MoT: Q&A on test suspensions in Northern Ireland


Image caption

Most MoT tests for cars and light vehicles have been suspended

The vast majority of MoT tests in Northern Ireland have been suspended due to safety concerns about equipment used during the tests.BBC News NI looks at the background to the situation and how it is affecting thousands of motorists.Why have MoT tests been suspended?Tests are suspended because cracks have been found in most vehicle lifts in Northern Ireland’s 15 MoT centres. The equipment is used by staff to examine underneath cars and vans.During a recent in-depth inspection of all testing centres, signs of cracking were identified in 48 out of the 55 lifts in operation.The Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) asked the firm which supplied the lifts to carry out repairs, but an insurance inspector was not satisfied with the attempt to fix them.As a result, most MoT tests for cars and other light vehicles in Northern Ireland were suspended with immediate effect on Monday 27 January. Have all MoT tests been cancelled?No – the suspension only applies to cars, motorcycles and light vehicles such as vans. MoT tests for heavy goods vehicles and buses are continuing as normal. Does this affect all vehicle test centres? Yes, the suspension applies to all 15 MoT centres in Northern Ireland. What if I have a test booked?Customers who have an MoT test on Tuesday for a car or light vehicle have been told not to attend as their test will not be carried out. They, and customers whose test is due to take place over the next few weeks, are being advised by the DVA to keep an eye on the nidirect website for further information.How long is the MoT suspension going to last?The DVA has said it could take weeks, or possibly months, to resolve the situation if the defective lifts have to be replaced. Its chief executive, Paul Duffy, said the agency was looking at a number of options, including repair and replacement.

Image caption

Scissor lifts are used in MOT centres to inspect underneath vehicles

My MoT certificate is due to expire – can I drive my vehicle without a new test?That depends on what you drive – if your car or light vehicle is five years old, or more, it will be eligible for a temporary exemption certificate.These exemptions will extend a vehicle’s MoT certificate by four months.The certificates will be issued automatically to drivers whose MoT appointment has been cancelled by the DVA.It may take up to 10 days for the certificate to arrive in the post, but it is legally valid from the moment your test is cancelled.However, these exemptions will not be issued for four-year-old cars or taxis.Why are four-year-old cars being excluded from the exemptions?Four-year-old cars have never been through an MoT test before, meaning they do not have an MoT test certificate to extend.These vehicles, along with taxis, will be prioritised for tests which will be carried out in the heavy vehicle lanes in MoT test centres.These lanes use pits rather than vehicle lifts so are not affected by the same safety concerns. “These lanes have already been used to test cars in previous years due to the volume of bookings,” said Julie Thompson, deputy secretary at the Department for Infrastructure.

Image caption

Julie Thompson is responsible for the DVA and the department’s planning functions

Why are taxis being excluded from the exemptions?Taxis require a higher level of safety checks because they provide a service to the public, as opposed to private vehicles.Taxis are covered by different legislation and are subject to a PSV [Public Service Vehicle] test. Am I insured to drive if I do not have an up-to-date MoT certificate?Motorists in this situation should check with their insurance provider, according to the Association of British Insurers.Most drivers affected by the recent MoT cancellations/suspension will automatically receive a temporary exemption certificate (see above).Malcolm Tarling, from the Association of British Insurers, said all motor insurance policies would “expect you to keep your vehicle in a roadworthy condition and be on the road legally”.He added “in normal circumstances” that would mean having a MoT certificate.Mr Tarling advised motorists to talk to their insurer about “these quite unusual circumstances” and let them know if they have received an exemption.Will insurance companies accept the exemption certificates? That is not yet clear and motorists have been advised to make their own checks with their individual provider.”Insurers don’t want to withdraw cover, they don’t want to restrict cover,” said Malcolm Tarling, from the Association of British Insurers.”I think insurers are going to keep a very close eye on the situation and they will be guided by the advice the authorities in Northern Ireland are giving out.”Can MoT test appointments still be booked during the suspension?

Image caption

The DVA is still taking bookings for MoT tests online, by phone and in person

Yes, and drivers are advised to book an appointment as soon as they get a reminder letter. Temporary exemption certificates cannot be issued unless your MoT test had been cancelled by the DVA.”You need to have booked your car in for a test and have that test cancelled by the DVA for us to pick it up from our systems,” said Ms Thompson, from the Department for Infrastructure. She said once the test was cancelled, a four-month exemption would be issued which was “legal from the minute that it changes on our back office system”.Can I tax my car if my MoT test has been cancelled?Yes, as long as your vehicle is eligible for a four-month temporary exemption certificate (see above). This will be automatically issued when the DVA cancels your test on its system. Ms Thompson, from the Department for Infrastructure, said: “Overnight, the tax on your car will be linked to that four-month extension, meaning you can still tax your car.”What happens if my car failed its test and is due for retest – I assume I will not get an extension? Current DVA advice is that if your vehicle fails an MOT test it is immediately “treated as not being roadworthy and it should not be on the road”.In those circumstances there is no valid MoT certificate to extend, similar to the case of four-year-old cars which do not qualify for exemptions as they have never been tested.When were the cracks in the vehicle lifts first noticed?

Image caption

The BBC obtained a picture of a crack in a lift at one of the vehicle test centres in Northern Ireland

Signs of cracking on MoT lifts were first discovered in November 2019 during a routine inspection of Larne MoT centre in County Antrim. It was detected by the firm which supplies the lifts, and which is responsible for the regular examination and maintenance of the equipment. The same firm then began an in-depth inspection of all vehicle lifts in operation across Northern Ireland’s 15 MoT centres. On 15 January, it reported the results to the DVA, having identified signs of cracking on 48 out of the 55 lifts. The majority of the lifts were installed in 2011/12.How much is it going to cost the public purse?The total cost is not yet clear as DVA management is not sure if the lifts can be repaired to a safe standard or if they will have to be replaced. If all 55 vehicle lifts have to been replaced, new lifts could cost between £30,000 and £40,000 each according DVA chief executive Paul Duffy.Using his estimate, the total bill could range from £1.65m to £2.2m.There is also the cost of compensating motorists affected by the cancellations.Before the widespread suspension was announced on Monday, about 7,000 MoT tests had been cancelled.Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon said those motorists would receive a refund of half their £30.50 MoT test fee and would be offered a rescheduled test at no additional charge.Ms Thompson, from the department, said her agency had enough funds to cover the bill and would not need to seek additional money from the public purse.Why can’t MoTs be carried out in privately-owned garages?

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Approved, private-owned garages can carry out MoT inspections in England, Scotland and Wales

The MoT testing process in Northern Ireland is different from the system operating in Great Britain. In England, Scotland and Wales, vehicles can be tested in thousands of approved MoT test stations, which are usually privately-owned car mechanic firms. In Northern Ireland, vehicle tests can only take place in dedicated, publically-owned MoT centres, of which there are 15. DVA chief executive, Paul Duffy, was asked by BBC Radio Ulster if private garages could be used to clear the MoT test backlog that is currently building up across Northern Ireland.He simply replied: “What I would say about the model that’s used in GB – if you look across Europe, there are very, very few countries that use the GB model.”The Republic of Ireland also has a network of dedicated National Car Test centres, as opposed to private firms.



Source link

'Lose in Paris and England's run to the World Cup final will be forgotten'




Martin Johnson steered England to Six Nations triumphs as a head coach, second row totem and captainGuinness Six Nations 2020Dates: 1 February-14 MarchCoverage: Watch live coverage on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, Connected TVs and online; listen to match commentaries, shows and podcasts on BBC Radio 5 Live, Sports Extra and BBC Sounds; follow text coverage on the BBC Sport website and mobile app; further coverage available in Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Full coverage details.Martin Johnson knows a thing or two about winning the Six Nations. His five titles as an England player included three as captain. He had an 84% win ratio in the tournament from 37 matches on the field and won the 2011 championship as head coach off it. So when the 2003 World Cup winner says that for the current England team to win a 29th trophy they will need to better their “best-ever” performances in 2019 that saw them dominate New Zealand on the way to a World Cup final, and crush Ireland away from home in the Six Nations, it is worth paying close attention. The 84-cap veteran’s logic is simple – England start their campaign with two away games, in France and then Scotland, having lost at the Stade de France and Murrayfield in back-to-back games in 2018. A home defeat by Ireland in England’s final fixture followed in 2018 and it is Ireland who England will face in their third match of this year’s tournament.England’s Six Nations fixtures Sunday 2 February (15:00 GMT)France (a)Saturday 8 February (16:45)Scotland (a)Sunday 23 February (15:00)Ireland (h)Saturday 7 March (16:45)Wales (h)Saturday 14 March (16:45)Italy (a)At the end of those three fixtures two years ago, England finished the Six Nations in fifth. As starts go, Johnson’s analysis of “tough” could be seen as an understatement. “England’s worst-case scenario is they play a fired-up French, fired-up Scottish, and fired-up Irish team in their first three games,” said the BBC Sport rugby expert. “England have got to put every game away because every game is a challenge.”The difficult thing in a Six Nations is you’re in a dog fight, you’re playing teams who desperately want to beat you. Sometimes you need to win a game, however you win it. “It’s a big tournament for England to establish themselves. If they play poorly and get beaten in Paris, all that good stuff from the World Cup is gone very quickly.”England on ‘red alert’ for France
France’s initial 42-man squad selection had an average age of just 24Johnson believes England’s “best rugby is ahead of them” and that they must “put the World Cup behind them” to be ready for their opening match against a much-changed France. New head coach Fabien Galthie has selected a squad featuring 19 uncapped players, with England counterpart Eddie Jones questioning the lack of experience on show.Johnson started his Five Nations career with a 16-15 home victory against France in 1993, but three career losses in Paris mean the former England captain expects a fierce contest. He says victory will not make England title favourites.

‘If you could pick one player from another nation to be in your squad, who would it be?’

“You’re playing a French team in France and that should never be underestimated,” he adds. “I’d be on red alert if I was England going to Paris. If they’ve got a whiff of regaining the love of the rugby public, they could be fantastic.”Shaun Edwards also begins his tenure as France’s defence coach following 12 years with Wales, which featured four Six Nations titles and three Grand Slams. The credit for their clean sweep last year could largely be placed at Edwards’ door given Wales conceded just seven tries all tournament and scored only 10. However, Johnson questioned whether a disciplined defensive system will suit France.”It will be interesting to watch because they don’t march to the beat of the same drum,” he said. “They seize things differently and react differently and that makes it exciting. “Professional rugby with its rigidity and patterns, I don’t know if it suits them. They can be inexplicably good and inexplicably bad.”Fortress Murrayfield
Centre Huw Jones, who scored two tries in Scotland’s win over England in 2018, has been recalled to Gregor Townsend’s squad after missing out on the World CupEngland then travel to Murrayfield knowing they could go three Six Nations matches against Scotland without victory for the first time since 1984. Johnson said Scotland “knocked England about” during their 25-13 win two years ago, while England have lost four of their last six away matches in this tournament. The home fixture with Ireland follows. The 2018 Grand Slam champions are one of four nations with a new head coach, former England assistant Andy Farrell, and could be chasing a Triple Crown if they win their opening two matches at the Aviva Stadium against Scotland and Wales.England must meet fire with fire, according to Johnson. “England have got to set their standards higher again, and go after them,” he added. England will be ‘in the cross hairs’ of rivalsEngland’s shaky away form in the Six Nations has not prevented Jones from beginning the build-up to this tournament in trademark style, claiming his side want to be “the greatest team the world has ever seen”.Could such comments motivate rivals? Johnson respects the sentiment, but said it is “the kind of thing other teams might put up on a noticeboard”.”In a way, where else would we want to be? There’s no point trying to be the 13th best team ever, but it’s a grandiose statement. When you hear it, you think if you’re 7-0 down after five minutes in Paris on a February afternoon, it doesn’t sound too good. There’s a risk you fall flat on your face but why not have a go at it?”Saracens salary-cap scandal will not affect England
Saracens’ Maro Itoje, Jamie George, Billy Vunipola, Mako Vunipola and Owen Farrell all started November’s World Cup final against South AfricaJones’ comments may have been at least partly aimed at deflecting headlines surrounding the Saracens salary-cap scandal, but Johnson believes it will not have a detrimental impact on England’s performances, or the seven players from Saracens selected, including captain Owen Farrell. “You don’t bring your club stuff to the national thing,” said the former Leicester Tigers second row. “You don’t sit there in the corner and start moaning about who beat who.”It’s unprecedented; I’m not saying it’s a minor issue. For some players there will be uncertainty, but not much grabs your attention like playing Test match rugby. “I’ve never gone onto a field wondering if I’ve left the oven on. I was thinking you’ve got to be fully focused otherwise you’re going to get embarrassed.”England’s dynamic duo
Tom Curry and Sam Underhill could be key for England’s Six Nations hopesIf England are to win a first title since 2017 much may rest on the performances of Bath’s Sam Underhill and fellow flanker, Sale’s Tom Curry. Johnson lauded their performances at the World Cup and said such is their impact on England’s back row, they can offset the loss of the injured Billy Vunipola.”The biggest thing in the last year for England has been Curry and Underhill,” he said. “To do what they did was pretty special; to play the level they did so quickly has been done by very few players.”He also said the “new voices” in England’s evolving backroom staff, including England Sevens boss Simon Amor and Matt Proudfoot, who coached South Africa’s scrum during their World Cup triumph, can help “freshen up” an England team who remain favourites despite winning just three times in their last eight Six Nations matches. Do recent results that mean they have a point to prove?”You’ve always got a point to prove when you play rugby: that is, who is the best?” Johnson added. “Whatever happened last week, if you turn up and lose, it’s horrible. Every team has a point to prove. You’ve got to win.”Martin will be working for BBC Sport on its live TV coverage of the Six Nations, which begins with Wales v Italy on Saturday followed by France v England on Sunday.



Source link

Christian Eriksen: Inter Milan complete signing of midfielder from Tottenham




Christian Eriksen made 225 appearances for Totteham since joining the club in 2013Inter Milan have completed the signing of Christian Eriksen from Tottenham for a fee of around £16.9m. The 27-year-old Denmark midfielder has signed a contract until 30 June 2024.Eriksen told Spurs in the summer he wanted a fresh challenge with his contract set to expire at the end of the season.After a hoped-for move to Spain failed to materialise, Eriksen began the season with Spurs and played 28 times in all competitions this season.Inter currently sit second in Serie A, three points behind leaders JuventusMeanwhile, Tottenham have made midfielder Giovani Lo Celso’s loan move from Real Betis permanent, completing a £27.2m transfer.Find all the latest football transfers on our dedicated page.



Source link

Migrant salary threshold fall 'would boost public sector'


Image copyright
AFP/Getty Images

The government should drop the salary threshold for immigrants by more than £4,000, a committee has advised.Skilled migrants from outside the EU currently need to have a job offer with a minimum salary of £30,000.But the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) said it should fall to £25,600 for all workers to help recruit teachers and skilled NHS staff.The committee’s chair also called Boris Johnson’s proposal for a new points-based immigration system a “soundbite”. Mr Johnson said he wanted a scheme, based on Australia’s system, during his summer campaign to lead the Conservative Party, and he made it a key pledge during the election.Professor Alan Manning said that while he recognised politicians needed “cosmetic” means of presenting complex topics to the public, it was unclear what the government meant when it had repeatedly used the phrase. The outgoing chairman said: “No perfect system exists and there are unavoidable, difficult trade-offs.”A Downing Street spokesman said the government was “grateful” for the report, but did not say if it would adopt the recommendations.He added that the government would “introduce a firmer and fairer points immigration system from 2021, bring overall numbers down and introduce a fair, firm and compassionate system in line with what the British people want”. How does immigration work now?

Image copyright
AFP/Getty Images

Image caption

There are a range of visas in the current system

As part of the European Union, anyone from other member states – or from the European Economic Area (EEA) – can come to the UK to live or work without a visa. For those outside the EU, there are a range of visas they can attempt to qualify for. One of them is the Tier 1 or “exceptional talent” visa – a points based system for highly qualified people who need to be endorsed as a leader or emerging leader, but do not need a job offer – capped at 2,000 offers a year. Another is the Tier 2 (general) visa – where the applicant has to match exact criteria, including having a job offer with a minimum salary of £30,000.There is also get a Tier 2 (general) visa with a lower salary threshold if the applicant is on the so-called Shortage Occupation List, which includes nurses and engineers. Why was there a review of the immigration system?

Image copyright
AFP/Getty Images

Image caption

Priti Patel and Sajid Javid have both asked the MAC for reviews

Theresa May’s government announced a look at changes to the immigration system based on skills in December 2018. In June 2019, the then-home secretary (and now Chancellor) Sajid Javid said he wanted to build on this work, especially looking at salary thresholds for migrant workers. He wrote to the MAC – an independent body that advises the government on immigration – to ask them to work with businesses to find out what next steps to take. After Boris Johnson became prime minister, one of his main pledges was to create an overall points-based system for immigration. This would see applicants assigned points based on a number of professional and personal characteristics, with higher points awarded for more desirable traits – from the amount of time they have worked in a skilled sector through to their proficiency in the English language.The PM asked his new Home Secretary, Priti Patel, to also write to the MAC and seek their recommendations on implementing such a system.The committee told the government it would merge the two reports into one and make its recommendations in January 2020. However, they are just recommendations and the government is not obliged to follow any of them.What has the review said?

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

The MAC released the 278-page report on Tuesday

The committee criticised the UK’s current complex immigration system.When it came to Tier 1 visas, the committee said the rules “set too high a bar for the definition of ‘exceptional talent’ and is often not a route well-suited for those who satisfy the existing definition”.It recommended the government could expand this way of entering the UK, especially increasing the number of points awarded to those with the most desired skills, and focusing on younger applicants and those showing promise, rather than already being established. For Tier 2 (general) visas, the committee said the criteria were too strict to call it a points based system as applicants have to meet every one. However, they recommended keeping the existing framework of the visa with some changes. For example, it thinks the government should lower the threshold for the salary needed by someone with a job offer from £30,000 to £25,600. The committee dismissed those calling for no threshold, believing it stopped the undercutting of the labour market, ensured migrants made a net positive contribution to the public finances, and made sure migration policy supported the “ambition to make the UK a high wage, high skill, high productivity economy”.But it said the drop would enable more medium-skilled workers to qualify. The MAC said whatever the government decides, it must work quickly to get something in place for post-Brexit immigration. Who would the recommendations affect?

Image copyright
PA Media

Image caption

The committee warned about social care

If adopted by the government, the first people it would affect would be EU citizens. With the UK leaving the bloc at the end of the month, and the so-called transition period – where we align with EU rules while a trade deal is negotiated – ending in December 2020, they will instead face the same hurdles as immigrants coming from outside the EU to the UK. There would be an increase in the variety of skilled workers who could get a visa, not only because of the lower threshold, but with more additions to the skilled workers list, including carpenters, glaziers, plasterers and teaching assistants. And the MAC said schools and the NHS would particularly benefit from the changes. However, people who work in fishing, elementary agricultural roles or as waiting staff would be removed from the list, making it tougher for them to live and work here. The MAC warned that while its proposals would benefit the UK economy, there could be a rise in pressures in social care because of a shortage of low-skilled workers being able to enter the country. It said the “root of the problem” was a failure of the sector to “offer competitive terms and conditions”, which itself was “caused by a failure to have a sustainable funding model”. What’s the reaction?

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

Labour’s Diane Abbott says the salary cap won’t help with social care

Labour’s shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott said: “Even a lower salary cap won’t help recruit the hospital staff we need, the social care workers or many of the new recruits to private businesses.”She added the UK needed “a system based on treating people and their families decently who come here with firm job offers, whatever their pay level”.The Liberal Democrat spokeswoman for home affairs, Christine Jardine, criticised the government’s plan to end free movement after Brexit, saying the MAC review “makes clear these plans will make the crisis in social care even worse”. She added: “They will also mean huge amounts of extra costs and bureaucracy for thousands of British businesses. No amount of spin will change that fact.”Dr Ben Greening, executive director of Migration Watch – a group which believes the present level of immigration is not sustainable – said the proposals amounted to “a significant loosening” of the rules around Tier 2 migration.He said it would mean “exposing over seven million UK jobs to new or increased global competition from much larger developing countries where there is very substantial demand to come to the UK”.Dr Greening also criticised the lack of an overall cap for the same visas, adding: “Without [a cap] employers will be able to indulge without constraint in their unparalleled addiction to cheap non-UK labour in order to boost their own profit margins and also to undercut and overlook UK workers.”



Source link

Coronavirus: Hong Kong to slash border travel as virus spreads


Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam wore a face mask to speak to the media

Hong Kong has announced plans to slash cross-border travel between the city and mainland China as the new coronavirus continues to spread.More than 100 people have now died in China, with confirmed infections surging to more than 4,500.High-speed trains and ferries that cross the border will be suspended from Thursday, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced. She wore a face mask. The virus has spread across China and to at least 16 countries globally. On Monday, Germany and Japan confirmed that they had cases involving people who had not travelled to China but caught the virus from someone who had.This had previously been seen only in Vietnam, which borders China and where someone was infected by his father who had travelled from Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak.Several foreign governments with large numbers of citizens in Wuhan are planning air evacuations. Japan is sending a plane later on Tuesday. Wuhan, as well as the wider Hubei province, are already effectively in a lockdown with strict transport restrictions in and out of the area. Wearing masks in public is now mandatory in some Chinese cities.On Monday, authorities in Beijing confirmed that a 50-year-old man had died – the first fatality in the Chinese capital.What’s Hong Kong’s plan?Carrie Lam announced Hong Kong’s new strategy to tackle the virus on Tuesday.In addition to suspending train and ferry services, flights to mainland China will be halved. People will also no longer be able to receive permits to visit Hong Kong from the mainland.The city of seven million – a major financial centre – is part of China but retains significant autonomy.

Tens of millions of people visit from mainland China every year but numbers were down in 2019 because of the pro-democracy protests that rocked the city.”The flow of people between the two places needs to be drastically reduced” amid the outbreak, said Ms Lam.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media caption”Wuhan, add oil!”: Watch residents shouting to boost morale in quarantined city
What’s the latest elsewhere in China?The new coronavirus is thought to have emerged from illegally traded wildlife at a seafood market in Wuhan and can now spread between people. The number of total cases confirmed by China rose to 4,515 as of 27 January, up from 2,835 a day earlier. Most of the deaths have been in Hubei province. The initial victims were mostly elderly people or those with pre-existing respiratory problems, but few details have been released about the dozens of deaths confirmed in recent days.

Image copyright
AFP

Image caption

The new coronavirus causes severe acute respiratory infection

Efforts to stem the spread of the virus have coincided with the Lunar New Year celebration, which usually sees millions travel across the country to visit relatives and friends. Many festivities have been suspended. Chinese authorities have also postponed the new semester for schools and universities nationwide and are urging citizens to postpone travel abroad.

Fears grow over human-to-human transmission

The news of more human-to-human cases of the new coronavirus will add to fears about how far this outbreak might spread. These latest cases in Japan and Germany suggest that anyone coming into close contact with another infected person could catch it. It’s thought people with symptoms, such cough and fever, will be the most contagious. But experts haven’t ruled out that people with no obvious signs of infection could also pose a risk. And it can take more than a week for a person to develop symptoms.The advice is to avoid close contact with people who are infected – that means keeping enough distance to avoid breathing air or touching surfaces contaminated with respiratory droplets from others carrying and shedding the virus.

What is the situation internationally?According to the World Health Organization and national authorities, there have been more than 50 confirmed cases outside China.The latest case to be confirmed is in the German state of Bavaria, only the fourth so far in Europe.It involves a man who contracted the virus from a visiting Chinese colleague.In Japan, authorities said a bus driver caught the virus after transporting tour groups from Wuhan earlier this month.

Eight cases: Thailand

Six: Japan

Five: USA, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan

Four: Malaysia, South Korea

Three: France

Two: Vietnam

One: Nepal, Canada, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Germany
So far, there have been no deaths outside China.Like many countries, the United States has urged its nationals to “reconsider travel” to China and is advising against visiting Hubei. The country plans to fly consular staff and US citizens out of Wuhan in the coming days.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionRoad blocks and ghost towns: Inside the province where the virus originated
Japan is expecting to evacuate about 200 nationals on a chartered plane on Wednesday, with health workers on board to monitor passengers. The evacuees will be asked to look out for any symptoms of coronavirus for two weeks after their return.France, India and South Korea have also said they plans to airlift citizens out of Wuhan. The UK is yet to make a similar decision but has urged Britons to leave the area if they can – however this has upset some living in Hubei who complain they are trapped.What is the new coronavirus?The virus causes severe acute respiratory infection and symptoms seem to start with a fever, followed by a dry cough. After a week, some people can experience shortness of breath and need hospital treatment.The virus itself is a new, or “novel” coronavirus – a family that normally affects animals.
Surgical masks sell out in US amid coronavirus fears
Can wearing masks stop the spread of viruses?
The effect of the coronavirus family on humans has long been observed, mainly in the form of the common cold. In recent decades though, more serious coronaviruses – like Sars or Mers – have proven potentially deadly to humans.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionWhat are viruses? And how do they spread?
Yet even in the cases of severe viruses most people infected were likely to fully recover, as they would from a normal flu. On Tuesday, an expert at China’s National Health Commission (NHC) said one week was sufficient for a recovery from mild coronavirus symptoms.Learn more about the new virus

Image copyright
Getty



Source link

Coronavirus: Britons in China want more support from UK


Image caption

Canadian Lauren Williams and her British husband Tom are trapped in Wuhan with a baby on the way

Britons in parts of China affected by the new coronavirus have criticised the lack of government support for returning home.UK citizens in Wuhan and surrounding areas said that while other countries prepared evacuations, they had been been given little information.The US and Japan are sending planes to Wuhan to evacuate their citizens.Asked about repatriation plans, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told the BBC: “We are working on it.”Up to 300 British people are thought to be trapped in the city of Wuhan and Hubei province, where the outbreak of the new coronavirus is believed to have started.The virus has caused more than 100 deaths and has now spread across China and to at least 16 countries around the world.Mr Shapps said that one of the issues facing the UK government was identifying exactly how many British citizens needed to be repatriated.He said: “One of the things we’re asking people to do is to contact the consulate there to make them aware.”

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Wuhan is in lockdown, with travel out of the city restricted

The consulate is gathering all the information on British citizens in the area “in order to help repatriate where appropriate”, Mr Shapps said.But Jason Neil and Sophie Hunt, who moved to Wuhan to teach English and have now spent more than five days in their apartment, said they contacted the embassy and received little response.”We have contacted the embassy, we’ve emailed them and tried to ring them, and we got a really useless automated email response back from the embassy, saying not to go to Hubei,” said Ms Hunt.”We’re like, we’re already here.”

Image caption

Teachers Sophie Hunt and Jason Neal say the UK consulate gave them little help

Kharn Lambert’s grandmother arrived in Wuhan for a short visit, but has now become trapped in the city. Mr Lambert told the BBC her medication is running low.He said: “Why is it possible that the American government, the French government, the Japanese government, can make these deals with the Chinese authorities to get their citizens out of the city – but the UK government can’t?”Canadian Lauren Williams is expecting a baby with her British husband, Tom, in a month. She said she is worried that it is not currently known how the virus might affect a pregnant woman.Mr Williams said: “Just advice would be great and very clear direction about what’s happening so we can make plans.”On Monday, the Foreign Office said it was “working to make an option available for British nationals to leave Hubei province due to the heavy travel restrictions and increased difficulty of accessing consular or medical assistance”.”The safety and security of British nationals is our number one priority,” a spokesman said.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media caption”Wuhan, add oil!”: Watch residents shouting to boost morale in quarantined city
Kathleen Bell, who has lived in Wuhan for two years, said the city is now a “surreal” place to be.”Everything is in lockdown, the bridges are closed as well, so there’s not really a lot of movement,” she told BBC Radio 5 Live.She said some people had ventured out to walk the streets after several days of confinement.”Yesterday evening, people were calling from their windows singing to each other in the tall buildings,” she said.Leaving the city is not easy, with the Chinese government requiring a two-week quarantine period for any evacuees, Ms Bell said.Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Monday that anyone from the UK who had returned from Wuhan in the last two weeks was being asked to “self-isolate, to stay indoors and to avoid contact with other people”.

Learn more about the new virus

Image copyright
Getty



Source link

Banks asked to explain 40% overdraft rates


Image copyright
Getty Images

The UK’s financial regulator has asked banks to explain how they have decided their new overdraft rates.The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said most High Street banks had set “very similar prices”, after it demanded changes to the system.Several big brands including Santander, Lloyds Banking Group and HSBC are set to bring in a 39.9% rate this year.The FCA has sent a letter to banks, asking them to explain what influenced their decision. The City regulator has also asked how the banks will deal with any customers who could be worse off following the changes.It said some firms could reduce or waive interest for customers who are in financial difficulty because of their overdraft.

Christopher Woolard, interim chief executive at the FCA, told the BBC’s Today programme that seven in 10 customers would be better off or unaffected by the new rules.”If you had an unarranged overdraft before, you saw some rates that were 10 times higher than the equivalent payday loans.”The reforms force banks to publish clear headline rates, without fixed fees and charges in them. In some banks, as many as nine in 10 customers will be better off, or no worse off.”What’s changing for overdraft charges?The FCA has introduced tough new rules for the “dysfunctional” overdraft market. It says it wants to get rid of “confusing” fees for customers.The new rules, which come into force in April this year, will stop banks and building societies from charging higher prices for unarranged overdrafts than for arranged overdrafts.They will also require providers to charge a simple annual interest rate on all overdrafts and to get rid of fixed daily or monthly fees.However, some analysts have warned that steep overdraft rates could become “the new normal”.

Is this competition?

As the hackneyed phrase says, we change partners more often than we switch bank accounts. So, when the FCA announced what it called the biggest overhaul of overdrafts for generation, its aim was to inspire competition.The theory is that a clear, simple overdraft interest rate allows customers to compare and move current accounts, potentially saving them a lot of money.Now the banks have pretty much clustered around the same, somewhat expensive 40% rate, there is little sign of any competition at all.It should not be forgotten that the changes will mean more support for those facing financial trouble, and those who used to regularly bust their overdraft limit will not be hit so hard.But you can understand the accusations that the reforms have backfired for the regulator, and why it has now responded by asking questions of the banks.

Most banks and building societies have chosen to set a rate very close to 40%.Lloyds Banking Group, which includes the Halifax bank, was one of the latest big brands to announce most customers will soon pay an annual rate of 39.9% to dip into their overdraft. That means they would pay £39.90 for each £100 borrowed in an overdraft for a whole year.The FCA has previously acknowledged that banks might increase their arranged overdraft prices as a result of the new rules.But it argues the overall effect will still be better for customers – and increased competition between providers as a result of the changes will constrain any price increases.



Source link

Federer saves seven match points in Australian Open quarter-final win




Federer has reached the Australian Open semi-finals for the 15th time in the past 17 years2020 Australian OpenVenue: Melbourne Park Dates: 20 January to 2 FebruaryCoverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and online; Live text on selected matches on the BBC Sport website and app; Watch highlights on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer.Roger Federer defied age and logic once again to save seven match points before beating unseeded American Tennys Sandgren in a sensational Australian Open quarter-final.The out-of-sorts Swiss fought off form and fitness concerns before winning 6-3 2-6 2-6 7-6 (10-8) 6-3.World number 100 Sandgren looked set to be the lowest ranked player to reach the Melbourne semi-finals since 1991.But third seed Federer battled to win in three hours and 28 minutes.The 20-time Grand Slam champion, who had a medical timeout in the third set for a groin problem, will play Serbia’s defending champion Novak Djokovic or Canadian 32nd seed Milos Raonic in the last four.Federer calmly raised his racquet in the air, taking the acclaim of a buzzing crowd on Rod Laver Arena, after Sandgren dumped a forehand into the net on the Swiss’ first match point.The fatigued pair shook hands at the net, Sandgren wishing his rival luck before trudging off to a standing ovation from the 15,000 fans barely able to believe what they had seen.”You’ve got to get lucky sometimes I tell you that,” Federer said. “Sometimes you’re not under control.”I just hoped he wouldn’t smash a winner, just keep the ball in play and if he does miss one of two then see what is going through his mind.”As the match went on I felt better and the pressure went away.”I didn’t deserve this one but I’m standing here and I’m obviously very happy.”Federer hangs tough againWith 38-year-old Federer well into the twilight of his career, he has to carefully manage his workload to preserve himself for the things which matter most: the Grand Slams.And that appears to have worked in his favour as he came through another gruelling match at Melbourne Park after being on the brink of defeat.Federer had not played since the ATP Finals in November, save for a few exhibitions in Central and South America, and has been helped by a favourable draw at Melbourne Park.All four of his matches have been against unseeded players, although they did not all prove to be as straightforward as he would have hoped.Only a fightback from 8-4 in the 10-point match tie-break against Australian John Millman stopped him falling in the third round.In the next round he was pushed by Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics before winning in four.Again he was a shadow of himself for most of the contest against Sandgren before rediscovering his best form when it mattered most.After a fairly routine opening set, Federer’s level dipped considerably as his unforced error count more than doubled in the second and mistakes continued to flow off his racquet in the third where he had treatment for a groin injury when trailing 3-0.The six-time champion – and the pro-Federer crowd – became increasingly edgy. Sandgren grew in confidence.But once Federer overcame his injury, he improved considerably in the fourth and dominated in the fifth to earn another memorable victory.”My groin and leg started to tighten and I struggled in defence,” said Federer who has never retired during a career which has seen him play 1,512 matches.”I don’t like to call the trainer because it is a sign of weakness. The best thing with the groin is you go off court and people don’t know what it is.”I believe in miracles, there could be rain, there could be other stuff. It wasn’t bad enough where thought it would get worse, just sore.”I thought l would let him finish me off in style and he didn’t do that. I was incredibly lucky.”More to follow.



Source link

News Daily: Coronavirus death toll rises and UK faces Huawei decision



If you want to get this briefing by email, sign up here

Image copyright
Reuters

Coronavirus: Death toll passes 100China has put more restrictions on travel as it tries to stem the spread of the flu-like coronavirus. The death toll has increased to 106, with more than 4,500 cases confirmed across the country.Most of the deaths have been among elderly people or those who had respiratory problems prior to becoming infected.The US has urged people to “reconsider travel” to China. So far, there have been 47 confirmed cases outside China, but none of them have been fatal. Amid a fast-changing situation, the BBC has put together a visual guide to the coronavirus.And we have updated our guide to the dangers it poses.Huawei: UK to decide on 5G involvementThe UK’s National Security Council will decide later whether to allow the Chinese tech giant Huawei to supply equipment for the country’s 5G network. The US has said it will review intelligence-sharing operations if the UK agrees to use the company.BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera writes that the decision involves “balancing significant but hard to quantify long-term risks with real short-term economic costs”. Read his take on the situation.

Get news from the BBC in your inbox, each weekday morning

Beeching cuts: £500m fund to restore lost railwaysFollowing the Beeching report in the 1960s, more than 5,000 miles of British railway track closed, while more than 2,300 stations disappeared. The government is today setting up a £500m fund to restore some of what was lost.There will be £21.9m for two railway lines and a New Stations Fund. The government is also giving £1.5m to develop proposals for the Ashington-Blyth-Tyne line in Northumberland, and £100,000 for the Fleetwood line in Lancashire. Communities can apply for money to restore links elsewhere.Labour says the £500m is far from enough, and that it would only restore 25 miles of railways. Here’s a reminder of what the Beeching report did to Wales.Tears and relief as the UK’s MEPs bid goodbyeBy Emma Harrison, politics reporterAs the clock strikes 23:00 GMT on Friday, the 73 MEPs who represent Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the European Parliament will bid farewell to their roles. For some of them, there is only delight and relief as the UK approaches Brexit. For others, there have been tears and goodbye hugs.”How I am feeling is how somebody feels when you have a redundancy and a bereavement at the same time,” says Green MEP Molly Scott Cato, who has represented South West England since 2014.In contrast, Brexit could not have come soon enough for Jake Pugh. “We are delighted,” says the Brexit Party MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber. “We were hired to be fired.”Read the full articleWhat the papers say

There is much coverage of a US prosecutor’s claims that the Duke of York has provided “zero co-operation” during the inquiry into his former friend, the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. The Daily Mail reports that the remarks have caused a “sensation”, while the i says the attorney has called the “Duke of York’s bluff”. Elsewhere, the Daily Telegraph says Boris Johnson is likely to “defy” the US by allowing Chinese firm Huawei to become involved with the UK’s 5G network. And the Financial Times leads on Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s warning that the UK may have to make concessions over fishing during negotiations over a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU. Read the newspaper review in full.Daily digestPrince Andrew “Zero co-operation” given, says US prosecutor’Get Ready for Brexit’ Watchdog queries impact of £46m campaignNorthern Ireland All MoTs suspended with immediate effect’I’m not called Michael’ Insurer apologises over wrongly naming thousands of customersIf you see one thing today

Image copyright
Neil Martinson

Work, protest and play on the streets of Hackney If you listen to one thing today

Lies my teacher told meIf you read one thing today

Journey to the ‘doomsday’ glacier

Sign up for a morning briefing direct to your phone

Lookahead17:00 Stars arrive for the National Television Awards at the 02 Arena in south-east London.Evening The winner of the 2020 Costa Book of the Year award is announced.On this day1986 The US space shuttle Challenger explodes just after take-off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, killing all seven astronauts on board.From elsewhere’Like a bad dream’: Bilpin’s day of reckoning (Sydney Morning Herald)What’s tangling up the humpback whales? A food chain snarled by climate change (Los Angeles Times)Travellers reveal their favourite ‘alternative’ must-visit landmarks (Daily Mail)The 2020 Grammys felt like a party thrown by your dad (Slate)



Source link

Bride Price: 'My husband can't afford me'


Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionNewsbeat Documentaries: Bride Price
“I don’t view the Bride Price as me being paid for… Geoffrey can’t afford me,” says Angela, a British-born Ghanaian describing a family tradition common across Sub-Saharan Africa. “Instead I like the idea that my fiancé and his side are thinking about me as a treasure coming into their family”.Bride Price is when the family of the groom pay their future in-laws at the start of their marriage. The payment can be made up of money, presents, or a mixture of both. It’s sometimes paid in one go, but instalments aren’t uncommon. It’s also practised widely in Thailand, China, and Papa New Guinea.For Angela it’s all part of accepting her roots: “Africans are proud of being Africans, you know. There was a time where it wasn’t necessarily the coolest thing to be African. Now, you see this great embrace of the African culture.”Her now-husband Geoffrey, who is also a British-born Ghanaian, describes it as a token of appreciation for the bride’s family.”Anything significantly more than a tokenistic gesture risks undermining the process as well, because then it actually gives meaning to the word Bride Price.”‘You are not for sale, no-one can buy you’A week before their legal ceremony, Geoffrey and Angela celebrated their traditional Ghanaian wedding. It’s during this ceremony that the Bride Price – a collection of money and gifts – was presented to Angela’s family. But the couple decided to modify the tradition slightly: “The Bride Price that is given is actually going to be gifted back to us as a couple.”My mum has been super transparent with me and from the very beginning she’s always said “You are not for sale, no-one can buy you”.”The cost of the Bride Price varies significantly. Geoffrey says: “It was fairly modest. It was in the hundreds.”But Derby-based husband and wife Blessing and Chelsea chose to approach things differently.

Image caption

Blessing (left) says he had to work 7 days a week to afford the Bride Price

Blessing, who is originally from Zimbabwe, says he took a second job to pay for the Bride Price: “I’ll just say roughly, it’s enough to put a deposit on a mortgage for a UK property.”Initially Chelsea was reluctant to go ahead with a traditional wedding because her dad passed away.”I was like… who’s gonna take the money? Because it’s mainly supposed to be about your dad and your mum. And it just didn’t feel right for me.”But Blessing convinced his wife to go ahead and, despite the large sum of money he paid, he believes paying the Bride Price was beneficial. If he hadn’t paid the Bride Price he says he wouldn’t have been able to approach his wife’s family.It’s not clear exactly when Bride Price became common in Africa. But in many countries, it predates cash.Historically the tradition varied depending on country and culture.

Evelyn Schiller campaigned against Bride Price in Uganda. She believes the focus of the tradition has changed over the past three generations.”Look at today, what the gifts look like. They are monetary, and that is where the word price comes from. It is no longer a bridal gift. It has become a Bride Price.”In 2015 The Supreme Court in Uganda ruled that Bride Price should be optional but, if a couple gets divorced, claiming for a refund is illegal. Support for Bride Price continues in Uganda because it is seen as a way to cement relations between communities.

Image caption

Podcast co-host Tolly T believes Bride Price feels like ownership

UK-born Nigerian podcaster Tolly T has questioned whether the tradition of Bride Price would work for her: “Ultimately… it’s giving me money for my child. It feels very ownership like.”‘Black British have a culture of our own now’The co-presenter of the Receipts Podcast believes that tradition encourages value to be placed on the material accomplishments of women: “It’s a self-esteem thing, for example, “I’m not worth this because I didn’t go to uni”, or “I don’t earn this amount of money”.””And ultimately what does that have to do with me being a good wife?””I do think a lot of us millennials, like black British or black, Nigerian British, or whatever, we are a culture of our own now,” she adds. “We’re kind of like taking bits that we want from being African and we’re taking bits from being British as well. So we’ve created this subculture where we question things, and then we do it if it makes sense for us”.

Follow Newsbeat on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 weekdays – or listen back here.



Source link