Trump’s personal physician Sean Conley (pictured) says the president is in ‘high spirits’ and continuing to work while hospitalized for treatment for coronavirus
Trump’s personal physician Sean Conley offered an update on his condition outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, on Saturday morning alongside several other members of the president’s medical team.
‘This morning, the president is doing very well. The team and I are extremely happy with the progress the president has made. He’s been fever free for 24 hours and we are cautiously optimistic,’ Conley said, adding that Trump has a mild cough and nasal congestion that are ‘resolving’.
Dr Shaun Dooley, a critical care physician, took the podium next and said Trump’s heart and kidney function are being monitored and are currently in good condition.
Dooley said Trump is in ‘high spirits’ and told his team this morning: ‘I feel like I could walk out of here today.’
Conley was repeatedly asked by reporters if Trump had been placed on supplemental oxygen at any point but he declined to respond, merely saying: ‘He is not on oxygen right now.’ He said that the president is walking around and working in his hospital suite.
Trump is currently undergoing a range of treatments including a polyclonal antibody cocktail made by Regeneron that is not available to the public, remdesivir – an ebola drug that has already been shown to work against the virus – and vitamin D.
He is also taking zinc, vitamin D, famotidine (the generic name for Pepcid AC), melatonin and daily aspirin.
A team of Trump’s doctors joined Conley at a briefing outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Saturday
The president, 74, gave a ‘thumbs up’ as he walked from the White House to Marine One to be airlifted to hospital on Friday evening. He waved to reporters on the South Lawn but didn’t speak. He walked on his own with no help
President Trump tweeted Friday night that he believed his treatment was ‘going well’ and gave thanks for his support
A video was tweeted from President Trump’s account as he was transported to the hospital. In the 18-second clip, Trump thanked the American public for their support after he announced his coronavirus diagnosis on Friday morning
The president took to Twitter on Friday night to share an upbeat message about his condition amid reports that he had been hospitalized because he was having ‘trouble breathing’.
‘Going well, I think! Thank you to all. LOVE!!!’ Trump tweeted after a CNN report quoted an unnamed presidential adviser claiming that there is ‘reason for concern’ about his condition.
‘This is serious,’ the source told CNN, stating that Trump was ‘very tired, very fatigued’ and claimed that his condition was much more severe than First Lady Melania Trump’s.
They confirmed he is ‘fatigued’, but that his condition is not deteriorating and the public should not be alarmed.
The president gave a ‘thumbs up’ as he walked from the White House to Marine One to be airlifted to hospital on Friday evening. He waved to reporters on the South Lawn but didn’t speak.
Before traveling to hospital, Trump had released an 18 second video message to the nation, saying he was being hospitalized but ‘I think I’m doing very well.’
‘We’re going to make sure that things work out,’ he said, adding that the first lady was also ‘doing very well’.
With just a month to go until the election, it also emerged that:
- Eleven people involved in the set-up and planning of Tuesday night’s presidential debate have now tested positive for COVID-19
- Debate moderator Chris Wallace revealed that Donald Trump and his family arrived to the debate too late to take a COVID test
- Wallace also said that debate organizers ‘were not especially happy that the presidential party was not wearing masks’ and ‘there seems to have been a disregard for the risks of this virus’
- Seven people who attended Amy Coney Barrett’s ceremonial nomination to the Supreme Court last Saturday tested positive for COVID-19, giving rise to fears that it was a ‘super-spreader event’
- Among the top Trump officials who have tested positive are: Former presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway, top aide Hope Hicks, campaign manager Bill Stepien and RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel
- Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump have expressed their well-wishes for their father
- New Jersey contact tracers are struggling to work out the names of all of the people who were present at a fundraiser the president attended on Thursday just hours before he was diagnosed with the virus
- Trump will work from the Presidential suite at Walter Reed that is specially outfitted with protective devices and communications gear
President Trump tweeted Friday night that he believed his treatment was ‘going well’ and gave thanks for his support
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows arrives at Walter Reed ahead of Conley’s press conference on Saturday
Trump supporter Richard Potcner camps outside Walter Reed hospital on Saturday
WHO HAS TRUMP BEEN IN CONTACT WITH AND WHO AMONG THEM IS INFECTED
Hope Hicks, counselor to the president – POSITIVE
Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump – NEGATIVE
Barron Trump – NEGATIVE
Tiffany Trump – NEGATIVE
Eric Trump, Lara Trump – NEGATIVE
Donald Trump Jr, Kimberly Guilfoyle – NEGATIVE
Vice President Mike Pence – NEGATIVE
Joe Biden and Jill Biden – NEGATIVE
Dan Scavino, Social Media Director – NEGATIVE
RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel – POSITIVE
Mark Meadows, White House chief of staff – NEGATIVE
Kayleigh McEnany, press secretary – NEGATIVE
KellyAnne Conway, Trump’s former advisor who attended Saturday’s announcement of SCOTUS nominee – POSITIVE
Amy Coney Barrett, Supreme Court nominee – NEGATIVE (She had the virus in the summer)
Rev John Jenkins, President of Notre Dame who attended Saturday’s announcement of SCOTUS nominee – POSITIVE
Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina who attended Saturday’s announcement of SCOTUS nominee – POSITIVE
Mike Lee, Utah Republican senator who attended Saturday’s announcement of SCOTUS nominee – POSITIVE
Bill Stepien, campaign manager – POSITIVE
John McEntee, Director of the White House Presidential Personnel Office – UNKNOWN
Rudy Giuliani, personal attorney. Giuliani had spent the weekend at the White House doing debate prep – UNKNOWN
Mitch McConnell – UNKNOWN
Lindsey Graham – UNKNOWN
Robert Ford, CEO of Abbott Laboratories, who was at the White House on Monday – UNKNOWN
Admiral Brett Geroir, assistant Health and Human Services secretary – UNKNOWN
Alex Azar, HHS secretary – UNKNOWN
The White House said Trump was being admitted to Walter Reed for tests ‘out of an abundance of caution’ after he developed a fever, congestion and a cough.
He is expected to remain in hospital for ‘a few days’ where he will continue working, they added.
White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah confirmed that Trump had not transferred power to Vice President Mike Pence, despite his hospitalization. ‘The president is in charge,’ she said.
Pence is at the Naval Observatory where he lives. He tested negative for COVID on Friday morning.
For patients hospitalized with COVID-19, the FDA has given emergency-use authorization for Veklury, also known as remdesivir, an intravenous antiviral drug sold by Gilead Sciences Inc, which has been shown to shorten hospital stays.
White House physician Sean Conley said in a letter to Press Secretary McEnancy that Trump began taking the drug Friday night.
‘This afternoon, in consultation with specialists from Walter Reed and Johns Hopkins University, I recommended movement of the President up to Walter Reed Military Medical Center for further monitoring,’ Conley wrote.
‘This evening I am happy to report that the President is doing very well. He is not requiring any supplemental oxygen, but in consultation with specialists we have elected to initiate remdesivir therapy. He has completed his first dose and is resting comfortably.’
Remdesivir, an anti-viral drug first made to try and treat Ebola, has been used experimentally on COVID-19 patients since the outbreak’s early days.
It was given emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration on May 1 but could only be used on severely ill hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
On August 28, the FDA extended its authorization to all hospitalized adult and pediatric patients with suspected or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19, irrespective of their severity of disease.
The update on Trump’s treatment came as the extent of the coronavirus outbreak in his administration became more clear.
In the early hours of Saturday morning, it was confirmed that Trump’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Politico said Stepien, 42, received his diagnosis Friday and is experiencing ‘mild flu-like symptoms’.
He traveled to and from Cleveland for Tuesday’s presidential debate with the president.
Just hours earlier, Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina confirmed he had tested positive. He was in the Rose Garden for the announcement of Trump’s Supreme Court nomination on Saturday.
Trump’s former adviser Kellyanne Conway also tested positive Friday night.
It means at least seven people who were in attendance at the Saturday Rose Garden event nominating Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court have now tested positive: President Trump, the first lady, a senior White House aide, two Republican senators who sit on the judiciary committee, Conway, and the head of the University of Notre Dame.
There are still several people who have been in close contact with Trump recently who have not revealed whether they have since tested positive or not.
As more positive tests were revealed, the White House’s testing infrastructure came under fire with claims that it is inconsistent and relying on rapid tests that produce mixed results.
Additionally, the White House does not appear to be making any changes to its current virus protocol, as it will not move to a new testing system.
Three White House reporters also tested positive Friday as the White House National Security Council ordered all staff to begin wearing masks in White House common areas and to ‘avoid unnecessary visits’ to the West Wing, according to an internal email.
Mask use on the White House grounds has mostly been lax, with Trump often having questioned and sometimes ridiculed their use despite medical experts´ insistence the practice saves lives.
Many White House staffers only appeared publicly wearing masks for the first time Friday as they waited for Trump to Board Marine One.
In a video message posted to Twitter as he was transported to hospital, the president thanked the American people for their support following his diagnosis.
‘I want to thank everyone for the tremendous support. I’m going to Walter Reed hospital, I think I’m doing well, but we’re going to make sure things work out,’ he said in the 18-second clip.
‘The First Lady is doing very well. So, thank you very much, I appreciate it. I will never forget it.’
Trump is seen stepping off Marine One after arriving to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday afternoon
Trump waves from the Presidential motorcade while arriving to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
Trump’s motorcade arrives at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center shortly after the White House announced that he ‘will be working from the presidential offices at Walter Reed for the next few days’ after testing positive for coronavirus
On Friday evening, Eric Trump tweeted that his father ‘is a true warrior’ and asked Americans to ‘join me in praying for his recovery’.
‘He will fight through this with the same strength and conviction that he uses to fight for America each and every day,’ Eric wrote. ‘I ask you to join me in praying for his recovery. I have never been more proud of someone and what they have had to endure.’
Trump’s daughter Ivanka also called him a ‘warrior’ saying he ‘will beat this’.
‘I love you, Dad,’ she added.
Ivanka Trump tweeted ‘I love you dad’ as the president was hospitalized on Friday night
Trump, 74, and Melania, 50, announced they tested positive in the early hours of Friday morning and at the time were self-isolating at the White House.
Melania, who tweeted that she has ‘mild symptoms’ has not been taken to hospital with the president and will remain quarantined in the White House.
Trump’s son Eric called for prayers for his father’s recovery and said he was a ‘true warrior’
Earlier while still at the White House, Trump’s physician said he was treated with a single dose of Regenron’s experimental polyclonal antibody cocktail. He added that the President was ‘fatigued but in good spirits’.
The next week is considered the critical phase in his illness. Dr David A. Nace, a geriatrics expert and director of medical affairs at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, told the New York Times that Trump’s symptoms may be more severe because of his failure to wear a mask.
Older men are also at greater risk of becoming seriously ill.
Supporters of Trump gathered around the military hospital on Friday night as some held a prayer group for his recovery.
Trump’s presidential suite in the hospital has its own ICU, secure conference room and kitchen. Doctors are vetted in advance in case the president needs specialty care and the White House physician has sleeping quarters.
The White House Chief of Staff also has his own office space in the president’s area, which is controlled by the White House, not by the Department of Defense.
Known as Ward 71, the Presidential Suite is one of six special patient rooms reserved for high-ranking military officers and members of the White House cabinet.
The suite is ‘specially outfitted with protective devices and communications gear used in support of the president,’ wrote Rear Admiral Connie Mariano, who served as a physician to both presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton and was director of the White House Medical Unit.
With a dining room lit by a crystal chandelier and, a desk a few steps from the hospital bed and rooms decked out with couches for receiving visitors as well as security technology, it’s equipped for Trump to continue to carry out his presidential duties.
Trump will stay in the ‘Presidential Suite’ at Walter Reed Medical Center. Pictured: One of the rooms of Ward 71, which are reserved for high-ranking military officers and cabinet members
The White House has said President Trump will continue to work from Walter Reed. One of the Rooms in Ward 71 is equipped with a desk for just that purpose
As the outbreak in the White House intensified, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, 77, and his wife Jill have tested negative. The President’s 14-year-old son Barron, daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner have also tested negative, as has Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
When news of Trump’s hospitalization broke, Biden stressed that the president’s illness ‘cannot be a partisan moment’.
‘It must be an American moment. We have to come together as a nation,’ he tweeted.
Former President Barack Obama also wished Trump a speedy recovery on Friday night.
‘It’s important … for all of us to remember that even when we’re in the midst of big political battles with issues that have a lot at stake, that we’re all Americans and we’re all human beings, and we want to make sure everybody is healthy,’ he said.
Joe Biden said that Trump’s hospitalization must be ‘an American moment’ and ‘cannot be a partisan moment’
‘Michelle and I are hopeful that they and others that have been affected by COVID-19 around the country are getting the care that they need, that they are going to be on the path to a speedy recovery.’
Obama was speaking at a fundraising event with Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris, who said she shared her deepest prayers for ‘the health & recovery of the president and the first lady’.
‘The threat of this virus is real for all of us. Let it be a reminder to all of us that we must remain vigilant and take care of ourselves and take care of each other,’ she added.
Bill and Hillary Clinton were among the other Democrats to wish Trump and Melania well.
The former president and his wife, Trump’s 2016 opponent in the presidential race, tweeted out separate but identical statements on Friday night, after Trump was airlifted to hospital.
‘We wish the President and First Lady a speedy recovery, and hope for the safety of the White House staff, the Secret Service, and others putting their lives on the line,’ their statements said.
‘This pandemic has affected so many. We must continue to protect ourselves, our families, and communities,’ they added.
On Friday evening, Biden’s campaign confirmed that it was pulling all negative advertising about Trump from their rotation of paid media.
Trump’s campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said that they would not be doing the same.
‘Joe Biden used his speech in MI today to attack the President repeatedly on Social Security, the economy & job creation. Now Biden wants credit for being magnanimous?’ he said.
Earlier in the day in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Biden said he and Jill were praying for the Trumps – and, in a break from past practice, wore a mask to speak.
‘My wife Jill and I pray that they make a quick and full recovery,’ he said, at a campaign event with union workers, which had been moved outside and attendance limited.
‘This is not a matter of politics. It is a bracing reminder to all of us that we take this virus seriously. It means wearing a mask in public and encouraging others to do so as well.
‘We as a nation need to be better in dealing with this pandemic.’
He added: ‘For all those who are fighting this, including the First Family, my prayers are with you. My prayers are with those who died – 207,000 I think today.’
At the end of his speech, Biden said: ‘May God protect the First Family, and every family that is dealing with this virus.’
Trump and Melania announced they had tested positive hours after he returned from a campaign fundraiser at his New Jersey golf club where he is believed to have come into contact with at least 100 people.
It raised $5million for his campaign, which has now canceled all future events in light of the president’s diagnosis.
New Jersey contact tracers are struggling to work out the names of all of the people who were present at a fundraiser, however.
So far, the names of those present are believed to have been logged by three bodies, namely The White House, the Republican National Committee and the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster.
Seven infected after ‘Amy Coney Barrett superspreader event’
Seven people who attended Amy Coney Barrett’s ceremonial nomination to the Supreme Court on Saturday have now tested positive for COVID-19, giving rise to fears that it was a ‘super-spreader event’.
The September 26 gathering attracted around 100 people – many of them not wearing face masks; all sitting close.
Attendees were photographed hugging, shaking hands and chatting without face masks.
Donald Trump, his wife Melania, Hope Hicks, Kellyanne Conway, two senators – Mike Lee from Utah and Thom Tillis from North Carolina – plus the president of Notre Dame university, John Jenkins, have now all tested positive for COVID-19.
Many of the other high-profile figures who attended have not yet been given the all-clear.
Among them are Bill Barr, the attorney general; Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey; and Laura Ingraham, the Fox News host.
All were seen in close proximity to infected people, and are yet to confirm their negative test results.
Yet there is no single complete list of those who were present at the event including those who worked there including golf club staff or outside vendors.
Sources cited by The New York Times say the President was already lethargic on the way back from Thursday’s New Jersey event, and that he fell asleep on Air Force One on Wednesday night when returning from a rally in Minnesota – something that is highly unusual for the energetic President, who ordinarily spends his time on the aircraft watching television and tweeting.
The Minnesota rally was also only half as long as his other rallies. Air Force One is now being deep cleaned.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said it was deemed safe for the president to attend Thursday’s fundraiser.
‘It was deemed safe for the president to go. He socially distanced. It was an outdoor event and it was deemed safe by White House operations,’ she told reporters at the White House on Friday.
Trump is 74 years old and at 244lbs and 6ft 3, is technically obese which puts him at higher risk of serious complications from the virus.
People who attended the fundraiser said he seemed healthy. He spoke to supporters for 15 minutes and then took questions for an hour.
‘We said, “How is this guy doing it? Look at the stamina of this guy.” I can’t tell you how healthy he looked. I’m sure that this will come and go,’ comedian and radio host Joe Piscopo told North Jersey.com.
John Sette, the former chair of the Morris County Republican Committee, told Politico: ‘First of all, he looked 100 percent normal.
‘He spoke 100 percent normal. He spoke for about 15 minutes and he took questions for an hour.’
There are questions about when White House staff learned Hope Hicks – one of Trump’s most trusted aides – tested positive, when Trump learned about it and why, with that knowledge in mind, he still went to the fundraiser.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Friday told reporters that they discovered Hicks had tested positive on Thursday afternoon, just as the President was preparing to travel to the fundraiser at his golf club, at around 1pm. Bloomberg claims the President found out about Hicks’ diagnosis hours earlier.
Meadows said that they ‘pulled people off’ Marine One who they thought had been in close contact with Hicks to try to limit the spread, but they still allowed the President to go despite the fact that he’d traveled with Hicks on Air Force One on Tuesday and Wednesday, and had spent much of last week working with her.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Friday spoke to reporters outside the White House and insisted Trump was in ‘good spirits’ and still able to perform the responsibilities of the President
A TIMELINE OF THE PRESIDENT’S TRAVEL
Saturday, September 26: Trump announces his Supreme Court pick at the White House, then travels to a rally in Pennsylvania with aides including Hope Hicks.
Sunday, September 27: The president plays golf in Virginia, gives a press conference in the White House briefing room and hosts a reception for Gold Star families.
Monday, September 28: Trump gives a press briefing and inspects pickup vehicles on the White House lawn.
Tuesday, September 29: Hicks is aboard Air Force One with the president and Melania to travel to the first presidential debate in Cleveland. Hicks is seen leaving the jet without a mask.
The president spars with Joe Biden in a chaotic debate. Trump family members do not wear masks during the debate, violating venue rules.
Wednesday, September 30: Hicks travels on Marine One and on Air Force One to a rally in Minnesota Wednesday.
She is understood to have felt poorly on the way back, quarantining on the presidential plane to get home.
Thursday, October : Hicks tests positive.
White House aides are told about it and pull people from Air Force One who had been in contact with her but they still let Trump go to the NJ event.
Trump went to the event where the NY Times claims he came into contact with 100 people.
He then came back to the WH, where he was ‘lethargic’, and tested positive.
Friday, October 2:
A political rally in Sanford, Florida is cancelled.
Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the FDA, said that it was unlikely Hicks was the source of the White House outbreak because Trump would not have started showing symptoms as soon as Thursday had she infected him on Wednesday.
It’s more likely that they were both exposed by another source days earlier, he said.
If Trump becomes seriously ill, there are constitutional procedures that would allow Vice President Mike Pence to assume power temporarily, just weeks before the November 3 election.
But if Trump suffers mild or no symptoms, the president would be able to tout his recovery as evidence that the virus is a less grave threat than many believe.
Speaking to reporters outside the White House on Friday morning, Meadows said: ‘His first question to me was, “how is the economy doing? How are the stimulus talks going on Capitol Hill?’
‘The American people can rest assured that we have a president who is not only on the job but who will remain on the job.
‘In terms of Hope Hicks, we discovered that right as the Marine One was taking off yesterday we actually pulled some of the people who had been travelling with her,’ Meadows added.
Those people are understood to be Dan Scavino, Social Media Director, and Kayleigh McEnany, White House Press Secretary, both of whom have since tested negative.
On Wednesday night, the President was on the plane with Hicks but she kept a safe distance from him and others when she started experiencing symptoms.
She was quarantined away from others on the plane and her diagnosis was confirmed Thursday, according to an administration official.
Trump then continued with his schedule Thursday and traveled to and from his Bedminster, New Jersey golf resort to take part in two campaign events.
He flew back to the White House on Thursday evening, when it was publicly confirmed Hicks had the virus. Hours later, Trump and Melania shared their own diagnoses on social media.
First Lady Melania tweeted: ‘As too many Americans have done this year, @potus & I are quarantining at home after testing positive for COVID-19.
‘We are feeling good & I have postponed all upcoming engagements.
‘Please be sure you are staying safe & we will all get through this together.’
The White House had earlier distributed a schedule for Friday that showed he planned to go forward with a fundraiser at his Washington, D.C., hotel and a political rally in Sanford, Florida. These trips were later canceled.
This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk
Revolution Bars to close six venues after Covid restrictions caused its takings to fall by a third
Revolution Bars has revealed it plans to close six venues putting 130 jobs at risk across the country as the impact of a 10pm curfew caused its bar sales to drop by a third.
Sales at Revolution-branded bars are 49.4 per cent down on last year’s levels, as the hospitality industry bears the brunt of Covid-19 restrictions.
The company has confirmed around 130 jobs look set to be cut out of its workforce of 2,500 people – but has not confirmed which venues are set to close.
Six Revolution bars are set to close after the company saw its bar sales drop by a third once a 10pm curfew was introduced on September 24
There are 50 Revolution bars nationwide, meaning 37 will be left unscathed by these proposed changes.
Revolution Bars Limited said that it will have to shut six of its bars and reduce rents at seven others as part of a proposed company voluntary arrangement (CVA).
The CVA will be discussed at a meeting with creditors on November 13.
In the three weeks before the curfew was introduced, the business’s bar sales were at nearly 78 per cent of last year’s levels. In the five weeks since the curfew started, that figure has dropped to 49.4 per cent.
Chief executive, Rob Pitcher, said: ‘Throughout this extended period of distress caused by Covid-19, the group has sought to prioritise the health and wellbeing of its staff and customers, minimise its cash consumption, maintain good levels of liquidity to ensure its ongoing viability and to be in a position to take advantage of opportunities that may arise once restrictions are lifted.
‘The CVA proposed by the group’s Revolution Bars Limited subsidiary entity, if agreed by landlords, is another proactive step to lower outgoings to help safeguard the future of the group and improve long-term performance.’
Around 130 jobs are set to go at six Revolutions bars across the country, the company has not confirmed which locations are facing closure
UK Hospitality has called for an end to the 10pm curfew, amid concerns for the impact it will have on bars and pubs nationwide.
Speaking earlier this month, chief executive Kate Nicholls said: ‘The introduction of the curfew has had a severe and devastating impact.
‘Businesses are feeling the cumulative impact of all the restrictions placed on them, but they have really suffered since the introduction of the curfew.
‘The curfew has wiped away revenue from businesses that were only just clinging on.
‘For many, it has tipped them into financial unviability.’
This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk
Mobile networks including EE, Vodafone and Tesco Mobile will be BANNED from selling locked phones
Ofcom will next year ban mobile phone operators from selling locking handsets.
The telecoms watchdog said the move would make it easier for customers to switch providers.
It will come into force in December 2021 and it is hoped to help people get better deals and value for money.
The move will affect BT/EE, Tesco Mobile and Vodafone, whose devices cannot be used on other networks unless a £10 unlock fee is paid.
O2, Sky, Three and Virgin already sell unlocked handsets.
Ofcom connectivity director Selina Chadha, said: ‘We know that lots of people can be put off from switching because their handset is locked.
‘So we’re banning mobile companies from selling locked phones, which will save people time, money and effort – and help them unlock better deals.’
The new move is hoped to offer more choice and better services for mobile phone users
Ofcom said people were left frustrated by the difficulties in unlocking a mobile, which can take a long amount of time.
Sky News reports it comes after the regulator’s earlier efforts to making switching easier, via the ‘text-to-switch’ service.
Ofcom will also make operators send customers full details of their contracts before they buy a mobile.
Earlier this month it said it was probing the ‘market position’ of BBC Sounds after its commercial rivals complained of the ‘adverse impact’ the service was having on business.
Vodaphone is one of the companies who still sell phones whose devices are locked
BBC Sounds was launched in 2018 as a ‘digital home’ for audio content – featuring live and on-demand radio, music mixes and podcasts.
But its commercial rivals have since complained about Radio 1 Dance, a new 24-hour dance music stream that will launch on BBC Sounds on October 9, because it is not ‘distinctive’ and does not offer ‘true public service value’.
The new stream will bring together the BBC’s existing dance content in one place, making it easy for listeners to catch their favourite shows outside of traditional schedules.
Ofcom said it would ‘take stock of Sounds at an appropriate point in its evolution’ but refused to conduct a public interest test because ‘we consider the impact of the new stream on the market is likely to be small’.
This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk
Tanker ‘hijackers’ may face a life behind bars but ‘may claim asylum’
Seven stowaways seized in a daring operation by special forces were last night facing lengthy jail terms for hijacking an oil tanker.
The suspects were detained under maritime laws which carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
They had allegedly threatened the 22-man crew of the 42,000-ton Nave Andromeda which was heading to Southampton from Lagos in Nigeria.
It was claimed they could be about to attempt to claim asylum in the UK, but it would not impact any police proceedings.
Special Boat Service commandos stormed the tanker off the Isle of Wight on Sunday evening after the ship’s terrified captain radioed for help.
They had allegedly threatened the 22-man crew of the 42,000-ton Nave Andromeda which was heading to Southampton from Lagos in Nigeria
The unnamed mariner said in broken English on an open radio channel: ‘I try to keep them calm but I need immediately, immediately agency assistance.’
He added that two intruders were on the starboard side near the bridge, although they had not managed to gain access.
In other radio messages the captain is reported to have said he feared for his life, and those of his crew.
The Greek-owned tanker, that flies the Liberian flag, had left Lagos on October 5, where the stowaways ‘illegally boarded’ the vessel, a spokesman for operator Navios Tanker Management said.
The SBS operation was authorised by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel.
The heavily-armed troops descended on to the tanker by rope from four Royal Navy helicopters after nightfall
A source close to Miss Patel said the 45 minutes during which the situation was resolved ‘felt like 45 hours’.
The heavily-armed troops descended on to the tanker by rope from four Royal Navy helicopters after nightfall.
The elite soldiers quickly rounded up the suspected hijackers and ended their mission after just nine minutes.
The seven suspected hijackers seized on Sunday night were last night being questioned in separate police stations across Hampshire after the 750ft tanker moored at Southampton.
A spokesman for Hampshire Police said: ‘It was reported that a number of stowaways were on board, and they had made threats towards the crew.’
He added: ‘All 22 crew members are safe and well and the vessel is now alongside in the port of Southampton. Investigators are speaking to the crew members to establish the exact circumstances of what happened.’
Bob Sanguinetti, chief executive of the UK Chamber of Shipping, said: ‘I think this has got all the hallmarks of a situation where a number of stowaways are seeking political asylum, presumably in the UK. At some stage they got aggressive. Clearly no one knew at the time how aggressive they were, whether they were armed or not and what their motives were.
‘In the discussions taking place between the ship’s captain and the authorities in the UK – both police and the military – they will have decided at some stage the least risky option was to board the vessel using the special forces.’
The drama echoed a previous case involving stowaways which unfolded aboard a cargo ship in the Thames Estuary in December 2018.
Four Nigerians had hidden aboard the Grande Tema in Lagos, and became disruptive as the ship entered UK waters.
The elite soldiers quickly rounded up the suspected hijackers and ended their mission after just nine minutes
The four attempted to repel an SBS boarding party by threatening to infect them with HIV, but were eventually arrested and prosecuted.
At least one made ‘throat-slitting’ gestures to crew, CCTV footage played in court showed.
However, after an eight week trial at the Old Bailey they were cleared of attempting to hijack the ship and convicted of affray.
Two were also found guilty of making threats to kill. They were jailed for a combined total of seven years.
That case highlights potential difficulties in securing convictions under the hijacking legislation.
What will the police do now?
Police will build a picture of the alleged hijackers’ activities aboard the Nave Andromeda. They are also likely to study electronic systems which record communications aboard the vessel and from ship-to-shore, known as a Voyage Data Recorder, or VDR, similar to the ‘black box’ aboard commercial aircraft.
What’s the law on hijacking and piracy?
The seven were arrested under Section 9 of the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990, which deals with hijackings. The law states: ‘A person who unlawfully, by the use of force or by threats of any kind, seizes a ship or exercises control of it, commits the offence of hijacking a ship.’
Richard Neylon, an expert in maritime law from law firm HFW, said: ‘If you try to seize control of a vessel and you have no business being aboard that vessel, the threshold is quite low under this legislation.’ The maximum sentence under the legislation is life imprisonment.
What could happen to the suspects?
Regardless of whether the Nigerians are charged with any crime, their removal from the UK is unlikely to be swift. Previous cases have shown hijackers were able to successfully challenge the Home Office.
For example, in February 2000 nine Afghan men hijacked an Ariana Afghan Airlines Boeing 727 and forced the pilot to land at Stansted. A siege involving the hijackers and 187 passengers and crew lasted five days. The hijackers were jailed but their convictions were later quashed.
In 2006, they brought legal action which allowed them to stay in Britain.
What happens to other Nigerian asylum seekers?
There were 1,279 asylum applications by Nigerians decided by the Home Office in the year to March – but the majority were refused.
Only 398 led to grants of asylum or other leave to remain, or just over 31 per cent. The rest were refused or withdrawn, Home Office data shows.
It is unclear how many of those who were refused were removed from the UK.
According to a research paper by the House of Commons Library, there were just over 26,000 asylum applications from Nigerians decided across the European Union during 2019.
Of those, just 16 per cent – or 4,795 – were granted in the first instance.
Storm the Andromeda! Minute by nerve-shredding minute, how SBS commandos blinded hijackers with lights before abseiling from helicopters and re-taking oil tanker
By Arthur Martin for the Daily Mail
It was a ten-hour standoff at sea that culminated in nine minutes of ruthless, military precision.
Special Boat Service commandos used a classic pincer movement to storm the Nave Andromeda.
Two heavily-armed squads, wearing night vision goggles and thermal imaging equipment, rappelled down ropes from choppers at either end of the tanker before converging on seven Nigerian stowaways who quickly surrendered.
As police continue to question the suspects, the Mail charts the build-up to Sunday night’s flawless operation.
Two weeks ago: Three Nigerian stowaways are pictured on a tanker’s rudder a fortnight ago
The seven stowaways slipped on board the Nave Andromeda shortly before the oil tanker left the Nigerian port of Lagos three weeks ago, on October 6.
After a brief stop off the coast of Saint-Nazaire in France it was heading to collect gasoline from Fawley Oil Refinery near Southampton when the drama unfolded.
The stowaways presence became known to the crew at some point during its 20-day voyage to Britain.
Officials are working on the assumption that they boarded though the rudder trunk of the vessel.
‘Security in Third World ports is not as high as in the West, so it is relatively easy to get through perimeter fences,’ maritime expert David Osler said. ‘International Maritime Organisation guidelines mandate search of vessels prior to departure, but sometimes stowaways slip through.’
The captain was lauded for his ‘exemplary response and calmness’ by the ship’s owners, Navios Tanker Management.
At around 9am on Sunday, the captain of the 42,000-ton tanker, a Greek-owned vessel which flies the Liberian flag, sent out a mayday distress signal six miles off the Isle of Wight when the stowaways allegedly started making threats to kill the crew. Tensions flared when the crew tried to lock the seven men in a cabin, having told them that they would be following protocol and informing authorities of their presence.
Nave Andromeda oil tanker is pictured berthed at Southampton docks on October 26
In a 21-second call which was released yesterday, the Greek captain begged ‘immediate assistance’ and described how the men were on the loose.
In heavily-accented English, he said: ‘The stowaways go outside, I see four person port side, midship, near to the manifold, and I have two of them starboard side on the bridge. I try to keep them calm but I need immediately, immediately agency assistance.’
The captain and 20 other crew members took refuge in the ship’s citadel, an emergency room used during pirate attacks, after the migrants ‘smashed glass and made threats to kill’.
From here they could control the ship and communicate with the authorities. Only the engineer, another Greek national, did not retreat to the citadel. The engineer remained in the engine room taking instructions from the master. A source said: ‘The captain clearly stated he feared for their lives and needed urgent assistance, they needed rescuing. It was desperation, you could hear the fear in his voice.’
The ship’s operator, Navios Tanker Management, said: ‘Navios would also like to pay tribute to the master of the Nave Andromeda for his exemplary response and calmness and to all the crew for their fortitude in a difficult situation.’
Stalling for time
An hour later Hampshire Police receives reports regarding ‘concerns for the safety’ of the crew who had received ‘verbal threats’.
The ship had been due to dock at Southampton at 10.30am – but the captain decided the situation was too dangerous to approach the port. Instead, he steered the tanker on a circular and zig-zag course off the Isle of Wight to play for time.
The Nave Andromeda was built in 2011 and weighs 42,338 tonnes. It was last known to be docked in Lagos, Nigeria on October 6 (pictured: The ship off the Isle of Wight on Sunday)
An exclusion zone of three nautical miles was set up around the ship. By 5pm Hampshire constabulary had submitted a formal request to the Ministry of Defence for military support. The Royal Navy was given command of the operation and was given authorisation to use armed forces to board the tanker by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel.
Throughout the afternoon, two coastguard helicopters flew overhead, monitoring the situation. On land, an armed unit of police set up a station on the Isle of Wight. Richard Meade, of the Lloyd’s List Intelligence maritime service, said: ‘Seven stowaways were discovered on board. The crew tried to detain them in a cabin, but the stowaways did not want to be locked away in a cabin and became violent and that raised the security alarm.’
Positioning the troops
After taking control of the mission, naval chiefs acted quickly to assemble an astonishing array of firepower.
A Chinook helicopter collected SBS troops and fast assault craft from the elite unit’s HQ in Poole in Dorset, some 15 miles away, and stationed them just out of sight of the Nave Andromeda.
The frigate HMS Richmond was put on alert in the Channel and divers were assembled in case explosive mines had been placed on the ship’s hull, sources said. Shortly before the attack the captain of the tanker was asked to put the lights out and turn into the wind to prepare for the arrival of the special forces.
Storming the tanker
At around 7.30pm – just over 10 hours after the first mayday call –military chiefs ordered the attack.
A formation of helicopters swooped in, deploying a deafening din and dazzling lights, known as ‘obscurant’ tactics, to disorientate the stowaways on board. The plan was to ‘overwhelm them with the noise of the rotor discs, and put a lot of light in to blind them’, a source said.
The Special Boat Service (SBS) raided the tanker yesterday evening off the Isle of Wight after stowaways were found on board who threatened the crew. Pictured is an official on the boat
At least one Wildcat helicopter, fitted with an electro-optical device to aid its night vision, swept the deck for signs of hostile behaviour. Troops on landing craft approached and scanned the tanker with sniper rifles. Two Merlin Mk 4 helicopters then approached in ‘dark mode’ and took positions above the bow and stern of the ship.
Eight SBS troopers rappelled by rope onto the deck at each end and converged on the middle of the ship in a pincer movement.
Wearing night vision goggles with thermal imaging to detect human heat sources, the units closed in on the seven stowaways who were grouped in one place on the deck.
They were not thought to be armed and surrendered swiftly.
It took the SBS less than nine minutes to arrest the suspects, secure the tanker and lead the crew out of their panic room. Some 40 minutes later the Ministry of Defence confirmed that the forces ‘have gained control of the ship and seven individuals have been detained’. The seven Nigerians were promptly arrested on suspicion of seizing or exercising control of a ship by use of threats or force.
They all remain in custody at police stations across Hampshire.
Investigators are speaking to the crew members to establish the exact circumstances of what happened. The ship, which can carry up to 42,000 tons of crude oil, is now in the port of Southampton.
An aerial photo showing the Nave Andromeda docking at Southampton at around 2.30am following Sunday’s dramatic events
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace paid tribute to the courageous personnel who braved ‘dark skies and worsening weather’ to ensure the safety of the ship’s crew.
Former Rear Admiral Chris Parry said: ‘From the time the helicopters went in and the SBS roped on to the ship, they rounded up the people pretty quickly.
‘I think the stowaways themselves accepted this was probably the end of the journey for them and there probably wasn’t any point in resisting heavily-armed men approaching them.’
A Hampshire police spokesman said: ‘The vessel had been travelling in the direction of Southampton, having sailed from Lagos in Nigeria. It was reported that a number of stowaways were on board, and they had made threats towards the crew.
‘Following a multi-agency response by police, with support from the military and other emergency service partners, seven people were detained by police. All 22 crew members are safe and well.’
This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk
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