Britain has no choice but to impose a 14-day quarantine on all travellers arriving from France due to rising coronavirus infection rates there, transport minister Grant Shapps said on Friday.
Britain announced on Thursday that it would impose a quarantine, from 0300 GMT on Saturday, on arrivals from France, the Netherlands and Malta because infection rates there were too high, dealing a new blow to the travel industry.
However, France warned that it would reciprocate.
Shapps said he sympathised with travellers but that they should not be entirely surprised, given the fluid situation around the pandemic.
“It’s a dynamic situation, and I don’t think that anybody would want us to do anything other than protect public health and public safety.
“That does mean where we see countries breach a certain level of cases then we have no real choice but to act,” Shapps told Sky News.
He estimated that there were about 160,000 British holidaymakers in France who would be affected by the new quarantine rules, but ruled out any special assistance, saying they knew the risks before travelling.
British people made 10.3 million trips to France in 2019, making it the second-most popular overseas destination after Spain, and Britain received 3.6 million visitors from France, the second-largest number after the United States
France now joins Spain on the quarantine list, deterring trips there and causing new headaches for airlines and travel companies who had been banking on an August recovery.
The finances of many companies in the travel industry are already close to breaking point after three months when holidays were halted, and they have called on the government for an alternative to quarantine.
Airlines UK, the industry body representing British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair amongst others, said that a testing regime allowing people to avoid quarantine or quarantine rules which only covered the most affected regions, instead of whole countries, should be brought in instead.
“It’s another devastating blow to the travel industry already reeling from the worst crisis in its history,” Airlines UK CEO Tim Alderslade said.
Shares in easyJet slumped 5 per cent while IAG, which owns British Airways, lost 4 per cent.
Goodbody analysts said UK-French traffic was set to account for 6 per cent of BA’s traffic and 4.4 per cent of easyJet’s in the third quarter.
As well as the quarantine policy, Britain advised against all but essential travel to France, a step that often triggers travel insurance claims and makes it hard for new travellers to find coverage.
Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu (NAN)https://nnn.ng/uk-says-it-has-no-choice-but-to-quarantine-french-arrivals/
Reed grabs halfway lead, as Tiger misses cut at United States Open
Former Masters champion Patrick Reed put his sterling short game on display to grab the United States Open halfway lead on Friday.
Tiger Woods finished well outside the cut in windy conditions which humbled many of the game’s top golfers.
Reed only hit five fairways on a tough scoring day at Winged Foot but made a slew of stunning recoveries.
He then needed only 25 putts en route to an even-par 70 that left him at four under on the week and one shot clear of Bryson DeChambeau (68).
“I feel like the game is where it needs to be. I feel good,” said world number 10 Reed. “I just need to tighten a few things up here or there, but the short game is sharp, and when I play around a place like this, that’s what you need.”
Reed, who started the day one shot back of overnight leader Justin Thomas, grabbed the outright lead with a birdie on his final hole, the par-five ninth.
That was where his shot from a greenside bunker settled five feet from the cup.
Unlike the first round when 21 players finished under par in soft conditions, Winged Foot proved a much sterner test on Friday.
DeChambeau, Bubba Watson (69) and Hideki Matsuyama (69) were the only players from a 144-player field to break par.
DeChambeau, who has turned heads this year with his new physique and prodigious length off the tee, went out in the morning wave.
He muscled his way around a scorecard-shredding Winged Foot course like few others can.
The world number nine finished his round with a monstrous eagle at the par-five ninth hole where, after a 380-yard drive, he stuffed a pitching wedge to six feet.
“Confidence is at an all-time high right now, driving it well, iron play is fantastic, wedging is getting better each and every day, and I’m putting it like I know I can,” said DeChambeau, whose best major finish was a share of fourth place at this year’s PGA Championship.
Thomas (73), Spain’s Rafa Cabrera Bello (70) and Harris English (70) were all two shots off the pace heading into the weekend.
This was a tournament that was originally scheduled for mid-June but postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Masters champion Woods (77) missed the cut for the eighth time in his last 15 majors after a round during which he made five bogeys and two double-bogeys over a miserable 11-hole run.
“Physically it was frustrating that I didn’t drive the ball as well as I needed to,” said Woods.
“Iron play was pretty much the way it has been. It’s been good, and I finally putted well. But on this golf course it’s imperative that you hit fairways, and I did not do that.”
Phil Mickelson’s latest bid to complete the career Grand Slam of golf’s four majors fell apart as the six-times runner-up carded a 74
He missed the cut after posting one of the worst 36-hole scores of his major career.
Among the others to miss the cut were defending champion Gary Woodland, PGA Championship winner Collin Morikawa, and top-20 players Tyrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Justin Rose.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Whirlwind Bayern Munich dismantle Schalke 8-0 in season opener
Treble winners Bayern Munich crushed Schalke 04 8-0 with a hat-trick from Serge Gnabry and a superb debut from Leroy Sane on Friday.
It was a sensational start to the new Bundesliga season and the win sent an ominous warning to potential challengers.
Also, it was the biggest opening win in Bundesliga history.
Bayern Munich showed they had lost none of the sharpness which helped them to lift the UEFA Champions League trophy less than a month ago in dominant fashion.
Gnabry grabbed his first goal for the hosts with a fine turn and shot in the fourth minute in what turned out to be a one-sided affair.
It stretched Bayern Munich’s unbeaten run to 31 games this year, having now won the last 22 matches in a row.
Schalke 04, without a league win in 17 consecutive matches since January, were helpless against Bayern Munich’s lightning-quick game.
Leon Goretzka found plenty of space to drive a low shot past goalkeeper Ralf Faehrmann in the 19th minute.
“You can see that the team was already strong last season,” said Sane, who joined from Manchester City. “The team is still hungry in spite of winning the treble last season and to have such a start is outstanding.”
Bayern Munich finished their season in August when they added the Champions League to their Bundesliga and German Cup titles and then had only a short preparation for the new season.
Last season’s top goalscorer Robert Lewandowski found the net with a 31st minute penalty kick to become the first player to score in 10 successive appearances against the same Bundesliga opponents.
Gnabry then scored twice from Sane’s assists in the 47th and 59th before Thomas Mueller made it half a dozen after Lewandowski set him up with an impressive rabona kick.
Sane then capped his superb Bayern Munich debut with a fine finish from a counter attack in an empty Allianz Arena.
This was after the city had banned spectators due to rising coronavirus infection numbers in the region.
A little later substitute Jamal Musiala drilled in goal number eight to become the youngest ever Bayern Munich goalscorer in the league at 17 years old.
The result piled more pressure on already-embattled Schalke 04 coach David Wagner, who has been under intense scrutiny during their winless run this year.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Visa Ban: FG says sanctioning electoral offenders disrespectful to Nigeria’s sovereignty
The Nigerian government has said it considers it disrespectful to the Sovereignty of the country for any outside country to apply punitive measures such as visas restriction on its citizens.
The Nigerian government made this known in a statement issued by Mr Ferdinand Nwonye, Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria , reports that this comes as a response to the recent announcement of the United States and the United Kingdom to impose visa restrictions on those who undermine electoral processes.
The Nigerian Government said it was committed to providing all necessary logistic, financial and security support to the electoral process.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to state that the Nigerian government has taken note of the concerns of some of our partners, especially the United States and UK governments regarding the elections in Edo and Ondo States.
“They have also expressed their intentions to take punitive measures against those who decide to, in what they termed as, undermine democracy.
“It is important to highlight that the responsibility for the conduct of elections in Nigeria solely resides with the Independent National Electoral Commission and State Independent Electoral Commissions.
“The Federal Government, and especially the President, is committed to providing all necessary logistic, financial and security support to the electoral process.
“The President has continually urged all parties and contestants to peacefully conduct themselves before, during and after the elections, and supported patriotic non-governmental initiatives such as the Abdusalami Abubakar-led Peace Committee.
“Furthermore, it should be noted that there are ample provisions in our laws to sanction violators and perpetrators of electoral violence and fraud.
“It would be considered disrespectful of the sovereignty of Nigeria for any outside authority to sit in judgment over the conduct of our citizens and apply punitive measures such as visa restriction, unilaterally.
“While we appreciate the support and encouragement of our international partners such as the EU, we urge our equally valued partners such as the UK and United States to cooperate with our relevant agencies,” the government said.
The government called on the partners to support security agencies by providing them whatever concrete evidence of observed misconduct to allow our laws and regulations to take their course.
The Nigerian government also expressed solidarity with the government and people of the United States as regards their forthcoming election, which it hoped would be free from interference and violence.
Edited By: Abiemwense Moru/Donald Ugwu
NIMR unveils COVID-19 molecular testing kit
Speaking at the unveiling, Prof. Babatunde Salako, Director General of NIMR, said the equipment was developed to ease the challenges posed by the current method which required heavy laboratory and expensive equipment to function.
“As a foremost research institute in Nigeria with a mandate to conduct research into diseases of public health importance like COVID-19 pandemic which at present a difficult management challenge for scientists.
“While no effective vaccine has been develop till date, case detection remains the surest way of controlling the pandemic.
“Seeing that molecular laboratories remain limited in number and remote areas are at disadvantaged in getting tested and limited testing centres.
“Our researchers once again swung into action to develop a point of care molecular test for COVID-19 to ease the challenges of getting a molecular laboratory which requires huge fund.
“The Isothemal used for our point of care testing cost 9500 dollars which is cheaper than the regular real time PCR equipment which cost about 100,000 dollars.
“This test reagent can be produced in country with 80 per cent to 90 per cent locally sourced material,” he said.
According to him, a NIMR research team, led by Dr Chika Onwuamah, a Senior Research Scientist, developed a molecular test for coronavirus that gives test result in less than 40 minutes.
He thanked Fate Foundation, for supporting the research with N20million through its Fate Philanthropy Coalition for COVID-19 Support.
“We are very grateful for the support given to the institute to develop the assay which is not only first of its kind in the country but also in Africa.
“The objective of the grant was to develop a fast multiplex isothermal assay for SARS-CoV-2 while we also designed and evaluated primers and probes for multiplex.
“Work is currently ongoing on a simple release reagent to simplify the RNA extraction step and the assay development procedure involve both bioinformatic analysis designing the primers and probes.
“To date we have a working assay guaranted to test 100 copies/ml of SARs-CoV-2 RNA, as we continue to improve on the detection limit,” he said.
“SIMA works at one temperature and that is why it is called isothermal which makes it far cheaper and faster,” he said.
On the duration of the research, the Senior Researcher said the project started around May, noting that there was a bit delay due to COVID-19 induced lockdown.
Onwuamah, however, called for more support to aid scientists in the country to carryout research work on public health emergency such as COVID-19.
“Support for scientists in Nigeria need to be strong because we have a lot to give but the enabling environment is not visible.
” This research work cost close to N10million before we arrive here and it is a continuous thing because we have to keep improving on what we have developed,” he said.
Mrs Adenike Adeyemi, Executive Director of Fate Foundation, said the foundation established the support fund to assist the ongoing national and local efforts to strengthen public health infrastructure.
Adeyemi said the focus was to key into government effort to properly equip and support public health facilities and frontline health workers.
“This foundation was founded 20 years ago by Fola Ade with a goal to enable aspiring and emerging Nigerians to excel in their prospective fields.
“The foundation have supported in the fight against the ravishing pandemic through our various programmes and with the support of 61 individual donors and institute.
“We are happy to be part of this huge research development that will go a long way to ease some of the present challenges in the fight against the virus,” she said.
Edited By: Wale Ojetimi