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COVID-19: UK records another 28,507 COVID-19 cases and 489 deaths | UK News

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COVID-19: UK records another 28,507 COVID-19 cases and 489 deaths | UK News

The UK has recorded a further 489 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, government figures show.

The country has also recorded another 28,507 positive COVID-19 cases, down from Thursday’s figure of 35,383.

However, the previous day’s figure was artificially higher due to a backlog of around 11,000 cases in Wales that had not been previously reported.

There has been a trend of rising infections and deaths compared with last week’s figures, with 21,672 cases and 424 deaths reported last Friday.

Coronavirus infections are increasing in much of the UK and the latest data from government scientists SAGE estimates the R number has increased to between 1.1 and 1.2.

Last week, it was estimated to be between 0.9-1.0.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics also point to a rise in infections.

The latest data suggests the percentage of people with the virus in the community in England, Scotland and Wales increased in the week of 6-12 December.

Numbers in Northern Ireland were more steady but no longer appeared to be decreasing.

One in 95 people in England tested positive for COVID-19 during the week, although this does not include those in hospitals, care homes or other institutional settings.

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COVID-19: Schools to get two weeks’ notice before reopening – says Education Secretary Gavin Williamson | Politics News

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COVID-19: Schools to get two weeks' notice before reopening - says Education Secretary Gavin Williamson | Politics News

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has signalled pupils could be told in a week’s time if they will be returning to classrooms after the February half-term.

Appearing on Sky News, Mr Williamson said his Department for Education would “want to give all schools a clear two weeks’ notice period” ahead of their full reopening.

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“What we will be wanting to do is to give schools as much notice as possible so teachers can get ready, children can prepare, and parents know in order to manage their lives,” he said.

“We would want to give all schools a clear two weeks’ notice period in order to be able to ready themselves.”

Asked if that meant schools would be informed of the government’s plans in a week’s time – ahead of February half-term beginning for most pupils on 15 February – Mr Williamson said: “We’ll be wanting to give people as much notice as possible in order to prepare, in order to get ready, in order to welcome children back.”

However, he added that “one of the key criteria” as to whether schools reopen to all pupils will be whether the pressure on the NHS has started to lift.

More from Gavin Williamson

“That’s why we had to take the national decision, very much in the national interest, one that I personally never would have wanted to take – to see schools closed again,” he added.

“We had to make that decision because the pressure on the NHS and needing to reduce movement in society and in communities.

“But schools were the last to close and schools will very much be the first to open.”

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When he announced England’s third national lockdown at the beginning of this month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out his hope that schools might begin to reopen after the February half-term.

Earlier this week, England’s deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries suggested schools might not all reopen at the same time across England as lockdown restrictions are eased.

She raised the prospect of schools reopening earlier in some parts of the country than others, depending on infection rates.

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Joe Biden’s climate goals already have activists breathing a sign of relief | Climate News

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Joe Biden's climate goals already have activists breathing a sign of relief | Climate News

Environmentalists and those on the front line of climate change have told Sky News of their relief at seeing Joe Biden sworn in as America’s new president.

The inauguration of a new world leader who describes climate change as an “existential threat” is a lifeline for countries whose people and land are being devastated by global warming.

Analysis: Biden wastes no time in undoing Trump’s work

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COVID, climate and race top Biden’s agenda

Tina Stege is climate envoy for the Marshall Islands, a group of atolls lying just two metres above sea level in the northwestern Pacific Ocean.

She said: “For a country like mine which is really on the front lines of climate change, we now have optimism. It’s got to be cautious optimism when the challenges are this big.

“But with a partner like the US and with all the resources that the US can bring to bear, with this president we are at the start of a process that provides some hope.”

Immediately after taking office, Mr Biden signed executive orders to rejoin the landmark Paris climate agreement (which Donald Trump pulled out of), when countries came together in 2015 to pledge to reduce devastating levels of global emissions.

Mr Biden has also rolled back a host of executive orders put in place by Mr Trump which weakened efforts to tackle climate change.

They include revoking the presidential permit granted to the controversial Keystone XL pipeline delivering hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude oil each day from Canada to be refined in the US.

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November 2020: Joe Biden appoints first-ever US climate envoy

Joye Braun has been fighting the pipeline for a decade and was – as she calls it – “boots on the ground” from day one “until we were evicted”.

A member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and Indigenous Environmental Network, she said: “To have Keystone Pipeline XL go through is a climate changer – we’ve always said that. It’s an absolute necessity that the Keystone XL pipeline be stopped.

“Watching the inauguration, I felt a huge sigh of relief. For 10 years I’ve been working on this. We’ve gone cold, we’ve gone hungry. Thank you President Biden.”

Joye Braun (L) has been fighting the pipeline for a decade
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Joye Braun (L) has been fighting the pipeline for a decade

Throughout his campaign Mr Biden had promised rejoin the Paris agreement on “day one” of his presidency.

America will be back in the club in 30 days after notifying the United Nations.

Remy Rioux, the head of the French development agency, was a lead negotiator for the Paris agreement.

He said: “I remember in 2015 it was an executive order by President Obama which had the US joining the Paris agreement so there’s no need for Congress approval to join or to come back within the agreement. President Trump withdrew by a single executive order as well so it can be very fast.”

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While Mr Biden wants to be a global leader on the climate, his credibility rests on transforming decarbonising the US.

He’s promised a $2tn plan to create millions of jobs in clean energy and energy retrofits.

His climate strategy is underpinned by the belief that the climate is inextricably linked to America’s health, wealth and national security.

He subscribes to a global recovery from coronavirus being green and will likely announce net zero goals.

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Biden wastes no time undoing Trump’s work, but it’s how he handles the future that will count | US News

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Biden wastes no time undoing Trump's work, but it's how he handles the future that will count | US News

Joe Biden spent his inaugural address preaching unity in a country riven with division.

But on his first day in office he went solo to sign 15 executive orders and two directives. It was all aimed at undoing Trump’s work swiftly- from re-joining the Paris Climate accord, to a national mask mandate, to reversing the Muslim travel ban.

It may be a risky move in a time crying out for bi-partisanship, but Joe Biden campaigned as the antidote to Donald Trump and it’s no surprise he didn’t want to waste any time unpicking his predecessor’s most controversial policies.

The day was rich with symbolism, his press secretary opening up a briefing promising to be “truthful and transparent”. It was an attempt to reset after an unprecedented era.

Gone was the talk of American carnage. Biden vowing to put an end to “an uncivil war,” insisting politics doesn’t need to be full of rage. It was the message we were expecting – a push for unity – an echo of his stump speech themes.

It felt sensible and safe, in a country that feels like it needs a pause from fighting. Liberal Hollywood looked delighted to be returning to the fold after shunning Donald Trump. It had all the hallmarks of convention that have been so absent for four years.

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Poet and activist captivates inauguration

The standout moment for me was not Joe Biden’s words, but those of a 22 year-old poet who like the president she recited for, had suffered a speech impediment as a child.

“There is always light, if only we are brave enough to see it. If only we are brave enough to be it,” Amanda Gorman said with soaring eloquence. At 78 years old Joe Biden is an unlikely candidate to craft a new future for a diverse America.

But his strength may be in who he picks to present his ideas. Amanda Gorman was the light a lot of people needed to see in that moment.

But from today on, it will be his deeds not just his words that America looks to. The 74 million people who didn’t vote for him will hold his feet to the fire. So too will the progressives, who invested their vote in a pragmatist, but will demand much more than incremental change. They picked him as their vessel, but they have high expectations.

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Harris: ‘We are bold, fearless and ambitious’

Biden declared that “democracy has prevailed”. Yesterday felt like a city breathing a sigh of relief, not just for the absence of violence, but a return to what they know.

But everyone in that White House has seen how fragile America can and could still be.

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