, President Donald Trump vowed to “safeguard our values” from enemies within — leftists, looters, agitators, he said — in a Fourth of July speech packed with all the grievances and combativeness of his political rallies.

Trump watched paratroopers float to the ground in a tribute to America, greeted his audience of front-line medical workers and others central in responding to the coronavirus pandemic, and opened up on those who “slander” him and disrespect the country’s past.

“We are now in the process of defeating the radical left, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters, and the people who, in many instances, have absolutely no clue what they are doing,” he said. “We will never allow an angry mob to tear down our statues, erase our history, indoctrinate our children.

“And we will defend, protect and preserve (the) American way of life, which began in 1492 when Columbus discovered America.”

He did not mention the dead from the pandemic. Nearly 130,000 are known to have died from COVID-19 in the U.S.

Even as officials across the country pleaded with Americans to curb their enthusiasm for large Fourth of July crowds, Trump enticed the masses with a “special evening” of tribute and fireworks staged with new U.S. coronavirus infections on the rise.

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But the crowds wandering the National Mall for the night’s air show and fireworks were strikingly thinner than the gathering for last year’s jammed celebration on the Mall.

Many who showed up wore masks, unlike those seated close together for Trump’s South Lawn event, and distancing was easy to do for those scattered across the sprawling space.

Trump did not hesitate to use the country’s birthday as an occasion to assail segments of the country that do not support him.

Carrying on a theme he pounded on a day earlier against the backdrop of the Mount Rushmore monuments, he went after those who have torn down statues or think some of them, particularly those of Confederate figures, should be removed. Support has been growing among Republicans to remove Confederate memorials.

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“Our past is not a burden to be cast away,” Trump said.

Outside the event but as close to it as they could get, Pat Lee of Upper Dublin, Pennsylvania, gathered with two friends, one of them a nurse from Fredericksburg, Virginia, and none in a mask.

“POTUS said it would go away,” Lee said of the pandemic, using an acronym for president of the United States. “Masks, I think, are like a hoax.” But she said she wore one inside the Trump International Hotel, where she stayed.

By the World War II Memorial, the National Park Service handed out packets of five white cloth masks to all who wanted them. People were not required to wear them.

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Another nurse, Zippy Watt from Riverside, California, came to see the air show and fireworks with her husband and their two daughters, one of whom lives in Washington. They wore matching American flag face masks even when seated together on a park bench.

“We chose to wear a mask to protect ourselves and others,” Watt said. She said her family was divided on Trump but she is “more of a Trump supporter. Being from southern California I see socialist tendencies. I’m tired of paying taxes so others can stay home.”

Pat Lee made the trip from north of Philadelphia after seeing last year’s Mall celebration on TV.

She said the protests over racial injustice that unfolded near her were so threatening that people in her suburban neighborhood took turns staying up all night and those who didn’t own guns stationed bats and shovels in their garages. Her friend from Pennsylvania, who didn’t want to be identified, said she spent more than three hours in line to buy a gun.

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“I want people to stop calling us racists,” Lee said. “We’re not racists. Just because you love your country, love the people in your country, doesn’t make you a racist.”

Trump’s guests on the South Lawn were doctors, nurses, law enforcement officers and military members as well as officials from the administration, said Judd Deere, deputy White House press secretary. He said the event was a tribute to the “tremendous courage and spirit” of front-line workers and the public in the pandemic.

President of United States of America, Donald Trump

In many parts of the country, authorities discouraged mass gatherings for the holiday after days that have seen COVID-19 cases grow at a rate not experienced even during the deadliest phase of the pandemic in the spring.

In New York, once the epicenter, people were urged to avoid crowds and Nathan’s Famous July Fourth hot dog eating contest happened at an undisclosed location without spectators on hand, in advance of the evening’s televised fireworks spectacular over the Empire State Building.

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In Philadelphia, mask- and glove-wearing descendants of the signers of the Declaration of Independence participated in a virtual tapping of the famed Liberty Bell on Independence Mall and people were asked to join from afar by clinking glasses, tapping pots or ringing bells.

Yet Trump continued to crave big crowds when it came to his events.

He opened the holiday weekend by traveling to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota for a fireworks display Friday night near the mountain carvings of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. In stark words, he accused protesters who have pushed for racial justice of engaging in a “merciless campaign to wipe out our history.”

Even as he pushed ahead with celebrations, the shadow of the coronavirus loomed closer to him. Kimberly Guilfoyle, a top fundraiser for the president and girlfriend of his eldest child, Donald Trump Jr., tested positive for the virus, Trump’s campaign said late Friday. Guilfoyle tweeted Saturday that she was looking forward to “a speedy recovery.”

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In a presidential message Saturday morning on the 244th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, Trump acknowledged that “over the past months, the American spirit has undoubtedly been tested by many challenges.”

His Democratic rival, Joe Biden, said in a statement that the U.S. “never lived up” to its founding principle that “all men are created equal,” but today “we have a chance to rip the roots of systemic racism out of this country.”

Trump’s endorsement of big gatherings at the National Mall and at Mount Rushmore came as many communities decided to scrap fireworks, parades and other holiday traditions in hopes of avoiding yet more surges in infection.

Confirmed cases were climbing in 40 states, and the U.S. set another record Friday with 52,300 newly reported infections, according to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

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Trump did not dwell on the pandemic in his remarks Saturday evening. Instead, he declared that “our country is in great shape.”

Trump has been aching to see the nation return to normalcy, and has been willing to push the envelope farther than many states and big city mayors are willing to go.

For Trump and the country, it was yet another holiday clouded by a pandemic that the U.S. has failed to bring under control.

In late March, a little more than a week after he bowed to the need to shut down much of the country, Trump spoke of reopening with “packed” churches by Easter Sunday. He relented on that push as his medical advisers warned that it was far too ambitious. Then he spent chunks of his Memorial Day weekend fuming about critics who he said were ignoring falling cases and deaths at the time.


#Newsworthy…

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Angry Trump blast left wing cultural revolution at Mt. Rushmore

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President tells supporters at July 4 celebration that racial justice protests threaten foundations of US society.


United States President Donald Trump railed on Friday against “angry mobs” that tried to tear down statues of Confederate leaders and other historical figures, warning thousands of supporters at Mount Rushmore that protesters were trying to erase the country’s history.

The speech and fireworks on the eve of the US Independence Day came against the backdrop of a pandemic that has killed more than 125,000 people across the country.

The event drew 7,500 people, packed tightly into an amphitheatre. Many did not wear masks, defying the advice of public health officials who have urged people to avoid large gatherings to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Trump, speaking underneath the famed landmark depicting four US presidents, warned that recent demonstrations over racial inequality threatened the foundations of the country’s political system.

“Make no mistake, this left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American revolution,” Trump said.

“Our children are taught in school to hate their own country,” he added.

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The president announced that he would create a “National Garden of American Heroes”, which he described as a large outdoor park featuring statues of “the greatest Americans who ever lived”. He did not provide further details.

In the nationwide unrest following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis, protesters in several cities have vandalised the statues of Confederate generals that led a rebellion against the US government during the 1861-65 Civil War.

Attendees listen as Donald Trump speaks at South Dakota’s US Independence Day Mount Rushmore fireworks celebrations [Tom Brenner/Reuters]

‘Angry mobs’
Protesters in one instance unsuccessfully tried to pull down a statue of Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the US, outside the White House. Jackson, known for his populist policies, owned slaves and forced thousands of Native Americans from their homes.

“Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders, deface our most sacred memorials, and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities,” Trump said.

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“They think the American people are soft and weak and submissive. But the American people are strong and proud, and they will not allow our country, and all of its values, history, and culture to be taken from them.”

He lamented “cancel culture” and charged that some on the political left hope to “defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children”.

“There is a new far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance. If you do not speak its language, perform its rituals, recite its mantras, and follow its commandments then you will be censored, banished, blacklisted, persecuted, and punished. Not gonna happen to us,” he added.

Trump has opposed proposals to rename US military bases that are named after Confederate generals and promised harsh punishment for people who damage statues.

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The evening programme was not an official campaign event, but Trump’s remarks touched on key campaign themes meant to energise his political base ahead of the November 3 election.

Reporting from the city of Alexandria in Virginia, NRM described Trump’s speech at Mount Rushmore as a “political call to arms”.

President Donald Trump attends US Independence Day Mount Rushmore fireworks celebrations in Keystone, South Dakota, July 3, 2020 [Tom Brenner/Reuters]

“A couple of facts though,” she said. “First, a lot of the statues that have been targeted by anti-racism protesters were in fact then removed by local governments. And the other is that these statues in large part celebrated people who fought for the confederacy, which sought to enshrine slavery as a political and economic reality in the southern half of the US. And those statues were raised not in the 19th century. But in the middle of the 20th century, during the last prominent wave of civil rights activism in this country.

She added: “Now, that doesn’t matter to Donald Trump. He is running for re-election and his numbers are down.”

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Trump has presided over several large-crowd events – in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and at an Arizona megachurch – even as health officials warn against large gatherings and recommend face masks and social distancing. He plans a July Fourth celebration on the National Mall in Washington, DC despite health concerns from the city’s mayor.

James Warren, the executive editor of News Guard, told Media that Trump had showed a total disregard for the health crisis facing the country.

“This was as Trumpian as you can get. He took this iconic backdrop and you had a president who was clearly and in a somewhat self-absorbed way likening himself to those four great folks. And doing it, as you will notice, without a mask, on a day in which we had broken national records for those testing positive,” he said.

“It was, even by Trumpian standards, rather rhetorically bombastic, to liken the protesters – people who symbolised the great presidents behind him – to fascists and totalitarians.”

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Mount Rushmore, which depicts US Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, has not hosted a fireworks spectacle since 2009 because of environmental concerns.

Trump advocated for a resumption of the display, and the state says the surrounding Black Hills National Forest has “gained strength” since then and that fireworks technology has advanced.

Native American protesters were arrested after blocking a road to the South Dakota landmark, according to video livestreamed on social media. They have criticised Trump’s visit for increasing the risk of spreading COVID-19 and for celebrating US independence in an area that is sacred to them.

South Dakota, a solidly Republican state, has not been hit as hard as other states by COVID-19, but cases in Pennington County, where Mount Rushmore is located, have more than doubled over the past month.


#Newsworthy…

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First Epidemic change America

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Americans never saw it coming. Hardly anyone in Philadelphia, the nation’s temporary capital, noticed the first to die in the summer of 1793, a few weeks after the celebration of Independence Day: a few foreigners, an oyster seller in the waterfront slums. When more poor began to die, respectable people shrugged it off as a passing “putrid fever” brought on by rotted fish or perishables heaped on the docks. Then the young, healthy wife of a Baptist minister died, then at an ever-accelerating pace businessmen, ministers, magistrates, law officers, federal officials, men and women, the old and the young, masters and servants, the pious and the dissolute alike. It quickly became clear that no one was safe.

The plague that was sweeping through the city was yellow fever, one of the deadliest and least-understood contagions of the time. It was the nation’s first epidemic and it threatened not only to destroy what was then its largest city, home to some 40,000 people, but also its fragile new government, which had formed barely four years earlier. It was a terrifying warning that life as Americans knew it could be snuffed out overnight by a phenomenon that no one could control.

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Businesses collapsed. Schools and newspapers closed. The post office shut. For weeks, not a single ship dared to enter Philadelphia’s harbor. Each morning yielded a new crop of corpses. They lay putrefying where they fell in homes and streets. Frightened neighbors nailed shut the doors and windows of their infected neighbors’ homes, leaving them to die. The most basic bonds of civility and the most intimate family ties frayed and snapped. Doctors, fearing for their own lives, abandoned the ill. The poorhouse turned away the needy. Parents abandoned their infected children, and children their parents, husbands their wives, and wives their husbands. An estimated 20,000 people fled, or tried to. Terrified refugees seeking hoped-for safety in rural New Jersey or further afield were driven from town to town, many of them to die alone by the roadside.

For nearly two months, the United States had no government. George Washington, a vulnerable sixty years old, was convinced to escape to the safety of Mount Vernon. He handed over management of the government to Secretary of War Henry Knox, who panicked and fled north in hope of reaching New York, but then was stuck for weeks in forced quarantine at Elizabeth, New Jersey. Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton caught the fever and almost died, while every member of his staff left town.

Some claimed the city’s suffering was God’s just punishment for Philadelphians’ sinful pride. Others swore that tobacco smoke, or camphor slung around the neck, or clouds of gunpowder would stem infection; for a time, soldiers rolled cannon around the streets, firing every few yards. Benjamin Rush, the city’s most celebrated physician, preached a horrific regimen of relentless purges and bloodletting, asserting that while effete Europeans probably couldn’t endure such a treatment it was perfectly suited to hearty, republican Americans. He bled one man twenty-two times and drained him of 176 ounces of blood. He probably killed more patients than he saved.

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When the city’s fate seemed most hopeless, its least respected citizens stepped forward to do what no one else would. It was at first believed – erroneously, as would soon be seen — that Africans were far less susceptible to infection. Although slavery would soon end in Pennsylvania, it was still legal under certain conditions and racism was widespread. Black people were mostly restricted to the lowliest jobs. Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and an early abolitionist, begged the leaders of the city’s 2,000 free Black people for help. Absalom Jones and Richard Allen, the founders of the first AME churches, agreed. If their followers acted now as a people, they reasoned, then possibly whites would abandon their prejudices and embrace them as brothers. “Much depends upon us for the help of our color more than many are aware,” they wrote. “We intreat you to consider the obligations we lay under to help forward the cause of freedom.” Even as Black people died at the same rate as white people, volunteers – including both Jones and Allen — remained at work tending the sick, feeding the abandoned, preparing medicines, collecting bodies, supplying coffins, and carting the dead to graveyards with at least a modicum of respect. They could not stop the epidemic, but they restored a fragile sense of human dignity to a despairing city that had sunk close to barbarism.

Woodcut print depicts yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia, 1793. Carriages rumbled through the streets to pick up the dying and the dead. Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

In November, with the onset of cold weather, the number of infections mercifully tapered off. By then the epidemic had killed at least 5,000 people, about 12 percent of the city’s population, and many more in surrounding areas. Unknown numbers were sickened but survived. Commerce slowly revived. Members of the government trickled back. But Philadelphia would never be quite the same. Its reputation as a safe and healthy place to live was irreparably damaged for years to come. Before the epidemic, Pennsylvanians had confidently believed that they would win back the designation of the country’s permanent capital from the upstart site on the Potomac River, which they typically disparaged as a malarial swamp. Such voices were now stilled forever.

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A more significant impact of the epidemic was its effect on both Black and white Philadelphians’ attitude toward race. Once-docile Black people saw white people stripped of their aura of invulnerability as their manifest fear and selfishness demolished trust in their authority. “Many of the white people that ought to be patterns for us to follow after have acted in a manner that would make humanity shudder,” wrote Jones and Allen. In the furnace of the epidemic, the Black community had forged a new self-confidence as a community along with a determination to fight lingering bigotry with the power of faith and compassion. White support for antislavery grew. By the early 1800s, it became virtually impossible to enforce the Fugitive Slave Law in Pennsylvania, thereby laying the foundation for the Underground Railroad and for lasting collaboration in biracial antislavery activity.

It would be another century before scientific researchers discovered that the carriers of yellow fever were mosquitos, which had bred in the cesspits of Philadelphia. Although other cities escaped Philadelphia’s grim fate in 1793, thanks to the harsh quarantines imposed by other states, the fever would return periodically throughout the decade, leaving few places on the East Coast completely untouched.

Over time, memory of Philadelphia’s trauma faded beneath the impact of later epidemics such as the cholera scares of the mid-nineteenth century and the Spanish flu of 1918. But it still offers some lessons as the nation, and the world, wrestle with the continued onslaught of the coronavirus. Fortunately, in the midst of this new pandemic, as we guardedly celebrate another Independence Day, we have medical resources that the Americans of 1793 couldn’t imagine, and we understand the nature of infection even if we still can’t fully control it. However, like our forbears, Americans are today painfully learning that the failure to anticipate an epidemic after the first warning signs can be fatal. It also showed just how thin, in a time of crisis, the line between stability and political, moral, and economic collapse may be. As the Black citizens of Philadelphia demonstrated, however, compassion and self-sacrifice have the power to restore civilization and human dignity even in the midst of the cruelest catastrophe.


#Newsworthy…

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George Floyd’s Death: UK Rapper, J. Cole join Protesters


On Saturday (May 30), American Rapper J. Cole joined demonstrators in his hometown of Fayetteville, North Carolina N.C. to protest police violence, in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn on May 25.

Cole, along with fellow Fayetteville native and NBA player Dennis Smith, were spotted among the people. Cole reportedly declined to take pictures and do interviews as to not distract from the moment. However, his presence was definitely felt.

“J. Cole has joined the protest in downtown Fayetteville, NC. So remember all the rappers who were out here donating and supporting when its time to buy albums,” one person noted on Twitter after seeing him in attendance.

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“THIS is why J Cole will always be my favourite artist. He has always been so vocal about systematic oppression and racism and he’s now at the protests today. KING,” another person posted.

This isn’t the first time Cole has marched for a major cause. Back in 2014, he marched with protesters in New York City over the killing of Eric Garner. The following year, he was spotted at the Justice or Else Rally in Washington D.C. put on by The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March.


#Newsworthy…

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SpaceX’s Screwed Launch Save America’s Status.


You never know what you’ve got til it’s gone. And if you don’t believe that, consider the national jubilation at 3:22 PM EDT Saturday afternoon, when an American rocket carrying an American crew lifted off from American soil for the first time since 2011, carrying astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station (ISS). The successful launch comes just a few days after Wednesday’s initial attempt was scrubbed due to weather.

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The last time there was this kind of U.S. hoopla for a mere flight to low-Earth orbit might have been the first time, on February 20, 1962, when John Glenn became the first American to orbit the planet. Orbital flight has since become routine, with 135 missions flown by the space shuttle fleet alone. But when the last shuttle was retired in 2011, America became a grounded nation—even a humbled nation—reduced to hitching rides aboard Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft at a cool $80 million a seat. So Saturday’s launch, aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft, sends one signal more powerfully than any other: when it comes to space, America is back.

“This is a big moment in time,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in a press conference earlier this week. “It’s been nine years since we’ve had this opportunity.”

It’s not just the fact that America is flying again, it’s the way that it’s flying. Saturday’s launch was the result of 10 years of work under NASA’s commercial crew program, an initiative begun in 2010 to get the space agency out of the business of flying astronauts to and from low-Earth orbit and turn the job over to private companies. NASA would then buy the services of the commercial providers like any other customer, freeing up the space agency to concentrate its human-exploration efforts on crewed missions to the moon and Mars. The space agency concedes that for today’s flight it is in many ways the junior partner.

“SpaceX is controlling the vehicle, there’s no fluff about that,” said Norm Knight, a NASA flight operations manager, in a conversation with the Associated Press.

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But in truth, the program was never truly as private-sector as it seemed. After NASA selected both SpaceX and Boeing to develop and build the new crew vehicles, it paid the companies $6.8 billion—$2.6 billion to SpaceX and $4.2 billion to Boeing—in research and development funding, and contracted with them to ferry cargo and crew to the space station once they had built working ships.

Both companies were supposed to begin flying crews as early as 2016, and both are clearly well behind schedule. Boeing looked like it might be the first out of the gate after the uncrewed test launch of its CST-100 Starliner in December 2019. But while the spacecraft made it safely both to orbit and back home, a software failure caused it to use too much maneuvering fuel, preventing it from achieving its principal objective of docking with the ISS. Boeing now needs to repeat the uncrewed flight—and get it right this time—before it will be permitted to carry astronauts. That left the field clear for SpaceX to be first—an opening it took advantage of with Saturday’s launch.

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Credit for SpaceX’s big win goes in large measure to the company’s proven line of hardware, including its workhorse Falcon 9 rocket. Counting its maiden flight in June 2010, it had 83 launches before today’s, in some cases ferrying satellites to orbit for paying customers, in other cases making cargo runs to the ISS. Part of the secret of the Falcon 9’s reliability is its simplicity. Rather than design entirely different rockets for different payload sizes, SpaceX goes by a simple more-is-better rule. Its first rocket, the Falcon, used a single engine, powered by kerosene and liquid oxygen. The Falcon 9, true to its name, uses a cluster of 9 of the same engines; and the Falcon Heavy, the bruiser of the SpaceX fleet, lifts off under the power of a whopping 27 engines, arranged in three clusters of nine.

What further sets the Falcon 9 apart from its competitors—such as United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V or Europe’s Ariane 5—is its reusable first stage. Instead of just dumping the spent stage in the ocean when the rocket is partway to space, SpaceX designs its first stages to fly back to a landing platform and touch down on extendable legs, allowing them to be refurbished and re-used. So far, there have been 41 such successful landings, and 31 first stages have flown more than once. The result: cost savings. SpaceX advertises its services at $62 million per launch, compared to $165 million for Atlas or Ariane.

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The Dragon spacecraft is similarly reusable. The Cargo version of the spacecraft has been flown 22 times—21 of which involved resupply missions to the space station. Nine of the launches have involved vehicles that already had undergone at least one previous flight. The interior space of the Crew Dragon is configurable to hold from two to seven astronauts. It stands 8.1 m (26.7 ft) tall and is 4 m (13 ft) wide. That’s a big jump over the old Apollo spacecraft at 3.2 m (10.5 ft) tall and and 4 m (13 ft) across. And again, while the very purpose of the commercial crew program was get the government out of the business of designing spacecraft for low-Earth orbit, no one pretends that with NASA’s own astronauts in the seats, the space agency itself would not be at least a collaborator in the design process.

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“[SpaceX] had this vision of how the Crew Dragon should look, feel and operate,” says John Posey, lead engineer for NASA’s Crew Dragon team. “But we had two-way communication as we started building components, testing components, test flying components, just making sure that we were always working together and coming in towards the best, optimized solution.”

Behnken and Hurley were good choices for the maiden Dragon mission. Both are veterans of two space shuttle missions, and Hurley, fittingly, was one of the crew members aboard the final space shuttle mission in 2011. Despite all that, once they reach the ISS, they will be just two more crew members, the 64th such crew to launch to the station in the 20 years it has been continuously occupied. They will join NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, getting the station’s crew complement closer to its customary six.

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Behnken’s and Hurley’s stay will be relatively short, as space station visits go. They will remain aboard for at least a month, though in no case will they remain for longer than 110 days, since the current Crew Dragon is not rated for a longer stay in the punishing environment of space. (Ultimately, the Dragon will be required to be certified for a 210-day stay.) Part of what will determine when the two new arrivals will come home will be the progress Boeing makes in developing its Starliner. There are only two docking ports aboard the station; one is now occupied by the Russians’ Soyuz rocket and the other will accommodate the Dragon. If Starliner is ready for its scheduled uncrewed test flight before the Dragon’s 110 days are up, Behnken and Hurley will have to climb aboard and clear out to make room.

But all of that is for later. Today is for savoring the simple fact that the U.S. has once again rejoined the family of space-faring, astronaut-launching, future-gazing nations. The nation that for generations led the world in the exploration of space is now poised to reclaim that mantle.


#Newsworthy…

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Another Nollywood Actor elate as he welcome his new born baby in UK – Christens him


Fast rising Nollywood actor, Seun Jimoh has announced the birth of his new born baby in the United States of America.

On this day of our God, Dolabomi is born. We give thanks

Sharing a picture of the new born on Instagram, Seun Jimoh wrote ” On this day of our God, Dolabomi is born. We give thanks”

The actor who happens to be one of the finest in the industry, also shared beautiful pictures of his wife’s pregnancy photo-shoot. He wrote “God is real, God is great. He always shows up! The journey was filled with grace and mercy.

When the world was saying there is a casting down we kept experiencing a lifting up. We give thanks”


#Newsworthy…

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Joe Biden keep mute on whether Klobuchar would run alongside him.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden is joined on stage by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) during a campaign event on March 2, 2020 in Dallas, Texas. Klobuchar has suspended her campaign and endorsed Biden before the upcoming Super Tuesday Democratic presidential primaries. Ron Jenkins–Getty Images


Joe Biden said Thursday he knows what qualities he’s looking for in his vice-presidential pick but stressed that he was far from a decision.

“I honest to God don’t know who — I promise you — right now,” he said on CBS’s “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”

Asked about reporting that Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota had agreed to be vetted, Biden said “no one’s been vetted yet by the team.”

Biden said the lawyers working on the search are wrapping up a process of reaching out to a “preliminary list of people” to “ask them general questions” including “what are they interested in, why would they be interested in the job or not interested in the job.”

Pressed by Colbert on whether Klobuchar is on his short list, Biden responded that she’s “first rate” but said he wasn’t “getting into” where she stands in the process.

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He described vetting, which he underwent in 2008 to become Barack Obama’s running mate, as “a very invasive process” of looking at past votes, financial statements and health records. He suggested that one reason why he wouldn’t volunteer a list of names under consideration is “because if someone’s not chosen the presumption is not necessarily true that there must be something wrong.”

Biden said that as he considers his choice, he is keeping in mind the advice he received from an Obama aide. “The best way to put it is what one of Barack’s close advisers, who’s also a friend, said, ‘think to yourself: You’ve got an important decision, who’s the last person you want in the Oval Office to talk to you?’”

Biden has said he will choose a woman to be his vice president.

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Others believed to be in contention are California Senator Kamala Harris, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto. And earlier Thursday, Florida Representative Val Demings said she was on Biden’s “short list.”

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said she has been asked for references, and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer told NBC’s “Today Show” on Tuesday that she’d had opening conversations with the campaign about joining the ticket.


#Newsworthy…

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UK-Based Doctor slam Pastor David Ibiyeomie over COVID-19


A UK-based doctor identified as Idee Charles has berated popualar Nigerian Cleric and founder of Salvation Ministries, Pastor David Ibiyeomie over his recent comment about Coronavirus.

Pastor David Ibiyeomi had earlier claimed that there is no Coronavirus in Nigeria while stating that that the virus is just a scheme for leaders to steal.

Reacting to the claims made by the Salvation Ministries founder, Dr Idee accused him of being ignorant even though he studied microbiology in school. She accused Pastor Ibiyeomie of deceiving his gullible followers knowing fully well that the virus has killed many around the world, including her colleagues who are health officials.


#Newsworthy…

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Rap God, Eminem Celebrate Relapse. [America]


American rapper, Marshall Bruce Mathers, who is popularly known as Eminem, celebrated one of his albums “Relapse”.

The rapper took to Twitter to mark the 11th anniversary of the hit album.

“For old time’s sake #Relapse11,” he wrote on Twitter while sharing a clip.

Relapse debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and 608,000 copies were sold in its first week.

It also reached number one in twelve other countries.

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Relapse is an album that revolves around a “serial killer vibe”, drug rehabilitation and relapse.

However, Eminem is currently involved in helping people of Detroit amid the coronavirus pandemic through his Marshall Mathers Foundation for which he has also received support from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.


#Newsworthy…

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American Actor, Jerry Stiller Dies At 92.

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Veteran actor and comedian Jerry Stiller, who found fame on Broadway and later in the smash US show “Seinfeld” has died from natural causes aged 92, his son, the Hollywood star Ben Stiller, said on Monday.

Stiller Snr and his wife Anne Meara starred on the stage and TV in the 1960s, writing and performing comedy sketches and routines together.

He later played George Costanza’s short-tempered father Frank on the smash TV show “Seinfeld,” for which he won the Funniest Male Guest Appearance in a TV Series at the American Comedy Awards in 1998.

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He was nominated for an Emmy award the year before for the same role.

He also played Leah Remini’s father in the sitcom “The King of Queens” and starred alongside Ben in the “Zoolander” films.

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“I’m sad to say that my father, Jerry Stiller, passed away from natural causes,” the award-winning actor and director said in a tweet.

“He was a great dad and grandfather, and the most dedicated husband to Anne for about 62 years,” Stiller added. “He will be greatly missed. Love you Dad.”

Jason Alexander, who played George in “Seinfeld,” described his screen dad as a “beloved friend.”

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“He was perhaps the kindest man I ever had the honour to work beside,” Alexander tweeted.

“He made me laugh when I was a child and every day I was with him. A great actor, a great man, a lovely friend.”


#Newsworthy ..

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United Kingdom extends lockdown to 3 more weeks.

The UK government has announced that the lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the Coronavirus will remain in place for three more weeks.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab made the announcement this night during daily No 10 briefing saying that after a review they concluded that relaxing the measures now would risk harming public health and the economy.

Relaxing the lockdown measures now would “risk a second peak in the virus … [and] undo the progress we’ve made to date,” inflicting further damage to the economy, Raab told reporters.

“The worst thing we can do now is to ease up too soon … so the current restrictions will remain in place,” he said.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel but we are now at both a delicate and a dangerous stage in this pandemic.

“If we rush to relax the measures that we have in place we would risk wasting all the sacrifices and all the progress that has been made.

“That would risk a quick return to another lockdown with all the threat to life that a second peak to the virus would bring and all the economic damage that a second lockdown would carry.”

Mr. Raab, deputising for Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he recovers from his Coronavirus infection added that the review concluded that the measures were working, but there was evidence the infection was spreading in hospitals and care homes.


#Newsworthy…

American stage actor, ‘Brian Dennehy’ dies at 81.


Veteran American stage and screen actor, Brian Dennehy, has died at the age of 81.

Dennehy, a two-time Tony Award winner whose career spanned five decades died of natural causes in Connecticut on Wednesday night, ICM Partners announced in a statement.

“It is with heavy hearts we announce that our father, Brian passed away last night from natural causes, not Covid-related,” his daughter Elizabeth tweeted.

“Larger than life, generous to a fault, a proud and devoted father and grandfather, he will be missed by his wife Jennifer, family and many friends.”

Dennehy co-starred in a long list of popular movies, was known on the big screen for roles in films such as Cocoon, Presumed Innocent, Tommy Boy, Romeo + Juliet and Gorky Park. For his breakthrough role was a local sheriff who clashes with Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo in First Blood.

Dennehy won a Tony for his role in “Death of a Salesman,” later playing the part in a TV production of the play. He received another for “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.”

Most recently he was seen in the NBC crime series The Blacklist and he will be seen posthumously on the big screen in Son of the South.

Dennehy is survived by his wife, costume designer Jennifer Arnott, and his five children, Elizabeth, Kathleen, Deirdre, Cormac and Sarah.


#Newsworthy…

Claims: 22 Million Americans Jobless.


After three consecutive weeks of jobless claims in the millions, another 5.245 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits for the week ending April 11.

This is according to figures released Thursday by the U.S. Labour Department.

Since June 2009, the U.S. economy added over 20 million jobs.

But in just the last four weeks, unemployment claims have reached 22 million.

Economists were predicting 5.5 million jobless claims for the week ending April 11.

The prior week’s figure was revised higher to 6.615 million from the previously reported 6.606 million claims.

Meanwhile, continuing claims hit 11.976 million for the week ending April 4, fewer than economists’ estimates of 13.26 million.

In the prior week, continuing claims hit a record 7.455 million.

Some economists believe the number of claims will steadily begin falling from previous highs in the coming weeks.

“While we believe the magnitude of increases in claims have moved passed the peak, the cumulative number is still rising, likely reaching the range of 25 million over the next few weeks,” Morgan Stanley economist Jan Kozak said in a note Wednesday.

Most U.S. states have now implemented “shelter-in-place” orders.


#Newsworthy…

UK COVID-19 case, death high again.


The coronavirus death toll in the UK went higher again on Thursday with 861 more deaths announced.

This took the tally to 13,729, about one-tenth of the global total of 136,990 as at 1500 GMT.

However, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel for the country.

The number of new infections has remained stable with just 4,618 people diagnosed in the past 24 hours, despite a spike in testing.

NHS England confirmed 740 people died in its hospitals.

They were aged between 28 and 103.

Forty of them had no other health conditions before catching the virus.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland announced a combined 121 more deaths.

The death toll is the highest in five days, since Saturday last week, but the rise was not unexpected.


#Newsworthy…

I receive U.S stimulus payment despite entry ban – Nigerian Singer, Runtown.


Douglas ‘Runtown’ Agu, Nigerian R&B singer, says he received a COVID-19 stimulus payment from the US government despite the entry ban the country placed on him.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to prompt national and regional lockdowns across countries, global leaders have continued to rethink measures to cushion the economic impact of the crisis.

President Donald Trump had signed the historic $2.2 trillion emergency relief package into law, with cheques of up to $1,200 to be handed out to affected Americans not considered dependent.

The stimulus plan is reported to come with bolstered unemployment insurance, single payments to persons, loans, healthcare funding, and grants to companies targeted at discouraging layoffs.

Runntown, who was said to have been banned from entering the United States in 2018, took to his Twitter page on Thursday to reassure fans that he would share his package with them.

“Got stimulus payment from the US. Will share it with my friends here. Plot twist: Been banned from the US for two years now,” he wrote to his 1 million followers.


So far, COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by coronavirus, has claimed the lives of over 28,500 people in the US while about 644,348 cases have been recorded.

Globally, more than 2 million people have been infected with over 135,000 lives lost across more than 200 countries. As of April 16, Nigeria had 407 cases with 12 deaths and 128 recoveries.


#Newsworthy…

Trump says US deaths from COVID-19 to be 60,000 & ‘substantially’ under 100,000


US President Donald Trump predicted that the death toll from coronavirus in the United States could reach 60,000, noting that the figure was “substantially” lower than the minimum figure of 100,000 estimated last month.

Speaking at the daily White House coronavirus briefing, on a day when global deaths from the virus passed 100,000, Mr Trump claimed the fatality rate in the US was “very low compared to other countries”.


The president said that “in the midst of all this grief and pain” there were positive signs that the country was nearing the peak of cases. Much of this was due to his administration’s “aggressive strategy”, he said. “We are saving so many lives compared to what it could have been.

“Nationwide the number of new cases is flattening substantially, suggesting we are nearing the peak and our comprehensive strategy is working,” he added.


Amid reports that the president was considering reopening the country as early as May 1st, Mr Trump insisted he would listen to the health experts before making a decision. He said he would be announcing the formation of a task force next week to look at ways of reopening the economy.

“I want to get [the country] open as soon as possible. This country was meant to be open, to be vibrant,” he said.


#NewsWorthy

COVID-19: UK PM, Boris Johnson spent night in intensive care as case worsen.


Mr Johnson, 55, is “in very good hands”, said Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is standing in for the PM and chaired the government’s daily meeting.

World leaders have sent messages to Mr Johnson wishing him well.


It comes as Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove became the latest politician to go into quarantine.

Mr Gove said he was self-isolating at home, after a family member showed mild symptoms. He is not suffering any symptoms and will work from home.


He was moved as a precaution so he could be close to a ventilator – which takes over the body’s breathing process, NobleReporters learnt

Mr Gove said: “The prime minister’s not on a ventilator. He has received oxygen support.”


If there is any change in his condition “No 10 will ensure the country is updated”, Mr Gove added.

As the first secretary of state, Mr Raab is the minister designated to stand in for Mr Johnson if he is unwell and unable to work.


Mr Raab said earlier there was an “incredibly strong team spirit” behind the prime minister and that he and his colleagues were making sure they implemented plans Mr Johnson had instructed them to deliver “as soon as possible”.

Mr Johnson is the first major world leader to have announced he had the virus
Some politicians have called for greater clarity on what Mr Raab’s role as deputy entails, including Tory MP Tobias Ellwood who asked for details “as to where responsibility for UK national security decisions now lies”.


Lord Heseltine, who served as deputy prime minister under John Major, said it will be a “very difficult personal position” for Mr Raab, who “will be tested by the loneliness of the job”.

“He will be surrounded by lots of people who know what Boris Johnson said, believe Boris will be quickly back and have their own personal agendas anyway,” he said.


Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said the government will “continue to work” as decisions are made collectively by the cabinet.

He also sounded a warning to people who have broken social distancing guidelines, saying: “I hope people who may have wandered out the other day and decided they can sit around having barbecues will really think about this carefully and recognise this is serious.


“If the most powerful man in Britain can come down with this, so can you”.

Mr Johnson was initially taken to hospital for tests after announcing 11 days ago that he had the coronavirus. His symptoms included a high temperature and a cough.


Earlier on Monday, he tweeted he was in “good spirits”.

Mr Gove is the latest cabinet minister to self-isolate, after Mr Johnson, Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Scottish secretary Alister Jack.


The government’s chief medical adviser Prof Chris Whitty and the PM’s adviser Dominic Cummings also spent time self-isolating after showing symptoms.

The Queen has been kept informed about Mr Johnson’s health, Buckingham Palace said. She also issued a message thanking healthcare workers for their “selfless commitment and diligence” to mark World Health Day.


It comes as the number of coronavirus hospital deaths in the UK reached 5,373 – an increase of 439 in a day.

The Department of Health and Social Care said there were now 51,608 confirmed coronavirus cases.


Separate figures from the Office for National Statistics have been released, showing the majority of coronavirus deaths are happening in hospitals but some are in hospices and care homes.

Among those who have sent messages to Mr Johnson was Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who described it as “terribly sad news”.


“All the country’s thoughts are with the prime minister and his family during this incredibly difficult time,” he added.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Vladimir Putin wished Mr Johnson a speedy recovery, saying he was “convinced that your energy, optimism and sense of humour will help you overcome the disease”.


US President Donald Trump said Americans “are all praying for his recovery”, describing Mr Johnson as “a very good friend of mine and a friend to our nation” who is “strong” and “doesn’t give up”.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said his thoughts were with the prime minister and his pregnant partner, Carrie Symonds, and that Mr Johnson would “come out of this even stronger”.

On Saturday, Ms Symonds said she had spent a week in bed with the main symptoms. She said she had not been tested for the virus.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was “sending [Mr Johnson] every good wish”, while Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster added she was “praying for a full and speedy recovery”.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: UK death toll rise near 5,000.


The UK coronavirus death toll is now close to 5,000 after another 621 people died in the last 24 hours.

The new figure, which is lower than the record 708 deaths reported on Saturday, takes the country’s fatalities to 4,934.


Confirmed cases released by the Department of Health also jumped by 5,903.

The national total rose to 47,806 out of close to 200,000 tested for the virus.


Britain is now the fifth among countries with high death figures.

Italy leads with 15, 362 deaths, excluding Saturday’s figures.


Spain follows with 12,418 deaths. U.S. is third with 8, 454, while fourth-placed France has 7,560 deaths.

Iran’s death toll of 3,603 is now the world’s sixth highest, with China’s 3,329 the world’s seventh.

Queen Elizabeth is scheduled to address Britons at 7pm today.


#Newsworthy…