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Test and Trace shambles as malfunctioning phones thwart efforts to find 40,000 missed off database

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test and trace shambles as malfunctioning phones thwart efforts to find 40000 missed off database

NHS coronavirus contact tracers struggled to reach tens of thousands of potentially infectious people yesterday after phone lines crashed following an IT malfunction.

As workers attempted to catch up on a backlog of calls to the 16,000 infectious people missed from the database – due to an error caused by an outdated version of Microsoft’s Excel on Friday – the communication system began to overload. 

Ring Central, the call system used by NHS Test and Trace, was said to have cut out mid-call and repeatedly lock workers out of their profiles due to the volume of calls being made by tracers.

One contact tracer told The Times that the department had been plagued with ‘horrendous IT problems’, which included being locked out of the system for ’20 to 30 minutes’ at a time. 

She told the publication: ‘Ring Central keeps collapsing because there are too many phone calls going on at once.’   

The phone line fiasco follows what has been an eventful week for IT malfunctions as an outdated version of Microsoft’s Excel saw a limit on the amount of data a spreadsheet could hold lead to 15,841 people being left off the Test and Trace ‘dashboard’.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock is seen in the House of Commons Chamber as he makes a statement on the coronavirus disease, in London, Britain, October 5

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock is seen in the House of Commons Chamber as he makes a statement on the coronavirus disease, in London, Britain, October 5

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock is seen in the House of Commons Chamber as he makes a statement on the coronavirus disease, in London, Britain, October 5

This meant that although the infected people were notified of their positive diagnosis and told to stay home, critically their details were not passed to contact tracers, leaving an estimated 40,000 people they had been in contact with unaware that they should have been isolating.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said the problem had been half-resolved by 9am on Monday, with 51 per cent of contacts of those 15,841 people having been notified.  

Mr Hancock revealed that he was told on Friday night that the cases had gone missing, and urgent contact tracing had started on Saturday morning.

He laid the blame squarely on ‘legacy’ software system at Public Health England, amid a bitter spat over who was responsible for the shambles. He said he had already ordered it to be replaced.

The extraordinary meltdown was caused by an Excel spreadsheet containing lab results reaching its maximum size, and failing to update. Some 15,841 cases between September 25 and October 2 were not uploaded to the government dashboard. 

The technical issue has now been resolved by splitting the Excel files into batches.             

The daily totals rocketed over the weekend after the 'glitch' resulted in officials adding on thousands of cases that were missed last week. However, that merely shows the dates the cases were reported, rather than when the positive tests happened

The daily totals rocketed over the weekend after the 'glitch' resulted in officials adding on thousands of cases that were missed last week. However, that merely shows the dates the cases were reported, rather than when the positive tests happened

The daily totals rocketed over the weekend after the ‘glitch’ resulted in officials adding on thousands of cases that were missed last week. However, that merely shows the dates the cases were reported, rather than when the positive tests happened

Following the blunder a frightening rise in coronavirus cases were recorded in Britain on Monday as the Department of Health announced 12,594 more positive tests – more than triple the 4,368 that were recorded a fortnight ago.

Last Monday’s data, which would usually be a good point of reference, is now unreliable because of a catastrophic counting error at Public Health England, meaning September 21 is the most recent Monday with an accurate number. 

Officials confirmed that today’s huge number was a clean count that did not include any cases left over from the weekend’s data blunder at Public Health England that saw 16,000 test results from the past week tacked onto Sunday night’s update.  

Instead, the more than 12,000 new infections emerged after the fog had cleared from the counting catastrophe – believed to have been caused by an Excel problem in outdated software at PHE – and marked one of the biggest one-day rises so far for Britain.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock faced the House of Commons Monday afternoon to explain the extraordinary episode, which he said ‘should never have happened’. He told MPs an investigation was being carried out into how thousands of cases had dropped out of the system.

But he did not offer an apology, and tried to soothe the situation by insisting the bungle had not warped judgements on local lockdowns or the government’s overall assessment of the outbreak.

Labour slammed the government for ‘failing on the basics’, while Tory MPs weighed in to warn public confidence is being ‘undermined’ and demand the military is brought in to help.  

In other developments Monday:

  • The UK reported another 12,594 cases, with the government insisting the data issues have been fixed. There were 19 more deaths recorded; 
  • Manchester now has the highest seven-day case rate in England, including the new infection data; 
  • Official figures updated with the missed cases show that, based on the date on which samples were taken rather than when the result was published, the UK’s daily rate has not been below 6,000 since September 21; 
  • The highest number of infected specimens collected in a single day was 11,404 on September 30; 
  • Ministers are putting the finishing touches to a new traffic-light system which could pave the way for harsher restrictions such as the closure of all pubs in a certain area;
  • Next year’s school exams would be delayed by three weeks as the crisis rolls on;
  • Rishi Sunak has said he is ‘frustrated’ by the 10pm pubs curfew and has ‘no regrets’ about Eat Out to Help Out – despite Mr Johnson admitting it might have fueled Covid cases; 
  • Trials of an air passenger testing regime are expected to begin within weeks in a victory for the Mail’s Get Britain Flying campaign;
  • Health minister Lord Bethell claimed Britain will look back at its Covid-19 response ‘like the Olympics’ and be ‘extremely proud’.
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34013836 8807123 image m 12 1601920204617

Counted by the date specimens were collected, rather than the date the government published them, the UK had 11,404 cases on September 30, almost as many as were reported in the next two days combined

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33996316 8807123 image a 30 1601914750744

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34010168 8807123 image a 32 1601914750750

A further 33 deaths – the figures of which were not impacted by the technical issue – were also confirmed today

Matt Hancock told the Commons that the extraordinary episode 'should never have happened' and an investigation was being carried out into how thousands of cases dropped out of the system

Matt Hancock told the Commons that the extraordinary episode 'should never have happened' and an investigation was being carried out into how thousands of cases dropped out of the system

Matt Hancock told the Commons that the extraordinary episode ‘should never have happened’ and an investigation was being carried out into how thousands of cases dropped out of the system

The numbers of positive tests announced each day by the Department of Health have now become unreliable and difficult to compare because of the data issue which affects every daily count since September 25.

Comparing yesterday’s cases with last Monday’s would not be accurate because the announcement last week is now thought to have been missing positive cases. 

The most recent Monday for comparison, September 21 a fortnight ago, saw 4,368 cases confirmed. Yesterday’s number is a 188 per cent increase – almost three times as high. 

A ripple effect coming out of the counting fiasco means that a number of other statistical measures of the size of the UK’s outbreak – if they use Department of Health data – are inaccurate now.

The daily average has soared from just 6,273 cases on Friday, October 2 – the day the error was discovered – to 10,937 yesterday. But this drops to a more realistic 8,235 per day if Sunday’s mammoth count of 22,600 is cut out. It will take another week of ‘clean’ data for the seven-day average to smooth out.

One measure that remains accurate, however, is the Department of Health’s count of tests by the date on which they were taken.

Dated by specimen collection, rather than the date the government published them, the UK had 11,404 cases on September 30, almost as many as were reported in the next two days combined.

PHE MEMO REVEALS LOST CASES 

The cases that were missed out of the Department of Health’s count because of Public Health England’s counting blunder have been revealed in a memo leaked to Sky News.

They show there were an average of 8,328 cases per day announced during the September 25 to October 2 period, with a high of 11,754 on October 2 and a low of 4,044 on September 28. The latter number is unchanged from the Department of Health’s own count.

The adjusted data suggest the current average number of daily cases – calculated using the last seven days – is approximately 10,600. This is a rise from the average of 6,100 that would have been recorded in the week up to last Monday. 

OFFICIAL COUNT

AMENDED COUNT 

Sep-25

Sep-26

Sep-27

Sep-28

Sep-29

Sep-30

Oct-1

Oct-2

6,874

6,042

5,693

4,044

7,143

7,108

6,914

6,968

7,831

6,786

6,450

4,044

8,558

10,157

11,047

11,754

 

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The daily number has not been below 6,000 since September 21 on the alternative measure – although the government has reported lower figures on several days in that period. 

The specimen data usually lags behind the daily count because it takes days and sometimes more than a week for people’s test results to be processed. Therefore, cases announced yesterday may have specimen dates that go back a week or more – a day’s number does not have any direct link to a specific date. 

The cases that were missed out of the Department of Health’s count have been revealed in a Public Health England memo leaked to Sky News.

They show there were an average of 8,328 cases per day announced during the September 25 to October 2 period, with a high of 11,754 on October 2 and a low of 4,044 on September 28. The latter number is unchanged from the Department of Health’s own count.

The adjusted data suggest the current average number of daily cases – calculated using the last seven days – is approximately 10,600. This is a rise from the average of 6,100 that would have been recorded in the week up to last Monday.

Averages are a more accurate measure than daily cases because the one-day numbers tend to fluctuate – they are usually lower on Mondays and backlogs in labs when tests surge mean they can take variable amounts of time to trickle through. 

In a bruising Commons session, Mr Hancock said the PHE episode should ‘never have happened’ – but stopped short of giving an apology.

Instead he insisted it showed that the government could act ‘swiftly’. 

‘This incident should never have happened but the team has acted swiftly to minimise its impact, and now it is critical that we work together to put this right and make sure it never happens again,’ he said.

Mr Hancock said the Government’s assessment of the Covid-19 pandemic had ‘not substantially changed’ despite the radical change in the figures.

‘This morning the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) presented to me their updated analysis of the epidemic based on the new figures.

‘The chief medical officer (Chris Whitty) has analysed that our assessment of the disease and its impact has not substantially changed as a result of these data.

‘The JBC has confirmed that this has not impacted the basis on which decisions about local action were taken last week. Nevertheless, this is a serious issue that is being investigated fully.’

Mr Hancock boasted that half the positive cases have been contacted for tracing purposes.

He suggested the 16,000 had been contacted for a ‘second time’ – but the first time apparently referred to the notification that they had tested positive.  

He told the Commons: ‘Contact tracing of these cases began first thing Saturday. We brought in 6,500 hours of extra contact tracing over the weekend and I can report to the House as of 9am today [Monday] 51 per cent of the cases have now been contacted a second time for contract tracing purposes.

‘I want to reassure the House that outbreak control in care homes, schools and hospitals has not been directly affected because dealing with outbreaks in these settings does not primarily rely on this PHE system.’

But shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth accused the Government of ‘failing on the basics’ on testing.

He said: ‘The Prime Minister told this House on 20th May we would have a world-beating system in place by June, it’s now October. The system is neither competent nor improving, problems are getting worse.

‘The Government is failing on the basics, when will he finally fix this mess?’

Sir Bernard Jenkin was among the senior Tories laying into the Cabinet minister.

Manchester has highest Covid rate in England after new cases emerge

Manchester is the coronavirus capital of the UK after ‘missed’ new cases were added to its recent tally. 

The weekly rate of new Covid-19 infections has soared in dozens of areas of England following the addition of nearly 16,000 that had previously been unreported nationwide.

Manchester has the highest rate in England, with 2,740 cases recorded in the seven days to October 1 – the equivalent of 495.6 cases per 100,000 people, up from 223.2 in the previous week.

Liverpool has the second highest rate, up from 287.1 to 456.4, with 2,273 new cases.

Knowsley is in third place, up from 300.3 to 452.1, with 682 new cases.

Other areas recording sharp increases include Newcastle upon Tyne (up from 256.6 to 399.6, with 1,210 new cases); Nottingham (up from 52.0 to 283.9, with 945 new cases); Leeds (up from 138.8 to 274.5, with 2,177 new cases); and Sheffield (up from 91.8 to 233.1, with 1,363 new cases).

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‘This is another incident that further undermines public confidence in the government’s delivery of the cornnavirus response,’ he said.

He insisted the government should repeat the ‘success’ of projects like the Nightingale Hospitals, which involved the military more closely.

Mr Hancock said the military already had limited involvement in the logistics for testing. 

The shambolic situation sparked an immediate backlash against PHE – which is already set to be abolished and replaced by the government – with claims ‘everything it touches turns to sh**’.

But the body hit back by pointing the finger at the Test & Trace operation, run by Baroness Dido Harding. ‘We report the data when they send it. We didn’t get it,’ one official told Sky News. 

The problems are believed to have arisen when labs sent in their results using CSV files, which have no limits on size. But PHE then imported the results into Excel, where some documents have a limit of just 65,000 lines.

PHE officials said the outstanding cases were transferred to NHS Test and Trace ‘immediately’ after the issue was resolved and thanked contact tracers for their ‘additional efforts’ over the weekend to clear the backlog.

All cases were passed on to tracers by 1am on Saturday, meaning potential delays of more than a week in contacting thousands of people who were exposed to the virus and telling them to self-isolate. 

PHE said every single person who was tested initially had received their test result as normal, with all those testing positive told to self-isolate.

The technical issue meant daily totals reported on the Government’s coronavirus dashboard over the last week have been lower than the true number.

For example, 4,786 cases which were due to be reported on October 2 were not included in the daily total on the dashboard that day, when the figure was given as 6,968.

The Government’s dashboard said that, as of 9am on Sunday, there had been a further 22,961 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, taking the total number of cases in the UK to 502,978.

A note on the dashboard said: ‘The cases by publish date for 3 and 4 October include 15,841 additional cases with specimen dates between 25 September and 2 October – they are therefore artificially high for England and the UK.’

Typically, the government has focused on the number of cases ‘reported’ daily.

However, that figure has now been warped by the historic cases being added to daily figures.

Leaked document reveals possible pub closures and ban on ALL social contact outside your household under proposed red, amber, green ‘traffic-light’ system 

Ministers are planning tough new ‘red alert’ lockdowns, with a leaked document revealing that all social contact outside homes could be banned under the most extreme part of a proposed ‘traffic-light-style’ system, according to reports.

The new three-tier system includes an Alert Level Three which will include tough new restrictions – which almost parallel the complete lockdown measures imposed in March.

These include closing all hospitality and leisure business and banning contact with anyone outside a person’s household in any setting.

Non-professional sports will also be stopped – though places of worship will still be allowed to stay open – which was not the case during the original coronavirus lockdown.

It comes as the UK recorded 23,000 new coronavirus infections on Sunday following a ‘technical glitch’ which meant thousands of cases were initially missed off the official data.

The tough new red measures, outlined in a leaked document seen by The Guardian, will only be imposed either nationally or in a specific area if the virus cannot be controlled by measures in Alert Level Two or if an area sees a ‘significant increase in transmission’.

Measures for ‘Alert Level Two’, amber in the traffic light system, include limiting social gatherings to people within a household and support bubble, while travel will be limited to essential purposes.

Alert Level Two will be triggered when there has been a rise in infections and local measures cannot control it.

Meanwhile Alert Level One, green, will include the measures that are already in place, such as the ‘rule of six’, the 10pm Covid curfew on hospitality businesses and the wearing of face masks in public places such as supermarkets and public transport.

According to the Guardian, A Whitehall source said the levels were intended to be ‘minimum standards’.

The source added that specific local circumstances in each area would also be taken into account.

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A truer picture of the timeline emerges from the breakdown by specimen date.

That shows the confirmed cases by the date the sample was taken.

The figures have not been updated beyond October 1, apparently because tests and data are still being processed.

But they show that on that date there were 10,068 cases. On September 30 there were 11,404, which seems to have been the peak so far.

Michael Brodie, interim chief executive at PHE, said the ‘technical issue’ was identified overnight on Friday October 2 in the data load process that transfers Covid-19 positive lab results into reporting dashboards.

The problem was caused by an Excel spreadsheet reaching its maximum file size, which stopped new names being added in an automated process.

The files have now been split into smaller multiple files to prevent the issue happening again.

Test and Trace and Public Health England joint medical adviser Susan Hopkins said: ‘All outstanding cases were immediately transferred to the contact tracing system by 1am on 3 October and a thorough public health risk assessment was undertaken to ensure outstanding cases were prioritised for contact tracing effectively.’

PHE said NHS Test and Trace have made sure that there are more than enough contact tracers working, and are working with local health protection teams to ensure they also have sufficient resources to be urgently able to contact all cases.

The number of call attempts is being increased from 10 to 15 over 96 hours.

However, in a round of interviews this morning, Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey admitted that people are likely to have been infected as a consequence of the failures.

Asked if some could have become infected because of the error, she told Sky News: ‘There may well be, and I’ve been made aware that probably the majority of that (contact tracing) has happened in the latest element of the week, in the last couple of days.

‘So it’s important that we act quickly, and PHE (Public Health England) is acting quickly, to see whether or not people are required to self-isolate.

‘Because I do recognise that not quite everybody going through the regime will be identified by the Test and Trace regime to undertake that further self-isolation.’

On a visit to an energy firm in London on Monday, Boris Johnson – who refused to give a full explanation in an interview yesterday – said ‘some of the data got truncated and it was lost’.

‘But what they have done now is not only contacted all the people who were identified as having the disease – that was done in the first place – but they are now working through all the contacts as well,’ he said.

‘The key thing, I would say, and it goes for everybody, is that if you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace then you must self-isolate, if you are told you have been in contact with somebody who has the virus.

‘There is support of £500 for doing so and of course a £10,000 fine if you don’t.’

Mr Johnson played down concerns that ministers have been taking crucial lockdown decisions without accurate information.

He said the updated figures meant that the prevalence of the virus was where experts had expected, insisting it will soon become clear if extra restrictions for some parts of the country were having the intended impact.

‘The incidence that we are seeing in the cases corresponds to pretty much where we thought we were,’ he said.

‘And, to be frank, I think that the slightly lower numbers that we’d seen, you know, didn’t really reflect where we thought the disease was likely to go, so I think these numbers are realistic.

‘The crucial thing is that in the next few days, week, we’ll see more clearly whether some of the restrictions that we put in – the extra enforcement of the rule of six, the extra enforcement of self-isolation, the rules on masks and so on – all the stuff that has come in, we’ll see whether that starts to work in driving down the virus.’

If people followed the guidance ‘I have no doubt that we will be able to get on top of it, as indeed we did earlier this year’.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: ‘This is shambolic and people across the country will be understandably alarmed.

‘Matt Hancock should come to the House of Commons on Monday to explain what on earth has happened, what impact it has had on our ability to contain this virus and what he plans to do to fix test and trace.’ 

On Saturday, Professor Graham Medley, an attendee of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, tweeted: ‘Reporting delays play havoc with data streams and make them very difficult to analyse in real time.

‘If the delays change or vary by group then they can distort a lot. Wonder what these will do to the R estimates next week’.  

PM and Sunak put on united front after Chancellor swipes at ‘frustrating’ 10pm pubs curfew

Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson put on a united front on Monday after the Chancellor branded the 10pm pubs curfew ‘frustrating’ and insisted he had ‘no regrets’ about the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

The two politicians were pictured together visiting an energy firm after Mr Sunak mounted a staunch defence of his subsidies on dining out – despite the PM admitting they might have contributed to the sharp rise in coronavirus cases. 

In an interview ahead of his keynote speech to Tory conference, Mr Sunak said the scheme had propped up two million jobs. 

Cementing his status as the leading Cabinet ‘hawk’ on the need to get the economy running again, he told The Sun: ‘I don’t think it’s wrong for people to want to strive for normality and I don’t think it’s wrong for the Government to want that for people.’ 

The intervention came after Mr Johnson came under fierce questioning over his handling of the crisis, with criticism of chaotic local lockdowns and shambolic testing. He admitted yesterday that he had dropped his ‘buoyant’ style during the pandemic because it was ‘inappropriate’.

By contrast, Mr Sunak has been praised for his tone talking about the impact of the disease, and the speed with which complicated bailouts including furlough were implemented. 

Mr Johnson tried to bridge the apparent gap between their messages yesterday by saying that he wanted the public to be ‘fearless but use common sense’. 

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Professor Paul Hunter, an epidemiologist at the University of East Anglia, said last night: ‘Clearly in the management of any epidemic you need good-quality data – without that data it is very difficult to respond. It is a real problem.’

Government adviser Professor Graham Medley, who sits on the Sage emergency panel, said: ‘Reporting delays play havoc with data streams and make them very difficult to analyse in real time. If the delays change or vary by group then they can distort a lot. I wonder what these will do to the R estimates next week?’

Dr Duncan Robertson, an expert in modelling and policy analytics at Loughborough University, added: ‘It is important to understand the reason for the delay.

‘If this is a reporting delay, that is bad enough, but if there have been delays in putting these cases into the NHS Test and Trace database, that can have serious implications for spreading the disease.’

Critics said if there was a real spike in cases in the coming days it could be missed, because it is impossible to tell which infections are new and which are simply the backlog filtering through.

Mr Johnson and his scientific advisers have repeatedly pointed to rising case numbers to justify tighter regulations.

Local restrictions are dependent on infection data.

A swing of a dozen cases in a week in a small town or borough is enough to be the difference between lockdown being imposed or businesses and families being allowed to continue as normal.

Public Health England interim chief executive Michael Brodie said last night: ‘A technical issue was identified overnight on Friday, October 2, in the data load process that transfers Covid-19 positive lab results into reporting dashboards.

‘After rapid investigation, we have identified that 15,841 cases between September 25 and October 2 were not included in the reported daily Covid-19 cases.

‘Every one of these cases received their Covid-19 test result as normal and all those who tested positive were advised to self-isolate.’

Earlier, in separate hospital data, 28 people were recorded as having died from coronavirus in Britain. 

The figure – ten more than last week – brings the UK’s total death toll during the pandemic to 42,345.  

Scotland has reported 758 new cases and no new deaths. Wales has 432 further cases but its death toll remains the same as no new fatalities were reported. 

All 28 deaths were recorded in England, with 25 in hospitals in the North East, Yorkshire and the Midlands.  

Patients were all aged between 69 and 94 years old and had underlying health conditions. 

The figure comes after a ‘failure in the counting system’ was blamed for coronavirus cases nearly doubling Sunday – as Boris Johnson hinted contact tracing might have been delayed.

Earlier, the PM dodged giving a fuller explanation as he was grilled on the extraordinary spike reported Sunday, with just under 13,000 new cases. 

Boris Johnson visited Octopus energy's HQ in London with Rishi on Monday amid swirling rumours of splits

Boris Johnson visited Octopus energy's HQ in London with Rishi on Monday amid swirling rumours of splits

Boris Johnson visited Octopus energy’s HQ in London with Rishi on Monday amid swirling rumours of splits

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Video shows STEAM billowing out of lorry in which 39 Vietnamese migrants suffocated to death

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video shows steam billowing out of lorry in which 39 vietnamese migrants suffocated to death

A police officer has described how he found the tightly packed, half-naked bodies of 39 migrants in the back of a lorry trailer.

Pc Jack Emerson was among the first at the scene in Essex after lorry driver Maurice Robinson dialled 999 early on October 23 last year.

Robinson, 26, had picked up the trailer from Purfleet docks after it was transported from Zeebrugge in Belgium, the Old Bailey has heard.

He opened the doors to the trailer minutes after leaving Purfleet but drove around and spoke to haulage boss Ronan Hughes and alleged organiser Gheorghe Nica by phone before alerting emergency services, jurors were told.

When police arrived on the scene at 1.50am, Robinson was ‘just standing there’ and appeared calm, according to Pc Emerson.

The court was shown CCTV of marked police cars arriving in Eastern Avenue, Thurrock, where Robinson’s lorry was parked with the rear trailer door open.

Video showing officers arriving at the scene, where Maurice Robinson (top right) had found the bodies of 39 Vietnamese migrants in a lorry container after he was told to 'give them air'

Video showing officers arriving at the scene, where Maurice Robinson (top right) had found the bodies of 39 Vietnamese migrants in a lorry container after he was told to 'give them air'

Video showing officers arriving at the scene, where Maurice Robinson (top right) had found the bodies of 39 Vietnamese migrants in a lorry container after he was told to ‘give them air’

Describing the scene, Pc Emerson said: ‘I could see one of the trailer doors was already open and I could visibly see numerous half-naked bodies in the back of the trailer, lying on the trailer floor motionless.

‘I approached the door of the trailer to further inspect the bodies and it became apparent as I got closer that the entire trailer was full of bodies, and the individuals appeared to be half-naked.

‘Most of them were wearing clothes on their lower half but they all appeared to not be wearing any clothing on their upper half.

‘All of the bodies appeared intact and it was in my opinion that they had not been there for a very long period of time as there was not any visible sign of decomposure.

‘There was however a strange smell coming from the trailer that smelt like chemicals.

‘There was also smoke condensation coming from the rear of the trailer which suggested to me that the trailer was refrigerated.’

Video played to the court showed the moment officers arrived on scene in Essex and (inset) body cam footage of the Essex Police officers first on scene where the bodies were discovered

Video played to the court showed the moment officers arrived on scene in Essex and (inset) body cam footage of the Essex Police officers first on scene where the bodies were discovered

Video played to the court showed the moment officers arrived on scene in Essex and (inset) body cam footage of the Essex Police officers first on scene where the bodies were discovered

The officer said in a statement read to the court that the driver was arrested on suspicion of murder after a colleague called to ‘get him in cuffs’.

Another officer radioed control saying there was ‘potentially 40 people deceased’.

Court told Kennedy sent series of texts to friend about incident 

Christopher Kennedy, 24, who is on trial accused of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration, exchanged a series of texts with a contact about the incident, the court heard.

The friend asked: ‘Who’s is the BG yoke got in Essex with the bodies?’

Kennedy named Ronan Hughes, adding: ‘Some mess.’

Asked what happened, he replied: ‘Dunno must have been 2 meany and run out of air (sic).’

The friend wrote: ‘End of the road for him and drive.’

Kennedy added: ‘He never see day light again.’

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Pc Emerson said he got inside the trailer to search for any signs of life, checking pulses and for breathing.

He said the bodies were ‘closely packed’ together, mainly lying on their backs.

‘I immediately started scanning the trailer to look for signs of life but there was not. All bodies appeared completely motionless.

‘Due to how packed together the bodies were in the trailer it was not possible to check every body so I made an attempt to check the bodies I could reach.’

He said some of them appeared to be ‘frothing from the mouth’ and some were warm.

Jurors heard that the Vietnamese nationals, aged 15 to 44, were pronounced dead at 2.40am on October 23 last year.

It comes after jurors were played horrifying footage showing steam rising from the container where the Vietnamese migrants had suffocated to death at temperatures above 100 degrees.

Trucker Maurice Robinson can be seen approaching the rear right hand door of his lorry and opening it.

As he slowly eases the door open steam from the bodies of the deceased gushes out and he steps back.

Robinson had pulled up at Eastern Avenue, Grays, Essex, at 1.13am on 23 October having picked the lorry up from Purfleet.

It was only after 23 minutes that Robinson phoned the police in a panic.

Prosecutor Bill Emlyn Jones said Robinson made two calls to haulier Ronan Hughes who had earlier instructed him to ‘give them air quickly. Don’t let them out’.

Robinson dialled 999 at 1.36am.

Lorry driver Maurice Robinson (pictured), 26, has already admitted 39 counts of manslaughter

Lorry driver Maurice Robinson (pictured), 26, has already admitted 39 counts of manslaughter

Lorry driver Maurice Robinson (pictured), 26, has already admitted 39 counts of manslaughter

CCTV image issued by Essex Police of snapchat message from Ronan Hughes to Maurice Robinson, which was shown at the Old Bailey, London, shortly before he discovered bodies

CCTV image issued by Essex Police of snapchat message from Ronan Hughes to Maurice Robinson, which was shown at the Old Bailey, London, shortly before he discovered bodies

CCTV image issued by Essex Police of snapchat message from Ronan Hughes to Maurice Robinson, which was shown at the Old Bailey, London, shortly before he discovered bodies

The court was played an emergency call Robinson made in which he said: ‘They are all lying on the ground.’

The operator asked: ‘Are they breathing?’

Robinson: ‘No, I don’t think so. I heard a noise in the back, so I opened the door.’

Operator: ‘How many patients?’

Robinson: ‘About 25.’

Operator: ‘And they’re not breathing?’

Robinson: ‘No.’

Jurors were shown a screen grab from the phone of Robinson, who had collected the trailer from Purfleet port.

34945646 8888155 image a 3 1603882526385

34945646 8888155 image a 3 1603882526385

CCTV footage played to the jury showed large amounts of steam escaping from the back of the trailer when Robinson opened the doors shortly before he called the emergency services

CCTV footage played to the jury showed large amounts of steam escaping from the back of the trailer when Robinson opened the doors shortly before he called the emergency services

CCTV footage played to the jury showed large amounts of steam escaping from the back of the trailer when Robinson opened the doors shortly before he called the emergency services 

Who is charged with what in the lorry case? 

Eamonn Harrison, 23

  • Denies 39 counts of manslaughter
  • Denies conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration

Gheorghe Nica, 43

  • Denies 39 counts of manslaughter
  • Admits conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration

Valentin Calota, 37

  • Denies conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration

Christopher Kennedy, 24

  • Denies conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration

Maurice Robinson, 26

  • Admits 39 counts of manslaughter
  • Admits conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration

Ronan Hughes, 41

  • Admits 39 counts of manslaughter 
  • Admits conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration
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The prosecutor said it was a photograph of a text exchange he had on Snapchat with someone with the user name RHughes301.

It read: ‘Give them air quickly. Don’t let them out.’ Robinson replied with a thumbs-up emoji, said the prosecutor.

Jurors were told the exchange happened sometime between midnight and 1.20am.

The Old Bailey has heard dying victims wrote desperate text messages to their families as the air ran out and the temperature rose to 101.3F.

Jurors were told the ferry MV Clementine left the Belgian port at 4pm UK time for a journey that lasted more than eight hours.

At 6.25pm, a young Vietnamese woman took a series of selfies on her phone showing the sweltering conditions inside. 

Over the next couple of hours, occupants attempted to make phone calls, with one calling the emergency number for Vietnamese police, without success.

In a recorded message to his family, Nguyen Tho Tuan, 25, said: ‘I’m sorry. I cannot take care of you. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I cannot breathe.

‘I want to come back to my family. Have a good life.’

In another mobile phone recording at 8.02pm, Nguyen Dinh Luong, 20, said: ‘I cannot breathe. I’m sorry, I have to go now.’

In the background, a voice could be heard saying: ‘Come on everyone. Open up, open up.’

In another phone recording two minutes later, the same victim said: ‘I’m sorry. It’s all my fault.’

A voice in the background then says: ‘He’s dead.’

Fifteen-year-old Nguyen Huy Hung was the youngest of the group, 10 of whom were teenagers

Fifteen-year-old Nguyen Huy Hung was the youngest of the group, 10 of whom were teenagers

Nguyen Dinh Lurong, 20, was also named among those who died

Nguyen Dinh Lurong, 20, was also named among those who died

Nguyen Huy Hung (left), 15, was the youngest, while Nguyen Dinh Lurong (right), 20, also died

Pham Tra My, 26, has been confirmed as among the 39 people who died in a lorry in Essex

Pham Tra My, 26, has been confirmed as among the 39 people who died in a lorry in Essex

Pham Tra My, 26, has been confirmed as among the 39 people who died in a lorry in Essex

Pham Tra My, 26, has been confirmed as among the 39 people who died in a lorry in Essex

Pham Tra My (left and right) 26, was among the 39 people who died in the lorry in Grays, Essex

Cargo operator Jason Rook said in a statement that he smelt a ‘decomposing smell’ as he unloaded the trailer.

The prosecutor said the temperature inside the trailer reached a maximum of 101.3F sometime after 9pm.

Jurors heard that between 10pm and 10.30pm the carbon dioxide (CO2) inside the trailer had reached its toxic threshold, though the prosecutor said that was not agreed evidence and the jury would hear from witnesses.

Eamonn Harrison, 23, from Mayobridge, County Down, allegedly drove the trailer to the Zeebrugge ferry port.

He denies 39 manslaughter charges and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

In October last year, men, women and children, aged 15 to 44, were found dead in the trailer

In October last year, men, women and children, aged 15 to 44, were found dead in the trailer

In October last year, men, women and children, aged 15 to 44, were found dead in the trailer

Eamonn Harrison (right), 23, of County Down, who had dropped the trailer off at Zeebrugge, denies 39 counts of manslaughter with alleged organiser Gheorghe Nica (left), 43, of Basildon

Eamonn Harrison (right), 23, of County Down, who had dropped the trailer off at Zeebrugge, denies 39 counts of manslaughter with alleged organiser Gheorghe Nica (left), 43, of Basildon

Eamonn Harrison (right), 23, of County Down, who had dropped the trailer off at Zeebrugge, denies 39 counts of manslaughter with alleged organiser Gheorghe Nica (left), 43, of Basildon 

Gheorghe Nica, 43, from Basildon, Essex, denies 39 manslaughter charges, but has admitted conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

Valentin Calota, 37, from Birmingham, and 24-year-old Christopher Kennedy, from Darkley, Co Armagh, Northern Ireland, deny conspiracy to assist illegal immigration.

Robinson, of Craigavon, County Armagh, has admitted manslaughter, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and acquiring criminal property.

Ronan Hughes, 40, from Leitrim, Silverstream, Tyholland, Co Monaghan, has admitted manslaughter and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

The trial continues.

The 39 men, women and children who died in Essex lorry tragedy 

  1. Dinh Dinh Binh, a 15-year-old boy from Hai Phong
  2. Nguyen Minh Quang, a 20-year-old man from Nghe An
  3. Nguyen Huy Phong, 35-year-old man from Ha Tinh
  4. Le Van Ha, a 30-year-old man from Nghe An
  5. Nguyen Van Hiep, a 24-year-old man from Nghe An
  6. Bui Phan Thang, a 37-year-old man from Ha Tinh
  7. Nguyen Van Hung, a 33-year-old man from Nghe An
  8. Nguyen Huy Hung, a 15-year-old boy from Ha Tin
  9. Nguyen Tien Dung, a 33-year-old man from Quang Binh
  10. Pham Thi Tra My, a 26-year-old woman from Ha Tinh
  11. Tran Khanh Tho, an 18-year-old man from Ha Tinh
  12. Nguyen Van Nhan, a 33-year-old man from Ha Tinh
  13. Vo Ngoc Nam, a 28-year-old man from Nghe An
  14. Vo Van Linh, a 25-year-old man from Ha Tinh
  15. Nguyen Ba Vu Hung, a 34-year-old man from Thua Tien Hue
  16. Vo Nhan Du, a 19-year-old man from Ha Tinh
  17. Tran Hai Loc, a 35-year-old man from Nghe An
  18. Tran Manh Hung, a 37-year-old man from Ha Tinh
  19. Nguyen Thi Van, a 35-year-old woman from Nghe An
  20. Bui Thi Nhung, a 19-year-old woman from Nghe An
  21. Hoang Van Tiep, an 18-year-old man from Nghe An
  22. Tran Thi Ngoc, a 19-year-old woman from Nghe An
  23. Phan Thi Thanh, a 41-year-old woman from Hai Phong
  24. Tran Thi Tho, a 21-year-old woman from Nghe An
  25. Duong Minh Tuan, a 27-year-old man from Quang Binh
  26. Pham Thi Ngoc Oanh, a 28-year-old woman from Nghe An
  27. Tran Thi Mai Nhung, an 18-year-old woman from Nghe An
  28. Le Trong Thanh, a 44-year-old man from Dien Chau
  29. Nguyen Ngoc Ha, a 32-year-old man from Quang Binh
  30. Hoang Van Hoi, a 24-year-old man from Nghe An
  31. Tran Ngoc Hieu, a 17-year-old boy from Hai Duong
  32. Cao Tien Dung, a 37-year-old man from Nghe An
  33. Dinh Dinh Thai Quyen, an 18-year-old man from Hai Phong
  34. Dong Huu Tuyen, a 22-year-old man from Nghe An
  35. Nguyen Dinh Luong, a 20-year-old man from Ha Tinh
  36. Cao Huy Thanh, a 37-year-old man from Nghe An
  37. Nguyen Trong Thai, a 26-year-old man from Nghe An
  38. Nguyen Tho Tuan, a 25-year-old man from Nghe An
  39. Nguyen Dinh Tu, a 26-year-old man from Nghe An
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Pictured: Kurdish-Iranian mother and father who died

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pictured kurdish iranian mother and father who died

Four members of a Kurdish-Iranian family drowned while trying to cross the Channel after paying people smugglers £21,600 to get them to Britain – while their 15-month-old baby boy remains missing, it emerged today. 

Rasoul Iran-Nejad, 35, Shiva Mohammad Panahi, 35, Anita, nine, and Armin, six, perished in the tragedy yesterday, with French coastguard retrieving their bodies from the sea. Their baby, Artin, is yet to be found.  

Mr Iran-Nejad had sold everything in the hope of achieving a better future for his family, his brother told BBC Persian in a phone call from their home city of Sardasht in the west of Iran, near the border with Iraq. 

The family had left Iran on August 7 to travel to Turkey, before taking a ferry to Italy and driving to France almost a month ago, according to a friend who remained in Calais. 

The family were travelling in a rigid inflatable boat (RIB) that began sinking at around 8.30am yesterday off the coast of Loon-Plage near Dunkirk. 

The French-flagged Marbuzet, a 40ft-long pleasure craft, saw what was happening and told the Coastguard, which rescued fifteen survivors who had suffered cardiac arrest and hypothermia. 

Boris Johnson today responded to the tragedy by promising to ‘crack down’ on brutal people smugglers who have fueled a surge in crossings.  

A Kurdish Iraqi migrant who befriended the family at the makeshift camp where they were staying in Dunkirk said he urged them not to make the dangerous trip because of the stormy conditions but they decided to go ahead, saying: ‘God is big’. 

Rasoul Iran-Nejad, 35, Shiva Mohammad Panahi, 35, Anita, nine, and Armin, six, perished in the tragedy yesterday. They are pictured from left to right. Their baby, Artin, (far left) is yet to be found

Rasoul Iran-Nejad, 35, Shiva Mohammad Panahi, 35, Anita, nine, and Armin, six, perished in the tragedy yesterday. They are pictured from left to right. Their baby, Artin, (far left) is yet to be found

Rasoul Iran-Nejad, 35, Shiva Mohammad Panahi, 35, Anita, nine, and Armin, six, perished in the tragedy yesterday. They are pictured from left to right. Their baby, Artin, (far left) is yet to be found

Emergency services rushed to the stricken rigid inflatable boat (RIB) after the migrants screamed 'Help us, we're sinking!' in a frantic Mayday call. Pictured are emergency services at Dunkirk harbour yesterda y

Emergency services rushed to the stricken rigid inflatable boat (RIB) after the migrants screamed 'Help us, we're sinking!' in a frantic Mayday call. Pictured are emergency services at Dunkirk harbour yesterda y

Emergency services rushed to the stricken rigid inflatable boat (RIB) after the migrants screamed ‘Help us, we’re sinking!’ in a frantic Mayday call. Pictured are emergency services at Dunkirk harbour yesterda y

The migrant boat was spotted by Marbuzet, a pleasure boat. This graphic - based data from shipping tracker Marine Traffic - shows the Marbuzet's course yesterday morning

The migrant boat was spotted by Marbuzet, a pleasure boat. This graphic - based data from shipping tracker Marine Traffic - shows the Marbuzet's course yesterday morning

The migrant boat was spotted by Marbuzet, a pleasure boat. This graphic – based data from shipping tracker Marine Traffic – shows the Marbuzet’s course yesterday morning 

Choman Manesh said he befriended the family and knew them very well, speaking to them almost every day at the makeshift camp outside Dunkirk where he still lives. 

‘It is so sad because I know this family over here that situation happened yesterday,’ he told Sky News. 

‘I advised them ‘please don’t go by boat. It’s not good. It’s really bad situation. If you stay in water, it will be bad for you’. They told me ‘God is big’.’

Mr Manesh said he had attempted to make the perilous crossing himself 11 times but had been stopped before he even got to the beach on 10 occasions. 

He successfully made it onto the water in a dinghy once but was turned back, leaving him to give up hope of ever reaching the UK. He now plans to seek asylum in Brussels.           

The tragedy has prompted fury at vicious smuggling gangs who are blamed for fueling the rise in crossings, with Boris Johnson vowing a ‘crackdown’ after the worst loss of life during migrant crisis so far. 

Dover MP Natalie Elphicke tweeted: ‘It is terrible that tragedy has struck in the Channel again. People traffickers have no regard for life, no matter how old or young.’

Meanwhile, Alp Mehmet, from Migration Watch, blamed French officials for not preventing the ‘totally avoidable’ tragedy. 

How vicious traffickers make thousands smuggling desperate migrants into Britain 

Illegal cross-Channel migration is being fueled by a global network of people smugglers making thousands from their evil trade.

Research has revealed how these smugglers operate, and the false promises they use to convince people to make the dangerous trip to the UK.

Agents of the smugglers drum up business by visiting impoverished families in Iraq, Iran, Africa and Pakistan, often with exaggerated tales of British largesse.

Potential migrants have to raise money for a fee, or agree to pay one later, with much of the sum – which can be up to £10,000 – usually donated by family members and non-payment punished with threats and violence.

Migrants from the Middle East often first step foot in Europe in Greece after making a dangerous journey across the Mediterranean. They then travel more than a thousand miles – often in the back of a lorry – to Calais, where they set up camp.

Smugglers usually bring migrants to Calais in batches, with a new group arriving after the previous one has already left in boats across the Channel.

A people smuggler named Farooq revealed how the next stage of the process worked in an interview secretly recorded by LBC.

He revealed that migrants would be told to sleep rough around Calais while he bought a boat for them to travel in.

The migrants would then be put into the boat, pointed in the direction of Britain, and told not to stop until they reached UK waters, where they would be rescued.

There have also been reports of people traffickers hiring French fishing boat crews to carry desperate migrants halfway across the Channel in a bid to evade eye-in-the-sky military drones.

When migrants are picked up by the UK Coastguard they are taken to a migrant detention centre to be processed.

Of the 1,890 foreigners who reached British shores in small boats last year, only about 125 were returned European countries, with most of the rest having credible claims for asylum, according to the Home Office.

Asylum seekers are housed in accommodation centres for the first few weeks after arriving before being moved elsewhere, including into hotels and bed and breakfasts.

During this period they are not allowed to work and sometimes fall into menial jobs in the black economy, such as cleaning or washing dishes. They also face being exploited by criminal gangs, and may feel uncomfortable cooperating with the police due to their immigration status, according to a Met Police report. 

If they are successful they will be allowed to take a job. However, despite the false claims of people smugglers, many of these jobs are low paid, with migrants often held back by low skills or a lack of English. 

Additional reporting by Sue Reid for the Daily Mail

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He told Talk Radio: ‘Why didn’t they stop them from sailing in the first place? We are talking about a lot of people in a big boat, someone should have noticed.’

The tragedy will intensify the pressure on the Government to broker a deal with the French to finally stop the crossings. 

Boris Johnson said: ‘My thoughts are with the loved ones of those who tragically lost their lives in the Channel today.

‘We have offered the French authorities every support as they investigate this terrible incident and will do all we can to crack down on the ruthless criminal gangs who prey on vulnerable people by facilitating these dangerous journeys.’

Seven migrants have died trying to cross the Channel this year – three more than last year’s toll. 

His words were echoed by Home Secretary Priti Patel, who said: ‘We are in touch with our French counterparts who are leading on the response and have offered whatever support they need as they investigate this incident.

‘This tragic news highlights the dangers that come with crossing the Channel and I will do everything I can to stop callous criminals exploiting vulnerable people.’

Last October Miss Patel pledged that illegal Channel crossings would be an ‘infrequent phenomenon’ within six months. 

But at least 7,500 migrants are known to have crossed to England by small boat so far this year – more than four times the total for the whole of 2019.

Miss Patel has been negotiating with the French government to step up patrols on their coastline but no deal has yet been reached.

She wants Paris to agree to migrant boats being turned around in the Channel and sent back to France. 

Marlene Schiappa, deputy French interior minister, tweeted that the death toll from yesterday’s incident ‘is heavy and still uncertain’. 

The migrants made a Mayday call in which they begged, ‘Help us, we’re sinking’, according to The Sun

However, it is not clear who received the call, as the French coastguard said they were informed of the incident by the Marbuzet. 

Yesterday, rescue efforts involved a lifeboat from Gravelines, a French customs patrol boat, the Dunkirk pilot boat, a nearby fishing vessel and a Belgian air force helicopter.

Rescuers reached the sinking boat and pulled at least 15 people out of the water.

The five-year-old could not be resuscitated and the eight-year-old died in hospital. Survivors, some of whom were treated at hospitals in Dunkirk and Calais, gave their nationalities as Iraqi and Kurdish Iranian. 

One migrant was winched from the waves by the crew of the Belgian helicopter as darkness fell. 

Retired coastguard officer Andy Roberts said yesterday’s horrific incident was predictable.

‘It’s absolutely tragic,’ he added. ‘Something like this was always eventually going to happen and sadly it now has. 

‘There is no way that boat was ever going to successfully cross the Dover strait.’  

His words were echoed by Home Office Clandestine Channel Threat Commander Dan O’Mahoney, who said he was ‘deeply saddened’ to hear of the deaths and added there was ‘no way’ the boat was going to get across the Dover Strait. 

He said the weather was ‘appalling’ at the time, with wind speeds of 42 knots (around 48mph). 

Survivors reportedly gave their nationalities as Iraqi and Kurdish Iranian. 

Last night sources told The Sun: ‘The boat had not left French waters but the conditions were pretty tough.

‘The radio message came in at about the same time a yachtsman had reported seeing the vessel in difficulties.

‘It was incredibly fortunate the alarm was raised quickly enough for a rescue operation to be mounted.’     

34938532 8889121 image a 18 1603897804535

34938532 8889121 image a 18 1603897804535

A French rescue helicopter lands at Dunkirk port yesterday during the operation to rescue the stricken migrants

A French rescue helicopter lands at Dunkirk port yesterday during the operation to rescue the stricken migrants

A French rescue helicopter lands at Dunkirk port yesterday during the operation to rescue the stricken migrants 

Searches resumed at dawn today to find a fifth migrant who has not been accounted for, who is feared to be the infant child of the dead woman. Pictured are police in Dunkirk yesterday

Searches resumed at dawn today to find a fifth migrant who has not been accounted for, who is feared to be the infant child of the dead woman. Pictured are police in Dunkirk yesterday

Searches resumed at dawn today to find a fifth migrant who has not been accounted for, who is feared to be the infant child of the dead woman. Pictured are police in Dunkirk yesterday 

Tragedy of growing migrant death toll as charity warns Channel must not ‘become a graveyard for children’ 

Yesterday’s tragedy follows the deaths of 10 migrants in the Channel over the last two years. 

Although many of the victims have not been identified, the names of some have been made public.  

Sudanese national Abdulfatah Hamdallah, 28, drowned while trying to make the crossing in August in a 3ft dinghy.

Two people also died last year.

Iranian Mitra Mehrad, 31, drowned after falling overboard while saving a baby’s life, according to a friend.

She was travelling on a small dinghy carrying 19 other migrants – including a child and a baby – when she went missing in horrendous conditions on August 9.

A huge air search and rescue operation was launched by British authorities after three people went overboard wearing life jackets off the Kent coast.

Ms Mehrad had jumped into the water in a bid to reach a rescue rope from another boat as the one they were travelling on began to sink.

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French citizenship minister Marlene Schiappa tweeted her ‘great sadness’ and said the overall toll was ‘serious and still uncertain’. 

Herve Tourmente, an official with the Nord department, said stormy conditions had made the attempted crossing from Loon-Plage, near Dunkirk, especially perilous yesterday.

‘This is the heaviest toll we’ve ever had in the North,’ he said. It seems one person, who might be an infant, is still missing.’  

The Dunkirk prosecutor’s office has launched an investigation into the incident.

Those responsible could face a variety of charges including manslaughter and operating within a criminal gang to exploit the victims. 

Public prosecutor Sebastien Pive said six migrants were taken into custody for interview.

A spokesman for the charity Save the Children said: ‘The English Channel must not become a graveyard for children. 

‘The British and French governments must work together to expand safe and legal routes for desperate families fleeing conflict, persecution, and poverty.

‘Parents shouldn’t be compelled to risk their children’s lives in search of safety. No child should have to make a dangerous, potentially fatal, journey in search of a better life.’ 

Clare Moseley, founder of aid charity Care4Calais, said: ‘It is cruel and horrifying that this time young children are among the victims. 

‘This unnecessary loss of life has to stop. Refugees feel pushed to take these risks because of the policies of the French and British governments. This loss of life should be a wake-up call.’

Sudanese national Abdulfatah Hamdallah (left), 28, drowned in August while trying to make the crossing in a 3ft dinghy

Sudanese national Abdulfatah Hamdallah (left), 28, drowned in August while trying to make the crossing in a 3ft dinghy

Iranian Mitra Mehrad, 31, drowned in the same month after falling overboard while saving a baby's life, according to a friend

Iranian Mitra Mehrad, 31, drowned in the same month after falling overboard while saving a baby's life, according to a friend

Sudanese national Abdulfatah Hamdallah (left), 28, drowned in August while trying to make the crossing in a 3ft dinghy. Iranian Mitra Mehrad, 31, drowned in the same month after falling overboard while saving a baby’s life, according to a friend

This photo of a ferry entering Dover on Tuesday demonstrates the stormy weather at the time of yesterday's incident

This photo of a ferry entering Dover on Tuesday demonstrates the stormy weather at the time of yesterday's incident

This photo of a ferry entering Dover on Tuesday demonstrates the stormy weather at the time of yesterday’s incident 

High of 7,565 Channel crossings so far this year 

There have been some 7,565 Channel crossings this year alone which have forced the Government to use former barracks as migrant camps. 

Just 1,850 migrants tried to make the crossing in 2019. 

A record-breaking 409 migrants made it across the Channel on September 2.

And the figure includes a single-month record of 1,954 in September.

So far this month, 436 migrants have been detained. 

Conservative Lee Anderson (Ashfield) told the Prime Minister the asylum system is ‘broken and being abused’, to which Mr Johnson replied in the Commons: ‘I have a great deal of sympathy with those who are so desperate as to put their children in dinghies or even children’s paddling pools and try to cross the Channel.

‘But I have to say what they’re doing is falling prey to criminal gangs and they are breaking the law. They’re also undermining the legitimate claims of others who would seek asylum in this country.

‘That is why we will take advantage of leaving the EU by changing the Dublin regulations on returns and we will address the rigidities in our laws that makes this country, I’m afraid, a target and a magnet for those who would exploit vulnerable people in this way.’ 

The massive rise comes despite a vow from Home Secretary Priti Patel last autumn to have made the crossings an ‘infrequent phenomenon’ by this point.

The Home Office has sought to blame French authorities and ‘activist lawyers’ for the increase and for difficulties removing asylum seekers once they arrive in Britain. 

The previous monthly record for migrant arrivals was 1,075, set in July. August’s arrivals saw 235 reach Britain on just one day – which was also a record.

Miss Patel is seeking a deal with French authorities that would allow migrant boats to be turned back in the Channel. No agreement has yet been reached.

At the beginning of September, the Mail revealed the taxpayer was hit with a £1billion bill for the asylum system last year. 

An Iraqi man also drowned after attempting to swim over using plastic bottles as a life jacket and wearing diver fins.

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Former child refugee Lord Alf Dubs, who was part of the Kindertransport which rescued children from the Nazis, said the loss of life was ‘heartbreaking’.

The Labour peer wrote on Twitter: ‘Today’s tragic loss of life in the Channel, involving children, is heartbreaking. 

‘These deaths are a result of the increasing desperation of refugees as their legal routes to safety close. 

‘Without legal routes their journeys are dangerous and traffickers are the only winners. 

Folkestone MP Damian Collins said boats had to be intercepted before they got to the UK side of the Channel.

He added: ‘We must stop people traffickers from profiting while putting lives in danger.’

Yvette Cooper, chairman of the Commons home affairs committee, said: ‘It is heartbreaking that young children should be involved in this tragedy. 

‘These boats are so dangerous. The gangs who organise them profit from other people’s desperation.’

The latest tragedy in the Channel comes after a migrant drowned while attempting to make the crossing on Sunday, October 18.

The police and fire brigade were called to the beach at Sangatte near Calais at around 8am after his body was spotted in an orange life jacket.

Despite an autopsy last week confirming he died of accidental drowning while trying to reach the UK from France, his identity has not yet been revealed.

He is being referred to as ‘BB’ within migrant aid groups until his next of kin have been informed.

The man, who is understood to be aged in his 20s and was discovered by horrified rescue workers near the town hall, was identified by a friend to the medical examiner’s office.

Both police and the coroner are satisfied he was Iranian despite being found with no documents with him.

Humanitarian organisation Seeking Sanctuary paid their respects on Saturday by laying flowers at a plaque in Dover, Kent dedicated to all migrants who have died.

An autopsy last Tuesday found the latest migrant to have lost their life while attempting the crossing died of accidental drowning.

French news website France Bleu said rescuers found 50 Euros on the body of the man.

It is believed he died within hours of trying to make the treacherous 21 mile crossing of the Dover Strait.

A post mortem will be held in due course while an investigation is underway into the death.

The victim was the second to die this year making the treacherous crossing. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK had offered 'every support' to French authorities as they investigate the 'terrible incident'

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK had offered 'every support' to French authorities as they investigate the 'terrible incident'

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK had offered ‘every support’ to French authorities as they investigate the ‘terrible incident’

Iranian Mitra Mehrad, 31, drowned after falling overboard while saving a baby’s life, according to a friend.

France ‘turned away oil tanker hijackers’  

France refused to take seven stowaways from an oil tanker that was later hijacked off the Isle of Wight, it was claimed last night.

The Nave Andromeda, which was stormed by special forces on Sunday, is said to have asked French port authorities if they could take the men five days earlier.

The claim was made by the shipping journal Lloyd’s List.

Richard Meade, its editor, said: ‘The stowaways were discovered… and the standard protocol is to inform the nearest coastal state, which it appears was France – but they refused to accept them.’ 

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She was travelling on a small dinghy carrying 19 other migrants – including a child and a baby – when she went missing in horrendous conditions on August 9.

A huge air search and rescue operation was launched by British authorities after three people went overboard wearing life jackets off the Kent coast.

Ms Mehrad had jumped into the water in a bid to reach a rescue rope from another boat as the one they were travelling on began to sink.

The other two were quickly recovered, but Ms Mehrad could not be tracked.

Her body was found on Dutch waters on August 18, and she is believed to be the first person to have died while making the perilous crossing.

An Iraqi man also drowned after attempting to swim over using plastic bottles as a life jacket and wearing diver fins.

Two people also died last year. 

A total of 7,565 migrants have now attempted to make the perilous crossing across the English channel this year compared to just 1,850 in 2019.

In September alone 1,954 made the crossing in small boats.

So far this month, 436 migrants have been detained. 

Home Secretary Priti Patel said in a statement posted on Twitter yesterday that she was 'truly saddened to learn of the tragic loss of life in French waters this morning'

Home Secretary Priti Patel said in a statement posted on Twitter yesterday that she was 'truly saddened to learn of the tragic loss of life in French waters this morning'

Home Secretary Priti Patel said in a statement posted on Twitter yesterday that she was ‘truly saddened to learn of the tragic loss of life in French waters this morning’

Former child refugee Lord Alf Dubs, who was part of the Kindertransport which rescued children from the Nazis, said the loss of life was 'heartbreaking'

Former child refugee Lord Alf Dubs, who was part of the Kindertransport which rescued children from the Nazis, said the loss of life was 'heartbreaking'

Former child refugee Lord Alf Dubs, who was part of the Kindertransport which rescued children from the Nazis, said the loss of life was ‘heartbreaking’

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Around 1.4% of Covid-19 patients will suffer a stroke, scientists warn

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around 1 4 of covid 19 patients will suffer a stroke scientists warn

At least one in every 100 Covid-19 patients admitted to hospital will suffer a stroke, according to fresh data.

Academics found strokes typically occur a few days after infection and may affect those who never show tell-tale symptoms of the coronavirus in the first place.

Those who suffer the life-threatening complication tend to be older, but around six years younger than patients normally seen in hospitals. And strokes from Covid-19 were around twice as deadly as usual strokes. 

Underlying ill health, such as that caused by high blood pressure and diabetes, were also found to be a risk factor for coronavirus-linked strokes. 

The findings come from the Stroke Research Group at the University of Cambridge, who reviewed the existing evidence on Covid-19 and stroke. In total, the researchers analysed 61 studies, covering more than 100,000 patients admitted to hospital with the coronavirus. 

One in every 100 Covid-19 patients will suffer a stroke, data of hospital patients shows

One in every 100 Covid-19 patients will suffer a stroke, data of hospital patients shows

One in every 100 Covid-19 patients will suffer a stroke, data of hospital patients shows

The results of the study are published today in the International Journal of Stroke.

Professor Hugh Markus, who leads the Stroke Research Group at Cambridge, said the incidence of stroke among Covid-19 patients was ‘low’. 

But he added: ‘The scale of the pandemic means many thousands of people could potentially be affected worldwide.’

The research found strokes occurred in 14 out of every 1,000 cases – the equivalent of 1.4 hospitalised patients out of every 100.

Acute ischaemic stroke, caused by a blood clot cutting off blood supply to the brain, was the most common type of stroke.

BRAIN ABNORMALITIES ARE ‘COMMON IN COVID-19 PATIENTS’

Brain abnormalities are common in Covid-19, according to experts who have warned any damage to the organ may be permanent.

Throughout the pandemic, doctors across the world have claimed that it is not just the lungs that are affected by Covid-19.

Scores of patients have suffered neurological complications including stroke, headache and seizures, as well as problems with their heart. Neurological findings are reported in 40 per cent of sick patients with Covid-19.

But academics remain baffled as to exactly how Covid-19 affects the brain — despite several studies warning of a clear link.

Researchers based at Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Pittsburgh have now added to the growing evidence.

They looked at brain scans of more than 600 Covid-19 patients who had participated in 18 different studies.

Each had an electroencephalogram (EEG), a scan that records their brain activity. During an EEG, small sensors are attached to the scalp to pick up the electrical signals produced when brain cells send messages to each other. These signals are recorded by a machine and are looked at by a specialist to see if they’re unusual.

The main reason a patient would be given an EEG is to identify what is causing certain symptoms, such as seizures, memory problems, confusion or problems with speech.

A total of 88 per cent of the patients sent for an EEG had abnormal readings. The possibility of preexisting EEG abnormalities is ‘so low’ the researchers believe most of the EEG abnormalities are new.

Approximately one-third of the patients with EEGs had abnormal results from neuroimaging -an MRI or CT scan that gives a visual representation of the brain. 

The team admitted this link may be down to patients being older, having underlying neurological conditions or being sicker.  

The most common problem found in the EEG scans was ‘diffuse slowing’, which is linked with difficulties with awareness, attention, memory, and comprehension.

Dr Zulfi Haneef, an assistant professor of neurology at Baylor, said: ‘As we know, the brain is an organ that cannot regenerate, so if you have any damage it will more than likely be permanent or you will not fully recover.’

But in the review, 56.8 per cent of the follow up EEG studies reported that patients had seen an improvement. In some, however, symptoms worsened.

Despite having no proof, scientists said they were confident the brain changes were caused by the coronavirus and were not ‘just coincidence’.

They believe this because EEG analysis also showed that 30-50 per cent of the abnormalities involved the frontal region, which is the part adjacent to the nasopharynx which is directly behind the nose.

This suggests that the virus enters through the nose into the frontal lobe of the brain where it directly causes harm.

Dr Arun Anthony, co-author from University of Pittsburgh told MailOnline the ‘abnormalities were absolutely caused by Covid’ because ‘in most of these patients, EEGs were performed because they were symptomatic, and all the patients had a positive Covid test’. 

Dr Haneef said: ‘Before, when we saw this in small groups we weren’t sure if this was just a coincidence, but now we can confidently say there is a connection.’

The findings were published in Seizure: European Journal of Epilepsy

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Brain haemorrhages — which are caused by an artery in the brain bursting — were less common. 

Most patients who suffered the deadly events had been admitted to hospital with Covid-19 symptoms, and they then suffered a stroke a few days later.

Patients who had a more severe infection with SARS-­CoV-­2 – the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 – were also at greater risk.

However, the researchers warned that many cases of Covid-19 are asymptomatic, causing no symptoms at all. 

They now recommend that every stroke patient admitted to hospital is tested for Covid-19 for that reason.   

Covid-19 patients who developed stroke were on average 4.8 years older than those who did not. But they were on average six years younger than non-Covid-19 stroke patients, according to the analysis. 

Pre-existing health conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, also increased the risk of stroke, the research team noted.

However, the experts found no difference between rates of stroke among infected men and women, or smokers versus non-smokers.  

The researchers said Covid-19-associated strokes were more severe and had a high mortality than what’s usually seen in stroke patients. 

Out of 1,655 patients who had enough data to be analysed, 31.5 per cent died. This compares with 11 to 12 per cent of non-Covid stroke patients. 

The researchers gave several possible mechanisms for why the coronavirus, once thought to be a purely respiratory disease, causes strokes.

One mechanism might be that the virus triggers an inflammatory response that causes the thickening of the blood, increasing the risk of thrombosis and stroke. 

Another relates to ACE2 – a protein ‘receptor’ on the surface of cells that SARS-CoV-2 uses to break into the cell. 

This receptor is commonly found on cells in the lungs, heart, kidneys, and in the lining of blood vessels. If the virus invades the lining of blood vessels, it could cause inflammation, constricting the blood vessels and restricting blood flow.

A third possible mechanism is the immune system over-reacting to the infection, with the body then releasing an excessive amount of proteins known as cytokine. 

This so-called ‘cytokine storm’ could then cause brain damage, and has also been speculated to damage blood vessels, and cause blood platelets to become more ‘hyperactive’. 

An important question is whether the coronavirus is directly increasing the risk of stroke, or whether patients who suffer them were already more at risk, and Covid-19 indirectly led to the event.

‘The picture is complicated,’ said study author Dr Stefania Nannoni from the department of clinical neurosciences at the University of Cambridge. 

‘For example, a number Covid-19 patients are already likely to be at increased risk of stroke, and other factors, such as the mental stress of Covid-19, may contribute to stroke risk.

‘On the other hand, we see evidence that Covid-19 may trigger – or at least be a risk factor for – stroke, in some cases. 

‘Firstly, SARS­-CoV­-2 more so than other coronaviruses – and significantly more so than seasonal flu – appears to be associated with stroke. 

‘Secondly, we see a particular pattern of stroke in individuals with Covid-19, which suggests a causal relationship in at least a proportion of patients.’ 

Professor Markus said: ‘Clinicians will need to look out for signs and symptoms of stroke, particularly among those groups who are at particular risk, while bearing in mind that the profile of an at-risk patient is younger than might be expected.’ 

The research was supported by the Medical Research Council, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research and the British Heart Foundation.

COVID-19 ‘COULD AGE THE BRAIN 10 YEARS’ 

Covid-19 could age the brain by ten years, a non-peer-reviewed study has found.

More than 84,000 people were studied by Dr Adam Hampshire and colleagues at Imperial College London,  who found that in some severe cases, coronavirus infection is linked to substantial cognitive deficits for months.

‘Our analyses … align with the view that there are chronic cognitive consequences of having Covid-19,’ the researchers wrote in a report of their findings. 

‘People who had recovered, including those no longer reporting symptoms, exhibited significant cognitive deficits.’

Cognitive tests measure how well the brain performs tasks – such as remembering words or joining dots on a puzzle. Such tests are widely used to assess brain performance in diseases like Alzheimer’s, and can also help doctors assess temporary brain impairments.

Hampshire’s team analysed results from 84,285 people who completed a study called the Great British Intelligence Test.

The findings, which have yet to be reviewed by other experts, were published online on the MedRxiv website.

The cognitive deficits were ‘of substantial effect size’, particularly among people who had been hospitalised with Covid-19, the researchers said.

The worst cases showed impacts ‘equivalent to the average 10-year decline in global performance between the ages of 20 to 70’.

Scientists not directly involved with the study, however, said its results should be viewed with some caution.

‘The cognitive function of the participants was not known pre-Covid, and the results also do not reflect long-term recovery – so any effects on cognition may be short term,’ said Joanna Wardlaw, a professor of applied neuroimaging at Edinburgh University.

Derek Hill, a professor of medical imaging science at University College London, also noted that the study’s findings could not be entirely reliable, since they did not compare before and after scores, and involved a large number of people who self-reported having had COVID-19, who had no positive test.

‘Overall (this is) an intriguing but inconclusive piece of research into the effect of COVID on the brain,’ Professor Hill said. 

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This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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