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-Top News COVID-19 UK News

‘Hospitals Could Be Overwhelmed Without Fresh Tiers’

Hospitals in England might risk being overwhelmed by coronavirus cases without the new, tougher tier system, a senior UK official has warned.

In an article published on Saturday in the Times newspaper, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove urged MPs to “take responsibility for difficult decisions” to bring the pandemic under control, reports Xinhua news agency.

Gove said if the second lockdown, the month-long restrictions which will end on December 2, were not imposed a month ago, the coronavirus crisis would have “broken” the National Health Service (NHS), with hospitals “physically overwhelmed every bed, every ward occupied”.

Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a “tougher” tiered system of coronavirus restrictions to replace England’s current lockdown, the second of its kinds since the onset of the pandemic, when it ends on December 2.

Gove stressed that the new tiered system is necessary as “we cannot unlearn the difficult lesson”.

The previous restrictions were not tough enough as infection levels remained threateningly high, he noted.

The proposed tiered system is scheduled to face a vote by MPs in the House of Commons (lower house of parliament) on Tuesday.

The remarks came as a further 479 deaths were reported in the UK on Saturday, bringing the total to 58,030.

There were also a further 15,871 positive cases registered in the past 24 hours, which increased the overall infection tally to 1,609,141.

Also Read-N. Korea steps up border measures

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-Top News COVID-19 UK News

Anti-lockdown protesters arrested in London

More than 150 people were arrested during protests in London against the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown in England, the second of its kind since the onset of the pandemic.

Saturday’s protests, which started from Marble Arch, were organised by the Save Our Rights UK group, the BBC reported.

The protesters, some dressed as Christmas elves, carried signs reading “All I want for Christmas is my freedom back”, “Ditch the face masks” and “Stop controlling us”.

Most of the them without face masks on, the demonstrators ignored police requests to disperse and instead chanted “shame on you”.

Earlier in the day, the police had warned against staging public gatherings which are banned under the incumbent coronavirus restrictions imposed in the wake of the second wave of the pandemic in the country.

After protests turned chaotic in Oxford Circus, Carnaby Street and Regent Street, traffic was halted as police officers tried to handcuff people on the ground in the middle of the road, the BBC reported.

In a statement, Ch Supt Stuart Bell of the Met Police said: “This was a challenging day for Met, City of London and British Transport Police officers and I would like to thank them for the professionalism they have shown throughout the day.

“On Friday, we made it very clear how we would police this event, warning those looking to attend that they risked facing enforcement action if they attended a gathering in London.

“Today’s enforcement action is a direct result of those individuals deliberately breaking the law and at times, targeting our officers with aggression and causing disruption to the road network.”

Reacting to the anti-lockdown protests, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “We’ve seen our police officers yet again do incredible work to ensure that they help to stop the spread of this awful virus.

“The people that are protesting today have been protesting for many months, and we’ve seen this over successive weekends.”

She added: “We ask everybody to be conscientious – we all know the regulations and the guidance, we have brought these measures in to save lives and to prevent preventable deaths.”

The protests came as a further 479 deaths were reported in the UK on Saturday, bringing the total to 58,030.

There were also a further 15,871 positive cases registered in the past 24 hours, which increased the overall infection tally to 1,609,141.

Also Read-Nadhim Zahawi is UK’s vaccine Minister

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-Top News UK News

Nadhim Zahawi is UK’s vaccine Minister

The UK government has appointed Nadhim Zahawi, an MP for Stratford-on-Avon, as a new health minister to oversee rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine in England, Downing Street announced.

“The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of Nadhim Zahawi MP as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care,” Xinhua news agency quoted Downing Street as saying in a statement on Saturday.

In a tweet, Zahawi welcomed his new post, saying: “Delighted to have been asked by (Prime Minister) Boris Johnson to become the Minister for Covid vaccine deployment.

“A big responsibility and a big operational challenge but absolutely committed to making sure we can roll out vaccines quickly-saving lives and livelihoods and helping us build back better.”

Under the interim arrangement, Zahawi will serve as a joint minister between the health department and the business department, where he currently works, reports the BBC.

His primary focus will be on delivering the vaccine, with most areas of his business portfolio put aside.

Zahawi will look after deployment of the vaccine in England only, but will work with the devolved administrations on their chosen approach.

Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be responsible for the vaccine’s distribution in their relevant nations.

Zahawi’s appointment comes as a further 479 deaths were reported in the UK on Saturday, bringing the total to 58,030.

There were also a further 15,871 positive cases registered in the past 24 hours, which increased the overall infection tally to 1,609,141.

Currently, the UK government has placed orders for 100 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, 40 million doses of the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech and five million doses from US firm Moderna.

Also Read: Covid 19: San Francisco moves to ‘Purple Tier’

Also Read: Croatian PM self-quarantines after Covid 19 contact

Read More: Covid 19 death toll passes 1.42 Mn worldwide

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India News Lite Blogs UK News

Multi-faith event paid homage to Mumbai Terror attack victims

Gaitri I. Kumar, the High Commissioner of India to the UK

A multifaith online event organised by Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) jointly with The High Commission of India, London, The Nehru Centre, London held to pay homage to victims of 26/11 Mumbai Terror attacks.

Many prominent guests joined the event online to pay homage to the victims of the attacks, that include: Her Excellency, Smt. Gaitri I. Kumar, the High Commissioner of India to the UK, Mr. Gareth Bayley, Director for  South Asia & Afghanistan, UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, Pandit Ravi Sharma, Dr. Abdul Ahmed, Secretary General, Muslim Council, Wales, Rabbi Rose, Cardiff United Synagogue, Councillor Charan Kanwal Singh Sekhon, Chairman SEVA Trust, UK, Rev. Canon Aled Edwards OBE.

Gareth Bayley, Director for South Asia & Afghanistan, UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

The event was organised by Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) jointly with The High Commission of India, London, The Nehru Centre, London

Full clip of event is on Facebook ( link below)

https://www.facebook.com/473217986136717/posts/2539922589466236/

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-Top News COVID-19 UK News

UK To Face Harsh Covid Restrictions

Most of England will face harsh coronavirus restrictions in the new three-tier system when the lockdown ends next week, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced Thursday.

Large parts of the Midlands, North East and North West, including Greater Manchester, as well as Kent, will face the toughest restrictions in Tier Three, according to Hancock.

A majority of areas previously in the highest tier, including London and Liverpool city region, are listed in Tier Two, the Xinhua news agency reported.

The Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are the only areas of England placed in Tier One, the lowest level of restrictions.

“Hope is on the horizon but we still have further to go. So we must all dig deep,” Hancock told MPs in the House of Commons (lower house of the British Parliament).

“We should see these restrictions not as a boundary to push but as a limit on what the public health advice says we can safely do in any area,” he said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Monday a “tougher” tiered system of coronavirus restrictions to replace England’s current lockdown when it ends on Dec. 2.

Under Tier One, people in the areas will be urged to work from home wherever possible.

In Tier Two areas, pubs and bars must close unless they are serving substantial meals along with alcoholic drinks.

In Tier Three areas, all pubs, bars and restaurants must close except for delivery, takeaway and drive-through. Hotels and indoor entertainment venues must also close in these areas.

England is currently under a month-long national lockdown, the second of its kind since the coronavirus outbreak in Britain, in a bid to quell the resurgence of coronavirus.

30/09/2020. London, United Kingdom. Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a Covid-19 Press Conference with Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance and Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, in 10 Downing Street. Picture by Pippa Fowles / No 10 Downing Street

The coronavirus-related deaths in Britain rose by 696 to 56,533, marking the highest daily death number since May 5, according to official figures released Wednesday.

Another 18,213 people in Britain have tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 1,557,007, the data showed.

To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the US are racing against time to develop coronavirus vaccines.

Also Read-UK Covid 19 cases rise to 15,74,562

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-Top News COVID-19 UK News

UK Covid 19 cases rise to 15,74,562

Another 17,555 people in Britain have tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 15,74,562, according to official figures released on Thursday.

The coronavirus-related deaths in Britain rose by 498 to 57,031, the data showed.

Earlier Thursday, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that most of England will face harsh coronavirus restrictions in the new three-tier system when the lockdown ends next week, the Xinhua news agency reported.

Large parts of the Midlands, North East and North West, including Manchester, as well as Kent, will face the toughest restrictions in Tier Three, according to Hancock.

Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, expressed his concerns over the impact of Tier Three restrictions on businesses.

“The new Tier Three will hit the hospitality sector extremely hard. While there are grants for businesses forced to close, there is no extra support for business which supply them like security, catering and cleaning,” he said.

“This will cause real hardship for people whose jobs will be affected and risk the loss of many businesses.”

In Tier Three areas, all pubs, bars and restaurants must close except for delivery, takeaway and drive-through. Hotels and indoor entertainment venues must also close in these areas.

A majority of areas including London, and Liverpool city region are listed in Tier Two.

The Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are the only areas of England in Tier One, the lowest level of restrictions.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Monday a “tougher” tiered system of coronavirus restrictions to replace England’s current lockdown when it ends on Dec. 2.

England is currently under a month-long national lockdown, the second of its kind since the coronavirus outbreak in Britain, in a bid to quell the resurgence of coronavirus.

To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States are racing against time to develop coronavirus vaccines.

Also Read-Covid 19: France’s situation improves

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-Top News UK News

Asian Lite Daily Digital UK – November 27, 2020 – England Sets Out New Tier Rules

England Sets Out New Tier Rules; India Renews Call To Extradite Rana From US; Biden Appeals Americans To Avoid Big Thanksgiving – all in Asian Lite Daily Digital UK – please click here to read.

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Events Lite Blogs UK News

A refreshing Weekend of soulful music, songs, and poetry

The 10th Anniversary celebration of RadhaRaman Festival being held virtually this year…making it possible for audiences from all corners of the globe to take part in this ethereal experience, of three days and night long cultural enchantment. – reports Asian Lite news desk

 A 10-year celebration of RadhaRaman Folk Festival based in Leeds is happening virtually this year on 27, 28, and 29 November 2020. The three-day festival, featuring some world-leading performers from all across the world has already created wide followers from the UK and Europe.  More than 12 hours of exciting sessions of music, dance, poetry, and talk every day will be streaming live on the RadhaRaman Festival page on Facebook and youtube.

Fabian Hamilton the shadow secretary of peace and disarmament, a veteran member of British parliament said in a congratulation message for the 10-year celebration of the festival – “this is the best treat during Covid for the global audience, such a great line-up of folk music and dance from many cultural traditions, this is something that I am absolutely looking forward to.”

Sadia Islam Mou, Tanna Khan and Farhana Chowdhury performing for the festival

The festival curator , one of the founders of RadhaRaman Society, London, TM Ahmed Kaysher thinks, “The festival traditionally is promoting the joy of life through hosting the session around the lyrical nature of Leeds along with the formal art and community venues. This is one of the rare festivals where people from different cities, different traditions come together and enjoy the beauty of predominantly Bengali folk music and folk dance all day and almost all night. So, during Covid, the festival has a special significance because it is bringing happiness through a three-day long hypnotic presentation of arts and music by few world-leading artists. The festival will open a horizon of joy all three days from the mid-noon to 2am every day.

The inauguration will feature a panel discussion by three Leeds-based MPs Fabian Hamilton, Richard Burgon, and Alex Sobel as well as the former governor of Cayman Island Anwar Chowdhury. The planning minister of Bangladesh M A Mannan, the minister of state for cultural affairs KM Khalid, the member of Bangladesh parliament Muhibur Rahman will join the inauguration from Bangladesh along with other distinguished guests from the UK and abroad.

Parvathy Baul

The festival is bringing some finest performers from different traditions that include the Bhajan king Anup Jalota, the head of Banaras Gharana of Indian classical music Pt Kumar Bose, the finest violin player of this generation Vidushi Kala Ramnath, a leading Tagore singer of this time Jayati Chakraborti, Parvathy Das Baul, Raju Das Baul from India, prominent actor and the former culture minister of Bangladesh Asaduzzaman Noor, folk singer Ashik, Bengali experimental music composer Bappa Mazumdar, talented Tagore singer Shreetama Roy, dancer, and actor Aupee Karim, Sadia Islam Mou, Tanna Khan, Farhana Chowdhury and Nilanjana Jui of Nritya Shaily from Bangladesh.

Jayati Chakraborty, a leading Bengali singer from India said, “It’s a special honour to be invited to perform as part of the 10-year celebration of the festival. The idea of the festival is really intriguing, bringing the best of south Asian and global arts at the lap of the beautiful nature. Congratulations to the festival and the team during this 10-year celebration. I heard a lot on the beauty of Yorkshire Dales, and I look forward to joining physically at the festival. 

Anup Jalota

An award-winning Scottish musician Simon Thacker, Lebanese-Canadian-Greek musician Lara Eidi, Moroccan Oud and Nai player Hassan Erraji, Schubert vocalist Eric Schelander, Persian Setar and Tambura player Niknaz Mirghalami, Persian dancer Lily Niloufar will also join different days in different talk and performance sessions.

The leading intellectuals and academicians from Bangladesh and India e.g. the former vice-chancellor of Assam University Prof Tapodhir Bhattacharjee, the former vice-chancellor of Rabindra Bharati university prof Pabitra Sarkar, the former vice-chancellor of Gauro Banga university prof Gopa Datta Bhowmik, the high commissioner of Bangladesh in the UK Saida Muna Tasneem, the former chairman of public service commission of Bangladesh poet Muhammed Sadique, the vice-chancellor of the University of Barishal Sadequl Arefin, the former director-general of Bangla Academy Shamsuzzaman Khan will participate as the panellists for a discussion on folk music and its relevance with modernity.  

The festival will also feature the performances of some finest UK based artists Gouri Chowdhury, Sanjoy Dey,  Sumana Basu, Sufi Amir Muhammed, Amith Dey, Sohel Ahmed, Sonia Sultana, Laboni Barua, Indrani Ghosh Sen, Jessy Barua, Poppy Shahnaz, Jahangir Rana, Arundhati Mukherjee as well as some child prodigies Tanisha Chowdhury and Anvita Gupta.  

Kumar Bose

 “The festival aims to promote the joy and happiness of life through folk music and dance. This has been promoting the lyrical landscapes of the North by hosting sessions of music, dance and networking in the middle of the forest like Otley Chevin, by the Scammonden Lake etc. along with other formal art and community venues”, said Kaysher.

RadhaRaman society propagates the glory of Bengali secular philosophy and deep humanism through folk music, dance and other collaborative art forms. It engages young people, socially excluded women, too, into the pride-worthy cultural heritage of Bengal through highly connecting art activities and deliberately play a vital role to combat growing religious fanaticism. It’s annual folk festival is already considered now as the biggest Bengali cultural and art festival in the North which connected the audience from London, Birmingham, Manchester, Oldham, Bradford, Rochdale etc. on top of the local audience from mainly the east as well as other areas of Leeds.

Jayati Chakraborty

An extraordinary poet himself, Kaysher is also well known as one of the founding members of Saudha, society of poetry and Indian music, and the Gronthee, an experimental bilingual poetry magazine. He adds, “RadhaRaman Festival drew the attention of the audiences from different cities of the UK because of its unique nature of hosting sessions all day and all night. The audience ends up with a memorable experience of witnessing music and dance performances happening all day all night, sometimes at the deeper forest while barbecuing, sometimes at the bank of the lake while networking with people from one tradition to another, one corner to another. The audience goes home with tears after three days of human-bonding that arts and music creates in the lap of lyrical nature of the North.”

Supported by one of the leading Indian classical music promoters in the UK Saudha Society of poetry and music, the Gronthee, the Nehru Centre, SAA UK, Sangeet Foundation, and many prestigious organisations from all across the world, the festival will run from 2 pm (UK time) each day.

Radha Raman Folk Festival (UK) starts from 2 pm-2 am daily, Friday, 27th  November – Sunday 29th November 2020

To watch – https://www.facebook.com/RadhaRaman-Folk-Festival-UK-1161363383953711/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoYwVCOJxUK314d8p_gvLjQ

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India News Lite Blogs UK News

International Dogra Society turns one

International Dogra Society celebrated its first anniversary recently. The small group which started with few friends in London transfigured into a community of over 47,000 people. Formed in 2019 with an aim to create a platform to connect to the roots and give something back to the community, International Dogra Society’s vision included connecting Dogras around the globe and celebrating rich Dogra culture and lifestyle. Releasing a press statement, Lalit Sharma, Founder of IDS said “The young generation seems distant and ignorant of many things of our Dogra lifestyle which should have come naturally or organically to them. As a community, over the past few decades, we have overlooked the necessity of keeping in touch with the Dogra traditions and passing them on to the generation next. Many groups locally, nationally and internationally are working towards this cause. IDS decided to join forces with their ideas, strengths and resources to contribute to this cause. It has been a year of Hard work, Celebration and Togetherness.”

The Society has connected Dogras from across the globe using social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Since its origin IDS has launched multiple events and campaigns both on the ground and online which include fundraising event in London for the challenged children of Jammu, Lohri celebration attended by 250+ people. With the onset of the pandemic IDS started running multiple campaigns on social media aimed at celebrating Dogra culture and people. Campaigns include

Itihas ke Panney: Dogra history sessions conducted by authors, historians and noted personalities such as Dr. Karan Singh, Maj. Gen. GD Bakshi, Maj. Gen. Goverdhan Singh, Prof. Habans Singh Sambyal to name a few.

Inspiring Dogras: Featuring much accomplished Dogras who talk about their journey to success, motivating the young Dogras.

    Ajj Ke Chadeya:  Weekly post on the page every Tuesday of a short video of a chef cooking an authentic Dogri dish in Dogri popularising its cuisine.

    Jammu Di Sair: Promoting tourism of known and not so known places of Jammu region. The post covers brief history of the place, main attractions and beautiful pictures/videos.

    Dogri Pathshala: Dogri language classes on Saturdays to make people familiar with the Dogri words, pakhien and other nuances of the language by renowned Dogri writer, singer, teacher Kusum Sharma Antra.

    Stay Fit Sessions: Initiated during COVID times, a renowned Dogra fitness instructor does live yoga sessions and post quick exercise videos in Dogri to help people remain fit.

    Stay in Talent: Also initiated during COVID times, it is a talent hunt and showcasing of singing, dancing, poems, acting etc.

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-Top News Economy UK News

Chancellor on Firefight Mode to Stem Economy

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the government was dealing with an “economic emergency”. The UK economy is expected to shrink by 11.3% this year and not return to its pre-crisis size until the end of 2022

Chancellor Rishi Sunak in the Spending Review unveiled measures to shore up Britain’s sagging economy.  The chancellor said the country is on “economic emergency” caused by Covid-19.

The chancellor said the Covid fallout on economy has only just begun and it will cause lasting damage to growth and jobs.

The UK economy is expected to shrink by 11.3% this year and not return to its pre-crisis size until the end of 2022. The unemployment rate will hit 7.5%, its highest level since the financial crisis in 2009.

Government borrowing will rise to its highest outside of wartime to deal with the economic impact.

The government’s independent forecaster, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) expects the number of unemployed people to surge to 2.6 million by the middle of next year. However, fewer jobs are expected to be lost than predicted this summer.

UK Aid Cut

The chancellor ignored the plea from five former prime ministers to slash UK’s foreign aid commitment.

 “Sticking rigidly to spending 0.7% of GDP on overseas aid is difficult to justify to the British people,” the chancellor said and adding that aid spending would fall to £10bn in in 2020-21. The aid target would be cut to 0.5%, Sunak confirmed, adding he hoped the 0.7% target could be restored when the UK’s finances allowed it.

Foreign Office Minister Lady Sugg resigned after the chancellor announced that he was breaking the manifesto commitment.

Lady Sugg, whose brief includes sustainable development, submitted her resignation to Prime Minister Johnson in protest against the cut.

In her resignation letter, she wrote: “Many in our country face severe challenges as a result of the pandemic and I know the government must make very difficult choices in response. But I believe it is fundamentally wrong to abandon our commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income on development.

“This promise should be kept in the tough times as well as the good. Given the link between our development spend and the health of our economy, the economic downturn has already led to significant cuts this year and I do not believe we should reduce our support further at a time of unprecedented global crises.”

Public Sector Workers

Mr Sunak confirmed that public sector workers – excluding some NHS staff and those earning less than £24,000 – will have their pay frozen next year. The chancellor said he could not justify an across the board rise when many in the private sector had seen their pay and hours cut in the crisis.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak

The government has extended its furlough scheme to support jobs and wages until next March. Mr Sunak said the government had already spent £280bn to help support the economy through the coronavirus.

It will spend a further £55bn next year as part of a package of measures to support the recovery. This includes billions of pounds to help people find jobs. However, Mr Sunak said long-term scarring meant the economy would be 3% smaller in 2025 than expected in the March budget.

Lib Dems Slam Sunak

“With the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic, the Chancellor needed to ensure today that no one is left behind. That was the litmus test, and he has failed,” said Sir Ed Davey, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats.

“Far from a radically new approach to the recovery that tackles deep-seated inequality and builds a new green economy, we have a Government that is failing to support carers, children living in poverty and everyone in need of mental health services.”

“The Chancellor has also made some unforgivable political choices today. He has chosen to continue to ignore people excluded from support and chosen to reject calls to properly extend furlough, leaving too many people facing unemployment. People deserve better.”