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Government worry over Andy Burnham’s soapbox moment

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Rishi Sunak has warned that caving into Andy Burnham’s demand for more cash will commit the Treasury to finding huge sums for other areas facing Covid restrictions.

As Downing Street seeks another round of talks with the defiant Manchester Mayor today over introducing Tier 3 rules in the city, the Chancellor is alarmed at the thought of being saddled with another huge bill.

Asked about the prospect of handouts for every area placed into Tier 3 status, a Treasury insider asked: ‘Who’s going to pay for it?’ Another source said: ‘If you give a pot of money, it creates a precedent. Then everyone who goes into Tier 3 will want a pot of cash.’

Rishi Sunak has warned that caving into Andy Burnham’s demand for more cash will commit the Treasury to finding huge sums for other areas facing Covid restrictions

Rishi Sunak has warned that caving into Andy Burnham’s demand for more cash will commit the Treasury to finding huge sums for other areas facing Covid restrictions 

Rishi Sunak, pictured, is unwilling to allow local mayors promise additional Covid spending

Rishi Sunak, pictured, is unwilling to allow local mayors promise additional c

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It is understood, however, that Mr Sunak will not block extra economic measures for the Greater Manchester region if that is ‘what it takes to get them over the line’ in negotiations with Mr Burnham.

The former Labour Minister is expected to use media interviews today to heap pressure on Boris Johnson. As the stand-off grew more rancorous, an ally of Mr Sunak accused Mr Burnham of using the virus as his ‘soapbox moment’.

Mr Burnham and other local leaders are pressing for more shielding measures for the vulnerable, extra financial aid and stricter local powers to shut down venues that break virus guidelines.

A source close to the talks said: ‘The leaders are resolute. They say they’ll meet Government officials again, but the support package needs to be better and they’re not convinced the Tier 3 measures will make any difference.’ Mr Johnson says Labour mayors are putting lives at risk by refusing to agree to the measures and is expected to push them into Tier 3 tomorrow even if no agreement is reached.

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Some 136 deaths were recorded yesterday, but scientists have warned this could rise to 690 by the end of the month

‘They’ll go into lockdown on Monday,’ one Tory MP said. ‘The Government will give them some more money. Boris has to hold on, stay with what he said he would do, and see if it works.’ The MP warned that public finances were in a ‘spiral vortex downwards’, adding: ‘It’s a large hole in the ground and we keep digging. We have taken leave of our senses.’

The prospect of giving more cash to areas in Tier 3, which includes a ban on meeting socially with anybody indoors who is not part of your household, or support bubble, came as Mr Sunak warned Ministers to ‘buckle their belts’ as departments began negotiating budgets ahead of the Spending Review.

One Government source said Ministers had been ‘surprised by how tough’ the Treasury had been in its response to their submissions.

The pressure on the Treasury will grow with more areas of the country expected to face tighter restrictions this week.

One North East MP said councils in the region had been warned in a call with Health Secretary Matt Hancock that they may be put into Tier 3. Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire are expected to see tougher restrictions within days.

Mr Johnson’s tense negotiations with Mr Burnham come amid pressure from some backbenchers over the decision to take London and Essex into Tier 2. Five Tory MPs in Essex have written to the PM to call for more support. One, Sir Bernard Jenkin, said: ‘We are facing a much better situation with regard to Covid than we were in the spring. We protected businesses then, so why on earth let them go bust now?’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Two antiviral drugs used to treat flu and HIV to be trialled on positive Covid-19 patients

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two antiviral drugs used to treat flu and hiv to be trialled on positive covid 19 patients

Two antiviral drugs are set to begin early human trials in London-based coronavirus patients.

A UCL-led study, dubbed the FLARE trial, will investigate the efficacy of favipiravir, which is used to treat the flu, and the cocktail of lopinavir/ritonavir which is given to HIV patients. 

Scientists are recruiting 240 participants between the ages of 18 and 70 who are based in the UK capital. 

To be eligible for the study participants must have tested positive for COVID-19 and be self-isolating.

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Scientists are recruiting 240 patients between the ages of 18 and 70 who are based in the UK capital. They will be given either a placebo, favipiravir or lopinavir/ritonavir

Scientists are recruiting 240 patients between the ages of 18 and 70 who are based in the UK capital. They will be given either a placebo, favipiravir or lopinavir/ritonavir

As part of the clinical trial the patients will receive a placebo, the flu medication, the HIV drugs or a combination of them both. 

All treatments will be taken as tablets over the course of seven days.   

Dr David Lowe, a UCL academic who is leading the trial, said: ‘This trial will test whether the antiviral drugs favipiravir or lopinavir/ritonavir, on their own or in combination, can reduce the level of the virus in people with early COVID-19 disease.

‘To maximise the potential benefit, we are treating patients with very early onset infection and are looking for the additional or synergistic effects of adding a second drug [favipiravir or lopinavir/ritonavir].

‘If we can find antivirals that decrease viral load early on, this might reduce the risk of transmission and later hospitalisation.’

The research project is hoping to determine if the treatment can interfere with how the coronavirus replicates once inside human cells. 

A UCL-led study, dubbed the FLARE trial, will investigate the efficacy of favipiravir, which is used to treat the flu, and the cocktail of lopinavir/ritonavir which is given to HIV patients

 A UCL-led study, dubbed the FLARE trial, will investigate the efficacy of favipiravir, which is used to treat the flu, and the cocktail of lopinavir/ritonavir which is given to HIV patients

In the case of favipiravir the drug neutralises an enzyme that allows the virus to replicate genetic material, called polymerase. 

By removing this enzyme the virus can not replicate and therefore spread, and it is hoped this will improve a patient’s prognosis. 

A scientific paper published earlier this month found the drug inhibits coronavirus in hamsters. 

Favipiravir has also been the focus of a clinical trial in Japan run by Fujifilm, which owns the rights to the drug in the Asian country, under the brand name Avigan.

Japan approved Avigan as an emergency flu medicine in 2014 and the new research looked at its benefits for 156 late-stage COVID-19 patients.

Among people treated with the drug, symptoms improved after 11.9 days, versus 14.7 days for a placebo group. 

The drug has been approved in India and Russia to treat COVID-19. 

In July, India’s Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd said its own version of favipiravir showed promise in a late-stage study of 150 patients with mild to moderate coronavirus infection.

WHAT IS FAVIPIRAVIR? 

Favipiravir is an antiviral drug which has been shown to be effective against regular flu. 

It has been approved as an influenza treatment in Japan, where it was discovered, since 2014.  

It stops viral replication by targeting an enzyme called polymerase which allows the genetic material of the virus to be cloned, a vital step in viral replication. 

The drug has been approved in India and Russia to treat COVID-19. 

Favipiravir inhibits 53 types of influenza viruses including seasonal strains A (H1N1), A (H3N2), and influenza B.

It is taken as a course of tablets.

A Japanese study found minor side effects associated with the drug seen in one in five COVID-19 patients it was sued to treat. 

These included diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. 

But it has been linked to birth defects in animals. 

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WHAT IS LOPINAVIR/ RITONAVIR?

The combination of lopinavir and ritonavir is used on HIV patients to prevent the virus developing into AIDS. 

Lopinavir and ritonavir are in a class of medications called protease inhibitors.

Protease inhibitors work by sticking to an enzyme on a virus which is vital to the virus reproducing.

By doing this it blocks the process the virus would normally use to clone itself and spread the infection further.

When lopinavir and ritonavir are taken together, ritonavir also helps to increase the amount of lopinavir in the body so that the medication will have a greater effect.

The combination comes as a tablet or a solution. It is usually taken twice a day.

HIV patients in the UK were prescribed either Kaltra or ritonavir alone around 1,400 times in 2018. 

Side effects can include nausea, vomiting, stomach upset, gas, headache, and trouble sleeping.

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About 70 per cent of patients being treated by FabiFlu, another commercial name of  favipiravir, achieved ‘clinical cure’ by the fourth day of the study, the company claimed. In a control group this figure was just 45 per cent. 

There are currently 39 trials of favipiravir as a potential treatment for COVID-19 that have either been completed or are ongoing.

Lopinavir/ritonavir works in a different way to favipiravir and is called a protease inhibitor.

This too stops an enzyme working properly, but the enzyme it impacts is involved in creating proteins which are essential for the virus to grow. 

The two compound drug was an early participant in the RECOVERY trial but was found to be ineffective at treating late-stage COVID-19.  

Now, researchers are including it in FLARE to see if it is more effective in the early days of infection, hoping it can prevent the infection worsening. 

The study will also combine favipiravir with lopinavir/ritonavir to see if a prescription of both drugs is more effective. 

It remains unknown if treating COVID-19 patients with an antiviral in the early stages of infection is effective.

This study will help inform that and determine if antivirals can prevent serious symptoms, including hospitalisation and death. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Tatler reveals the cream of French high society who would put Emily In Paris in the shade

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tatler reveals the cream of french high society who would put emily in paris in the shade

From blue-blooded models to fashion tech entrepreneurs, these are the French It-Girls lighting up the Paris social scene.  

Tatler magazine compiled the list, inspired by love-to-hate Netflix show Emily In Paris, which has thrust the city of lights into the pop culture spotlight and reignited an interest in all things français. 

The titular character, played by Emily Collins (who herself made her societal debut at a Paris ball), has won fans with her chic fashion choices and glamorous life in the city. 

But these well-heeled women lead an even more glamorous existence, exploring cobbled streets in their less-is-more looks and dancing the night away in glittering ballgowns.  

Here, FEMAIL takes a closer look at the women who rule the streets of the French capital.

ZITA d’HAUTEVILLE 

Blue-blooded pedigree: Zita is the 24-year-old model daughter of the Count and Countess d'Hauteville, one of France's oldest families. She was scouted on Facebook

Blue-blooded pedigree: Zita is the 24-year-old model daughter of the Count and Countess d’Hauteville, one of France’s oldest families. She was scouted on Facebook

London calling: Born in France, Zita studied for her Masters at UCL. Pictured, at an exhibition at London's Cardi Gallery in March 2019

Striking a pose at home in Paris

London calling: Born in France, Zita studied for her Masters at UCL. Pictured, at an exhibition at London’s Cardi Gallery in March 2019 (left) and striking a pose at home in Paris

Zita, who has 15,500 Instagram followers, has a high-powered job at Google, where she works as an Account Strategist. Pictured, with her mother at her UCL graduation

Zita, who has 15,500 Instagram followers, has a high-powered job at Google, where she works as an Account Strategist. Pictured, with her mother at her UCL graduation

Born into one of France’s oldest families, Zita d’Hauteville, 24, made her social debut at Paris’ ultra exclusive Les Bal des Debutantes in 2013, wearing a navy Vivienne Westwood Haute Couture gown. 

Her willowy frame and natural beauty led to Zita being model scouted through Facebook and she is now represented by Up Models and has secured brand partnerships with big names including Hermes. 

Zita, who has 15,500 Instagram followers, juggles her commitments with a high-powered job at Google, where she works as an Account Strategist. She also holds a Masters degree from UCL.  

The 24-year-old, whose parents are the Count and Countess d’Hauteville, is currently based in Paris where she enjoys breakfasts at Carette in the trendy 16th Arrondissement and escapes for weekends at châteaux.

ALEXANDRA VAN HOUTTE  

Fashion tech mogul: Founder of what has been dubbed 'fashion's smartest search engine', Alexandra Van Houtte, 31, is the woman behind Tag Walk, an online fashion database

Fashion tech mogul: Founder of what has been dubbed ‘fashion’s smartest search engine’, Alexandra Van Houtte, 31, is the woman behind Tag Walk, an online fashion database

Alexandra, a former ELLE fashion assistant, came up with the idea in 2016 after being amazed at how difficult it was to search for particular items across designers and past seasons

Alexandra, a former ELLE fashion assistant, came up with the idea in 2016 after being amazed at how difficult it was to search for particular items across designers and past seasons

Now Tag Walk has almost 46,000 users and its success has landed Alexandra on a list of the world's 50 most influential French people and the Business of Fashion 500

Now Tag Walk has almost 46,000 users and its success has landed Alexandra on a list of the world’s 50 most influential French people and the Business of Fashion 500

Founder of what has been dubbed ‘fashion’s smartest search engine’, Alexandra Van Houtte, 31, is the woman behind Tag Walk, an online database on which every garment, shoe, handbag and belt is tagged and organised, so you can search for anything from a black dress to a pagoda sleeve in a nanosecond.

Alexandra, a former ELLE fashion assistant, came up with the idea in 2016 after being amazed at how difficult it was to search for particular items across designers and past seasons. 

Now Tag Walk has almost 46,000 users and its success has landed Alexandra on a list of the world’s 50 most influential French people and the Business of Fashion 500, which recognises the 500 movers and shakers shaping the industry. 

Despite her success, Alexandra’s Instagram reveals a delightfully low-key way of life. 

A recent video shows the tech entrepreneur eating microwave soup out of the container at her desk, with an extra large tub of Haribo in the background.    

MARIA de la ORDEN  

Best fashion foot forward: Enviably chic, even by lofty French standards, Maria de la Orden moved to Paris from her hometown of Madrid. Pictured, in an Instagram snap

Best fashion foot forward: Enviably chic, even by lofty French standards, Maria de la Orden moved to Paris from her hometown of Madrid. Pictured, in an Instagram snap

The designer has founded not one, but two in-demand labels: La Veste and Maria de la Orden Studio, which are loved by well-heeled shoppers including Alexandra Tolstoy and Sabine Getty

The designer has founded not one, but two in-demand labels: La Veste and Maria de la Orden Studio, which are loved by well-heeled shoppers including Alexandra Tolstoy and Sabine Getty

Photos shared on the account show Maria posing in her pop-up store, exploring the cobbled streets of Saint-Paul-de-Vence or escaping to the countryside with a pack of puppies

Photos shared on the account show Maria posing in her pop-up store, exploring the cobbled streets of Saint-Paul-de-Vence or escaping to the countryside with a pack of puppies 

Enviably chic, even by lofty French standards, Maria de la Orden moved to Paris from her hometown of Madrid. 

The designer has founded not one, but two in-demand labels: La Veste and Maria de la Orden Studio, which are loved by well-heeled shoppers including Alexandra Tolstoy, Sabine Getty and Leah de Wavrin.

Samantha Cameron is among her 65,000 Instagram followers. 

Photos shared on the account show Maria posing in her pop-up store, exploring the cobbled streets of Saint-Paul-de-Vence or escaping to the countryside with a pack of puppies – all while wearing perfectly curated outfits. 

IMAN PEREZ 

Daughter of Swiss actor Vincent Perez and Senegalese model-actress Karine Silla, Iman Perez inherited her parents' good looks and ease in front of the camera

Daughter of Swiss actor Vincent Perez and Senegalese model-actress Karine Silla, Iman Perez inherited her parents’ good looks and ease in front of the camera

The 21-year-old is represented by Next Model Management and has already bagged campaigns with Hermes and Zadig & Voltaire. Pictured, in an Instagram snap

The 21-year-old is represented by Next Model Management and has already bagged campaigns with Hermes and Zadig & Voltaire. Pictured, in an Instagram snap

Away from modelling, Iman is an accomplished equestrian and regularly shares horse updates with her 30,800 Instagram followers. Pictured, posing for a selfie

Away from modelling, Iman is an accomplished equestrian and regularly shares horse updates with her 30,800 Instagram followers. Pictured, posing for a selfie

Daughter of Swiss actor Vincent Perez and Senegalese model-actress Karine Silla, Iman Perez inherited her parents’ good looks and ease in front of the camera. 

The 21-year-old is represented by Next Model Management and has already bagged campaigns with Hermes and Zadig & Voltaire. 

She made her debut into society at the 2015 Bal des Débutantes, which was held just two weeks after the Paris terror attacks.   

Away from modelling, Iman is an accomplished equestrian and regularly shares horse updates with her 30,800 Instagram followers. 

Before the pandemic struck the model spent her time criss-crossing between Paris and New York, which she described as her ‘second home’. 

Grounded in France for the foreseeable, Iman headed south the Saint Tropez over summer but is now back in the city.  

SONIA BEN AMMAR 

At the age of just 16, Sonia Ben Ammar, now 21, had her photograph published around the world when she was spotted hanging out with Brooklyn Beckham

At the age of just 16, Sonia Ben Ammar, now 21, had her photograph published around the world when she was spotted hanging out with Brooklyn Beckham

With 730,000 Instagram followers, Sonia is a veritable social media star and often shares snaps of her achingly cool outfits and world travels. Pictured, at Paris Fashion Week

With 730,000 Instagram followers, Sonia is a veritable social media star and often shares snaps of her achingly cool outfits and world travels. Pictured, at Paris Fashion Week

At the age of just 16, Sonia Ben Ammar, now 21, had her photograph published around the world when she was spotted hanging out with Brooklyn Beckham.

The daughter of film producer and distributor Tarak Ben Ammar and his Polish-born wife Beata, an actress, Sonia attended the American School of Paris and stepped out at the 2015 Bal des Débutantes alongside Iman.

She has a fledgling acting career and was recently cast in Scream 5, which is set to start shooting this year.

With 730,000 Instagram followers, Sonia is a veritable social media star and often shares snaps of her achingly cool outfits and world travels.  

HELOISE AGOSTINELLI 

Best known to Brits as a star of Made In Chelsea, in France Heloise Agostinelli's family is considered fashion royalty. Pictured, in an Instagram snap

Best known to Brits as a star of Made In Chelsea, in France Heloise Agostinelli’s family is considered fashion royalty. Pictured, in an Instagram snap 

Her mother is Dior PR Director Mathilde Favier

With fellow It Girl Lady Amelia Windsor at a London fashion launch last year

Her mother is Dior PR Director Mathilde Favier (left) meaning 21-year-old Heloise enjoys front row seats at Fashion Week and is on first-name terms with creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri. Right, with fellow It Girl Lady Amelia Windsor at a London fashion launch last year

Heloise Agostinelli at the Dior show at Paris Fashion Week in February

Heloise Agostinelli at the Dior show at Paris Fashion Week in February

Best known to Brits as a star of Made In Chelsea, in France Heloise Agostinelli’s family is considered fashion royalty.

Her mother is Dior PR Director Mathilde Favier, meaning 21-year-old Heloise enjoys front row seats at Fashion Week and is on first-name terms with creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri. 

Meanwhile her father Robert Agostinelli is a self-made billionaire who is chairman and co-founder of private equity firm Rhône Group.

Her extended family is just as impressive. Heloise’s aunt is the creative director of jewellery at Dior while her great-uncle Gilles Dufour designed haute couture creations for French fashion houses Chanel and Balmain. 

Although fashion is in her blood, it is beauty that Heloise loves. She is the poster girl for brand Dr Barbara Strum and shows off her radiant complexion on Instagram, where she boasts more than 59,000 followers. 

Although she is as Parisian as they come, Heloise spends most of her time in London.

It was in the UK that she met Jamie Laing, heir to the McVities fortune, a long-standing Made In Chelsea cast member. 

Heloise, then 20, joined the show in early 2019 but left after her relationship with Laing, who is 10 years old, ended. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Coronavirus UK: Large families’ Christmas meetings may be banned

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Ministers are prepared to act to stop illegal large family gatherings this Christmas, a Cabinet minister warned today.

Environment Secretary George Eustice also said that even festive gatherings that adhere to the Rule of Six could be outlawed if they include people living in different lockdown tiers.

His comments came as Boris Johnson was presented with a Christmas nightmare by Sage scientific advisers who warned that the second wave of coronavirus will be  even deadlier than the first. 

Speaking to LBC this morning Mr Eustice said it is ‘too early to say’ how lockdowns could affect festivities, but added ‘Obviously if we do need to have restrictions in place, and prevent families from coming together in large gatherings, if that’s necessary to control the virus that’s what we’ll have to do.’

Asked on Times Radio if families from different tiers would be able to spend Christmas together, he added this is ‘not provided for currently’. 

Mr Eustice was speaking after a police chief warned that Christmas family celebrations could be broken up by police officers entering homes if they flout lockdown rules.

David Jamieson, the West Midlands police and crime commissioner, said officers will investigate reports of rule-breaking over the festive period.

The West Midlands is currently under Tier 2 restrictions, meaning people cannot mix with any other households or bubbles inside.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said that even festive gatherings that adhere to the Rule of Six could be outlawed if they include people living in different lockdown tiers

Environment Secretary George Eustice said that even festive gatherings that adhere to the Rule of Six could be outlawed if they include people living in different lockdown tiers

David Jamieson, the West Midlands police and crime commissioner, said officers will investigate reports of rule-breaking over the festive period

David Jamieson, the West Midlands police and crime commissioner, said officers will investigate reports of rule-breaking over the festive period

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The West Midlands are currently under Tier 2 restrictions, meaning people cannot mix with any other households or bubbles inside

Mr Jamieson told The Telegraph: ‘If we think there’s large groups of people gathering where they shouldn’t be, then police will have to intervene. If, again, there’s flagrant breaking of the rules, then the police would have to enforce.

‘It’s not the police’s job to stop people enjoying their Christmas. However, we are there to enforce the rules that the Government makes, and if the Government makes those rules then the Government has to explain that to the public.’

The police chief also warned about the upcoming Hanukkah and Diwali celebrations which will also see families eager to gather inside, contrary to the rules in certain areas.

The three-tier system was introduced earlier this month in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus in regional hotspots.

Today broadcaster and peer Baroness (Joan) Bakewell spoke about the ‘moral imperatives of caring and loving for each other’, telling the BBC: ‘It seems to me that many older people might be prepared to take the risk. 

‘How many Christmases have you got left in your life that you’re prepared to give up one just for the sake of perhaps living a little longer?

‘I think it’s going to be a moral decision that families are going to have to take. You can’t legalise it, you can’t police it, so people are thrown on their own resources to work this out for themselves.’

Mr Jamieson was speaking a day after police in Wales were compared to 'Communist China' for raiding a Cardiff church service

Mr Jamieson was speaking a day after police in Wales were compared to ‘Communist China’ for raiding a Cardiff church service

Police chiefs have warned that Christmas family celebrations will be broken up by officers if they flout lockdown rules

Police chiefs have warned that Christmas family celebrations will be broken up by officers if they flout lockdown rules

Jane Kennedy, the PCC in Merseyside, which is currently a Tier 3 region, said she would also investigate reports of illegal gatherings over Christmas.

Mr Jamieson said he fears civil unrest could boil over in the West Midlands in the near future, with the end of the furlough scheme ‘very likely’ to push people over the edge.  

He said: ‘We’re sitting on a time bomb here. We’re getting very near the stage where you could see a considerable explosion of frustration and energy. Things are very on the edge in a lot of communities and it wouldn’t take very much to spark off unrest, riots, damage.’ 

The police chief even compared the febrile situation to the 2011 riots sparked by the death of Mark Duggan, which saw violence spread across UK cities. 

He fears the trigger this time could be heavy-handed police forces shutting down celebrations and enforcing harsh restrictions.

He said people who have never been involved in crime could suddenly become emboldened to take part in the disobedience.

Forces in Manchester, London and Merseyside are concerned about potential violence, he added.

But Ms Kennedy disagreed, saying she doesn’t believe we are on the brink of serious disorder.

Their comments come after BBC presenter Victoria Derbyshire admitted that if the rule of six were still in place by Christmas, she would ignore it.

Mr Jamieson said he fears civil unrest could boil over in the West Midlands in the near future, with the end of the furlough scheme 'very likely' to push people over the edge

Mr Jamieson said he fears civil unrest could boil over in the West Midlands in the near future, with the end of the furlough scheme ‘very likely’ to push people over the edge

She later backtracked from this stance, but her initial statement reflected an increasingly widespread disenchantment with the current rules. 

The idea that ‘we can carry on as we are’ and have a normal Christmas ‘is wishful thinking in the extreme’, a Government scientific adviser has said.

Professor John Edmunds, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said ‘radical action’ would be needed to stem the rise in coronavirus cases, particularly in regions with high incidence of the virus.

Prof Edmunds, who told MPs that tens of thousands of deaths could occur during this wave of the pandemic, said further measures are needed to bring cases down.

The idea that 'we can carry on as we are' and have a normal Christmas 'is wishful thinking in the extreme', a Government scientific adviser has said

The idea that ‘we can carry on as we are’ and have a normal Christmas ‘is wishful thinking in the extreme’, a Government scientific adviser has said

He said that a circuit-breaker is needed across the whole country or at least in areas where incidence is high.

‘The only way that we can have a relatively safe and normal Christmas is if we take radical action now to reduce incidence – at the very least in high incidence areas – and keep the incidence low across the country by implementing a package of measures to reduce social contacts,’ he said.

‘The notion that we can carry on as we are and have a Christmas that we can celebrate normally with friends and family is wishful thinking in the extreme.’  

A No10 spokesman previously said: ‘The PM has been clear previously that he is hopeful that in many ways we could be able to get some aspects of our lives back to normal by Christmas. 

The Government has not made any decisions about Christmas yet but many are preparing for restrictions to still be in place

The Government has not made any decisions about Christmas yet but many are preparing for restrictions to still be in place

‘As I say, we’ve been clear about the ambition to ensure that people may celebrate Christmas as a family this year.’

The comments contrasted with the stance taken by Treasury Chief Secretary Steve Barclay in a round of interviews on Friday morning. 

He said: ‘I think few people expect it to be exactly as it would normally because we will be living with this virus for some time.

‘And the chief medical officer and the chief scientific adviser have been very clear on that.

‘But, your point really was about the ability of families to spend Christmas together – that is something we all hope to be in a position to do.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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