Cricket CAN resume next weekend says Boris Johnson


Cricket CAN resume next weekend says Boris Johnson after backtracking on claim balls were a ‘natural vector of disease’

  • The Prime Minister backtracked on his comments after seeking medical advice
  • Guidelines on bringing the sport back will be published in the coming days
  • Mr Johnson had previously said cricket balls were a ‘natural vector of disease’ 

Boris Johnson backtracked on his claims that cricket balls were a a ‘vector of disease’ by saying the sport could resume next weekend.

Speaking at today’s Downing Street press conference, the Prime Minister said cricket will return with guidelines to be published in the coming days.

Last week Mr Johnson said the sport could not return at a grassroots level because coronavirus could be spread by contacting cricket balls.

But today he backtracked on his previous statements having sought the ‘scientific advice and medical opinion’. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson backtracked on his claims that cricket balls were a a ‘vector of disease’ by saying the sport could resume next weekend

Mr Johnson said: ‘Having been stumped on the radio this morning on that point, on the science again, being asked about, you know, which was the exact vector of the disease. 

‘I have sought scientific advice and medical opinion, the third umpire has been invoked.

‘What I can say is we do want to work as fast as possible to get cricket back and we will be publishing guidelines in the next few days so that cricket can resume in time for next weekend.’

Professor Chris Whitty said 'it is perfectly possible to have cricket where people do keep their distance and provided people don’t do things that are clearly not sensible' at the Downing Street press conference this afternoon

Professor Chris Whitty said ‘it is perfectly possible to have cricket where people do keep their distance and provided people don’t do things that are clearly not sensible’ at the Downing Street press conference this afternoon

Professor Chris Whitty added: ‘One of the issues on cricket is it brings together a much larger number of people in terms of linking households than you do with the six people laid out as the maximum number of people you should be meeting even outdoors.

‘But it is perfectly possible to have cricket where people do keep their distance and provided people don’t do things that are clearly not sensible, ranging from hugging the bowler if they have just bowled someone for a duck through to spitting on the ball.

‘It should be possible to make the game itself really very safe because it is an outdoor sport at a distance.

‘It is not a contact sport in the sense that some of the higher risk outdoor sports are.’

The Prime Minister’s statements came after he was quizzed on the safety of grassroots cricket on LBC radio this morning.

Mr Johnson said tea breaks and players meeting in changing rooms could prove an infection risk amid the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Speaking on LBC Radio he said: ‘There are reasons. These debates have gone round and round.

Boris Johnson said traditional tea breaks and meeting in club changing rooms could pose a risk of spreading Covid-19 while speaking on LBC Radio this morning

Boris Johnson said traditional tea breaks and meeting in club changing rooms could pose a risk of spreading Covid-19 while speaking on LBC Radio this morning

‘It’s the teas, it’s the changing rooms and so on and so forth. There are other factors involved that generate proximity which you might not get in a game of tennis.’ 

The England and Wales Cricket Board said the risks of exposure to coronavirus while playing the sport were very low. 

The ECB said: ‘We believe that cricket is a non-contact sport, with very low risks of exposure, and that it can be played as safely as many other activities being currently permitted.

‘We believe this advice – allied with strict hygiene measures – means recreational cricket should be viewed as safe by the UK government, which would be welcome news to our nation’s recreational cricketers.’ 

Cricket CAN resume next weekend says Boris Johnson


Cricket CAN resume next weekend says Boris Johnson after backtracking on claim balls were a ‘natural vector of disease’

  • The Prime Minister backtracked on his comments after seeking medical advice
  • Guidelines on bringing the sport back will be published in the coming days
  • Mr Johnson had previously said cricket balls were a ‘natural vector of disease’ 

Boris Johnson backtracked on his claims that cricket balls were a a ‘vector of disease’ by saying the sport could resume next weekend.

Speaking at today’s Downing Street press conference, the Prime Minister said cricket will return with guidelines to be published in the coming days.

Last week Mr Johnson said the sport could not return at a grassroots level because coronavirus could be spread by contacting cricket balls.

But today he backtracked on his previous statements having sought the ‘scientific advice and medical opinion’. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson backtracked on his claims that cricket balls were a a ‘vector of disease’ by saying the sport could resume next weekend

Mr Johnson said: ‘Having been stumped on the radio this morning on that point, on the science again, being asked about, you know, which was the exact vector of the disease. 

‘I have sought scientific advice and medical opinion, the third umpire has been invoked.

‘What I can say is we do want to work as fast as possible to get cricket back and we will be publishing guidelines in the next few days so that cricket can resume in time for next weekend.’

Professor Chris Whitty said 'it is perfectly possible to have cricket where people do keep their distance and provided people don’t do things that are clearly not sensible' at the Downing Street press conference this afternoon

Professor Chris Whitty said ‘it is perfectly possible to have cricket where people do keep their distance and provided people don’t do things that are clearly not sensible’ at the Downing Street press conference this afternoon

Professor Chris Whitty added: ‘One of the issues on cricket is it brings together a much larger number of people in terms of linking households than you do with the six people laid out as the maximum number of people you should be meeting even outdoors.

‘But it is perfectly possible to have cricket where people do keep their distance and provided people don’t do things that are clearly not sensible, ranging from hugging the bowler if they have just bowled someone for a duck through to spitting on the ball.

‘It should be possible to make the game itself really very safe because it is an outdoor sport at a distance.

‘It is not a contact sport in the sense that some of the higher risk outdoor sports are.’

The Prime Minister’s statements came after he was quizzed on the safety of grassroots cricket on LBC radio this morning.

Mr Johnson said tea breaks and players meeting in changing rooms could prove an infection risk amid the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Speaking on LBC Radio he said: ‘There are reasons. These debates have gone round and round.

Boris Johnson said traditional tea breaks and meeting in club changing rooms could pose a risk of spreading Covid-19 while speaking on LBC Radio this morning

Boris Johnson said traditional tea breaks and meeting in club changing rooms could pose a risk of spreading Covid-19 while speaking on LBC Radio this morning

‘It’s the teas, it’s the changing rooms and so on and so forth. There are other factors involved that generate proximity which you might not get in a game of tennis.’ 

The England and Wales Cricket Board said the risks of exposure to coronavirus while playing the sport were very low. 

The ECB said: ‘We believe that cricket is a non-contact sport, with very low risks of exposure, and that it can be played as safely as many other activities being currently permitted.

‘We believe this advice – allied with strict hygiene measures – means recreational cricket should be viewed as safe by the UK government, which would be welcome news to our nation’s recreational cricketers.’ 

Boris Johnson pleads with revellers to be ‘sensible’ when pubs reopen tomorrow


Boris Johnson has today pleaded with Britons to be ‘sensible’ when pubs reopen on ‘Super Saturday’ as police brace for chaos.

The PM said he wanted people to use the loosening of lockdown in England from tomorrow to ‘enjoy summer’.

But he insists that the success of the move is down to whether people act ‘responsibly’, urging the public not to ‘let down’ the sectors of the economy that desperately need to reopen safely.

Mr Johnson made the appeal in an LBC radio phone-in this morning as a poll by ITVs Good Morning Britain (GMB) showed nearly 90 per cent of voters are dubbing tomorrow ‘Stupid Saturday’ instead of ‘Super Saturday’. 

Social media users appear far from excited about pubs in England reopening, with many tweeting they will keep clear of boozers tomorrow. 

Speaking in a phone-in on LBC radio this morning, Boris Johnson said he wanted people to use the loosening of lockdown in England from tomorrow to ‘enjoy summer’

A poll by ITV's Good Morning Britain (GMB) shows that nearly 90 per cent of voters are choosing to dub 'Super Saturday' as 'Stupid Saturday instead'

A poll by ITV’s Good Morning Britain (GMB) shows that nearly 90 per cent of voters are choosing to dub ‘Super Saturday’ as ‘Stupid Saturday instead’

Punters are pictured out drinking by Wandsworth Common in London at The Althorpe pub

Punters are pictured out drinking by Wandsworth Common in London at The Althorpe pub

Mr Johnson said there was a need to proceed ‘carefully and cautiously’. 

‘Tomorrow we come to step three of the plan that I set out on May 10, that everybody, I think, has understood, or huge numbers of people have understood and followed very carefully and very closely,’ he told LBC.

‘And it’s because people stuck to that plan that we’re now able to carefully and cautiously open up hospitality tomorrow. And my message is really for people to enjoy summer sensibly and make sure that it all works.’  

The PM will use a Downing Street press conference today to warn that the Government could ‘put on the brakes’ and bring back severe restrictions if there is a surge in cases, as has been witnessed in Leicester. 

The relaxation in England is set to be a key test of the progress made by imposing draconian restrictions on March 23 to halt the spread of Covid-19.   

A member of staff at The Althorp by Wandsworth Common wears PPE while serving customers

A member of staff at The Althorp by Wandsworth Common wears PPE while serving customers

Social media users tweeted that they will be keeping clear of pubs in England tomorrow

Social media users tweeted that they will be keeping clear of pubs in England tomorrow

Official pleas for calm tomorrow are being echoed by the public, as social media users tweet about keeping clear of pubs in England on ‘Super Saturday’. 

One person tweeted: ‘Why is the reopening of pubs tomorrow being called Super Saturday? Carnage Saturday seems more appropriate.’

Another commented: ‘Is anyone actually going to the pub tomorrow or are they are all doing the same thing and “wait until it dies down”?’

‘#StayHomeSaturday #ProtectNHS,’ one tweet read. ‘StopTheSpread. Drink at home, don’t risk spreading Covid-19 please.’

Another commented ‘if I see anyone going to the pubs on reopening I will unfriend u on sight’, while one said: ‘The list time this country had a super Saturday, we were celebrating incredible sports people winning gold medals. Now they are using the phrase to celebrate pubs reopening and people most probably getting drunk. 

‘Change the phrase, because tomorrow is not going to be super.’ 

Pub landlord  William Douglas told GMB today that he has chosen not to reopen Docks Beer in Grimsby amid concerns for health and safety.  

Social media users tweeted that they will be keeping clear of pubs in England tomorrow

Social media users tweeted that they will be keeping clear of pubs in England tomorrow

‘We’ve put a lot of thought into this, he said. ‘We feel now is not the right time for is. We’d like to avoid that first wave of enthusiasm as people return to the pubs on what is typically the busiest drinking day of the week.

‘Our first concern is the health and safety of our staff and customers. 

‘We announced on social media a few days that we wouldn’t be reopening on July 4 and would be delaying reopening. We had hundreds of messages of support and no negative feedback, so we feel that decision is vindicated.

‘We are taking a “wait and see” approach. It will be later in July and possibly even in August. We are mindful of that spike in Leicester. 

‘We hear that Doncaster down the road, 53 miles down the road from us, is not far behind. This disease has not gone away. 

‘We’re one of the busiest pubs in North East Lincolnshire and when we do reopen it is absolutely essential that we do so with all the correct processes in place and we can manage what can be up to 400 people in this building – which is a challenge.’

Tomorrow is expected to be a wash-out as pubs in England reopen after months of lockdown

Tomorrow is expected to be a wash-out as pubs in England reopen after months of lockdown

Today, Mr Johnson will paint the easing as a means of supporting the livelihoods of bosses and their employees but warn ‘we are not out of the woods yet’.

‘They are our local restaurants, hairdressers, libraries, museums, cinemas, and yes, pubs. They are also hotels, B&Bs, indeed much of our tourism industry,’ he will say, according to an extract released to the media ahead of the speech.

‘All these businesses and their workers have put in a heroic effort to prepare their venues for this reopening, to work out a way to trade in a way that keeps their customers safe.

‘But the success of these businesses, the livelihoods of those who rely on them, and ultimately the economic health of the whole country is dependent on every single one of us acting responsibly. We must not let them down.

‘The virus is still with us and the spike in Leicester has shown that. If it starts running out of control again the Government will not hesitate in putting on the brakes and re-imposing restrictions.

‘Anyone who flouts social distancing and Covid-secure rules is not only putting us all at risk but letting down those businesses and workers who have done so much to prepare for this new normal.’

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said Mr Johnson’s message was that people should not ‘overdo it’.

Asked if Mr Johnson would be visiting a pub or restaurant tomorrow, the spokesman said: ‘He’s talked about his enthusiasm for a haircut and pint previously but I don’t know exactly what he’s doing on Saturday yet.’

The spokesman added that it would be ‘plain for all to see next week what he’s been doing at the weekend’ if he gets his blonde mop trimmed over the weekend.

It comes after the Treasury was forced to delete a tweet from its official account on Wednesday evening urging people to ‘grab a drink and raise a glass, pubs are reopening their doors from 4 July’.

A Treasury source said: ‘We got it wrong on this and the tweet was quickly removed.’

Boris Johnson pleads with Britons to be ‘sensible’ when pubs reopen


‘Don’t let everyone down’: Boris Johnson pleads with Britons to be ‘sensible’ when pubs reopen on ‘Super Saturday’ with police braced for chaos and fears of coronavirus case surge

  • Boris Johnson has appealed for the public to show restraint on ‘Super Saturday’
  • Lockdown easing in England from tomorrow with pubs set to open once more
  • The PM said people should ‘enjoy summer sensibly’ and amid fears of chaos 

Boris Johnson today pleaded with Britons to be ‘sensible’ when pubs reopen on ‘Super Saturday’ as police brace for chaos.

The PM said he wanted people to use the loosening of lockdown in England from tomorrow to ‘enjoy summer’.

But he insists that the success of the move is down to whether people act ‘responsibly’, urging the public not to ‘let down’ the sectors of the economy that desperately need to reopen safely.

Mr Johnson made the appeal in an LBC radio phone in this morning, and will take a Downing Street press conference later ahead of the easing.

He will warn that the Government could ‘put on the brakes’ and bring back severe restrictions if there is a surge in cases, as has been witnessed in Leicester.

Speaking in a phone-in on LBC radio this morning, Boris Johnson said he wanted people to use the loosening of lockdown in England from tomorrow to ‘enjoy summer’

Punters are pictured out drinking by Wandsworth Common in London at The Althorpe pub serving take away beers

Punters are pictured out drinking by Wandsworth Common in London at The Althorpe pub serving take away beers

The draconian restrictions imposed on March 23 curbed Covid-19’s spread by drastically reducing the people’s contacts, but the relaxation in England is set to be a key test of the progress.

Mr Johnson said there was a need to proceed ‘carefully and cautiously’. 

‘Tomorrow we come to step three of the plan that I set out on May 10, that everybody, I think, has understood, or huge numbers of people have understood and followed very carefully and very closely,’ he told LBC.

‘And it’s because people stuck to that plan that we’re now able to carefully and cautiously open up hospitality tomorrow.

‘And my message is really for people to enjoy summer sensibly and make sure that it all works.’ 

Mr Johnson will paint the easing as a means of supporting the livelihoods of bosses and their employees but warn ‘we are not out of the woods yet’.

‘They are our local restaurants, hairdressers, libraries, museums, cinemas, and yes, pubs. They are also hotels, B&Bs, indeed much of our tourism industry,’ he will say, according to an extract released to the media ahead of the speech.

‘All these businesses and their workers have put in a heroic effort to prepare their venues for this reopening, to work out a way to trade in a way that keeps their customers safe.

‘But the success of these businesses, the livelihoods of those who rely on them, and ultimately the economic health of the whole country is dependent on every single one of us acting responsibly. We must not let them down.

A member of staff at The Althorp by Wandsworth Common wears PPE as she approaches customers

A member of staff at The Althorp by Wandsworth Common wears PPE as she approaches customers

‘The virus is still with us and the spike in Leicester has shown that. If it starts running out of control again the Government will not hesitate in putting on the brakes and re-imposing restrictions.

‘Anyone who flouts social distancing and Covid-secure rules is not only putting us all at risk but letting down those businesses and workers who have done so much to prepare for this new normal.’

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said Mr Johnson’s message was that people should not ‘overdo it’.

Asked if Mr Johnson would be visiting a pub or restaurant tomorrow, the spokesman said: ‘He’s talked about his enthusiasm for a haircut and pint previously but I don’t know exactly what he’s doing on Saturday yet.’

The spokesman added that it would be ‘plain for all to see next week what he’s been doing at the weekend’ if he gets his blonde mop trimmed over the weekend.

It comes after the Treasury was forced to delete a tweet from its official account on Wednesday evening urging people to ‘grab a drink and raise a glass, pubs are reopening their doors from 4 July’.

A Treasury source said: ‘We got it wrong on this and the tweet was quickly removed.’

Birthplace of Lord Palmerston goes on sale in London for £14.8m 


While it is not quite 10 Downing Street, prospective buyers with deep pockets can own a slice of political history as a London home that was the birthplace of former Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, is now on the market.

The six bedroom home is located in Queen Anne’s Gate, overlooking St James’s Park, an area regarded as one of the best-preserved areas of eighteenth century domestic architecture in London.

Currently listed at £14.85million by estate agent Savills, the Grade I listed property, that dates back between 1775 and 1778, is distinguished by a blue plaque marking it as the birth place of Lord Palmerston.

Palmerston was Prime Minister twice – from 1855 to 1858 and 1859 to 1865 – and was well known for his liberal approach to foreign policy. 

The library features a delicately painted ceiling by renowned Swiss artist Angelica Kauffman

The Grade I listed property has a blue plaque marking it as the birth place of Lord Palmerston, a former Prime Minister

Located in the heart of London, the property is situated directly parallel to the Birdcage Walk and St James’s Park, close to world renowned and iconic landmarks such as the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace.

It is also just a short walk away from Big Ben, St James’ Palace and the River Thames. 

Restored as a family home in 2000 to 2003, the house also boasts many significant, historical architectural features including ceiling paintings in the drawing room and library by renowned Swiss painter Angelica Kauffman.

Kauffman is well known for being one of the two female founders of the Royal Academy of Arts in London in 1768.  

Other stand out features of the house include carved fireplaces of marble and Sicilian jasper, a central sandstone staircase with iron balustrading and a delicate mahogany rail with cupola above.

A wine cellar and further under pavement storage vaults is also situated in the home. 

The drawing room has paintings on the ceilings by Angelica Kauffman, one of the female founders of the Royal Academy

The drawing room has paintings on the ceilings by Angelica Kauffman, one of the female founders of the Royal Academy

The spacious master bedroom comes with a fitted fireplace and large windows with stunning views

The spacious master bedroom comes with a fitted fireplace and large windows with stunning views

The light and airy sitting room in the property that was restored as a family home in 2000 to 2003

The light and airy sitting room in the property that was restored as a family home in 2000 to 2003

The property has six floors and comes with six bedrooms, eight bathrooms as well as three grand rooms – a ground floor dining room, first floor drawing room and library.

It also has a private garden which is accessible from the kitchen and is licensed from the Royal Parks Authority, meaning the homeowner has direct access to St James’s Park. 

The current annual license fee for the garden is £960 per annum but this is subject to review. 

Another of the main selling points of the home are the two private terraces that provide an excellent vantage point to view many of London’s most renowned landmarks and events.

The stairwell of the house in Queen Anne's Gate

The stairwell of the house in Queen Anne's Gate

The central sandstone staircase with iron balustrading and a delicate mahogany rail with cupola above

The six bedroom home is in an area regarded as one of the best-preserved areas of eighteenth century domestic architecture

The six bedroom home is in an area regarded as one of the best-preserved areas of eighteenth century domestic architecture

The property comes with a spacious kitchen dining area with views of St James's Park, London

The property comes with a spacious kitchen dining area with views of St James’s Park, London

The owner will be able to see all the way from Whitehall to the London Eye as well as watch the London Marathon and New Year’s Eve Fire work display. 

The house is also just 0.1 miles away from St James’s Park tube station and only 0.3 miles away from Westminster tube stop, making it incredibly easy to get around the capital.  

Those with children will not have to look far as Westminster Abbey Choir School, a boarding preparatory school for boys, and St Matthew’s School, a primary school in Westminster are both nearby. 

The average price for a property in Queen Anne’s Gate is currently £5,887,579, according to property website Zoopla, more than twenty times more expensive than the average property price in the whole of the UK which sits at £286,126. 

The view of the property from the outside

Some of the views from the rooftop terrace

The views from the property’s rooftop terrace show a great stretch of London including the London Eye 

The upstairs rooftop terrace of the property has great views of St James's Park and other London sights

The upstairs rooftop terrace of the property has great views of St James’s Park and other London sights

The private garden area, which is accessible through the kitchen, is licensed by the Royal Parks Authority

The private garden area, which is accessible through the kitchen, is licensed by the Royal Parks Authority

Matthew Morton-Smith, head of Savills Westminster office, said: ‘Featuring stunning examples of 18th Century architecture and located on one of the best streets in Westminster, this home offers a unique opportunity for someone to buy one of the most historic townhouses currently available.

‘Situated on picturesque Queen Anne’s Gate, this home features terraces and a garden overlooking the iconic St James’s Park. 

‘And while its location offers tranquil views onto green open spaces, the home is also close to world renowned landmarks such as the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace.

‘In addition to its desirable location and architectural significance, the home offers unique history being the birthplace of former Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston. 

‘But the standout feature has to be the home’s museum-quality ceilings painted by Angelica Kauffman, one of the two female founding members of the Royal Academy.’ 

Who was Lord Palmerston? 

Lord Palmerston was Prime Minister between 1855 to 1858 and 1859 to 1865 as well as being a long serving Foreign Secretary

Lord Palmerston was Prime Minister between 1855 to 1858 and 1859 to 1865 as well as being a long serving Foreign Secretary

Lord Palmerston, born Henry John Temple, served as Foreign Secretary for years before first becoming Prime Minister in 1855.  

He was over 70, making him the oldest serving Prime Minister, when he took on the role as a member of the Whigs party.

He took over from George Hamilton-Gordon, a Conservative, making him the 35th Prime Minister. 

The newspapers at the time described Palmerston as ‘no-nonsense’ and supported his ‘manly’ yet liberal approach to foreign policy. 

Palmerston was known for bringing the Crimean War to a generally successful conclusion and passing the Matrimonial Causes Act 1857, which for the first time made it possible for courts to grant a divorce and removed divorce from the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical courts. 

After this, Palmerston introduced a Conspiracy to Murder bill, which made it a felony to plot in Britain to murder someone abroad. 

At first reading, the Conservatives voted for it but at second reading they voted against it. 

Palmerston lost by nineteen votes and therefore, in February 1858, he was forced to resign. 

He later became Prime Minister again in 1859 but this time as a member of the Liberal party. 

In this time, he passed the Offences against the Person Act 1861, which codified and reformed the law, and was part of a wider process of consolidating criminal law.  

He also passed the Companies Act 1862 which was the basis of modern company law. 

Palmerston died whilst still in office, at the age of 80, and was succeeded by John Russell, also a member of the Liberal party.  

Half of Britons tested at home ‘don’t get results for at least FOUR DAYS’


Half of Britons with tell-tale Covid-19 symptoms don’t get test results for at least four days after they first become ill, it emerged today. 

Scientists have warned the huge delays are rendering Number 10’s contact tracing scheme useless, and could allow the epidemic to spiral back out of control. 

SAGE says close contacts need to be tracked down and told to self isolate within 24 hours of interacting with a coronavirus-infected patient. 

Any longer than that risks allowing people to unknowingly infect countless others, making it impossible for tracers to hunt down every contact. 

But it is currently taking 96 hours before the track and trace process even begins on many symptomatic patients, The Telegraph reports. 

This is because of the time it takes to ship tests, process the results, and pass them on to the government’s contact-tracing scheme. It doesn’t account for any postal delays or faulty samples, which can make it take even longer. 

The Government has repeatedly failed to hit its own testing targets throughout the crisis, after struggling to bump swabs up to 100,000 a day in April then missing it for eight days straight in May.

The Prime Minister promised on June 3 that every coronavirus test would be turned around within a day by the end of the month.

Half of home Covid-19 tests are taking four or more days to give a diagnosis, it emerged today as Boris Johnson fails on his promise to process all swabs in 24 hours

But Number 10 has so far failed to provide any data on progress towards hitting the target with the deadline now having passed. 

The first set of what will be weekly statistics on the 24 hour target will be published today — but they will only cover the period between June 18-24. 

That means it will not become clear until the end of next week, when the second set of data will be published, if the target was met by June 30. 

Asked yesterday if the Government does not yet know if the target was met by the deadline, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman told MailOnline: ‘I don’t, no.’

Dr David Bonsall, of Oxford University, who has been advising the Government on contact tracing, told The Telegraph: ‘We have made it clear from the very start that speed is absolutely critical, we have got to find people before they infect others. 

‘Our modelling shows that we have to turn tests around within 24 hours from the point of symptoms. If it is taking four days to turn tests around, contact tracing will have very little effect on the virus.’ 

Modelling by Dr Bonsall’s team at Oxford found that taking longer than two days after a person showed Covid-19 symptoms to track their contacts halved the number of cases that were caught. 

If a contact was not traced within six days then tracking them down would be useless because the are likely to have already passed it on to others, they found. 

Was Leicester’s Covid surge down to more TESTING? Public Health England say increase in tests may be behind part of the increase that was not caused by any specific outbreak 

There is no obvious source for a recent rise in coronavirus cases in Leicester and the growing number of people found carrying the virus could partly be due to a ‘growth in availability of testing’ in the city, a bombshell report revealed today.

Public Health England’s investigation also found ‘no explanatory outbreaks in care homes, hospital settings, or industrial processes’ after the rise in infections led to the UK’s first local lockdown. 

The report reveals that about half of all cases were among Asian or British Asian people living in Leicester, and focussed in the east of the city, where BAME communities make up two-thirds of the local population.

It came as official figures published last night showed that coronavirus positive tests in England are down from 10.7 cases per 100,000 population to 6.7 in just a week – a drop of 37.4 per cent based on the latest available figures.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock tightened restrictions across Leicester and nearby suburbs on Monday, ordering non-essential shops to close and urging people not to travel in or out of the area.

The PHE report found an increase in the number of people aged under 19 who had been infected in the East Midlands city, from 5 per cent of all cases in mid-May to 15 per cent in June, and a similar increase in infections among working-age people.

The report said the increase in positive tests is ‘probably linked, in part, to the availability of testing to the general public’. 

The majority of tests have been carried out in hospitals and in care homes, with more than 9.6million swabs handed out to patients, residents and staff – known as ‘Pillar 1’ testing.

Home tests of symptomatic cases have accounted for more than 2.8 million tests, half of the Government’s ‘Pillar 2’ testing scheme for people in the community.

Drive-through centres, which make up the rest of ‘Pillar 2’ tests, have so far accounted for 2.1million swabs. 

Yesterday there were 146,624 Pillar 2 swabs done in the community, more than 100,000 of which were home swabs. 

Mr Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock have faced questions throughout the pandemic over the amount of time it takes for people to get their test results.  

The Prime Minister was grilled on the issue in the House of Commons on June 3 by former health secretary Jeremy Hunt. 

Mr Hunt asked the Prime Minister to reveal how many tests were being processed within 24 hours and to commit to publishing that number on a regular basis. 

Mr Johnson replied: ‘The answer is that we already turn around 90 per cent of tests within 48 hours. 

‘The tests conducted at the 199 testing centres, as well as the mobile test centres, are all done within 24 hours, and I can undertake to him now to get all tests turned around in 24 hours by the end of June, except for difficulties with postal tests or insuperable problems like that.’

But the Government has failed to disclose whether they count their 24-hour target from the moment the test is taken or when a person develops symptoms and asks to have a test.

Professor John Newton – who was made leader of the UK’s testing programme in April – said the latter strategy was crucial to curbing the epidemic. 

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘We’ve rapidly expanded our testing capability into a world-beating industry and anyone with symptoms can now get a test.

‘There has been consistent improvement in testing turnaround times and these will be published in the next NHS Test and Trace figures.’

Downing Street has been repeatedly pressed in recent days to give an update on whether the Government was on track to hit the end of June target. However, data on the issue has not been released.

The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman was yesterday unable to say whether the pledge had been met.

The spokesman said: ‘We said that was something that we wanted to achieve by the end of the month and we’re talking to Department of Health and Social Care about how we can make that data available.

‘We’ve been working to turn around those test results as quickly as possible but I don’t have those figures for you.’

The Government’s failure to set out any progress which may have been made towards hitting the target has prompted concerns that the deadline has not been met. 

Mr Hunt has previously written to the Prime Minister seeking an update and reassurances that efforts were on track. 

Last week the Tory chairman of the Health Select Committee said: ‘Test and Trace needs rapid turnaround of test results to be effective so I am concerned that I have still not had a reply to my earlier letter to the Prime Minister asking for data on 24 hour test turnaround.

‘Today I have written again asking him to confirm that we are on track to meet his 24 hour turnaround target by the end of June.’  

More Weight Watchers diets could be prescribed on the NHS as Boris Johnson looks to slim down nation


More Weight Watchers diets could be prescribed on the NHS as Boris Johnson looks at slimming down the nation after his coronavirus battle convinced him to shape up

  • NHS could prescribe more Weight Watchers plans to tackle national obesity
  • Current plans are only given to those people at risk of Type 2 Diabetes
  • People will also be encouraged to take 30 minutes of exercise every day
  • Another possible idea is a watershed ban on all junk food adverts on TV 

More overweight people could be prescribed Weight Watchers diet plans as part of a new drive to tackle obesity.

Boris Johnson is considering options to slim down the nation after his own brush with death from coronavirus convinced him to lose weight.

NHS prescriptions of Weight Watchers plans are currently only given to those at risk of Type 2 diabetes. They get nine months of help at a subsidised price.

Downing Street is considering plans to put more people on the diet, which involves counting points for different foods.

NHS prescriptions of Weight Watchers plans are currently only given to those at risk of Type 2 diabetes. They get nine months of help at a subsidised price. Downing Street is considering plans to put more people on the diet

Obesity has been flagged as a major risk factor for coronavirus, with researchers finding that obese people have a 37 per cent higher risk of dying from it. One in four Britons is obese.

Those who need to shed the pounds will also be encouraged to take 30 minutes exercise a day – just as they are encouraged to eat their five-a-day fruit and vegetables.

This could involve following the exercise regime in a Joe Wicks video or doing another form of intense exercise.

The Prime Minister is understood to favour nudging people in the right direction, as opposed to using sugar taxes or bans on food.

Instead, there will be a plan to push people to do more to slim down, such as following exercise videos, taking walks and cycling. The plan is said to be still in the early days, but the Department for Health and Social Care has been asked to submit ideas to No10.

There will be a plan to push people to do more to slim down, such as following exercise videos, taking walks and cycling (stock image)

There will be a plan to push people to do more to slim down, such as following exercise videos, taking walks and cycling (stock image)

The initiative could be spearheaded by GPs as they are the first port of call for patients who are overweight.

Other possible ideas include a watershed pre-9pm ban on junk food ads and the end of buy-one-get-one-free food ads.

Mr Johnson, a critic of state intervention, is said to have had a change of heart after blaming his own hospitalisation on being overweight, saying people should not be a ‘fatty in their 50s’.

Mr Johnson told Times Radio: ‘We will be happier and fitter and more resistant to diseases like Covid if we can tackle obesity.’ He said Britons were ‘significantly fatter’ than most Europeans, adding: ‘It’s a serious national issue.’

Meanwhile, figures suggest that lockdown has seen a huge surge in the number of aspiring runners. More than 858,000 people downloaded the Couch to 5K app between March and the end of June – a 92 per cent increase on the same period in 2019 when the app was downloaded 448,000 times.

The Public Health England app, which gives guided commentary from a virtual coach, is designed for beginners and encourages them to incrementally increase the amount they run each week. 

Other possible ideas include a watershed pre-9pm ban on junk food ads and the end of buy-one-get-one-free food ads (stock image)

Other possible ideas include a watershed pre-9pm ban on junk food ads and the end of buy-one-get-one-free food ads (stock image)

Boris Johnson gives the EU three months to seal Brexit deal as face-to-face talks resume in Brussels


Boris Johnson gives the EU three months to seal a Brexit trade deal as face-to-face talks resume in Brussels

  • The UK and the European Union are in currently talks over a Brexit trade deal
  • UK PM Boris Johnson has set a deadline of three months to conclude the talks
  • UK chief Brexit negotiator David Frost will take over as National Security Adviser
  • Mr Frost travelled to Brussels for EU talks and takes over from Sir Mark Sedwill 

Boris Johnson set a three-month deadline for concluding Brexit trade deal talks yesterday, as face-to-face negotiations resumed in Brussels.

Downing Street said the Prime Minister would not allow the talks to run beyond September because it would leave businesses with too little time to prepare for the end of the transition period in December.

No 10 confirmed that the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator, David Frost, will start his new job as the PM’s national security adviser at the end of August.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson (pictured) has set a deadline of three months for Brexit talks with the European Union to conclude

Mr Frost will not be replaced, but indicated that the Brexit negotiations would remain his top priority ‘until those negotiations have concluded’.

The PM’s official spokesman said this could mean Mr Frost doing both jobs for a time, but stressed this would be for a very limited period at most.

‘Talks can’t go on into the autumn,’ he said. Asked how long negotiations could continue, the spokesman said the PM was clear about ‘not wanting to be continuing having talks in October’.

The move sets a tight timescale for concluding negotiations. The deadline for extending the transition period beyond the end of this year expires today, and the PM’s spokesman confirmed the mechanism would not be triggered.

Downing Street also confirmed today that the UK's chief Brexit negotiator, David Frost (pictured), will begin his new role as PM's national security advisor at the end of August

Downing Street also confirmed today that the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator, David Frost (pictured), will begin his new role as PM’s national security advisor at the end of August

This means that the UK will be fully out of the EU by January 1, with or without a trade deal. No deal would result in both sides levying tariffs on each other’s goods.

The PM had originally threatened to walk away from the talks at the end of this month unless a deal was in sight. 

But officials acknowledge that the original timetable has been affected by the pandemic. 

The new deadline emerged as Mr Frost travelled to Brussels for the first face-to-face negotiations with his EU counterpart Michel Barnier since the lockdown began.

Until now, talks have been held via video link – a process Mr Frost believes has hindered progress. He warned that ‘some of the EU’s unrealistic positions will have to change’.

He added: ‘UK sovereignty, over our laws, courts, or our fishing waters, is not up for discussion.’ 

The talks are stalled over the EU’s refusal to recognise the UK’s right to control its waters and set its own laws.

Mr Frost (pictured left) travelled to Brussels today to have face-to-face talks with his EU counterpart Michel Barnier (right)

Mr Frost (pictured left) travelled to Brussels today to have face-to-face talks with his EU counterpart Michel Barnier (right)

Brussels wants EU trawlers to be guaranteed their current fishing rights in perpetuity, while the Government is insisting we should determine access on an annual basis. 

The EU also wants a ‘level playing field’, in which the UK would not cut red tape imposed by Brussels.

Mr Frost made clear he was not interested in a ‘compromise’ plan, which would give Brussels the right to impose tariffs if the UK departed from EU regulations after Brexit.

He added: ‘The Government will not agree to ideas like the one currently circulating.’

The UK has tabled a separate compromise which would allow the EU to levy tariffs on a small number of ‘sensitive’ agricultural products in return for dropping its ‘level playing field’ demands.

Weekly talks will now take place throughout July, with the venue alternating between Brussels and London.

Do press-ups really mean you’re ‘fit as a butcher’s dog’?


One of the most striking pictures of the weekend was the sight of the Prime Minister prone on the floor of his Downing Street office. He was in fact proving that he is full of beans after his near-death experience with Covid, by performing press-ups in an interview with The Mail on Sunday.

As a result, his opposite number, Sir Keir Starmer, has now challenged Boris to a ‘first to 50’ press-up competition at the next Prime Minister’s Questions.

While you might conclude that this is all no more than testosterone-fuelled nonsense, it has raised an intriguing question: are press-ups really the key to fitness?

Their advantage, of course, is that you don’t need a gym or any kit to do them, which is why they have been a staple in fitness routines and military training for decades.

One of the most striking pictures of the weekend was the sight of the Prime Minister prone on the floor of his Downing Street office. He was in fact proving that he is full of beans after his near-death experience with Covid, by performing press-ups in an interview with The Mail on Sunday

But Dr Richard Blagrove, a sports scientist who lectures in physiology at the University of Loughborough, says they’re not a measure of fitness, adding that they simply ‘give an indication of muscle strength’.

Press-ups say very little about how well your heart and cardiovascular system work (important for avoiding heart disease), for example, or how good your lung capacity is — an important question for Boris, given that he has had Covid-19.

‘I’ve worked with a lot of long-distance runners and typically, they can’t do many press-ups — some can’t do ten,’ says Dr Blagrove. ‘But no one would suggest they aren’t incredibly fit.’

We would all ideally have a balance of strength and cardiovascular fitness — although as we get older, says Dr Blagrove, improving strength has the edge, as it is important to moderate the wasting effect of age on muscles.

Functional strength, such as getting out of chairs and climbing stairs, starts to decrease as we get into our 60s, 70s and 80s, so weight-bearing moves such as press-ups are key, he adds.

Press-ups say very little about how well your heart and cardiovascular system work (important for avoiding heart disease), for example, or how good your lung capacity is — an important question for Boris, given that he has had Covid-19

Press-ups say very little about how well your heart and cardiovascular system work (important for avoiding heart disease), for example, or how good your lung capacity is — an important question for Boris, given that he has had Covid-19

Press-ups should be done alongside other strength moves, but are better than the plank as an overall strength exercise.

With the plank — the technique reportedly preferred by Boris Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May — you lie on your front and raise yourself on to your toes and forearms or palms, keeping your back flat and holding the position. The instability created by this posture means you tighten your back and stomach muscles to stop your middle sagging towards the floor.

This engages muscles deep in the abdomen, strengthening and toning them. People sometimes hold the pose for too long, though, so the stomach muscles tire and pull on the back, which can cause or aggravate pain there.

So if you were going to see how many press-ups you could do, how do you know what is a good tally?

AT-HOME FITNESS CHECKS

Press-ups are not the only measure of strength and wellbeing — try these other DIY tests…

SIT DOWN, STAND UP

Sit on a chair and put your weight on one leg. Try to stand up and sit down again as many times as you can. This tests the strength of your leg muscles, which are crucial for maintaining mobility. Focus on matching or improving the number you can do.

TOE-TOUCH TEST

Sit on the floor with your back against a wall. Bend forward to touch your toes. If you are over 40 and can’t get near them, you could be more at risk of heart disease. A 2009 study in Japan found that middle-aged and older people with poor flexibility also had stiff arteries (maybe due to less movement of blood and oxygen in the body, including to the heart).

FIND THE IDEAL EXERCISE FOR YOU…

Get a piece of chalk. Stand side-on to a wall and reach up as high as you can with the hand closest to the wall. Chalk a line. Then stand a little away from the wall, jump as high as possible and mark where you reach — try this three to five times.

Measure the distance between the first point and the highest point.

Our muscles contain two types of fibres, which control the type of movement we do best. This test can give a clue as to which type dominates in your body.

A gap of more than 50cm for men or 41cm for women means you are likely to have more fast-twitch fibres; a smaller jump means more slow-twitch fibres.

Fast-twitch types are generally better at explosive exercise, such as sprinting or tennis; slow-twitch types usually do better at endurance exercise, such as long-distance running or cycling. 

For an athlete, male or female, the gold standard is to be able to do more than 50 press-ups, keeping the correct shape. About 30 is satisfactory. Speed is not especially important, says Dr Blagrove.

How many press-ups the rest of us should be able to do depends on age. The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology lists averages for different ages, figures you’ll often see repeated on websites: over the age of 50, the average man can usually do 10-12 press-ups, the average woman 7-10. Over 60 this becomes 8-10 for men and 5-11 for women. They say six or fewer for a man of 50-plus and one or fewer for a woman ‘requires improvement’.

Being able to do the ‘right’ number for your age is a good sign of your strength, but it still doesn’t say a lot about how truly healthy you are, suggests Dr Blagrove.

In fact, the press-up has recently been removed from the Army entrance fitness tests, replaced with lifting and throwing exercises. Nonetheless, show Boris’s performance to a soldier and they might scoff. His arm placement is unorthodox and his hips are sagging — signs of a weak core and poor technique.

Dr Blagrove says the back should remain straight, elbows close to the body, and the movement should be controlled.

So if Boris and Keir do give us 50 in Parliament, it will be how well they do them that matters, not how fast or how many.

‘My guess is their technique will be awful and they’ll say: ‘I got to 50′, but it was through bad range [not levering down or pushing back up with the elbow fully extended] and won’t really resemble a press-up,’ says Dr Blagrove.

‘What most people do wrong is lead with their chin — the head shoots forward and their face gets to the ground before their chest.

‘We also tend to see the elbows flare out, which is detrimental to shoulder health — keeping them in is harder, as it uses muscles around the chest, which are weak in most people. And you must keep the trunk stiff and stable.’

Lara Milward, a London-based fitness coach, suggests: ‘If you can’t do a full press-up, try with your knees on the floor but keep the body in the same straight line.’

To make it easier still, move your knees closer to your chest, says Dr Blagrove, and gradually farther away from your chest. Go carefully, especially if you have shoulder problems or severe neck pain.

And press-ups should not be the only exercise you do — you must match pushing exercises with the same amount of pulling to prevent muscular imbalances.

As an example of a ‘pulling’ exercise at home, Dr Blagrove suggests gripping each side of a door fame, leaning back slightly, then pulling yourself forward.

Or there is the classic pull-up. ‘Just find a bar to use — perhaps the crossbar of a goal,’ says Dr Blagrove. ‘Anything that won’t snap in half when you hang off it!’

HOW TO DO A PRESS-UP: OUR STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE 

To do a press-up properly, start in a plank position — lie on your front and raise yourself on to your toes and palms, hands shoulder-width apart on the floor, arms straight from shoulder to palm. Keep your body straight from heel to head with your abdominal muscles engaged.

Slowly bend your arms to 90 degrees, keeping the upper arms and elbows tucked tightly into your body. Lead with your chest, not your face.

For beginners, start in a plank position, then drop your knees, ensuring your body is straight from knees to head with your abdominal muscles engaged.

Bend your arms to 90 degrees, keeping your upper arms and elbows tucked tightly into your body as you lower. Do this as many times as you are able and you will gradually improve.

ANDREW PIERCE: Was would-be beach bum Sir Mark Sedwill washed away by ‘hard rain’ in Whitehall? 


Over a private lunch in his Downing Street flat three weeks ago, Boris Johnson persuaded the Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill that it was time to stand down.

It was an amicable conversation as Sedwill had been thinking for a while it was time to move on. The burden of the job had become too great.

The Oxford-educated 55-year-old has been the most powerful – and perhaps the busiest – civil servant of modern times.

He’s the Cabinet Secretary, the head of the civil service, the national security adviser and the first to hold all three positions at once.

But he came up against arguably the most powerful unelected adviser of modern times: Dominic Cummings – Boris’s most trusted aide.

Over a private lunch in his Downing Street flat three weeks ago, Boris Johnson persuaded the Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill (pictured together) that it was time to stand down

Only last week, Cummings paraphrased Bob Dylan to warn ‘that a hard rain is coming on Whitehall’. The civil service, he believes, is too slow, bureaucratic and has presided over ‘expensive debacle after expensive debacle’.

Cummings wrote a memo earlier this year calling for ‘weirdos and misfits’ to work in Downing Street. And Sedwill, who worked well with Boris and was popular among many colleagues, scarcely fits into that category.

One well-placed source said: ‘The lazy view will be that Cummings wants radical reform of the civil service so Sedwill had to go. But actually Sedwill had some interesting ideas of his own for changing things in the civil service.

‘In the end he is going because he’s been doing the job a long time, the workload was often overwhelming, and he agreed with the Prime Minister it was time for someone else to take over and for the job to be split.’

David Frost, the Government’s lead Brexit negotiator with the EU, will take on Sedwill’s security post.

Inevitably, there had been sharp disagreements. Boris, who inherited Sedwill from his predecessor Theresa May, had clashed with him over Brexit.

In a tense stand-off during a meeting last month, Boris (pictured) asked Sedwill: 'Who is in charge of implementing this plan? Is it you?'

In a tense stand-off during a meeting last month, Boris (pictured) asked Sedwill: ‘Who is in charge of implementing this plan? Is it you?’

The Oxford-educated 55-year-old (pictured) has been the most powerful – and perhaps the busiest – civil servant of modern times

The Oxford-educated 55-year-old (pictured) has been the most powerful – and perhaps the busiest – civil servant of modern times

‘Sedwill never made any secret of his opposition to a no deal Brexit,’ said a senior source. ‘We finally break free from the EU on December 31 with or without a deal. The PM wants someone at his right-hand side who is okay about leaving with no deal.’

One senior minister said that many would be sorry to see Sedwill go, adding: ‘I like Mark. He’s clever, he’s got a good sense of humour and he’s a ‘can-do’ figure, unlike some senior civil servants. But the PM and Cummings want things done differently. It’s why his successor may be from outside Whitehall.’

Boris also clashed with Sedwill, who fell ill with coronavirus at the same time as the PM, over the strategy for lifting lockdown. 

In a tense stand-off during a meeting last month, Boris asked Sedwill: ‘Who is in charge of implementing this plan? Is it you?’ 

After a long pause Sedwill replied: ‘No I think it’s you, Prime Minister.’

Even Sedwill’s admirers concede that at times he was overwhelmed by his workload.

‘Being the national security adviser is a huge job. But Sedwill went on a power grab, was indulged by Theresa May who let him do all three jobs, and he’s now paying the price,’ said a Whitehall official.

Yet it all could have been so different for Sedwill, who studied at St Andrews University in Scotland and gained a masters in economics at Oxford’s St Edmund Hall.

In an interview he once said that his time working as a scuba-diving instructor after graduation ‘almost prompted me to drop out and spend the rest of my life on a beach’.

But the would-be beach bum instead joined the diplomatic service, learning Arabic to serve in Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq as a UN weapons inspector.

In one of the stranger moments of his career, Sedwill was stranded in a remote part of Pakistan in 2004 after snowfall cut off all access to local roads. He ended up being the guest of honour at a polo festival, 12,000 feet up in the Himalayas.

David Frost (pictured), the Government's lead Brexit negotiator with the EU, will take on Sedwill's security post

David Frost (pictured), the Government’s lead Brexit negotiator with the EU, will take on Sedwill’s security post

Pictured: Sir Mark (second left) with Therese Coffey, Matt Hancock, Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak

Pictured: Sir Mark (second left) with Therese Coffey, Matt Hancock, Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak

In April 2008 he became ambassador to Afghanistan and was hand-picked by Nato to act as the senior civilian representative in Kabul. 

His uniform was a bulletproof flak jacket and a helmet rather than a suit and tie. With a strong security background, he doesn’t flinch from conflict. ‘Given his experience in Afghanistan, Mark would take a gun to a knife fight,’ said one Whitehall admirer.

When the Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood died in 2018, there was no doubt who would replace him.

Downing Street never even advertised the job – it always had Sedwill’s name on it.

He relished the power and wielded it ruthlessly. The former defence secretary Gavin Williamson was fired for a leak from the National Security Council over plans to allow Chinese telecoms giant Huawei to help build the UK’s 5G network.

Sedwill demanded his scalp. A source said: ‘Mark worked so closely with the military and intelligence service, some of us wonder if he had been a spy when he was in the Middle East.

‘He is intensely serious, despises leaks and leakers as Gavin Williamson discovered. With just one look, his officials know if he doesn’t like what they’re serving up.’

Brought up in a village in Lincolnshire, he was grammar-school educated and has been married for 20 years to Sarah-Jane. They have one daughter and live in south-west England where he enjoys snorkelling.

He is chairman of the Special Forces Club in Knightsbridge, which is popular with the intelligence services and the crack SAS regiment. No wonder he has such a tough streak.

On a wall in his Whitehall office there is a striking photograph of a lifeboat battling stormy waters. 

As he is eased out of his post as Cabinet Secretary, Sedwill may well be hoping to enter a calmer period in his life.