News Headlines

1. Face Masks

Experts on the Government’s Scientific Advisory Committee will discuss the issue of advising the public to wear masks in public during the Coronavirus pandemic today. Chris Hopson of NHS providers said that the impact on the health service must be fully assessed and that securing the supply of masks where there’s huge global demand is crucial. There had to be clear evidence he said that wearing masks will deliver significant benefits to help take the country out of lockdown. Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, is among those in favour of encouraging people in the UK to wear masks or face coverings in public.

2. Dentists

It’s 4 weeks now since dentist practices were closed and NHS England has since set up emergency dental centres. The BDA says more than half the 1,000 dentists it surveyed didn’t have proper protection. It claims NHS England has been slow to set up the emergency centres. Dentists want to help the patients in pain but they are unable to deliver that care as they need the support of having the correct protection. Eddie Crouch from the BDA says it’s ridiculous that some patients have been driven to pulling their own teeth out because they can’t see a dentist.

3. Cyber Crime

There’s a warning that cybercriminals are taking advantage of people spending more time on the internet during the pandemic. In the last month more than 2,000 online scams related to Coronavirus have been taken down by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) part of GCHQ including 471 fake online shops as well as 200 sites seeking to steal credit card details. Today a new suspicious email reporting service is being launched to make it easier for people to forward dubious emails to the NCSC.

4. Parliament

MPs are set to approve plans for virtual sittings in the House of Commons. Under the proposals, 120 MPs would be able to take part via video link with attendance in the Chamber limited to 50. The House of Lords will also allow remote contributions from this week via the computer program Zoom. Screens have been placed around the commons chamber to allow members to see those contributing away from Westminster. Some hope electronic voting will now follow. They will be asked to apply to take part remotely with a list of those being successful published in advance.

5. Plant Infection

Xylella fastidiosa is a plant infection spread by insects like spittlebugs. It has killed millions of olive trees in Italy crippling the farming there. The UK government is moving to ensure that the disease does not make it’s way here. Restrictions on imports of olive trees, lavender, rosemary and almond come into force where exporters will have to prove that plants come from areas free from the disease. The species of trees in the UK that are susceptible to the Xylella infection if it reached the UK are the oak, elm and plane trees.

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