More on the fallout from the “Russia report”. It is understood Boris Johnson will strengthen counter-espionage laws in the wake of the report by the Commons intelligence and security committee (ISC). It has been suggested the UK could introduce a “register of foreign agents” like those in place in the US and Australia as part of a stronger move against foreign interference in internal affairs. You can read more here
The introduction of the Covid-19 lockdown in the UK was not “delayed”, the transport secretary has said.
On Tuesday, Wellcome Trust director and Sage member Professor Sir Jeremy Farrar criticised the timing of the coronavirus lockdown, saying it should have come earlier.
But speaking on Sky News, Grant Shapps said the government had “followed the advice very clearly” from experts during Cobra meetings early on in the pandemic.
If the accusation is somehow it was delayed that’s not the case. I was in those meetings and we moved as soon as the information was being presented to us.
The progressive lockdown started as soon as that information was clear.”
Further to the previous post, here is Kirsty Williams, Wales’s education minister, writing in the Guardian on why she has announced the £50 million funding for universities and colleges.
Universities and colleges in Wales will receive a £50 million support package to help them cope with the impact of the coronavirus crisis. The Welsh government has announced £27 million will go to higher education institutions, while £23 million will be used to support students in further education colleges and sixth forms.
Education Minister Kirsty Williams said the institutions were “stewards of place” and would help Wales recover from the pandemic, the Press Association reports. She said: “This funding will provide a vital support to our institutions in their preparations for the autumn. “Each one will be important in our recovery as they work with schools, business, international partners and public services.”
The announcement comes after the country’s health minister said the NHS in Wales faces a “truly extraordinary” autumn and winter with the combined challenges of a possible second wave of coronavirus, rising waiting lists and the annual flu season.
Meanwhile, health officials said there have been no further reported deaths of people who tested positive for coronavirus in Wales. The total number of deaths remains at 1,547.
The total number of cases in the country increased by 22, bringing the revised total of confirmed cases to 16,965, Public Health Wales said.
Study shows women and young people hardest hit psychologically
A study has suggested women and young people have been hardest hit psychologically by the Covid-19 lockdown, as MPs were told the world will be living with Covid-19 for “decades to come”.
The new study found 27% of people in the UK were experiencing clinically significant levels of psychological distress in April, compared with 19% before the pandemic, the Press Association reports. A General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) assessing the severity of a mental health problem over the previous few weeks also showed increasing distress across the population in April.
The 12 questions included how often people experienced symptoms such as difficulties sleeping or concentrating, problems with decision-making or feeling overwhelmed. Increases were bigger in some groups compared to others – with a 33% rise among women, 32% among parents with children under five and 37% among young people aged 18 to 24, the study published in The Lancet Psychiatry found.
Sally McManus, joint senior author of the study from City University, said: “The pandemic has brought people’s differing life circumstances into stark contrast. We found that, overall, pre-existing inequalities in mental health for women and young people have widened. At the same time, new inequalities have emerged, such as for those living with pre-school children.”
Data from the Office of National Statistics on homeschooling during the Covid-19 pandemic is due to be released today