UK detective leading the hunt for Madeleine McCann says his team ‘know a lot about the suspect’


Scotland Yard detectives investigating the case of Madeleine McCann have appealed to the public for information on a new prime suspect, 13 years after her disappearance.

Investigators established that the latest male suspect lived on and off in the Algarve, Portugal, between 1995 and 2007 – in what they are calling a ‘significant development’.

The German man, currently in a German prison for an unrelated offence, is connected to the area of Praia da Luz and surrounding regions, and spent some short spells in Germany, police said in a briefing today.     

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Cranwell, who leads Operation Grange,  told the press briefing: ‘He is a German national, he’s currently in a German prison for an unrelated matter. He’s white, he’s about six foot in height. 

‘He’s 43 now. At the time he was 30, but he could have looked aged somewhere between 25 and 32.

‘There may be people in the past, who have been quite fearful of coming forward to the police, and my message is to anybody that has information. 

‘Did, did he speak to you in confidence, and tell you what happened that night? And that is my message and the message really is associated with fact he is currently in prison.

‘And this might be a good time, this is a good time, to come forward and talk to, whether it’s the UK police, whether it’s the German police or the Portuguese police.’ 

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Cranwell (pictured) told the press briefing: ‘He is a German national, he’s currently in a German prison for an unrelated matter. He’s white, he’s about six foot in height’

The suspect, who is in prison in Germany for an unrelated matter, has been linked to an early 1980s camper van - with a white upper body and yellow skirting, registered in Portugal - which was pictured in the Algarve in 2007

The suspect, who is in prison in Germany for an unrelated matter, has been linked to an early 1980s camper van – with a white upper body and yellow skirting, registered in Portugal – which was pictured in the Algarve in 2007

It is believed that the suspect, a convicted paedophile, was living in the 1980s camper van at the time of Maddie's disappearance

It is believed that the suspect, a convicted paedophile, was living in the 1980s camper van at the time of Maddie’s disappearance

Police released these pictures of the VW T3 Westfalia campervan, used in and around Praia da Luz, Portugal, by a new suspect

Police released these pictures of the VW T3 Westfalia campervan, used in and around Praia da Luz, Portugal, by a new suspect

Police are appealing for anyone who may have seen a a distinctive VW T3 Westfalia camper van in or around Praia da Luz on 3 May, the night Madeleine went missing, the days before, or weeks following her disappearance.

It is an early 1980s model, with two tone markings, a white upper body and a yellow skirting, with a Portuguese registration plate. 

The second vehicle is a 1993 British Jaguar, model XJR 6, with a German number plate and registered in Germany.

This car is believed to have been in the Praia da Luz and surrounding areas in 2006 and 2007 and was originally registered in the suspect’s name, the Met said today.

He has also been linked to a 1993 Jaguar XJR6 with a German number plate seen in Praia da Luz and surrounding areas in 2006 and 2007

He has also been linked to a 1993 Jaguar XJR6 with a German number plate seen in Praia da Luz and surrounding areas in 2006 and 2007

The Jaguar was originally registered in the suspect’s name, but the day after Madeleine’s disappearance it was re-registered to someone else in Germany. To re-register the car in Germany you don’t have to have the car in the country or region

The Jaguar was originally registered in the suspect’s name, but the day after Madeleine’s disappearance it was re-registered to someone else in Germany. To re-register the car in Germany you don’t have to have the car in the country or region

Both vehicles have been seized by German police, who say they are leading a murder investigation, although British police still insist it's a missing person inquiry

Both vehicles have been seized by German police, who say they are leading a murder investigation, although British police still insist it’s a missing person inquiry

On 4 May 2007, the day after Madeleine’s disappearance, the car was re-registered to someone else in Germany, detectives said.

To re-register the car in Germany you do not have to have the car in the country or region. Police believe the car was still in Portugal in the spring and summer of 2007.

The Met is asking for anyone who saw these cars together or individually at this time to come forward. Both these vehicles are now being held by the German authorities.

Mr Cranwell added: ‘The [campervan] colour tone is quite distinctive is quite old and probably described as a bit beaten up but it was a white upper body, and a yellow sort of lower body.

‘We know that that vehicle was in the area. Certainly the days leading up to it. And the week afterwards, I’m really interested if anybody can place that vehicle in certain areas or anywhere around Praia da Luz or surrounding areas. And did they see a German male, with that vehicle, was there anything suspicious about that? 

A photo of Maddie picking up tennis balls released by her family

A computer generated image from 2012 shows how Maddie would have looked at the age of nine

Madeleine McCann (left and right) would have turned 17 last month 

‘What we do now is that at various times he used the vehicle to live in, and certainly the week preceding he was in there, living. So he would he would move around the area using that van as probably his base.’ 

He added: ‘It’s a distinctive vehicle and i’m hoping that somebody will recognise it, even put a date to it, particularly campervan enthusiasts or anybody who just remembers the colour tone.’

German police are now in possession of the van, Mr Cranwell was unwilling to reveal whether the van had provided any forensic evidence.

Detective Mr Cranwell, said: ‘It’s more than 13 years since Madeleine went missing and none of us can imagine what it must be like for her family, not knowing what happened or where she is.

The news today has given hope to her Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry McCann (pictured together in 2017), who have never given up hope in the search for their daughter

The news today has given hope to comes as a shot in the arm to her parents Kate and Gerry McCann, who have never given up hope in the search for their daughter

‘Following the ten- year anniversary, the Met received information about a German man who was known to have been in and around Praia da Luz.

‘We have been working with colleagues in Germany and Portugal and this man is a suspect in Madeleine’s disappearance.

‘The Met conducted a number of enquiries and in November 2017 engaged with the BKA who agreed to work with the Met.

‘Since then a huge amount of work has taken place by both the Met, the BKA and the Polícia Judiciária.

Madeleine vanished from this holiday apartment in the popular Portuguese holiday resort of Praia da Luz - Apartment 5a - while her parents were with friends nearby and regularly checking on their three sleeping children

Madeleine vanished from this holiday apartment in the popular Portuguese holiday resort of Praia da Luz – Apartment 5a – while her parents were with friends nearby and regularly checking on their three sleeping children

Scotland Yard is launching a ‘major’ joint appeal with the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany (BKA) and the Portuguese Policia Judiciaria (PJ), just over 13 years after she vanished

‘While this male is a suspect we retain an open mind as to his involvement and this remains a missing person inquiry.

‘Our job as detectives is to follow the evidence, maintain an open mind and establish what happened on that day in May 2007.

‘Please contact us without delay so we can get answers for Madeleine’s family.’

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Cundy said: ‘Madeleine’s disappearance has attracted huge international interest. We are appealing for the public to help us establish what happened.

‘It is a complex investigation bringing challenges in different legal systems.

‘We are committed to do everything we can to establish what happened and to find Madeleine.’

How the disappearance of three-year-old Madeleine McCann unfolded over 13 years  

2007

May 3: Gerry and Kate McCann leave their three children, including Maddie, asleep in their hotel apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, as they eat with friends in a nearby restaurant. When they return, they find Maddie missing from her bed

May 4: A friend of the McCanns reports of seeing a man carrying a child away in the night.  Meanwhile, airports and borders are put on high alert as search gets underway

May 14: Robert Mural, a property developer who lives a few yards from the hotel, is made a suspect by Portuguese police

May 30: The McCanns meet the Pope in Rome in a bid to bring worldwide attention to the search

August 11: Police in Portugal acknowledge for the first time in the investigation that Maddie might be dead. 

September 7: Spanish police make the McCanns official suspects in the disappearance. Two days later the family flies back to England

2008

July 21: Spanish police remove the McCanns and Mr Mural as official suspects as the case is shelved

2009

May 1: A computer-generated image of what Maddie could look like two years after she disappeared is released by the McCanns 

2011

May 12: A review into the disappearance is launched by Scotland Yard, following a plea from then-Home Secretary Theresa May 

2012

April 25: After a year of reviewing the case, Scotland Yard announce they belief that Maddie could be alive and call on police in Portugal to reopen the case, but it falls on deaf ears amid ‘a lack of new evidence’

Kate and Gerry McCann mark the fourth anniversary of the disappearance of their daughter Madeleine with the publication of the book written by her mother in 2011

Kate and Gerry McCann mark the fourth anniversary of the disappearance of their daughter Madeleine with the publication of the book written by her mother in 2011

2013

July 4: Scotland Yard opens new investigation and claim to have identified 38 ‘people of interest’

October 24: A review into the investigation is opened by Portuguese police and new lines of inquiry are discovered, forcing them to reopen the case

2014

January 29: British officers arrive in Portugal as a detailed investigation takes place. During the year, several locations are searched, including an area of scrubland near the resort 

2015

October 28: British police announce that team investigating Maddie’s disappearance is reduced from 29 officers to just four, as it is also revealed that the investigation has cost £10million 

2016

April 3: Operation Grange is handed an additional £95,000 by Theresa May to keep the investigation alive for another six months  

2017

March 11: Cash is once again pumped into keeping the investigation alive, with £85,000 granted to keep it running until September, when it is extended once again until April next year

2018

March 27: The Home Office reveals it has allocated further funds to Operation Grange. The new fund is believed to be as large as £150,000

September 11: Parents fear as police hunt into daughter’s disappearance could be shelved within three weeks by the new Home Secretary amid funding cuts

September 26: Fresh hope in the search for Madeleine McCann as it emerges the Home Office is considering allocating more cash for the police to find her

2019  

April: Controversial new Netflix documentary re-examining Maddie’s kidnap is released, triggering a barrage of online abuse against Kate and Gerry by heartless trolls. They pair, who refused to take part in the eight hour programme series, slammed it for ‘potentially hindering’ the search for their daughter while an active police hunt is ongoing

June 5: The Home Office gives the Metropolitan Police enough funding to investigate for another year

June 22: Detectives say they are ‘closer than ever’ to solving the disappearance as they look into a new suspect. A joint effort by British and Portuguese police narrowed in on a ‘foreign’ man who was in the Algarve when she went missing in 2007

December 7: Paulo Pereira Cristovao, a long-time critic of Maddie’s parents who angered them with a controversial book about the mystery disappearance, was convicted of participating in the planning of two violent break-ins at properties in Lisbon and the nearby resort of Cascais. He is jailed for seven and a half years

December 11: Maddie’s revealed a touching list of what they miss most about their daughter as they spent their 13th Christmas without her

2020

February 22: Scotland Yard detectives questioned a British expat about her German ex-boyfriend. Carol Hickman, 59, claims police entered her bar in Praia da Luz, Portugal to ask questions about her former partner 

March 27: Detectives requested extra money to continue their investigation into the disappearance of the toddler in Portugal back in 2007, with funds for the operation set to run out at the end of the month

 June 3: Police reveal that a 43-year-old German prisoner has been identified as a suspect in Madeleine’s disappearance.

Covid-19 R rate rises to 1.95 in Berlin: Authorities switch ‘traffic light’ warning systems to red


The Covid-19 R rate has risen to 1.95 in Berlin prompting authorities to switch one of their ‘corona traffic light’ warning systems to red.

The number of active cases in the German capital rose to more than 300 on Tuesday, with another 35 cases recorded as compared with 23 new cases the day before.

Berlin’s Health Senator Dilek Kalayci warned there had been a ‘turnaround’ in the city, just days after he expressed his ‘horror’ after thousands went out to enjoy the weekend’s sunny weather. 

On Sunday, a protest in support of the city’s club scene turned into a huge techno party with up to 3,000 people attending in the Kreuzberg district. 

Kalayci said today that the R number was more likely to fluctuate while the total number of infections was low, but added that ‘the number of new infections is increasing, so that you can recognise a change of trend.’

The R rate in Germany as a whole is at 0.89 and would be classed as a green light (anything under 1.1).

But Berlin’s R rate is one of three traffic lights which must turn red before lockdown changes are implemented in the city. The other two being for new infections and for the proportion of intensive care patients with coronavirus.

People attend a rave in boats of all sizes to give support to Berlin’s world renowned dance clubs which are struggling due to coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic on the Landwehr canal on Sunday

Thousands attended a party on Berlin's Landwehr canal on Sunday

Thousands attended a party on Berlin’s Landwehr canal on Sunday

There were 5.1 new cases per 100,000 Berliners over the last seven days – this traffic light turns red at 30 cases – and the proportion of ICU patients is at 3.3% – the light goes red at 25%. 

WHAT IS THE R NUMBER?

Every infectious disease is given a reproduction number, which is known as R0 – pronounced ‘R nought’ – or simply R.

It is a value that represents how many people one sick person will, on average, infect if the virus is reproducing in its ideal conditions.

Most epidemiologists – scientists who track disease outbreaks – believe the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, has an R value of around 3.

But some experts analysing outbreaks across the world have estimated it could be closer to the 6.6 mark.

As an outbreak goes on, the R0 may be referred to more accurately as Re or just R, as other factors come into play to influence how well it is able to spread. 

Estimates of the COVID-19 R vary because the true size of the pandemic remains a mystery, and how fast the virus spreads depends on the environment. 

As an outbreak progress the R may simply be referred to as R, which means the effective rate of infection – the nought works on the premise that nobody in the population is protected, which becomes outdated as more people recover. 

Germany as a whole recorded another 213 cases on Tuesday, with 11 new fatalities.

It comes as the country announced it would lift a travel ban for EU member states, plus Britain, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland from June 15. 

Speaking to reporters after a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, foreign minister Heiko Maas said this was contingent on there being no entry bans or large-scale lockdowns in those countries.

Maas said all countries concerned met those criteria except Norway due to an entry ban and Spain, where he said parliament was deciding whether to extend an entry ban.

Maas said the travel warning would be replaced with guidelines, adding that Germans would be urged not to travel to Britain when not essential while a 14-day quarantine in place.

‘Travel advice is not an invitation to travel – and we want to make clear that the travel guidelines may also strongly discourage travel, for example to Britain as long as there is a 14-day quarantine for all those arriving there,’ Maas said.

‘We will continue to make the lifting of the travel warning dependent on how the situation on the ground develops,’ he said, adding new warnings could be issued if a country records more than 50 newly infected people per 100,000 over seven days.

Matthias von Randow, chief executive of the German Air Transport Association (BDL), welcomed the government’s decision to lift the blanket warning, introduced for travel worldwide in mid-March, as ‘sensible and proportionate’.

‘This is a good signal for the many people in Europe who want to go on holiday in the summer or visit friends and relatives abroad,’ he said.

‘It is also good news for 26 million men and women employed in the European travel and tourism industry’.

As Germany looks to breathe life into its tourism industry, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition today wrestled over the final details of a massive stimulus package. 

People relaxing at the Holzmarkt venue watch as a techno music thumping houseboat sails past on the Spree River during the coronavirus crisis on Sunday

People relaxing at the Holzmarkt venue watch as a techno music thumping houseboat sails past on the Spree River during the coronavirus crisis on Sunday

The number of people out of work in May rose by 238,000 to 2.875 million in seasonally adjusted terms, the data showed. A Reuters poll had predicted a rise of 200,000.

The unemployment rate jumped to 6.3% from 5.8% in April.

‘The labour market remains under immense pressure due to the coronavirus pandemic,’ Labour Office head Detlef Scheele said. But he added that unemployment did not rise as much as in April.

Companies logged requests to put 1.06 million people on reduced working hours under the government’s Kurzarbeit short-time working scheme from May 1 to May 27, the office said.

That was in addition to requests for 10.66 million people made in March and April combined, the labour office said, adding that this did not, however, mean that all of those people would actually end up on the scheme.

Audi employees working at a factory in Ingolstadt on Wednesday

Audi employees working at a factory in Ingolstadt on Wednesday

Football fans take in a match at an outdoor drive-in cinema in Cologne on Tuesday evening

Football fans take in a match at an outdoor drive-in cinema in Cologne on Tuesday evening

‘Short-time work has clearly exceeded the level of the 2009 crisis,’ Scheele said. Around 1.5 million people were on the programme back then.

Short-time work is a form of state aid that allows employers to switch employees to shorter working hours during an economic downturn to keep them on the payroll.

A poll by the Ifo economic institute published on Tuesday showed the number of workers in Germany on reduced hours had risen to 7.3 million as the pandemic affects most sectors.

Spanish tourism minister says UK must ‘improve’ its Covid record before Brits will be allowed in 


Costa BLOCKED-a! Spanish tourism minister dashes holiday dreams for thousands of Britons after saying UK government must ‘improve’ its Covid record BEFORE they will be allowed in

  • Spain’s tourism minister Maria Reyes Maroto said UK must improve Covid-19 rate
  • The prospect of Brits returning to Spanish beaches in next two weeks dashed 
  • German and Nordic countries most likely to be involved in tourism ‘test-run’
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Brits’ hopes of holidaying abroad have been dashed as the Spanish tourism minister says the UK must ‘improve’ its situation with coronavirus before tourists are allowed back. 

Maria Reyes Maroto said British tourists will not be among those participating in a proposed trial-run for allowing tourists back into the country. 

The first tourism test-run is due to take place in two weeks, ahead of the reopening of Spanish borders to holidaymakers from July 1.

Instead, she said tourists from Germany and the Nordic countries were the most likely to be permitted entry for the trial. 

Brits hopes of travelling to Spain for a holiday have been dashed as the Spanish tourism minister said the UK must improve its UK record

Maria Reyes Maroto said the Spanishand regional  governments had been in talks with holiday providers TUI and Jet2holidays

Maria Reyes Maroto said the Spanishand regional  governments had been in talks with holiday providers TUI and Jet2holidays

The tourism minister said the Spanish and regional government were in talks with holiday providers TUI and Jet2holidays about the prospect of Brits returning to the country. 

The Mirror reported she told Spanish media the likelihood of holidaymakers from the UK being the first to visit Spain were slim: ‘There the health situation still has to improve. 

‘For us it is important to guarantee that people arrive healthy and leave healthy.’

The suggestion of a ‘test-run’ for the return of tourists to the county is yet to be approved by the government but if it does get the go-ahead Mrs Reyes Maroto said Germany and the Nordic countries were most likely to be first because their ‘epidemiological situations are very good.’ 

Mrs Reyes Maroto said Germany and the Nordic countries were most likely to be the first to return as beaches in usually bustling tourist towns such as Menorca (pictured) are left emptier than usual

Mrs Reyes Maroto said Germany and the Nordic countries were most likely to be the first to return as beaches in usually bustling tourist towns such as Menorca (pictured) are left emptier than usual

The regional government in the Balearic Islands has been pressing for the trial-run return of tourists, with plans to commence the first entry from June 16. 

In its plans it has been campaigning for Madrid to allow 3,000 German holidaymakers to visit the islands.  

Also included in the proposed test-run are the Canary Islands and Mrs Reyes Maroto also has plans to incorporate areas such as Costa Blanca and Costa del Sol if the regional governments wish to be involved. 

Restrictions in Benidorm and Marbella are expected to be reduced tomorrow with the prospect of reopening beaches. 

However, Benidorm mayor Toni Perez made the decision to keep beaches closed until mid-June.  

Disco INFERNAL! Spanish nightclub bosses in holiday hotspots are furious after government says they CANNOT open along with bars, restaurants and cafés in next lockdown-easing phase 

Nightclubs and discos across Spain have been told they can’t open yet as the Spanish government does a U-turn on its easing of lockdown plan.

Owners have likened the change of heart to ‘having a jug of water thrown over us’ as they will have to wait anything up to one month to reopen their doors. 

Nighlife Spain published extensive guidelines on how clubs and discos, especially in holiday hotspots, could deal with the crowds in a post-coronavirus era. 

The Spanish government made a U-turn on its decision to allow clubs to reopen in phase three of easing lockdown rules

The Spanish government made a U-turn on its decision to allow clubs to reopen in phase three of easing lockdown rules

The guidance included clubbers dancing in their own squares, the compulsory wearing of masks, drinking through ecological straws and ‘traffic lights’ to control entrances. 

As many regions in the country head into phase three of easing restrictions the Spanish government had previously said clubs could open provided there were limits on capacity. 

But the decision was reversed yesterday even though cafes, pubs and restaurants are now open.    

Nighlife Spain has voiced its ‘incomprehension and perplexity’ at the decision and has demanded direct talks with the Ministry of Health. 

They want to get a new agreement before the majority of the country enters phase three from June 8th. 

The Spanish government hasn’t explained why clubs and discos must remain closed at the moment but not all of Spain’s nightlife disagrees with the decision. 

The Balearics asked to enter phase three without opening clubs as the islands’ government did not think it was ready to do so because of the risk to health. 

Places allowed to open with restrictions as Spain enters phase three: 

  • Bingo halls
  • Museums 
  • Zoos
  • Aquariums 
  • Nature tourism 
  •  Wakes
  • Burials
  • Shopping centres
  • Markets 
  • Sports 

Spanish tourism minister says UK must ‘improve’ its Covid record before Brits will be allowed in 


Costa BLOCKED-a! Spanish tourism minister dashes holiday dreams for thousands of Britons after saying UK government must ‘improve’ its Covid record BEFORE they will be allowed in

  • Spain’s tourism minister Maria Reyes Maroto said UK must improve Covid-19 rate
  • The prospect of Brits returning to Spanish beaches in next two weeks dashed 
  • German and Nordic countries most likely to be involved in tourism ‘test-run’
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Brits’ hopes of holidaying abroad have been dashed as the Spanish tourism minister says the UK must ‘improve’ its situation with coronavirus before tourists are allowed back. 

Maria Reyes Maroto said British tourists will not be amongst those possibly allowed into the Canary Islands and the Balearics in two weeks ahead of the reopening of Spanish borders to holidaymakers from July 1.

Instead, she said tourists from Germany and the Nordic countries were the most likely to be permitted entry for the trial-run return of holiday-goers. 

The tourism minister said the Spanish and regional government were in talks with holiday providers TUI and Jet2holidays about the prospect of Brits returning to the country. 

Brits hopes of travelling to Spain for a holiday have been dashed as the Spanish tourism minister said the UK must improve its UK record 

The Mirror reported she told Spanish media the likelihood of holidaymakers from the UK being the first to visit Spain were slim: ‘There the health situation still has to improve. 

‘For us it is important to guarantee that people arrive healthy and leave healthy.’

The suggestion of a ‘test-run’ for the return of tourists to the county is yet to be approved by the government but if it does get the go-ahead Mrs Reyes Maroto said Germany and the Nordic countries were most likely to be first because their ‘epidemiological situations are very good.’ 

The regional government in the Balearic Islands has been pressing for the trial-run return of tourists, with plans to commence the first entry from June 16. 

Mrs Reyes Maroto said Germany and the Nordic countries were most likely to be the first to return

Mrs Reyes Maroto said Germany and the Nordic countries were most likely to be the first to return 

In its plans it has been campaigning for Madrid to allow 3,000 German holidaymakers to visit the islands.  

Also included in the proposed test-run are the Canary Islands and Mrs Reyes Maroto also has plans to incorporate areas such as Costa Blanca and Costa del Sol if the regional governments wish to be involved. 

Restrictions in Benidorm and Marbella are expected to be reduced tomorrow with the prospect of reopening beaches. 

However, Benidorm mayor Toni Perez made the decision to keep beaches closed until mid-June.  

First pictures of HS2 railway line’s tunnel boring machines revealed


Revealed: First pictures of two 2,000-tonne boring machines that will dig giant tunnels 260 feet below the ground for the HS2 railway line

  • The 34-feet-long tunnelling machines are currently being assembled in Germany
  • They will be shipped to Britain and commence drilling operations later this year
  • The public can vote on the machine names — either Cecilia, Florence or Marie
  • The HS2 railway will connect London, West Midlands, Leeds and Manchester

The first pictures have been revealed of two of the 2,000-tonne boring machines that will core giant tunnels 260 feet below the ground for the HS2 railway line. 

The machines — which are presently being assembled in Germany — will commence tunnelling for the UK’s high-speed rail project later this year.

In the meantime, the project is letting the public vote on the names to be given to the machines, from a shortlist of three chosen by local school children.

Each honours a woman of science, including astronomer Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, founder of modern nursing Florence Nightingale and chemist/physicist Marie Curie.

Scroll down for video 

The first pictures have been revealed of two of the 2,000-tonne boring machines that will core giant tunnels 260 feet below the ground for the HS2 railway line 

HS2 TUNNEL BORING MACHINES: THE STATS

Length: 558 feet

Weight: 2,000 tonnes each

Bore head diameter: 34 feet 

Max. operating depth: 262 feet 

‘The construction of HS2 is set to be an amazing opportunity to showcase global capability and innovation in the design and delivery of major infrastructure,’ said HS2 Ltd chief executive Mark Thurston.

‘The Tunnel Boring Machines are one of the most fascinating aspects,’ he added.

‘Like mini cities, they will spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week boring under the Chilterns so that the homes and habitats above remain undisturbed.’

‘This is just one of many ways in which HS2 is delivering on its responsibilities to our neighbours and the natural environment,’ Mr Thurston added.

‘When complete, the new railway will play a key role in reducing transport carbon emissions and improving air quality for the next generation.’

In all, the colossal machines will spend three-and-a-half years underground excavating the longest and deepest-running tunnels for the HS2 project.

These will stretch from just inside the M25 to South Heath in Buckinghamshire.

'The Tunnel Boring Machines are one of the most fascinating aspects [of the project],' said HS2 Ltd chief executive Mark Thurston. 'Like mini cities, they will spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week boring under the Chilterns so that the homes and habitats above remain undisturbed'

‘The Tunnel Boring Machines are one of the most fascinating aspects [of the project],’ said HS2 Ltd chief executive Mark Thurston. ‘Like mini cities, they will spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week boring under the Chilterns so that the homes and habitats above remain undisturbed’

The tunnel boring machines, one of which is pictured, are being manufactured by the German construction equipment firm Herrenknecht. When the first two borers have been completed, they will be disassembled and shipped to Britain for reassembly and activation

The tunnel boring machines, one of which is pictured, are being manufactured by the German construction equipment firm Herrenknecht. When the first two borers have been completed, they will be disassembled and shipped to Britain for reassembly and activation

The tunnel boring machines are being manufactured by the German construction equipment firm Herrenknecht.

When the first two borers have been completed, they will be disassembled and shipped to Britain for reassembly and activation. 

The machines will operate nearly continuously until the tunnels are complete — with the sole exception of Bank Holidays and Christmas, when they will be paused.

When the tunnels are completed, they will be lined with over 112,000 concrete segments, leaving a 30 foot diameter tunnel in which they trains will travel.

The HS2 railway will connect London, West Midlands, Leeds and Manchester

The HS2 railway will connect London, West Midlands, Leeds and Manchester

HS2 WILL LINK LONDON, THE WEST MIDLANDS, LEEDS AND MANCHESTER

HS2 (High Speed 2) is a plan to construct a a new high-speed rail linking London, West Midlands, Leeds and Manchester.

The line is to be built in a ‘Y’ configuration.  London will be on the bottom of the ‘Y’, Birmingham at the centre, Leeds at the top right and Manchester at the top left. 

Work on Phase One began in 2017 and the government plans envisage the line being operational by 2026. 

The HS2 project is being developed by High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd. 

The project has a projected cost of £56 billion ($77 billion), up from the initial cost of £32.7 billion ($45 billion) in 2010. 

Last year’s annual report showed that the company established by the government to build the railway spent £500 million in the year to March 31 – up almost 30 per cent from £352.9 million the year before.

It takes the total amount spent by HS2 so far to more than £1.9billion since 2009.

Separate accounts published by the Department for Transport also showed it had spent another £366 million on HS2.

The bulk of this was on compensating individuals and businesses who own property and land near the planned line.

Valuable axes from German burial site suggest Neolithic societies were not as egalitarian as thought


Valuable stone axes discovered at a 6,000-year old hilltop burial site in Germany suggest Neolithic societies were not as egalitarian as previously thought

  • The two rare weapons were found at a tumulus site west of Frankfurt in the 1880s
  • Experts have linked them to a burial mound recently found at the neolithic site
  • The presence of the valuable artefacts hints at an elite that accumulated wealth 

Valuable stone axes found at a 6,000-year old hilltop burial site in Germany have suggest Neolithic societies were not as egalitarian as once thought, experts said. 

The two weapons were found at the Hofheim-Kapellenberg site 140 years ago, but have only just been connected with the recently-discovered burial mound.

Their connection to the funereal mound indicates they came from a society in which elites were able to amass wealth. 

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Valuable stone axes found at a 6,000-year old hilltop burial site in Germany have suggest Neolithic societies were not as egalitarian as once thought, experts said. Pictured, the jade axe, which is believed to date back around 4200–4100 BC

The two weapons were found at the Hofheim-Kapellenberg site 140 years ago, but have only just been connected with the recently-discovered burial mound. Pictured, the second axe — carved from amphibolite — which is believed to date back around 4200–4100 BC

The two weapons were found at the Hofheim-Kapellenberg site 140 years ago, but have only just been connected with the recently-discovered burial mound. Pictured, the second axe — carved from amphibolite — which is believed to date back around 4200–4100 BC

The hilltop enclosure of Hofheim-Kapellenberg — one of the best-preserved above-ground sites remaining from the Neolithic — features an entire rampart system and was first studied in the late 19th Century.

Excavations in the enclosure had previously revealed evidence of a village — likely of around 900 inhabitants — that dated back to around 3750–3650 BC.

However, recent digs unearthed a 295 feet (90 metre) -wide burial mound that is thought to predate the village — hailing back from around 4500–3750 BC. 

Experts led by archaeologist Detlef Gronenborn of the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum in Mainz have now linked to the mound two valuable stone axes that had been excavated from the area back in the 1880s.

One of the pair of weapons was made out of the green ornamental mineral jade — which must have been sourced hundreds of kilometres away, in the western Alps.

The presence of the grand axes and burial mound are indicative of members of an elite class — one capable of amassing the wealth and influence needed to construct such a monument.

‘The Kapellenberg tumulus indicates that a socio-political hierarchisation process linked to the emergence of high-ranking elites […] had extended into western Central Europe,’ the researchers wrote in the paper.

Excavations in the neolithic Hofheim-Kapellenberg enclosure had previously revealed evidence of a village — likely of around 900 inhabitants — that dated back to around 3750–3650 BC. However, recent digs unearthed a 295 feet (90 metre) -wide burial mound that is thought to predate the village — hailing back from around 4500–3750 BC

Excavations in the neolithic Hofheim-Kapellenberg enclosure had previously revealed evidence of a village — likely of around 900 inhabitants — that dated back to around 3750–3650 BC. However, recent digs unearthed a 295 feet (90 metre) -wide burial mound that is thought to predate the village — hailing back from around 4500–3750 BC

Experts led by archaeologist Detlef Gronenborn of the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum in Mainz have now linked to the mound two valuable stone axes that had been excavated from the area back in the 1880s. One of the pair of weapons was made out of the green ornamental mineral jade — which must have been sourced hundreds of kilometres away

Experts led by archaeologist Detlef Gronenborn of the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum in Mainz have now linked to the mound two valuable stone axes that had been excavated from the area back in the 1880s. One of the pair of weapons was made out of the green ornamental mineral jade — which must have been sourced hundreds of kilometres away

The presence of the grand axes and burial mound are indicative of members of an elite class — one capable of amassing the wealth and influence needed to construct such a monument. Pictured, archaeologists excavate the interior of the  Kapellenberg hilltop enclosure in 2019

The presence of the grand axes and burial mound are indicative of members of an elite class — one capable of amassing the wealth and influence needed to construct such a monument. Pictured, archaeologists excavate the interior of the  Kapellenberg hilltop enclosure in 2019

According to the researchers, similar burial mounds from this time period can also be found in Brittany, in the Carnac region.

This, they explained, could indicate that social hierarchies spread across Europe during the Neolithic period. 

It is not known, however, whether this was a consequence of conquests, migration, cultural interactions — or even mere  coincidence. 

The full findings of the study were published in the journal Antiquity.

'The Kapellenberg tumulus indicates that a socio-political hierarchisation process linked to the emergence of high-ranking elites [...] had extended into western Central Europe,' the researchers wrote in the paper. Pictured, the site, with past finds marked in red

‘The Kapellenberg tumulus indicates that a socio-political hierarchisation process linked to the emergence of high-ranking elites […] had extended into western Central Europe,’ the researchers wrote in the paper. Pictured, the site, with past finds marked in red

The two weapons were found at the Hofheim-Kapellenberg site west of Frankfurt some 140 years ago, but have only just been connected with the recently-discovered burial mound

The two weapons were found at the Hofheim-Kapellenberg site west of Frankfurt some 140 years ago, but have only just been connected with the recently-discovered burial mound

Germany clamps down on SINGING over coronavirus fears


German authorities are warning against singing and several states have banned it from church services over fears it spreads the coronavirus. 

The ‘increased production of potentially infectious droplets’ involved in singing mean that choirs are facing a longer shutdown even as shops and restaurants re-open, the government says. 

Lothar Wieler, the head of Germany’s RKI diseases institute, says the droplets can ‘fly particularly far’ when singing. 

In one case, at least 40 people were infected at a church service in Frankfurt where the congregation had been singing and not wearing masks.   

Worshippers returned to Berlin Cathedral earlier this month (pictured) after churches were allowed to re-open – but the government has warned against singing 

The transmission of the virus is not yet fully understood, but anecdotal evidence has been enough to convince German authorities that singing is a risky activity. 

Berlin Cathedral choir director Tobias Brommann says ‘you inhale and exhale very deeply’ during singing, meaning that ‘if there are virus particles floating in the air then they can get into the lungs relatively quickly’. 

Brommann and 30 of his choristers were struck down with the virus in early March, with another 30 showing symptoms. 

‘We also can’t be sure if those without symptoms were not infected too, as we have not done antibody tests,’ he said. 

The choir had gathered for a rehearsal on March 9 when Berlin had fewer than 50 cases and public events were still permitted. 

More recently, there was a spate of infections after a church service in Frankfurt with authorities now trying to trace all the worshippers. 

At least 107 people were affected by the outbreak, some of them thought to be people who were subsequently infected.   

In recommendations for the resumption of church services, the federal government stated that singing should be avoided ‘because of the increased production of potentially infectious droplets, which can be spread over greater distances’.

Several states have heeded the advice and banned singing from services. 

There is also some scientific evidence to suggest that singing produces especially high numbers of potentially infectious micro-particles. 

According to a study published in the Nature journal in 2019, saying ‘aah’ for 30 seconds produces twice as many such particles as 30 seconds of coughing.  

At the Church of the Twelve Apostles in Berlin’s Schoeneberg district, there have been no choir rehearsals since early March.

Soprano Heike Benda-Blanck, 59, has been singing there for 10 years. ‘I do miss it,’ she said. ‘You can still sing in the shower but it’s not the same.’    

Bundesliga football matches are being played behind closed doors for now (pictured, Dortmund v Bayern yesterday) with no risk of raucous singing

Bundesliga football matches are being played behind closed doors for now (pictured, Dortmund v Bayern yesterday) with no risk of raucous singing 

Some research has given cause for optimism. The Bundeswehr University in Munich published a study in early May showing that singing only disturbs air flow up to half a metre (1.6ft) in front of the person. 

Freiburg University’s Institute for Performing Arts Medicine has also published guidelines for singing with similar results.

However, institute head Bernhard Richter warns that the study did not include aerosol measurements – tiny particles that could circulate much further in a room.  

The institute published updated guidelines this week that include limiting the number of people in the room and the length of rehearsals.  

‘This is a work in progress,’ Richter said. ‘Of course singers want clear statements, black and white, but then you have to say, maybe we don’t know yet.’

In proposals to the authorities, Germany’s Catholic Church has endorsed ‘quiet singing’ in services, as well as restricting numbers. By contrast, the Protestant Church continues to advise a complete ban. 

It remains to be seen whether singing can be controlled at other events in Germany, such as Bundesliga football matches, which are being played behind closed doors until further notice.

Singing could also potentially spread the virus at large events such as rock concerts and the Oktoberfest beer festival, where rowdy singing is an integral part of the proceedings – although it has already been cancelled for 2020.

A spokesman for the interior ministry said that since all major events are banned until at least August 31 in Germany anyway, this remains a ‘hypothetical question’.

‘It depends on how the infection situation develops,’ he said. 

Under new rules, Germans can meet friends in the park, dine in a restaurant, play sports, go to church, browse the shops, watch football and even go swimming. 

The RKI’s latest figures today showed a total of 179,364 cases in Germany, an increase of 362 since yesterday. 

Germany has suffered 8,349 deaths – a lower rate than in Britain, France, Spain or Italy – with 47 recorded in the last day.  

WHO official warns coronavirus is not defeated and Europe must brace for a deadly second wave


‘Time for preparation, not celebration’: Senior WHO official warns coronavirus is not defeated and Europe must brace for a deadly second wave this winter

  • WHO Europe director Dr Hans Kluge has warned about a second wave in winter
  • Says that countries should preparing for more virulent disease, ‘not celebrating’
  • Europe has 1,934,081 confirmed coronavirus cases and a 169,601 death toll
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Europe must prepare for a second wave of coronavirus that could kill thousands this winter, a top medical official has warned. 

Dr Hans Kluge, the European director for the World Health Organisation, has claimed that the pandemic is not over and countries should use the next few months ‘for preparation, not celebration’.

Speaking to The Telegraph, the scientist stressed that Governments should be building up capacity in hospitals and intensive care units and stockpiling supplies.

In Germany, the Bundesliga football league has returned and all shops have been allowed to reopen, while in Italy bars, restaurants and even hairdressers have had restrictions lifted.

Dr Hans Kluge, the European director for the World Health Organisation, has claimed that the pandemic is not over and countries should use the next few months ‘for preparation, not celebration’

But Dr Kluge warned that the European outbreak has moved to the east, with Russia now experiencing the third largest number of cases for any country and Ukraine seeing large increases. 

‘Singapore and Japan understood early on that this is not a time for celebration, it’s a time for preparation. That’s what Scandinavian countries are doing – they don’t exclude a second wave, but they hope it will be localised and they can jump on it quickly,’ he told the publication.

He added that a stronger second wave could coincide with an outbreak of other infectious diseases.

‘I’m very concerned about a double wave – in the fall, we could have a second wave of Covid and another one of seasonal flu or measles. Two years ago we had 500,000 children who didn’t have their first shot of the measles vaccine,’ he said. 

Bars and restaurants have been reopened in Italy as the country sees a sustained fall in its coronavirus cases and death toll figures

Bars and restaurants have been reopened in Italy as the country sees a sustained fall in its coronavirus cases and death toll figures

The German Bundesliga football league has returned, although behind closed doors, to finish off the season

The German Bundesliga football league has returned, although behind closed doors, to finish off the season

England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, and other experts have warned that a second wave could be deadlier than the first, citing evidence of the 1918-20 Spanish Flu pandemic.

When the Spanish Flu emerged in March 1918 it appeared to be a typical seasonal illness, but it then returned as an extremely deadly disease in the autumn. It eventually killed some 50 million people. 

‘We know from history that in pandemics the countries that have not been hit early on can be hit in a second wave,’ said Dr Kluge.

He added that a successful lockdown had to be accompanied by rigorous public health measures including comprehensive contact tracing and testing.

Thousands of shops, department stores and shopping centres are set to reopen from June 15, while outdoor markets and car showrooms will be allowed to open from next Monday as coronavirus lockdown restrictions are eased in the UK.

England's chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, and other experts have warned that a second wave could be deadlier than the first, citing evidence of the 1918-20 Spanish Flu pandemic that kills over 50 million people

England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, and other experts have warned that a second wave could be deadlier than the first, citing evidence of the 1918-20 Spanish Flu pandemic that kills over 50 million people

The Government is still building up capacity for Covid-19 tests, and almost all of the Nightingale Hospital beds lie empty in expectation that there could be a second peak that would rapidly raise demand.

On the NHS’ readiness for a potential second coronavirus peak, Mr Hancock said: ‘One of the tests we set before we adjust social distancing measures is that we should avoid the risk of a second peak because that means we would have to halt the restoration of the NHS for non-covid treatment.

‘That has an impact itself on the health of a nation, and an impact on the indirect death rate.

‘We have to be sure we don’t have that second peak so the NHS is making sure it can reopen where that locally is appropriate given local pressure on the system and taking into account [the capacity] of Nightingale hospitals.’

Mr Hancock is also betting on the test, trace and isolate policy being able to be implemented by June 1 to bring the number of infected people under control.

WHO official warns coronavirus is not defeated and Europe must brace for a deadly second wave


‘Time for preparation, not celebration’: Senior WHO official warns coronavirus is not defeated and Europe must brace for a deadly second wave this winter

  • WHO Europe director Dr Hans Kluge has warned about a second wave in winter
  • Says that countries should preparing for more virulent disease, ‘not celebrating’
  • Europe has 1,934,081 confirmed coronavirus cases and a 169,601 death toll
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Europe must prepare for a second wave of coronavirus that could kill thousands this winter, a top medical official has warned. 

Dr Hans Kluge, the European director for the World Health Organisation, has claimed that the pandemic is not over and countries should use the next few months ‘for preparation, not celebration’.

Speaking to The Telegraph, the scientist stressed that Governments should be building up capacity in hospitals and intensive care units and stockpiling supplies.

In Germany, the Bundesliga football league has returned and all shops have been allowed to reopen, while in Italy bars, restaurants and even hairdressers have had restrictions lifted.

Dr Hans Kluge, the European director for the World Health Organisation, has claimed that the pandemic is not over and countries should use the next few months ‘for preparation, not celebration’

But Dr Kluge warned that the European outbreak has moved to the east, with Russia now experiencing the third largest number of cases for any country and Ukraine seeing large increases. 

‘Singapore and Japan understood early on that this is not a time for celebration, it’s a time for preparation. That’s what Scandinavian countries are doing – they don’t exclude a second wave, but they hope it will be localised and they can jump on it quickly,’ he told the publication.

He added that a stronger second wave could coincide with an outbreak of other infectious diseases.

‘I’m very concerned about a double wave – in the fall, we could have a second wave of Covid and another one of seasonal flu or measles. Two years ago we had 500,000 children who didn’t have their first shot of the measles vaccine,’ he said. 

Bars and restaurants have been reopened in Italy as the country sees a sustained fall in its coronavirus cases and death toll figures

Bars and restaurants have been reopened in Italy as the country sees a sustained fall in its coronavirus cases and death toll figures

The German Bundesliga football league has returned, although behind closed doors, to finish off the season

The German Bundesliga football league has returned, although behind closed doors, to finish off the season

England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, and other experts have warned that a second wave could be deadlier than the first, citing evidence of the 1918-20 Spanish Flu pandemic.

When the Spanish Flu emerged in March 1918 it appeared to be a typical seasonal illness, but it then returned as an extremely deadly disease in the autumn. It eventually killed some 50 million people. 

‘We know from history that in pandemics the countries that have not been hit early on can be hit in a second wave,’ said Dr Kluge.

He added that a successful lockdown had to be accompanied by rigorous public health measures including comprehensive contact tracing and testing.

Thousands of shops, department stores and shopping centres are set to reopen from June 15, while outdoor markets and car showrooms will be allowed to open from next Monday as coronavirus lockdown restrictions are eased in the UK.

England's chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, and other experts have warned that a second wave could be deadlier than the first, citing evidence of the 1918-20 Spanish Flu pandemic that kills over 50 million people

England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, and other experts have warned that a second wave could be deadlier than the first, citing evidence of the 1918-20 Spanish Flu pandemic that kills over 50 million people

The Government is still building up capacity for Covid-19 tests, and almost all of the Nightingale Hospital beds lie empty in expectation that there could be a second peak that would rapidly raise demand.

On the NHS’ readiness for a potential second coronavirus peak, Mr Hancock said: ‘One of the tests we set before we adjust social distancing measures is that we should avoid the risk of a second peak because that means we would have to halt the restoration of the NHS for non-covid treatment.

‘That has an impact itself on the health of a nation, and an impact on the indirect death rate.

‘We have to be sure we don’t have that second peak so the NHS is making sure it can reopen where that locally is appropriate given local pressure on the system and taking into account [the capacity] of Nightingale hospitals.’

Mr Hancock is also betting on the test, trace and isolate policy being able to be implemented by June 1 to bring the number of infected people under control.

Is Britain REALLY the sick man of Europe?


Britain has the worst death toll for Covid-19 in Europe and the second highest in the world — or does it?

The latest figures, read out at the Government press briefing on Monday afternoon, show 36,914 Covid deaths in the UK. Only the United States, which has a population five times the size of the UK’s 67.9 million, has more.

In contrast, Germany, which has a bigger population than the UK, has reported just over 8,000 deaths, and Ireland, our nearest neighbour, has had only 1,608.

It’s easy for us to assume that the figures reflect how well — or how badly — individual governments have handled the pandemic.

However, experts say that while some countries, including the UK, have clearly done worse than others in terms of deaths, it is too early to choose between them because the daily death tolls don’t tell the whole story.

‘This is not Eurovision — it’s pretty pointless to try to rank them,’ says Sir David Spiegelhalter, a statistician and a professor of the public understanding of risk at the University of Cambridge.

‘Just looking at the raw number of deaths is not a great way to compare what’s going on,’ adds Jason Oke, a statistician at the University of Oxford.

Partly, this is because when we compare different countries’ death tolls, we are not comparing like with like but, to put it simply, apples with pears.

Britain has the worst death toll for Covid-19 in Europe and the second highest in the world — or does it?

One of the clearest reasons is that countries are not counting deaths in the same way. Some, such as the UK, are including only people who have tested positive for the virus. Others, such as Belgium, also include suspected cases, which will increase their total.

‘We also need to consider how the size of a country’s population, the density of its population (that is, how tightly packed together its citizens are) and how old they are affect its death toll,’ says Dr Oke. Densely populated cities such as London and New York are likely to be worse hit than remote parts of Ireland or Norway.

Then there is the fact that different countries are at different stages of dealing with the virus, meaning the data isn’t complete. Some countries that appear to be doing well may suffer resurgences when they come out of lockdown; or, if they’re in the southern hemisphere, things may get worse when winter sets in in the next few months. Others that have a high death toll now could fare better during any second wave of the disease.

‘It’s almost like deciding the final score when you’re only halfway through a football game,’ says Dr Oke. ‘Who knows what is going to happen in the second half? It’s anybody’s call.’

He believes we need to wait for six months before we have the full picture. Then, we can use statistical techniques to draw more accurate comparisons.

One technique (already used with flu) involves looking at ‘excess deaths’ — the number of extra deaths over a set period of time compared to the same period in previous years.

Another technique, which is common when compiling international data on cancer, takes into account the size and age of each country’s population.

‘While neither method is perfect, they would allow for more accurate international comparisons than the raw figures we have now,’ says Dr Oke.

In the meantime, here we take a look at the numbers we do have and the stories behind the statistics of some of the countries ‘apparently’ faring better or worse than others.

UNITED KINGDOM

Population density helped spread

UNITED KINGDOM: Population density helped spread

UNITED KINGDOM: Population density helped spread

Deaths: 36,914

Population: 67.9 million

Deaths per million: 544

Average age: 40.5 years

People per square mile: 727

How deaths are counted: Deaths in hospitals, care homes and in the community of people who have tested positive for Covid-19 are included in the daily updates. (A second set of figures is released weekly by the Office for National Statistics and uses data from death certificates and so includes suspected cases — ones in which testing hasn’t been done but it is thought that the virus played a part.)

BEHIND THE FIGURES: On May 5, the UK’s death toll overtook Italy’s to become the highest in Europe and the second worst in the world. But while it’s easy to think of things that Britain could have done to better control the pandemic, population density may have pushed up the death toll, says Hannah Fry, an associate professor in the mathematics of cities at University College London.

Covid-19 thrives on close contact — and with 727 people per square mile, the UK is four times as crowded as Ireland, which reported a death rate more than 20 times lower than the UK.

It also has a higher proportion of people living in towns and cities than most other European countries. London is one of Europe’s biggest cities and has a population of nine million — more than twice that of Berlin.

‘It’s safe to say the number of people visiting a supermarket or pressing the buttons on the lift in a block of flats will make a difference,’ says Hannah Fry.

The UK also has one of the highest levels of obesity in Western Europe, and a recent study by the University of Liverpool of Covid patients in hospital found those who were obese were almost 40 per cent less likely to survive than their slimmer counterparts.

Research also shows that three-quarters of the Covid-19 patients in intensive care in the UK are overweight or obese.

‘Coronavirus is not something that affects everyone equally — existing health conditions matter too,’ adds Hannah Fry.

IRELAND

IRELAND: Younger population kept death rate low

IRELAND: Younger population kept death rate low

Younger population kept death rate low

Deaths: 1,608

Population: 4.9 million

Deaths per million: 328

Average age: 38.2 years

People per square mile: 186

How deaths are counted: Deaths in hospitals, care homes and the community, including those suspected to have had Covid-19 but not confirmed with tests.

BEHIND THE FIGURES: Ireland’s relatively young population may have given it an advantage. The disease is particularly dangerous for the elderly and a recent analysis found that pensioners are 34 times more likely to die of the disease than working age Britons.

At 38.2 years, the average age in Ireland is almost a decade lower than in Italy and two years younger than the UK. With age the most important factor when it comes to surviving Covid-19, Ireland’s comparatively youthful population could be having a big effect on its death toll, says Dr Oke. ‘If the age structure of England and Wales’s population looked like Ireland’s, I suspect the number of deaths would be reduced by thousands.’

UNITED STATES

UNITED STATES: There are a lot more people to infect

UNITED STATES: There are a lot more people to infect

There are a lot more people to infect

Deaths: 97,049

Population: 331 million

Deaths per million: 293

Average age: 38.3 years

People per square mile: 94

How deaths are counted: Deaths in hospitals, care homes and the community, including those suspected of having had coronavirus but not tested.

BEHIND THE FIGURES: The United States has more deaths than any other country but it also has a huge population. If we look at deaths per million people instead, it isn’t the worst in the world any more. Indeed, the rate of 293 deaths per million is almost a third of the rate for Belgium, which has the most deaths per capita of any country.

Another way of looking at the U.S. death toll is to compare it with the combined figure for the five largest countries in Western Europe. The UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain have a joint population that’s similar to the U.S. but their combined death toll is nearly 50 per cent higher.

Factoring population size is ‘such a simple thing’ yet easily overlooked, says Dr Oke.

‘If you take into account population size, then the U.S. is doing better than most of Europe.’

BELGIUM: Includes a broad range of symptoms

BELGIUM: Includes a broad range of symptoms

BELGIUM

Includes a broad range of symptoms 

Deaths: 9,312

Population: 11.6 million

Average age: 41.9 years

Deaths per million: 803

People per square mile: 991

How deaths are counted: Deaths in hospitals, care homes and the community, including those of people suspected to have had Covid-19 but not been tested.

BEHIND THE FIGURES: Belgium, a small country with a population of 11 million, has recorded more deaths from coronavirus than China, where the virus is thought to have originated.

While there are questions over how far the Chinese figures can be trusted, Belgium’s death toll of 9,312 is the highest per capita in the world.

Unlike many other countries, it also includes suspected deaths in its tally and says that this ‘very complete way of counting’ has helped it track the virus’s spread and quickly intervene in hotspots of disease.

‘If you want to compare our numbers with a lot of other countries, you basically have to cut them in half,’ says Steven Van Gucht, head virologist at the National Institute for Public Health in Belgium.

Belgium may also be using a broader definition of coronavirus symptoms than other countries that include suspected cases, pushing its total even higher, says Dr Oke.

Indeed, its definition of a suspected case includes symptoms as diverse as diarrhoea, a runny nose, chest pain and falls.

‘In Belgium, they are erring on the side that any time they remotely suspect that Covid-19 was involved, they’ll include it in the official stats,’ adds Hannah Fry. ‘This is why it is unfair to look at the number of deaths alone.’

ITALY

ITALY: Bigger families may be playing a part

ITALY: Bigger families may be playing a part

Bigger families may be playing a part

Deaths: 32,785

Population: 60.5 million

Deaths per million: 542

Average age: 47.3 years

People per square mile: 533

How deaths are counted: Most of the daily total is made up of deaths in hospital of people who have tested positive for Covid-19. Data on other deaths, including those in care homes, is patchy.

BEHIND THE FIGURES: The figure of 32,785 is the second highest in Europe but may be an undercount.

Like many other countries, Italy records only the deaths of people who have tested positive for the virus. However, ‘there has not been massive screening in care homes, so we do not know the exact number of Covid-19 cases and related deaths there’, says Eleonora Perobelli, a researcher in long-term care and government policy at SDA Bocconi School of Management in Milan.

We also know that with an average age of 47.3 years, the Italian population is one of the most elderly in the world, putting it at higher risk of severe Covid-19.

Its emphasis on family life, including multi-generational households in which older people live under the same roof as their children and grandchildren, is also thought to have fuelled the spread of the virus simply because it is harder to keep the generations apart than if they were living in separate homes.

‘Multi-generational households, by virtue of having younger people going in and out, would expose older people more than if they lived on their own,’ says Dr Oke.

GERMANY

GERMANY: An undoubted success so far, but will it last?

GERMANY: An undoubted success so far, but will it last?

An undoubted success so far, but will it last?

Deaths: 8,247

Population: 83.8 million

Deaths per million: 98

Average age: 45.7 years

People per square mile: 623

How deaths are counted: Deaths in hospitals, care homes and the community of people who have tested positive for coronavirus. Suspected cases can be tested after death.

BEHIND THE FIGURES: With 8,247 deaths in a population of almost 84 million, Germany’s per capita death toll is less than an eighth of that of neighbouring Belgium and a fifth of the UK’s.

Like Italy, Germany also has a relatively older population.

However, many of its initial cases of Covid-19 were in fit, young people who were thought to have brought the disease back from skiing holidays in Italy, before passing it on to people who were of a similar age and, therefore, more likely to recover.

Even today, only around 20 per cent of Germany’s cases are in the over-70s.

Dr Oke says that while it is widely agreed that Germany — which has done vast amounts of testing — is a success story when it comes to controlling the coronavirus, the unpredictable nature of pandemics makes it too early to claim victory.

‘Who knows if, in three months’ time, their count will be closer to ours,’ he adds. ‘You might call it now and be lucky — but it’s a waiting game.’

HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR SYMPTOMS ARE COVID 

By Dr Nick Summerton 

Working as a GP for the Covid Clinical Assessment Service, set up to manage patients who need to speak to a doctor after calling NHS 111, I chat to at least five patients an hour over the phone.

Based on what I am told, my advice will vary from calling an ambulance to suggesting they get tested, or stay at home and monitor themselves closely.

But symptoms are tricky blighters. They continually change and the same symptoms can be caused by different problems.

The number of symptoms being recommended to identify those with Covid-19 is growing: the list now includes, as well as a dry cough and a raised temperature (which is where we started), changes in a person’s sense of taste or smell, extreme tiredness, breathlessness, loss of appetite, sore throat, diarrhoea, muscle pain and headache.

Perhaps the best way to spot people with Covid-19 is to think about symptoms in three broad groups: general viral symptoms, symptoms linked to the virus as it enters our bodies, and symptoms from organs that it might infect.

I have found that Covid-19 is more likely if an individual has at least four new symptoms from two or more of these groups.

General viral symptoms: (Occasional or continuous) fever or raised temperature, chills with or without shaking, loss of appetite, fatigue or extreme tiredness, muscle/joint pains, headache, dizziness.

Entry symptoms: Alterations of smell or taste, soreness in the throat, sore eyes, nasal congestion or runny nose.

Organ-specific symptoms: Lungs: dry cough, mild to moderate breathlessness, heaviness on the chest. Guts: diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea.

  • Dr Summerton has been a GP for 32 years and has written books focusing on diagnosis.

P.S. can we trust China’s figures? 

With just 4,645 deaths in a population of more than 1.4 billion, China appears to have done extraordinarily well in controlling the spread of the virus. Too well, in fact.

The credibility of its figures has been questioned, amid concerns that the authoritarian regime is covering up the true scale of the outbreak. French President Emmanuel Macron has warned that it is ‘naive’ to suggest China has handled the pandemic better than other countries.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove has said ‘some of the reporting from China was not clear about the scale, the nature, the infectiousness of the virus’.