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Low’ diphtheria risk to public despite spread from Manston asylum centre

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Health secretary Steve Barclay has insisted the risk of the public getting diphtheria is “very low” despite an expected rise in the number of infections being recorded among asylum seekers.

He said hundreds of migrants were vaccinated against the highly contagious disease before being moved out of the Manston processing centre in Kent to hotels around the country, but stressed the situation was being monitored “closely”.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) had identified 39 diphtheria cases among asylum seekers in England this year by 10 November. The number is understood to have risen to about 50, with officials expected to confirm the figure later.

Asked about the risk to the general public, he added: “The risk is very low, partly because there is very high uptake of vaccination within the British public in the first place.

“But also we had a targeted action of vaccinations at Manston and so 500 people were vaccinated before they actually left Manston, and it’s something that UKHSA are monitoring extremely closely.”


More asylum seekers hospitalised with diphtheria as infections rise by 50% after Manston centre death

Two asylum seekers have been hospitalised with diphtheria amid a 50 per cent rise in cases of the infectious disease in the past month, new data has revealed.

It comes after the Home Office confirmed that a man who died after staying at the Manston processing centre did have diphtheria.

Diphtheria is a highly contagious infection that is very rare in the UK – due to high levels of vaccination in the general population.

Eleanor Sly28 November 2022 16:40


Shapps hints at onshore wind ban U-turn as Tory rebellion grows

A Cabinet minister has hinted that Rishi Sunak could back down amid a growing Tory rebellion trying to force him to drop a ban on new onshore wind farms.

However, Downing Street appeared to push back on suggestions of a U-turn, stressing there is no “imminent change” to the Prime Minister’s opposition to relaxing planning rules around onshore wind.

Business Secretary Grant Shapps denied the challenge constitutes a “row” or that there is a “massive gulf” between the rebels and the government.

Eleanor Sly28 November 2022 16:15


Akshata Murty and Olena Zelenska meet on Downing Street



(AFP via Getty Images)

Emily Atkinson28 November 2022 16:15


Akshata Murty meets Olena Zelenska outside No 10

Rishi Sunak’s wife Akshata Murty has met Olena Zelenska, the First Lady of Ukraine, outside No 10 Downing Street.

Ms Zelenska briefly waved and smiled to the assemblage cameras on Downing Street as she arrived on an overcast and rainy Monday afternoon in Westminster.

Ms Murty welcomed Ms Zelenska on the pavement outside No 10 amid a heavy security presence as the pair exchanged a hug before walking inside the building.

The First Lady of Ukraine is in London to participate in an international conference on preventing sexual violence during conflicts.

Emily Atkinson28 November 2022 15:53


Government working with local councils over migrants with possible diphtheria, says No 10

Downing Street has said the government is working with councils where migrants from processing centres with possible diphtheria have been put up in hotels.

Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman told reporters: “We take the safety and welfare of people accommodated at these sites very seriously.

“We’re working closely with the UK Health Security Agency and other health professionals and indeed councils to make sure all medical guidance and the robust protocols are followed and that we have contingency plans.

“You’ll know that those who are accommodated in these sites are offered the vaccinations. So we offer them to people at Manston, they have 24/7 health facilities and trained medical staff on hand.

“I think it’s important to emphasise to the public the low risk, particularly given vaccination rates for diphtheria are high amongst the UK population.”

Asked if councils taking in migrants from Manston have been warned about the risks of the highly contagious disease, the spokesman confirmed the government is “working with local councils”, including those where migrants are being housed.

The official did not know the latest number of migrants at the Kent processing facility, saying only it is “significantly below capacity”.

Emily Atkinson28 November 2022 15:40


Watch: Lisa Nandy says ‘Matt Hancock came across a complete plonker’ on I’m A Celebrity

Lisa Nandy says ‘Matt Hancock came across a complete plonker’ on I’m A Celebrity

Emily Atkinson28 November 2022 15:15


Downing Street has suggested Grant Shapps was pointing to existing rules when he spoke about local consent needed for onshore wind developments.

Asked if the business secretary was signalling an imminent U-turn, the prime minister’s official spokesman said: “You’ve got our position – I’m sure he’s pointing to the rules that are already in place: to allow for consultation.”

Emily Atkinson28 November 2022 15:00


Rishi Sunak can’t afford to let policy U-turns and Tory rebellions stack up

U-turns were a staple of both the Boris Johnson and Liz Truss premierships, writes Chris Stevenson. It does not project an image of control.

Emily Atkinson28 November 2022 14:40


No 10 refuses to ‘predict future’ of onshore wind

No 10 has indicated it would not predict “what might happen in the future” on onshore wind.

The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “You’ll know there are quite detailed rules around onshore wind and what is allowed – it requires developers to consult with communities in advance (of making) a planning application.

“So I’m not going to predict what might happen in the future.”

He said the government considers amendments to Bills “as they’re put forward”.

“The prime minister has talked at great length about his views on where the focus should be on renewables, where he is talking about building more wind turbines offshore in order to boost energy security and also the importance of ensuring communities support any action the government takes on renewables,” he said.

“So we will continue to have discussions as we would do normally.”

He said he did not believe the Commons leader had come forward with a timetable for the Bill, but “they will do so, I’m sure, in the normal way”.

Emily Atkinson28 November 2022 14:20


Rishi Sunak denounces Chinese arrest of BBC journalist as ‘shocking and unacceptable’ –

Rishi Sunak has denounced the arrest of a BBC journalist covering protests in China as “shocking and unacceptable”.

Footage shared on social media showed several police officers grabbing Mr Lawrence and pinning him to the ground. The BBC said he was beaten and kicked by police officers, and then taken away in handcuffs.

Our political editor Andrew Woodcock has more:

Emily Atkinson28 November 2022 14:01

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