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England begins second COVID-19 lockdown on Thursday

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England will return to the lockdown mode from midnight next Thursday after the country passed the milestone of one million COVID-19 cases and a second wave of infections threatened to overwhelm the health service.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the new restrictions on Saturday night.

The United Kingdom, which has the biggest official death toll in Europe from COVID-19, is grappling with more than 20,000 new coronavirus cases a day.

Scientists have warned the “worst case” scenario of 80,000 dead could be exceeded.

Johnson, at a hastily convened news conference in Downing Street after news of a lockdown leaked to local media, said that the one-month lockdown across England would kick in at a minute past midnight on Thursday morning and last until December 2.

In some of the most onerous restrictions in Britain’s peacetime history, people will only be allowed to leave home for specific reasons such as education, work, exercise, shopping for essentials and medicines or caring for the vulnerable.

“We must act now,” Johnson said, flanked by his chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, and his chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance.

“Unless we act, we could see deaths in this country running at several thousand a day.”

The government will revive its emergency coronavirus wage subsidy scheme to ensure workers who are temporarily laid off during a new England-wide lockdown receive 80% of their pay, he said.

Essential shops, schools, and universities will remain open, Johnson said. Pubs and restaurants will be shut apart from for takeaways. All non-essential retail will close.

Johnson’s imposition of stricter curbs came after scientists warned the outbreak was going in the wrong direction and that action was needed to halt the spread of the virus if families were to have any hope of gathering at Christmas.

The measures bring England into alignment with France and Germany by imposing nationwide restrictions almost as severe as the ones that drove the global economy this year into its deepest recession in generations.

“I am optimistic that this will feel very different and better by the spring,” Johnson said, adding that there was realistic hope of a vaccine in the first quarter of next year.

Asked by reporters what took him so long to impose a national lockdown, Johnson said it was a constant struggle to balance the risk to life and the risk to livelihoods.

“We have to mindful the whole time of the scarring and the long-term economic impact of the measures,” Johnson said. His medical adviser Whitty said that without the tougher measures then the National Health Service could be overwhelmed.

The new lockdown will heap more pressure on finance minister Rishi Sunak and the Bank of England to increase their already huge support for the UK economy, the world’s sixth-biggest. The economy slumped a record 20 per cent in the spring.

So far the United Kingdom has reported 46,555 COVID-19 deaths – defined as those dying within 28 days of a positive test. A broader measure of those with COVID-19 on their death certificates puts the toll at 58,925.

The United Kingdom has the world’s fifth largest official death toll, after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.

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Kanu not in court, case adjourned till Oct 21

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Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, will remain in detention till October 21, 2021.
He was due to be in court on Monday but the Federal Government did not arraign him.
Kanu, who was reportedly arrested in Kenya last month, has been in custody of the Department of State Services (DSS).
Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday adjourned the case till October 21, 2021, over the failure of the Federal Government to arraign him.

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Insecurity made FG to retain DIGs, AIGs, says minister

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The Federal Government on Monday explained why it retained some Deputy Inspectors-General of Police and Assistant Inspectors-General of Police after the appointment of Usman Baba Alkali as Inspector-General of Police.
Minister of Police Affairs, Muhammad Maigari Dingyadi, said the high level of insecurity made the government to retain the senior police officers.
He stated this during the decoration of 24 newly promoted Commissioners of Police to AIGs.
No senior police officer with the rank of AIG or DIG went on compulsory leave when Baba was appointed IGP.
Dingyadi stressed that was the first time of such development in recent history of the Nigerian Police Force.
He said, “The government deliberately took this position to have many hands in the force. With this action, the Police Force has retained experienced professionals that would contribute towards sustaining the relative peace of the country.”
The minister added that the criteria for the appointment of the new AIGs were purely on merit, professional conduct, and individual performance, urging the newly appointed AIGs to redouble their efforts to curb insecurity.
He reiterated that President Muhammadu Buhari has directed Salaries and Wages Commission to come out with new salary structure.
He said, “To whom much is given, much is expected. Officers should re-double their effort in the fight against insecurity which had bedeviled the country today. A lot is expected of you in contributing your quota towards the sustainability of peace and unity in the country.”

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Four more Kaduna school students escape from bandits captivity

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Three students of Bethel Baptist High School, Kaduna, have escaped from their captors.
They escaped from the camp on Monday where they were kept since July 19, 2021.
An aunt to one of the students, who craved anonymity confirmed this on Monday.
According to her, the teenagers had spent five days roaming inside the forest before they finally met another herder who directed them out of the forest.
It was also gathered that one of the escaped students who could recall his father’s phone number borrowed a phone to call home before his father went to pick them up.
“The children were found around Kasuwar Magani on Sunday evening hours after 28 students of the school were released by the bandits. It was the school management that called my in-law to inform us,” she said.
Two other students had escaped from the camps before they were recovered by the police.

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