PRIME Minister Boris Johnson has defended his top aide Dominic Cummings and refused to ask him to resign.
Mr Cummings travelled to his parents in Durham in late March, before being spotted out at a nearby beauty spot on April 12, when he claimed to be self-isolating with coronavirus.
Mr Cummings was later reportedly seen in Houghall Woods with his wife Mary Wakefield on April 19, despite being in Downing Street a few days earlier.
Witnesses say they were shocked when they saw the senior aide 260 miles from his London residence despite the Government message at the time being to remain at home.
Speaking at Sunday's Downing Street press conference, Boris Johnson insisted he had taken the allegations extremely seriously.
He said: "It’s because I take this matter so seriously that I've had extensive face to face conversations with Dominic Cummings.
“When he had no alternative, I think he followed the instincts of every father and every parent.
"Though there have been many other allegations about what happened when he was in self-isolation, thereafter, some of the palpably false.
"I believe that in every respect that he has acted responsibly and legally and with integrity and with the overwhelming aim of stopping the spread of the virus and saving lives."
Meanwhile, diabetics could be told to shield at home beyond lockdown as the UK death toll rose to 36,793 with 118 more deaths.
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BA CREW PICTURED WITHOUT PPE
Social distancing was non-existent on a British Airways flights yesterday, with dozens of passengers within inches of each other on touchdown.
There was the usual scramble for the exit on arriving at Heathrow airport with no attempt to keep flyers’ apart.
A photo sent to The Sun showed people apparently oblivious to coronavirus lockdown rules as they arrived in the UK from Amsterdam. Crew were also not wearing gloves or face-masks.
One airline source said of BA Flight 431: “Everyone seems to have given up on social distancing. We’re calling it the ‘Dominic Cummings effect’.
“There was no hesitation whatsoever among the passengers. In recent weeks staff have been doing their best to keep people apart, but there is no effort now.
“It’s shocking how quickly we appear to have returned to normal.”
For the full story, click HERE.
BORIS JOHNSON SAYS SHOPS COULD REOPEN
The Prime Minister has hinted shops could reopen and families may be able to be meet up in social “bubbles” as further lockdown measures are set to be eased next week.
Boris Johnson has said Britain is heading into “step two” of his plan to get the country moving again.
Mr Johnson suggested last night that lockdown measures could be eased further as he spoke during the Downing Street press conference.
He confirmed the country appears to be “in a position to move to step two” on his road map back to some kind of normality amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The second stage is hoped to begin on June 1 – next Monday – if the government is satisfied with the progress made in controlling the pandemic.
For the full story, click HERE.
BELGIUM WILL NOT RETURN TO LOCKDOWN
Belgium's interior minister announced that the country will not return to strict lockdown measures even if there is a second wave of Covid-19 cases.
The country of 11.5 million was closed down in mid-March, with only shops and pharmacies open.
Pieter De Crem told VTM: “The first lockdown has taken care of the situation in which we have ended up.
“These were exceptional circumstances, but we never had Italian or Spanish conditions.
“If there was a second wave, then I think we will find ourselves in a different situation, namely with testing and tracing.
“But I think we can rule out that we will have to go back to tough measures.”
AIR-FILLED HIPPO SUITS SELLING OUT
Hundreds of air-filled hippo suits are flying off the shelves as shoppers in the US are using them as protective suits to hug loved ones.
Sales of the outfits skyrocketed after one girl put the suit on to visit her mum living in a care home.
Both comical and heartwarming, a clip shows the woman in the hippo suit greeting her mum with open arms outside Fox Trails Senior Living Home in Virginia, USA.
The woman's mum can be heard saying: “This is so wonderful!” as she cuddled her daughter for the first time since lockdown.
Costume retailer HalloweenCostume.com said they sold 75 hippo suits in 2019, but this year they have sold 450 so far as people use them to give loved ones as squeeze.
DAVID ATTENBOROUGH CALLS FOR RENEWED FOCUS ON CLIMATE CHANGE
Sir David Attenborough said climate change has been “wiped off the front pages” by the coronavirus outbreak.
The 94-year-old broadcaster suggested the outbreak could be a result in increased co-operation between countries – something that would help in the battle against climate change.
Speaking on So Hot Right Now podcast, 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.”
FIRE BRIGADES UNION HIT OUT AT MPS OVER CUTS
Firefighter bosses said they cannot be thanked for the hard work they have done during the coronavirus pandemic with further cuts.
The Fire Brigades Union wrote to Boris Johnson demanding a halt to further budget cuts as they “prepare for the next national emergency.”
Matt Wrack, general secretary for the union said firefighters are “absolutely staggered” by the proposed cuts to the service at a time when they going above and beyond the call of duty.
He said: “We are firefighters volunteering to drive ambulances, to move bodies, to move face masks into the health service.
“I think for us the pandemic shows a woeful lack of preparation in public services, and a key part of that is we've lost hundreds and thousands of jobs in frontline public services in the past decade, including in the fire and rescue service.”
SOUTH KOREAN PUPIL TESTS POSITIVE
Several schools in Seoul, South Korea, have closed down after a Kindergarten student contracted Covid-19 from his teacher.
The news of the six-year-old boy's illness came just two days before the second phase of the country's return to school.
The art teacher, who tested positive on Sunday had taught 35 students at Young Rembrandts, a private art school in Magok of Ganseo.
Ten nearby Kindergartens and five elementary schools will remain closed for two days so they can be disinfected.
GOOD MORNING BRITAIN SLAM CUMMINGS
Presenters Charlotte Hawkins and Ben Shephard hit out at shamed Dominic Cummings on GMB this morning.
The duo said how they had received dozens of emails from viewers insisting that lockdown was “over” after the lack of discipline that Cummings has faced from his actions.
One viewer's email was read out: “Dominic Cummings' actions and Boris Johnson's absolute backing of them have really upset me.
“His excuse was that he was just being a good, noble, understanding father is just a slap in the face for all those who missed their parents' funerals, to those who couldn't see their child in hospital, to anyone frightened and alone that did obey the law.”
'WOBBLE ROOMS FOR NHS STAFF'
The millions raised by Sir Tom Moore are being spent on health and wellbeing areas for NHS staff.
Known as 'wobble rooms', the calming spaces will have massage chairs, tablets for staff to keep in touch with their loved ones, sleep pods, kettles, microwaves and fridges.
The rooms are for staff to unwind after a long shift or just to take a moment to look after their mental health.
Elaine Manderson, 48, lead nurse for critical care at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in west London said Sir Moore's donations have been “incredibly uplifting”.
BACK TO SCHOOL
Mike Tindall has today revealed he and wife Zara will be sending their daughter back to school on June 1.
The former England former rugby player said the “novelty” for his daughter to be taught by him had worn off after a week and a half.
He joked to Good Morning Britain: ” The first week was brilliant because it's a different environment and she was excited to be home.
“Then once that effect has work off it's just a dad teaching you again, like yeah whatever I can walk off or go outside or turn the TV on in other room.”
He said he had been homeschooling in the morning with Zara picked it up in the afternoon.
A zoo dubbed the worst in Britain is threatening to put down its animals because of a cash crisis.
Borth Wild Animal Kingdom in West Wales is shut for the lockdown and the married couple who run it fear they only have enough money for a week more to feed more than 300 animals.
Tracy and Dean Tweedy say their money is running out to care for their stock – and would consider euthanising their animals as a last resort.
STAY AT HOME
Diabetics may have to stay at home to shield against the coronavirus once lockdown is lifted.
Research has shown that sufferers are at a significantly greater risk of dying if they catch the Covid-19 virus.
Prof Peter Horby, the chairman of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), said diabetes was being considered as part of an “active review” of the most vulnerable groups.
Earlier this week it emerged that almost one in three people who have died from coronavirus in hospital had diabetes.
WILLIAMSON SUPPORTS CUMMINGS
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has today he “absolutely” believes Dominic Cummings after the adviser told the PM he did not break the coronavirus lockdown.
He told Sky News this morning: “If he's made it clear to the Prime Minister, I absolutely believe that assurance.
“I wouldn't expect someone not giving the categorical truth.”
He said the government was now “absolutely focused in terms of the next stages” of bringing the country out of lockdown.
The Bishop of Manchester David Walker has called for the sacking of Dominic Cummings.
The Bishop wrote: “Deeply grateful for my colleagues who have said what I feel too.
“Unless very soon we see clear repentance, including the sacking of Cummings, I no longer know how we can trust what ministers say sufficiently for @churchofengland to work together with them on the pandemic.”
The top Downing Street aide was given his full support from Boris Johnson after allegations he had broken lockdown rules.
The husband of the station worker dead of Covid-19 after being spat on has told of his fury for the first time.
Lusamba Katalay wept as he told how the loss of Belly Mujinga, 47, has destroyed the whole world for him and his 11-year-old daughter.
His angry and anguished words come days after detectives quizzed and released a man aged 57.
He said: “I don’t know how I’d react if I saw the man who did this.
“I’m normally reasonable but I’m so devastated right now I might lose it and attack him, I just don’t know. And my anger won’t bring her back.”
Met Police officers last night swooped on a man “about to stab a member of the public” in Harlesden.
The force said the cops had been doing proactive patrols when they came across the chaotic scenes.
They said: “He became violent, coughing on officers & claiming to have COVID-19, which will not be tolerated.
“He has now been charged & remanded.
“A life saved & another knife off the streets.”
PATIENTS STOP BEING INFECTIOUS AFTER 11 DAYS, STUDY FINDS
COVID-19 patients cannot infect others after 11 days of being sick even if they still test positive, groundbreaking research has found.
Scientists in Singapore discovered that a victim becomes contagious around two days before they begin developing symptoms.
Patients are then able to transmit the bug for between seven and ten days after they begin feeling ill.
However, the experts found that the new coronavirus “could not be isolated or cultured after day 11”, reports The New York Post.
The scientists from Singapore's National Center for Infectious Diseases and the Academy of Medicine studied 73 people who were suffering from Covid-19.
Patients who still displayed symptoms after 14 days could be picking up parts of the respiratory disease that cannot be passed to others.
AUSTRALIAN SCHOOLS AND BUSINESSES REOPEN
Australian states are pressing ahead with a three-stage plan to remove most social restrictions imposed by July.
In New South Wales, which includes the city of Sydney, children returned to full-time face-to-face learning on Monday, allowing many parents to return to offices.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said the reopening of schools is essential for revive Australia's economy.
The PM is also pressing locals to begin holidays locally to help support Australia's tourism sector.
International borders are still likely to remain closed for months.
GLOBAL DEATH TOLL PASSES 340,000
The global death toll from coronavirus has passed 340,000.
The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at 5,344,539, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.
There have been 342,695 deaths officially linked to coronavirus around the world.
CUMMINGS SLAMMED BY SCIENTISTS WHO COULDN'T BE AT HIS DAYING DAD'S SIDE
Neuroscientist Dean Burnett, 37, said he was “mind-sappingly enraged” over accusations the government’s chief aide had broken the restriction rules to visit his parents in Durham.
Mr Burnett, 37, said: “I wasn’t there for MY FATHER’S DEATH from covid19! And haven’t seen any friends or family since. Because of lockdown. I could never live with inflicting this pain on others.”
Speaking to The Mirror, he slammed the actions of Mr Cummings as “vile selfishness” and added: “When my dad Peter contracted Covid-19, I couldn’t see him. When he went to hospital, I couldn’t visit him. And when he passed away, I couldn’t be there.”
FRONTLINE DOCTOR VOWS TO RESIGN IF CUMMINGS KEEPS JOB
An NHS doctor working in a coronavirus intensive care unit has said he will resign by the end of the week if Dominic Cummings has not done so by then.
Dr Dominic Pimenta, a cardiology registrar, tweeted a picture of himself wearing the protective equipment he has needed for the past two months, saying: “This stuff is hot and hard work” adding “haven't seen my parents since January”.
Dr Pimenta said the Prime Minister's senior aide, who has been accused of breaching Covid-19 lockdown rules, “spits in the face of all our efforts”.
He said he will announce his decision to quit by the end of the week if Mr Cummings is still in his position, adding he “wouldn't be surprised” if other NHS staff did the same.
BRITS FLOCK TO BEAUTY SPOTS DESPITE PLEAS TO STAY AWAY
Sunny weather drew out cooped up families as they headed to Birling Gap near Eastbourne – packing out car parks this bank holiday weekend.
Cars were seen lining up and down the road near the beauty spot after the government gave the green light for travel for unlimited exercise and day trips.
And with the prospect of no work for most tomorrow, Brits appear to be making the most of their Sunday.
Families were spotted enjoying ice lollies in Cambridge while others soaked up the sun in Bournemouth and Brighton.
TRAPEZE ARTIST TRAPPED IN SPAIN, FALLS AND DIES DURING LOCKDOWN
Guadalupe Videla, 29, from Uruguay, smashed her skull on the ground in a freak accident in the town of Beasain, in the north of the country.
The gymnast plunged around five feet and missed the safety mat by inches.
She was rushed to hospital but died hours later.
The accident that led to her death occurred as she was practising for a new show with other acrobats.
Circus director Pele Rossi insisted Guadalupe may not have died if she had fallen from a greater height.
He said: “If she had been higher up when she fell she would have had time to twist round.”
Guadalupe had been stranded in the town, east of Bilbao, since the middle of March with the Il Circo Italiano circus company she has recently joined.
U.S. IMPOSES BAN ON TRAVEL FROM BRAZIL
The White House announced it is prohibiting foreigners from traveling to the U.S. if they had been in Brazil in the last two weeks.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the new restrictions would help ensure foreign nationals do not bring additional infections to the US.
The decision follows comments the national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, made to CBS: “We hope that’ll be temporary, but because of the situation in Brazil, we’re going to take every step necessary to protect the American people”.
Brazil became the world number two hot spot for coronavirus cases on Friday, second only to the US.
The South American nation has recorded over 347,000 infections, while the US has over 1.6 million.
JAPAN CONSIDERS SECOND EXTRA BUDGET OF 100 TRILLION YEN
Japan's government is considering compiling a second extra budget for the current fiscal year worth over 100 trillion yen ($929.45 billion).
The additional funds would be to combat the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Monday.
The budget will include 60 trillion yen for expanding low-interest rate loan schemes for firms hit by the pandemic, and 27 trillion yen for other financial aid programmes, the paper said.
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