Dominic Cummings Row 'Fatally Undermined' Covid-19 Fight Says Scientific Advisor, And Four Other Stories You Need To Know

Sarah Turnnidge

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The PM’s handling of the row over Dominic Cummings’ 260-mile lockdown trip has “fatally undermined” the fight against Covid-19, a scientific advisor to the government has said. 

According to the latest figures published by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), 36,793 people have died in the UK after contracting coronavirus and almost 260,000 have tested positive. 

Here’s the latest: 

Cummings row has ‘fatally undermined’ coronavirus fight, scientific advisor says 

Dominic Cummings, pictured outside his home in north London on Sunday.  (Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The row over Dominic Cummings’ lockdown trip has “fatally undermined” efforts to fight coronavirus, a top behavioural scientist and government advisor has said. 

Professor Stephen Reicher, one of the scientists on the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (SPI-B) – a subgroup of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told Good Morning Britain on Monday morning: “The real issue here is that because of these actions, because of undermining trust in the government, because of undermining adherence to the rules that we all need to follow, people are going to die.

“More people are going to die.”

Boris Johnson fronted Sunday’s daily Downing Street briefing during which he defended his chief advisor, saying Cummings had “acted responsibly, legally and with integrity” by driving 260 miles to County Durham to isolate and that “any parent would frankly understand what he did”.

Tory backbenchers, opposing politicians and the public alike have fiercely criticised Johnson’s handling of the row, with scientists claiming it had undermined efforts to curb the spread of the deadly virus.

The storm over Cummings’ actions overshadowed Johnson’s latest signal that the lockdown is easing, as the PM confirmed the phased reopening of England’s primary schools will commence on June 1.

Government sources have also revealed that he is expected to unveil plans to ease some restrictions on the economy, with changes such as the reopening of some non-essential shops, to be announced when the Cabinet meets on Monday.

But the drama incited by news of Cummings’ lockdown travels – made on fatherly “instinct” to ensure care was available for his son, according to Johnson – has spilled over into the bank holiday as senior Tories continued to criticise the decision to keep the aide on.

Durham councillor calls for police investigation into Cummings’ lockdown travel 

A Durham councillor has called on police to launch an investigation into whether an offence was committed by Dominic Cummings when he travelled to the area.

Amanda Hopgood, the leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition on Durham County Council, said she had written to Durham Constabulary’s chief constable Jo Farrell after being made aware of a number of sightings of the the Prime Minister’s senior aide in the area in April and May.

She said: “We are aware that a number of local residents have reported seeing Mr Cummings in the city and county of Durham on a number of occasions during April and May and have expressed concern about the public health implications of his presence given reports that he has been affected by the coronavirus.

“Given the clear public interest in this case I have today referred this matter to the Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary to ask her force to investigate whether Mr Cummings may have committed an offence under the provisions of section 15 of the 2020 Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations.”

Meanwhile The Guardian, who broke the story alongside The Mirror on Friday evening, revealed on Sunday that retired chemistry teacher Robin Lees had made a complaint to the police after reporting that he saw Cummings and his family on April 12 walking in the town of Barnard Castle before getting into a car.

US imposes new travel restrictions on Brazil as cases soar 

Workers disinfect an area of Belém International Airport. (Photo: Sipa USA via AP)

The White House on Sunday said it was restricting travel from Brazil to the United States, two days after the South American nation became the world’s second largest hotspot for coronavirus cases.

The travel ban was a blow to right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has followed Donald Trump’s example in addressing the pandemic, fighting calls for social distancing and touting unproven drugs. 

Brazilian health officials have confirmed more than 365,000 cases of coronavirus, second only to the US which has reported almost 1.7m cases and more than 98,000 deaths. 

“The US maintains a strong partnership with Brazil and we work closely to mitigate the socioeconomic and health impacts of Covid-19 in Brazil,” the US Embassy in Brasilia said in a statement.

The new restrictions come into force on May 28, the embassy said, prohibiting most non-US citizens from traveling to the United States if they have been in Brazil in the last two weeks. Green card holders, close relatives of US citizens and flight crew members, among select others, would be exempt.

Brazil’s foreign ministry called it a technical decision in the context of “important bilateral collaboration” to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, highlighting U.S. donations of $6.5 million (£5.3m) and a new White House promise of 1,000 respirators.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the new restrictions would help ensure foreign nationals do not bring additional infections to the United States, but would not apply to the flow of commerce between the two countries.

Sir David Attenborough warns climate change ‘swept off front pages’ by Covid-19

The celebrated naturalist has warned that Covid-19 has made climate change feel as if it is in "the distant future". (Photo: CHRIS J RATCLIFFE via Getty Images)

Sir David Attenborough has said the coronavirus pandemic has swept the problem of climate change from the front pages.

The broadcaster and naturalist, who celebrated his 94th birthday in May, said the outbreak has made the issue feel as if it is in “the distant future”.

Appearing on the So Hot Right Now podcast, Attenborough suggested the virus could make the world’s nations see “survival depends on co-operation”.

He said: “The trouble is that right now the climate issue is also seen as being rather in the distant future because we’ve got the virus to think about.

“And so what are the papers full of? The virus. Quite right, that’s what I want to know about, too.

“But we have to make sure that this issue, which was coming to the boil with the next COP meeting in Glasgow, has suddenly been swept off the front pages. And we’ve got to get it back there.”

Attenborough referenced the COP26 international climate talks, which were due to take place in Glasgow in November but were postponed due to the pandemic.

Asked whether he saw a solution to the decreased awareness of climate change, he said: “No, if I knew that I would be a dictator but I’m not.

“I don’t know – we, you and me and lots of others like us have got to keep on going on about it but the clock is ticking.

“The danger of the Arctic and the Antarctic warming is becoming greater day by day.”

Attenborough said he hopes the outbreak encourages nations to work together but suggested this would be the first time it had ever happened.

He told journalist Lucy Siegle and film-maker Tom Mustill, who host the podcast: “What the result of coronavirus is going to be I don’t know.

“But I’m beginning to get a feeling that for the first time the nations of the world are beginning to see that survival depends on co-operation.

“If that happens, that’s going to be a first in human history.”

Greece resumes island ferry services in attempt to salvage summer tourist season

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The Greek government has started the holiday season three weeks earlier than expected.  (Photo: Tamboly via Getty Images)

Greece has restarted regular ferry services to its islands, and cafes and restaurants are also back open for business as the country accelerates efforts to salvage its summer tourism season.

Travel to the islands had been generally off-limits since a lockdown was imposed in late March to halt the spread of coronavirus, with only goods suppliers and permanent residents allowed access.

But the country’s low infection rate in the Covid-19 pandemic prompted the government to start the holiday season three weeks earlier than the expected June 15 date, as other Mediterranean countries — including Italy, Spain and Turkey — grapple with deadlier outbreaks.

Greece has had nearly 2,900 infections and 171 deaths from the virus, but Italy has seen nearly 33,000 deaths, Spain 29,000 and Turkey 4,340, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Social distancing regulations and passenger limits have been imposed on ferries and at restaurants to ward off new infections.

State-run health services to combat coronavirus are being expanded to the islands, with intensive care units being placed on five islands – Lesbos, Samos, Rhodes, Zakynthos and Corfu – along with existing facilities on the island of Crete.

Tourism is a vital part of the Greek economy, directly contributing more than 10% of the country’s GDP.

More than 34 million visitors travelled to Greece last year, spending 18.2 billion euros (£16.2 billion), according to government data.

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost.