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UK missed out on chance to procure PPE because information was sent to outdated email address

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has confirmed the UK missed out on the chance to take part in European Union procurement schemes for personal protective equipment (PPE) because the information was sent to an outdated email address.

He suggested Brussels officials were to blame for not updating their contact details.

In a letter to the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, he said: “The relevant EU committee, the Joint Procurement Agreement Steering Committee (JPASC), was relaunched by the European Commission in September 2019, after three years of not meeting.

“The UK provided up-to-date contact details for the UK representatives to the JPASC in September 2019.

“Despite this, however, we understand from the commission that the UK contact details on their circulation list for issues relevant to joint procurements at the time of the Covid-19 outbreak were still those of the previous UK representatives, ie those who had last attended JPSAC in 2016.”

Mr Raab said “unfortunately those email addresses no longer existed” due to changes in departmental structures and government IT systems.


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John Lewis to reopen another 10 shops including flagship Oxford Street store

Retail giant John Lewis Partnership has unveiled reopening plans for another 10 stores including its first in Wales and Scotland as well as the chain’s flagship shop in Oxford Street.

The group said shops in Basingstoke, Cardiff, Chelmsford, Chester, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Stratford and the Trafford Centre will reopen on Monday July 13.

Its Oxford Street department store will open later in the week, on July 16, as John Lewis said the size of the shop meant it needed extra time to finalise plans.


Provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities ‘effectively dropped off a cliff’ during pandemic

Imogen Jolley, head of public law at Simpson Millar, told the Education Committee that some health provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities had “effectively dropped off a cliff”.

She told MPs occupational therapies, speech and language therapies and physiotherapy had largely stopped and would need to be taken into account.

She said: “In the last couple of months the impact of getting those children back into that routine and engaging is going to be significant and that needs real focus, and it isn’t just necessarily getting them back in school, it’s planning that properly to make sure that health is properly engaged with that.”


Education Committee hears evidence on impact of coronavirus on children with special educational needs and disabilities

Amanda Batten, chairwoman of the Disabled Children’s Partnership, said that in a survey of more than 4,000 families her organisation carried out, many said they felt forgotten.

She told MPs: “That was a predominant finding really that families feel very much forgotten and I think the overall picture from the survey was one of exhaustion and stress.

“A lot of families aren’t only home-schooling, they’re home nursing, administering therapies, some doing 24/7 care generally with very little support.”

Ms Batten added that 45% of parents surveyed said their child’s physical health had deteriorated during the lockdown and just over 70% said their child’s emotional health had declined.


Bafta Scotland and Cymru awards to go ahead in 2020

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) has announced the award ceremonies in Scotland and Wales will still take place in 2020.

Both the British Academy Cymru Awards and British Academy Scotland Awards will go ahead and take into consideration Government restrictions following the coronavirus pandemic.

Details will be announced later this year for the Scottish event, with the Cymru Awards scheduled to take place in October.

Last month, Bafta announced the British Academy Television Awards will go ahead as a closed-studio show, broadcast as-live on BBC One, on July 31 with nominees accepting awards virtually.


Firms should cooperate to ensure access to coronavirus treatments

Business minister Nadhim Zahawi said Governments and firms should cooperate to ensure access to coronavirus treatments.

Donald Trump’s administration in the US has bought up virtually all stocks for the next three months of remdesivir, a drug shown to work against Covid-19.

Mr Zahawi said the UK had “rightly” stockpiled dexamethasone, another drug which has proven effective in the most seriously ill Covid-19 patients, but suggested cooperation rather than competition was the way forward.

“We deliberately made sure that we had enough stock of dexamethasone, rightly so,” he said.

“But we also want to cooperate because the best outcome for the whole world is that we work together.”

He highlighted deals struck by AstraZeneca to supply a vaccine around the world if the Oxford team’s work is successful.

“By attempting to compete, I think we ultimately undermine all of our strategies,” he said. “Much better to work together than to work to undermine each other.”


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Turkey expects nations to form air corridors to exempt travellers from quarantine

Turkey’s ambassador to the UK said he is expecting the nations to form an air corridor exempting travellers from quarantines.

Umit Yalcin told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I’m optimistic because we are expecting to be included in that list because, scientifically, the facts and figures should talk and the numbers related to corona for Turkey is very low.

“All the numbers relatively and comparatively with other countries are very low, especially in touristic areas in the Aegean and Mediterranean coast the numbers are zero.

“Because of that reason we are expected to be included on that list.”

But the ambassador was pressed that numbers nationwide in Turkey are high.

“Fortunately we are not expecting that second wave,” Mr Yalcin said, arguing that most cases are centred on the cities.


Pandemic ‘far from over’, scientist warns

Imperial College London’s Professor Neil Ferguson, who used to advise the Government, said there is an “illusion out there that we are past the worst” and warned that “this is far from over”.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We were, in retrospect, one of the most heavily seeded countries with infection in Europe.

“I would say, before we make international comparisons though, just bear in mind we are still very early into this pandemic – there’s a bit of an illusion out there that somehow we are past the worst.

“In this country we’ve probably had no more than 8% of the population infected.

“This is far from over, so I think lessons can be learned from what happened in the UK up to now, but I would prefer to focus on getting the next six months right before looking back in earnest.”


Bradford and Doncaster ‘clearly of concern’ over high coronavirus cases

A key scientist in the coronavirus response warned that Bradford and Doncaster are “clearly of concern”, with high rates of coronavirus.

Imperial College London’s Professor Neil Ferguson, who used to advise the Government, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s inevitable we will (have further local outbreaks), we are relaxing lockdown rules and that means that contacts in the population are going up and that’s a very variable process.”

Asked about Bradford and Doncaster, he said: “Those are areas, where not as high as Leicester, but they have some of the highest numbers of cases per 100,000 of the population, which is the relevant measure, so they’re clearly of concern.”


US buys up virtually all stocks of anti-viral drug remdesivir

The Trump administration has bought up virtually all stocks for the next three months of a drug shown to work against Covid-19.

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) said it had secured more than 500,000 treatment courses of remdesivir for American hospitals.

This represents 100 per cent of the US pharmaceutical firm Gilead’s projected production for July (94,200 treatment courses), 90 per cent of production in August (174,900 treatment courses), and 90 per cent of production in September (232,800 treatment courses), alongside an allocation for clinical trials.

The drug has been approved for use in Covid-19 patients by the US and the UK, among other countries, after data suggested it can cut recovery time by about four days.