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Food For London Now: £1m from readers helps push appeal fund to £6.5m

Food For London Now: £1m from readers helps push appeal fund to £6.5m

Contributions from individual readers of the Evening Standard amounting collectively to an extraordinary £1 million — as well as a £370,000 donation from investment bank Morgan Stanley, our biggest corporate donor so far — pushed our Food For London Now appeal to £6.5 million today.

It means that after just 10 weeks we are two-thirds of the way towards fulfilling our pledge of raising £10 million for our appeal partner, The Felix Project, to tackle escalating food poverty in London over the next three years.

The scale of deprivation was laid bare this week with The Trussell Trust, the UK’s biggest foodbank network, reporting an 89 per cent rise in demand for food parcels in April compared with the same period last year.

Figures from the Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) show a 175 per cent rise, with both charities reporting this their “busiest period ever”.

Furthermore, a survey by the giving platform Neighbourly of 900 charities and community groups providing food to the vulnerable found that 70 per cent expect the situation to get even worse in the next six to 12 months.

Evening Standard proprietor Evgeny Lebedev paid special tribute to the almost 6,000 ordinary individuals who have dug deep to contribute to our appeal. He said: “Time and time again Londoners have shown that they are capable of immense generosity and community spirit in this period of crisis.

“To all those that donated, bought and bid — I salute you.” Morgan Stanley said the bank and its employees in London had made the donation as part of their global Covid-19 response.

Clare Woodman, head of Morgan Stanley EMEA, said: “The Felix Project plays a vital role in distributing food to people in need, especially those severely impacted by the pandemic. I am proud our employees in London are supporting them as part of our Covid-19 Hunger Relief Campaign.”

Another substantial donor was Partners Capital investment group, which donated £95,287.John Collis, head of Partners Capital, Europe, said they “selected The Felix Project as one of our charities to support during this difficult period as it is one of the most impactful charities in London today”.

Our appeal was also boosted by the silent auction, in partnership with Quintessentially Foundation, which closed this week with 135 bids placed for 36 lots and raising almost £40,000.

Boris Johnson has ‘trashed’ Government advice by defending Dominic Cummings, advisors say

Boris Johnson has ‘trashed’ Government advice by defending Dominic Cummings, advisors say

Boris Johnson has undermined efforts to get the public to stick to lockdown rules by defending his chief adviser Dominic Cummings, Government advisors have said.

Mr Cummings is accused of breaking lockdown rules after it emerged on Friday he had travelled 260 miles to County Durham in March to self-isolate with his family while official guidelines warned against long-distance journeys.

At the daily Downing Street press conference on Sunday evening, Mr Johnson said Mr Cummings had “acted responsibly, legally and with integrity”.

Downing Street has defended Mr Cummings’ actions, insisting he “acted in line with guidelines” and that his journey was “essential” because it related to the welfare of his child.

Following Mr Johnson’s defiant defence of his chief adviser, Professor Stephen Reicher tweeted that Mr Johnson had “trashed” all the advice he had been given about building public trust.

“I can say that in a few short minutes tonight, Boris Johnson has trashed all the advice we have given on how to build trust and secure adherence to the measures necessary to control Covid-19,” he wrote.Prof Reicher is on the Independent Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (SPI-B) which feeds analysis and advice to the scientists on the Government’s emergency panel.

In a second tweet, Prof Reicher said: “Be open and honest, we said. Trashed.

“Respect the public, we said. Trashed Ensure equity, so everyone is treated the same, we said. Trashed.

“Be consistent we said. Trashed. Make clear ‘we are all in it together’. Trashed.”​

He added: “It is very hard to provide scientific advice to a Government which doesn’t want to listen to science.“I hope, however, that the public will read our papers and continue to make up for this bad Government with their own good sense.”

Prof Reicher’s post had been retweeted more than 20,000 times in less than two hours, including by other scientists on SPI-B.

Prof Reicher, who is professor of social psychology at the University of St Andrews, said: “It feels increasingly as if we are living through a Greek drama.

“The kingmaker Cummings’ fatal flaw of hubris brings down both him and the king…what makes it tragedy is that such incompetence and turmoil will bring the people down as well.”

Another member of the panel said those tasked with spreading the lockdown message were “fighting a rear guard action constantly against government confusion and misinformation”.

Robert West, professor of Health Psychology at University College London (UCL), said: “I am sorry to have to say that as another member of SPI-B I have to agree.”

Prof West said it was imperative the public didn’t abandon social distancing despite the exceptions made for the PM’s chief aide.

Dominic Cummings has been defended by the Prime Minister (Getty Images)

“The key thing we need to remember is that the reason for the lockdown is not for the sake of people like Dominic Cummings or the Prime Minister it is four our friends and families sake so the rules are really, really important,” he said.

“There is a natural human tendency to say ‘If someone else can flout it, so can I’ but who will suffer?

“Dominic Cummings won’t suffer if we abandon it, the Prime Minister won’t suffer – it will be the people who we love who will suffer.

“That is what we need to keep in mind. What this is for and why we need to do it.

“Although we are fighting a rear guard action constantly against government confusion and misinformation we have to really keep hammering home this message.”

Police attended Mr Cummings’ address on Sunday (Getty Images)

Prof West said scientists speaking out against the Government they are supposed to be advising “is the last thing any of us wanted to do”.

Prof West’s UCL colleague Susan Michie, director of the university’s Centre for Behaviour Change, said: “As another member of SPI-B, I completely agree.”

Prof West said everyone in SCI-B, all of whom are unpaid for their work, would be thinking “very hard” about their future on the panel.

Meanwhile, Church of England bishops have accused the Prime Minister of treating people “as mugs” and with “no respect” after he defended the lockdown actions of his chief aide.

Writing on Twitter, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds, said: “The question now is: do we accept being lied to, patronised and treated by a PM as mugs?

“The moral question is not for Cummings – it is for PM and ministers/MPs who find this behaviour acceptable.

“What are we to teach our children? (I ask as a responsible father.)”

A few minutes earlier, the Rt Revd Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, Bishop of Ripon, commented in response to a critical tweet about the Prime Minister.

She wrote: “Integrity, trust and leadership were never there; just a driven misguided ideology of power that has total disregard for the most weak and vulnerable, and those who work to protect and care for us with relatively low pay.”

Dr Hartley also shared some details of her experience of being unable to see her parents during lockdown.

She tweeted: “My parents live in Durham, an hour away from where we live. My father finished radiotherapy treatment just before lockdown.

“I’ve missed his birthday, Mothering Sunday and countless other catch-ups that would have happened.

“And that’s a fraction of a story compared with others.”

A Durham councillor has called for a police investigation (Getty Images)

It comes as a Durham councillor called on police to launch an investigation into whether an offence was committed by Mr Cummings when he travelled to the area.

Cllr Amanda Hopgood, the leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition on Durham County Council, said she had written to Durham Constabulary’s Chief Constable Jo Farrell after being made aware of a number of sightings of the the Prime Minister’s senior aide in the area in April and May.

She said: “We are aware that a number of local residents have reported seeing Mr Cummings in the city and county of Durham on a number of occasions during April and May and have expressed concern about the public health implications of his presence given reports that he has been affected by the coronavirus.

“Given the clear public interest in this case I have today referred this matter to the Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary to ask her force to investigate whether Mr Cummings may have committed an offence under the provisions of section 15 of the 2020 Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations.”

New reports from the Guardian and Mirror on Sunday evening suggest Mr Cummings is facing a possible police investigation under health laws after a member of the public made a formal police report.

Retired chemistry teacher Robin Lees has reported Mr Cummings for a suspected breach of lockdown after claiming to have seen Mr Cummings and his family on April 12 walking in the town of Barnard Castle – 30 miles from his family home.

Conservative MPs have called for Mr Cummings to resign (PA/AP)

In his report to Durham Police, seen by the Mirror, Mr Lees says: “In the light of recent information I feel that as well as an important breach of the lockdown there may also have been concerns over Health Protection Regulations.

“I assume you are able to view CCTV to ascertain whether this vehicle travelled locally or from further away.”

But Mr Johnson has defended his chief adviser, saying he has had “extensive face-to-face conversations” with him after the initial reports emerged.

Speaking at the Downing Street press briefing on Sunday, he said: “I have concluded that in travelling to find the right kind of childcare, at the moment when both he and his wife were about to be incapacitated by coronavirus – and when he had no alternative – I think he followed the instincts of every father and every parent. And I do not mark him down for that.”

Duchess of Cambridge coos over newborn baby during video call to midwives

Duchess of Cambridge coos over newborn baby during video call to midwives

The Duchess of Cambridge has made a virtual bedside visit to new parents during a video call to midwives she worked alongside last year.

Kate chatted to Rebecca Attwood and John Gill with their baby Max nearby, and when she was told the infant had been born the night before, the royal said: “My goodness, you must be exhausted.”

Midwives told the duchess the coronavirus outbreak had left some mothers suffering from anxiety, concerned about catching Covid-19.

During another video call with experts from the sector, the duchess raised concerns about new parents, saying they should “reach out and ask for help” if they need it.

The video call was made on April 22 to staff at the maternity unit of Kingston Hospital in south-west London, where she spent two days on a work placement last November.

When the duchess, who is mother to six-year-old Prince George, Princess Charlotte, who celebrated her fifth birthday on Saturday, and two-year-old Prince Louis, began chatting with the parents of baby Max, she said: “Well firstly, huge congratulations. Is it a little boy or a little girl?”

“It’s a little boy,” Ms Attwood told her, as she sat up in her hospital bed with her newborn son alongside her in a cot.

Given a closer look at little Max, the duchess cooed: “He’s so sweet. Ah, congratulations. When did you have him?”

Told he had arrived at 10pm the previous night, Kate said: “My goodness, you must be exhausted,” and his mother replied “Yes. I’m pretty tired now.”

During her video chat, Kate spoke to midwives she had met before, and their colleagues, about how the experiences of expectant mothers and new parents has changed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

To maintain social distancing, three pairs of midwives took it in turns to join the chat, while another was filmed putting on personal protective equipment before taking the laptop in to introduce the duchess to baby Max and his parents.

From her Anmer Hall home in Norfolk, the duchess watched as the hospital birth centre’s lead midwife Sam Frewin, whom she had met during her work placement last November, appeared on camera in a mask and disposable apron.

“I’m smiling, can you tell?” joked Sam.

“I know,” gasped Kate, surprised by her appearance.

Looking closer, she laughed, adding: “With your eyes, I can.”

Boris Johnson reveals doctors prepared to announce his death as he battled coronavirus in intensive care

Boris Johnson reveals doctors prepared to announce his death as he battled coronavirus in intensive care

Boris Johnson has said doctors prepared to announce his death as he battled coronavirus in intensive care.

The revelation comes as the Prime Minister and his fiance Carrie Symonds announced that they named their baby boy Wilfred Lawrie Nicholas Johnson after two doctors who saved his life.

The PM first said he tested positive for Covid-19 on March 27 before entering his mandatory period of self-isolation at home.

Due to his symptoms persisting, Mr Johnson was taken to St Thomas’ Hospital in London on April 5. Just hours later, he was admitted to intensive care.

The PM returned to Downing Street on Monday but he has now revealed that during his time in the ICU doctors were making “arrangements” in case he did not recover.

He told the Sun On Sunday: “It was a tough old moment, I won’t deny it. They had a strategy to deal with a ‘death of Stalin’-type scenario.

“I was not in particularly brilliant shape and I was aware there were contingency plans in place.

“The doctors had all sorts of arrangements for what to do if things went badly wrong.

“They gave me a face mask so I got litres and litres of oxygen and for a long time I had that and the little nose jobbie.”

Mr Johnson told the paper “the bloody indicators kept going in the wrong direction” and that he kept asking himself: “How am I going to get out of this?”

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He said: “It was hard to believe that in just a few days my health had deteriorated to this extent. I remember feeling frustrated. I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting better.

“But the bad moment came when it was 50-50 whether they were going to have to put a tube down my windpipe.

“That was when it got a bit . . . they were starting to think about how to handle it presentationally.”

He said he was “in denial” initially about how serious his illness was, and said doctors were right to “force” him to go to St Thomas’s where he spent three nights in intensive care.

Coronavirus: Another 761 COVID-19 deaths in hospitals in UK

Coronavirus: Another 761 COVID-19 deaths in hospitals in UK

Another 761 patients with coronavirus have died in UK hospitals.

The Department of Health announced the increase, which takes the total to 12,868.

The number of tests for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has also risen by 15,994 to 398,916, although this includes some people being tested more than once.

There have now been 98,476 positive tests for the illness in the UK.

Once again, figures were also provided by health authorities in each of the home nations, which collate their stats at different times throughout the day and so may not tally up to the government’s overall total.

NHS England said another 651 coronavirus patients had died in hospitals in England, taking its total to 11,656.

Patients were aged between 20 and 101, and 20 of those (aged 20 to 101) had no known underlying health conditions when they tested positive for coronavirus.

London had the most deaths with 153, followed by the Midlands with 128, while the East of England and North West both recorded 107.

There were 76 in the South East, 49 in the North East & Yorkshire, and 31 in the South West.

Scotland recorded another 84 deaths, which was its biggest daily increase to date.

Wales also recorded its highest daily increase with 60, and Northern Ireland recorded another six.

In each country, the number of deaths in hospitals now stands at:

  • England – 11,656
  • Scotland – 699
  • Wales – 463
  • Northern Ireland – 140

Separate figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have also suggested that the UK’s true coronavirus death toll is much higher than the hospital figures indicate.

The latest ONS update on Tuesday showed 10% of coronavirus-related fatalities in England and Wales during the week ending 3 April did not happen in hospital, with more than half of those happening in care homes.

It came after news at Monday’s government coronavirus briefing that 92 care homes had reported outbreaks of the disease in the 24 hours before the conference.

The National Records of Scotland also revealed on Wednesday that – as of 12 April – almost 25% of 962 registered deaths where COVID-19 was mentioned in the death certificate in Scotland had occurred in care homes.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said deaths outside hospitals would be included in the Scottish government’s daily updates from now on, adding that 433 care homes in Scotland had recorded incidents of coronavirus.

She said Scotland has moved to now testing all symptomatic patients in care homes.

Opposition parties have warned of a “growing crisis” in care homes and there are demands for those deaths to be included in the daily government updates to stop “potentially thousands” of fatalities going “under the radar”.

The government has pledged that social care staff who need a test for COVID-19 will be able to access one as testing capacity continues to increase, but one minister has said care home outbreaks were “almost unavoidable”.

Social care minister Helen Whately told Sky News care homes are “used to” infection control due to seasonal flu.

Covid-19 hospital death toll jumps by 761 amid row over reported care home fatalities

Covid-19 hospital death toll jumps by 761 amid row over reported care home fatalities

The number of people who have died in UK hospitals after testing positive for Covid-19 has increased by 761, with the figure now nearing 13,000 .

The latest figure of 12,868 does not include those who have died while in social care settings. ​It comes amid concerns that care home fatalities are being under reported and calls for those figures to be released daily alongside hospital updates.

Meanwhile, the Government fis facing increasing pressure to detail how it intends to exit the coronavirus lockdown.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has told Dominic Raab, who is filling in for Boris Johnson as the PM recovers at Chequers , he will back an extension but has called for transparency on how the measures will eventually lift.

Chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council Martin Hewitt gave an update on crime levels during the pandemic today.

He detailed an overall drop of crime in England and Wales in the four weeks to April 12 of 28 per cent compared to the same period last year.

During the four weeks there has been a 37 per cent reduction in police recorded burglary, a 27 per cent drop in vehicle crime, serious assault, and personal robbery; and recorded rape offences have fallen 37 per cent.

Shoplifting has also dropped 54 per cent.

Fears have been raised of an increase in domestic violence amid enforced isolation at home, and police have seen an increase of three per cent in recorded offences year on year.

There has also been a 59 per cent rise in reports of anti-social behaviour, being attributed to breaches of coronavirus lockdown rules.