Coronavirus: PM Under Pressure To Sack Top Aide Dominic Cummings, And Four Other Stories You Need To Know

The British public has been urged to avoid beaches over the bank holiday, and Latin America sees record deaths and soaring cases.

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The PM is under intense pressure to sack his top aide Dominic Cummings after it emerged that he had broken lockdown rules in order to drive more than 260 miles to his parents’ home.

According to the latest figures from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), published on Friday, 36,393 people have now died in the UK after contracting coronavirus, with more than 254,000 testing positive.

Here’s the latest:

Pressure mounts on PM to sack top aide for breaking lockdown rules

It was revealed on Friday evening that Cummings had travelled more than 200 miles to his parents' home in spite of lockdown rules.
It was revealed on Friday evening that Cummings had travelled more than 200 miles to his parents' home in spite of lockdown rules.

Boris Johnson is facing mounting pressure to sack top aide Dominic Cummings after it emerged he had travelled more than 260 miles to his parents’ home despite lockdown restrictions.

Police have confirmed they attended a property in County Durham, prompting political leaders to pile pressure on the PM to sack the 48-year-old strategist for flouting the rules announced by his own boss.

Downing Street has so far refused to comment.

According to a joint investigation by the Daily Mirror and the Guardian, at the same time as the government was instructing people to remain home – with fines in place for those contravening the rules – Cummings decided to escape the capital.

He is said to have been present at his family home when police from Durham Constabulary turned up on March 31, following a call from someone reporting they had seen Cummings in the area.

Former Conservative MP David Lidington, who was de facto deputy PM under Theresa May, was among those saying the news raised serious questions.

He told BBC Newsnight: “There’s clearly serious questions that No 10 are going to have to address not least because the readiness of members of the public to follow government guidance more generally is going to be affected by this sort of story.”

Similar examples of public officials ignore lockdown guidelines have led to resignations and condemnation from senior Tories.

When Professor Neil Ferguson, the epidemiologist whose modelling prompted the lockdown, quit as a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies for flouting distancing rules when he was visited by his girlfriend, health secretary Matt Hancock said he was “speechless”.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford MP said the aide’s position was “completely untenable”.

“He must resign or be sacked,” he added.

Sir Ed Davey, acting leader of the Liberal Democrats, called for Cummings to quit over the allegations, while a spokesman for Labour said: “The British people do not expect there to be one rule for them and another rule for Dominic Cummings.”

But friends of Cummings suggested he would be going nowhere.

One told the PA news agency: “He isn’t remotely bothered by this story, it’s more fake news from the Guardian.

“There is zero chance of him resigning.”

Latin American countries hit by record deaths and soaring virus cases

Demonstrators hold a national flag marked with black crosses during a protest demanding Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro be impeached.
Demonstrators hold a national flag marked with black crosses during a protest demanding Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro be impeached.

Soaring deaths and cases have ravaged parts of Latin America, with record numbers of deaths recorded in some countries.

The region’s two largest nations — Mexico and Brazil — have reported their highest ever numbers of infections and deaths almost daily for the past week, fuelling criticism of their presidents, who have slow-walked shutdowns in an attempt to limit economic damage.

Brazil reported more than 330,000 confirmed cases as of Friday – trailing only the US in terms of number of infections, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Brazil has also recorded more than 21,000 deaths, though experts believe the true numbers are higher.

Mexico reported its highest one-day death toll so far on Friday, with 479 new fatalities- up from Wednesday’s previous high of 424. It also reported 2,960 new cases, capping a week in which daily confirmed infections have hit close to that number.

However, the Health Department acknowledges that the real number is probably several times higher because of Mexico’s abysmally low testing rate. Despite this, the government has already taken steps to reopen the country’s economy.

Colombia’s Ministry of Health reported its biggest daily increases on Friday, with 801 new confirmed infections and 30 deaths.

In Chile, more than 90% of intensive care beds were full last week in the capital, Santiago.

Ecuador’s government instituted a curfew and other measures in March, but cases have swamped medical and mortuary services in the city of Guayaquil and now in the capital, Quito.

News outlets showed images of patients slumped in wheelchairs receiving oxygen in Peru, where there are only 2.5 intensive-care beds per 100,000 people, a quarter of the global standard.

The country had almost 109,000 confirmed cases and more than 3,100 dead as of Thursday night.

Police ‘wary’ as spit attacks soar

A soaring number of spitting attacks on police officers could be behind a national rise in assaults on emergency service workers.

Figures from the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) for England and Wales, reported by the BBC, showed a 14% rise in attacks in one month compared with last year.

One officer said the assaults had made colleagues on patrol “really wary”.

The figures, which cover 43 forces across England and Wales, cover the four weeks preceding May 10 and are compared against the same period in 2019.

More than 300 people were charged with coronavirus-related assaults against emergency workers in April – “the vast majority” resulting with a conviction, according to the CPS.

There have been two cases of non-emergency workers – one taxi driver and one ticket officer – in London dying after being spat on by people who claimed to have the disease.

Earlier in May it emerged that 47-year-old Belly Mujinga had died of the virus two weeks after being coughed and spat on by a member of the public while at work at Victoria Station.

Meanwhile on Friday it emerged that 61-year-old taxi driver Trevor Belle from Stratford had died with Covid-19 after being spat out by a fare dodger who claimed to have the disease.

Public urged to avoid beaches over bank holiday weekend

There are fears that crowded beaches could lead to a spike in cases.
There are fears that crowded beaches could lead to a spike in cases.

The public have been urged to stay away from beaches over the bank holiday, which is expected to bring warm, sunny weather across parts of the UK.

Pictures of crowds flocking to beaches in Brighton and Southend in recent days have raised fears over social distancing, and councils with responsibility for beauty spots around England are warning people to stay away.

Following the easing of some lockdown measures last week, there are no restrictions on how far people can go to get to the countryside, national parks and beaches in England.

The Met Office is forecasting that temperatures could reach highs of 26C in London on Monday, with coastal areas likely to see highs of around 20C.

Councillor Carmen Appich, from Brighton & Hove City Council, has urged anyone thinking of travelling to the city “to consider very carefully how their journey will impact on others”.

Hastings Borough Council meanwhile has said the area is “closed to visitors from outside the town”.

Holidaymakers are similarly being told that the “clear advice” from the Isle of Wight Council is they should stay away.

After pictures showed crowds at Southend in Essex earlier this week, the council’s leader said the easing of lockdown restrictions has put the council in a “very difficult position”.

Councillor Ian Gilbert said on Friday: “For many weeks we ran a successful Don’t Visit Southend campaign, but the Government’s lifting of restrictions have put us in a very difficult position as day trips and sunbathing are allowed, and takeaways can be open for business.”

After seeing the number of people who headed to its coastline this week, Sefton Council in Merseyside has adopted a new campaign ahead of the bank holiday weekend.

“Wish you weren’t here!” is the council’s take on the picture postcard message it is sending to people thinking of travelling to its beaches from across the North West.

People are also being advised not to visit Blackpool to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

And the leaders of three local authorities bordering Morecambe Bay have also asked people to think twice before visiting the area.

In Cornwall, council leaders have warned there is no lifeguard cover and a large coastal swell and spring tide will bring hazardous sea conditions over the weekend.

Rob Nolan, cabinet member for environment and public protection at Cornwall Council, said people should not be holidaying in Cornwall and must return to their “principle residence” each night.

Devon County Council asked people to “think twice” about visiting the coast and to consider if they could remain closer to home.

Car rental giant Hertz files for bankruptcy amid coronavirus pressure

Hertz is one of the world's largest car rental companies, employing thousands of people.
Hertz is one of the world's largest car rental companies, employing thousands of people.
tupungato via Getty Images

Car rental company Hertz has filed for bankruptcy due to debt and the crippling of global travel by the coronavirus pandemic, according to court documents.

The firm, which has more than 400 outlets across the UK and Ireland, was $18.7bn (£15.3bn) in debt at the end of March with only $1bn (£820m) of available cash.

It was recently forced to cut 12,000 people from its global workforce and put another 4,000 on furlough, but the measures came too late to save the 102-year-old business.

Starting in mid-March, the company lost all revenue when travel shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic and it started missing debt payments in April.

Hertz has also been plagued by management upheaval, naming its fourth chief executive in six years on May 18.

“No business is built for zero revenue,” former boss Kathryn Marinello said on the company’s first-quarter earnings conference call on May 12.

“There’s only so long that companies’ reserves will carry them.”

Hertz has been approached for comment over the implications of the bankruptcy on its British and Irish operations.


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