Tag Archives: Britain

Portugal will lift the suspension of UK, Brazil flights | Instant News

LISBON: Portugal will lift the suspension on flights to and from Britain and Brazil for an “important trip” as it moves forward with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, the interior ministry said Friday.
Prime Minister Antonio Costa said late Thursday that Portugal would begin the third phase of the gradual lifting of restrictions imposed after the country was hit by a strong coronavirus surge in January.
The interior ministry said “important trips” were “for professional reasons, studies, family reunions, health or humanitarian reasons.”
Checks at the Spanish border will be maintained for at least two extra weeks. Portugal will continue to require visitors from countries with infection rates above 500 cases per 100,000 population to enter a two-week quarantine.
Among these countries are Brazil and south Africa, but also France and the Netherlands.
Travel from countries with rates above 150 cases for 100,000 population – like Spanish, Germany and Italy – are also restricted to essential travel, the ministry said. All passengers arriving in Portugal by air must still show a negative PCR test.
Except for about a dozen municipalities, Portugal will continue to ease restrictions as planned, with the reopening of restaurants, shopping malls, high schools and universities on Monday.
It is the third of four stages to gradually lift restrictions that began in mid-March after two months of general lockdowns to contain a third wave of the virus.
The number of new Covid-19 cases detected every day in Portugal has stabilized around 500 infections per day.
This compares with a peak of nearly 13,000 at the end of January and the number hospitalized for the disease has fallen to less than 500 patients for the first time since September.


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Benefit Madness from England by Robert Skidelsky | Instant News

Work is the last way out of poverty. But the kind of futility Britain’s income support schemes call for puts many of the weakest members of society into the unknown, as it reflects a welfare ideology that fails to distinguish fantasy from reality.

LONDON – Mahatma Gandhi maybe never said, “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way that country treats its weakest members.” But that doesn’t make it any less true. And right now, Britain is in danger of accepting a flop.

According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 14.5 million people, or 22% of Great Britain’s 65 million people, live below the “poverty line” (defined as less than 60% of average income). Of the working-age population of 42 million, around 5-6 million, or about 12%, are unemployed or underemployed (working less than they want to). About eight million citizens of working age, or 20% of the total, are eligible for so-called “benefits” by the British, in which all or part of their income is paid by the state.

These figures are approximate, and some details are debatable. But the broad picture is, even with COVID-19 aside, the UK capitalist system is typically unable to provide a living wage for about a fifth of the country’s working-age population.

This is a major change from the late 1940s, when Britain established its questionable welfare state. The philosophy that inspired him was reflected in 1942 Beveridge Report states that the state will guarantee full employment, that work will provide income for a decent living, and that the welfare system will deal with “disruption” to work caused by unemployment, disease and pregnancy.

In the 1960s, interruptions became more frequent, not because unemployment increased, but because the number of claims for so-called national assistance (benefits not covered by insurance) increased more rapidly than the working-age population. Initial growth stems largely from an increase in the number of single mothers and additional entitlements to disability benefits. The increase in the number of claimants later, including in the early 1980s, was triggered by an increase in unemployment and precarious employment.

The current situation, with about 20% of the working age population “living in the state”, has existed since the 1990s. The increasing number inevitably resulted in the deployment of test capabilities and requirements, which, together with demands to simplify increasingly fragmented systems, led to the introduction of the current system. Universal Credit regime, whose long rollout began in 2011. The new scheme combines six benefits for working-age people, on or off the job, into one monthly payment.

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But a key step had come earlier, in 1995, when the UK Conservative government replaced unemployment benefits with Job Seekers Benefits. In contrast to the era of full Keynesian work commitments, plaintiffs would receive benefits in exchange for undertaking a mandatory “job search”, defined as “work activity”. Each claimant must prove they spent 35 hours a week – the equivalent of a full-time job – looking for work. Failure to engage in the necessary “work activities” will result in their benefits, or “salaries,” being reduced or deducted.

The philosophy behind this parody of the employment contract is clearly explained by Neil Couling, a senior civil servant in the UK’s Department of Employment and Pensions (DWP), in his work. Proof to the House of Lords Selection Committee for Economic Affairs in March 2021. “This system does require 2.5 million people with universal credit to be involved in job search as a condition for receiving universal credit,” said Couling. “You have to find a job if you want to get a job.”

As a DWP explain“By deliberately reflecting the work contract, the plaintiff’s commitment makes it clear that welfare is no different from work itself.” This means that “just as those who work have an obligation to their employer, so plaintiffs have a responsibility to the taxpayer.”

Saying like this reveals that madness – the inability to distinguish fantasy from reality – has taken over a system. It’s true you have to find a job to get one. But you won’t find it, even if you’re looking for overtime, if there’s nothing available. The fantasy behind the scheme (which also underpins the neoclassical economy) is the assumption of full employment, with unemployment only as a consequence of able-bodied workers’ leisure preference.

Likewise, the UK’s benefits system assumes, crazily, that all claimants are digitally literate. Movie in motionMe, Daniel Blake, about an unemployed carpenter who recently had a heart attack, describes Blake’s increasingly desperate attempt to claim benefits online. Although his cardiologist said he was unfit for work, authorities said he lacked sufficient “points” to qualify for disability benefits. So, Blake will have to apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance, which means he is forced to attend CV workshops and trained to apply for jobs that are medically unfit for him to do.

Blake, who is digitally illiterate, goes to the public library to use the computer there. When the librarian tells him to “run the mouse over the screen,” he picks up the mouse and moves it across the monitor.

She then wrote CVs by hand and gave them to various employers, who told her there were no jobs to be had. But officials at the Jobseeker Allowance offices were not impressed. “That’s not good enough, Mr. Blake – how do I know you’ve actually been in contact with all these masters?” said one. “Prove it.” This is pure Kafka, an algorithmic grind of nonsense machines.

Of course there is a method to the madness: Universal credit can be seen as a deliberate tool for shaping a segment of the currently overstretched workforce into the shape required by the low-skilled labor market. But the disease is misdiagnosed: the problem is a lack of aggregate demand for labor, not an excess supply of the wrong kind of labor.

The only way out of such a system is to replace fantasy with reality. If the UK private sector is normally unable to provide decent paying work for all who are willing and able to work, the state must step in with guarantee of public sector jobs. It will immediately halve the number of claimants for Universal Credit. “find a job“And, by removing the” unemployed reserve force, “replaces the downward pressure on wages.

The work that the community provides, however dire, is more rewarding than the soul-shattering labor of one company after another in search of a job that doesn’t exist. Work is the last resort out of poverty, but the kind of futility British support contracts entail leaving many of the weakest members of society on the road to nowhere.


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Photo: View from England ahead of Prince Philip’s funeral | World | Instant News

FILE – In this Thursday 15 April 2021 file photo, Prince Charles of England visits London’s Marlborough House gardens to view flowers and messages left by members of the public outside Buckingham Palace, following Prince Philip’s death. Buckingham Palace on Thursday, April 15, 2021 released a program outline for Prince Philip’s funeral, revealing that cousins ​​William and Harry Peter Phillips will walk among the princes as they escort the coffins to St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, together with his sister, Princess Anne, will lead the 15-member procession. (Jeremy Selwyn / Pool via AP, file)


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“Threat to the world”: Brazil’s Covid-19 tragedy | Instant News

Brazil now has the highest daily number of coronavirus deaths anywhere in the world, with more than 4,000 deaths per day recorded twice this month, according to figures compiled by Our World in Data, a project by the University of Oxford.

The country’s total number of confirmed deaths from the coronavirus now stands at more than 350,000, the second highest in the world, behind the US, which has a larger population.

Brazil has the second highest Covid-19 death toll in the world

Covid-19 confirmed deaths are cumulative, by country

In March, the country recorded an excess of 89,984 deaths over the average number of deaths during the same month from 2015 to 2019. That’s more than four times that recorded in the United States, a country with a population of one and a half times as much. The number in neighboring Peru is 3,740, a per capita rate almost four times lower.

So how and why did the pandemic develop like this in Brazil?

A number of factors are likely contributing to the rampant spread of the virus, including a new variant of Covid-19 known as P.1, as well as the malfunctioning federal government response, led by president Jair Bolsonaro, who has largely rejected its implementation. locking action to curb disease.

The following chart reveals various aspects of the crisis.

The spread of variant P.1

The P.1 variant is thought to have first appeared in the city of Manaus in the Brazilian Amazon late last year. It contains some worrying mutations, including E484K, which is seems to provide a virus with some ability to circumvent immunity acquired through infection or natural vaccinations. Several other Covid-19 lineages have also developed E484K, including the South African variant – but P.1 includes two other mutations of particular concern, called K417T and N501Y, which also modify the viral spike protein.

Although it is estimated that 76 percent of Manaus’s population have antibodies related to infections during the first wave, the city has been hit by a second wave of coronaviruses which is thought to be linked to the emergence of variant P.1.

Variant P.1 is now estimated to have a prevalence of over 80% in Brazil

Percentage of P.1-positive sequences with upper and lower confidence intervals, 7-day rolling mean

“We firmly believe a large number of cases are caused by this variant, because it is more contagious. There is no doubt about this, ”José Eduardo Levi, a researcher at the University of São Paulo, told New Statesman. In Brazil’s most populous state of São Paolo, the arrival of P.1 replaced all other variants in a short period of time, indicating higher transmissibility, he added.

The prevalence of P.1 has increased rapidly since its discovery in December 2020. It is now estimated to represent about 80 percent of new cases nationwide. It has also spread from Brazil to neighboring countries, including Colombia and Chile, as well as further afield, including several confirmed cases in the US and UK.

The Brazilian variant is still spreading to neighboring countries

The cumulative prevalence of variant P.1 in Brazil and other countries

The Intensive Care Unit was filled with people under their 40s

In the middle of last month, Brazil’s intensive care unit (ICU) was close to capacity, with only two states reporting occupancy rates below 80 percent. The pressure on the hospital system is likely to have continued for a month since then, as deaths and daily cases have remained at high levels.

As of mid-March, only two Brazilian states had occupancy rates below 80% in their ICU beds

Covid-19 ICU bed occupancy for adults in Brazil’s public health system on March 16

Fiocruz Covid-19 Observatory

Additionally, one recent study by the Brazilian Association of Intensive Medicine points to just that more than half of the ICU beds now populated by patients aged 40 and under, a trend some scientists believe may be partly due to P.1.

More than half of ICU patients in Brazil are under 40 years of age

Percentage of ICU patients, by characteristics

“The high number of cases among young people does not explain why, once they are infected, they face worse outcomes,” said Levi, adding that scientists may soon prove that P.1 is more lethal, including among younger patients, apart from being more contagious.

Vaccination rollout is slow

Although Brazil’s public health system is highly respected, their vaccination program lags behind even compared to other South American countries. As of April 13, Brazil has shipped just 27 million doses, as shown in New Statesman International Vaccine Tracker, which worked as 13 doses per 100 people, well behind Chile with 63 and Uruguay 30 per 100.

In addition, more than 40 percent of the vaccine doses Brazil purchased were China’s Sinovac jab, according to Duke University’s Center for Global Health Innovation. Jab is now produced in São Paulo, but is only 50.7 percent effective against the P.1 variant, according to a study.

Weak locking

Bolsonaro has largely resisted the lockdown, which he said caused more serious economic damage than a virus he once called “the little flu.”

“We will not accept the ‘stay at home, close everything, lock’ policy,” he said last week. “There will be no national lockdown. Our soldiers are not taking to the streets to force the Brazilians into their homes.”

Brazilian workers have never been away from work as much as other countries

Percent change in number of visitors to workplaces, relative to the pre-pandemic period, 7-day rolling average

Although some states and cities have implemented restrictions independently of the federal government, Google’s mobility data shows that a lack of coordinated federal response has caused more Brazilians to move around than people in neighboring countries. Brazilian workers also didn’t stay away from work as much as in other countries, data showed, with a drop in activity around late December and early April likely linked to the Christmas and Easter holidays.

Bolsonaro “prioritizes economic openness versus lockdowns and underestimates the relevance of the virus”, Elena Lazarou, a fellow at the Chatham House think tank, told New Statesman. “In some states, the governor has a very different approach to the federal government and Bolsonaro in particular,” but was not given sufficient government funding to impose restrictions, he added.

The lack of a coordinated federal response means there are fewer restrictions on interstate travel, which contributes to the rapid spread of the P.1 variant, Levi said. “Manaus can only be reached by boat or plane. It is enough to prohibit people from riding without PCR [Covid] test, we were able to significantly limit the spread of the P.1 variant. ”

Without more vaccine doses, the virus is likely to continue spreading in Brazil, not only among those not vaccinated but also among those who have been infected by other variants, creating the ideal petri dish for the emergence of further variants of concern, said Levi. , adding: “Brazil represents a threat to the world.”

[See also: Everything you need to know about the Brazilian Covid-19 variant]


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The British Red List causes chaos at Pakistani airports. Now the demands of charter flights | Instant News

An updated list of UK travel bans, also known as the “red list”, came into effect on Friday, after airports in Pakistan saw chaos as thousands of travelers race back to Britain to avoid mandatory hotel quarantines. UK residents who miss the 4am Friday deadline must be quarantined at a government-approved hotel for 11 nights for £ 1,750.

The travel ban was announced after the British government repeatedly warned its citizens against traveling abroad to relax amid fears of a variant of the coronavirus. According to British media reports, many people of British Pakistani nationality were found traveling to Pakistan to attend weddings.

The BBC’s North West Tonight recently aired a video of an unnamed woman from Manchester, reportedly posted on her social media account, who was seen attending a wedding in Lahore. In the video, the woman said that everyone was stressed by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in her hometown so she decided to travel to Pakistan.

“Corona[virus] has made everyone in England angry … But everyone’s having fun here (Pakistan). So I thought I would get away with it all by coming here to have fun too, ”said the woman, according to a BBC translator.

Also Read | Britain added Pakistan to its ‘red list’ after people continued traveling for weddings amid the Covid-19 surge

According to the report, around 32,000 travelers flew from Britain to Pakistan in January alone. As Covid-19 cases continued to surge in Pakistan following the influx of British Pakistani nationals, Britain announced a travel ban. Pakistan’s entry on the red list led to a surge in travel demand and many airlines added extra non-stop services.

At least 30 additional flights have been operated in the week since the announcement of the updated red list, carrying an additional 5,000 to 7,000 more travelers than the normal number, according to the Independent report. Social media users shared a video of the overcrowded Islamabad airport as enterprising airlines and travel agencies chartered lots of extra flights to keep up with demand.

“How many cases & ‘new strains’ will we see as a result of this raid,” wrote one user.

But with thousands of British Pakistanis still stranded in the country, Labor leaders asked Prime Minister Boris Johnson to provide assistance to them. Yasmin Qureshi, a British MP from Pakistan, wrote to Johnson demanding clarification on the decision-making process and asked why “these particular countries have been added to the red list”.

“We ask the Government to explore charter flight options or provide financial support for those stranded,” reads the letter, which was signed by Qureshi and his parliamentary colleagues.


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