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British cancelled, Masters to November in major rescheduling

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The British Open will not be played this year for the first time since 1945, golf officials announced Monday as they tried to reconfigure a major championship schedule that would end with the Masters being played two weeks before Thanksgiving.

Still to be determined is when — or even if — golf can resume depending on the spread of COVID-19 that has shut down sports worldwide.

The R&A announced that the British Open, scheduled for July 16-19 at Royal St. George’s in England, will be pushed back until July 15-18 in 2021, leaving the 150th Open for St. Andrews in 2022.

“I can assure everyone that we have explored every option for playing The Open this year, but it is not going to be possible,” R&A chief Martin Slumbers said.

The Masters, which was supposed to start Thursday, was rescheduled for Nov. 12-15. That would follow the PGA Championship on Aug. 6-9 at Harding Park in San Francisco and the U.S. Open — still at Winged Foot in New York — for Sept. 17-20.

“We hope the anticipation of staging the Masters Tournament in the fall brings a moment of joy to the Augusta community and all those who love the sport,” Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley said.

“We want to emphasise that our future plans are incumbent upon favorable counsel and direction from health officials.”

Golf’s major organisations have been trying to piece together a puzzle for the last three weeks and each agreed to announce their schedules at the same time in a show of collaboration.

Still missing is the starting line, along with details on what could be the most hectic pace golf has ever known.

The PGA Tour has the most moving parts, and it tentatively has planned to complete its FedEx Cup season close to schedule, with the Tour Championship wrapping up the postseason run on Labor Day.

It also is contemplating putting tournaments in dates that previously belonged to the U.S. Open, British Open and Olympics.

“It’s a complex situation, and we want to balance the commitments to our various partners with playing opportunities for our members — while providing compelling competition to our fans,” PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said.

“But all of that must be done while navigating the unprecedented global crisis that is impacting every single one of us.”

The new schedule features:

— Aug. 6-9: PGA Championship.

— Aug. 13-16: End of PGA Tour regular season at Wyndham Championship.

— Aug. 20-23: Start of FedEx Cup playoffs at The Northern Trust.

— Aug. 27-30: BMW Championship, second playoff event.

— Sept. 4-7: Tour Championship for the FedEx Cup.

— Sept. 17-20: U.S. Open at Winged Foot.

— Sept. 25-27: Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits.

It was not immediately clear how the teams from Europe and the U.S. would be determined for the Ryder Cup, although European captain Padraig Harrington has said he would not be opposed to picking all 12 players.

For the 24 players, that means going from what long has been regarded as the toughest test in golf to what has become the most tiresome three days in golf at the Ryder Cup.

Other details still to be sorted out is U.S. Open qualifying. Like everything else, it all starts with when golf resumes.

The next tournament still on the schedule is Colonial on May 21-24, though that appears unlikely.

Ridley said every player who has received invitations to play the Masters in April will stay on the list, with more details to be sorted out later.

He also said the Augusta National Women’s Amateur was canceled, and every player can keep their spots for next year provided they don’t turn pro.

Winged Foot just north of New York City is about 5 miles away from a hot spot for the new coronavirus.

Construction for the U.S. Open was stopped two weeks ago as the USGA tried to determine its best course. For now, it’s to stay in New York with a September date.

The last time the U.S. Open was this late in the year was in 1913, when amateur Francis Ouimet took down Harry Vardon and Ted Ray at Brookline to put golf on the map in the United States.

The U.S. Senior Open at Newport Country Club and the U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Brooklawn Country Club in Connecticut have been cancelled.

The PGA Championship, which last year moved to May for the first time in some 70 years, returns to August at Harding Park in San Francisco.

The British Open was last cancelled in 1945 because of World War II. Slumbers said those with tickets or hospitality package can use them in 2021 or get a full refund.

Meanwhile, the claret jug stays with Shane Lowry of Ireland, who won last year at Royal Portrush. He won’t have possession as long as Dick Burton, who won in 1939, the year before it was canceled because of the war.

Lowry said in a video tweet he understood and supported the R&A’s decision.

“You can trust me when I say the claret jug is going to be in safe hands for another year,” Lowry said.

(
Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Peter Ejiofor)
(NAN)

Emmanuel Okara: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

Foreign

Top aide to British PM defends actions amid row over lockdown rules

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Defence

London, May 25, 202 Dominic Cummings, a top adviser to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, defended his decision to leave London amid lockdown travel restrictions, saying he acted “reasonably.”

“I did not ask the prime minister about the decision, he was ill himself and he had huge problems to deal with,” Cummings told reporters.

Cummings travelled 430 kilometres from London to his parents’ home in County Durham at the end of March. Both Cummings and his wife were ill at the time and suspected they had the coronavirus.

He and his wife were worried there was “nobody in London [they] could reasonably ask to look after [their] child and expose themselves to COVID-19.”

Calls have mounted for Cummings to resign over the decision, but Cummings said he had “not considered” that.

IAA

Edited By: Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)

 

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Pressure mounts on British PM over refusal to sack top aide

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday faced continuing pressure after refusing to fire his top aide Dominic Cummings over allegations he broke coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

No fewer than 15 lawmakers from Johnson’s Conservatives have joined calls by the opposition Labour Party and Liberal Democrats, as well as health officials and bishops from the Church of England for Cummings, to resign or be fired.

Cummings reportedly broke lockdown travel restrictions more than once.

He travelled 430 kilometres from London to his parents’ home in County Durham at the end of March while he had coronavirus symptoms, as well as no less than twice in mid-April.

The Press Association (PA) news agency reported that Johnson was later scheduled to host a cabinet meeting on easing of virus restrictions, including proposals to reopen some non-essential businesses.

On Sunday, the prime minister said at a news conference that he had come to the conclusion that Cummings had “followed the instincts of every father and every parent, and I do not mark him down for that.”

However, critics said Cummings alleged behaviour risked undermining the government’s policy.

“If you give the impression there’s one rule for them and one rule for us,you fatally undermine that sense of ‘we’re all in this together’,” Stephen Reicher, a member of the government’s advisory group on behavioural science, told broadcaster ITV.

Conservative lawmaker Paul Maynard said Cummings behaviour was “indefensible,” while Nick Baines, the Bishop of Leeds, tweeted: “The question now is: do we accept being lied to, patronised and treated by a PM as mugs?”

Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye (NAN)

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Metro

British Flairjet to pay N1m penalty for airport violation, says Minister

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FlairJet, a British private charter company, which is also an affiliate of Flexjet, is to pay one million naira for violating COVID-19 airport directives in Nigeria.

The Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, made the disclosure on Sunday via his verified twitter handle.

“Flairjet were found to violate our civil aviation regulations IS 1.3.3(a) Table 2(IV) 7(a) and IS 1.3.3 (a) Table 2 (VIII) (4).

“The maximum penalty for each is N500, 000.

“ We caused them to pay and reported their callous misdemeanour to UK CAA, MFA and the UK High Commission,” the minister said.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the company was recently authorised to conduct humanitarian flights but was caught operating commercial flights.

NAN reports that the Federal Government had earlier banned commercial flights from operating into Nigeria as part of measures to curb spread of coronavirus.

Only passenger flights, which evacuate people or repatriate Nigerian citizens are currently allowed to operate as all airports in Nigeria are closed to international commercial flights until at least June 4.

However, flights for essential services, such as delivery of food supplies and items for humanitarian use are allowed to operate.

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Silas Nwoha (NAN)

 

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UK Govt announces 3 more charter flights for British travellers in Nigeria

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Another batch of British travellers stranded in Nigeria are set to return home on three chartered flights by the UK Government in the next 11 days.

The British High Commission in Nigeria said in a statement on Sunday that more than 1,700 British travellers had already returned to the UK on special charter flights in April and May from Lagos and Abuja.

According to the statement, the new flights are scheduled as follows: May 29: Lagos – London, June 1: Lagos – London and  June 6: Abuja – London.

The commission said that a UK organised special internal charter flight would travel from Port Harcourt to Abuja on Saturday June 6 to enable British nationals based in or near Port Harcourt to join the June 6 flight from Abuja to London.

“Britons in Nigeria will now have access to additional repatriation flights, meaning hundreds of them will be able to fly home.

“We have already arranged for around 1,700 people to return home to their friends and family.

“We will continue to support British nationals who remain in the country,” the Minister of State for Africa, James Duddridge, was quoted as saying in a statement.

Catriona Laing, British High Commissioner to Nigeria, said: “I am delighted to announce a third wave of flights to take more of our British travellers home from Nigeria – adding to the 1,700 people we have  already helped since airports closed on April 23.

Laing urged eligible Britons  who  wished to return to the UK to book seats on the flights as they were likely to be the last charter flights available.

“For further information and to book a ticket, British travellers should visit the Nigeria Travel Advice pages: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/nigeria/return-to-the-uk.

“The UK Government is working with the airline industry and host governments across the world to bring British travellers home as part of the plan announced by the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on March 30.

“There is up to 75 million Pounds  available for special charter flights to priority countries, focused on helping the most vulnerable travellers.

“So far, charter flights have returned British travellers from countries including India, the Philippines, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nepal, Ghana, Tunisia, Algeria and Peru,” Laing said.

Edited By: Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

 

 

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Foreign

British PM’s advisor breached lockdown rules several times – Reports

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s chief adviser faced new reports in Sunday newspapers that he had apparently breached the country’s coronavirus travel restrictions more than once.

The Guardian and the Mirror initially reported Friday that Dominic Cummings had travelled some 430 kilometres from London to his parents’ home in County Durham at the end of March while he had coronavirus symptoms.

He was reportedly seen in Durham again on April 19, after he had already recovered and returned to work in London, the two newspapers reported in their Sunday editions.

An eyewitness cited by The Sunday Mirror and The Observer also said he saw Cummings at a well-known tourist spot some 50 kilometres from Durham on April 12.

If the reports are true, they indicate Cummings travelled from London to Durham more than once despite lockdown rules.

At the time, only essential travel was allowed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

A government spokeswoman said the reports that Cummings had returned to Durham a second time after coming back to Downing Street on April 14 and the initial reports from Friday were “inaccurate.”

She did not specify which parts of the Friday reports were inaccurate.

The British government had already admitted that Cummings travelled to Durham with his family.

The government would not waste its time “answering a stream of false allegations about Mr Cummings from campaigning newspapers,” the spokeswoman added.

Cummings himself had disputed that police contacted his family, but local police confirmed that they had visited the County Durham property after allegations that Cummings had travelled there amid the lockdown, according to Britain’s Press Association (PA) news agency.

As of Saturday, the prime minister was standing by his adviser, despite calls for Cummings to resign or be fired.

Some 52 per cent of Britons think Cummings should resign, while 28 per cent think he should not, a poll by YouGov published late Saturday showed.

The survey showed 68 per cent of respondents thought Cummings’ alleged actions broke lockdown rules.

The Scottish National Party and Labour tweeted that they had sent letters to Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill calling for an investigation into the alleged rule-breaking.

The Liberal Democrats also contacted Sedwill to call for a probe, PA reported.

Britain has seen other high-ranking officials resign in similar scenarios recently.

Top medical adviser to the Scottish government Catherine Calderwood stood down earlier after ignoring her own advice and travelling to a second home in a rural area of Scotland’s east coast.

Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, also resigned from his government advisory role after admitting he had breached the lockdown rules.

The British government has been the target of criticism for weeks.

The country’s death toll has surpassed 36,000, making Britain the nation with the highest number of fatalities in Europe.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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Interview: British professor confident about China’s attainment of poverty eradication goal

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A British expert has expressed confidence that China will achieve the goal of poverty eradication on time.

Kerry Brown, a professor of Chinese studies and director of the Lau China Institute at King’s College, London, told Xinhua via email recently that it will be a tough period for China and everywhere, but the postCOVID-19 period is also full of opportunities.

Despite the economic impact exerted by COVID-19, at this year’s annual two sessions, China again stressed confidence in achieving its goal of eradicating poverty this year.

Although every country, including China, suffered a huge economic impact from COVID-19, Brown stressed that there is still a chance to face it by trying to innovate and do things in a different way in terms of balance, sustainability and environmentally friendliness.

“There are opportunities in terms of collaboration as well as achieving a new set of reforms because of the urgency of the crisis that faces us,” said Brown.

New industries and sectors may emerge to replace some of the lost employment in other more traditional areas, he added.

Talking about China‘s poverty alleviation story, he still remembered the time when he travelled around the rural areas of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in the mid 1990s. “In places like Sizi Wangqi, I remember power cuts were common, and people were living a sort of farming life that hadn’t changed probably for centuries,” he recalled.

However, these days, that area has highways and new buildings, so different that it almost seems another place. “Even (the autonomous region’s capital city) Hohhot is almost unrecognizable from the place I knew so well a quarter of a century ago,” he added.

He attributed the success of China‘s poverty alleviation largely to the agricultural reforms in the late 1970s and early 1980s when the productivity in the agricultural sector was improved radically, freeing up people to work in Town and Village Enterprises.

This hybrid form, he said, is a combination of innovation and control proven successful till today. The question is what sorts of innovations in the future will maintain this momentum.

“Now the achievement of China‘s poverty alleviation is vast, and it’s something that the outside world needs to give China credit for,” said Brown.

It has been the key contributor to the global improvement in literacy levels, fall in malnutrition and poverty levels, improvement in access to clean water, and in generally improving basic human wellbeing, he added.

Brown said this is one of the main reasons why, despite so much pessimism in the world currently, people are living longer, more healthily, and with more prosperity. “China‘s lifting so many people from poverty accounts for much of this,” he said.

In Brown’s eyes, any plan that does not include a fifth of humanity is not going to be serious, but the poverty eradication is one of them.

“The era in which China and the outside world need to create a sustainable and stable template to accept each others differences but work equitably, with reciprocity and fairness with each other is now on us,” he said.

(XINHUA)

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Ryanair urges Irish, British gov’ts to drop 14-day quarantine measures

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Europe’s largest budget airline Ryanair on Thursday called on the Irish and British governments to drop their 14-day quarantine measures for international arrivals, describing such measures “unimplementable and ineffective”.

In a statement, Ryanair Group’s CEO Michael O’Leary said that “14-day quarantines are ineffective and unimplementable. Requiring international arrivals to quarantine only after they have used multiple public transport providers to get from the airport to their ultimate destination has no basis in science or medicine.”

“We strongly urge Europe’s governments, especially those in Ireland and the UK, to mandate to the wearing of face masks for airline, train and underground passengers, as this is the best and most effective way to limit the spread of COVID-19 in public transport environments where social distancing is not possible,” he said.

The statement said that Ryanair welcomes the European Union’s recommendation on face masks and calls again on the Irish and British governments to abandon their 14-day quarantine restrictions.

Ryanair has announced that all passengers and cabin crew on board Ryanair flights will have to wear face masks or coverings when it will resume 40 percent of its flight service starting from July 1.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Egyptian, British FMs hold phone talks over Libya

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Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on Thursday held phone talks with British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab over the situation in Libya.

The two sides exchanged the two countries’ visions for reaching a comprehensive settlement that will bring security and stability to the war-torn country, Ahmed Hafez, spokesperson of Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The two ministers have also discussed means of promoting bilateral relations and regional issues of common interests.

They also stressed the importance of maintaining the two-state solution and discussed the recent developments regarding the Palestinian cause.

Shoukry and Raab agreed on intensifying cooperation and coordination at the international level for fighting the spread of the COVID-19 and limiting its impacts at different levels.

(XINHUA)

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British PM leaves 10 Downing Street for Prime Minister’s Questions

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street for Prime Minister’s Questions in London, Britain, May 20, 2020. (Photo by Tim Ireland/Xinhua)

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Foreign

Vauxhall reopens production at its Luton plant after British gov’t loosens restrictions

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Photo taken on May 18, 2020 shows a general view of the Vauxhall factory in Luton, Britain. Vauxhall reopened production at its Luton plant on Monday after the British government loosened restrictions imposed to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Tim Ireland/Xinhua)

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Metro

Impounded British aircraft: Group asks FG to hold agent responsible for illegal operation.

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The Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI) has urged the Federal Government to hold the agent that facilitated approval for the impounded British aircraft responsible for its illegal operation in Nigeria.

ASRTI General Secretary, Capt. John Ojikutu (Rtd), told the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja that such a step would curtail a repeat of similar unpleasant occurrence in the aviation sector.

Ojikutu was reacting to the decision of the Federal Government to impound a British aircraft for operating commercial flights into Nigeria without approval.

“While they are holding the pilot down, there is somebody in this country who facilitated the approval for the aircraft. They should hold that person responsible. No flight can enter this country without an approval.

“There is a form you must fill that shows if you are bringing human beings or cargo: you must state the ownership of things you are bringing; if cargo.

“If you are bringing human beings, are they Nigerians? We want to see their passport numbers. If they are foreigners, have they got visas? No aircraft comes to the country without an agent here,” he said.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, on Sunday said the Federal Government had impounded an aircraft owned by a British company for operating commercial flights into Nigeria without approval.

According to him, the company, Flair Aviation, was authorised to conduct humanitarian flights, but was caught operating commercial flights.

Sirika said that in addition to the confiscated aircraft, a maximum penalty would be imposed on the company for the flouting Federal Government’s ban on commercial flights as part of measures to curb the spread of coronavirus.

“Flair Aviation, a UK company, was given approval for humanitarian operations, but regrettably, we caught them conducting commercial flights.

“This is callous! The craft is impounded, the crew being interrogated. There shall be maximum penalty. Wrong time to try our resolve,” Sirika said on Sunday.

NAN reports that all the airports in the country and airspace were closed in March by the President Muhammadu Buhari, as part of efforts to contain COVID-19.

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo and Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)

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Foreign

Attempted piracy attack targets British vessel off Yemen’s coast 

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Yemen’s pro-government coast guard forces confirmed on Sunday that a British vessel came under an attempted piracy attack in the Gulf of Aden.

Captain Nasser Awlaki, with the Yemeni Coast Guard forces, confirmed to Xinhua that “a British vessel was subjected to an attempt of piracy attack (80 miles) from the nearest land point off the country’s southern coast.”

He said that “the ship was subjected to an attempted piracy attack in the Gulf of Aden offshore of Yemen’s port of Mukalla, east of the country.”

According to Awlaki, “the incident occurred in an area far from the jurisdiction of the Yemeni Coast Guard.”

Earlier in the day, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) said that a vessel came under attack in the Gulf of Aden at 12:30 GMT. The organization advised extreme caution to any vessels transiting the area.

Yemen has been plagued by a civil war since late 2014 after Houthi rebels forced the internationally-recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi into exile.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

British public disapproves of govt’s handling of the pandemic

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The British public has lost confidence in the way the government is dealing with the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, according to a poll by Opinium published on Sunday.

The survey found that 42 per cent of those polled were unhappy with how the British government, led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, has handled the pandemic, while 39 per cent approve of the way the crisis is being handled.

This is the first time these approval ratings have dipped into negative territory, the pollster noted.

The poll sought the opinion of 2,000 adults between May 13 and 14.

In an editorial in the newspaper Mail on Sunday, Johnson said he understood people’s frustration with the government’s plan to ease its restrictions.

“We are trying to do something that has never had to be done before – moving the country out of a full lockdown, in a way which is safe and does not risk sacrificing all of your hard work,” Johnson wrote, and asked for people to be patient.

During the past week, Johnson called for some measures to be lifted, and people in England have been allowed to leave their homes and take trips since Wednesday.

The government also changed its slogan from “Stay Home” to “Stay Alert.”

Many criticized the government’s advice as unclear, however, and regional leaders in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland refused to implement the new guidance, meaning different rules are in place.

With an official death toll of 34,000, Britain has recorded the most deaths in Europe due to the virus, according to official figures.

In total, it is expected that in fact more than 40,000 people have died of COVID-19.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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Foreign

View of park in London after British PM unveils lockdown exit roadmap

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People walk past a lake in a park in London May 16, 2020, the first weekend after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled a lockdown exit roadmap on May 10. (Xinhua/Han Yan)

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Metro

SAHCO takes over British Airways ground handling contract 

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The Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO) Plc, a subsidiary of SIFAX Group, has taken over the ground handling services of British Airways.

Mrs Vanessa Uansohia, Manager, Corporate Communications of SAHCO, made the disclosure in a statement on Tuesday in Lagos.

Uansohia said by this development, SAHCO would be providing passenger and ramp handling services to British Airways at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja and Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.

She said SAHCO had been able to attract and retain the confidence of British Airways due to the seamless, safe and speedy service delivery which the company was known for.

According to her, this prompted British Airways to move its passenger and ramp handling services to SAHCO.

She said the move took effect with the handling of the evacuation flight which occurred on May 8.

SAHCO is the only aviation ground handling company that is present in all the commercially operated airports in Nigeria,” she said.

According to her, in recent times, many foreign airlines have moved their aviation ground handling operations to SAHCO.

“They have enjoyed being handled by a loyal and dedicated workforce who are well trained and whose integrity is undoubtable, delivering their activities in line with global best practices.

SAHCO has constant investment in modern aviation ground support equipment fitted with the latest technology and a team of engineers that can build ground support equipment from locally sourced materials which is the first of its kind in Nigeria.

“Our team is versed in the best of Departure Control systems in the aviation industry, World Tracer and BRS; world class warehousing services; unrivaled customer friendly service delivery in a safe, speedy and efficient culture; SAHCO treats its clients as partners,” she said.

She said Air France had also signed another warehousing contract with SAHCO at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.

According to her, this means SAHCO will provide cargo warehousing service throughout the country for Air France.

SAHCO has been handling Air France’s Cargo Warehousing in Lagos and Port Harcourt which has influenced decision to include the Abuja operations due to their satisfactory first-hand experience.

“Our clients include Aero Contractors, African World Airways, Air Cote D’Ivoire, Air Peace, Arik Air, Allied Air, Badr Airlines, Bristol Helicopters, Camair-Co, Caverton Helicopters, Dana Air, and DHL Aviation.

“Others are Ethiopian Airlines, Etihad Airways, Emirates Airlines, Execujets, Ibom Air, Inter Air, Max Air, Middle East Airlines, Overland Airways, South African Airways, TAAG Angola, Tarco Airlines, Value Jet and Virgin Atlantic Cargo,” she said.

Edited By: Folasade Adeniran/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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Foreign

U.S. lack of preparation resulted in high COVID-19 death toll: British expert

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https://vodpub2.v.news.cn/publish/20200509/XxjhmeE007083_20200509_CBVFN0A001.mp4%20%20

https://vodpub2.v.news.cn/publish/20200509/XxjhmeE007083_20200509_CBVFN0A001.mp4%20%20

U.S. lack of preparation resulted in high COVID-19 death toll, says a British expert. #COVID19

(XINHUA)

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British coastguards rescue over 20 migrants in Channel

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British coastguards rescued mlre than 120 migrants trying to cross the English Channel on seven small boats, French maritime authorities said on Friday.

“The rescue took place in the night from Thursday to Friday,’’ a spokesman for the Maritime Prefecture for the Channel and North Sea said.

Border coastguards in Britain and France have intercepted numerous attempted crossings in recent months as migrants have repeatedly tried to travel from destinations in Asia and Africa to Britain.

“It’s little wonder people living in France’s refugee camps are desperate to make this dangerous crossing, given the awful conditions they face there,” Clare Moseley, founder of the Care4Calais charity, said in a statement.

She was referring to difficulties in implementing social distancing measures to fight COVID-19 in the camps.

“These people are fleeing terrifying situations in some of the most dangerous parts of the world.

“They aim for the UK because they want to be safe,” Moseley said.

Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Ejike Obeta (NAN)

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Russian president congratulates U.S., British, French leaders on 75th anniversary of WWII victory

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Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated the leaders and people of the United States, Britain and France on the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II, the Kremlin said Friday.

In a message to U.S. President Donald Trump, Putin emphasized that Russia retains a grateful memory of the contributions of the Allies to the common victory and will never forget the Soviet-U.S. military alliance.

Russia and the United States today are at the forefront of confronting global challenges, and by following the traditions of cooperation laid down during the war, the two countries can do much to ensure international security and stability, he added.

In a message to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Putin said “the great victory has become a major event of the 20th century, which is of lasting importance for the fate of all mankind.”

Putin expressed confidence that the memory of the military fraternity in the war era will help develop constructive Russian-British dialogue and interaction in the fight against current threats and challenges.

Also in a message to French President Emmanuel Macron, the Russian president said that the feats of the French Normandie-Niemen squadron pilots who fought on the Soviet-German front will forever remain in the hearts of Russians.

He also stressed Russian-French cooperation in the current difficult international situation.

(XINHUA)

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British PM vows ‘maximum caution’ in easing COVID-19 lockdown 

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson, on Thursday said he would exercise “maximum caution” in relaxing Britain’s near-lockdown to curb the spread of novel coronavirus.

Johnson chaired a cabinet meeting on the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday and was expected to consult leaders of devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland later.

He is scheduled to make a televised speech on Sunday evening to inform the public of his plans.

“The prime minister said (to his cabinet) that in considering whether there could be any easement in the existing guidelines that we are not going to do anything that risks a second peak,” a Downing Street spokesman said.

“We will advance with maximum caution in order to protect the NHS (National Health Service) and save lives,” the spokesman said.

He said the government “will not hesitate to tighten the rules (again) if required.”

Johnson told parliament on Wednesday that he hoped to lift some measures from Monday.

He is under pressure to boost the economy, but many health experts have warned that easing measures too soon could allow another surge in infections and cause more economic damage.

Britain has reported more than 30,000 deaths linked to COVID-19, Europe’s highest official death toll.

An analysis by experts of seasonal excess deaths suggests some 50,000 people may have died.

The Bank of England on Thursday forecast a record slump of 14 per cent in Britain’s GDP this year, warning that the impact of the pandemic will last well into 2021.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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British health chief ‘speechless’ as COVID-19 adviser breaks lockdown

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Britain’s Health Minister on Wednesday said he was left “speechless” by the resignation of a prominent adviser on the government’s COVID-19 response, who broke the country’s lockdown rules.

“I am speechless,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News after the resignation on Tuesday of Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London.

According to Hancock, Prof. Ferguson is a very eminent and impressive scientist and the science that he has done has been an important part of what we’ve listened to.

“I think he took the right decision to resign,’’ he said.

Hancock said Britain’s social-distancing rules were “there for everyone; they are incredibly important and they are deadly serious.”

The Daily Telegraph reported on Tuesday that Ferguson had allowed his “married lover to visit him at home during the lockdown while lecturing the public on the need for strict social-distancing.

“I accept I made an error of judgement and took the wrong course of action.

“I acted in the belief that I was immune, having tested positive for coronavirus, and completely isolated myself for almost two weeks after developing symptoms.

“I deeply regret any undermining of the clear messages around the continued need for social-distancing to control this devastating epidemic,’’ Ferguson told the newspaper.

The resignation came amid growing pressure on Hancock and other ministers in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government about their response to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday, Britain overtook Italy to record Europe’s highest death toll linked to the virus.

Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Silas Nwoha (NAN)

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