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Chinese man acquitted of murder hugs mother and wife for the first time after 27 years in prison

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chinese man acquitted of murder hugs mother and wife for the first time after 27 years in prison

A Chinese villager has been acquitted of murder after being wrongfully convicted of killing two boys in 1993 and put on death row subsequently.

Zhang Yuhuan, 52, cried inconsolably when he finally met and hugged his 83-year-old mother as well as his ex-wife in their rural village after proving his innocence yesterday.

Mr Zhang, who had spent nearly 27 years in prison, claimed that police had tortured and threatened him to force him to confess to the crime.

Footage shows vZhang Yuhuan, 52, embracing his mother and his ex-wife after being declared a free man in China

Footage shows vZhang Yuhuan, 52, embracing his mother and his ex-wife after being declared a free man in China

He had been jailed for nearly 27 years before being acquitted of murder

He had been jailed for nearly 27 years before being acquitted of murder

Footage shows Zhang Yuhuan, 52, embracing his mother and his ex-wife after being declared a free man in China. He had been jailed for nearly 27 years before being acquitted of murder

Touching footage shows the emotional man breaking down in tears during the long-awaited family reunion.

He held his elderly mother and former partners in his arms tightly upon his return to his home in the Zhang Family Village of the Jinxian County in southern China’s Jiangxi Province.

Overcome by emotion, his ex-wife collapsed on the scene and had to be taken to hospital for treatment, according to video outlet Pear

Another clip shows Mr Zhang crying and embracing his long-separated younger son, who was only a toddler when he was unfairly arrested. His elder son was four at the time.

Mr Zhang's ex-wife, Song Xiaonv, and their younger son are seen waiting for the man to return after he was declared a free man on Tuesday.

Mr Zhang's ex-wife, Song Xiaonv, and their younger son are seen waiting for the man to return after he was declared a free man on Tuesday.

A picture circulating on social media shows Mr Zhang and Ms Song together before he was unfairly arrested

A picture circulating on social media shows Mr Zhang and Ms Song together before he was unfairly arrested

Mr Zhang’s ex-wife, Song Xiaonv, and their younger son are seen waiting for the man to return (left) after he was declared a free man on Tuesday. A picture (right) circulating on social media shows Mr Zhang and Ms Song together before he was unfairly arrested. They divorced in 2001

In the space of nearly three decades, Mr Zhang and his family never gave up hope and repeatedly appealed against the court’s ruling.

His ex-wife, Song Xiaonv, supported Mr Zhang all along, but the couple decided to divorce in 2001 because they were unsure whether or not the man would ever leave prison.

Mr Zhang finally proved his innocence on Tuesday when the Jiangxi Provincial High People’s Court withdrew its suspended death sentence for the man from 2001.

The court made the U-turn after questioning the authenticity of Mr Zhang’s confessions, according to a statement. It also claimed that no direct evidence could prove that the man had killed the children. 

In the space of nearly three decades, Mr Zhang and his family never gave up hope and repeatedly appealed against the court's ruling

In the space of nearly three decades, Mr Zhang and his family never gave up hope and repeatedly appealed against the court's ruling

Another video clip shows Mr Zhang crying and embracing his long-separated younger son, who was only a toddler when he was forced to leave his family behind and imprisoned

Another video clip shows Mr Zhang crying and embracing his long-separated younger son, who was only a toddler when he was forced to leave his family behind and imprisoned

Another video clip shows Mr Zhang crying and embracing his long-separated younger son (right), who was only a toddler when he was forced to leave his family behind and imprisoned

The controversial case dates back to a fateful day of October 1993, when the bodies of two boys, aged six and four, were found in a pond in the Zhang Family village.

As the boys’ neighbour, Mr Zhang was identified as the main suspect and arrested by police two days later.

In January 1995, the Intermediate People’s Court of Nanchang gave Mr Zhang a suspended death sentence with a two-year reprieve after finding him guilty of intentional homicide.

Death sentence with reprieve is a type of death sentence under the Chinese Criminal Law. The convicted individual is given a two-year reprieve from the execution.

At the end of the two-year term, the sentence will be reduced to life imprisonment if the individual does not commit further crimes within the period.

Overcome by emotion, Mr Zhang's ex-wife collapsed during the reunion and was hospitalised

Overcome by emotion, Mr Zhang's ex-wife collapsed during the reunion and was hospitalised

Ms Song's younger son is filmed carrying her mother to an ambulance after she had fainted

Ms Song's younger son is filmed carrying her mother to an ambulance after she had fainted

Overcome by emotion, Mr Zhang’s ex-wife collapsed during the reunion and was hospitalised

Mr Zhang had admitted to the crime to the police, but he insisted that he had made forced confessions due to threats, blackmailing and torture during interrogations.

Two months later, the provincial high court demanded the intermediate court retry the case due to ‘unclear facts and insufficient evidence’.

But a retrial was not held until November 2001 for unknown reasons, and the intermediate court stood by its original ruling.

Mr Zhang appealed against the decision, but the court rejected his petition, reported state-run China Daily without giving more details. 

While serving his jail sentence, Mr Zhang insisted on his innocence. His family sent numerous documents to judicial departments to help him get another hearing.

Mr Zhang officially sent a petition to the Jiangxi Provincial High People’s Court in August 2017, demanding the judge review the verdict.

In March last year, the high court decided to reopen the case, and a trial was held on July 9 this year.

On August 4, the court retracted the suspended death sentence on Mr Zhang and declared him a free man. He returned to his home village on the same day.

A handout shows Mr Zhang in court during a retrial on July 9 in the provincial high court

A handout shows Mr Zhang in court during a retrial on July 9 in the provincial high court

A handout shows Mr Zhang in court during a retrial on July 9 in the provincial high court

The court retracted Mr Zhang's suspended death sentence and declared him a free man

The court retracted Mr Zhang's suspended death sentence and declared him a free man

The court retracted Mr Zhang’s suspended death sentence and declared him a free man

Tian Ganlin, the judge responsible for the case at the high court, was quoted saying: ‘After we reviewed the materials, we have found there is no direct evidence that can prove Zhang’s conviction.

‘So we accepted the prosecutors’ suggestion and have declared Zhang innocent.’

The high court said relevant officials from the court had apologised to Mr Zhang for the wrongful conviction and informed him of his rights to apply for compensation from the state.

His lawyer, Wang Fei, said they were discussing an acceptable amount of payout. He also said that they planned to hold those who had committed judicial miscarriages in the case legally responsible.

Wang told Shangyou News after the retrial: ‘I am not just defending Zhang Yuhuan, but the numerous Zhang Yuhuans in the entire society.

‘If you think about it, faced with cruel, forced interrogations, anybody could become the next Zhang Yuhuan.’

The lawyer continued: ‘I suggest the court provide the information of the inspectors and those who participated in the forced confession to supervisory authorities to be dealt with.’ 

It remains unclear who, or if anyone, is responsible for the boys’ deaths 27 years ago. 

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Prankster mother recreates moment daughter wrote off her Mini… by baking her a cake of the crash

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prankster mother recreates moment daughter wrote off her mini by baking her a cake of the crash

Lovingly crafted it may be, but this birthday cake was hard to swallow for its mortified recipient.

Samantha Stone’s mum gave her a sponge replicating the crash site where she wrote off her new Mini days before her 21st.

Alex, 41, invited the whole family round for a surprise party, where she brought out the cake revealing the embarrassing mishap.

Samantha, a special effects make-up student, said: ‘I was so upset about losing my car so she said she would make me a special cake. 

Samantha Stone's mum gave her a sponge replicating the crash site where she wrote off her new Mini days before her 21st

Samantha Stone's mum gave her a sponge replicating the crash site where she wrote off her new Mini days before her 21st

Samantha Stone’s mum gave her a sponge replicating the crash site where she wrote off her new Mini days before her 21st

‘The lights went out and in front of everyone she brought it out while everyone was singing happy birthday. 

‘I was like ”Oh my god” then I just burst into laughter. She’s such a comedian.

‘The worst part is my grandad who bought me the car knew nothing about it. He was just happy that I was ok.’ 

Samantha, of Nottingham, bruised her knee in the crash when the car skidded off the road and hit a tree.

She added: ‘I didn’t realise what it was at first but as soon as I realised what she had done I nearly died.

Alex, 41, invited the whole family round for a surprise party, where she brought out the cake revealing the embarrassing mishap

Alex, 41, invited the whole family round for a surprise party, where she brought out the cake revealing the embarrassing mishap

Alex, 41, invited the whole family round for a surprise party, where she brought out the cake revealing the embarrassing mishap

Samantha, a special effects make-up student, said: 'I was so upset about losing my car so she said she would make me a special cake. I was like ''Oh my god'' then I just burst into laughter. She's such a comedian'

Samantha, a special effects make-up student, said: 'I was so upset about losing my car so she said she would make me a special cake. I was like ''Oh my god'' then I just burst into laughter. She's such a comedian'

Samantha, a special effects make-up student, said: ‘I was so upset about losing my car so she said she would make me a special cake. I was like ”Oh my god” then I just burst into laughter. She’s such a comedian’

‘My grandad was right next to me but had no idea the car he brought me was ruined.

‘He just put his head in his hands and asked me what it was about, so I had to explain to him that I crashed it.’

Samantha said will never be able to forget it as her crafty mum made sure to take pictures of her cutting the cake – which is a mirror image of the crashed car picture Samantha sent to her mum when she crashed it.

Samantha, said: ‘It was really funny and it brought everything into perspective, I was really upset about the car but we’ve all had a laugh about it and it’s a birthday cake I will never forget.’

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RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: After The Two Ronnies of Doom, here’s the speech Boris Johnson SHOULD give today

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richard littlejohn after the two ronnies of doom heres the speech boris johnson should give today

Boris Johnson is today expected to announce further restrictions on our freedom aimed at preventing an upsurge in coronavirus.

Like Al Pacino, as Michael Corleone in Godfather III, just when we thought we were out, they pull us back in.

The new rules could include forcing pubs to close either early or altogether, rescinding efforts to persuade people to return to their offices, and £10,000 fines for those who fail to self-isolate.

On Monday, the ground was prepared by the Prime Minister’s no-singing, no-dancing warm-up act, Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty.

Sitting 6ft apart behind a newsreader-style desk, The Two Ronnies of Doom delivered an alarmist prognosis of a rising death toll, backed up by speculative graphs based on ‘the science’ — what most of us would call ‘guesswork’. 

Boris Johnson (pictured on Monday) is expected to announce further restrictions on our freedom aimed at preventing an upsurge in coronavirus on Tuesday

Boris Johnson (pictured on Monday) is expected to announce further restrictions on our freedom aimed at preventing an upsurge in coronavirus on Tuesday

Boris Johnson (pictured on Monday) is expected to announce further restrictions on our freedom aimed at preventing an upsurge in coronavirus on Tuesday

They could have looked at another graph, from Monday’s Daily Mail, which showed that cancer kills around 450 people a day, compared to just 21 from — or should that be with? — coronavirus. 

Five people die daily in traffic accidents. In fact, for those under 50, you’re more likely to be hit by a bus than contract a fatal dose of Covid.

But using the Government’s better-safe-than-sorry approach to the corona pandemic, that would be enough to justify closing every road in Britain.

Hang on. Come to think of it, that’s exactly what they are doing.

During Monday’s dismal YOU’RE ALL GOING TO DIE! diatribe, Vallance and Whitty even managed to invert the language, talking about Britain ‘turning the corner’ — and not in a good way. When normal folk speak of turning the corner, it usually means things are getting better.

As far as the Two Ronnies are concerned, things can only ever get worse. Unless we do as we’re told, it’ll be goodnight from me, goodnight from him, and Goodnight Vienna for the rest of us. 

This wasn’t a prediction, they insisted, simply a way of looking at things, even admitting at one stage that their worst-case scenario was founded upon a ‘big if’.

Why is Boris being guided by these two merchants of misery and not, say, Professors of Medicine Carl Heneghan and Tom Jefferson, from Oxford University, who accuse ministers of crashing the economy on the basis of poor statistics and ill-informed advice?

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, they said: ‘The PM might as well be using the planets to guide us through this pandemic.’

That’s exactly the kind of imaginative turn of phrase Boris would have conjured up in his former, free-spirited incarnation as a libertarian newspaper columnist.

Yet since contracting Covid, he has transmogrified from risk-taking iconoclast into ultra risk-averse statesman.

What he fails to understand is that when we voted for him, we thought we were electing happy-go-lucky Boris 1.0.

Before deciding which way to jump in the EU referendum, Boris is said to have composed two columns — one pro-Leave, one pro-Remain.

Let’s hope that before he gets on to his hind legs today, he prepared two speeches. And that at the last minute he rips up the first version, declaring another series of lockdowns lasting six months, and rediscovers his inner libertarian. 

Professors of Medicine Carl Heneghan (above) and Tom Jefferson, from Oxford University, said that 'the PM might as well be using the planets to guide us through this pandemic'

Professors of Medicine Carl Heneghan (above) and Tom Jefferson, from Oxford University, said that 'the PM might as well be using the planets to guide us through this pandemic'

Professors of Medicine Carl Heneghan (above) and Tom Jefferson, from Oxford University, said that ‘the PM might as well be using the planets to guide us through this pandemic’

It could go something like this…

‘Friends, Zoomans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I come not to appease Covid but to bury it. For too long our great nation has cowered before this vile interloper.

I promised to run the most open and transparent administration in history. That is why, with this brutally honest and unprecedented progress report, I am determined to level with you.

For the past six months, we have sacrificed our economy — and indeed our sanity — on the wonky altar of this pandemic. Even old Bojo went a bit doolally after my own brush with the Grim Reaper.

I would like to believe that what we got wrong, we got wrong for all the right reasons. At the outset, we knew as little about this pestilence as the Chinese know about the Duckworth-Lewis method for deciding cricket matches. 

It was a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. And in the words of one of my distinguished predecessors as Prime Minister, we were ‘frit’.

We relied too heavily on the boffins, who were none the wiser than anyone else. While early precautions were only prudent, we kept the country in lockdown unnecessarily, because we didn’t have a clue about what to do next.

I confess that most of the time we have been making it up as we’ve gone along, hoping like Micawber that something might turn up.

If we continue to be guided by ‘the science’, the consequences will be catastrophic. The so-called experts want us to lockdown again because they won’t admit their mistakes.

‘Their predictions have turned out to be an inverted pyramid of piffle. They are like some sherry-crazed old dowager who has lost the family silver at roulette and who now decides to double down by betting the house as well.

It is time for me to Take Back Control. As another of my famous predecessors once said: scientists should be on tap, not on top.

Our overreaction to this fiendish bug has already done to the economy what Vesuvius did to ancient Pompeii.

The Covid scare has inflicted more damage on London than the Luftwaffe.

But we beat the Hun and we can beat corona, not by huddling in our air raid shelters but by recapturing our Blitz Spirit.

As of Tuesday, all restrictions on freedom of movement and assembly are revoked, along with those ridiculous road closures, bike lanes and widened pavements.

Face masks may be worn by Nervous Nellies, but no one will be fined for not wearing one. Social distance if you wish, but we trust you to use your common sense.

British people should be able to make their own choices with all the freedom and exhilaration of our woad-painted ancestors.

On Monday, Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty delivered an alarmist prognosis of a rising death toll (both above)

On Monday, Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty delivered an alarmist prognosis of a rising death toll (both above)

On Monday, Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty delivered an alarmist prognosis of a rising death toll (both above)

We will stop lecturing you on the need to lose weight. That is a personal choice. Yours truly has managed to shed a bit of adipose timber, but my policy on cake has always been pro-having it and pro-eating it.

There is absolutely no one, apart from yourself, who can prevent you, in the middle of the night, from sneaking down to tidy up the edges of that hunk of cheese at the back of the fridge.

It’s your funeral, and as of Tuesday the number of mourners will no longer be limited to 30. The Rule of Six has been ripped up.

The Seven Dwarfs are restored to their full complement. Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s back to work we go. And any civil servant who refuses to report back to the office on Monday will be dismissed summarily.

This is the not the end of the beginning, or even the beginning of the end, this is the end of hunkering down and hoping for the best.

We shall fight Covid in the streets, and in the pubs, and in the theatres.

We will fight on the beaches, too, once we’ve cleared away all the dinghies arriving from Calais.

We have nothing to fear but fear itself. Most people stand about as much chance of dying from Covid as finding Elvis on Mars, being decapitated by a Frisbee or reincarnated as an olive.

Naysayers and doom-mongers may warn this new libertarian approach is reckless and will end in disaster.

But, my friends, as I have discovered myself, there are no disasters, only opportunities. And, indeed, opportunities for fresh disasters.

So let freedom ring out once again. No more timorous Septic Isle. The standing army of Covid marshals has been demobbed. The boffins have been put back in their box.

The Two Ronnies of Doom have been cancelled. So it’s good night from me, and it’s goodnight to them.

Goodnight!’

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People who get both flu and Covid-19 are in ‘serious trouble’: Co-infection raises risk of death

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people who get both flu and covid 19 are in serious trouble co infection raises risk of death

People who catch Covid-19 and flu at the same time are in ‘serious trouble’, Public Health England has warned amid fears Britain will be hit with a ‘double whammy’ this winter.

Findings from the government agency’s research suggests that co-infection doubles the risk of death. 

Analysis also showed the handful of hospitalised patients who had both infections simultaneously during the pandemic were around six times more likely to die than those who tested negative for both infections.

Officials have urged the public ‘not to be complacent’ over the flu by declining the offer of a free vaccination this autumn.

This year will see the biggest ever flu vaccination programme for the UK, with health chiefs hoping to reach 30million people against the 15million last year.

Usual groups will be targeted first, including over 65s and pregnant women. And if there is enough doses left over, those over the age of 50 will be next in line.

The great concern is that if people are not protected against the flu, hospitals will be overrun with sick people unsure if they have flu or Covid-19, or both.

But some experts have insisted Britain ‘almost certainly’ will not see two consecutive waves of flu and coronavirus.

Flu infections during the cold long months in the southern hemisphere are a canary in a coalmine for how hard the NHS will be hit by outbreaks, and are used to design the preventative flu vaccine.

But this year Australia and New Zealand have escaped a bad flu season, which top experts say is down to social distancing measures. 

Overall 43 per cent of people with co-infection died compared to 27 per cent of those who tested positive for just Covid-19. For flu it was 4.8 per cent. The risk of death from just Covid-19 or just the flu is much lower than the study implies - around one per cent. But because the testing is skewed towards the sickest people, the death rates in the study were far higher

Overall 43 per cent of people with co-infection died compared to 27 per cent of those who tested positive for just Covid-19. For flu it was 4.8 per cent. The risk of death from just Covid-19 or just the flu is much lower than the study implies - around one per cent. But because the testing is skewed towards the sickest people, the death rates in the study were far higher

Overall 43 per cent of people with co-infection died compared to 27 per cent of those who tested positive for just Covid-19. For flu it was 4.8 per cent. The risk of death from just Covid-19 or just the flu is much lower than the study implies – around one per cent. But because the testing is skewed towards the sickest people, the death rates in the study were far higher

Professor Tim Spector, of King's College London , moved to reassure parents the symptom, alongside congestion and sneezing, is a 'sure sign' they have a cold and not Covid-19. Pictured are the common symptoms of Covid-19 compared with a cold or bout of flu

Professor Tim Spector, of King's College London , moved to reassure parents the symptom, alongside congestion and sneezing, is a 'sure sign' they have a cold and not Covid-19. Pictured are the common symptoms of Covid-19 compared with a cold or bout of flu

Professor Tim Spector, of King’s College London , moved to reassure parents the symptom, alongside congestion and sneezing, is a ‘sure sign’ they have a cold and not Covid-19. Pictured are the common symptoms of Covid-19 compared with a cold or bout of flu

PHE researchers analysed data in almost 20,000 people who were tested for both Covid-19 and flu in the UK between January 20 and April 25.  

The study cohort would have mostly been people very seriously ill with Covid-19, considering testing was limited to just hospitals at the start of the pandemic until about May.

‘Most of the SARS-CoV-2 tests were collected when the government policy was to test individuals on admission to hospital with lower respiratory tract infections and healthcare workers. Therefore, the majority of SARS-CoV-2 cases were individuals with moderate to severe symptoms,’ the report said.

Fifty eight people were identified as having ‘co-infection’ of the two viruses. 

While the numbers of people with both illnesses were small, the risk of death was nearly six times (5.92) greater among those co-infected compared to the general population.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FLU AND COVID-19? 

Flu is a viral infection that is spread through coughs and sneezes. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, spreads in the same way.

Most people recover from the flu with rest in a week. And most people who get Covid-19 also recover within two weeks or show no symptoms at all. 

But  with both illnesses, people with chronic conditions or who are over 65 are at significant risk of severe illness, complications or death. 

The flu is more common during winter. But it is not clear yet if Covid-19 is also a seasonal illnesses. It is suspected that this is the case, considering it is in the coronavirus family, which also includes the common cold.

SYMPTOMS OF FLU

Symptoms can include fever and chills, a cough, sore throat and a runny or stuffy nose.

Muscle aches, joint pains, headaches and fatigue are also common.

Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea are more common in children than adults.

Some symptoms may last for more than a week. Medical help should be sought if there is a shortness of breath or rapid breathing, chest pain, sudden dizziness or persistent vomiting.

SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19

The main symptoms of coronavirus listed by the NHS are:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual) 
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal 

The World Health Organization says Covid-19 affects different people in different ways. Most infected people will develop mild to moderate illness and recover without hospitalization.

Most common symptoms:

  • fever 
  • dry cough
  • tiredness

Less common symptoms:

  • aches and pains
  • sore throat 
  • diarrhoea
  • conjunctivitis
  • headache
  • loss of taste or smell 
  • a rash on skin, or discolouration of fingers or toes 

Serious symptoms:

  • difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • chest pain or pressure
  • loss of speech or movement
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The risk of death was also 2.3 times higher for patients who had caught both viruses, compared to being infected with Covid-19 alone. 

Overall, 43 per cent of people with co-infection died compared to 27 per cent of those who tested positive for just Covid-19. For flu it was 4.8 per cent. 

The risk of death from just Covid-19 or just the flu is much lower than the study implies – and is estimated to be below one per cent. But because the testing is skewed towards the sickest people and not the entire population, the death rates in the study were far higher.

Those who died ‘tended’ to be older, PHE said. 

Flu can be particularly serious in older adults, very young children and people with underlying health conditions, such as COPD, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease and multiple sclerosis.

The same is true for Covid-19 – other than for children, who often escape without showing any symptoms. 

PHE’s medical director Professor Yvonne Doyle, said: ‘If you get both, you are in some serious trouble. 

‘And the people who are most likely to get both of these infections may be the very people who can least afford to in terms of their own immune system or their risk for serious outcomes.

‘Please protect yourself against flu this year.’ 

Flu usually kills around 11,000 people each year in England and many more are hospitalised.  

But it varies depending on the severity of the flu strain. There were almost 4,000 deaths in 2018/19 but over 22,000 deaths in 2017/18.    

The flu jab is the best protection against influenza but statistics show the number of vulnerable people getting free flu jabs in England is at an eight-year low. 

Last winter just 45 per cent of people under 65 with serious health conditions, who are offered the vaccine for free on the NHS, received the jab.

This has tumbled from a peak of 52.3 per cent in the winter of 2013 and is the worst uptake since Public Health England’s records began in 2012. 

The World Health Organization has previously said that countries should aim to vaccinate 75 per cent of their vulnerable population.  

England’s most senior health officials have implored eligible people to get vaccinated when they get their invitation. 

Professor Doyle said: ‘We’re encouraging anybody who is eligible to accept their flu vaccination this year, particularly with the winter we’re going to face.

‘People still think that the flu is just like a cold. It’s not. The flu is an extremely unpleasant condition.

‘If you’re in a risk group, it can be really dangerous, and it can kill you. The vaccine is good, it’s safe, and it does protect people. So it’s worth having it.’

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer for England, said: ‘We want to deliver the most extensive flu programme possible. And we will have enough vaccine this year for 30million people in total.

‘And this obviously is very important in a year where we face the possibility that flu and Covid-19 and may at some point this winter, circulate together and at the same time.’

There has been speculation that because the flu and the coronavirus will compete with each other, SARS-CoV-2 will be pushed out of circulation. 

The PHE study showed the risk of testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 was 68 per cent lower among those positive for the flu, ‘suggesting possible pathogenic competition between the two viruses’.

However, Professor Doyle said that the first peak of the pandemic coincided with the end of the flu season last year so the full interaction between the two viruses is not yet fully known. 

Professor Van-Tam said that alongside the PHE data, there have been studies in mice which found ‘bad outcomes’ among those infected with both flu and Covid-19.

‘There are multiple, plausible reasons why it’s a very bad idea to have Covid-19 and flu at the same time. And of course, that possibility is real for this winter,’ he said. 

Australia and New Zealand have given hope that Britain will not inevitably be hit by the flu and Covid-19 at the same time.

So far this year Australia has recorded only 21,000 influenza infections, fourteen times lower than last year’s figure at 313,000. 

After Sydney declared a lockdown on March 23, flu cases dropped from 5,895 for the entire month to 308 in April, and to a low of 121 in August.

33342810 0 image a 4 1600705513830

33342810 0 image a 4 1600705513830

Australia, which faces a similar flu outbreak to the UK, saw very few flu infections this winter. This suggests the UK may dodge a ‘double-whammy’ of coronavirus and the flu

WINTER WAVE OF COVID-19 ‘COULD OVERWHELM 87% OF NHS HOSPITALS’ 

A report published earlier this month warned more than a hundred NHS Trusts may be overwhelmed this winter if the coronavirus hospitalisation rate surges to the level seen in April.

A comparison of the average number of beds needed between December 2019 and February 2020, and the number of beds required for Covid-19 patients in April, at the peak of the pandemic, showed the startling figures.

It revealed that out of the 132 surveyed using data published by the NHS, 115 would be over-capacity should demand rise It showed 115 of the 132 studied would be over-capacity should there be a surge in hospitalisations.

Four of the five NHS trusts that could set to suffer the biggest shortage of beds are in the capital, with one, Walsall Healthcare, based near Birmingham. 

The analysis, carried out by Edge Health and The Guardian, did not include extra capacity provided by Nightingale hospitals or the private sector due to a lack of data.

An NHS England spokesman said the health service is using a £3billion funding boost to ensure it has beds available in private hospitals, and maintain Nightingale hospitals until March 2021. 

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New Zealand didn’t see one influenza case since screening began in June. Last year about 57 per cent of samples collected by GPs were positive, The Guardian reported. 

Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious disease expert at the University of East Anglia, told MailOnline Britain ‘almost certainly’ will not see two consecutive waves of flu and coronavirus. 

‘There’s been virtually no influenza around in the southern hemisphere during their flu season this year and the reason for that is obvious,’ he said. ‘The things we’re doing to control Covid are even more effective on influenza.’

Dr Ed Hill, a post-doctoral researcher working on modelling the spread of disease at the University of Warwick, told MailOnline measures to inhibit the spread of coronavirus will also ‘disrupt’ influenza transmission.

Dr Nikita Kanani, medical director for primary care for the NHS in England, said ‘about 32million people’ would be contacted and encouraged to take up their flu jab.

Officials have said they are widening the flu vaccination programme for the UK to reach at least 30million people.  

In the last winter season (2019/20), only 15million of the 25million people eligible for a free vaccination took the offer (60 per cent). 

It suggests if everyone in these groups took up their free jab this year, there would not be enough for additional people, or only some. 

This year people eligible for the flu vaccine include primary school children and Year 7 pupils, who will be offered the flu nasal spray in schools. Two and three-year-olds will be offered the vaccine through their GP. 

Those age 65 and over, people with long-term health conditions and pregnant women will be offered the vaccine through their GP or pharmacy.

Household contacts of people who were instructed to ‘shield’ during the first wave of the pandemic will be invited.

And health and social care workers who have direct contact with the people they care for will be offered the jab.

Once the first at risk groups have been contacted, the vaccine programme will also be rolled out to include people over the age of 50.

It is hoped that a new campaign across TV, radio and digital advertising will encourage those who are eligible to accept their invitation when it is sent out.

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