Buses in the British capital on Wednesday began introducing stricter measures to protect drivers and other staff from possible infection with novel coronavirus, following the death of at least nine drivers.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said his office and Transport for London (TfL), are working with bus operators and unions to protect workers and passengers.
Khan said new measures would include: protective screens for drivers, enhanced cleaning, restricting passengers to boarding only through middle doors, and increasing social distancing.
The nine drivers are among 14 TfL staff who have died after contracting coronavirus.
Unite, a trade union representing more than 20,000 London bus workers, said the new measures would reduce the risk, but called for more action to protect them.
According to Unite Regional Secretary, Pete Kavanagh, TfL needs to instruct all bus companies to lock front doors with passengers no longer entering the bus next to the driver with immediate effect.
“To improve social distancing, which will protect drivers and passengers alike, the maximum number of bus passengers must also be reduced.
“But others, including construction workers, are using the city’s reduced transport service to commute to work, meaning some buses and underground trains are still crowded,” Kavanagh said.
However, a forecast published on Tuesday by the U.S. researchers suggested that Britain was likely to record Europe’s highest number of coronavirus-linked deaths.
Edited By: Yahaya Isah/Emmanuel Yashim
London mayor urges retailers to sell non-medical face masks during pandemic
The move came as the government has recently updated its guidance on the use of face coverings, advising the public to wear them in enclosed public spaces where it is difficult to maintain a safe distance from others, such as in shops and on public transport.
Khan has made it clear he wants everyone using London’s public transport, including underground trains and buses, to wear a non-medical face covering for the entirety of their journeys.
The mayor has written to London supermarkets and other retailers urging them to stock reusable, non-medical face coverings in all of their London stores at a price point that makes them accessible to all Londoners, according to an official statement released Wednesday.
“Londoners have shown that they want to do everything they can to slow the spread of this virus, and the wearing of non-medical face coverings will be essential as the lockdown begins to end, particularly for those who have no option but to use public transport,” said Khan.
“I want to work with London’s retailers to now go even further — ensuring they can supply reusable, non-medical face coverings in an affordable and accessible way for all Londoners,” he said.
The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira), which represents thousands of businesses across Britain ranging from single retail outlets to large department stores, is also urging its members and the wider retail sector to stock up on re-usable face coverings to keep the public safe during the transition out of lockdown.
Both the mayor and Bira have reiterated that coverings for public sale should not be medical-grade personal protective equipment (PPE), to prevent any risk to supplies being diverted away from health, care and other key workers on the frontline of the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak.
View of park in London after British PM unveils lockdown exit roadmap
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)
Lit candles to pay tribute to nurses amid COVID-19 pandemic in London
London says happy 200th birthday to UK’s most famous nurse Florence Nightingale
The London hospital where Prime Minister Boris Johnson won his life-and-death battle against novel coronavirus celebrated the 200th birthday of Britain’s most famous nurse Florence Nightingale on Tuesday.
Images of Nightingale, known as “Lady with the Lamp” and the pioneer of modern nursing and advancement in hygiene and sanitation, are being beamed onto St Thomas’ Hospital where Johnson went into intensive care after contracting the virus.
On the evening of Tuesday, which marks the International Nurses Day, images of Nightingale are scheduled to be projected onto the Houses of Parliament as a tribute 200 years after her birth, along with a message of gratitude to health care workers across Britain.
“No other time could be more appropriate to celebrate the birth of Florence Nightingale than right now when so many healthcare workers are putting their own lives at risk to treat patients with COVID-19. It is an honor to have her image projected onto Parliament as part of our national appreciation for the NHS and everyone who works for it,” said Speaker of House of Commons Lindsay Hoyle.
The celebration was led by the Florence Nightingale Museum and supported by Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.
A number of pop-up hospitals, named after Nightingale, have been opened across Britain to prepare for COVID-19 patients. The biggest, in London, took nine-days to create with space for 4,000 beds.
London Diamond League cancelled – UK Athletics
“The decision has been made in light of the ongoing global pandemic,” it said in a statement.
Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Ali Baba-Inuwa (NAN)
London, EU continue post-Brexit trade deal talks
The third round of negotiations to seek a permanent post-Brexit trade deal between Britain and the European Union (EU) got underway Monday.
The fresh round of talks started against a background of disappointment expressed by the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier at the conclusion of the previous round of talks last month.
Britain is currently in an implementation period after ending its membership in the bloc on Jan. 31.
A race is now on to make a significant breakthrough before the end of June, the deadline set for a decision to be made on whether to seek an extension of the current implementation period due to expire on Dec. 31.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted he will not extend Britain’s links to the bloc beyond the end of this year.
Over the weekend, Johnson held talks with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, mainly discussing the COVID-19 crisis.
In London, the Daily Express reported Monday that Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator David Frost would issue a fresh warning to Barnier, saying progress must be made on the deadlocked trade talks this month because the British government will not seek to delay them.
While Barnier expressed his disappointment on April 24 at the progress in the previous round of talks, Downing Street said limited progress had been made, adding talks needed to move forward in a constructive fashion.
Downing Street confirmed Monday talks were being held and will continue through the week.
A Downing Street spokesperson said, “As the EU looks to deal with the impacts of coronavirus on the 27 member states, they will need to propose all kinds of new legislation which will obviously be designed for the 27, rather than being tailored in a way to suit the interests of the UK. An extension to the transition period would bind us into future EU legislation, without us having any say in designing it.”
Signs displayed to support of National Health Service in London
A man cycles past a display of signs designed by local artist Peter Liversidge in support of the National Health Service (NHS) in London, Britain, on April 29, 2020. (Xinhua/Han Yan)
Illuminated sign in support of NHS seen at London Zoo
An illuminated sign in support of the National Health Service (NHS) is seen as a giraffe looks out from the giraffe house at London Zoo in London, Britain, on April 29, 2020. (Xinhua/Han Yan)
Crystal Palace chefs to cook 900 meals a week for NHS, vulnerable people in London
The food will be delivered to doctors and nurses in the National Health Service (NHS) elderly and vulnerable people forced to stay at home, impoverished families and the homeless.
Palace are working in partnership with City Harvest London, a food surplus redistribution charity. The club said they are funding all costs for ingredients, meal preparation and packaging, while the charity covers delivery expenses.
“We are delighted that the club has asked us to help deliver this initiative along with City Harvest to provide meals to heroic NHS staff working on the frontline and to the most vulnerable members of our communities,” Palace for Life Foundation CEO, Mike Summers said in a statement.
“It is in keeping with the club’s mission to be a force for good in South London.”
Palace said the service would continue for “as long as possible and practical”.
The United Kingdom’s lockdown measures are in place until at least May 7.
Professional soccer in England had been suspended indefinitely because of the flu-like Coronavirus, which had caused more than 20,700 deaths in the UK.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Ifeyinwa Omowole (NAN)
Some 100 people arrested a day in London for domestic violence during coronavirus lockdown
In the six weeks up to April 19, officers across London had made 4,093 arrests for domestic abuse offences — nearly 100 a day on average — and domestic abuse calls have risen by around a third in the last six weeks, the Metropolitan Police (the Met) has revealed.
Charges and cautions have increased by 24 percent since March 9, when people with COVID-19 symptoms were asked to self-isolate, compared to last year, said Commander Sue Williams, the Met’s lead for safeguarding.
Domestic incidents, which can include family rows not recorded as crimes, have seen a 3 percent increase since last year, and jumped by 9 percent between March 9 and April 19, said the Met Police.
There have been two domestic-related murders recorded in London as police continue to warn of an increased risk of abuse during the strict measures in place, said the Scotland Yard, metonym for the headquarters of the Met Police.
“The COVID-19 restrictions and ‘stay at home‘ instruction is vital to managing this public health crisis, but unfortunately it has also left current and potential victims of domestic abuse even more vulnerable and isolated,” said Williams.
The Met Police gave examples of some of the cases it has dealt with in recent weeks, including one in which police discovered that a man reported by a victim was linked to firearms.
“Officers located him within three hours of receiving the report and searched his vehicle, finding two sawn-off shotguns. A cannabis factory was also discovered. The man was subsequently charged and is awaiting trial,” said the Scotland Yard in a statement.
Officers were also called to help a pregnant victim in east London, who had gone to a hospital to seek refuge after her partner assaulted and tormented her.
Police said he was quickly arrested, but she was unwilling to support criminal action.
However, due to the evidence captured on body worn video, and witness accounts from staff at the hospital, the Crown Prosecution Service supported a victimless prosecution, and the suspect is awaiting trial, said the Met Police.
“Victims should be assured that they can leave their homes to escape harm or seek help, and they will not be penalized in any way for not maintaining social distancing, or otherwise breaching COVID-19 restrictions,” said Williams.
London’s air quality “dramatically improved” amid coronavirus lockdown: mayor
London’s air quality has “dramatically improved” due to the drop in traffic amid the coronavirus lockdown, with harmful emissions at some of the British capital’s busiest roads falling by almost 50 percent, Sadiq Khan, mayor of London, has said.
The latest figures published by the Mayor of London came as countries around the world, including Britain, have reported a decrease in pollution as they virtually come to a standstill to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
The figures showed that anti-pollution measures introduced from 2017 had already led to a 35 percent drop of NO2 in central London. The NO2 levels declined by 44 percent inside central London’s ultra-low emissions zone (ULEZ).
In the last four weeks of lockdown there have been further big reductions, with NO2 falling by a further 27 percent across London, and by almost half at some of the worst pollution hotspots.
The mayor welcomed the decline in toxic air, but said that once the lockdown is over, it is essential that the efforts to improve London’s toxic air continue.
“This cleaner air should not just be temporary,” he said. “So once the current emergency has passed and we start to recover, our challenge will be to eradicate air pollution permanently and ensure the gains we’ve made through policies such as ULEZ continue.”
London mayor calls for rent protection during coronavirus pandemic
Khan said: “With millions of low-paid renters in London now facing increased financial uncertainty, we face a ticking timebomb of debt, arrears and widespread evictions.”
He said the government must urgently put in place measures that will prevent private landlords from evicting tenants who go into arrears as a result of pandemic.
Khan fears Londoners on low incomes, who are already at a significant disadvantage in London’s rental market, could be at a greater risk of being exploited by rogue landlords and real estate agents.
“The current crisis has brought these issues into stark relief,” he said.
Khan warned failing to bring in more support for renters in London will not only result in widespread financial hardship, but risks increasing the public health crisis, as renters may feel forced to return to work too soon with increasing debt and arrears hanging over their heads.
City Hall said a third of people in London rent privately, more than the number who own their homes with mortgages.
Khan has outlined measures he wants the government to introduce to give legal protection to avert them being thrown out of their homes by property owners.
Caitlin Wilkinson, policy manager at Generation Rent, said: “Many low-income people aren’t able to pay the rent, and will be at risk of eviction and homelessness from June. No one should face eviction, debt and homelessness in the midst of a pandemic.”
Former London Marathon winner Wanjiru denies wrong doing after provisional ban
Kenyan Daniel Wanjiru, the 2017 London Marathon winner, has denied any wrongdoing after he was provisionally suspended by the sport’s independent Athletics Integrity Unit on Tuesday.
The AIU said in a statement that a charge was issued against Wanjiru for “use of a prohibited substance/method”, but the Kenyan said he was clean and had never used doping.
His management company Volare Sports said the AIU charge was based on “alleged abnormal variations in the haematological profile” from Wanjiru’s Athlete Biological Passport (ABP).
ABPs are used to monitor selected biological variables over time that indirectly reveal the effects of doping rather than attempting to detect the doping substance or method itself.
Under anti-doping rules Wanjiru, 27, is barred from competing until a hearing has taken place into the allegation.
“I am clean in the sports I do,” he was quoted as saying in a statement issued by Volare Sports. “I feel I am already seen as a sinner of doping, but I am not. I am innocent.
“I stand for clean sports. My results of the past came through hard work only. I have never used doping,” he added
“We are currently investigating the case. Knowing I have never used anything, I have faith everything will be all right.”
Volare Sports said no prohibited substance was found. “The accusation is based on an assumption,” it added. “We are already trying to get to the bottom of this in order to find the truth.”
Susan Kamau, chief executive of Athletics Kenya, declined to comment on Wanjiru’s case.
In addition to his 2017 London win, Wanjiru secured gold at the 2016 Amsterdam Marathon and has finished eighth and 11th in the past two London marathons.
Kenya is world famous for its dominance in long and middle-distance running, but over the last five years a series of doping scandals has tarnished its reputation with around 60 of the country’s athletes sanctioned for anti-doping violations.
In December, Kenya’s government said it was planning to impose criminal penalties – including possible jail terms – on athletes caught doping.
Last year, Kenyans Asbel Kiprop, Cyrus Rutto and Abraham Kiptum were given four-year bans, while Vincent Kipsegechi Yator received the same suspension earlier this month.
Wilson Kipsang, the former marathon world record holder and bronze medallist at the 2012 Olympics, was provisionally banned in January for whereabouts failures and tampering with samples.
Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Peter Ejiofor) (NAN)
Former London Marathon winner Wanjiru provisionally suspended
Kenyan Daniel Wanjiru, the winner of the 2017 London Marathon, has been provisionally suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU).
The AIU noted on their official website on Tuesday that a charge had been issued against Wanjiru for “use of a prohibited substance/method.”
Under anti-doping rules, the 27-year-old cannot participate in any competition until a hearing has taken place into the allegation.
Wanjiru won the 2016 Amsterdam Marathon and has finished eighth and 11th in the past two London marathons.
Last year, Kenyans Asbel Kiprop, Cyrus Rutto and Abraham Kiptum were all given four-year bans, while Vincent Kipsegechi Yator received the same ban earlier this month.
Wilson Kipsang, former marathon world record holder and bronze medallist at the 2012 Olympics, was provisionally suspended in January for whereabouts failures and tampering with samples.
Kipsang’s management company denied the case involved the use of doping and tampering with the doping test.
Around 60 Kenyan athletes have been sanctioned for anti-doping rule violations in the past five years.
Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Salif Atojoko (NAN)
African Development Bank celebrates milestone with first social bond listing on London Stock Exchange
The African Development Bank’s (www.AfDB.org) “Fight Covid-19” social bond, the largest social bond to date to be issued in the capital markets, listed on London Stock Exchange on Friday 3 April 2020, and is now available through its Sustainable Bond Market.
The listing marks an important milestone as the Bank launches its first bond on London Stock Exchange.
The over-subscribed transaction, which attracted $4.6 billion of interest in the book and raised an exceptional $3 billion, was launched to alleviate the impact of Covid-19 on Africa’s economies and livelihoods.
The three-year maturity bond, garnered interest from central banks and official institutions, bank treasuries and asset managers including Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) investors.
Several high-quality ESG investors actively supported this remarkable transaction, including Affirmative Investment Management (UK), Breckinridge, Columbia Threadneedle (USA), the Government Pension Investment Fund, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, Pension Boards – United Church of Christ, PineBridge Investments, Praxis Impact Bond Fund, TIAA/Nuveen and the United Nations Development Program.
“The international community must work together to successfully tackle the coronavirus pandemic. The UK, along with partners like the African Development Bank and London Stock Exchange Group, is supporting the most vulnerable countries to invest in their own health systems and avoid economic hardship,” International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said about the listing.
“While we invest in areas like vaccine research to help end the pandemic sooner, this private investment through the AfDB, and our support for emergency lending through the IMF, will also help limit its impact on the global economy,” Trevelyan further noted.
The London Stock Exchange, at the heart of London’s vibrant financial hub, is championing forward-looking initiatives aimed at deepening and diversifying the market. Its dedicated Sustainable Bond Market (SBM) draws innovative issuers and improves access, flexibility and transparency for investors.
Eligible social or sustainability bonds with use of proceeds aligned to mitigating the impact of Covid-19 will be admitted on the exchange with admission fees waived for an initial period of three-months, London Stock Exchange has announced.
Such social and sustainability bonds fund essential services such as healthcare, water and sanitation, supporting employment, or with a link to the relevant UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Nikhil Rathi, CEO, London Stock Exchange plc and Group Director of International Development, said: “We welcome the first bond from African Development Bank to list on our market and support them in their vital efforts to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 across Africa. This bond highlights the important role that social and sustainability bonds can play in directing funding to those countries, sectors and people across the world heavily impacted by this pandemic.”
The Bank established its Social Bond framework in 2017 and raised the equivalent of $5 billion through issuances denominated in US dollars, Euro and Norwegian krone.
The President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, said: “We are proud to announce that our first listing on London Stock Exchange is a social bond. This is only the beginning of a stronger partnership between the African Development Bank and London Stock Exchange. We will mobilize all we can on the capital market to fight the coronavirus in Africa.”
The Bank’s previous activity in the social bond market has seen financing to build hospital capacity, boost access to health and healthcare services, strengthen health systems, provide improved access to water and sanitation, and create jobs across the continent.
Commenting on the listing, Martin Scheck, CEO of The International Capital Market Association or ICMA, said: “We believe Social and Sustainability Bonds can provide an immediately actionable channel for the market to finance projects that directly contribute to alleviating the social and economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis.”
Swazi Tshabalala, Acting Senior Vice President, African Development Bank Group, said: “The African Development Bank is at the forefront of helping African countries fight this pandemic with innovative financing solutions. We welcome this partnership with London Stock Exchange which will help us expand the horizon of investors that are interested and committed to Africa’s sustainable development.”
Hassatou N’Sele, Treasurer, African Development Bank Group, said: “We appreciate the partnership with London Stock Exchange as we strive together to move the African continent forward. Today more than ever, Africa and the world need to stand as one to ride out the Covid-19 crisis.”
London gin distillers make hand sanitiser for police
Three gin distillers are using their expertise in alcohol production to make hand sanitiser for police in the British capital.
London’s Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) said this on Tuesday.
“Hand sanitiser is a crucial item for officers and staff in the MPS, especially those on the front line who are patrolling the streets of London, dealing with prisoners in custody and attending crime scenes,” the force said.
The police expect to receive their first delivery of the sanitisers – made according to World Health Organisation (WHO) standards by Portobello Road Gin, 58 Gin and Copper Rivet Distillery – in the next few days.
Brewing giant Budweiser will also donate 6,000 litres of hand sanitiser to the force, it said.
“Hand sanitiser is an essential item for our officers and staff, especially those on the front line,” said Mark Roberts, the force’s director of commercial services.
“So I am extremely grateful to all of the suppliers who have agreed to work with us and provide us with this vital commodity, which will help prevent the spread of Covid-19 and ultimately save lives.
“It shows the importance and necessity of everyone working together in these challenging times,” Roberts added.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim
Londoners raiding stores as UK capital awaiting total shutdown amid COVID-19
A group of six people has smashed Sainsbury shopfronts in southern London to steal alcohol as supermarkets are coming under huge pressure amid a possible shutdown of the UK capital due to the spread of COVID-19.
According to the Daily Mail newspaper, the staff confronted the criminals and called the police.
The surveillance camera recorded the robbery.
The publication said four people were later arrested on suspicion of theft and criminal damage.
The incident took place overnight into Thursday.
Over the last several days, there have been four detentions related to similar incidents in the UK capital.
Many supermarkets in London are empty as residents buy products in reserve over fears of a possible deficit.
The government emphasizes that there will be no food and other goods shortage and there is no need to panic-buy.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday that the UK government was not planning to enforce a total ban on travel to and from London, and the capital’s transport system would continue to operate despite a reduction in service.
As of Friday morning, a total of 137 people are believed to have died after contracting COVID-19 in the UK.
A total of 2,689 cases of the disease were confirmed across the country so far, with over a third of them registered in London.
Edited By: Hadiza Mohammed/Abdulfatah Babatunde
Reports: Britain considers coronavirus lockdown in London
The British Government on Thursday said it was considering imposing a lockdown in London as early as Friday to halt the spread of coronavirus, reports said.
The London lockdown would be followed by the rest of the country. The move would come after a rapid surge in confirmed Covid-19 infections.
The expected 14-day lockdown would be imposed with just 12 hours’ notice.
Police would guard supermarkets and only allow one person per household to leave home at a time.
Williamson said the government’s announcement of school closures from Monday, March 23, showed that it would take the incredibly tough decisions that sometimes needed to ensure the safety of the population.
Meanwhile, up to 40 London underground stations were closed on Thursday, mainly due to staff shortages linked to the coronavirus outbreak.
Health Authorities confirmed another 676 coronavirus infections on Wednesday, taking Britain’s total to 2,626, including 104 deaths.
Government health experts admitted on Tuesday that tens of thousands of British people are probably infected with the virus.
More museums, cafes, restaurants and entertainment venues suspended operations on Wednesday, but government did not order closures, instead advising the public to avoid visiting them to minimize social contact.
Edited By: Yahaya Isah/Maharazu Ahmed
London court holds hearing on Julian Assange’s extradition
A UK court is holding a hearing in London on the case of Julian Assange.
If he is extradited to the U.S., the whistleblower could be sentenced up to 175 years prison for publishing classified information about war crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan by American troops.
Journalists are waiting outside Woolwich Crown Court in London, which is holding an extradition hearing for WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange.
The first part of the hearing is expected to continue this week, while the second one is set for May.
Assange was arrested for jumping bail in April 2019, after a seven-year asylum stays at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
The WikiLeaks founder previously announced that he had to jump bail as the authorities planned to hand him over to the U.S.
He has been accused in the U.S. of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion in order to assist Chelsea Manning to gain access to privileged information.
Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Abdulfatah Babatunde
Islamic State supporter admits plot to bomb London cathedral
A 36-year-old woman who swore allegiance to Islamic State on Friday pleaded guilty to plotting a bomb attack at London’s St Paul’s Cathedral and a nearby hotel.
Safiyya Amira Shaikh entered her plea at London’s Central Criminal Court, or Old Bailey, and will be sentenced on May 11 for preparation of terrorist acts and dissemination of terrorist publications.
Shaikh, who was born Michelle Ramsden, was arrested after discussing the preparation and planting of explosives with two undercover police officers.
The Metropolitan Police said she researched methods and decided on a plan to carry out a terrorist act, and travelled to central London and stayed at a hotel in order to conduct reconnaissance.
Shaikh handed an undercover officer two bags that she wanted to be fitted with explosives, and she prepared the words of a pledge of allegiance to Daesh Islamic State , the police said.
Edited By: Halima Sheji/Emmanuel Yashim