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Covid and Corona Latest News

People coming in from three major countries must still spend 14 days in quarantine when they enter Britain.

Citizens from most European Union countries, or anyone flying from these countries, can come to England without the need to go into a 14-day quarantine. The lifting of the restriction was valid from Friday July 10 2020.

The British government still demands the quarantine from people traveling from the USA, Portugal and Sweden.

The full list of countries for which quarantine does not apply to people arriving in England:

  • Andorra
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Aruba
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belgium
  • Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba
  • Croatia
  • Curaçao
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Dominica
  • Faroe Islands
  • Fiji
  • Finland
  • France
  • French Polynesia
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Greenland
  • Grenada
  • Guadeloupe
  • Hong Kong
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Macau
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • Netherlands
  • New Caledonia
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Réunion
  • San Marino
  • Serbia
  • Seychelles
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • St Barthélemy
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Pierre and Miquelon
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Turkey
  • Vatican City
  • Vietnam

Analysis Covid and Corona Insight Latest News

Social distancing for young children at school. It’s being enforced in Britain – but the Netherlands is taking a much closer route.

By Paul Martin.

In Dutch schools, there is no government requirement for social distancing between the children. In Britain, where Reception Classes and Year Six Classes began this week (June 11), there is.

Have the Dutch have got it right, and the British got it wrong?

Because the evidence is starkly clear: children under the age of ten have never been shown in any scientific study to have passed on coronavirus to any adult. And therefore the risk that little children catch the virus, then show no symptoms, then go home and infect their parents or older siblings, is extremely remote.

Against this tiny risk, there is the need for decent and proper schooling for small children. My granddaughter went back to school yesterday. How on earth is it educative for her to sit two metres from all her friends? Does this not amount to a form of abuse or at least an unnecessary restriction of the younger children? It certainly creates, literally, a barrier to interaction and the kind of learning that younger children in particular need.

Does it not, as an educational psychotherapist told, tend to make them, in essence, afraid of being – children?

Our granddaughter is, after all, 5.

Dutch schools reopened to all pupils on 11 May. (That country’s proportional rate and and its timing of Covid-19 infection and its Covid-19 virus rate of death per size of population are not much different from those in the UK.)

Linda van Druijten leads De Boomhut and OBS De Klaproos, a primary school and special educational needs school in Arnhem. She explains:

Schools have been “open” here in the Netherlands since 11 May. We are allowed half groups – our classes have between 28 and 32 pupils, so on a given day we can have groups of 15 children in each class.

Unlike in the UK, the Dutch government told us that the children do not have to socially distance from each other, as we can see the rates of infections for under-12s are so low – there is such a small risk in them being in contact with each other.

So the children can play and touch each other; they can have normal friendships. We have a Group A and a Group B – half our pupils are in school and the other half continue remote learning, and they rotate across the week, one day on, one day off.

But the children do have to be 1.5 metres from the adults when in school, and the adults have to be 1.5 metres from each other. This is not always easy.

Those over 7 years old understand it all, and are pretty good at it. And we have very little reason to break that distance. But with the younger children? It’s not always possible.

At the beginning, my teachers said to me, if a child fell down and cuts [his or her] knee, we would have to call an ambulance so people in proper protective equipment could assist that child. But we thought about it very long and hard, and we agreed we would pick up the child, and break the social distance.

And if a child cries, you can’t explain why you cannot comfort them – we decided we would comfort that child.

The risks in both instances are so very low that we felt as a staff group that this was something we were willing to do.

It was the same with masks. At first, many staff members wanted to wear masks. But we discussed it over three or four weeks and we decided that we actually didn’t want to do that. If we wear masks, the children cannot see our expressions and none of us wanted to teach like that.

For all these things, we have a word for it in Dutch that means “safe but not safe”. Yes, the precautions are advisable, but they do not really keep us fully safe.

We have had no substantial absence problems. Less than 1 per cent of the children did not come in, so almost all our parents brought their children back into school.

We did have some teachers who were anxious. They were worried about their vulnerable relatives, for example. For some of our anxious staff who had vulnerable family members, we reduced their pupil groups – we explained to parents that this was better than no teacher at all. We did this in our special education school.

As for the life of the school, learning is happening and the children are adapting. We started with very thorough routines. Handwashing, disinfectant, constant cleaning of door handles and toilets. After the first week, though, we relaxed. It is important that we are aware, but not to get too paralysed by the anxiety. We take it seriously, we remain watchful of symptoms, but we get on with our job; we are teachers and we want to teach!

The Dutch government has now said that all children will be able to come back on 8 June. There is some anxiety again about this, but we will get through that the way we did before, by talking it through and agreeing on how to manage it as a staff.

What is clear is that all the teachers are happy to be back. They say that they don’t feel like teachers unless they are in the classroom with their pupils. That we can now do that is the most important thing – like the bubbles, it helps us to focus and gets our mind away from the fact that things are still not quite normal.”

Covid and Corona Latest News

EXCLUSIVE: Treatment for Covid-19 patients at London’s Nightingale Covid hospital in London ‘to end in two months’.

By Paul Martin.

London’s much-heralded Nightingale hospital, set up in just 2 weeks to accommodate an estimated four thousand pandemic victims, is to be closed again in June for Covid-19 patients, according to a source involved in organising Covid-19 hospital admissions in the National Health Service.

Analysis Covid and Corona Latest News

How I dealt with adversity. I recount some of my experiences and escapades and “spots of bother” as a war correspondent, to share some ideas for dealing with this current crisis.

I’ve created a zoom video and audio channel and will place its ‘broadcast’ times on this website.

Latest News

Steven Spielberg called him ‘the only movie star I ever met’. A superstar actor who turned to religion, Kirk Douglas dies at 103.

Actor Kirk Douglas, center, gets a kiss from his son Michael Douglas, left, and Michael's wife Catherine Zeta-Jones during his 100th birthday party at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Friday, Dec. 9. 2016, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Eyewitness Latest News

Muslim World League makes a historic visit to Auschwitz death camp – where a million Jews were murdered.

Krakow, Poland – Amid prayers and emotional scenes at Auschwitz, the infamous Nazi German death camp, senior Muslim clerics joined Jews in an unprecedented joint visit to the scene of the biggest mass murder of the twentieth century. Around one million Jews were murdered there by the Nazis during World War Two.

The World Muslim League, whose headquarters are in Mecca, the holiest city of Islam, represents over 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide.

The 62-person delegation was led by the League’s secretary-general Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, alongside representatives of the American Jewish Committee, including its CEO David Harris.

The high-level delegation of Islamic scholars from various sects will later visit the site of the largest massacre in Europe since World War Two ended. Twenty four years ago, during a civil war, seven thousand men and boys were murdered near the town of Srebrenica by Bosnian Serb forces.

The League says its visits come “as part of an international tour to sites of injustice and persecution, to condemn the heinous crimes committed against humanity, regardless of the identity or values of the perpetrators or victims”.

The delegation says it will show its “solidarity with all victims, in accordance with the peaceful values of Islam”. Among the delegation are prominent religious leaders from some 28 countries on several continents. The mission is the most senior Islamic leadership delegation ever to visit Auschwitz or any Nazi German death camp.

The mission to Auschwitz was a key element of the Memorandum of Understanding signed in April last year by the Muslim World League and the American Jewish Committee. 

The visit occurred just ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which this year will mark the 75thanniversary of the liberation of the Nazi camp. Only around seven thousand people were found there alive.

Besides the more than one million Jews who were exterminated, over 100,000 non-Jewish inmates, among them principally Polish Catholics, Roma, and Soviet prisoners of war, also died.

“To be here, among the children of Holocaust survivors and members of the Jewish and Islamic communities, is both a sacred duty and a profound honor. The unconscionable crimes to which we bear witness today are truly crimes against humanity. That is to say, a violation of us all, an affront to all of God’s children,” said Dr. Al-Issa.

Three leading figures in the American Jewish Congress 24-person delegation had parents who survived in the Holocaust: President Harriet Schleifer, CEO David Harris and Executive Member Steven Zelkowitz.

“Visiting this sacred place, understanding what transpired at Auschwitz, is vital to preserving the memory of the Jewish, and non-Jewish, victims of the Nazis and striving to ensure that such horrors never happen again,” said Harris, the son of Holocaust survivors.

“We are deeply moved to be the hosts for such an unprecedented visit. This creates the chance not only to deepen understanding of the unparalleled crime that took place here, but also to build bridges of friendship and cooperation between Muslims and Jews in pursuit of a more humane and safer world for all.”

Each member of the Muslim and Jewish delegations carried a memorial candle and placed it at the monument honouring the more than 1.1 million people murdered at the Nazi camp.

Following the ceremony and memorial prayers for the dead, Dr. Al-Issa made a speech. He said: “By paying tribute to the victims of the Holocaust, we not only honor the dead but celebrate the living. Throughout the visit, stories of our shared humanity showed through the horror.

“I was amazed by stories of some individual Muslims who sought to save Jews from the Holocaust at great personal risk in Europe and North Africa. These precious men and women represent the true values of Islam. And today’s visit by the American Jewish Committee and Muslim World League is made in the spirit of this noble tradition of brotherhood, peace, and love.”

The two delegations will continue their joint mission in Warsaw, with a to the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. They will also meet with the Muslim community of Warsaw and attend a prayer service, and take part in a special programme at the Nozyk Synagogue. After dark, they will join together for an interfaith Shabbat (Sabbath) dinner at the Royal Castle in Warsaw.

Latest News Media Blunders or Media Brilliance

I wrote this intriguing story for the Sunday People and for the Mirror website. But not the headline. Two words in it destroyed my carefully balanced reporting. “Isis doctor “. Was he?

Eyewitness Latest News

I met Iran’s proxies in Iraq. Along with Ayatollah Khamenei, their key military ally – and their hero – was the dead Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.

By Paul Martin.

Portraits of Ayatollah Khamenei the supreme leader of Iran, And Qassem Soleimani, stand prominently at several road checkpoints just outside Mosul, the second biggest city in Iraq.

The Iraqi Mobilisation Forces as they are called are dominated by Iran-supported militiamen.

A few months ago, I was on my way out of Mosul in a car when we reached the first major checkpoint. Since I did not intend to go back to Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan that evening I waited at the roadblock for a lift back into the city of Mosul.

It had been captured by Islamic State but was now in the hands of Iraqi Shia militiamen.

While waiting I had fascinating conversations with one of the Shia militiamen who spoke reasonable English.

More to Follow


Eyewitness How It Was Done Latest News

Back where it all happened. I had been the first journalist to get to the place of the Ceausescus’ deaths. It was the only execution of a European leader since the end of World War Two. But, 30 years later, questions remain.

EXCLUSIVE: By Paul Martin in Targoviste, Romania.

The bullet holes in the brown wall have only been partly patched up with white cement. I’m standing on the exact spot where the Ceausescus’s died – in the yard behind the Targoviste military barracks. It looks exactly the same thirty years later – just the trees seem to have grown thicker.

My scoop had come about, as is often the case in our profession, more by luck than by skill.

Taking advantage of the relative chaos of a revolution, no-one had stopped me getting into the office of the new commander of the army, General Victor Stanculescu.

“Pity you didn’t get here earlier,” he said. “You could have come with me and seen the whole thing. But do you want to go there now anyway?” Of course I did.

So he laid on a military vehicle to take me to Targoviste, a journey of 100 kilometres.

Once there, it had not been difficult to piece together what had happened. It was two days after the killings, and the world was abuzz with conspiracy theories. The Ceausescus had been smuggled out of the military base, it was being surmised.

They were in hiding, went the rumours, and the pictures the world had by now seen from Romanian television were of dummies or actors made to look like the dead dictator and his wife. A French video analysis said the film looked fake.

I asked numerous soldiers, all of whom declared that the Ceausescus had indeed been shot. But I was fully convinced only when I walked into the barracks kitchen. A cook in a white apron told me she’d seen the whole thing through her kitchen window.

I also discovered the reason there was no film of the execution as it about to start, nor of the first round of bullets. The army cameraman had filmed the whole trial, and the death sentence, and the doomed couple being prodded as they walked past him towards the back door.

Then his camera battery failed. He frantically found an electrical point and started recharging it. A short time later, he heard gunfire. He shoved a battery back in, ran outside and captured only smoke rising from the two slumped bodies. He had missed the historic event. Conspiracy: no. Mess-up.

The kitchen from which the cook said she watched the execution is now stripped bare – but nothing else has changed. The room where the Ceausescus slept on their final three nights is still kitted out with two camp-beds and blankets.

The desk of the base commander still has his one red and three white telephones on it. Displayed on the wall, a huge badge of the old Communist state, including a lone red star. And the room where the trial took place still has its tables and chairs arranged just as they were.

It’s all for show though – the soldiers have moved to a nearby, more modern military base, and now only a trickle of tourists comes in to see where it all happened.

It’s curious and eerie, even ghoulish – but it is a place where history was made.

See the source image
This photo, widely available on the net, is clearly not the actual execution. Nobody took
colour photos, or indeed any photos of them actually being shot, only the result of the shootings.  It comes from a movie made in 1991 called “Nicolae and Elena