Archive for the ‘Health Care’ Category

New UK Labour Party leader Keir Starmer appoints fresh top team

LONDON — New U.K. Labour Party leader Keir Starmer on Sunday appointed Anneliese Dodds as his shadow chancellor of the exchequer along with other key positions in his shadow Cabinet.

The former shadow Brexit secretary, who replaced Jeremy Corbyn as party leader on Saturday, said in a statement he had also appointed leadership rival Lisa Nandy as his shadow foreign secretary. Dodds, who was a shadow junior Treasury minister under Corbyn, was formerly an MEP from 2014 to 2017.

Angela Rayner, who became deputy leader of the party on Saturday following a ballot of members, has been appointed chair of the Labour Party.

Jonathan Ashworth, who was first appointed as shadow health and social care secretary in October 2016 and served in the post under Corbyn, has kept his job. Nick Brown has been re-appointed chief whip.

Starmer has made Nick Thomas-Symonds his shadow home secretary and Rachel Reeves has been appointed shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster — traditionally a senior Cabinet role overseeing the running of U.K. Cabinet Office.

Boris Johnson stays in self-isolation as COVID-19 symptoms persist

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in self-isolation as he continues to suffer from COVID-19 symptoms.

In a short video posted on Twitter, Johnson said he is feeling better after seven days in self-isolation. However, he added he still has a temperature and so will remain in self-isolation until it has gone.

“In my own case, although I’m feeling better and I’ve done my seven days of isolation, alas I still have one of the symptoms, a minor symptom, I still have a temperature,” Johnson said. “And so in accordance with government advice I must continue my self-isolation until that symptom itself goes.”

The prime minister urged people to stick with the social distancing rules as the weather becomes milder.

“I reckon a lot of people will be starting to think that this is all going on for quite a long time and would rather be getting out there, particularly if you’ve got kids in the household, everybody may be getting a bit stir crazy, and there may be just a temptation to get out there, hang out and start to break the regulations. I just urge you not to do that. Please, please stick with the guidance now,” he said.

Both Johnson and the U.K.’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced last Friday they had tested positive for the virus. Hancock has recovered and is out of self-isolation. He attended the government’s daily press conference on Thursday afternoon.

The U.K.’s chief Brexit negotiator David Frost is also now out of self-isolation after showing “mild symptoms” of COVID-19.

Europe’s coronavirus lockdown measures compared

Governments across the world have responded to the coronavirus pandemic by bringing in unprecedented measures to limit personal freedoms in an effort to restrict contact between people and hence the outbreak’s spread.

On March 17, EU leaders agreed to a 30-day ban on nonessential travel of non-EU citizens (or those of associated countries) into the bloc. But across Europe, the severity and timing of other measures has differed from country to country. Crucially, the point at which social distancing was enforced happened at different points on each country’s infection curve.

Here’s POLITICO’s guide to when the measures were brought in and how they differ from country to country:

Zia Weise, Carmen Paun, Louise Guillot, Lili Bayer, Paola Tamma, Charlie Duxbury, Max Fahler, Melissa Heikkilä, Cristina Gallardo, Laurenz Gehrke, Siegfried Mortkowitz, Nektaria Stamouli, Elisa Braun, Eline Schaart, Hanne Cokelaere, Zosia Wanat and Ivo Oliveira contributed reporting.

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UK missed out on EU ventilator scheme due to ‘communication problem’

LONDON — The British government said Thursday that it missed the deadline for taking part in an EU-wide effort to purchase life-saving ventilators and other equipment to treat coronavirus because of a “communication problem.”

The government had been accused of putting Brexit over the health of U.K. citizens by refusing to participate in EU joint procurement schemes after the prime minister’s spokesman said the U.K. was not participating because it is “no longer a member” and is “making our own efforts.”

But on Thursday, the British government said the U.K. missed the deadline to join because it did not receive an invitation from the European Commission in time. A U.K. government spokesperson said the Commission had since informed the U.K. it is eligible to take part until the end of the transition period on December 31.

Three schemes underway will see countries jointly purchase ventilators, protective gear and testing equipment — with the idea that pooling requests means the countries can buy equipment at a lower price.

“As those … initial procurement schemes had already gone out to tender we were unable to take part in these, but we will consider participating in future procurement schemes on the basis of public health requirements at the time,” the spokesperson said.

European Commission spokesperson Stefan De Keersmaecker said on Thursday night that the U.K. has always remained able to participate in the EU’s joint procurement efforts, but that countries need to communicate their needs to the EU before the initiative is launched.

De Keersmaecker said he “takes note” of the suggestion the U.K. did not receive the necessary communications and said the Commission would look into it.

Meanwhile the U.K. government is in conversations with manufacturers to acquire 8,000 ventilators, with the aim of doubling the number available for the U.K.’s National Health Service.

“We would say we expect thousands of those to arrive in the coming weeks, and thousands more in the pipeline to arrive in the coming months,” the prime minister’s spokesman said Thursday morning.

Layla Moran, a Liberal Democrat MP standing for the leadership of the opposition party, previously said in a statement she was “deeply shocked and concerned” about the decision not to participate in the EU-wide purchasing plan.

“I would do whatever it takes to get more lifesaving equipment, and they need to take the same approach. It’s a no-brainer we can help the NHS and save lives by working together with other countries,” she said.

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