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Coronavirus: Boost for holidaymakers as ‘air bridges’ plan backed by government | Politics News

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Britons hoping for a summer holiday abroad have been given hope by a plan to exempt those travelling to countries with low infection rates from quarantine when they return home.

The proposal to come up with so-called “air bridges” between the UK and destinations where the outbreak is under control was backed the transport secretary.

Grant Shapps approved of the idea floated by senior Tory MP Huw Merriman, as the public were warned by a top government adviser, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, they may have to live with COVID-19 for “several years”.

Transport sec on Flybe
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Grant Shapps said the government should consider the proposal

Sunseekers’ hopes of a trip abroad have been dampened in recent days, as the number of coronavirus-related deaths in the UK climbed to more than 34,000.

Asked if summer was cancelled last week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock admitted: “I think that’s likely to be the case.

“It is unlikely that big, lavish international holidays are going to be possible for this summer. I just think that’s a reality of life.”

But they may have been salvaged by the idea of air bridges, which would see agreements sought with countries with low R numbers – the average amount of people someone with the virus infects – to let passengers travel between them without going into quarantine.

Currently, plans are for all those arriving in the UK to be told to go into self-isolation for two weeks, which could put many people off jetting off abroad.

Mr Shapps signalled those returning from countries where air bridge agreements have been secured may avoid the quarantine.

“It is the case we should consider further improvements – for example, things like air bridges enabling people from other countries who have themselves achieved lower levels of coronavirus infection to come to the country,” he told the Commons on Monday.

“So, those are active discussions that go beyond what will initially be a blanket situation.”

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Charlie Hebdo: Terror investigation after attacks near magazine’s former offices in Paris | World News

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French terrorism authorities are investigating an attack that wounded two journalists near the former offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

Emergency services were called to the scene in Rue Nicolas Appert, in the 11th arrondissement, near the Richard Lenoir Metro station, at around 11.40am local time.

French firefighters load one of the several people injured into a waiting ambulance near the former offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo following an alleged attack by a man wielding a knife in the capital Paris on September 25, 2020. - The threats coincide with the trial of 14 suspected accomplices of the perpetrators of the massacres at Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket that left a total of 17 dead. (Photo by Alain JOCARD / AFP) (Photo by ALAIN JOCARD/AFP via Getty Image
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French firefighters load one of the several people injured into a waiting ambulance

Prime Minister Jean Castex, who went to the scene, said two people who work for documentary film company Premieres Lignes were seemingly attacked at random while they were having a cigarette break.

One witness told Europe 1 radio: “I was in my office. I heard screams in the road. I looked out of the window and saw a woman who was lying on the floor and had taken a whack in the face from what was possibly a machete.”

Kader Alfa, another witness, told Associated Press: “I saw a guy that was in his 30s or 40s with an axe in his hand who was walking behind a victim covered in blood…I can’t tell you how many victims there was, I just saw one.”

Paul Moreira, who is the founder of Premieres Lignes, confirmed two of his colleagues were injured.

He said: “It’s somebody who was in the road with a meat cleaver who attacked them in front of our offices. It was chilling.”

Mr Castex said the main attacker had been arrested, a second person was in custody and that the victims’ injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.

Emergency services flocked to the scene in the 11th arrondissement
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Emergency services flocked to the scene in the 11th arrondissement

“This attack happened in a symbolic place at the same time as the trial of the terrible attacks on Charlie Hebdo,” he added.

He promised the government’s “unfailing attachment to freedom of the press, and its determination to fight terrorism”.

A blade found at the scene was described by police sources as a machete or a meat cleaver.

Armed officers were seen patrolling the road after the attack on Friday
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Armed officers were seen patrolling the road after the attack on Friday

Europe 1 Radio quoted police officials as saying the main suspect was 18 and was known to security services.

The incident comes three weeks after 14 people, who have suspected links to homegrown Islamist militants, went on trial following the Charlie Hebdo attack in the same street.

A total of 12 people died and 11 people were injured after two brothers, Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, stormed the offices of the satirical weekly newspaper with guns and began shooting in January 2015.

The brothers escaped and were later shot dead by police after a stand-off.

The motive for the latest stabbing is unclear, and it is not known whether it is linked to Charlie Hebdo, which has now moved out of the area.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex (centre) speaks to journalists with the French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin (right) and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo (left)
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French Prime Minister Jean Castex (centre) speaks to journalists with the French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin (right) and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo (left)

On the opening day of the trial, the magazine re-ran a series of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed, which Muslims consider blasphemous.

The trial, which will see the attackers’ widows testify, was still set to go ahead this afternoon.

The writers of Charlie Hebdo showed their solidarity with the victims of the attack on Friday.

They posted on Twitter: “Charlie’s entire team provides support and solidarity to his former neighbours and colleagues @PLTVfilms and to those affected by this heinous attack.”

Since the Charlie Hebdo mass shooting, France has faced several other terrorist attacks.

In November 2015, there were a series of bombings in Paris and a mass shooting at the Bataclan music venue during an Eagles of Death Metal concert. A total of 130 people died and more than 400 were said to be injured.

Eight months later, in July 2016, an Islamist militant drove a truck through a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, which killed 86 people and injured more than 450.



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Coronavirus: World leaders must overcome differences to fight COVID-19, PM to warn | World News

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Boris Johnson will warn the coronavirus pandemic has divided the international community, as he pledges hundreds of millions of pounds to the World Health Organisation to fight future viruses.

In a speech at the UN General Assembly later, the prime minister will warn that countries must work together and overcome the divisions created by the global health crisis or risk it spiralling out of control.

Mr Johnson will also make a large financial commitment to the WHO, making the UK the largest country-donor to the organisation just months after Donald Trump froze US funding.



Bereaved share stories of COVID deaths as disease reaches one million dead







Bereaved share COVID stories as disease reaches one million dead

He will say: “After nine months of fighting COVID, the very notion of the international community looks tattered.

“We know that we cannot continue in this way. Unless we unite and turn our fire against our common foe, we know that everyone will lose.

“Now is the time therefore – here at what I devoutly hope will be the first and last ever Zoom UNGA – for humanity to reach across borders and repair these ugly rifts.”

The prime minister will also unveil an ambitious plan, timed to coincide with the UK presidency of the G7 next year, designed to prevent future global health crisis.

In his pre-recorded speech, Mr Johnson will add: “Here in the UK, the birthplace of Edward Jenner who pioneered the world’s first vaccine, we are determined to do everything in our power to work with our friends across the UN to heal those divisions and to heal the world.”



Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer







Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer argue about coronavirus testing

The five point plan, developed with the Wellcome Trust and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, aims to identify dangerous pathogens which could make the leap between animals and humans before they lead to COVID-like pandemics.

He will also commit to an extra £71m for 27 million vaccine doses for the UK to combat COVID-19 and spend £500m to help poorer nations tackle the virus.

Announcing the UK will increase funding to the WHO by 30 per cent Mr Johnson will call for countries to work together, not pull apart.

The £340m investment will be spent over the next four years and comes after President Trump criticised the WHO for failing to tackle the virus in the early stages. The UK funding will aim to ensure the organisation can be flexible and respond quickly to any future pandemic.



Prime Minister Boris Johnson giving his address on coronavirus







22 September: Boris Johnson’s address to the nation

Mr Johnson will also set out further initiatives the UK plans to champion when it takes charge of the G7 next year, including a global pandemic early warning system, better manufacturing capability for treatments, global protocols for future health emergencies and a plan to reduce trade barriers to help nations respond more quickly in future.

In the early stages of the pandemic some nations increased tariffs on key goods such as soap, making it difficult for poorer nations to respond well.

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Plane carrying aviation students crashes in Ukraine killing 22 | World News

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A military transport plane carrying students from an aviation school has crashed in northeastern Ukraine, killing at least 22 people on board, officials have said.

The Antonov An-26 had been trying to land during a training exercise when it burst into flames just a mile short of a military airport on Friday evening.

General Staff of the Armed Forces Ruslan Khomchak said that, as well as those killed, at least two people were critically injured.

A total of 27 people were on the plane, according to the State Emergency Service of Ukraine.

Most of those on board were students from the Kharkiv University of Air Force, which is run by the country’s defence ministry.

Deputy Interior Minister Anton Gerashchenko posted video showing the plane in flames with smoke billowing upwards.

Other pictures showed rescue workers inspecting the wreckage near Chuhuiv, about 250 miles east of Ukraine’s capital Kiev.

The cause of the crash is being investigated but one pilot reported the failure of one of the plane’s two engines, according to Oleksiy Kucher, the governor of the Kharkiv region.

He told Interfax Ukraine this would not have been a critical situation for an experienced pilot.

Some of those on board managed to jump out of the plane as it flew at low altitude, he added, something confirmed by a witness on the Ukraine 24 news channel.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy will visit the scene on Saturday.

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