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Surge in fake coronavirus tests and ‘miracle cures’ sold online, medicines watchdog warns – The Sun

BRITS are being warned over a surge in fake coronavirus tests and "miracle cures" being sold online, the medicines watchdog has warned.

Bogus medical products claiming to treat or prevent Covid-19, including self-testing kits and "antiviral misting sprays", have popped up online.

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The UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) says it is currently investigating 14 cases of such unlicensed items being sold through unauthorised websites.

There are currently no medicines that are licensed specifically to treat or prevent Covid-19, meaning that any claiming to do so have not undergone required regulatory approval for sale in the UK.

Don't be fooled by online offers for medical products to help prevent or treat Covid-19

The MHRA says it has already disabled nine domain names and social media accounts for selling fake coronavirus-related products.

"Don't be fooled by online offers for medical products to help prevent or treat Covid-19," said Lynda Scammell, MHRA enforcement official.


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"We cannot guarantee the safety or quality of the product and this poses a risk to your health.

"The risk of buying medicines and medical devices from unregulated websites are that you just don't know what you will receive and could be putting your health at risk.

"We are working alongside other law enforcement agencies to combat this type of criminal activity."

Ramp up testing

The Government is ramping up testing and has already ordered 17.5million kits from nine different makers in the hope they would work.

Officials suggest the Covid-19 checks – which reveal if people have been infected and are now resistant – would be rolled out this month.

Brits testing positive could then “confidently go back to work”, helping bring an end to the UK’s strict lockdown restrictions.

Boris Johnson hailed the checks as a potential “game-changer” in mid-March and said they were fast "coming down the track".

However, one expert has warned that an effective antibody test will not be available until May at the earliest.

Professor Sir John Bell, who is leading the Oxford team evaluating them, says none of the checks tested so far are up to scratch.

He said Brit scientists are now working with makers to improve their reliability, but add: “This will take at least a month.”

None of the tests we have validated would meet the criteria for a good test

Prof Bell, Covid Scientific Advisory Panel and Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University, said: “Multiple tests have been provided for evaluation.

"Sadly, the tests we have looked at to date have not performed well.

“None of the tests we have validated would meet the criteria for a good test. This is not a good result for test suppliers or for us.”

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Prof Bell said other nations were having similar problems, with Spain sending tests back because they don’t work.

Downing Street said it will seek refunds from companies that cannot improve the failed antibody tests ordered by the Government.

The PM's official spokesman said: “No test so far has proved to be good enough to use.

“We continue to work with the testing companies, we're in a constant dialogue with them and we give feedback to them when their products fail to meet the required standards.”

England's top doctor also said effective antibody testing could now be months away.

Speaking at a Downing Street briefing, Prof Chris Whitty said: "I am very confident we will develop antibody tests, whether they be lab-based or dipstick-based over the next period. I'm very confident of that.

"The fact that we have not, in our first pass, in the first things that people produced, got ones which are highly effective is not particularly surprising to anybody who understands how tests are developed.

"I would expect those to continue to improve potentially on the dipstick-side and definitely on the lab-side which would be available in due course through the NHS over time."

Report fakes

In the meantime, the Government is urging Brits not to attempt to buy medicines or treatments for coronavirus online.

The MHRA's ongoing campaign, #FakeMeds, aims to encourage people who buy medical products online to make sure they are purchasing from legitimate sources.

It advises that all medicines and medical devices should be bought from registered pharmacies, either from the premises or online.

Suspicious products can be reported to the MHRA via their monitoring system, the Yellow Card Scheme.

Anyone who thinks they may have been a victim of fraud relating to the purchase of medical products or personal protective equipment (PPE) should also report to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau online or by calling 0300 123 2040.

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Cancer Research UK's efforts find a cure for the disease are set back

Cancer Research UK’s efforts find a cure for the disease are set back by ‘many years’ as its funding is slashed amid coronavirus crisis

  • Cancer Research UK announced it would be reducing its research portfolio 
  • It has announced that it will be cutting £44million pounds from researching 
  • Charity says cuts are substantial and could set research back by many years

Research into cancer treatments is set to take a hit after Cancer Research UK announced cuts to funding of £44million amid the coronavirus crisis.

The UK’s biggest cancer charity said it is reducing its research portfolio as part of efforts to protect the organisation.

The charity, which funds around half of all cancer research in the UK, recognised that reducing spending on research projects would ‘set back the cancer research effort within the UK, potentially for many years’.

It has already taken steps to reduce the salaries of its board and is in consultation with staff to make similar reductions or enrol workers on the Government furlough scheme.

Research into cancer treatments is set to take a hit after Cancer Research UK announced cuts to funding of £44million amid the coronavirus crisis

But it said that was not enough to secure the future of the charity, so it had to make the ‘difficult’ decision to reduce research funding.

In a letter to the research community, charity officials said: ‘These cuts are substantial and will set back the cancer research effort within the UK, potentially for many years.

‘We’ve also taken the decision to postpone any new funding commitments, which means no new research projects will be funded for at least the first half of this year.

‘Making funding cuts to our research – the core purpose of the charity in its mission to beat cancer – is the most difficult decision we’ve had to make.’

It announced that it will cut funding to its existing grants and institutes by up to 10 per cent and its national network of Centres by around 20 per cent.

The charity, which funds around half of all cancer research in the UK, recognised that reducing spending on research projects would ‘set back the cancer research effort within the UK, potentially for many years’. Stock picture

This works out as a £44million cut to its research portfolio across the year.

Iain Foulkes, executive director of research and innovation at Cancer Research UK, said: ‘Covid-19 has left the whole world in uncharted waters. And the unprecedented measures to control the global Covid-19 pandemic have had a huge impact on both our researchers’ ability to carry on in the lab, and on our ability to fundraise. Faced with a predicted loss of 20-25 per cent of fundraising income, we are forced to look for savings across our current portfolio.

‘Cancer Research UK funds nearly 50 per cent of the cancer research in the UK and making cuts to research funding is the most difficult decision we have had to make. We don’t do so lightly.

‘We have worked hard to ensure the cuts are limited and give our researchers flexibility in how to make them. Ultimately, it is our research that delivers benefit to people affected by cancer, and this remains our first priority. We are hopeful that limiting our spending now will enable us to continue funding life-saving research in the long run.

‘Cancer doesn’t go away during or after Covid-19, but we’re incredibly proud of our community of researchers who have been very quick to respond to the crisis, using their kit, skills and talent to support the NHS and the Covid-19 response.

‘Our mission is so important to people all over the UK and by helping the global effort of tackling Covid-19, we hope we can get back to beating cancer as soon as possible.’

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Army of 750,000 NHS volunteers start helping vulnerable from today

I’m ready to serve, let’s get started!’: Up to 75,000 NHS volunteers report for duty as they receive their first tasks to help 2.5m most at risk in battle against coronavirus pandemic

  • NHS received three times the number of volunteers it was hoping for 
  • They will have all been checked out by NHS Volunteer Service by end of today 
  • Recruits ‘report for duty’ then get an alert on GoodSAM app when there is a job 

An army of 750,000 volunteers are reporting for duty for the first time today to help the NHS in its fight against coronavirus. 

The NHS Volunteer Service received three times the amount of applications they had hoped for in the largest call for volunteers since the Second World War. 

Applications had to be halted while officials ran checks on the three quarters of a million Britons who signed up to help.

But today they will be given their first jobs, which range from calling the elderly and vulnerable in isolation to driving patients to hospital. 

Volunteers can ‘report for duty’ to say they are available to help on the GoodSAM app, which alerts them when there is a job to do in their area. 

Many took proudly to social media to say they are ready for their first tasks. 

Many of the 750,000 NHS volunteers took proudly to social media to say they are ready for their first tasks today 

A woman called Amy from Dudley tweeted: ‘I am officially an NHS volunteer responder. There are loads of people near me doing the same as well! Catch me collecting prescriptions and checking on the elderly.’  

Lee Robinson said: ‘I’m up and running as an NHS Volunteer Responder, ready to collect and deliver medication and essentials to vulnerable members of my local community.’ 

A man called Richard shared a screen shot of his GoodSAM app and said: ‘I am a local responder for the sick, elderly and vulnerable or self-isolating during the covid 19 crisis woohoo!

‘I’m part of the 750,000 strong volunteer force in the UK working alongside the NHS Government and council teams to help and assist people in our local communities.’ 

Darren Mason posted: ‘My first day as a NHS volunteer responder #NHS #NotAllHeroesWearCapes #DoingMyPart.’  

Volunteers will be delivering medicines from pharmacies, driving patients to appointments, bringing them home from hospital, making regular phone calls to check on people isolating at home, and transporting medical supplies and equipment for the NHS

Celebrities Rita Ora and Love Island star Alexandra Crane have also signed up.

Rita’s mother Vera Sahatciu, 55, has returned to her job as a psychiatrist to help the NHS with those struggling mentally during the pandemic. The 29-year-old’s singer Elena, 31, has also offered to volunteer.  

Due to the huge response, NHS officials claim the volunteer force will come to the aid of 2.5million at-risk people in the coming weeks.  

Volunteers will be delivering medicines from pharmacies, driving patients to appointments, bringing them home from hospital, making regular phone calls to check on people isolating at home, and transporting medical supplies and equipment for the NHS.

Health professionals, pharmacists and local authorities can upload requests for help on the NHS Volunteer Responders referrer’s portal, and volunteers pick the job they want to do that day and close the task once complete. 

The NHS is using the GoodSAM app, which is usually used by regular NHS volunteers. 

Initial tasks will start buzzing on smart phones nationwide today with more expected over the coming weeks as referrals ramp up.   

Health professionals (Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust tweet pictured), pharmacists and local authorities can upload requests for help on the NHS Volunteer Responders referrer’s portal, and volunteers pick the job they want to do that day and close the task once complete

The Duchess of Cornwall, president of the Royal Voluntary Service, has thanked the 750,000 people who have volunteered to help and revealed she is one of them. 

The Duchess, 72, tested negative for coronavirus, but isolated for 14 days after her husband Charles contracted the Covid-19 illness.

Camilla said: ‘As the proud president of the Royal Voluntary Service, I wanted to send my warmest thanks to all the NHS Volunteer Responders who have come forward in unprecedented numbers to offer help to the NHS.

‘Royal Voluntary Service has been working with the NHS to recruit people in England who can assist those who are most in need of practical and emotional support at this time.

‘Thankfully, the charity has a long and remarkable history of bringing willing volunteers together with the isolated and lonely. That experience is needed more than ever in these challenging times.

‘And today many more NHS Volunteer Responders will get in touch with the people they have so kindly offered to help.

Celebrities Rita Ora (pictured with her mother Vera Sahatciu who has returned to work as a psychiatrist with the NHS) and Love Island star Alexandra Crane have also signed up 

Rita’s mother Vera Sahatciu, 55, has returned to her previous role in a bid to help those struggling with their mental health during these difficult times

‘Everyone working in the NHS is under unimaginable pressure day and night in this crisis.

‘I feel sure that the presence of so many wonderful volunteers will encourage, as well as support, them. I salute each one of you – and thank you with all my heart.’

NHS England said Camilla made a ‘check in and chat’ call with Doris Winfield, 85, from Rickmansworth, who has spent the last two weeks self-isolating.

While Ms Winfield has three daughters who she regularly speaks to, she lives alone and misses her friends and the active social life she used to enjoy.

She said the chat with Camilla ‘meant the world to me’, adding: ‘I’ve been incredibly lonely over the last couple of weeks and it was wonderful to talk to her.

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, has signed up as a volunteer after her own coronavirus scare. She is checking in on Doris Winfield, 85, from Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire

‘We talked about life in isolation and shared hobbies, she was very interested in my family and how I was coping without them. It’s really cheered me up.’

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: ‘The number of people who came forward to help some of the most vulnerable in their communities is truly extraordinary.

‘Today we begin to see the results of these tremendous acts of goodwill from the British public, with volunteers offering support to those who need it most.’

‘Tackling this unprecedented coronavirus challenge means all of us to pulling together, so on behalf of the NHS, thank you to everyone who is playing their part.’

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Strokes, heart attacks and killer flu: PM's who became ill in power

Strokes, heart attacks, drug addiction and a brush with the deadly Spanish flu: Boris Johnson is the latest prime minister to suffer serious health problems while in office

  • Johnson joins a litany of leaders who have suffered serious ill health 
  • Winston Churchill, suffered a serious stroke while prime minister in early 1950s
  • David Lloyd George had a narrow escape from deadly Spanish flu 100 years ago 

Prime ministers through the years have suffered terrible health problems in office that have included strokes, heart attacks and even amphetamine addiction.  

Boris Johnson’s hospitalisation with coronavirus means he joins a litany of leaders who have suffered serious ill health and or been admitted to hospital during their term or terms in office.

They include his hero, Winston Churchill, who famously suffered a serious stroke while prime minister in the early 1950s.

Less well documented and semi-forgotten in the past are the brushes with death and disease suffered by some of his other predecessors in No 10.

Here we look at some of the previous prime ministers who have had health concerns while in the nation’s top political office.

Winston Churchill: 1940-45 and 1951-55

Revered as a war hero and famous for his garrulous character and bustling, often champagne-fuelled energy, Winston Churchill none-the-less struggled with his health behind the scenes.

He suffered a mild heart attack while at the White House in Washington in 1941, just a year after taking over as prime minister, and contracted pneumonia two years later.

In 1949, while opposition leader, he suffered a stroke on holiday, which affected his health to the extent that the King gently suggested he resign as PM in 1951 in favour of Anthony Eden. 

Churchill suffered a second one during an official dinner at No 10 while in office in 1953, leaving him paralysed on one side.

His aides and family conspired to keep news of his illness out of the press, at a time when the Cold War was very chilly and there were fears he may not survive.

Eden’s own illness meant that Churchill did not quit until 1955. He suffered a third stroke the following year and died in 1965. 

David Lloyd George: 1916 to 1922

David Lloyd George was a pugnacious Welshman, the only PM to not speak English as their first language.

Famous for steering the then British Empire through the First World War he was also controversial, with a post-war honours scandal and his love life tarnishing his record, despite introducing universal suffrage in 1918.

In September 1918 he developed a sore throat after visiting Manchester’s Albert Square and mingling in crowds during a ceremony for soldiers and munitions workers.

It later became clear he had Spanish influenza – which was rife in Manchester at the time of his visit. He spent 11 days in hospital and was hooked up to a ventilator before recovering. The disease would go on to kill more than 200,000 people in Britain and millions around the world.

Anthony Eden: 1955 – 57 

Anthony Eden, who served in Churchill’s war Cabinet and succeeded him in 1955, had a long history off ill health that prevented him from taking over from the ailing Churchill sooner.

He has suffered from a stress-related ulcer for decades but underwent  a botched operation in 1953 that left him in regular excruciating pain, requiring rounds of more surgery.

On  top of this he was prescribed benzedrine. They regarded as a harmless stimulant to reduce tiredness, it is a form of amphetamine and can become addictive.  

Eden complained  of insomnia and mood swings, which are side-effects of the drug’s use. 

Some historians have attributed his poor leadership during the 1956 Suez Crisis – seen as the failed last hurrah of British as a world superpower – to this drug use, although its impact is disputed. 

Eden resigned in 1957 and was later elevated to the peerage as Lord Avon. 

Harold Wilson:  1964 to 1970 and 1974 to 1976

Harold Wilson had two terms in office that covered both the Swinging Sixties boom and the industrial-unrest strewn period of the mid 1970s.

Language experts believe the Labour leader’s Commons speeches in the mid-1970s show tell-tale signs of mental decline and hint at the beginning of dementia.

Wilson’s surprise announcement in spring 1976 that he was resigning led to a host of conspiracy theories.

But the research supports the long-held view that he was suffering from some form of dementia. He was later diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. 

He would also go on to be diagnosed with colon cancer, which eventually led to his death in 1995. 

Gordon Brown: 2007 – 10 

The Labour prime minister suffered from decades of sight problems, including during his three-year term in office.

His problems began decades earlier when he lost the sight in his left eye and suffered a loss of vision in his right eye, despite four major operations, after a kick to his head during a school rugby match.

He struggled on with his limited vision but suffered further problems in September 2009. 

In 2017, discussing the incident he said he carried on working for a week without being able to see properly and without informing colleagues.

‘When I woke up in Downing Street one Monday in September, I knew something was very wrong,’ he said. ‘My vision was foggy.’

He was taken to London’s Moorfields Eye Hospital and was told he needed surgery for a torn retina. But after further examinations it was decided it was unnecessary and could lead to further complications.  

Tony Blair: 1997 to 2007

Mr Blair is the longest-serving Labour prime minister ever, with a solid decade in power.

He was also one of the youngest when he took office at the age of 43, and was seen as fit and active.

In 2003 the then 50-year-old spent almost five hours with doctors after suffering chest pains at Chequers, his official countryside home.

He was taken to the nearby Stoke Mandeville Hospital after complaining he was feeling ‘under the weather’, Downing Street said at the time, but did not require an ambulance. 

But he was then moved to London’s Hammersmith hospital which has a specialist coronary care unit. 

Doctors there carried out a series of checks and diagnosed supraventricular tachycardia, in which the heart beats much faster than usual.

They gave him a cardio-version – a treatment to regulate his heartbeat – before letting him return to Downing Street.

The following year he underwent minor surgery under local anesthetic for a ‘heart flutter’.

 Theresa May: 2016-2019

Theresa May was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2012 while Home Secretary.

This version of the pancreas disorder means that she has to maintain her blood sugar level with insulin injections. 

Complications from severe cases can include a loss of blood circulation to extremities, leading to amputations, while untreated ultra high and low blood sugar levels can lead to coma and possibly death.

But she is believed to have kept in robust health while injecting herself with insulin several times a day. She was a noted fan of hill walking with her husband Philip. 

She also used modern technology to keep her condition regulated, using a FreeStyle Libre monitor (pictured on her arm), which allows diabetics to use a mobile phone app to monitor sugar levels, removing the need to test using a finger-prick blood test.

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Dominic Raab: The karate black belt with one year's Cabinet experience

Self-styled ‘tough guy’ and one-time boxing blue with just one year’s Cabinet experience: Ex-Foreign Office lawyer Dominic Raab is a relative new kid on the block – but is no stranger to controversy

  • Dominic Raab now de facto prime minister after Boris Johnson was hospitalised
  • Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State in Cabinet for just over one year 
  • Mr Raab had previously served as Brexit Secretary in Theresa May’s government 
  • He joined Tory leadership contest in 2019 but fell short and backed Mr Johnson
  • Ardent Brexiteer’s loyalty then rewarded by PM as he made him his number two
  • Mr Johnson’s stand in is a former Foreign Office lawyer and a black belt in karate 

Dominic Raab is now the UK’s de facto prime minister after Boris Johnson was hospitalised, with the running of the country placed in the hands of a man who has just one year of Cabinet experience. 

Mr Johnson has asked the Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State to deputise for him while he fights coronavirus in a London intensive care unit. 

The elevation of Mr Raab to the top political job in the country completes what has been a meteoric rise for the former Foreign Office lawyer, karate black belt and Oxford University boxing blue who is no stranger to controversy.      

Dominic Raab, pictured in Westminster today, is now the de facto prime minister after Boris Johnson was hospitalised with coronavirus

Mr Raab’s bulging muscles and athletic frame leap out of a photo taken during his days as an Oxford University boxing blue in 1995

Westminster was stunned last July when Mr Johnson became Prime Minister and chose to select Mr Raab, a self-styled Tory ‘tough guy’, as his future stand-in. 

Many were expecting the 46-year-old to be rewarded with a big job after he backed the PM in the Tory leadership contest having seen his own bid fall flat. 

But few had anticipated Mr Raab being awarded one of the four great offices of state while even fewer predicted he would be designated Mr Johnson’s deputy. 

However, the appointment made political sense for the new premier given Mr Raab’s hardline Brexit credentials.

Mr Raab was one of the most vocal supporters of the UK leaving the EU and his appointment to the highest echelons of government reassured Eurosceptic Tory MPs that the PM was not going to go soft on Brussels after winning power. 

Becoming Foreign Secretary represented a massive step up for Mr Raab in terms of government responsibility having only held one Cabinet role prior to his major promotion. 

Mr Raab, first elected as the Conservative MP for Esher and Walton in 2010, had to wait five years before getting a proper ministerial job. 

And after slowly climbing the Whitehall ladder he finally broke into the Cabinet in July 2018 after receiving the call from Theresa May to be her new Brexit Secretary following the resignation of David Davis. 

However, he would only last until November of the same year as he also quit in protest at the then-PM’s Brexit plans – just like his predecessor.  

Having entered the Tory leadership contest in late May 2019, he was quickly eliminated but swiftly announced he was supporting Mr Johnson’s candidacy. 

He was then subsequently appointed Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State on July 24, 2019. 

That means that as of today, Mr Raab has just over one year of Cabinet experience under his belt – eight months in Mr Johnson’s administration and five in Mrs May’s. 

The designation of Mr Raab as Mr Johnson’s deputy has not been without controversy with some ministers unhappy at the prospect of the Foreign Office chief being put in charge. 

Some members of the government had recently been pushing for Michael Gove, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, to be given the responsibility.     

Mr Raab, pictured with his wife Erika in June 2019 during his Tory leadership run, was first elected as an MP in 2010 

Mr Raab, pictured alongside Mr Johnson in the House of Commons in December last year, will now be tasked with overseeing the UK’s coronavirus response

One minister said a few weeks ago that ‘a lot of people think that Michael should be running the show’ if Mr Johnson became incapacitated and that ‘one of these people is Michael, of course’. 

But Downing Street has been clear for weeks that Mr Raab would take over if the situation demanded it.

Mr Raab has dealt with a number of political controversies since becoming an MP and later a Cabinet minister.  

Upon being appointed Foreign Secretary, Mr Raab was soon thrust into handling the Transatlantic fall-out over the death of British teenager Harry Dunn, who was killed when his motorbike crashed into a car outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire on August 27 last year.

The fact Mr Dunn’s parents tried to heckle Mr Raab at a constituency hustings event was indicative of how well the family felt he dealt with obtaining justice for their son as the government tried and failed to persuade the US to extradite the teenager’s alleged killer.

Mr Raab also had to manage the thorny issue of repatriating children of British jihadis.   

Early on in his parliamentary career Mr Raab sparked a furious row after he wrote an article in which he argued ‘feminists are now amongst the most obnoxious bigots’.

He refused to apologise and stuck by his comments, defending them last year when he was challenged on them during the Tory leadership battle. 

He said he stood by what he had said because he believed it is ‘really important that in the debate on equality we have a consistency and not double standards and hypocrisy’.

Mr Raab, who is married to a Brazilian called Erika who he has two children with, has also said he is ‘probably not’ a feminist, sparking a further backlash. 

He found himself again at the centre of a storm of controversy in May 2017 after claiming that people who use food banks are not typically in poverty but have an occasional ‘cashflow problem’.

The Foreign Secretary first made it to the Cabinet in 2018 when he was appointed Brexit Secretary. He is pictured with Michel Barnier in Brussels in August of that year

Critics labelled the remarks ‘stupid and deeply offensive’. 

He also got into hot water last year after he said he would keep open the option of suspending Parliament in order to prevent MPs blocking Brexit.

His past comments, and his hardline stance on Brexit, have not endeared Mr Raab to his political opponents. 

At the 2019 general election he was relentlessly targeted by the Liberal Democrats in his Surrey constituency and came relatively close to being ousted. 

He had previously held the seat with majorities of more than 20,000 votes but in December he held on with a majority of just under 3,000 as the Lib Dems surged, capitalising on the pro-Remain vote. 

Mr Raab has sought to create something of a ‘hard man’ image in Westminster, with his website boasting that he ‘holds a black belt 3rd dan in karate and is a former UK Southern Regions champion and British squad member’. 

He captained the karate club at Oxford University where he studied law and was also a boxing blue as a member of the institution’s famous amateur boxing club. 

Mr Raab is clearly proud of his time as a university boxer, having previously handed a picture of him in his shorts and vest to a TV company to use for their profile of him. 

He still trains at a boxing club in Thames Ditton and has a poster of Muhammad Ali in his Commons office.

In 2006, he was appointed chief of staff to fellow Tory Mr Davis. The former Special Forces reservist said Mr Raab’s karate black belt impressed him more than his two Oxbridge degrees –  the second came in a form of a Masters from Cambridge.   

Mr Raab said karate helped him cope with the premature death of his father, who had fled to the UK from Czechoslovakia at the age of six in 1938 to escape the Nazis. 

Mr Raab was just 12 when his father died. ‘Sport helped restore my confidence, and that hugely benefited my attitude to school and life,’ he said in May last year.

‘There were strong role models, camaraderie and an ethos of respect. I take the discipline and focus I learnt from sport into my professional life – and I believe that approach is vital to making a success of the Brexit negotiations and delivering a fairer deal from Brussels.’

Despite his karate black belt, Mr Raab is known for his courtesy and was upset when civil servants who worked for him as Brexit Secretary anonymously described him as a bully.

Mr Raab, who previously worked at the Foreign Office as a lawyer, denied claims, made by his former diary secretary, that he insisted on the same Pret a Manger lunch every day.

The ‘Dom Raab special’ apparently consists of a chicken Caesar and bacon baguette, superfruit pot and a vitamin volcano smoothie.    

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Reverend says coronavirus is adding to despair of grieving families

‘We’re witnessing immeasurable heartache’: Reverend tells how coronavirus crisis is adding to despair of grieving families who can’t have church service and must limit number of relatives at funerals

  • Reverend Kim Mannings said she is ‘witnessing families fall apart’ over funerals
  • Curate, 30, at Prescot Parish Church in Merseyside says relatives are suffering 
  • Funeral services can only be held at crematoriums or gravesides – not churches 
  • Only immediate family members can attend while abiding by social distancing

A reverend has told how vicars are seeing ‘immeasurable heartache’ among grieving families who cannot have proper funeral services due to the coronavirus.

Kim Mannings, 30, the curate at Prescot Parish Church in Merseyside, said relatives are suffering through having to limit the number of family members at funerals.

The services can only be held at crematoriums or gravesides – not churches – and only immediate family members can attend while abiding by social distancing.

Reverend Kim Mannings is the curate at Prescot Parish Church in Merseyside (file picture)

And Reverend Mannings told Sky News: ‘Normally when you go to visit a family who are bereaved, you go to their home, you shake their hands, you sit down in their living rooms, you listen as stories are told of the person who they loved so much.

‘You pray for them in person and you make the promise that you’ll make the service as fitting a goodbye as possible. As perfect as possible. 

‘And actually I can’t make that promise right now, I can’t make the promise that the service will be as perfect as possible because it won’t. 

‘You’re having to tell grieving families that they can’t have flowers. That they can’t have more than ten people at the service. They can’t have the service in a church. That some relatives perhaps shouldn’t be present because they’re high-risk.

Reverend Kim Mannings, 30, told Sky News how relatives are suffering through having to limit the number of family members at funerals, which is causing ‘immeasurable heartache’

Mourners spaced out for social distancing at a funeral at a burial ground in Chislehurst, South East London, for Ismail Abdulwahab, 13, who died after testing positive for coronavirus

‘When you look around and there’s key people missing there at the graveside. We’re just witnessing families fall apart. We’re just witnessing immeasurable heartache.

‘And whilst I might believe with all of my heart that death is not the end, that Jesus walked among the mess and the death of this world and conquered death forever, we know that it really hurts now, that people are really hurting now.

‘And it’s those families who I will really, really be praying for this night.’

Mrs Mannings, who is married to pianist Stephen, 36, is a former secondary school religious education teacher who was ordained a priest in Liverpool last year.  

The Bishop of Gloucester, the Right Reverend Rachel Treweek, has told how funerals are ‘going to be different for the foreseeable future’

While weddings were banned when the lockdown was brought in on March 23 and all churches were ordered to close, funerals are still allowed to take place.

However they are subject to strict limits on numbers present and social distancing rules, with only the partner, parents and children of the deceased allowed to attend.

No wake or gathering should be now held following any funeral, and this should be scheduled for a later date – along with any larger memorial service in the future. 

The Church of England has also issued recommendations on using technology to capture the event for those who are unable to be there in person. 

Speaking about funerals last month, the Bishop of Gloucester, the Right Reverend Rachel Treweek, said: ‘When someone we love dies, it is a time of great sadness.

‘Funerals are significant events to mark the end of a person’s life here on earth, and family and friends come together to express grief, give thanks for the life lived and commend the person into God’s keeping.

‘As we adapt to the threat of Covid-19 in our society the nature of funerals is having to change because we all need to be keeping people safe in line with government guidelines.

‘However, while funerals are going to be different for the foreseeable future we remain committed to offering pastoral and spiritual support as we share the love and hope of Jesus Christ.’ 

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George Pell faces civil lawsuits after being freed from jail

George Pell’s legal woes far from over: Cardinal will still have to face a surge of civil cases from alleged sexual abuse victims after being cleared of molesting two choirboys

  • Cardinal George Pell had his convictions for sexually assaulting boys quashed
  • He still faces at least 10 potential civil lawsuits after he walked free from jail
  • One is already filed alleging he did nothing to stop another priest abusing a boy
  • Father of one of the choirboys in the quashed conviction case also plans to sue
  • He blames Pell for his son’s drug addiction that led to heroin overdose in 2014 

Cardinal George Pell’s legal woes are far from over even after he walked from prison a free man with his child sexual abuse convictions overturned.

Australia’s most senior Catholic faces at least 10 potential civil lawsuits claiming he either molested other boys or covered up abuse by fellow priests.

One claim was filed in the Victorian Supreme Court last year by a victim of notorious paedophile priest Edward ‘Ted’ Dowlan, alleging Pell did nothing to protect him.

Melbourne lawyer Vivian Waller is handling eight other civil cases against the 78-year-old clergyman and more are expected from other complainants.

Child sexual abuse convictions against Cardinal George Pell (pictured leaving jail) were overturned by the High Court on Tuesday, ending a three-year legal battle and setting him free

Pell was jailed for six years in 2018 for sexually abusing two choirboys in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in 1996.

Two of three Court of Appeals justices upheld the jury’s verdict last year but a full bench of the High Court unanimously quashed the convictions.

Many of the alleged victims were waiting until after the High Court appeal before launching their own cases, so a flurry of suits could hit courts within days. 

They include the father of one of the two choirboys Pell was convicted of molesting in St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in 1996, before it was overturned by the High Court on Tuesday.

The father, who can’t be named, of the choirboy codenamed R blames Pell for his son spiralling into a drug addiction that led to his heroin overdose death in 2014.

The sole already-filed case concerns a man who was abused during Dowlan’s time at East Melbourne’s Cathedral College between 1982 and 1988.

He claims Pell knew of Dowlan’s criminal ways and was complicit in moving him between schools across the state, allowing the abuse to continue. 

Convicted pedophile Christian Brother Edward ‘Ted’ Dowlan is in prison after abusing 20 boys in the 1970s and 1980s as a teacher at schools across Melbourne and western Victoria. The civil case launched by one of his victims claims Cardinal George Pell knew of Dowlan’s criminal ways but did nothing to remove him from his teaching position or end the abuse

Archbishop of Melbourne Peter Comensoli (pictured left) is named in the civil suit alongside Cardinal Pell and Bishop of Ballarat Paul Bird (pictured right) 

Dowlan admitted abusing boys since 1971 when he was among a ring of pedophiles at St Alipius Primary School in Ballarat that included predators Robert Best and Gerald Ridsdale. 

Pell was the episcopal vicar for education in the Ballarat diocese from 1973 to 1984.

Bishop of Ballarat Paul Bird, Archbishop of Melbourne Peter Comensoli and the Catholic Education Commission, are also named in the suit. 

Lawyer Michael Magazanik, representing the applicant victim, told the court last year there was no question the abuse occurred and his client had been compensated for it previously.

The diocese of Ballarat or the Catholic Church’s insurers would most likely bear the brunt of the lawsuits as under new laws the church entity that is able to fund the legal proceedings is named as the primary defendant.

Pell and any other parties could still be named on the lawsuit in addition.

The newly-released cardinal has little money to mount a defence or pay damages. His criminal defence was paid for by wealthy benefactors. 

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Nursing homes call for urgent testing after coronavirus deaths surge

Nursing home staff call for urgent testing after number of coronavirus deaths in care surges

  • In Portsmouth, four elderly residents at Harry Sotnick House have died after showing Covid-19 symptoms and a fifth died without symptoms 
  • Three major care home firms told the Daily Mail that no staff or residents had been tested despite witnessing a spate of deaths at the weekend 
  • Dozens of care homes have been warned that going to hospital was ‘undesirable’ if a vulnerable resident got coronavirus despite being otherwise healthy

More than a dozen new care home deaths were reported yesterday – as tributes were paid to the first named carer suspected to have died of coronavirus. 

A single care home in Liverpool has now lost nine residents, with two more in a critical condition in hospital and one staff member testing positive for the virus. 

This means there have now been nearly 50 Covidrelated deaths in UK care homes – but the lack of testing means it is impossible to know the true scale of the crisis. 

At the weekend, three major care home firms told the Daily Mail that no staff or residents had been tested despite witnessing a spate of deaths. 

An elderly man in wheelchair at window in residential home 

At the Oak Springs Care Home in Wavertree, three residents died at the weekend, with one of them testing positive for the virus, raising the death toll to nine since the outbreak of the pandemic. 

Home manager Andrea Lyon said: ‘We are battling on and I can’t praise my team highly enough. They are under great strain.’ 

Last night Liverpool Wavertree MP Paula Barker said: ‘Social care staff must be treated the same as NHS workers, the residents of these care homes must be tested and the Government must come up with a national strategy for our care homes.’ 

In Portsmouth, four elderly residents at Harry Sotnick House have died after showing Covid-19 symptoms and a fifth died without symptoms. 

As Nicola Sturgeon revealed a care worker in Scotland had died with the virus, tributes were paid to Carol Jamabo, pictured, the first known care worker to have died. 

The mother-of-two, 56, worked for Cherish Elderly Care in Bury, Greater Manchester, but became ill around a week before her death last Wednesday, her family said. 

Her condition deteriorated so quickly that she was alone when she died at Salford Royal Hospital. 

Nephew Dakuro Fiberesima, from Purfleet, Essex, said: ‘She was just an amazing aunt. 

She was a funloving person with many friends and will be remembered for her uplifting, joyful personality.’ 

STOCK IMAGE: An elderly man in a care home is comforted by a carer

Elderly told: Say no to hospital 

Elderly patients are being pressured into refusing hospital treatment under ‘shameful and discriminatory’ blanket guidelines, leading charities have warned. 

Dozens of care homes have been told to check that vulnerable patients have signed Do Not Resuscitate orders and warned that going to hospital was ‘undesirable’ if they got coronavirus. 

But campaigners say this means elderly patients who are mostly fit and well could be denied potentially lifesaving treatment if they get coronavirus, potentially breaching their human rights. 

Yesterday a group of organisations issued a joint statement saying that thousands of older patients had been left believing ‘their lives and wishes do not matter’. 


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Tropical Cyclone Harold lashes Vanuatu

Wellington: In Vanuatu, homes have been destroyed and livelihoods ruined by Tropical Cyclone Harold, which passed through the country's northern islands as a category-five system, wreaking devastation.

Cyclone Harold passed through the Solomon Islands on its way to Vanuatu and could reach Fiji later in the week.

The total scale of the destruction is not yet clear as main communication lines have been cut off to the hardest hit islands of the archipelago nation.

But pictures from Espiritu Santo and Malo Islands show villages reduced to ruins by the storm, which reportedly carried 235km/h winds, overnight.

Radio NZ reports that houses have collapsed, roads have flooded, the coastline has been battered.

The country's second-biggest settlement, Luganville, was close to the eye of the storm – around 200km north of the capital, Port Vila.

There are yet to be any reports of loss of life.

Harold is the most brutal cyclone to hit the South Pacific in at least two years.

The storm remains as a category-five system, the highest classification, and has moved east of Vanuatu.

It will reach Fiji in the next 72 hours if it continues on its current direction and speed.


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WHO slams 'racist' calls for Africa to be covid-19 testing ground

WHO slams scientists’ ‘racist’ calls for Africa to be coronavirus vaccine testing ground as it hits out at hangover from ‘colonial mentality’

  • Director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus gave tele-conference Monday
  • He said: ‘Africa cannot and will not be a testing ground for any vaccine’
  • Comes after French doctors claimed last week Africa was the ideal testing site
  • Meanwhile Tedros announced covid-19 awareness concert featuring Lady Gaga

The WHO chief today angrily slammed scientists as ‘racist’ for calling on Africa to become the world’s coronavirus testing ground.

‘Africa cannot and will not be a testing ground for any vaccine,’ WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual news conference, adding that the suggestion was a hangover from the ‘colonial mentality’. 

‘It was a disgrace, appalling, to hear during the 21st century, to hear from scientists, that kind of remark. We condemn this in the strongest terms possible, and we assure you that this will not happen,’ the former Ethiopian health minister added.

It comes as world powers are racing to find an antidote to the contagion which has so far infected more than 1.3million people globally and killed over 70,000. A vaccine is estimated to be 12 to 18 months away.

It comes after two French doctors were accused of racism last week for suggesting that Africa should be the testing ground because the people there are highly exposed. 

Jean-Paul Mira, head of intensive care at Cochin hospital in Paris, said: ‘If I can be provocative, shouldn’t we be doing this study in Africa, where there are no masks, no treatments, no resuscitation?

‘A bit like as it is done elsewhere for some studies on Aids. In prostitutes, we try things because we know that they are highly exposed and that they do not protect themselves.’

Camille Locht, head of research at the Inserm health research group agreed ‘you are right’ and added that a study in Africa was already being considered.

He said: ‘We are in the process of thinking about a study in parallel in Africa.’

The comments caused outrage on social media with many viewers calling the comments racist.

Former footballer Didier Drogba tweeted: ‘It is totally inconceivable we keep on cautioning this. Africa is not a testing lab.

Footballer Didier Drogba denounced the doctors’ words as ‘deeply racist’ and ‘demeaning’ 

Meanwhile Tedros today discussed the WHO’s recent teaming up with Lady Gaga for a coronavirus awareness concert. 

The event on April 18 titled ‘One World: Together at Home’ is billed as a ‘global broadcast and digital special to support frontline healthcare workers’ and the WHO. 

The gig will feature stars including Andrea Bocelli, Chris Martin, David Beckham, Elton John, John Legend, Keith Urban, Lang Lang, Paul McCartney, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Shah Rukh Khan and Stevie Wonder.

‘We want to highlight the gravity of this historical, unprecedented cultural movement… and we want to celebrate and encourage the power of the human spirit,’ Gaga said during a news conference Monday. 

The 34-year-old said the broadcast event is not a fundraiser, and the money would all be raised before it goes on air so people can simply enjoy it.

‘When we go live, put your wallets away, put your credit cards away, just sit back and enjoy the show that you all very much deserve,’ she said.

She added: ‘We are very grateful to healthcare professionals across the country and around the world who are on the front line during Covid-19.

TV special: Lady Gaga is curating performers for a historic global broadcast to highlight the fight against COVID-19

Star-studded: Stars such as Billie Eilish and Elton John will be making an appearance

‘This global pandemic is a catastrophe. I am so thankful to them and I am praying for those who are sick.

‘I would like to reiterate my deep gratitude to the medical community. My heart is aching and warm for those who are ER doctors and nurses who are sleeping in cars to make sure they don’t infect their families and patients.

‘They are putting themselves in harms way to help the world and we salute you. You are a triumph.’

She added her prayers were also with people who had lost their jobs.

Rockers: There will be performances from some of the biggest names in music and multi-million dollar pledges to the WHO’s Solidarity Response Fund. Pictured is Chris Martin and Keith Urban who have been announced as appearing on the show

Musician John Legend is also on the list of star appearances. The special will also feature interviews with experts from the WHO as well as stories from healthcare workers on the front lines of the global pandemic 

Gaga said she had been working to raise money for WHO’s Solidarity Response Fund – in seven days she had encouraged people to donate 35 million dollars.

The concert will be broadcast on BBC One on April 19, as well as YouTube, Apple, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more platforms.

The line up for the broadcast so far includes: Alanis Morissette, Andrea Bocelli, Billie Eilish, Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, Burna Boy, Chris Martin, David Beckham, Eddie Vedder, Elton John, FINNEAS, Friends of Sesame Street, Idris and Sabrina Elba, J Balvin, John Legend, Kacey Musgraves, Keith Urban, Kerry Washington, Lang Lang, Lizzo, Maluma, Paul McCartney, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Shah Rukh Khan and Stevie Wonder.

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