Scientists warn transmission increase is likely as government sets out plans to return to schools

Education unions have warned reopening schools in full would be “reckless”, as scientists say it could lead to increased transmission. This evening, the prime minister is expected to announce the opening of all schools from 8 March. This is despite several education organisations and scientists calling for a phased reopening to prioritise safety of staff and students. The announcement follows research suggesting reopening schools will lead to the R number rising to above 1, increasing transmission. ‘Wider opening must be safe and sustainable’ Nine education organisations, including the National Education Union (NEU), the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), and GMB have implored the government to be cautious…

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Shamima Begum to find out next week if she can potentially return to the UK

Shamima Begum will find out if she can potentially return to the UK to pursue an appeal against the removal of her British citizenship when the Supreme Court gives a ruling on her case next week. Stateless Begum was 15 when she and two other east London schoolgirls travelled to Syria to join the so-called Islamic State group (IS) in February 2015. Her British citizenship was revoked on national security grounds shortly after she was found, nine months pregnant, in a Syrian refugee camp in February 2019. Begum, now 21, is challenging the Home Office’s decision to remove her British citizenship and wants to be allowed to return…

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Reopening schools: experts urge caution as government aims for March return

Conservative MPs have called for schools to open from 8 March, though unions and medical professionals doubt the safety of this plan. A group of MPs, calling themselves the COVID Recovery Group, have written to the prime minister to call for schools to open in March, as well as for hospitality venues to open by Easter. The letter, signed by 63 MPs, said: First, the “national priority” of reopening all schools to all pupils must be achieved by 8 March. Every hour of classroom learning lost harms the nation’s children and the schools shutdown is having a huge impact on children’s health and welfare. On 14 February, Dominic…

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Socialist candidate leads in Ecuador elections, but run-off vote could mean a return to austerity

Ecuador’s election finished without a decisive winner and is therefore set to go to a run-off between the candidates with the top two vote tallies. But who those two candidates will be is not yet clear. In a surprise upset, the center-right candidate failed to win a comfortable second-place showing and is neck-and-neck with an insurgent indigenous candidate who ran on an ‘eco-socialist’ platform. The result is therefore a decisive and unequivocal rejection of neoliberal austerity imposed by former president Lenin Moreno. But some serious questions surround the credibility of the self-described ‘eco-socialist’ candidate. Progressive journalists have pointed out that his candidacy might be a trojan horse to…

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Return to tiers will see coronavirus infections rise, scientists warn

Returning to the tiered system of coronavirus restrictions in England after the lockdown comes to an end will see infections rise again, scientists have warned. Any hopes of families gathering at Christmas will also be dependent on the reproduction rate of the disease staying below one for “some time”, according to documents released by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).The next normalA document from the science advisers, dated 4 November, said:If England returns to the same application of the tiering system in place before November 5, then transmission will return to the same rate of increase as today. Other papers from late October suggested that in a…

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Iran’s president urges Biden to return to nuclear deal

We need your help ... The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads. Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion. We have been fighting against an…

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