Books to make you swoon

Books to make you swoon: From forbidden love with a Catholic priest to one of fiction’s greatest romantic heroes, here are 20 of the best books to fall in love with…

The lockdown should be the perfect time to catch up with all those books you’ve always meant to read but never had time for: serious, award-winning tomes, or weighty classics like The Mill On The Floss and Anna Karenina. 

But, like many people, I’ve found it hard to concentrate on any high-minded books in the past few weeks: what I want is glorious escapist romance, and lashings of it.

 To help you forget your worries, I’ve chosen my top 20 romantic reads. Prepare to fall in love… 


The hugely popular Thorn Birds TV miniseries adaptation which aired in March 1983

The Pursuit of Love 

by Nancy Mitford 

Inspired by Nancy Mitford’s own famously eccentric family (still a subject of perennial fascination to biographers), this is a delicious soufflé of a book. 

First published in 1945, it’s narrated by shy, awkward Fanny and centres on the adventures of her beautiful and hopelessly romantic cousin Linda. 

Full of outlandishly funny characters, witty lines, intrigue and genuine heartbreak, The ­Pursuit of Love is a masterpiece. 

A Woman of Substance 

by Barbara Taylor Bradford 

This was Barbara Taylor Bradford’s first novel and has sold over 30 million copies worldwide since its publication in 1979. 

Charting the life of the fiercely determined Emma Harte, from her humble beginnings as a servant girl in Yorkshire to her position as head of a multinational company, this is the family saga with everything: betrayal, infidelity, passion, revenge, unrequited love, ungrateful children and a gutsy, tough-as-nails heroine. 

Despite its length, you’ll want to devour it in one gulp.  

Jenny Seagrove stars in this mini-series based on Barbara Taylor’s Bradford’s best-selling novel, ‘A Woman of Substance’. The story charts the rise of Emma Harte

The ‘A Woman of Substance’ TV series starring Jenny Seagrove from 1999

Jane Eyre 

by Charlotte Bronte 

The eponymous heroine of this novel, first published in 1847, is an orphan who describes herself as ‘poor, obscure, plain and little’. 

None of this stops her employer, the forbidding Mr Rochester of Thornfield Hall in Yorkshire, from falling in love with her. 

Just as they are about to marry, Jane learns the dreadful truth about Mr Rochester’s past and the terrible secret he has been concealing. 

One of the most famous and influential romance novels ever written, this is a totally engrossing read. 


Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska in the 2011 adaptation of Jane Eyre

Who’s That Girl? 

by Mhairi McFarlane 

Writer Edie is in love with Jack, but after they are caught in mid-kiss on his wedding day, she is ostracised by her friends and booted out of her job. 

Reluctantly, she agrees to ghost-write the autobiography of Elliot, the charmless star of a Game of Thrones-style TV series. 

Back home with her father and her magnificently surly sister, Edie is forced to reassess her life and her feelings for Elliot — all while being pursued by paparazzi. 

This is a heartwarming book whose characters stay with you long after the end. 


Ship of Brides 

by Jojo Moyes 

At the end of World War II, hundreds of Australian women who had married British servicemen travelled from their homeland to Britain to be reunited with the husbands they barely knew. 

This delightful book follows a group of war brides as they make the six-week voyage towards an uncertain future. 

Brimming over with friendship, sadness, humour and romance, as well as several unexpected plot twists, it’s a tremendously satisfying read and (for my money) even better than Jojo Moyes’ blockbuster Me Before You. 

The Secret Countess 

by Eva Ibbotson 

During the Russian Revolution, Anna and her wealthy and distinguished family flee to London and end up penniless, lodging with her old governess. 

Determined to save the family, Anna gets a job as a maid in the household of a young aristocrat, who is puzzled by the new housemaid’s lack of domestic skills, her flawless French and her talent at the piano. 

Originally called A Countess Below Stairs, this sparkling book avoids all the clichés of the genre. 

If you haven’t discovered Eva Ibbotson yet, you’re in for a treat. 

 Resistance is Futile 

by Jenny T. Colgan 

Connie is a brilliant mathematician and is used to feeling like a fish out of water around most people. 

When she is unexpectedly recruited for her dream job in Cambridge, working on a top secret codebreaking project, she ends up being part of a group of other brilliant nerds, including the very mysterious Luke. 

There is more than a touch of sci-fi about this novel, and maths features quite heavily, but please don’t let that put you off. It’s funny, thought-provoking, very original and, above all, a wonderfully poignant story of friendship and romance.


The Rose of Sebastopol 

by Katharine McMahon 

Mariella i s a demure and biddable young woman, happy with sewing and letterwriting, and quite unlike her cousin Rosa, who is determined to defy her family and become one of Florence Nightingale’s nurses on the front line of the Crimean War. 

When Rosa suddenly disappears, Mariella sets off to find her. 

The layers of this story unfold gradually as Mariella travels towards the besieged city of Sebastopol to discover the truth about Rosa and the man she loves. 

This is the best kind of historical fiction, with a searing climax and characters you really believe in. 

The Undomestic Goddess 

by Sophie Kinsella

High-powered lawyer Samantha is so consumed by work that she never cooks, cleans or turns on the oven at home: she’s far too busy to waste time on household chores. 

After making a catastrophic mistake and losing millions for her firm, she bolts to the countryside and stumbles into a job as a housekeeper and chef. 

Can Samantha fool her new employers, not to mention handsome Nathaniel, the gardener? 

Will she get her job back and clear her name? 

Kinsella is one of the wittiest romcom writers around and this glorious romp is one of her very best. 

The Shell Seekers 

by Rosamunde Pilcher 

Rosamunde Pilcher had been writing romantic novels for years before this book made her internationally famous. 

It traces her bohemian heroine, Penelope, through her life in Cornwall and London, an unhappy wartime marriage and a love affair which she has never got over. 

When she discovers that a painting she owns, The Shell Seekers, is worth a fortune, she must make decisions that turn her whole life upside down. 

This warm-hearted family saga, beautifully written and expertly paced, is just as satisfying now as when it was first published more than 30 years ago. 

It Started With A Secret 

by Jill Mansell 

Jill Mansell is the queen of the charming, feel-good contemporary romance, and this is one of her most engaging. 

Lainey and her best friend Kit land their dream job as housekeepers in a picture-perfect Cornish village; the only problem is, they aren’t being entirely honest with their employer. 

Mansell effortlessly juggles a varied cast of characters, ranging from sulky teens to an elderly film star. 

With an endearing and agreeably practical heroine, a square-jawed but sensitive hero, oodles of sea and sun and lots of secrets waiting to tumble out, this is the perfect book to wallow in. 

A Gentleman in Moscow 

by Amor Towles 

When the dashing Count Rostov is brought before a Bolshevik tribunal in 1922, he fully expects to be shot. 

Instead, he is condemned to lifelong house arrest in Moscow’s Metropol Hotel. 

This totally original novel follows the count’s life, and that of the staff and residents of the hotel, as he adopts a daughter, falls in love with an enigmatic actress and contrives to live life to the full despite his decades of confinement. 

A great deal of Russian history is also subtly woven into this magical book, which is tearjerking but never sentimental, with a quite unexpected and thrilling ending.


Miss You 

by Kate Eberlen 

As 18-year-olds, Tess and Gus meet briefly while on holiday in Florence. 

They don’t meet again for many years, although they keep crossing paths without recognising each other as they fall in and out of love and cope with family upheavals, heartache, their careers, marriage and children. 

When they finally get one more chance to connect, will they seize the moment?

 Wonderfully romantic, with more than a sprinkling of sadness and two hugely sympathetic and believable characters at its heart, this book will delight anyone who believes in fate and true love.

The Rosie Project 

by Graeme Simsion 

Geneticist Don Tillman is almost 40 and can’t understand why his love life is such a disaster; no woman has ever gone on a second date with him. 

Applying his formidable powers of logic to the problem, he launches the Wife Project, a rigorously analytical quest for the ideal romantic partner, complete with a lengthy checklist to identify a potential spouse. 

Then he meets Rosie, with whom he is totally incompatible, and his well-ordered world is thrown into chaos. 

As well as being delightfully romantic, this is a very funny book and you’ll be laughing out loud at Don’s misadventures. 

Outlander 

by Diana Galbadon

Now adapted as a highly successful TV series, the first novel in the Outlander sequence —originally published as Cross Stitch — introduces Claire Randall, on honeymoon in the Highlands with her husband Frank. 

When she inexplicably slips through time from 1946 to 1743, she is captured by Black Jack Randall, her husband’s ancestor, before being saved by a band of outlaws. 

Torn between two different lives and two different men, Claire is an engaging narrator and the book fairly gallops along. 

The good news is that if you get hooked, there are seven more in the series to read. 

Caitriona Balfe as Claire Randall in the hugely popular Outlander TV series 

A Tale of Two Cities 

by Charles Dickens 

With one of the most famous closing lines ever — ‘It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known’ — this is Dickens’ most plot-driven novel (and one of his shortest). 

Dissolute lawyer Sydney Carton falls head over heels in love with Lucie Manette, whose family has escaped the French Revolution, but there is no safety for them, even in England. 

When Lucie’s whole future is at stake, how much will Sydney sacrifice for love?

 A marvellously fast-paced, thrilling and romantic read. 


The Thorn Birds 

by Colleen McCullough

 Long before Fleabag’s hot priest, there was Father Ralph de Bricassart, the dreamily handsome Irish Catholic who captivates young Meggie Cleary in The Thorn Birds. 

Published in 1977, this was dubbed ‘Australia’s Gone with the Wind’; it was a massive best-seller and became a very successful TV mini-series. 

A sprawling family saga which covers three generations, it’s a great book to immerse yourself in. 

As Ralph and Meggie struggle with their forbidden love, you’ll be transported to swelteringly hot Drogheda, the sheep station in the Outback which is almost a character in its own right. 

Fingersmith 

by Sarah Waters

It’s not often you read a book which has such a shocking twist that you find yourself gasping out loud — but this is one of them. 

The orphaned Sue Trinder grows up in Victorian London among petty thieves, or fingersmiths, and is unwillingly drawn into an elaborate plot to defraud a young heiress. 

As the two women slowly fall in love, Sue must use all her skill and cunning as a thief to try to save them both. 

This is a huge roller-coaster of a book, wonderfully researched, full of vivid characters and written with a Dickensian panache. 


Elaine Cassidy and Sally Hawkins in the Fingersmith TV series based on the book 

Rupert Evans and Elaine Cassidy in the Fingersmith TV series based on the book

The Grand Sophy 

by Georgette Heyer 

Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances brim with elegance, wit and historical accuracy (you’ll learn a lot about different types of carriage if you read Heyer) and this is one of her finest and most entertaining. 

When the spirited Sophy is sent to stay with her aunt and uncle, she realises the household is in a mess and decides it’s up to her to solve everyone’s problems. 

Her meddling infuriates her stern cousin Charles, who is determined to get rid of her by marrying her off — until he starts to fall for her himself. 

This charming book is escapism of the highest order. 

A Hundred Summers 

by Beatriz Williams 

Beatriz Williams, a best-seller in America, writes stylish and swooningly romantic novels set in glamorous locations. 

In the early 1930s, Lily Dane and Nick Greenwald fall passionately in love but are separated before they can marry. 

Years later, they meet again during one hot summer in Rhode Island, and he’s now married to her best friend. 

In a world of country clubs, cocktails and evening gowns, Nick and Lily are thrown together again — and the storm of the century is about to hit. 

Williams is wonderful at describing clothes, jewels and houses, as well as her characters’ deepest emotions. 

Source: Read Full Article

China reports new confirmed coronavirus cases

Beijing: Mainland China reported on Tuesday a rise in new confirmed coronavirus cases, reversing four days of declines, due to an uptick in infections involving travellers arriving from overseas.

A couple wearing protective masks to prevent the new coronavirus outbreak walk on a re-opened commercial street in Wuhan.Credit:AP

Mainland China had 48 new cases on Monday, the National Health Commission said in a statement, up from 31 new infections a day earlier.

All of the 48 cases were imported, bringing the total number of imported cases in China to 771 as of Monday.

There was no reported new case of local infection on Monday, according to the National Health Commission.

Reuters

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Neil Basu warns police against 'overzealous' enforcing of lockdown

‘Your conduct will be remembered for generations’: Senior counter-terror officer Neil Basu warns police against ‘overzealous’ enforcing of coronavirus lockdown after peers slammed shaming of walkers with drones

  • Ex-High Court judge Lord Sumption and ex-terrorism legislation reviewer Lord Anderson are both critical
  • Officers have patrolled the country looking to break up picnics and parties to halt spread of coronavirus
  • Shopkeepers say police and environmental health officers have been in telling them what can be sold
  • The Association of Convenience Stores says that this has included warnings about stocking Easter eggs      
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Senior counter-terror officer Neil Basu has warned police against ‘overzealous’ enforcing of coronavirus lockdown, saying their conduct will be remembered for generations after peers slammed the shaming of walkers with drones.

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu demanded that officers maintain the British tradition of ‘policing by consent’ as he emphasised the importance of earning the trust and confidence of the public.

But he stressed that individual officers shouldn’t be judged too harshly as they’ve been handed unprecedented powers that he never imagined police in UK being asked to use.  

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he said: ‘Everyone in policing is acutely aware that how we police this pandemic will be remembered for many years to come.’

It comes after police were yesterday accused  of being ‘overzealous’. One peer of heavy-handed interpretations of coronavirus advice, while another accused them of ‘over-enforcement’ – from banning shops selling Easter eggs to shaming walkers with drones.

Former High Court judge Lord Sumption criticised Derbyshire Police for having ‘shamed our policing traditions’ with ‘frankly disgraceful’ efforts of trying to shame people exercising in the countryside.

Officers have been warning shopkeepers not to sell Easter eggs as ‘overzealous’ enforcement as the lockdown continues and it was revealed forces are planning to cut arrests and ignore crimes because of the crisis.

Officers in several parts of the country have shocked retailers by trying to stop them from selling they consider non-essential, including chocolate gifts, even though there is no official guidance from the Government. 

Police officers from North Yorkshire Police stop motorists in cars to check that their travel is ‘essential’, following the Government’s Covid-19 advice to ‘Stay at Home’

Forces are sending anyone home not going to work or the supermarket or pharmacy – but there have been a number of examples of overzealous enforcement of new powers handed to them last week

Neil Basu (pictured) has warned police to consider how they conduct themselves while seeking to uphold the Government’s coronavirus lockdown guidelines 

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in the Government’s daily press conference that police should use ‘common sense’ in applying the rules, but also that the public should ‘follow the guidance, not just to the letter but also to the spirit’. 

In recent days:

  • Lancashire Police issued 123 fines for breaches of the rules over the weekend
  • Officers in Cheshire summonsed six people for various offences, including multiple people from the same house going out to buy ‘non-essential’ items.
  • South Wales Police hit out at MP Stephen Kinnock for visiting his father, former Labour leader Neil Kinnock, on his birthday
  • Derbyshire Police dyed the Blue Lagoon in Buxton black to deter groups of people from gathering at the beauty spot
  • The same force shared pictures on social media of queues of cars visiting the Peak District before the lockdown
  • No10 chief Dominic Cummings goes into self-isolation with coronavirus symptoms – days after Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock tested positive
  • A yob spat in a NHS worker’s face as she walks home after ten-hour shift and police Tasered a man who coughed on them and said he had coronavirus
  • Nurses are being forced to treat coronavirus patients ‘with no protective clothing, putting themselves and families at risk’, according to Royal College of Nursing  
  • But in better news Britain’s coronavirus outbreak is ‘starting to slow’ as rate of increase in hospital admissions ‘eases’, says government expert Neil Ferguson  

Lord Sumption told Radio Four’s World At One: ‘In some parts of the country the police have been trying to stop people from doing things like travelling to take exercise in the open country which are not contrary to the regulations simply because ministers have said that they would prefer us not to.

‘The police have no power to enforce ministers’ preferences but only legal regulations which don’t go anything like as far as the Government’s guidance.

Police officers from North Yorkshire Police stop motorists in cars to check that their travel is ‘essential’ in York yesterday


Former High Court judge Lord Sumption (left) criticised Derbyshire Police for having ‘shamed our policing traditions’, while former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation Lord Anderson (right) said reports of ‘over-enforcement by police and public are deterring the timid from exercising even the limited freedoms they have’

‘I have to say that the behaviour of Derbyshire Police in trying to shame people in using their undoubted right to travel to take exercise in the country and wrecking beauty spots in the fells so people don’t want to go there is frankly disgraceful.’

He added: ‘Derbyshire Police have shamed our policing traditions.’ Meanwhile former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation Lord Anderson said: ‘Police in their words and actions need to be clear about the difference between rules and guidance, both to maintain public confidence in their role and to discourage snoopers, snitches and vigilantes.

‘Serious breaches should attract fines, but news reports of over-enforcement by police and public are deterring the timid from exercising even the limited freedoms they have.’

The Association of Convenience Stores says some of its members have encountered ‘overzealous enforcement’, and James Lowman, chief executive of the trade group, told The Times: ‘This is a misreading of the rules. In the cases where officers have challenged retailers and shoppers in this way, it’s brought confusion, distracted retailers in the busiest weeks of their lives, and increased the interactions between people at a time when the government is trying to minimise them.’ 

Downing Street said police officers should use ‘their own discretion’ in enforcing the coronavirus lockdown measures – but the PM’s spokesman added: ‘If a shop is allowed to remain open, then it will of course sell whatever items it has in stock.’ 

It came as the UK’s police forces are heading towards ‘tipping points’ in the coronavirus crisis with a ‘graduated withdrawal of service plan’ set up, including a reduction in ‘essential critical activities’ including investigating all crimes. Staff sickness is the driving force behind the plan, with up to one in six officers now off work due to illness or self-isolation.

The Times has seen documents that show that officers will be moved to only answering 999 calls and investigating serious crime if forces reach ‘black status’ – only imposed at a time of national crisis. 

A senior source said: ‘If you get to black, the force basically can’t function. You will either have to call in the army or request aid from other police forces. It’s edge-of-the-cliff stuff. I fear we will reach black in certain parts of this country, which is unprecedented. It is possible arrests won’t be made. A suspect’s journey through the custody suite involves 12 different people. If a police force is on its knees they won’t be able to make those arrests.’   

Yesterday police set up road blocks to check people in cars or on bikes were on ‘essential journeys’ as Britain started its second week on coronavirus lockdown. And over the weekend officers broke up groups of more than two people on park benches, football matches in parks and one officer was dressed up in a Paw Patrol dog costume in Devon, where the force has set up road blocks. 

Lancashire Police issued 123 fines for breaches of the rules over the weekend, while officers in Cheshire summonsed six people for various offences, including multiple people from the same house going out to buy ‘non-essential’ items. 

The head of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, said yesterday that lockdown rules including fines and arrests should only be used as a last resort and made it clear officers should be ‘encouraging’ not over the top in their enforcement.

She told LBC yesterday: ‘We are all getting used to the new restrictions and I’ve been very clear that in the first instance I want my officers to be engaging with people, talking to people, encouraging them to comply. Explaining, of course, if they don’t understand – already we have had examples of people who simply hadn’t quite heard all the messages – and, only as a very last resort with the current restrictions, using firm direction or even enforcement.  

Police Scotland speak to walkers at Cramond, at the Firth of Forth west of Edinburgh, where officers were discouraging people from driving to walk

Police speak to drivers at Tynemouth beach, in the north-east of England close to Newcastle yesterday

A cyclist receives a telling off from a police officer in Richmond Park this morning after being caught cycling through the park which had been forbidden, except for NHS workers, since Friday

Police Community Support officers patrol Piccadilly Gardens in central Manchester and speak to a man about his journey

The Government is yet to issue official guidelines on what can be sold by convenience stores, newsagents and off-licences. But they have been deemed to be ‘essential’ stores which can continue trading.    

One of Britain’s most decorated judges, Lord Sumption, who retired from the Supreme Court in 2018, also criticised Derbyshire Police for having ‘shamed our policing traditions’ after the force chased walkers with drones.

He added: ‘The tradition of policing in this country is that policemen are citizens in uniform, they are not members of a disciplined hierarchy operating just at the Government’s command.

‘Yet in some parts of the country the police have been trying to stop people from doing things like travelling to take exercise in the open country which are not contrary to the regulations simply because ministers have said that they would prefer us not to.

‘The police have no power to enforce ministers’ preferences but only legal regulations which don’t go anything like as far as the Government’s guidance.

‘I have to say that the behaviour of Derbyshire Police in trying to shame people in using their undoubted right to travel to take exercise in the country and wrecking beauty spots in the fells so people don’t want to go there is frankly disgraceful.

‘This is what a police state is like. It’s a state in which the Government can issue orders or express preferences with no legal authority and the police will enforce ministers’ wishes.’ 

Lord Sumption added: ‘I have to say that most police forces have behaved in a thoroughly sensible and moderate fashion.

Coronavirus lockdown: Can you leave your home and what are your rights? 

– When did the laws come into force?

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations 2020 were introduced in England on Thursday at 1pm.

Similar versions of the laws were enacted in Wales at 4pm and in Scotland at 7.15pm on the same day, as well as at 11pm on Saturday in Northern Ireland.

– Why have the rules been enacted?

The England regulations state they are made ‘in response to the serious and imminent threat to public health’ posed by Covid-19.

– Can I leave my house?

According to the legislation: ‘During the emergency period, no person may leave the place where they are living without reasonable excuse.’

A reasonable excuse includes: getting food and medical supplies for yourself, members of the same household and vulnerable people, getting money, to exercise and for essential work.

You can also leave your house to: give blood, attend a funeral (in some cases), meet bail conditions, go to court and take part in legal proceedings, move house and to ‘avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm’.

But public gatherings of more than two people are banned apart from for members of the same household who are currently living together. There are some exceptions along similar lines as above.

How often can I go out?

The law does not specify – or limit – how many times per day someone can leave their house for any of these reasons.

The Government advice is to exercise once a day but the law does not say how many times a day this is allowed to happen.

– Can I go for a drive?

The Government urged people to ‘stay local’ when out exercising and only use open spaces near their homes where possible, keeping at least two metres apart from anyone they do not live with.

Some police forces said the public should not go out for a drive or use their car to travel to exercise.

But the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said there is nothing ‘definitive’ in the legislation on this, although it urged the public to be ‘sensible’.

The legislation does not address the use of cars or vehicles at all and does not forbid members of the public from using their cars to ‘go for a drive’ or travel to a location by car to exercise.

It states petrol stations, car repair and MOT services, taxi companies and car parks can all remain open, albeit with restrictions.

– Can I go shopping, and what can I buy?

The legislation says you can leave the house to obtain ‘basic necessities’ like ‘food’.

The law does not define what constitutes ‘food’ and does not specify what type of food, drink or other items are permissible when shopping.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘If a shop is allowed to remain open then it will of course sell whatever items it has in stock.’

The law says supermarkets, corner shops, off licences, hardware stores, pet shops and post offices can all remain open.

– What can the police do?

Officers can take action to enforce the requirements of the legislation if they ‘reasonably believe’ someone is in contravention as long as the decision is ‘necessary and proportionate’.

They can order someone to go home, leave an area, have the power to disperse a group and remove someone using ‘reasonable force, if necessary’.

Officers can also take steps to make sure parents are stopping their children from breaking the rules.

Police can arrest someone refusing to comply and issue £60 fines – reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days. The fine doubles to £120 for a second offence and would continue to rise each time to a maximum of £960.

Those who do not pay could be taken to court.

You could also be arrested for refusing to provide your name and address to avoid being given a fine.

The NPCC told forces to take a ‘common sense approach’ to policing the rules and use enforcement action as a last resort while Downing Street said police officers should use ‘their own discretion’ in enforcing the measures.

– What else do the rules say?

The law defines a vulnerable person as someone who is aged 70 or older, anyone aged under 70 who has an underlying health condition and anyone who is pregnant.

Underlying health conditions include: chronic long-term respiratory diseases like asthma, kidney and heart disease, hepatitis, Parkinson’s, diabetes, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, a learning disability or cerebral palsy, HIV, Aids, cancer, and obesity.

– How long will the rules be in force?

The emergency laws must be reviewed at least once every 21 days, starting on April 15, and will remain in place until they are scrapped by the Government. Ultimately they can expire after six months if not renewed.

‘Derbyshire Police have shamed our policing traditions. There is a natural tendency, of course, and a strong temptation for the police to lose sight of their real functions and turn themselves from citizens in uniform into glorified school prefects.

‘I think it’s really sad that the Derbyshire Police have failed to resist that.’

Downing Street said police officers should use ‘their own discretion’ in enforcing the coronavirus lockdown measures.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘The police will exercise their own discretion in the use of the powers which we have given to them and will take whatever steps they consider appropriate to disperse groups of people who are flouting the rules.’

Asked whether shops could continue to sell non-essential items, the spokesman said: ‘We have set out which shops can remain open. If a shop is allowed to remain open, then it will of course sell whatever items it has in stock.’

In response to some forces moving people on in parks, the spokesman was asked whether it was permissible to ‘take a breather’ on a bench during daily exercise.

The spokesman said: ‘The rules set out what you need to do, there shouldn’t be any gatherings of more than two people from outside any individual household and that people need to remain two metres apart.’

The Government had published a ‘clear set of instructions’ and ‘it’s for the police to exercise discretion over how they use the powers that are available’.

The head of Britain’s largest police force has told officers that new powers to enforce coronavirus lockdown rules should only be used as a last resort.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said her approach is to ‘help educate and encourage’ the public to comply with the tightest restrictions seen in peacetime in the UK.  

Officers in Warrington summonsed six people for various offences, including someone who went out for a drive because they were bored, and multiple people from the same house going out to buy non-essential items. 

Police have also been patrolling the country looking to break up picnics and parties with threats of arrest or fines of up to £60 for those are breaching social distancing guidelines. 

But rather than using their draconian powers to drag suspected lockdown louts to the cells, many forces have instead preferred to shame the culprits online in the hope of preventing further breaches.  

Dame Cressida Dick said yesterday her officers have ‘gently’ cleared gatherings of people when discovered and are not routinely stopping drivers.

‘We’re not doing what you might call road blocks or anything like that,’ she said. ‘Yes, we stop motorists sometimes, we have a conversation with them.

‘They might have a light out, we might talk to them, we might ask them about their journey. Our approach is one entirely trying to help educate and encourage people.

‘I think we’re all trying to get used to this. My approach in my service is one entirely of trying to encourage people, to engage with people, to have conversations with people.’

A police force which summonsed six motorists for going out for a drive during lockdown were yesterday accused of an abuse of power.

Warrington Police faced a barrage of criticism after they tweeted that they had summonsed six people for various offences over the weekend.

These included someone who went out for a drive because they were bored, people returning from parties, and multiple people going out to buy non-essential items.

The tweet stated: ‘Overnight six people have been summonsed for offences relating to the new corona virus legislation to protect the public:

‘These included; out for a drive due to boredom, returning from parties, multiple people from the same household going to the shops for non-essential items’.

But angry members of the public called their actions an ‘abuse of power’ and questioned the enforcement of these new Covid-19 rules.

Lewis, replying on Twitter said: ‘Seems you are trying to get the general public to hate you. This is a petty abuse of power’.

Police Scotland issued 25 fixed penalty notices over the weekend to people flouting the regulations introduced in a bid to stop people from spreading coronavirus in public places.

The new powers in the Coronavirus Act make it a criminal offence to flout the public health guidance on social distancing to prevent Covid-19.

On-the-spot fines of £30 can be issued to people who breach social distancing measures, rising to £60 if they are not paid within 28 days and capped at £960 for repeat offenders.

Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme that, despite the small number of cases where fines were issued, the vast majority of the public were complying with the new regulations.

Mr Graham said: ‘We issued 25 fixed penalty notices across Scotland over the course of Saturday and Sunday and I think that is strong evidence of how these extraordinary powers have had an impact in such a short space of time with communities across Scotland.

‘We’ve also received a significant number of calls, firstly from people asking how do we comply with these regulations and, secondly, reporting people they felt were breaching them.

‘We responded to those calls to make sure we could again explain why it was important, encourage people to comply with them, and in those very small number of occasions use the enforcement powers that we’ve got where that very small minority of people just refuse to comply with what is required’.

There has been anger on the clampdown over Easter Eggs as people argued there were essential in these grim times – and questioned why police and environmental health were getting involved in the first place

A police officer dressing up as a dog whilst enforcing the draconian lockdown measures 

The police are seen breaking up a football game taking place on Roath Rec in Cardiff over the weekend

In Derby, police gatecrashed a party and found 25 adults and children enjoying a large buffet and singing karaoke

When former Labour leader Neil Kinnock turned 78 on Saturday, his son Stephen, Labour MP for Aberavon, Wales, took to social media to share a heart-warming snap of their birthday meeting – sitting around six feet from his parents. 

But his Twitter post was picked up by South Wales Police – who said the meeting was in breach of government guidelines. 

A spokesman said: ‘We know celebrating your dad’s birthday is a lovely thing to do, however this is not essential travel.’ 

Mr Kinnock responded by claiming the travel was in fact essential as he was delivering ‘necessary supplies’ to his father and mother, former MEP Baroness Kinnock. 

Despite warnings, many Britons continued to flout guidelines yesterday and were criticised by police. 

In Derby, police gatecrashed a party and found 25 adults and children enjoying a large buffet and singing karaoke. 

Officers were ‘absolutely shocked’ by the enormous buffet and sound system when they entered the property in Dover Street, Normanton, at 10pm on Saturday.

Despite the scene, however, officers only gave those at the party ‘strong words of advice’ before dispersing the gathering. 

‘It is clear people are still having complete disregard for the Government advice and rules,’ a statement to Twitter added. 

Former Labour Leader Neil Kinnock and his wife, receiving food and a cake at a distance from their son Stephen – but South Wales Police shaming them

South West Police felt the need to warn Stephen that wishing his dad happy birthday did not count as essential travel but Kinnock replied that he was also delivering necessary supplies 

Neil’s son, Steven keeping a safe distance as he delivered supplies and wished his father Happy Birthday. After posting this image on social media he was contacted by police

Pictured: Former labour leader Neil Kinnock is visited by his son Stephen Kinnock and his wife Helle Thorning-Schmidt on his 78th birthday

Britons taking the law into their own hands to enforce coronavirus lockdown measures are at risk of committing ‘hate crimes’, a police chief warned yesterday.

The comments came amid a spree of vigilante reprisals on people breaking the country’s social distancing guidelines over the weekend by visiting beauty spots or town centres.

A businessman who was self-isolating at his second home in Devon was targeted by locals who daubed ‘go home’ on his car.

Police Taser man who ‘deliberately coughed over them’ after shouting he had coronavirus as they sat in squad car in north London 

Police yesterday Tasered a man who allegedly coughed over them after claiming to have coronavirus. File photo 

Police Tasered a man after he allegedly began coughing over them after claiming he had coronavirus. 

The Metropolitan Police firearms command said the man walked up to officers sitting in a car in Haringey, north London, and shouted that he was infected before deliberately coughing saliva all over them’.

He then began to physically attack the officers before he was Tasered and arrested, it was claimed yesterday. The suspect was later tested for coronavirus but came back negative. 

Last week director of public prosecutions Max Hill warned the public that using Covid-19 as a threat against emergency workers would be treated as a crime that could lead to up to two years behind bars.

Deliberately coughing at other key workers such as supermarket staff could be prosecuted as a common assault, which could mean up to six months in prison.

The crackdown follows numerous incidents of thugs targeting police and NHS workers with the sickening tactic.      

Yesterday, a paramedic who was helping an unwell patient was coughed at by another man who was self-isolating inside a house in Stroud, Gloucestershire. 

‘The man, a 43-year-old, was arrested, charged and remanded for assaulting an emergency worker by way of coughing and threatening GBH by infecting with Covid-19,’ an ambulance service spokesman said.

 

Tony Willis also found a leaflet on his doorstep in picturesque Bigbury-on-Sea saying: ‘Second home owners… stop being selfish.’

And signs with the slogan, ‘If you do not live here, go home’ were in the village’s car park.

But Devon and Cornwall Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer called for an end to this ‘unacceptable’ behaviour.

Mr Willis said he arrived in Devon before the lockdown to be near an elderly relative and decided not to travel home for fear of breaching non-essential travel guidance.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Willis – who has owned the second property for ten years –added: ‘This is harassment and in any other context would be considered a hate crime.’ Describing the behaviour towards Mr Willis as ‘shocking, horrible and unacceptable’, Mr Sawyer said he had witnessed ‘horrible incidents of hate crime’.

He said: ‘This is a family who are probably just as frightened and concerned as everyone else. If they are already here we should welcome them and make them feel part of our community.’

Amid the country’s limitations on socialising, neighbours are being encouraged to report incidents to the police.

And forces in Humberside, West Midlands, Greater Manchester, and Avon and Somerset have created hotlines and online portals where tip-offs can be reported. But some locals have been criticised for deciding to take more direct action.

In Wales, furious residents trapped a Range Rover driver on a country road when it emerged he had travelled 115 miles from Sheffield to Snowdonia.

Locals Aled Wyn Williams and his friend Oswyn Roberts confronted the man on Saturday morning when they realised he was not from the area.

In footage recorded on a mobile phone, Mr Williams can be heard asking the driver: ‘What the hell are you doing here? Haven’t you got a television or radio?’

Police attended and said ‘suitable words of advice’ were given.

Farmers also joined the backlash by closing hundreds of footpaths running through their land. Despite having no authority to stop walkers using the paths, farmers are concerned that older workers are at risk so path closures are necessary.

Four people were reported to the police in Cumbria over the weekend for disregarding lockdown advice. One of these people – a 24-year-old man from Whitehaven – was ‘repeatedly’ seen in the town centre ‘with no reason’. He was returned to his home by officers.

But well-meaning locals in Liverpool were left red-faced on Saturday when they called police to investigate claims a comedy gig was in full flow – only for officers to discover it was a rerun being broadcast online.

Officers were ‘absolutely shocked’ by the enormous buffet and sound system when they entered the property in Dover Street, Normanton, at 10pm on Saturday 

North West Motorway Police said a driver had been caught making a 224-mile round trip from Coventry to Salford, Greater Manchester, to buy £15 windows on eBay (Pictured: The M6)

The driver’s wife was travelling in the boot of the car when they were pulled over by a motorway patrol on the M6 in Cheshire, according to a tweet by the North West Motorway Police Twitter feed

Yob spits in NHS worker’s face as she walks home after ten-hour shift

Sama Shali, 33, was spat at twice as she walked home from a 10-hour shift at The Christie Hospital in Withington, in Manchester. Fortunately two women were on hand to picture the yob

An NHS worker was spat at twice as she walked home from a 10-hour shift, as doctors and nurses are warned not to wear uniforms and to hide ID badges on their way to work.

Sama Shali, 33, fears she was targeted by the unidentified yob as she was still wearing her ID badge for the The Christie Hospital in Withington, south Manchester.

It comes as doctors and nurses around the country have been robbed of ID badges, cash and even a car in recent weeks.  

Sama stopped after she heard a man on a bicycle say something to her as she walked to a tram station in Didsbury.

She said: ‘He said something to me and I took my earphones out to hear what he said. I asked him if he could give me some space as he was quite close to me and then he spat in my face. 

‘I was so shocked and I told him I was going to ring the police. He just started circling me on his bike and then he did it again – he spat at my face again.’  

She added: ‘I am so grateful to the women that helped me. But I am so shocked and upset about it – I just don’t understand why it happened. I am scared he might have had coronavirus and wanted to spread it. I am scared that I could pass it on to my colleagues or patients’.

Twitter users, however, were more baffled by the eclectic 1970s-style buffet the alleged lockdown rule-breakers were enjoying.  

Derbyshire Police also broke up a picnic and shisha party where eight people were found chomping away on kebabs at Snake Pass in the Peak District on Thursday.

The individuals had travelled hundreds of miles from Manchester, Sheffield and Ipswich to meet, police said – who gave them a stern warning and sent them home.  

North West Motorway Police added a driver had been caught making a 224-mile round trip from Coventry to Salford, Greater Manchester, to buy £15 windows on eBay.  

But after picking up his purchase, the driver’s wife could not fit in the vehicle for the return journey to the West Midlands. 

She was travelling in the boot of the car when they were pulled over by a motorway patrol on the M6 in Cheshire, according to a tweet by the North West Motorway Police Twitter feed.    

And a tourist was stopped in Devon after driving his motor home from Birmingham. 

An officer said: ‘Birmingham to North Devon is not in the spirit of fighting the virus.’ 

Thugs also took up valuable police time by purposely coughing on officers and emergency workers while claiming to have contracted the virus. 

On Saturday Paul Leivers, 48, from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, was jailed for 12 months after spitting at police custody officers after saying he was infected.  

It comes as police faced accusations of ‘overzealousness’ from ex-MPs, lawyers and human rights groups.   

Shoppers in Teesside head to their cars after shopping at The Range and B&M on Sunday 

Another shopper stocks up on ’emergency’ supplies of plastic drawers and filing trays at the store in Stockton-On-Tees

One man appeared to have bought a canvas print of a reptile as another pushed a trolley containing a metal bin

A man in a face mask and a hi-vis jacket carries a thin cardboard box out of a shop in Teesside 

Officers have been accused of officious muscle-flexing since the Coronavirus Act received Royal Assent last week. 

This week, Derbyshire Police poured black dye into a crystal blue lagoon in the Peak District to deter people from making ‘non-essential trips’. 

In a Facebook post, Buxton safer neighbourhood policing team said: ‘No doubt this is due to the picturesque location and the lovely weather (for once) in Buxton. 

‘However, the location is dangerous and this type of gathering is in contravention of the current instruction of the UK Government.

‘With this in mind, we have attended the location this morning and used water dye to make the water look less appealing.’ 

Derbyshire Police dyeing the ‘blue lagoon’ in Harpur Hill, Buxton black, as gatherings there are ‘dangerous’ and are ‘in contravention of the current instruction of the UK Government’

The force says that people should not be heading to the Peak District to admire the sunset while Britain is in lockdown

Derbyshire Police sent up their drone and filmed people on ‘not essential’ trips to the Peak District including people posing for an ‘Instagram snap’

Alex John Desmond, who lives nearby, wrote on Facebook: ‘This is a joke, the way this force is acting is not representative of policing by consent which is the way the UK is meant to be governed. You should be ashamed of yourselves. 

‘You have taken something beautiful and damaged it.’ 

He added that the force was promoting a culture of ‘shaming’ individuals, claiming that he was shouted down on his first trip out since lockdown began.

Officers have been given powers to arrest people who are out of their homes on ‘non-essential’ journeys, with a three-strike fine policy which starts at £60 for a first offence, rises to £120 for the second and reaches £1,000.

Furious Welsh locals block Range Rover driver who had driven 115 miles from Sheffield to Snowdonia despite coronavirus lockdown 

By Raven Saunt for MailOnline  

A group of furious locals blocked a Range Rover driver after he travelled 115 miles from Sheffield to Snowdonia despite the coronavirus lockdown.

The man was spotted at around 10am on Saturday as he drove down country lanes near Bala in Gwynedd, Wales.

Aled Wyn Williams recorded the confrontation before police were eventually called to the scene. 

Mr Williams stopped the vehicle, along with his friend Oswyn Roberts, after realising that the driver was not from the area.

A group of furious locals blocked a Range Rover driver after he travelled 115 miles from Sheffield to Snowdonia despite the coronavirus lockdown 

The man was spotted at around 10am on Saturday as he drove down country lanes near Bala in Gwynedd, Wales 

He said he was angered by the lack of respect shown by the visitor when the pair stopped him on the road.

Mr Williams added: ‘[The driver] was heading away from Bala and the main road.

‘I drove along the road and stopped him. My friend Oswyn Roberts came along behind, blocking him in. 

‘He told me he called the police because he felt threatened.

‘I told him all we were doing was encouraging him to go home. If he hadn’t called the police, I would have done.’   

A sign erected near Pembrokeshire reads ‘non locals please go home #covid-19’

Signs have been erected across the country urging people to stay home and not travel, such as this one in Bala, north Wales

In the footage, a queue of vehicles can be seen in a standoff along a single-lane track surrounded by fields.

Sheep can be heard in the background as Mr Williams walks towards the driver’s side of the black Range Rover, which has a trailer in tow.

He points the camera at the man behind the wheel who also has a phone in his hand to take pictures. 

‘Keep active to aid immunity’ 

Regular exercise during the lockdown will help Britons maintain a healthy immune system, researchers say.

Keeping active while obeying social distancing advice can help us find and deal with pathogens plus slow the effect of ageing on immunity, they add.

A team at the University of Bath recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, such as walking, running or cycling.

They say those limited by a health condition or disability can still gain by aiming to move more and remember ‘something is better than nothing’.

Dr James Turner, from the university, said: ‘People should not overlook the importance of staying fit, active and healthy during this period.’ 

The study, in the journal Exercise Immunology Review, examined if exercise has a positive or negative effect on immunity.

Mr Williams then gestures down the road and says: ‘Your friends have just arrived…

‘What the hell are you doing here anyway? What the hell are you doing here?

‘Haven’t you got a television or radio?’ 

The clip cuts to another angle of the confrontation recorded by an onlooker.  

Mr Williams throws his arms into the air before storming back towards his vehicle, which is where the video ends.

The locals continued to block the route until police arrived at the scene.

A spokesperson for North Wales Police said: ‘Police were called at 10.12am to a report of a man being blocked on a country lane in Bala.

‘Officers attended and suitable words of advice were given.’

The driver of the Range Rover, who had driven 115 miles from Sheffield in an attempt to visit Snowdonia, was eventually asked to return home. 

Britons taking the law into their own hands to enforce coronavirus lockdown measures are at risk of committing ‘hate crimes’, a police chief warned yesterday.

A businessman who was self-isolating at his second home in Devon was targeted by locals who daubed ‘go home’ on his car. 

Tony Willis also found a leaflet on his doorstep in picturesque Bigbury-on-Sea saying: ‘Second home owners… stop being selfish.’ 

And signs with the slogan, ‘If you do not live here, go home’ were in the village’s car park.   

‘Bonkers’ officials try to stop Easter egg sales

 By George Odling for the Daily Mail

Overzealous council officers have been wrongly warning shopkeepers not to stock Easter eggs and other non-essential items.

Pictured: A shopper buys Easter eggs in Cainscross, Gloucestershire 

Government guidelines do not specify what stores are permitted to sell and corner shops, newsagents and supermarkets are allowed to stay open as normal during the pandemic.

But the Association of Convenience Stores accused some council officers of misinterpreting the rules and confusing shopkeepers with demands after four convenience stores reported being told to stop selling certain items.

Chief executive James Lowman said: ‘There is no government definition of which products can be sold within those stores. In the cases where officers have challenged retailers and shoppers in this way, it’s brought confusion, distracted retailers in the busiest weeks of their lives, and increased the interactions between people at a time when the Government is trying to minimise them.’

The trade body, which repre sents more than 33,500 shops, said it had contacted Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards officials, who confirmed that convenience stores can continue to sell all available products as normal.

‘We advise any retailer facing this challenge to continue selling their normal range and to contact us with the name of the local authority or police force and officer [who may try to stop them] so we can follow up,’ Mr Lowman added.

Retail analyst Richard Hyman said: ‘Quite frankly it sounds bonkers. This is a time when being excessively pedantic seems rather absurd.

‘It’s certainly right that if restrictions are going to be applied, they should be applied to types of outlet, not types of product.’

Shopper Olivia Alderson, 28, a theatre marketing manager from Streatham, south London, bought five Easter eggs from a convenience store last night.

She said: ‘It seems mad. Easter eggs bring joy and we need some of that now more than ever.’

 

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NYC sees a coronavirus death every 2.9 minutes in horrific six-hour stretch

The coronavirus death toll in New York City surged to 914 on Monday afternoon, accelerated by six hellish hours that saw the tally spike by 124 — or one death every 2.9 minutes.

As of a 10:30 a.m. update from City Hall, the five boroughs had seen 36,221 confirmed cases of the contagion, with 790 confirmed fatalities.

But by 4:30 p.m., the number of cases had ticked up to 38,087 — while the deaths exploded to 914, according to City Hall.

Of the more than 38,000 cases, 7,741 patients, or about 20 percent, are hospitalized, the statistics show.

Queens remains the hardest hit borough by a sizable margin, with 12,756 cases, or just over a third.

Brooklyn (with 10,171 cases; 27-percent) comes in second, followed by The Bronx (6,925; 18-percent), Manhattan (6,060; 16-percent) and Staten Island (2,140; six-percent).

Monday’s horrifying leap followed a similar period on Sunday in which 98 deaths were logged.

During a press briefing earlier Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo reported that the Empire State as a whole had been hit by 66,497 diagnoses, with 1,218 deaths.

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NHS worker may be coronavirus ‘patient zero’ in Welsh region of Gwent after it becomes worst UK hotspot outside London – The Sun

AN NHS worker could be "patient zero" in the UK's worst hit coronavirus hotspots outside of London.

The staff member is thought to have unknowingly spread the killer virus to other medics, according to Wales' First Minister.

⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates

Mark Drakeford said the unnamed person's infection lead to more people being tested and therefore more cases being found.

For a significant period only people in hospital were being tested for the virus, with NHS staff now being checked.

The area in Gwent, South Wales, has seen the highest infection rate of anywhere in the UK outside of London and now has 514 confirmed cases.

There are fears the rapid rise in cases there are mirroring Italy, where infections spiked suddenly.

Mr Drakeford said: "Part of the reasons why there may be an issue in Gwent are that it had a very early case of a member of healthboard staff acquiring the virus.

"There was a healthworker who contracted the virus it led to a group of people in the health service, in the Aneurin Bevan Health Board, getting the virus as well.

"That's part of the story of the Gwent outbreak but by no means all of it.

"We do have a hotspot in Gwent, explaining it isn't straightforward, and there is some degree of randomness about how these hotspots emerge.

WELSH HOTSPOT

"Testing in Gwent was carried out more vigorously, more widely and earlier than in many other parts of Wales and we may be picking up the result of that.

"It looks like there's more there because we've tested more people there than elsewhere.

"There is evidence that the disease is moving from east to west across the United Kingdom and Newport is right at the eastern end of Wales.

"You would expect if that were the case that the impact would be felt most in the Aneurin Bevan Health Board area.

"There is also an issue of population density. Chance is playing its part as well."

It comes as the number of people who have died from coronavirus in England is now 1,284 after 159 more deaths were announced.

CORONAVIRUS CRISIS – STAY IN THE KNOW

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The Department of Health has so far recorded 22,141 positive Covid-19 cases in Britain.

Today's figure marks the first time the daily increase in deaths has fallen for two consecutive days and has dropped from 260 on Saturday, the worst day in the crisis so far.

According to one of the government's chief health advisers the outbreak is now "starting to slow" – but deaths will keep rising.

Today we told how a prominent Italian scientist is calling on his government to change its strategy by separating people with suspected Covid-19 symptoms from their families.

Italy, which has suffered the world’s highest death toll from coronavirus, has been in nationwide lockdown for about three weeks.

But in the last three days new infections have continued at between 5,000 and 6,000 per day.

The death toll from the five-week old coronavirus epidemic today climbed by 812 to 11,591 — reversing two days of declines in the daily rate.

There were 3,981 people in intensive care, up from a previous 3,906.

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Banks warning over coronavirus ‘smishing’ text scams where fraudsters raid your account with one click – The Sun

BANKS have issued a warning over coronavirus "smishing" scams targeting the vulnerable.

The pandemic has sparked a rise in messages where the tricksters pretend to be well-known organisations to get personal information.

⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates

UK Finance warned customers of the need to be careful while using phones, the internet and even of being targeted on your front doors.

It added "spoofing" – which makes a message appear genuine as it comes up with previous real messages – is a growing concern.

Often the messages will include a link to a fake website that is designed to trick people into giving away their financial and personal information such as bank details, passwords and credit card numbers.

Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime, UK Finance, said: “Criminals are callously exploiting the coronavirus outbreak to commit fraud, including using scam text messages imitating government departments, banks and other trusted organisations.

“We are urging consumers to remain vigilant and avoid clicking on links in any unsolicited text messages in case it’s a scam.

“It’s always safer to log into your bank account directly or contact the organisation on a trusted number or email such as the one on their official website.

“Always follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign and take a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information. If you receive a suspicious text message, report it to your network provider by forwarding it to 7726.”

It comes as the number of people who have died from coronavirus in England is now 1,284 after 159 more deaths were announced.

CORONAVIRUS CRISIS – STAY IN THE KNOW

Don't miss the latest news and figures – and essential advice for you and your family.

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To follow us on Facebook, simply 'Like' our Coronavirus page.

Get Britain's best-selling newspaper delivered to your smartphone or tablet each day – find out more.

The Department of Health has so far recorded 22,141 positive Covid-19 cases in Britain.

Today's figure marks the first time the daily increase in deaths has fallen for two consecutive days and has dropped from 260 on Saturday, the worst day in the crisis so far.

According to one of the government's chief health advisers the outbreak is now "starting to slow" – but deaths will keep rising.

A Sun Online investigation revealed sick fraudsters are creating thousands of new scams every day to try and cash in on the Covid-19 pandemic.

We discovered how more than 16,000 internet-domain names related to coronavirus have been set up with the intention of conning unsuspecting members of the public.

Internet-security expert Neil Doyle warned: “It’s like the wild-west out there and it only shows signs of getting worse and worse. People need to be on their guard.”

One phishing scam saw crooks send e-mails claiming to be from the Government offering recipients tax refunds to cope with the coronavirus crisis.

Several fake "diagnosis" scams and hoaxes are doing the rounds online. Instagram has already banned rogue coronavirus filters that claim to "diagnose" your condition.

Fraudsters have also impersonated the World Health Organisation and urges victims to open a document that supposedly contains information about how to stay safe.

There have also been reports of NHS workers being targeted for their ID-badges by muggers. They then use them to jump the queues at supermarkets.

It has prompted many hospitals to issue new guidance to their staff warning them to be careful – especially when leaving at night.

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Cuomo fires back at Trump over claim of stolen coronavirus supplies

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday pushed back on President Trump’s suggestion that New York is mismanaging its trove of coronavirus supplies, inviting the president to lay bare his claims.

“If he wants to make an accusation, then let him make an accusation,” said Cuomo, speaking in a press briefing from the makeshift federal hospital erected at Manhattan’s Javits Center.

Trump on Sunday suggested that valuable supplies afforded by the federal government were being pilfered by New York hospital workers, and on Monday ordered federal agencies to ship directly to hospitals, after some materials including critical ventilators were found sitting in a New Jersey warehouse.

Cuomo didn’t deny that some supplies were being stashed across the Hudson — saying that it made perfect sense, with over 1,200 deaths, over 66,000 cases and the worst yet to come.

“We’re creating a stockpile,” he said. “For someone to say, ‘Well, the warehouse has equipment in it, you should be using that equipment today,’ that defies the basic concept of planning.

“If you are not preparing for the apex, and for the high point, you are missing the entire point of the operation. It is a fundamental blunder to only prepare for today.”

Cuomo has alternated in recent weeks between blasting Trump and his administration for stiffing New York on sorely needed supplies, and thanking the president for his “cooperation.”

The governor insisted Monday that he’s a “tangler” willing to take on any political challengers, but that the oncoming fury of the contagion necessitate unity.

“This is a deadly serious situation,” he said. “If there is division at this time, the virus will defeat us.”

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Michigan college student dies of coronavirus weeks before graduation

A 25-year-old college student in Michigan died from the coronavirus just weeks before he was set to graduate — and after being refused a test several times, according to reports.

Bassey Offiong, a senior majoring in chemical engineering at Western Michigan University, had no known prior health issues before succumbing to COVID-19 on Saturday, WXYZ reports.

School and county officials confirmed the Detroit native’s death Sunday, days after the university reported its first of three confirmed coronavirus cases.

Offiong was rejected for coronavirus testing several times while living off-campus in the Kalamazoo area despite symptoms including shortness of breath, fatigue and a fever, his sister told the Detroit News.

“I told him to ask them to test him,” Asari Offiong told the newspaper. “He said they refused to test him.”

Offiong’s sister declined to identify the locations where her brother said he was denied coronavirus testing, but said one medical staffer thought he had bronchitis.

He died after spending a week on a ventilator at a hospital in Royal Oak, his sister said.

“I know God has him in his presence,” Asari Offiong told the newspaper. “He loved God.”

Offiong had “enormous potential,” according to a statement released by the university’s president.

“On behalf of the entire Bronco community, I want to extend my deepest condolences to his entire family, including his sister Asari, who has been generous in communicating with us regularly,” WMU President Edward Montgomery said.

Health officials also confirmed Offiong’s death, but noted he was not a resident of Kalamazoo County, the Detroit Free Press reports.

“However, this virus has no borders when it comes to who it affects and how it is spread,” a health officer at the Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Department told the newspaper.

“We urge everyone to help us fight community spread by following the governor’s executive order. Stay home and, if you must go out for essential items, stay safe by taking preventative measures.”

It’s unclear whether Offiong was one of the three WMU students who tested positive Friday for coronavirus. The university has been holding online classes only since being closed for in-class instruction due to the growing pandemic, the Free Press reports.

A message seeking comment from a university spokesperson was not immediately returned Monday.

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Scientist says Italy and New York coronavirus outbreaks are slowing

Nobel Prize-winning scientist claims coronavirus outbreaks in New York and Italy are finally SLOWING

  • Professor Michael Levitt said Italy and New York have ‘turned a corner’ 
  • He said both had passed the period of fastest growth of their outbreaks
  • Numbers in the UK are too low to say what stage the country is at in its outbreak
  • Professor Levitt correctly predicted how China’s epidemic would come to an end
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

A Nobel Prize-winning scientist from Stanford University has claimed the coronavirus epidemics devastating Italy and New York are finally slowing down.

Professor Michael Levitt, who accurately predicted how many cases and deaths would be predicted in China, said Italy and New York are now ‘on the mend’. 

They are two of the worst-hit places in the world, with a combined 157,000 cases out of the global total of 736,000.

Italy became the epicenter of the world’s crisis after China got its situation under control but the US – with a population five times the size – has rapidly taken its place. 

And New York is the most badly affected state there, with more confirmed cases (59,513) than any entire country outside of Italy (97,689), Germany (62,457), China (81,439) or Spain (85,195). 

Professor Levitt said Italy had ‘turned a corner’ and its numbers of new daily cases seem to support his claim, having levelled off and hovered around 5,000-6,000 per day for the past 10 days. 

New York’s situation is less certain – its new daily case count has plateaued for the past three days at just above 7,000 per day but rose fast before that. This week will be pivotal in revealing how the outbreak there could continue.

An intensive care patient is pictured in a hospital in Cremona, Italy, where medical services are overwhelmed by the numbers of patients with coronavirus

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, Professor Levitt said: ‘New York City, which everyone is so sad about, is actually turning. 

‘New York City has passed its midpoint and this truck called COVID that was speeding towards the wall is no longer accelerating, it’s put the brakes on and this means that… New York is on the mend. 

‘In the UK there aren’t enough numbers and there are too many separate outbreaks.

‘Italy, on the other hand, has turned the corner; Switzerland has turned the corner.

‘You’ll be reading soon enough [about] Italy being on the mend, Switzerland on the mend. 

‘We hope, but we’re not sure yet, that Spain has also joined this select club of people who have passed the midpoint.’

Statistics appear to back up Professor Levitt’s claim about Italy.

There were fewer new cases diagnosed yesterday, March 29 (5,974), than there were eight days ago on March 21 (5,986).

Dr Michael Levitt, 72, is an American, British, South African and Israeli professor of structural biology at Stanford University in California.

He runs a laboratory there and has been a biology professor since 1987. 

In 2013 Dr Levitt received the Nobel Prize  for chemistry along with Martin Karplus and Arieh Warshel for their work into ‘the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems’. 

Explaining their discovery Dr Warshel said: ‘In short what we developed is a way which requires computers to look, to take the structure of the protein and then to eventually understand how exactly it does what it does.’

The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, has spiked proteins on its surface which some scientists believe could be the reason it’s so infectious. 

And between those two dates, the number of new cases each day has been between 4,789 and 6,557, showing a steady increase in positive tests.

In the same time in New York, meanwhile, the number of daily new cases more than doubled from 3,111 to 7,195.

And the number of new cases has been above 7,000 for three days in a row, suggesting it could increase again before it starts to level out. 

Both Italy and New York have been crippled by the coronavirus outbreaks which have hit them.

Hospitals in the north of Italy, particularly the Lombardy region around Milan, have been overloaded with intensive care patients and lifesaving treatment has had to be rationed.

And in New York footage has emerged of dead bodies being loaded into the back of a lorry with a forklift, while a makeshift morgue is being set up in Central Park.

Professor Levitt hit headlines for saying that the predictions of virus experts appeared to be blowing the impact of the coronavirus out of proportion.

He said strict social distancing and lockdown measures, which have been put in place around the world, would effectively slow down the spread of the illness.

‘What we need is to control the panic,’ he said last week, ‘we’re going to be fine.’ 

Speaking to China Daily News in late February, Dr Levitt said he believed the rate of the growth had already reached its peak and made the prediction that China would see 3,250 deaths from coronavirus, with 80,000 set to be infected.

Now, more than a month on, his prediction is proving accurate. 

China, with a population of 1.4 billion, had counted 81,439 cases as of March 30 and had 3,300 deaths.

More than 721,000 people have now tested positive for the coronavirus around the world, and at least 33,881 have died

A 38-year-old nurse at a Manhattan hospital shared this image yesterday of the inside of one of the refrigerated trucks lined on either side with the dead bodies of covid-19 victims 

Professor Levitt said the numbers in the UK are not high enough to be able to predict what stage the nation is at in its outbreak.

He said ‘small numbers are unreliable’.

Professor Neil Ferguson, a leading disease expert at Imperial College London, agreed that it was hard to say how Britain’s epidemic was progressing. 

Speaking on Radio 4, Professor Ferguson said: ‘We think the epidemic is just about starting to slow in the UK right now… it is the result of the actions people have taken and governments have taken.’

He said the number of deaths was a reliable indicator of an outbreak, but gave the picture from two to three weeks ago.

‘In the UK we can see some early signs of slowing in some indicators,’ he said. ‘Less in deaths as deaths do lag by a long time… but if you look as the number of new hospital admissions per day for instance, that does seem to be slowing down a little bit now.’

Professor Ferguson stressed the rates of hospital admissions had ‘not yet plateaued’ but the rate of increase looked to be slowing. 

He also said the epidemic was spreading at different rates in different parts of the country.

‘It is quite clear across the country, the epidemic is in different stages in different parts of the country,’ he said.

‘In central London it could be as many as three per cent to five per cent of the population has been infected – maybe more in individual hot spots. In the country as a whole in the UK, maybe two per cent or three per cent.’

He said antibody tests, currently in final stages of validation, would be ‘critical’ to the understanding of the epidemic, adding they would ‘hopefully’ be available in days.

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Johnson & Johnson plans one billion doses of coronavirus vaccine

Johnson & Johnson says that it and the US government will invest $US1 billion ($1.6 billion) to create enough manufacturing capacity to make more than 1 billion doses of a vaccine it is testing to stop the new coronavirus that has killed more than 35,000 people around the world.

As part of the arrangement, the US government will pay $US421 million to support the company's efforts to build new manufacturing capacity in the US.



J&J said it had selected its own lead vaccine candidate and would start human testing by September, with an eye on having it ready under an emergency use authorisation in early 2021, far quicker than the typical 18-month period that it takes for vaccines to be tested, approved and then manufactured.

J&J Chief Scientific Officer Dr Paul Stoffels said the company had to start ramping up manufacturing capacity now, even before it has a signal that its experimental vaccine candidate works. The company will start making the vaccine at risk, without knowing for sure that it works.

"That is the only option for us to get it on time," Stoffels said.

The company has a manufacturing plant in the Netherlands that can make up to 300 million doses of vaccine, Stoffels said, adding that "absolutely will not be sufficient for the world."

He said J&J is starting to build a plant in the US now so it can be ready to manufacture vaccines by the end of the year, when data from its clinical trials will show whether the vaccine works.

Nearly half of the $US1 billion will come from the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), which is looking to expand on J&J's previous collaboration with the agency.

Stoffels said the company is also scouting for manufacturing plants in other parts of Europe and Asia that are capable of making the type of vaccine the company is working on.

So far, J&J has not given any doses of its vaccine to humans. But Stoffels said the coronavirus vaccine will be based on the same technology used to make its Ebola vaccine, which has been widely used in people, and the company believes it will prove safe.

Safety testing of vaccines is even more important than for treatments as they are given to healthy people to prevent infection. That could be 1 billion people or more around the world. In lab studies, the vaccine candidate has produced strong neutralising antibodies to the virus – the type needed to make a successful vaccine.

J&J will continue testing the vaccine in animal studies in the middle of the year and plans to start human trials in September.

The new coronavirus, which began in Wuhan, China, has infected people in most countries around the world. The US, with more than 143,00 confirmed case of COVID-19 – the illness caused by the virus – has the most cases globally.

Moderna Inc this month began initial testing of its experimental coronavirus vaccine in healthy volunteers, making it the early front-runner in the race to develop a viable vaccine.

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Reuters

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