Plans for drive-in gigs were announced in the UK and hares were granted protected status in Scotland, plus other stories of progress from the week just gone
Transmission of coronavirus is no longer judged to be “high or exponentially rising” according to the UK government, which today lowered the country’s Covid-19 alert level from 4 to 3.
Endorsed by all four chief medical officers, the lowering of the alert level was described by health secretary Matt Hancock as a “big moment” for the UK, raising hopes that some social distancing measures could start to be relaxed in the coming weeks.
However, with the R value, which measures transmission rates, still thought to be hovering just below one (above one and the number of cases increases exponentially) the country is still at a critical moment in its fight against coronavirus.
Image: Adam Niescioruk
It was revealed this week that a cheap and widely available drug can provide life-saving treatment for patients who are seriously ill with coronavirus. Dexamethasone, which has been used since the 1960s to treat conditions including asthma, was found to cut the risk of death by around third for Covid-19 patients on ventilators.
The drug was part of the Recovery Trial conducted by the University of Oxford to identify existing treatments that may benefit people with Covid-19. As part of the trial 2,000 coronavirus patients were given the drug, and for those on ventilators it cut the risk of death from 40 per cent to 28 per cent.
“Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide,” said Peter Horby, Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases, who led the trial.
Image: Dimitri Houtteman
The UK prime minster, Boris Johnson, agreed to continue providing free food vouchers for some of England’s poorest families over the summer following a campaign by the footballer Marcus Rashford (pictured).
Number 10 had initially pledged to end the £15-a-week vouchers, but as Rashford’s campaign gathered momentum and Tory backbenchers threatened to rebel, the government performed a U-turn and announced a new £120m “Covid summer food fund” for 1.3 million pupils in England. Scotland and Wales will also continue with the voucher programme.
“Just look at what we can do when we come together,” wrote Rashford on Twitter.
Image: Mattythewhite/Creative Commons
A new housing scheme in Cambridge that provides rough sleepers with secure accommodation and professional support is back on track having been delayed by coronavirus.
The scheme’s six, self-contained micro homes, which have been installed on land belonging to a local church, will open their doors next week. Residents will receive support from a local homeless charity, Jimmy’s Cambridge, which will help them find employment, access mental health services and build their self-worth.
“These new homes will change people’s lives,” said Mark Allan, chief executive of Jimmy’s Cambridge. Read the full story here.
Conservationists welcomed a decision this week by the Scottish parliament to ban the mass culling of mountain hares, thousands of which are slaughtered annually by the driven grouse shooting industry. The industry claims that killing hares, whose brown fur turns white in winter, is necessary to stop the spread of diseases, a claim refuted by conservationists.
The ban on hare culling is part of a series of new animal protection measures announced in Scotland this week. The government also voted to ban salmon farmers from shooting seals and vowed to limit salmon farmers’ use of acoustic deterrent devices, which emit noises to scare off seals, but reportedly cause hearing damage in dolphins and whales.
Image: Bouketen Cate/Creative Commons
A series of drive-in concerts featuring artists such as Dizzee Rascal and Gary Numan will take place across the UK this summer. The promoters, Live Nation, have announced that Birmingham, Edinburgh and London are among the cities that will host the outdoor gigs, which will run from mid-July until September.
“This outdoor concert series was created as a way to reimagine the live music experience during a time of social distancing by allowing fans to enjoy concerts in the safest way possible,” said Live Nation’s Peter Taylor.
Promoters around the world have been devising ways to keep culture alive in the era of social distancing, including in Prague where drive-in theatre launched in April. News of the UK concerts comes amid dire warnings that hundreds of UK music venues could close due to coronavirus restrictions without government help.
Image: Jan Hromádko
An initiative set up to help struggling artists sell their work during lockdown has raised an estimated £48m and was so successful that it is launching as a not-for profit company.
Concerned about the impact coronavirus would have on his colleagues, artist Matthew Burrows hatched a plan to help artists sell their work online while galleries were closed.
“The idea I came up with was simple: you post work on Instagram for no more than £200 and when you reach £1,000 of sales you have to buy another artist’s work,” said Burrows. Having raised an estimated £48m, the Artist Support Pledge has launched as a not-for profit company with support from the Crafts Council. Read the full story here.
Alexandra Palace, one of London’s landmark music venues, has made its kitchen available for volunteer chefs working for Compassion London, a charity formed during the pandemic to feed key workers and vulnerable people.
Volunteers working for Compassion London cook and deliver thousands of meals every day to those who need them most. The charity was founded by the social entrepreneur Leon Aarts and is currently seeking more volunteers and donors to help support its work.
Main image: Vincent Van Zalinge