A woman infected with coronavirus gave birth to a healthy baby girl, according to reports.
The 33-year-old was initially transferred back to the fever ward while her child was cared for on the neonatal isolation ward of the Second Affiliated Hospital of Xi’an Jiaotong University in Xi’an, capital of northwest China’s Shaanxi Province.
But Chinese news agency Xinhua has reported that the woman has since been cured of the deadly virus and given the green light to return home.
Earlier photos show medics clad in protective hazmat suits carrying the baby, wrapped up tightly inside a number of blankets, ahead of their transfer to a designated hospital.
In the UK, the NHS have confirmed that all but one of the nine patients who tested positive for the coronavirus have been discharged from hospital.
NHS England and NHS Improvement said on Saturday that eight people who had tested positive for Covid-19 had left hospital following two negative tests.
All 94 people in quarantine at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral have also been released, they added.
They had been kept in isolation at the hospital after returning to the UK from China – the centre of the outbreak.
More than 100 people remain at the Kents Hill Park Hotel in Milton Keynes.
Source: Metro News
Half of Sweden could be infected by coronavirus in April, professor warns
Tom Britton, a mathematics professor from Stockholm University, said it is possible that up to a million people are already infected with the virus – though the country has only confirmed 5,466 cases.
Using mathematical models he believes the number of new daily infections will peak around the middle of the month, with up to 5million people infected by April 30.
Sweden has so-far resisted calls to go on lockdown like other European countries and has instead asked people to act ‘like adults’ by taking sensible precautions.
A million people in Sweden could already be infected with coronavirus and half the country’s 10million population could have it by the end of the month, one mathematician has predicted
The country has officially confirmed just 5,466 cases – but scientists have warned the government that not enough testing is being carried out
Mr Britton told Radio Sweden that it is too early to tell what effect, if any, these measures have had on the spread of the virus – because the only reliable data he has are death figures.
Using death figures he is able to calculate an estimated number of infections, but it means looking around three weeks into the past – since this is roughly how long it takes a person to get sick enough to die from coronavirus.
Since Sweden’s social distancing measures were only first introduced two weeks ago, it means they will not yet show in that data.
Using statistical modelling, Mr Britton explained that he can work forwards from the number of infections three weeks ago to estimate how many are infected now.
Professor Tom Britton predicts that the peak of Sweden’s infection curve will fall around April 15, with pressure peaking in hospitals two weeks later
The calculations are based on a number known as ‘R’ – which stands for the number of people the average person with the virus infects before they stop being infectious.
With no social distancing, that number is thought to be around 2.5, with social distancing it falls significantly. Anything under 1 means the virus starts to die out.
Based on his calculations, Mr Britton believes peak day for infections will fall around April 15 with up to half of Sweden’s 10million population infected by April 30.
Pressure on hospitals will then peak around two weeks after April 15 as those who fell sick on that date develop symptoms, with some requiring intensive care.
‘China succeeded in [reducing its R value] by very comprehensive measures, and very quickly, so that less than 1 per cent will be infected in Wuhan,’ he said.
‘I am not convinced that we will be as effective in Sweden.’
Mr Britton said he is in touch with a group of mathematicians advising the government, which includes a former student of his, but is not directly involved in government efforts to curb the virus.
Sweden’s leaders have urged calm, insisting that sensible social distancing measures and increasing intensive care capacity will see them through the crisis.
Sweden has so far resisted calls to lock the country down like most other European nations, and instead advised people to ‘act like adults’ and socially distance themselves
But others have insisted the government must act faster and go further to prevent scenes from Italy and Spain – where tens of thousands have died – being repeated.
Last week, a petition signed by 2,000 doctors, scientists, and professors was delivered to the government asking for more stringent measures to be put in place.
Among the signatories was Professor Carl-Henrik Heldin, chairman of the Nobel Foundation.
Meanwhile Cecilia Söderberg-Nauclér, a virus researcher from Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, echoed their fears.
Speaking to The Guardian, she said: ‘We’re not testing enough, we’re not tracking, we’re not isolating enough – we have let the virus loose.
‘They are leading us to catastrophe.’
The WHO’s Europe branch said there were 464,859 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 30,098 deaths in the 53 countries that make up its region.
Some 80 per cent of those who died from the virus had at least one underlying illness, in particular cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
State epidemiologist Anders Tegnell (centre) has been overseeing Sweden’s response, and has faced criticism for not acting fast enough
America is the first country in the world with more than 1,000 coronavirus deaths in a day
The US was the first country to report 1,000 coronavirus deaths in a single day on Wednesday as the death toll soared past 5,000.
With more than 216,000 infections across the country, America is now worse affected by COVID-19 than any other country in the world has been.
The virus shows no signs of slowing down, despite the entire nation being on lockdown, and experts say as many as 200,000 will die by the time the pandemic is over.
There are fears that the next epicenter will be the city of Detroit, after the death toll in Michigan doubled in just three days – a sign of exponential growth which scientists use as an indicator of spikes.
The US death toll is now dwarfing the number of deaths officially reported in China (3,309), where the outbreak first originated back in December.
While the death toll in Italy (13,155) and Spain (9,387) is still higher, the US eclipsed the hard-hit European nations’ confirmed cases, with both Italy (110,574) and Spain (104,118) reporting only around half the number of infections.
Italy’s deadliest day was on March 26th, when 969 new deaths were reported. China’s figures are less clear.
Contemporaneous reports indicate that its deadliest day was in February when 242 died in Hubei province alone. There is growing skepticism over the country’s reported deaths and infections, with some saying the government is hiding the true number.
Michigan now has the third highest death toll in the US after reporting a spike in its figures in the last couple of days.
The state’s death toll had reached 337 on Wednesday night – an increase of 78 – with more than 9,300 confirmed cases. Last week, its death toll increase was around 4.3
New Jersey is second behind New York with 355 deaths and 22,255 infections. New York continues to bear the brunt, with 84,025 infections and 2,219 deaths.
New York City rushed to bring in more medical professionals and ambulances and parked refrigerated morgue trucks on the streets to collect the dead.
Boroughs outside of Manhattan have been hardest hit, according to a New York City Health Department map which breaks down the city’s coronavirus cases by zip code up until March 31.
The map revealed that the city’s poorer neighborhoods are being hardest hit by the pandemic, while rich New Yorkers in the likes of Greenwich Village and Brooklyn Heights are not being infected to the same level.
Elmhurst and Kew Gardens Hills in Queens, the South Bronx, and East New York in Brooklyn have the most cases of the areas across the city.
In Rockaway, Queens, 436 have tested positive among the community that lives in public housing in Far Rockaway but at the far end of the island, residents in their $1million Belle Harbor homes only have 143 cases.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio drafted in some support Wednesday, appointing controversial former NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill as the city’s COVID-19 Senio Advisor.
This map ranks the states with the most Coronavirus cases. Michigan and Florida are emerging as hotspots for the virus
A graph by computer scientist Mark Handley shows how the US’s trajectory compared to other countries until March 28
A separate graph shows how the states vary in comparison to Italy until March 31
Speaking at the daily coronavirus briefing, de Blasio introduced O’Neill as his ‘senior advisor helping us wage this battle against coronavirus’ and said the former cop would be tasked with making sure the city’s hospitals and medical professionals have the supplies they need to tackle the growing pandemic.
His responsibilities will include working with City Hall and other agencies to maintain a strong chain of supplies and healthcare workers to hospitals.
De Blasio also warned New Yorkers that the ‘toughest weeks are ahead’ and again hammered home the date of April 5 as ‘D-Day’ for the city.
Sunday has been touted as the day the city will run out of essential medical supplies as it currently stands.
‘April 5 is a crucial, crucial date for New York City,’ he said in the press conference.
‘As we prepare for a real upsurge, as I go into the specific numbers, I want to emphasize how much effort has already been expended. it’s unbelievable. How many people have gathered together to provide support already. The toughest weeks are ahead.’
New York City needs 3.3million N95 masks, 2.1million surgical masks, 100,000 isolation gowns and 400 ventilators by Sunday, de Blasio said.
At least 2,500 more ventilators are needed for the healthcare system to cope with the expected surge in cases just next week.
‘We have to make sure it happens in time. Those are all very, very important,’ de Blasio said.
In the state of New York, the USNS Comfort, a Navy hospital ship with 1,000 beds, 12 operating rooms and a full medical staff, arrived in the city on Monday. It will be used to treat non-coronavirus patients to free up space in city hospitals.
Field hospitals have also been set up in Central Park, the Javits Center and even in hotels like the Plaza and St Regis. The indoor tennis center that is the site of the U.S. Open tournament is being turned into a hospital as well.
Makeshift morgues have been put in place at various hospitals across the city as the death toll continues to rise and healthcare workers struggle to keep up with the body count.
Other states are also beginning to see a ramp up in cases.
Connecticut confirmed the youngest known victim of the killer virus worldwide Wednesday, after a six-week-old baby died from coronavirus.
The infant was taken to the hospital unresponsive last week and could not be revived.
A COVID-19 patient arrives at a field hospital built by Christian humanitarian organization Samaritans Purse in Central Park, New York on April 1
Volunteers from the International Christian relief organization Samaritans Purse set up an Emergency Field Hospital for patients suffering from the coronavirus in Central Park across Fifth Avenue from Mt. Sinai Hospital on Tuesday
A body wrapped in plastic is unloaded from a refrigerated truck and handled by medical workers wearing personal protective equipment due to COVID-19 concerns
Their death was announced on Wednesday by Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, saying he believes the infant is the youngest fatality ‘anywhere’.
‘It is with heartbreaking sadness today that we can confirm the first pediatric fatality in Connecticut linked to #COVID-19.
‘A 6-week-old newborn from the Hartford area was brought unresponsive to a hospital late last week and could not be revived.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said a six-week-old baby has died from the virus, becoming the world’s youngest fatality
‘Testing confirmed last night that the newborn was COVID-19 positive,’ Lamont announced.
President Donald Trump has warned Americans to brace for a ‘hell of a bad two weeks’ ahead as the White House projected there could be 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the US even if current social distancing guidelines are maintained.
Trump called it ‘a matter of life and death’ for Americans to heed his administration’s guidelines and predicted the country would soon see a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’.
‘I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead,’ Trump said Tuesday. ‘This is going to be one of the roughest two or three weeks we’ve ever had in our country… We’re going to lose thousands of people.’
The jaw-dropping projections were laid out as officials described a death toll that in a best-case scenario would likely be greater than the more than 53,000 American lives lost during World War I. The model’s high end neared the realm of possibility that Americans lost to the virus could approach the 291,000 Americans killed on the battlefield during World War II.
President Donald Trump warned Americans to brace for a ‘hell of a bad two weeks’ ahead as the White House projected there could be 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the US even if current social distancing guidelines are maintained
DO CHINA’S NUMBERS ADD UP?
China has lied and covered up key information during virtually every stage of its coronavirus response – from the initial outbreak to the number of cases and deaths, and is still not telling the truth, observers, experts and politicians have warned.
Here, Mail Online analysis of Beijing’s actions lays bare the great cover-up of China’s numbers:
China has reported a total of some 82,000 infections from coronavirus, claiming a domestic infection rate of zero for several days in a row recently – even as it eased lockdown restrictions in placed like Hubei.
But, by the country’s own admission, the virus is likely still spreading – via people who have few or no symptoms.
Beijing-based outlet Caixin reported that ‘a couple to over 10 cases of covert infections of the virus are being detected’ in China every day, despite not showing up in official data.
Meanwhile foreign governments have heaped scorn on China’s infection reporting cannot be trusted.
Marco Rubio, a prominent Republican senator and former presidential candidate from the US, tweeted that ‘we have NO IDEA how many cases China really has’ after the US infection total passed Beijing’s official figure.
‘Without any doubt it’s significantly more than what they admit to,’ he added.
Meanwhile the UK government has also cast doubt on China’s reporting, with Conservative minister and former Prime Ministerial candidate Michael Gove claiming the Communist Party could not be trusted.
‘Some of the reporting from China was not clear about the scale, the nature, the infectiousness of this [virus],’ he told the BBC.
Meanwhile sources told the Mail that China’s true infection total could be anything up to 40 times as high as reports had suggested.
Doubt has also been cast on China’s reported death toll from the virus, which currently stands at around 3,300.
Locals in epicenter city Wuhan have been keeping an eye on funeral homes since lockdown restrictions were partly lifted, claiming they have been ‘working around the clock’ to dispose of bodies.
Social media posts estimate that 3,500 urns are being handed out by crematoriums each day, while Caixin reports that one funeral home in the city placed an order for 5,000 urns.
Locals believe that efforts to dispose of the bodies began March 23 and city authorities have said the process will end on or around April 5.
That would mean roughly 42,000 urns handed out in that time frame, ten times the reported figure.
Dr Tony Fauci, the country’s leading virus expert, called the numbers ‘sobering’ and urged Americans to ‘step on the accelerator’ with their collective mitigation efforts.
Trump’s comments came after he announced on Sunday that he was extending to April 30 the social distancing guidelines that advise Americans to cease large gatherings, work from home, suspend onsite learning at schools and more in a nationwide effort to stem the spread of the virus.
It was an abrupt reversal for Trump who spent much of last week targeting April 12 as the day he wanted to see Americans ‘pack the pews’ for Easter Sunday services.
The latest data on the cases and deaths comes from John Hopkins University.
The tally records that 3,309 people have died from the virus in China.
However, experts and politicians have cast doubt on the numbers coming out of China, and have even accused the country of lying and covering up key information during virtually every stage of its coronavirus response.
Beijing initially tried to cover up the virus by punishing medics who discovered it, denying it could spread person-to-person and delaying a lockdown of affected regions – meaning early opportunities to control the spread were lost.
Then, once the virus began spreading, the Communist Party began censoring public information about it and spread disinformation overseas – including suggesting that US troops could have been the initial carriers.
Even now, prominent politicians have warned that infection and death totals being reported by the regime are likely to be wrong – with locals in the epicenter of Wuhan suggesting the true tolls could be ten times higher.
Chinese health officials admitted Tuesday that more than 1,500 cases of the virus involving asymptomatic people that had not been previously reported.
Worldwide, more than 800,000 people have been infected and over 40,000 have died, according to the tally from Johns Hopkins University.
Virus expert says all 50 states need to be on lockdown at the same time otherwise the coronavirus curve won’t flatten and predicts social distancing will continue for another 10 weeks – as Bill Gates warns failing to shut down is a ‘recipe for disaster’
It comes as a virus expert said that all 50 states in the United States need to be on lockdown at the same time to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
Virologist Dr Joseph Fair said the entire country needs to better follow social distancing guidelines and implement lockdowns after the US government’s stark projection that there could be between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic.
Public health officials have stressed that the death toll number could be less if people across the country adhere to strict social distancing.
In an interview with NBC’s Today on Wednesday, Dr Fair said insisting on social distancing was a ‘moot point’ unless the entire country was on a lockdown.
Virologist Dr Joseph Fair (left) said the entire country need to be on lockdown at the same time to help stop the spread of coronavirus. Microsoft’s Bill Gates (right), who in 2015 predicted the world would soon face a pandemic, said failing to enforce a national lockdown was a ‘recipe for disaster’
‘Until all 50 states do it, and they all do it at the same time, it’s really kind of a moot point,’ he said.
Dr Fair said the government’s latest projections were ‘best case scenarios’ if everyone was doing the same thing to help stop the spread of the virus.
‘That’s only going to happen if all 50 states are doing the same thing,’ he said. ‘That’s why I’d really urge the Association of Governors to get together – everybody get on the same page as far as what they’re going to do and everybody implement the same measures.’
He said that if all states initiated a stay-at-home order, social distancing would need to continue for as many as 10 weeks.
‘Realistically, I think it is going to have to go on for 6 to even 10 weeks. That’s if everyone starts today,’ Dr Fair said.
‘If everyone is not doing it there are still going to be people spreading it. There are things we’re going to have to do – we have to go to the grocery store, we have to go to the pharmacy. There are people working in hospitals. But we can all do our own part and everyone has to do it. I think the police need to get involved in it just as far as implementing strict distancing measures.’
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who in 2015 predicted the world would soon face a pandemic, said failing to enforce a country-wide lockdown was a ‘recipe for disaster’.
In a Washington Post op-ed on Tuesday, Gates said the US had already ‘missed the opportunity to get ahead’ but said it wasn’t too late for people to start mitigating.
Like Dr Fair, Gates said the US needs a ‘consistent nationwide approach to shutting down’ in order to stop the spread.
‘Despite urging from public health experts, some states and counties haven’t shut down completely. In some states, beaches are still open; in others, restaurants still serve sit-down meals. This is a recipe for disaster. Because people can travel freely across state lines, so can the virus. The country’s leaders need to be clear: Shutdown anywhere means shutdown everywhere,’ Gates said.
He said no one should be continuing as usual or relax during the shutdown, estimating it could take 10 weeks for infection and death rates to start decreasing.
‘The choices we and our leaders make now will have an enormous impact on how soon case numbers start to go down, how long the economy remains shut down and how many Americans will have to bury a loved one,’ he wrote.
Currently, about 265 million Americans are now on stay at home orders to combat the spread of coronavirus.
Some states, however, are still refusing to order lockdowns with the governor of Missouri insisting it is down to ‘individual responsibility’. Arkansas, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming also currently have no lockdown measures at a county or municipal level.
Around 265 million Americans have now been ordered to stay at home to combat the spread of coronavirus but some states are still refusing to order lockdowns
More than 80 percent of the US population are in lockdown after governors from Arizona and Tennessee joined other states in issuing stay-at-home orders effective Tuesday – the same day that the US death toll eclipsed China.
As of Tuesday, 32 states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico were all in lockdown, with residents told to stay home except for essential workers or to go out for essential needs such as buying groceries or seeking medical attention.
The states with stay-at-home orders are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Pennsylvania, Nevada and North Carolina – as well as the territory of Guam – do not have stay-at-home orders but have shuttered all non-essential businesses.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey seemed to finally bow to pressure Monday and signed an executive order that all residents must remain in their homes from March 31 until at least April 30.
But several states are yet to take such action, which experts have warned is crucial to slowing the spread of the pandemic.
Surgeon General says 30 days of lockdown will be long enough to stop coronavirus in some states but not everywhere as he warns the public to leave precious N-95 masks for healthcare workers
The US Surgeon General said on Wednesday that 30 days of social distancing would be long enough to slow the spread of coronavirus in some places but not everywhere.
In an interview on Good Morning America, Surgeon General Jerome Adams also warned the public not to use precious N-95 surgical masks in light of an update by the CDC that it is considering advising that everyone should wear a face covering when they go out.
‘The original 15 days was designed to slow the spread and for us to have some time to reassess.
‘We learned good and bad things. No state has been spared, but when you look at places like Washington and California that aggressively mitigated with social distancing, they were able to flatten their curve.
‘We’re looking at it as an opportunity for the entire country to say, if we do these things, we can flatten the curve.’
Asked if 30 days would be long enough, he replied: ‘It will be for some places. It won’t be for others, depending on where they are on their curve.’
Surgeon General Jerome Adams appeared on Good Morning America on Wednesday to give advice on how long the guidelines would last; it will vary throughout the country
The CDC had originally said that only people who have symptoms should wear the masks when they go out. Now, the government is weighing advising that everyone wears one, even if they don’t have symptoms, to avoid spreading the deadly virus.
Dr Adams, however, says it does not mean the public should rush to buy the coveted N-95 surgical grade masks that are in short supply around the nation’s hospitals.
‘Those must be reserved for the healthcare workers and the public can use other items to cover their faces. We’ve learned about this disease. We’ve learned there’s a fair amount of asymptomatic spread and whether or not people wear masks will prevent transmission to other people,’ he said.
‘But it can’t be at the expense of social distancing. The most important thing for people to do is to stay at home. The final point I’d make is if you’re going to wear a face covering, you still don’t need an N-95 mask and if you take one, you may be taking it out of the hands of a healthcare worker who desperately needs it to treat patients.’
President Trump has now suggested people should wear scarves to cover their faces when they go out.
‘You could get a mask, but most people have scarves and scarves are very good and they can use a scarf and we’re only talking about a limited period of time,’ he said on Tuesday.
How one woman solved Britain’s most notorious honour killing
Detective Chief Inspector Caroline Goode stood in the garden of a derelict house in Birmingham and watched in nervous expectation as lifting equipment swung into place over a large, freshly dug hole in the ground.
All day, a forensic expert had scraped away at the earth layer by layer until, with daylight beginning to fade, he found what he was looking for — a suitcase. It was too heavy and awkward to extract by hand, so the fire brigade were called in. And now there it was — suspended on straps, with water streaming from it.
Goode was both sad and understandably exultant. The dogged detective had found what she had been desperately hunting for in a massive police operation over three months — the body of 20-year-old Banaz Mahmod, who had fallen foul of her traditional Kurdish community and paid with her life.
Detective chief Inspector Caroline Goode, has penned a book about the quest for justice after Banaz Mahmod, 20, (pictured) was murdered in an honour killing
At a local mortuary, the top of the case was carefully prised off with a scalpel and there were the remains of the young woman whom Goode and her team had come to know as ‘our girl’, so determined were they to find her and bring her killers to justice. She was curled into the foetal position, as if she were safe in the bosom of her family. Yet her own family had instigated her gruesome murder.
Her ‘crime’ was to have left an arranged and allegedly abusive marriage and fallen in love with another man.
So the ‘honour’ of her family in their close-knit London Kurdish community was supposedly impugned.
They decided she was immoral, a whore, an outcast; and dozens were involved in bringing about her brutal death and then concealing it — including her own father and uncle. Banaz’s murder was one of far too many so-called ‘honour killings’ in Britain. More than 5,000 such deaths are estimated to occur around the world every year. Some take place behind closed doors in the UK — and some girls are taken abroad to be killed. Unfortunately we don’t know the actual number.
This one would almost certainly have gone undetected if not for now-retired DCI Goode who, in a new book, tells how her team won justice for Banaz.
Caroline’s story is also being made into the two-part ITV drama, Honour, screened later this year.
Keeley Hawes (pictured) stars as Caroline Goode, in ITV’s two-part adaptation of the 2006 crime which took place in Birmingham
Keeley Hawes — taking on another police role after playing DI Lindsay Denton in Line Of Duty — will star as Goode.
Her investigation was complex because, for a long while, there was not even a body.
‘Unlike most murders, at first we didn’t even know if this one had happened,’ she recalls.
Goode was a senior detective in the Metropolitan Police’s Homicide Command when, in January 2006, she took a call from another officer asking for advice about a missing person inquiry.
A young Kurdish immigrant, Rahmat Suleimani, had reported the disappearance of his girlfriend, Banaz Mahmod. She had left her husband in July the previous year due to alleged physical and sexual abuse, returning to live with her parents in the South London borough of Merton. Her estranged husband was never charged with an offence related to Banaz.
She had subsequently started a relationship with Rahmat, who explained to the police that for a Kurdish woman to leave her husband brought shame on the community, and that it was common for the woman to be killed by her family in order to restore their ‘honour’.
He claimed Banaz’s bullying uncle, Ari Mahmod, had threatened to kill him and Banaz, and Banaz’s father had made serious attempts on her life.
Police records confirmed that weeks earlier, Banaz reported death threats from Ari. But the police did not investigate. It was only when Rahmat reported her missing that they went to the family home, where Banaz’s parents were adamant that she could not have disappeared.
They told police they were liberal parents. Their five daughters were free to come and go as they pleased and frequently stayed out overnight. Police let the matter drop. If the parents were happy, surely there was no cause for concern?
But Rahmat insisted the Mahmod daughters were virtually prisoners in their own home.
Kurdish immigrant Rahmat Suleimani, reported that the Madmod daughters were virtually prisoners in their own home, concerned Caroline Goode (pictured) upgraded Banaz’s missing person case to a possible murder inquiry
Goode, concerned for this vulnerable young woman, upgraded the case to a possible murder inquiry, even though it meant stepping into a cultural and racial minefield.
Banaz, she found, had come to the UK with her parents aged ten after fleeing Saddam Hussein’s regime and claiming asylum. They took up residence in south London, where Banaz went to school.
At just 16 she had an arranged marriage to a man from the family’s small town in Iraq. He was ten years older and she met him only once before their wedding, but agreed to the marriage.
He was illiterate and didn’t speak English whereas, after six years in the UK, she was more westernised and independent. For two years she lived with him in Coventry, trying to make the marriage work, but she said he repeatedly raped and beat her until finally she fled.
Banaz returned to the family home, and soon after began a relationship with Rahmat. As a result, her disapproving and controlling father plied her with alcohol and tried to strangle her.
In public she was followed by intimidating groups of Kurdish men, who photographed her kissing Rahmat.
She made numerous complaints to police about the threats, drawing up a list of the five men she thought were plotting to kill her. But no protection was put in place. One officer didn’t believe her, dismissing her as manipulative and melodramatic.
Banaz refused to give up Rahmat or stay silent. Unwisely, she told her family she had an appointment at the police station the following day to be interviewed again.
More than 30 people all of who were Kurds, were arrested and interviewed in the search for Banaz. Pictured: Banaz tells the police of her fears in ITV drama
It was an appointment her family realised they had to make sure she couldn’t keep.
She didn’t show up.
Furious, and ashamed that Banaz had clearly been let down by police, Goode launched a full-scale investigation: though she knew it was not going to be straightforward, with the family closing ranks and seemingly unconcerned.
Was Banaz alive but in hiding from her family? Was she being held against her will? Or was she dead, murdered by her family or even by her boyfriend, Rahmat?
He was quickly ruled out. His phone revealed loving texts sent before she went missing. ‘I couldn’t live a second without you,’ she wrote. ‘I love you so much.’
Rahmat had also been threatened. A group of men tried to bundle him into a car but he got away after a struggle. They warned: ‘You are Kurdish and Muslim. You cannot carry on doing what you are doing. You are going to die.’
Goode pulled in her main suspects — Banaz’s father Mahmod and uncle, Ari — for interview, plus Banaz’s estranged husband. She also launched a hunt for three other men on Banaz’s list: Omar Hussain, Mohammed Ali and Mohammed Hama. The last two had part-time jobs as butchers.
Dozens of addresses were raided up and down the country. More than 30 people — all Kurds — were arrested and interviewed, and more than 20 vehicles and 300 mobile phones seized.
At which point, Goode came up against a communal conspiracy of silence and lies so deep it rivalled the Mafia’s code of Omerta.
It was no coincidence that the men questioned all came up with rehearsed responses, backed each other with alibis and denied any wrong-doing. Their general attitude was that they couldn’t see what the fuss was about.
Secret recordings of the suspects in custody, revealed the horror Banaz (pictured) experienced before she died
Attempts were made to throw police off the scent with disinformation, and valuable time was wasted following up fake phone calls that Banaz was alive and well. Faced with this wall of silence, Goode decided to record secretly the conversations and phone calls of the suspects in custody, hoping they would brag in private about what they had done.
Her hunch was right, and the truth began to emerge in all its ghastly detail. An interpreter listening to the tapes was horrified to hear Hama laugh as he boasted about anally raping Banaz before stamping on the terrified girl’s head and tying a cord round her neck. ‘I had my foot on her back and I was pulling so hard it was cutting into her flesh. It took the bitch more than half an hour for the soul to leave her body.’ This had all happened on a mattress in the living room of the Mahmod home.
Hama then talked about the body being put ‘in a suitcase’ and Ari Mahmod dragging it out of the house to a waiting car. Her hair and her elbow were sticking out, Hama added. A police car drove by but missed what was happening right under their noses.
The suitcase was driven to a back garden ‘somewhere’. ‘I buried it so deep they will only find it if there is an informant,’ he told a contact.
From Hama’s loose mouth, Goode now had the names of the murderers — Hama himself, Omar Hussain and Mohammed Ali.
She also had confirmation of Ari making the arrangements and the driver who’d taken the body away in his car, a man named Dana.
But she didn’t yet have a body. And without that, there was no criminal case to answer. She knew there was a question mark over whether the secret tapes would be admissible in court, but she would have no chance at all of conviction without proof Banaz was dead.
Mohammed Hama (pictured) boasted about anally raping Banaz before stamping on her head and tying a cord round her neck
So suspects’ gardens were dug up. Marshland was combed and frogmen searched lakes and rivers in south London after Hama made an oblique reference to the suitcase being ‘in water’. Goode was spurred on by something else the overheard conversations revealed — the sheer number of men desperate to be involved. Goode was told by an expert that honour-based violence is not only premeditated but committed using maximum brutality to send a message to the whole community. The men will be proud of themselves, she was advised.
And indeed they were. ‘I have done justice,’ Hama declared in his conversations, summing up this warped mindset.
But what about the community’s women? For whatever reason —fear, perhaps, or because they simply didn’t know what was going on — they too refused to co-operate.
Banaz’s own mother, Behya, disclosed next to nothing before pulling her headscarf over her head and refusing to say more.
Had she been involved? It was impossible to know. Goode, a mother herself, found the thought horrifying — but she realised that even if Banaz’s mother had known, there was little she could have done to prevent it.
The cultural expert explained a Kurdish mother was judged by her daughter’s behaviour. If a girl went off the rails, the shame fell on the mother for bringing her up badly.
It emerged that Banaz’s uncle Ari (pictured) had pressed for his niece to be punished and organised it all
Most of Banaz’s four sisters were also too frightened to say much, although it turned out one was in the house when Banaz was killed.
Another, 22-year-old Bekhal, did reveal she had been beaten by her father for being too westernised. He spat in her face after catching her with her head uncovered and called her a whore for having a black boyfriend. She had, she said, just wanted to have friends, to give her opinion — ‘very small things that British girls take for granted’. She described their Uncle Ari as ‘a controlling a***hole’ who told her that, if she’d been his daughter, she would be ashes.
But Bekhal’s evidence was circumstantial at best. She had long since left home and had no direct knowledge about Banaz’s death.
It was a setback for Goode. Bit by bit, however, leads were being pulled together and the participants’ movements tracked from their phone records.
These showed all the suspects had been in touch in the days before Banaz’s disappearance. On the day in question, they all gathered at Hama’s house, then at Banaz’s home.
Ari was emerging as the linchpin. Though he was Mahmod’s younger brother, he was a much stronger character and referred to as ‘Agha’, a respectful title. It was he who pressed for his niece to be punished and organised it all.
But still Goode was no further forward in finding Banaz’s remains — until a crucial breakthrough. Hama’s mobile phone showed he made a round trip to Birmingham the day after she went missing. In the Kurdish community in rundown Handsworth, one person was put under surveillance and numerous addresses searched. A list was drawn up of gardens where a body might have been buried.
Given the area to be covered, a monumental and probably impossible task lay ahead, until Hama, still babbling away in prison, inadvertently provided a steer. ‘Did you put the freezer back on top of the patio?’ he asked one of the others.
Days before, Goode had flown over the area in a police spotter helicopter, looking in vain for signs of disturbed earth. At one point she clocked a discarded freezer on a patio of crazy paving, but had thought nothing of it until now. Perhaps it was covering the grave.
The house was identified. It was closed and empty. In the overgrown garden was a pile of household rubbish that included a sofa, two armchairs . . . and a freezer.
It was without its door, which was under a hedge at the end of the garden. A forensic archaeologist spotted loose soil and began to dig, slowly and methodically, under the patio until the hole was up to his shoulder and he was on the point of giving up.
Caroline counted a staggering 50 men who were involved in one way or another in the crime. Pictured: Banaz’s father Mahmod
Goode persuaded him to keep going for one more hour. It was 8.30pm, with arc lights illuminating the hole, when he called up: ‘It’s here. I’ve found it.’ The case lay there, sucked down into mud and hard to shift, which is when the fire brigade came to lift it out.
When the body was examined, it was so decomposed that bright, vibrant Banaz could only be identified from dental records. Around her neck was the bootlace-type cord used to choke her to death.
They hadn’t even bothered to remove it. Goode had her evidence for a murder charge. Superlative detective work and a refusal to give up had ensured that. But she felt sickened. ‘To see Banaz forced into that suitcase by her own family was too cruel for words,’ she writes. ‘I simply do not understand how a parent can depersonalise their children to that extent.
‘I love my own children so much it’s like a physical pain. But it’s as if daughters like Banaz were no more than possessions, commodities to be traded, admired or disposed of, a means of boosting one’s own status.
‘I felt nothing but anger, loathing and contempt for those men.’
Ari smirked in contempt as, alongside his brother Mahmod, he was charged with murder, exuding supreme confidence that police would never make it stick.
But the taped conversations confirmed him as the driving force behind Banaz’s killing. He described her as ‘a whore’ who was going to talk to police. ‘We had to kill her.’ When his wife queried if it had been necessary, he snapped at her: ‘Shut up, you stupid woman. When I talk, you listen.’
He had no regrets. Reputation was worth more than life itself, he declared, and the community would thank him. Indeed, Goode was further appalled by the growing number of Kurdish men coming forward to pledge allegiance to the suspects and offering to give false evidence to get them off. She counted a staggering 50 involved in one way or another in the crime.
‘Fifty men to murder one woman!’ she comments. ‘And they prided themselves on their manliness!’
At least she had the main culprits in custody and awaiting trial. But what were her chances of conviction, given that the most compelling evidence was what the men themselves had said in secretly recorded conversations and calls?
Would this hearsay be admissible? That was now the vital question. Ari was still displaying an arrogant self-confidence that the case could never be proved.
There was a strong chance they would all get away with their monstrous crime — and there would be no justice for poor Banaz, throttled slowly to death for simply wanting to lead her own life and love whomever she chose.
Adapted from Honour: Achieving Justice For Banaz Mahmod by Caroline Goode, published by Oneworld on March 26, 2020 @ £10.99. © 2020 Caroline Goode.
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