Calls grow for Scottish MP to quit after she pleads guilty to breaking Covid rules

Former SNP politician Margaret Ferrier under more pressure after admitting she failed to self-isolate

Constituents of the Covid rule-breaking MP Margaret Ferrier are said to be “aghast” that she remains in post, as calls for her to resign gathered pace after she pleaded guilty on Thursday to “culpably and recklessly” exposing the public to the virus.

The former Scottish National party politician, who now sits as an independent MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, faced immediate calls to stand down, including from the leader of her former party, Nicola Sturgeon, in October 2020 when it emerged she had visited a number of venues in her constituency and spoken in the Commons while awaiting the result of a Covid test.

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from Coronavirus | The Guardian
via COVID-19 Alerts

Covid was a huge blow for UK arts venues. The energy crisis could be a fatal one | Charlotte Higgins

There is no price cap for businesses, so the fuel bills of many theatres and venues will become completely unmanageable

Imagine a small music venue. There are many such places dotted around the UK, the sort of spot where you might catch an up-and-coming band, some folk or jazz, the occasional standup comedian. I’m thinking of a real venue, capacity 500, in the south of England. There’s nowhere else to see live music in this town, and it’s been going for decades. Only it may not be around for much longer. It’s just had its electricity bill, from the largely state-owned French company EDF (fill in your own ironies). That bill is 640% higher than the last one.

There’s no energy price cap for businesses such as this – that’s just for households. They’ve pulled in a broker to try to get them a better rate, without success. The extra £31,000 for putting the lights on is more than what the boss is paid. They’re worried that if they go public, the landlord and their suppliers will panic and pull the plug. Which really would be the end.

Charlotte Higgins is the Guardian’s chief culture writer

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from Coronavirus | The Guardian
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‘Most have thrown their hands up’: has the US forgotten about Covid?

As Americans go about their daily lives, severely affected Covid patients are wondering if others are moving too quickly from the worst days of the pandemic

Despite signs that indicate the latest Covid-19 surge is slowing down, an average of 400 deaths in the US is still reported on a daily basis.

Various mask and social distancing mandates across the country are becoming anything but strictly enforced.

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from Coronavirus | The Guardian
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Instagram and Facebook suspend Robert Kennedy Jr’s anti-vaccine group

Critics calls move ‘too late too little’ after group repeatedly violated policies on Covid-19 misinformation

Instagram and Facebook have suspended a prominent anti-vaccine group led by Robert Kennedy Jr for repeatedly violating rules prohibiting misinformation about Covid-19.

The non-profit, Children’s Health Defense (CHD), is one of the most influential anti-vaccine organizations active on social media, where it has spread misleading claims about vaccines and other pandemic-related public health measures.

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from Coronavirus | The Guardian
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British travellers left struggling to board flights after NHS Covid pass down

Users trying to check in for flights were left unable to access proof of their vaccination status for several hours on Thursday night

British travellers were left struggling to board flights after the NHS Covid Pass system went down for several hours on Thursday night.

Users trying to access proof of their vaccination status via the NHS app and website found that the service was unavailable, with the app telling users: “We are sorry the NHS Covid Pass is currently unavailable.

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from Coronavirus | The Guardian
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‘Unethical’ for GPs to charge to prescribe Covid antivirals, Australian charity says

Council on the Ageing says doctors who charge consultation fee for prescription for older people should be called out

Failing to bulk bill pensioners who require life-saving Covid-19 antivirals is “morally bankrupt” and “unethical”, the head of the national peak body for older Australians has said.

The Council on the Ageing chief executive, Ian Yates, said as growing numbers of general practitioners stop bulk billing, citing rising costs and low Medicare rebates, he is hearing “more and more examples of pensioners not being bulk-billed, especially people with the seniors healthcare card.”

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from Coronavirus | The Guardian
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The Guardian view on the A-level class of 2022: they made the grade | Editorial

In spite of Covid’s disruptions, the latest sixth form leavers came through successfully. They do not deserve universities that are starved of money

If ever there was a cohort of school leavers who deserved congratulations on their A-level results, it is surely the class of 2022, who received their grades on Thursday. No group of sixth formers in postwar Britain has suffered a more disrupted education than they have. The Covid pandemic left prolonged and ineradicable marks on their schooling. It ruptured their teaching and disturbed their study, their exams and their university applications. It also had an often traumatic impact on their home lives, those of their families and friends, and their own development into young adults. There were also very many direct sufferers from the virus itself, although relatively fewer serious cases.

In spite of all this, the 2022 A-level class have made the grade. They should wear their achievement as a generational badge of honour. This is also the conclusion to be drawn from the results in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as a whole. Nearly 426,000 students had their university places confirmed on Thursday. This is a slight fall from last year, but it is also overwhelming evidence that there remains huge public demand for higher education in modern Britain, which the pandemic and its associated disruptions has done little to deflect. Significantly, demand is higher than ever among the most socially disadvantaged students too, whose acceptance numbers went up, not down. In the 2020s, education remains the springboard to social mobility.

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from Coronavirus | The Guardian
via COVID-19 Alerts

NHS England to roll out dual-variant Covid jab from September

Booster programme to start on 5 September as reports say NHS does not have enough stock of new jab

The NHS will launch its Covid booster programme on 5 September, officials have said, as it prepares to becomes the world’s first healthcare system to offer a next-generation vaccine that targets both the original strain of the virus and the Omicron variant.

More than 26 million people will be eligible for another Covid-19 jab over the next few months, with health officials hoping a second national booster programme will lessen the risk of a double whammy of coronavirus and flu overwhelming already overstretched hospitals this winter.

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from Coronavirus | The Guardian
via COVID-19 Alerts

Police call for Bolsonaro to be charged for spreading Covid misinformation

Brazil’s federal police ask supreme court to charge president over bogus claims in October 2021 social media broadcast

Brazilian federal police have called for President Jair Bolsonaro to be charged with spreading fake information about a coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 680,000 of his citizens, including bogus claims of a link between Aids and Covid vaccines.

Bolsonaro’s anti-scientific response to a disease he called “a bit of a cold” has been internationally condemned and the subject of a congressional inquiry in which the far-right populist was accused of deliberately delaying vaccine purchases and promoting quack “cures” such as hydroxychloroquine.

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from Coronavirus | The Guardian
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There is little to celebrate about today’s A-level results – inequalities just got worse | Nadeine Asbali

Students have paid the price of the pandemic and a government that neglects the chasm between rich and poor

The English teacher in me couldn’t help but recognise pathetic fallacy in the grim weather this morning, as though it confirmed the worst fears of teachers across the country that this year’s A-level results would provide a bleak outlook for students who have faced the greatest disruption to their learning in living memory.

No matter the circumstances, A-level results day can often be an anxious time for all involved: students, their loved ones and their teachers waiting to see the outcome of two years of intense study and hard work, and what the contents of those envelopes means for futures at stake. But this year, results day was surrounded by even more tension and controversy as we waited to see how a return to exam-assessed grades after 18 months of upheaval to schooling would affect results.

Nadeine Asbali is a secondary school teacher in London

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from Coronavirus | The Guardian
via COVID-19 Alerts

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