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Steph & Dom solve your sex, love & life troubles: Our holiday was a disaster – should we split?

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TV’s Steph and Dom Parker, 52 and 54, draw on their 21 years of marriage to solve your relationship problems . . . 

Q: I just got back from a holiday in the Canaries with my boyfriend. It was the first time we’d been away together. I am 41, he is 48 — and it was a disaster. Our flight was delayed and our car was cancelled. He shouted at the lady on the desk. I was mortified. This happened everywhere we went. It was just awful. We ended up arguing, too, about what to do during the day. I wanted to go sightseeing but he refused to get up before 11am, then just wanted to laze around and drink beer. We stayed in the hotel the whole time.

I also hated the hotel. He’d wanted somewhere cheap and I wanted a five-star. This was an unhappy compromise.

By the end of the week, he was driving me mad. It’s such a shame, as I thought he might be the one. But now I’m questioning everything. Should I end things? What do you think?

An anonymous reader asked Steph and Dom Parker for advice on a disastrous first holiday with her boyfriend (file image)

An anonymous reader asked Steph and Dom Parker for advice on a disastrous first holiday with her boyfriend (file image)

An anonymous reader asked Steph and Dom Parker for advice on a disastrous first holiday with her boyfriend (file image)

STEPH SAYS: I believe the only way you can really get to know the person you’re dating is by going on a trip together for at least a week. The first holiday is a little like a dress rehearsal for the rest of your relationship. It’s the only way you can get to see behind a carefully curated facade and truly see the person within — so it’s an absolutely essential test.

I am sorry the result has been so disappointing, but it’s far better to know now than in six months’ time. You are 41, which is still young, but not so young if you hope to meet-marry-and-mate.

If children are a priority for you, you haven’t time to waste. And if children are not on your radar, well, you still don’t have time to waste! None of us does. Life is too short to spend with someone who is rude to people.

Which brings me to an important point. You talk about your boyfriend shouting at staff. The answer to your question is right there.

Should you break off your relationship with someone who is rude to other people? Yes! Of course. If he is unkind to others, he will be unkind to you. And how could you have respect for someone who behaves like that?

Good manners are important and someone who lacks them is not worth your time. So without a doubt I think you should move on. Then you should analyse what you have learned about yourself and who you want to be with in the future.

Steph (pictured left with Dom) advised the reader to end the relationship, stating if the boyfriend is unkind to others, he will be unkind to you

Steph (pictured left with Dom) advised the reader to end the relationship, stating if the boyfriend is unkind to others, he will be unkind to you

Steph (pictured left with Dom) advised the reader to end the relationship, stating if the boyfriend is unkind to others, he will be unkind to you 

You may have made a mistake by compromising so much on the hotel. I understand why you did, but at least you know what you want from a holiday — even if you have yet to decide what you want from a man! I am guessing that you work hard and if you want a week of being pampered and can afford it, then that’s what you should do.

We must all pick our battles in relationships, but going on a holiday you know you won’t like is never going to end well, so it’s worth fighting for what you want.

I think it’s time to be honest with your partner, so I would arrange to go out for a drink somewhere quiet.

Be brave, kind and courteous. Tell him you don’t see a future together with him.

Yes! He failed the First Holiday Test 

You both know the trip was a disaster, but you must be the one who is brave enough to call it. Explain to him that after your experience together, it is obvious you are incompatible.

Holidays are supposed to be one of the highlights of our lives. Why spend the rest of yours with someone who makes you — and others — miserable? Let him down gently and book your next holiday immediately!

DOM SAYS: This is a great shame. I’m sorry your relationship has gone wrong, especially as it had all been going so well so far.

From what you’ve told me about your boyfriend’s behaviour, he is evidently not a good traveller — and you can’t bash him for that. Delays and hiccups can stress anyone out. That said, he shouldn’t have shouted at the person on the desk or, indeed, at anyone. There is no excuse for such behaviour.

Dom (pictured) told the reader if she really liked her boyfriend the hotel rating wouldn't matter as much, he suggests tossing a coin to decide if they should break up

Dom (pictured) told the reader if she really liked her boyfriend the hotel rating wouldn't matter as much, he suggests tossing a coin to decide if they should break up

Dom (pictured) told the reader if she really liked her boyfriend the hotel rating wouldn’t matter as much, he suggests tossing a coin to decide if they should break up

However, I don’t think you should criticise him for not wanting to do much apart from lie in, laze about and have a beer. Steph and I love our holidays, same as anyone else, and neither of us likes to sightsee. Most of the time, when we actually get a holiday we’re exhausted. There is nothing wrong with wanting to spend your time on holiday relaxing with a beer.

If you chose an all-inclusive hotel, whether it’s one-star or five-star, the point is that you don’t have to leave. So I don’t think it’s fair to call the poor chap out on that one, either.

You might have had a slightly firmer foot when it came to the choice of hotel. If you knew you wouldn’t like it, then the time to say so was before you booked.

That said, I hope you’re miffed because he could easily have spent more on something fancier but chose to be tight. It would be wildly unfair of you to complain about the hotel if it was all he could afford.

There is no pleasure in going somewhere that is out of your budget — pinching rolls for lunch from the breakfast buffet is no fun for anyone. So he should absolutely be forgiven for the naff hotel if that was the only one within his reach.

Toss a coin and see how you feel 

Thing is, if you really liked him then I doubt the star-rating would have mattered so much, if at all. And that tells me you’re simply not in love with him. But you don’t seem so sure.

So, what I propose is this. Toss a coin. Heads you leave him, tails you stay. Then listen to your gut on the answer. If your heart sinks at what the coin-toss tells you, do the opposite.

Should you end up staying together, then you have two choices: holiday separately — which doesn’t strike me as a great idea — or find a middle ground. If he wants to sleep until 11 and you want to get up at the crack of dawn, then both do what you want.

You don’t have to be joined at the hip the whole time. You can go sightseeing while he stays by the pool.

But only if you love him. If not, don’t waste your precious holiday time, or any other time, with the wrong person.

If you have a question you’d like Steph and Dom to tackle, write to: stephanddom@ dailymail.co.uk 

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4 soldiers, 63 jihadists killed in clash in western Niger: officials

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Four soldiers and 63 jihadists have been killed in fighting between Niger’s army and heavily armed extremists in the nation’s west, the government said Friday.

Extremists on motorcycles fought the army Thursday in the Tillaberi region near the border with Mali before being forced to flee, according to a defence ministry statement. The army was able to recover dozens of weapons and motorcycles, it said.

READ MORE: 2 killed in knife attack in France: officials

Since December, at least 174 soldiers have been killed in Niger in several attacks. At least two were claimed by fighters linked to the Islamic State group.

Extremism has grown in West Africa’s Sahel region south of the Sahara Desert, with attacks increasing near the borders of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, where many jihadists linked to al-Qaida or IS operate.

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© 2020 The Canadian Press

Source: Global News

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Coronavirus: Global diplomacy strained amid COVID-19 pandemic

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Entire countries are on lockdown, state visits cancelled, travel curtailed, key meetings postponed or moved online.

The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically altered international diplomacy. While the interruptions may seem to many like trivial inconveniences for a well-heeled jet set, they may have significant implications for matters of war and peace, arms control and human rights.

Already the United States has cancelled at least two leaders’ summits it planned to host this year and moved a Group of Seven foreign ministers online. As the global crisis threatens to alter the world balance of power, NATO‘s top diplomats abandoned plans to meet in person this past week, the European Union has scaled back its schedule, a major international conference on climate change in Scotland was called off, and many lower-level U.N. gatherings have been scrapped entirely.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: With travel at a standstill, hotel industry looks to assist hospitals, workers

If the pandemic isn’t brought under control by summer, it could jeopardize the diplomatic granddaddy of the post-World War II era, the annual high-level U.N. General Assembly meeting in virus-stricken New York, which this year is set to commemorate the organization’s 75th anniversary. The General Assembly may have only a fraction of the audience as an global sporting event like the already postponed Summer Olympics in Japan, but it is the diplomatic equivalent of the games.

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The president of the General Assembly said Friday the 193-member world body will make a decision “in the coming month” on whether to delay the gathering, set to begin on Sept. 22.

If there is a global centre of diplomacy, it’s the sprawling U.N. headquarters complex in New York, considered to be a top diplomatic post, if not the top, for almost all countries. It hosts many formal and informal meetings but much of the business of diplomacy takes place over coffee and drinks in the Delegates Lounge, and at lunches, dinners and the numerous nightly receptions.

Coronavirus around the world: April 3, 2020
Coronavirus around the world: April 3, 2020

The arrival of COVID-19, which has turned New York into the U.S. epicenter of the pandemic, suddenly ended this diplomatic lifestyle that has existed for decades. As the world fights what U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls “a war against a virus,” many diplomats are wondering if that life will return when the “war” is over.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

Diplomacy at the United Nations and elsewhere has now moved to phones, emails and virtual meetings, including of the U.N. Security Council. With face-to-face meetings increasingly rare, diplomacy by teleconference and secure video has become the norm, offering easy outs for those unwilling or unable to engage in delicate or controversial negotiations.

In the absence or severe cutback of in-person diplomatic discussions, some fear countries such as Russia and China may seek to exploit the crisis to further weaken international institutions already stressed by the Trump administration’s hostility to them.

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Some fear the virus crisis could fuel diplomatic atrophy.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Trump asks medical supply firm 3M to stop selling N95 respirators to Canada

“It’s making a lot of things harder,” said Ronald Neumann, a former U.S. ambassador who is president of the American Academy of Diplomacy. “I don’t think it will stop things from getting done that people want to get done but the epidemic is likely to be an excuse rather than a cause. It’s a very convenient excuse for people not to do things they don’t want to do.”

Peace talks between Afghanistan’s warring factions, between Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels and the government, and long-stalled negotiations on an end to Syria’s war are all diplomatic initiatives that may have to be put on hold because of the virus. At the same time, discussions on human rights, nonvirus global health issues, climate change and trade are likely to be foregone.

Coronavirus outbreak: China criticizes U.S. for making ‘shameless’ comments on data transparency
Coronavirus outbreak: China criticizes U.S. for making ‘shameless’ comments on data transparency

Several U.N. events have been curtailed or scrapped: one to mark the 25th anniversary of the U.N. women’s conference in Beijing that adopted a 150-page road map to achieve gender equality; a session on the Law of the Sea; one on the rights of indigenous people; and the five-year review conference of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

“Here at the U.N. in New York we must turn our attention to the tools we have. We must make them work better for the situation we face. And in the process, we might learn something about both what is truly important as well as the wonders of video conferences,” Norway’s U.N. ambassador, Mona Juul, told The Associated Press.

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In Geneva, another hub of U.N.-sponsored diplomacy, the coronavirus has torpedoed some gatherings. A Human Rights Council session was suspended in mid-March “until further notice” and two plenary sessions of the Conference on Disarmament were put off.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — U.S. encouraging residents to wear non-medical face masks in public

On Monday, U.N. envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen told the Security Council that the heads of a committee created to talk about Syria’s constitution had agreed on a new agenda for talks, but added, “COVID-19 makes it impossible to convene Syrians in Geneva at present.”

Uncertainty is clouding the prospects for two big Geneva-hosted diplomatic meetings in May and June: the annual assembly in May of the World Health Organization, the U.N. agency that has had a front-line role in fighting coronavirus, and the top annual gathering of the International Labor Organization in June.

In Brussels on Thursday, NATO foreign ministers held the first of their two biannual meetings this year via a two-hour secure teleconference instead of the usual two-day in-person session.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — UN to decide in a month whether to delay meeting of world leaders

The EU has been reduced to conducting its diplomacy at distance. It’s seen a multiplication in the number of meetings, most by video conference, and others with only small groups of officials, formats that diplomats complain have diluted their usefulness.

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Last Thursday, European Parliament President David Sassoli presided over a virtually empty chamber in an emergency session focused on the coronavirus pandemic. “We had to slow down, of course. But we have not stopped, because democracy cannot be suspended in the midst of such a dramatic crisis. Indeed, it is our duty, in these difficult times, to be at the service of our citizens,” he said.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death

© 2020 The Canadian Press

Source: Global News

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Britain suffers its worst day yet in coronavirus crisis as 708 die in one day taking total to 4,313 

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A further 708 people have died with coronavirus in Britain, bringing the country’s fatalities to 4,313 in the deadliest day yet.

The number of new infections also rose by 3,735 to 41,903, which is the smallest 24-hour increase in four days. 

Michael Gove will confirm the grim figures at this afternoon’s Downing Street press briefing, as the government appeals to opposition parties for input into Whitehall’s coronavirus battle plan.

Professor Neil Ferguson this morning braced the public for ‘weeks and weeks’ of high case numbers, but in a glimmer of hope said social distancing could be relaxed by the end of May if people continue to obey the lockdown rules.

Yet despite revealing that movement outside of the household has dropped by 85 per cent, pictures today showed cyclists flocking to parks in the warm weather.

Ministers are begging the public to stay at home and not ‘lose discipline’ so the NHS does not become overwhelmed with an influx of cases.   

Yesterday the UK reached a bleak milestone in its health crisis when the death tally surpassed the number reported by China, where the virus spawned last year, although the figures released by Beijing are contested. 

The government is desperately trying to squash the daily spike in cases with an unprecedented strategy of social distancing. 

But the lockdown has pinned Britain ‘into a corner’ with no obvious exit strategy, according to a senior Downing Street scientific adviser who braced the country for a return to a policy of herd immunity. 

Professor Graham Medley, the government’s chief pandemic modeller, said the only viable path through the health emergency would be to let people become infected so they are no longer vulnerable. 

He warned the current restrictions would not steer the country out of the pandemic – only prevent a short-term spread – but would bring the economy to its knees.

Paramedics wearing personal protective equipment transports a patient in to The Royal London Hospital in East London

Paramedics wearing personal protective equipment transports a patient in to The Royal London Hospital in East London

Paramedics wearing personal protective equipment transports a patient in to The Royal London Hospital in East London

Mounting unemployment, domestic violence and burgeoning mental health issues could be widespread if the normal functioning of society remains paralysed, Prof Medley forecast.

Describing a trade-off between harming the lives of the young versus safeguarding the wellbeing of the elderly, the scientist said the Prime Minister had a ‘big decision’ to make on April 13 when the lockdown will be reviewed.    

Yet noises from Number 10 suggests the current curbs to everyday life will not be lifted, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock yesterday urging the public to ‘keep their discipline’.

He begged Britons to stay indoors ahead of a warm weekend as the UK – but pictures today showed cyclists flocking to parks.

Professor Neil Ferguson, who is also advising the government, said that he hopes the current restrictions could be eased by the end of May, but it would certainly not be ‘a return to normal life’.

This morning, he told the BBC’s Today programme: ‘I don’t think anyone wants to lift measures at the current time and risk the epidemic getting worse.

‘But if we see a rapid decline in cases, then of course the government will consider if they can relax those measures and modify certain measures in a way which is safe and still ensures the epidemic goes down.’ 

And on another tumultuous day in the country’s health crisis:

  • Boris Johnson appealed to rival political parties to work together in a moment of national emergency; 
  • The Queen recorded a rare address to the nation at Windsor Castle, which is to be broadcast on Sunday;
  • Two nurses in their 30s, both mothers-of-three, tragically died and were invoked by senior medics to urge people to stay at home this weekend to save lives;
  • The massive Nightingale Hospital in London opened for its first full day of operation after it was unveiled by Prince Charles via videolink yesterday;
  • Boxer Anthony Yarde’s grandmother died of coronavirus just days after the disease killed his dad;
  • A member of the armed forces became the first case of coronavirus on the Falkland Islands. The British overseas territory’s government said: ‘An inpatient in the hospital who is in isolation has tested positive for the Covid-19 virus’;
  • Princess Eugenie’s father-in-law George Brooksbank, 71, was taken into intensive care with coronavirus as his wife also battled the deadly disease.

 

Professor Graham Medley, the government's chief pandemic modeller, says Britain may still need to adopt herd immunity

Professor Graham Medley, the government's chief pandemic modeller, says Britain may still need to adopt herd immunity

Professor Graham Medley, the government’s chief pandemic modeller, says Britain may still need to adopt herd immunity

A red London bus travels past closed-down shops on an empty Regent Street in London. Mounting unemployment, domestic violence and burgeoning mental health issues could be widespread if the normal functioning of society remains paralysed, Prof Medley forecast

A red London bus travels past closed-down shops on an empty Regent Street in London. Mounting unemployment, domestic violence and burgeoning mental health issues could be widespread if the normal functioning of society remains paralysed, Prof Medley forecast

A red London bus travels past closed-down shops on an empty Regent Street in London. Mounting unemployment, domestic violence and burgeoning mental health issues could be widespread if the normal functioning of society remains paralysed, Prof Medley forecast

As coronavirus began to take a choke-hold on the UK last month, the government mooted the concept of herd immunity as a method of beating back the disease by allowing 80 per cent of the country to become infected.

Herd immunity is when enough people become resistant to a disease – through vaccination or previous exposure – that it can no longer significantly spread among the rest of the population.

The concept first entered the UK’s phraseology when the government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance mentioned it in a broadcast interview.

Sir Patrick told the BBC on March 13: ‘Our aim is to try and reduce the peak, broaden the peak, not suppress it completely; also, because the vast majority of people get a mild illness, to build up some kind of herd immunity so more people are immune to this disease and we reduce the transmission.’ 

But two days later, Health Secretary Matt Hancock clarified that herd immunity was not a government policy. 

‘Herd immunity is not a part of it. That is a scientific concept, not a goal or a strategy,’ he wrote in a newspaper article.

But Prof Medley is now warning that the controversial method may be the only solution as under his modelling, simply allowing people suddenly back to work or school would cause a resurgence in cases of the virus.

He said an antibody test, which shows whether a person has had the virus and could therefor be immune, could help, but that one had never before been used in the management of such an outbreak.

A professor of infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, he told the Times: ‘This disease is so nasty that we had to suppress it completely.

‘Then we’ve kind of painted ourselves into a corner, because then the question will be what do we do now?’








First coronavirus case on the Falkand Islands 

A member of the armed forces has become the first confirmed coronavirus case on the Falkland Islands.

Brigadier Nick Sawyer, Commander of British Forces South Atlantic Islands (BFSAI), said the patient, who has not been named, is in a stable condition in the remote archipelago’s hospital.

They became unwell at Mount Pleasant Complex, a Royal Air Force base on the British territory.

Brigadier Sawyer said: ‘The individual followed all the correct processes and self-isolated when they started to show symptoms. They were closely monitored and after a deterioration in their condition the individual was transferred to KMH (King Edward VII Memorial Hospital).

‘Mount Pleasant Complex and Ascension Island continue to implement the same strict isolation and social distancing measures as the UK and these are also aligned with the Falkland Islands Government direction.

‘This is a timely reminder that we must all continue to be self-disciplined with our personal health procedures and observe social distancing.’

The Falkland Islands Government said in a statement that the patient is not on a ventilator.

Six British Army medics have been deployed to the Falkland Islands this week to give support during the coronavirus pandemic. 

He said there was a ‘big decision’ to be made on April 13, when the government reviews the lockdown measures.

‘In broad terms are we going to continue to harm children to protect vulnerable people, or not?’ he said.

Prof Medley, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), added: ‘The measures to control [the disease] cause harm.

‘The principal one is economic, and I don’t mean to the economy generally, I mean to the incomes of people who rely on a continuous stream of money and their children, particularly the school closure aspect.’

He said there will be ‘actual harms’ in terms of mental health, domestic violence, child abuse and food poverty. and lockdown ‘buys more time’ but ‘doesn’t resolve anything’, he said.

Responding to Prof Medley’s assessment, his Sage colleague Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College told BBC Radio 4’s Today: ‘I wouldn’t put it as bleakly as that. There is a lot of work currently so we can substitute some of the social distancing currently in place for a regime more based on intensive testing, rapid access to testing, contact tracing of contacts. 

‘But in order to substitute that regime for what we’re doing now we need to get case numbers down. We can’t do it when we have as many people being infected as is currently happening.

‘So we need to get numbers down… but I’m hopeful that in a few weeks time we can move to a regime which will not be normal life but will be more relaxed in terms of the economy but be more based on testing.’ 

He added that data had revealed an 85 per cent drop in social movement of the public, and added his voice to the chorus of people calling for Britons to stay indoors this warm weekend.

If people do continue to flout social distancing rules, public parks could be shut, according to a Telegraph source. 

It comes as the UK announced 684 more coronavirus deaths on Friday, taking the total number of fatalities to 3,605.

Yet again the number is a record one-day high – this has been the case almost every day this week, with each day since Tuesday announcing more victims than the last.

The new numbers mean the number of people dead from COVID-19 in the UK has risen five-fold in a week, from just 759 last Friday, March 27.








The numbers behind the UK’s crisis have escalated rapidly over the past seven days and Health Secretary Matt Hancock today said the virus ‘continues its grim march’. He admitted that next week is likely to be worse still, potentially topping out at more than 1,000 deaths per day by Easter Sunday.

Britain is still being hammered by the consequences of huge numbers of people catching the coronavirus before the country went into total lockdown last week. The increases being seen each day are ‘expected’, scientists say.

Experts say it could take another couple of weeks before the benefits of social distancing start to show in NHS statistics – but they insist that the outbreak will taper off and the daily numbers will start to fall.

The Government today penned an open letter pleading for firms who can make PPE and coronavirus tests to come forward (pictured, one of the forms)

The Government today penned an open letter pleading for firms who can make PPE and coronavirus tests to come forward (pictured, one of the forms)

The Government today penned an open letter pleading for firms who can make PPE and coronavirus tests to come forward (pictured, one of the forms)

Matt Hancock and the chief nursing officer, Ruth May, said in today’s briefing that people must resist the urge to break isolation and go out this weekend, when sunny weather is expected. Mr Hancock said: ‘We cannot relax our discipline now. If we do, people will die. This advice is not a request – it is an instruction.’

The Government yesterday also penned an open letter pleading for firms who can make personal protective equipment (PPE) and coronavirus tests to come forward – despite firms who offered help weeks ago saying they still have not heard back about helping tackle Britain’s growing crisis.

In a desperate attempt to get a grip of the testing fiasco and nationwide shortage of protective equipment for NHS staff, the Department for Health and Social Care supplied two forms for British manufacturers to fill out if they could step up to help.

But MailOnline can reveal one firm poised to supply DIY coronavirus antibody tests to Number 10 – kits deemed crucial in ending Britain’s draconian lockdown because they reveal who is immune to the disease – has yet to hear back on how it can get its test approved despite approaching them last month.

Brigette Bard, chief executive of Essex-based firm BioSure – which already makes HIV self-tests, demanded Public Health England offers clarity on what it needs, saying ‘there is nothing more critical at the moment’ than getting antibody tests approved.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, pictured at the opening of the Nightingale Hospital in London today, suggested the UK's lockdown will be in place until the end of April at the earliest

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, pictured at the opening of the Nightingale Hospital in London today, suggested the UK's lockdown will be in place until the end of April at the earliest

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, pictured at the opening of the Nightingale Hospital in London today, suggested the UK’s lockdown will be in place until the end of April at the earliest

She added in a video that PHE were not looking at her company’s test because it was a self-test – claims which a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson furiously refuted, branding Ms Bard’s words as ‘untrue and misleading’.  

Commercial laboratories and scientists were drafted in to help after a U-turn by ministers also exposed Downing Street’s incompetence today, claiming they had offered two weeks ago to help the Government dramatically scale-up its swab testing capacity but were ignored. 

One man running a fully-equipped lab in Leicester revealed his firm had offered to help the Government but was now testing private clients on its own.

He said: ‘We approached the NHS on March 17 to offer our assistance and said we were happy to use all our capacity for NHS work and we’ve been trying to get a response since then.’ 

Scientists at the University of Oxford, one of the world’s top institutions, said they also had not had their offers of help taken up by British authorities. 

Matthew Freeman, a biologist at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology at Oxford University said in a tweet: ‘We have many people experienced in PCR.

‘We’d love to help and have been trying to volunteer for weeks. Must be many university departments and institutes in similar position.’ 

UK announces 684 more coronavirus victims: Total death toll reaches 3,605 and more than 38,000 people have now tested positive for the infection as Matt Hancock warns there could be 1,000 deaths per DAY by Easter

The UK announced 684 more coronavirus deaths yesterday, taking the total number of fatalities to 3,605. 

Yet again the number is a record one-day high – this has been the case almost every day this week, with each day since Tuesday announcing more victims than the last.

On Thursday there were a record 569 new fatalities announced by the Department of Health and today’s statistics show a rise 20 per cent larger.

The new numbers mean the number of people dead from COVID-19 in the UK has risen five-fold in a week, from just 759 last Friday, March 27.

The numbers behind the UK’s crisis have escalated rapidly over the past seven days and Health Secretary Matt Hancock today said the virus ‘continues its grim march’. He admitted that next week is likely to be worse still, potentially topping out at more than 1,000 deaths per day by Easter Sunday. 

Britain is still being hammered by the consequences of huge numbers of people catching the coronavirus before the country went into total lockdown last week. The increases being seen each day are ‘expected’, scientists say.

Experts say it could take another couple of weeks before the benefits of social distancing start to show in NHS statistics – but they insist that the outbreak will taper off and the daily numbers will start to fall.

The UK's coronavirus outbreak is expected to get worse before it gets better, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said (Pictured: Paramedics working in London)

The UK's coronavirus outbreak is expected to get worse before it gets better, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said (Pictured: Paramedics working in London)

The UK’s coronavirus outbreak is expected to get worse before it gets better, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said (Pictured: Paramedics working in London)

Matt Hancock and the chief nursing officer, Ruth May, said in today’s briefing that people must resist the urge to break isolation and go out this weekend, when sunny weather is expected. 

Mr Hancock said: ‘We cannot relax our discipline now. If we do, people will die. This advice is not a request – it is an instruction.’ 

And officials maintain that the NHS is coping well with the strain so far and there are now more than 2,000 spare intensive care beds available across the country, as well as ventilators available for patients who need them.  

But the Government is facing a huge backlash over its coronavirus testing policy. Mr Hancock last night pledged to ramp up to carrying out 100,000 tests per day by the end of April after being criticised for the UK currently only managing around 10,000 daily.

He was then forced to admit, however, that this did not include antibody tests, which reveal if someone has already recovered from the illness and are considered vital for ending the UK’s lockdown. He also said that the Government still hasn’t found one it thinks it good enough to use.

And scientists at private research companies and university labs around the country have said they offered to help the Government with analysing swab test results weeks ago but never heard back because Public Health England insisted on doing all the work internally. 

Officials have now opened this up and penned a letter pleading for businesses to get in touch if they are able to make antigen or antibody testing kits or protective equipment. 

One company told MailOnline it still has not heard from the Government despite offering to produce tests a month ago. 

Public Health England said 173,784 people have now been tested for the coronavirus – 7,651 people were tested yesterday, Thursday, a total of 11,764 times. 

And NHS England, which collects data on the deaths which happen in England, said 604 of the new fatalities happened in its hospitals, with patients aged between 24 and 100.

WHERE DID TODAY’S CORONAVIRUS DEATHS HAPPEN? 

  • London: 161
  • Midlands: 150
  • North West: 88 
  • East of England: 66 
  • North East & Yorkshire: 62 
  • Scotland: 46
  • South East: 41
  • South West: 36
  • Wales: 24
  • Northern Ireland: 12

Total: 686 

NB: The totals of all countries’ separate counts add up to more than the official total for the UK because the Department of Health stops recorded at 5pm the day before it publishes the statistics. Some of the deaths outside of England will be counted in tomorrow’s total for Britain. 

Thirty-four of the patients had been healthy before they caught COVID-19 and they ranged in age from 27 and 92, reiterating that young people with no long-term illnesses can still be killed by the infection.

Tributes have today been pouring out to 36-year-old nurse and mother of three in Walsall, Areema Nasreen, who died today in the hospital where she had worked before becoming ill – Walsall Manor Hospital in the Midlands.

A change in the information published by the NHS today has seen the health service shift away from naming the hospitals where patients have died and the dates they died on. Instead it has shifted to regional totals as the numbers become too large for specific details to be realistic.

It revealed that today’s death toll includes 161 patients in London, 150 in the Midlands, 88 in the North West, 66 in the East of England, 62 in the North East & Yorkshire, 41 in the South East and 36 in the South West.

Scotland today announced 46 more fatalities, Wales 24 and Northern Ireland 12.

The totals of all countries’ separate counts add up to more than the official total for the UK because the Department of Health stops recorded at 5pm the day before it publishes the statistics. Some of the deaths outside of England will be counted in tomorrow’s total for Britain. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock today warned the UK’s coronavirus outbreak could peak over the Easter weekend and by next Sunday up to 1,000 people a day could be dying from the deadly disease.








Mr Hancock said it was ‘perfectly possible’ that the current numbers of deaths being seen each day could double next week.

It came after he was forced to admit his pledge to boost COVID-19 testing capacity to 100,000 per day by the end of April did not include antibody kits, which are seen as crucial to getting the UK back up and running because they can reveal who has had, and is now immune to, the coronavirus.

Number 10 yesterday performed a screeching U-turn on its testing policy as it abandoned the previous centralised approach by health chiefs and finally invited the wider science and medical research sectors to help, with private labs now joining the effort to process thousands of swab tests.

But the Government’s shambolic handling of the testing crisis was today exposed by scientists and commercial laboratories, who claimed they offered to help the government two weeks ago to increase antigen testing – which only tells if someone is currently infected – but were ignored.

GOVERNMENT BEGS FIRMS WHO CAN MAKE CORONAVIRUS TESTS TO COME FORWARD – DESPITE FIRS SAYING THEY HAVEN’T HEARD BACK FOR WEEKS 

The Government today penned an open letter pleading for firms who can make PPE and coronavirus tests to come forward (pictured, one of the forms)

The Government today penned an open letter pleading for firms who can make PPE and coronavirus tests to come forward (pictured, one of the forms)

The Government today penned an open letter pleading for firms who can make PPE and coronavirus tests to come forward (pictured, one of the forms)

The Government today penned an open letter pleading for firms who can make personal protective equipment (PPE) and coronavirus tests to come forward – despite firms who offered help weeks ago saying they still have not heard back about helping tackle Britain’s growing crisis.

In a desperate attempt to get a grip of the testing fiasco and nationwide shortage of protective equipment for NHS staff, the Department for Health and Social Care supplied two forms for British manufacturers to fill out if they could step up to help.

But MailOnline can reveal one firm poised to supply DIY coronavirus antibody tests to Number 10 – kits deemed crucial in ending Britain’s draconian lockdown because they reveal who is immune to the disease – has yet to hear back on how it can get its test approved despite approaching them last month. 

Brigette Bard, chief executive of Essex-based firm BioSure – which already makes HIV self-tests, demanded Public Health England offers clarity on what it needs, saying ‘there is nothing more critical at the moment’ than getting antibody tests approved.

Commercial laboratories and scientists drafted in to help yesterday after a screeching U-turn by ministers also exposed Downing Street’s incompetence today, claiming they had offered two weeks ago to help the Government dramatically scale-up its swab testing capacity but were ignored.

Ramping up swab testing – often called antigen testing – is also viewed as crucial because it allows officials to test thousands of self-isolating health workers and to say for certain whether they have the disease, allowing those who are free of the killer infection to return to the NHS frontline.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock last night unveiled a five-point plan to boost COVID-19 testing capacity to 100,000 a day by the end of April – levels similar to those seen in Germany, which has been praised for its quick reaction to keeping the pandemic under control.

But Mr Hancock was forced to admit the six-figure target did not include antibody tests. None of the fingerprick kits have yet to be approved by health chiefs amid fears over their accuracy. Mr Hancock last night claimed one of the tests he was being urged to buy was wrong 75 per cent of the time.

Medics fighting the coronavirus crisis on the frontline have begged the Government to provide proper face masks, gloves and aprons amid claims of a nationwide shortage. The British Medical Association has already warned that doctors will die unless they are given adequate protection.

Increasing swab testing – sometimes called antigen testing – is viewed as crucial because it allows officials to test more self-isolating health workers and to say for certain whether they have the disease, allowing those who do not to return to the NHS frontline.

Public Health England is believed to be assessing up to 150 different antibody tests but several kits have already failed medical checks, including one that was wrong 75 per cent of the time. 

Officials have not revealed how accurate the tests need to be before they will finally give them the green-light.

Manufacturers of antibody tests who have sent them to PHE for assessment today said there was still no clarity on whether their kits were going to be used despite some claiming their devices are 98 per cent accurate. 

But the Government today penned an open letter pleading for firms who can make personal protective equipment (PPE) and coronavirus tests to come forward – despite firms who offered help weeks ago saying they still have not heard back about helping tackle Britain’s growing crisis.  

In a desperate attempt to get a grip on the fiasco, the Department for Health and Social Care supplied two forms for British manufacturers to fill out if they could step up to help.

But MailOnline can reveal one firm poised to supply DIY coronavirus antibody tests to Number 10 – kits deemed crucial in ending Britain’s draconian lockdown because they reveal who is immune to the disease – has yet to hear back on how it can get its test approved despite approaching them last month.

Brigette Bard, chief executive of Essex-based firm BioSure – which already makes HIV self-tests, demanded Public Health England offers clarity on what it needs, saying ‘there is nothing more critical at the moment’ than getting antibody tests approved. 

In an attack on the Government’s handling of the antibody testing shambles, Ms Bard said: ‘We urgently need a specification from Public Health England, so we know what we have to achieve. 

‘Matt Hancock has been on all the press this morning saying ‘antibody tests don’t work, self-tests don’t work’ but nobody knows what they are supposed to be working to.

‘I want to know, if all these tests are failing and they’re no good, what are they being benchmarked against? Saying a test is a failure when you don’t know what failure is. I just don’t understand it.’ 

She added there is an industry-recognised specification needed for the HIV self-testing kits BioSure makes to be brought to market, with the products needing to be at least 99.5 per cent accurate. 

But Ms Bard, who yesterday resorted to social media for Britons to share a post calling on health chiefs to look at the firm’s kit, fears the Government does not yet have a standard for COVID-19 tests.

She warned the company cannot start to manufacture the kits – which are just its HIV tests recalibrated to pick up on the coronavirus – until it knows what the benchmark for accuracy is. 

Ms Bard told MailOnline: ‘We have spent five years very successfully in the market generating masses of evidence, data, everything, so we have proven we have a highly usable, highly accurate test.’

In a plea on Twitter last night, she added: ‘We are ready to go with the validation of this test at PHE. But they won’t look at it because it’s a self-test… This test needs to be in the UK market.’

MailOnline has asked the Department for Health and Social Care for comment because Public Health England says it is not responsible for approving any kind of test – even though its laboratories are being used to evaluate some. 

Explaining the sluggishness in hiking test numbers, Mr Hancock yesterday said approving faulty tests would put people at risk.

‘I understand why NHS staff want tests, so they can get back to the frontline. Of course I do,’ he said at the Government’s briefing last night.

‘But I took the decision that the first priority has to be the patients for whom the result of a test could be the difference in treatment that is the difference between life and death

‘I believe anybody in my shoes would have taken the same decision.’








First Minister for Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, said in a briefing today that her ministers have not found a reliable antibody test either.

 

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