Pakistan Conference Call with UK Minister and UK High Commissioner about UK Nationals caught in the the Coronavirus Pandemic; about the murder of a transgender 15-year-old Christian; about a plea to Imran Khan to free Shagufta Kauser and non violent prisoners in Pakistan prisons; and about the scapegoating of religious minorities.

Pakistan Conference Call with UK Minister and UK High Commissioner about UK Nationals caught in the the Coronavirus Pandemic; about the murder of a transgender 15-year-old Christian; about a plea to Imran Khan to free Shagufta Kauser and non violent prisoners in Pakistan prisons; and about the scapegoating of religious minorities.

 

This morning  – April 9th – there was a very constructive conference call with Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Minister of State at the Foreign Office, and Dr.Christian Turner CMG, the UK High Commissioner in Islamabad,  about the current situation in Pakistan.

 I  have been in touch with the Minister twice in the past few days – about a murder in Faisalabad and about a letter to Imran Khan calling for the release of non violent prisoners like Shagufta  Kauser and raised this during the Call. 

 

 

ShaguftaShagufta Kauser Ministerial Reply

We also discussed a disturbing and tragic report of a  Christian  boy who has fallen victim to a brutal rape culture. A 15-year-old Christian transgender was kidnapped, raped and then murdered in Faisalabad.

 

Mr Khalil Tahir Sandhu is the Legal Counsel acting  on behalf of the victim’s family and has reported that the culprits are running freely in the streets and that the Government of Pakistan  has failed to take timely action. 

The Minister promised to take up these cases with the Pakistan authorities to ensure that they bring the murderers  to justice and to raise the continued incarceration of prisoners – like Shagufta Kauser –  jailed for non- violent crimes.

shabnum sadiq

I expressed condolences with the family of Shabnum Sadiq – the mother of five, and local councillor in Slough, who died of Coronavirus after travelling to Pakistan for a wedding – and asked what help is being given to her family. The Minister promised to schedule a call with the family’s MP.

The High Commissioner says that there are 4,000 known cases of Coronavirus with Pakistan about three weeks behind the UK on the spread of the virus. 

I had asked how many UK citizens are still stranded in Pakistan and was told there are probably about 20,000 in the country.

The High Commissioner said that he and his staff are working around the clock to reach the most vulnerable, to arrange travel to the three hub airports of Islamabad, Karachi, and Lahore  and that 14 flights have brought 5,000 people home and flights are scheduled to bring back another 3,000.
I suggested that some of the £340,000 we give to Pakistan each day in overseas aid and should be used for the care of UK citizens who remain in Pakistan or to help with their repatriation rather than telling them to take out loans. The Minister promised to raise this with the Department for International Development.

 

I also expressed my concern about  attempts in Pakistan to blame religious minorities – such as the Shia – for the spread of Covid19 and urged the Foreign Office not to lose sight of the plight of minorities in the country who can so easily be scapegoated and, even in the best of times, are subject to persecution.

 

(David Alton: Lord Alton of Liverpool is Co Chair of the British Parliament’s All Party Group on Pakistan Minorities and Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Pakistan).

==================================

Concern over reports that religious minority groups from around the world have faced discrimination because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

USCIRF (08.04.2020) – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today expressed its concern over reports that religious minority groups from around the world have faced discrimination because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Religious communities have been harassed and accused of bringing COVID-19 to their countries.
“COVID-19 does not discriminate based on religion or creed,” noted USCIRF Chair Tony Perkins. “Around the world, individuals of every faith and every denomination have been infected. It is time to stop scapegoating religious minorities – as we have witnessed by the Chinese Communist Party – and instead unite against this pandemic.”
In many countries, governments have failed to protect vulnerable religious communities. In particular, Muslims in India and  Cambodia as well as Shi’a Muslims in Pakistan have faced increased stigmatization in recent weeks because some of the earliest patients to test positive for COVID-19 in those countries came from these communities. In addition, local authorities in South Korea have filed lawsuit against the Shincheonji Church, alleging that it undermined public health measures, even though the Ministry of Health and Welfare stated publicly that the church has cooperated with the government’s efforts.
 
“Governments around the world are undoubtedly busy responding to the public health crisis, but they still have an obligation to respect and protect religious freedom, especially for minority communities during and following this crisis,” USCIRF Vice Chair Gayle Manchin added.
In its 2019 Annual Report, USCIRF noted an increase in discrimination against certain religious minority groups, and recently released a factsheet about the effect of COVID-19 on religious freedom. USCIRF has called on all governments to release religious prisoners of conscience during the pandemic because of the heightened risk of infection in prisons.

 

###

 

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze, and report on threats to religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at media@uscirf.gov or Danielle Ashbahian at dashbahian@uscirf.gov.

 

 

As the coronavirus lockdown brings fresh dangers to Nigeria’s Christians Open Doors reports on how they are being targeted in opportunistic attacks by Islamist militants including the killing of a pregnant woman; Government Minister says the UK is sending a further £300 million to help victims – but when will Nigeria act to stop these crimes?

 

Report from Open Doors:

As the coronavirus lockdown brings fresh dangers to Nigeria’s Christians, Open Doors reports on how they are being targeted in opportunistic attacks by Islamist militants – including the killing of a pregnant woman. Government Minister says the UK is sending a further £300 million to help victims – but when will Nigeria act to stop these crimes?

https://www.opendoorsuk.org/news/stories/nigeria-coronavirus-attacks/

 

Baroness Sugg, the Department for International Development, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL2908):

Question Lord Alton of Liverpool:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they have distributed funding from the £300 million North East Nigeria Transition to Development Programme since April 2017; how they intend to distribute funding from now until that programme’s end in 2022; who (1) have been, and (2) will be, the beneficiaries of that funding; how qualifying communities are chosen; and how they intend to evaluate (a) the use, and (b) the results, of that funding. (HL2908)

Tabled on: 25 March 2020

Answer:
Baroness Sugg:

The UK has provided lifesaving assistance through the North East Nigeria Transition to Development (NENTAD) Programme over the last three years to support the UN-led Humanitarian Response Plan. Funding has been distributed to UN agencies, two INGO-led consortia and the Red Cross Movement to provide urgent aid to save lives and minimise suffering. To date the UK’s funding distribution has included £125 million for lifesaving food; more than £60 million for nutritious foods and treatment; more than £16 million for informal and emergency education; nearly £19 million to support humanitarian coordination in the North East; more than £17 million for protection support and services and £6 million for access to lifesaving water, sanitation and hygiene. Funding is intended to be distributed until the programme’s end through a range of UN, INGO and Red Cross partners to meet the most critical lifesaving needs. In light of the emerging needs due to Covid-19, partners will be asked to ensure their activities address the risks and urgent impacts of Covid-19 in North East Nigeria.

Previous beneficiaries of the NENTAD programme were identified as being in acute need of lifesaving assistance by the humanitarian community. In 2018/19 NENTAD programme results included reaching 1.6 million people with lifesaving food assistance, providing access to education for 130,000 out-of-school children, the prevention of malnutrition amongst 260,000 children and providing 48,000 people with clean water. The future beneficiaries of the NENTAD programme will continue to be the most vulnerable conflict-affected people in North East Nigeria, including Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), refugees and affected host communities.

Qualifying communities are selected by humanitarian partners following needs assessments to identify who is most in need of lifesaving support, so that resources can be efficiently prioritised for the most vulnerable. DFID evaluates the use and results of funding through quarterly reviews with implementing partners; field visits to the North East; internal audits and through the DFID Annual Review. The last Annual Review of the NENTAD programme was scored an A. A planned Mid-Term Review of NENTAD has been paused due to Covid-19.

Date and time of answer: 07 Apr 2020 at 12:14

—————————————————-

Report from Open Doors:

The coronavirus lockdown is bringing fresh dangers to Nigeria’s Christians. They’re not just dealing with the outbreak of the disease and the economic implications of lockdown, devastating though both these things are. Christians in the Middle Belt of Nigeria are being targeted in opportunistic attacks by Islamist militants.

Nigeria attackAttacks in the region are common. This is the aftermath of 2017 attack in Kaduna

STAYING AT HOME, VULNERABLE TO ATTACK

Last week, suspected Fulani militants conducted multiple raids on villages in two states north of the capital, Kaduna and Plateau States, killing 32 believers. Villagers were obeying local state directives to keep to their homes, to prevent the spread of the virus, and Christians believe that the attacks were part of a wider agenda to uproot them from the area.

“Around 10pm, the Fulani gunmen arrived in the community and started shooting and burning houses, an operation which lasted till 1am,” said chairman of the Miango Youth Development Association, Mr. Nuhu Nkali in Ancha, Plateau State. As well as the tragic deaths, Nkali added that many people’s homes were destroyed: “So many of our people are now homeless, because their houses have been burnt by the assailants.” Crucial food reserves were also ruined.

In the attacks in Kperie, also in Plateau, militants returned to kill mourners the day after their initial assault. Women and children were among those murdered.

“THEY NEED TO FEEL SAFE”

“These are horrific, opportunistic attacks on people who are defenceless in their homes during lockdown,” said Jo Newhouse, a regional spokesperson for Open Doors. “The government needs to ensure the safety of all Nigerians during the Covid-19 lockdowns and to address the impunity with which attacks continue in certain areas, especially.”

Calling security agents to account, one community leader has said the attack on his village, which saw a pregnant woman killed, ‘could have been prevented’.  “We don’t know what we have done to warrant this wickedness against our people,” said Nkali.  

“The community made efforts to alert security agents, but nothing was done to prevent it,” 
Newhouse added. “If people are going to stay in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, they need to feel safe from terrible attacks like this.” 

Nigeria is number 12 on the World Watch List, and also the country where the most Christians are killed each year. Northern and central Nigeria are the worst affected regions, and attacks like this happen frequently. While Christian communities stay inside to try to prevent the spread of coronavirus, they are even more vulnerable to these sorts of attacks, and less likely to be able to earn money for food. 

Three Parliamentary Replies from Ministers —Hong Kong’s withdrawal of press credentials from journalists from the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and New York Times; potential breach of the 1984 Sino–British Joint Declaration; and breaches by Companies of Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 by profiting from Uighur slave labour – which passes the buck to consumers and charities to take action as Government washes its hands of its responsibility

 

Three Parliamentary Replies from Ministers —Hong Kong’s withdrawal of press credentials from journalists from the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and New York Times; potential breach of the 1984 Sino–British Joint Declaration; and breaches by Companies of Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 by profiting from Uighur slave labour – which passes the buck to consumers and charities to take action as Government washes its hands of its responsibility

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL2791):

Question: Lord Alton of Liverpool


To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of China about the preservation of freedom of speech in Hong Kong following the withdrawal of press credentials from journalists from the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and New York Times. (HL2791)

Tabled on: 23 March 2020

Answer:
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon:

The Chinese Government’s announcement that they will prevent certain American journalists from working in China and Macao further restricts transparency at a particularly important time. The suggestion by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs that this measure may apply in Hong Kong is deeply concerning. The Sino-British Joint Declaration is clear. It sets out that immigration decisions are the sole responsibility of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, and freedom of the press is guaranteed. It is imperative that these rights and freedoms are fully respected.

The leadership in China and Hong Kong is in no doubt about the strength of UK concern over the current situation, and our commitment to seeing the rights and freedoms provided for in the Joint Declaration upheld. We remain in frequent contact with the Chinese and Hong Kong SAR Governments on this issue.

Date and time of answer: 06 Apr 2020 at 15:46.

=====================

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL2790):

Question:Lord Alton of Liverpool


To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of reports that the government of China has revoked the press credentials of journalists from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post; and whether such revocation constitutes a breach of the 1984 Sino–British Joint Declaration. (HL2790)

Tabled on: 23 March 2020

Answer:
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon:

The Chinese Government’s announcement that they will prevent certain American journalists from working in China and Macao further restricts transparency at a particularly important time. The suggestion by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs that this measure may apply in Hong Kong is deeply concerning. The Sino-British Joint Declaration is clear. It sets out that immigration decisions are the sole responsibility of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, and freedom of the press is guaranteed. It is imperative that these rights and freedoms are fully respected.

The leadership in China and Hong Kong is in no doubt about the strength of UK concern over the current situation, and our commitment to seeing the rights and freedoms provided for in the Joint Declaration upheld. We remain in frequent contact with the Chinese and Hong Kong SAR Governments on this issue.

Date and time of answer: 06 Apr 2020 at 15:26.

===========================

Baroness Williams of Trafford, the Home Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL2793):

Question:Lord Alton of Liverpool


To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 18 March (HL2309), what action they will take against any company that has published an annual statement as required under section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 but has been accused of profiting from Uyghur slave labour. (HL2793)

Tabled on: 23 March 2020

Answer:
Baroness Williams of Trafford:

Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 made the UK the first country to require large businesses to report annually on steps taken to prevent modern slavery, including forced labour, in their operations and supply chains.

The Act does not require organisations to certify that their supply chains are slavery free but asks businesses to be transparent about their risks and measures taken to mitigate these. To improve reporting quality, we are developing a government-run registry of modern slavery statements to make it easier for consumers, investors and civil society to hold businesses to account. We have also consulted on proposals to strengthen the Modern Slavery Act and increase transparency and improve compliance.

The Government is aware of the risks of forced labour in Xinjiang impacting on supply chains of businesses with a footprint in the UK and is discussing this issue with businesses, as well as standard setting and industry bodies which bring together business and civil society organisations. The UK Government expressed its concerns about China’s systematic human rights violations in Xinjiang, including credible and growing reports of forced labour, during the recent UN Human Rights Council.

Date and time of answer: 06 Apr 2020 at 14:38.

Find a moment to watch a stunningly made Video of 100 pieces of great art – moving and beautiful paintings – which tell the old story of Holy Week and give encouragement during this pandemic.

Stunningly made Video of 100 pieces of great art – moving and beautiful paintings – which tell the old story of Holy Week and give encouragement during this pandemic. Click here – 

https://protect-eu.mimecast.com/s/lyeLCQn9wCRmz2EsPrxBc?domain=christian.art

At a moment when our churches have been locked and barred – even for individuals wising to enter for reflection or private prayer – a friend sent me this link to 100 paintings which tell the story of Holy Week – the Passion, Death and Resurrection of  Jesus.  It is beautifully made and an encouragement to all of us needing reassurance at this challenging and desolate time. 

Those who produced the Holy Week video have chosen 100 paintings, ranging from Ancient Rome to Contemporary Art – reminding us that down the ages great and inspired artists have made sense of a terrible story of suffering, pain and persecution.

They say “We hope this video may bring some joy amidst the pandemic turmoil we find ourselves in” and they quote the Spanish mystic, St. Teresa of Avila, “Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you, all things are passing away: God Never changes”

Coronavirus – Government Replies about the benefits of the use of drugs used to treat malaria and HIV, and Tocilizumab in the treatment of severe cases of interstitial pneumonia linked to COVID-19; the current availability of ventilators in NHS intensive care units, and production capacity to supply further ventilators; the threat to food supplies; the sale of Nigerian bushmeat to China; and the World Health Organisation’s foolish political decision, following Communist China’s orders, to ban Taiwan from membership.

 

Lord Bethell, the Department of Health and Social Care, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL2795):

Question:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, following their decision to ban the parallel export of drugs used to treat malaria and HIV, whether UK stocks of such medicines are being trialled for use on patients with COVID-19; and if so, what (1) clinical evidence has been gathered, and (2) conclusions have been reached, about the efficacy of such treatment. (HL2795)

Tabled on: 23 March 2020

Answer:
Lord Bethell:

United Kingdom stocks of medicines to treat malaria and HIV are being trialled for use on patients with COVID-19.

There are suggestions in the Chinese and French literature that both lopinavir/ritonavir and chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine may be beneficial. However, these data are not conclusive, because the studies done are too small, thus the findings, whilst promising, may ultimately be wrong.

The UK will evaluate both these treatments in two large randomised trials, one of which is already underway and the other of which is expected to begin recruitment next week.

Date and time of answer: 02 Apr 2020 at 16:31.

====================================

Lord Bethell, the Department of Health and Social Care, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL2794):

Question:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of reports about the success of using hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, following a study carried out by Professor Raoult, director of the Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire de Marseille. (HL2794)

Tabled on: 23 March 2020

Answer:
Lord Bethell:

The Department is considering carefully all available evidence around the potential of different medicines for use in treating COVID-19. Clinical trials are ongoing and being developed to assess the benefits of a number of different medicines in treating COVID-19.

Hydroxychloroquine is not currently licensed to treat COVID-19 related symptoms or prevent infection. Clinical trials are being established to test hydroxychloroquine as an agent in the treatment of COVID-19. These clinical trials are still not completed, so no conclusions have yet been reached on the safety and effectiveness of this medicine to treat or prevent COVID-19.

Date and time of answer: 02 Apr 2020 at 16:23.

=======================================

Government Replies about the benefits of the use of Tocilizumab in the treatment of severe cases of interstitial pneumonia linked to COVID-19; the current availability of ventilators in NHS intensive care units, and production capacity to supply further ventilators

Tocilizumab

Lord Bethell, the Department of Health and Social Care, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL2601):

Question Lord Alton of Liverpool:


To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the benefits of the use of Tocilizumab in the treatment of severe cases of interstitial pneumonia linked to COVID-19 in China and Italy; and what plans they have to make that drug available on the NHS. (HL2601)

Tabled on: 16 March 2020

Answer:
Lord Bethell:

The Department is considering carefully all available evidence around the potential of different medicines for use in treating COVID-19. Clinical trials are being developed to assess the benefits of a number of different medicines in treating COVID-19. Further medicines may be trialled should evidence indicate to the Department that this would be an appropriate course of action. The Department, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, Public Health England and the National Health Service are working together to ensure that trials can begin as soon as possible. The first trial in the United Kingdom for hospitalised patients should begin later this week.

Date and time of answer: 31 Mar 2020 at 11:12.

==============================================

ventilators

Lord Bethell, the Department of Health and Social Care, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL2600):

Question Lord Alton of Liverpool:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the (1) current availability of ventilators in NHS intensive care units, and (2) production capacity, to supply further ventilators in line with the planned increase in their use. (HL2600)

 

Tabled on: 16 March 2020

Answer:
Lord Bethell:

The National Health Service has world-renowned critical care facilities which includes access to around 5,000 adult and 900 paediatric critical care ventilators, with further ventilators available outside of critical care facilities.

Work preparing the NHS has been ongoing and we have already nearly doubled ventilator capacity. New and existing suppliers are being asked to build as many as they can. The Prime Minister has issued a call to United Kingdom industry to produce additional ventilators and the Department asked appropriate potential manufacturers on 13 March to come forward with proposals for new ventilation machines. Around a dozen potential prototypes have now been presented to the Department which we are currently pursuing.

Date and time of answer: 31 Mar 2020 at 11:12.

=========================================

food crisis,jpg

Why doesn’t Britain value its farmers? If food stocks and supply chains run low then perhaps we will learn again the importance of food security and the importance of farming, agriculture and horticulture….Read this telling article:

https://unherd.com/2020/03/why-doesnt-britain-value-its-farmers/

==================================

Bushmeat Markets In Nigeria: Letter sent to UK Government Ministers March 30th 

Re wildlife and bushmeat markets in Nigeria and the sale of bushmeat to China –

 

I write regarding the trade in pangolins and other bushmeat in markets throughout Nigeria.

 

At the beginning of February, Chinese scientists identified pangolins as a likely source of the coronavirus, and the government of China closed down the wildlife markets where pangolins were sold.

 

Nigeria is one of the leading sources of China’s pangolins, and throughout Nigeria the sale of pangolins and other bushmeat continues. This represents a major threat to public health.

 

Unfortunately, Nigeria has lax enforcement of its laws regarding bushmeat.

 

It seems futile for the UK to be sending aid to Nigeria – £900,000 each day –  if the country’s own public health authorities are doing so little to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

 

I would  urge you to please press the Nigerian Government to close down wildlife and bushmeat markets and to vigorously enforce its public health laws against the trade in wildlife and bushmeat.

 

Your officials will find the relevant information here:

https://qz.com/africa/1823783/coronavirus-nigeria-not-stopping-pangolin-trade-trafficking/

 

===============================================

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry has called on the World Health Organisation to facilitate Taiwan’s full participation and contribution to the WHO.  It is shameful that for political reasons, and to appease Communist China, the WHO denies 23 million people access to the institution charged  with global oversight of health issues. This blatantly disregards the WHO’s own Charter and, as the Coronavirus pandemic has illustrated, this is not a moment to pursue ideology rather than humanitarian ideals.

https://www.mofa.gov.tw/en/News_Content.aspx?n=1EADDCFD4C6EC567&s=506FD04141AAC6DD

=================================================

 

Coronavirus: Ministers challenged about delays in testing drugs; replies about how infections occur and the production of more ventilators. April 2nd Reply asking what assessment they have made of reports about the success of using hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, following a study carried out by Professor Raoult, director of the Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire de Marseille

 

Lord Bethell, the Department of Health and Social Care, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL2794):

Question Lord Alton of Liverpool:


To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of reports about the success of using hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, following a study carried out by Professor Raoult, director of the Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire de Marseille. (HL2794)

Tabled on: 23 March 2020

Answer:
Lord Bethell:

The Department is considering carefully all available evidence around the potential of different medicines for use in treating COVID-19. Clinical trials are ongoing and being developed to assess the benefits of a number of different medicines in treating COVID-19.

Hydroxychloroquine is not currently licensed to treat COVID-19 related symptoms or prevent infection. Clinical trials are being established to test hydroxychloroquine as an agent in the treatment of COVID-19. These clinical trials are still not completed, so no conclusions have yet been reached on the safety and effectiveness of this medicine to treat or prevent COVID-19.

Date and time of answer: 02 Apr 2020 at 16:23.

=======================================================

Lord Bethell, the Department of Health and Social Care, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL2677):

Question Lord Alton of Liverpool:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of reports that one of the people in the Lombardy cluster may have become infected with COVID-19 after contact with a person who tested negative for COVID-19. (HL2677)

Tabled on: 17 March 2020

Answer:
Lord Bethell:

Assessment of the clinical and epidemiological characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 cases suggests that, similar to SARS-CoV, patients will not be infectious until the onset of symptoms. In most cases, individuals are usually considered infectious while they have symptoms. How infectious individuals are depends on the severity of their symptoms and stage of their illness. Further study is required to determine the actual occurrence and impact of asymptomatic transmission.

Date and time of answer: 31 Mar 2020 at 15:27.

==============================

Lord Bethell, the Department of Health and Social Care, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL2676):

Question Lord Alton of Liverpool :

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how confident they are that those who have recovered from COVID-19 do not continue to be carriers of the virus; and whether swab tests will be repeated for recovered patients to ensure that such tests remain negative. (HL2676)

Tabled on: 17 March 2020

Answer:
Lord Bethell:

COVID-19 is not known to cause latent infections (becoming dormant in the body after infection and reactivate later on) or to cause persistent infection (continuous infection).

Public Health England is in the process of producing guidance for the conditions of discharge of infected patients from hospitals.

Date and time of answer: 31 Mar 2020 at 15:26.

===========================

Lord Bethell, the Department of Health and Social Care, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL2675):

Question Lord Alton of Liverpool :

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what response there has been to the Prime Minister’s request for manufacturers to develop ventilators for the NHS; and how many they expect to be produced. (HL2675)

Tabled on: 17 March 2020

Answer:
Lord Bethell:

Work preparing the National Health Service has been ongoing and we have already nearly doubled ventilator capacity. New and existing suppliers are being asked to build as many as they can. The Prime Minister has issued a call to United Kingdom industry to produce additional ventilators and the Department asked appropriate potential manufacturers on 13 March to come forward with proposals for new ventilation machines. Around a dozen potential prototypes have now been presented to the Department which we are currently pursuing.

Date and time of answer: 31 Mar 2020 at 15:25.

=======================================================

In response to yesterday’s parliamentary replies this letter has been sent to  Health Minister Lord Bethell and Cabinet Office Minister, Michael Gove MP, March 31st:

https://davidalton.net/2020/03/31/coronavirus-government-replies-about-the-benefits-of-the-use-of-tocilizumab-in-the-treatment-of-severe-cases-of-interstitial-pneumonia-linked-to-covid-19-the-current-availability-of-ventilators-in/

 

Dear James,

 

Many thanks for your reply to my Parliamentary Question (below) about the trial of drugs that might be deployed against Coronavirus. I was also grateful to hear Michael Gove’s reference to the potential of some of these drugs.

 

Arising from this could you please let me know which minister is leading the departmental team assessing progress on the trials? 

 

How often have they met to review trials underway? 

 

Are they geared up to recruit the patients needed for the randomised trials (on the BBC on Sunday the lead investigator at Oxford University on hydracholoroquin says he needs 3000 patients urgently). 

 

Why couldn’t the same professor get tested when he suspected having Covid19 himself? 

 

These scientists are our best hope right now – more than a vaccine. How often is the minister speaking to the WhO led trial teams? 

 

When a drug shows signs of promise, how will the minister decide to shift resources towards it? 

 

Have they been having conversations with drug suppliers about gearing up to get these to the NHS frontline?

 

You rightly blocked export of malaria and HIV drugs weeks ago but the trials into them have only just been commissioned. Why has there been this delay?

 

I am copying in Michael Gove.

 

With kind regards 

 

 

======================================

Dr.Jon Hastie has Duchene Muscular Dystrophy. Facing the prospect of a refusal to treat him if he contracts Coronavirus he says “please don’t let people like me die without giving s a chance. Please don’t write us off….I never thought that I would use Twitter to beg for my life. I’m angry and scared. We are all being betrayed if we let our most vulnerable people die.”

.

In case you are in any doubt about the danger that disabled people will be written off during the Coronavirus crisis, listen to the powerful, heart-wrenching appeal from Dr.Jon Hastie who has Duchene Muscular Dystrophy.

And share it with others.

Dr.Hastie says “please don’t let people like me die without giving s a chance. Please don’t write us off.” He says “I never thought that I would use Twitter to beg for my life. I’m angry and scared. We are all being betrayed if we let our most vulnerable people die.”

Dr.Hastie is CEO of DMD Pathfinders, has a PhD in Government, Lived Experience consultant for NHS England.

https://twitter.com/DrJonHastie/status/1245711038982639617?s=20

Tanni GreyThompson

As Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson DBE DL rightly says “

This is really powerful.” www.tanni.co.uk

Reply from the Foreign Secretary about the arrest of Hong Kong democrats – including Jimmy Lai – which call to mind the “knock on the door at the dead of night” and the rounding up of opposition voices by the NKVD/KGB, the Gestapo, Securitate, the Stasi, and the rest. The methodology and practices of the Cultural Revolution along with the totalitarianism and intolerance of authoritarian States should be consigned to history, not mimicked in Hong Kong. The authorities in Hong Kong should be using all their energy and resources to fight the Coronavirus not harassing and intimidating proponents of democracy. These arrests represent a truly shocking and very serious setback for ‘one country, two systems’ and Hong Kong’s freedoms.

April 2nd 2020 Reply of the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab MP, about the arrest of Jimmy Lai and other Hong Kong pro democracy activists, in which he says:

“It is essential that they are afforded due process and that justice is applied in a fair and transparent way. We are following their cases very closely to make sure this happens….The leadership in Hong Kong is in no doubt about the strength of UK concern over the current situation.”

01833 Foreign Secretary to Lord Alton of Liverpool

Dominic Raab

4E3E0BB6-D0CE-4D3A-A8E9-8DDCF9AAC058
Yesterday’s arrests in Hong Kong call to mind the “knock on the door at the dead of night” and the rounding up of opposition voices by the NKVD/KGB, the Gestapo, Securitate, the Stasi, and the rest.

The methodology and practices of the Cultural Revolution, along with the totalitarianism and intolerance of authoritarian States, should be consigned to history, not mimicked in Hong Kong.

The authorities in Hong Kong should be using all their energy and resources to fight the Coronavirus not harassing and intimidating proponents of democracy.

These arrests represent a truly shocking and very serious setback for ‘one country, two systems’ and Hong Kong’s freedoms.

 

I was shocked to learn, overnight, of the arrest of three singular figures in Hong Kong.

They include Jimmy Lai and several other mainstream democrats:

 

https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3052789/hong-kong-protests-apple-daily-owner-jimmy-lai-arrested

 

The UK Government should make an urgent statement detailing the Government’s response to the arrest by the Hong Kong Police of Jimmy Lai ( a highly significant Hong Kong media entrepreneur), of Lee Cheuk-yan (the vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Labour Party) and Young Sum ( the former chairman of the Hong Kong Democratic Party) and say what representations they are making to the governments of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the People’s Republic of China about these arrests.

 

I have asked Dominic Raab, the Foreign to spell out what implications the  arrest of these three prominent mainstream pro-democracy leaders has for the prospects of “one country, two systems” and the protection of freedoms promised to the Hong Kong people under the Sino-British Joint Declaration and guaranteed under the Basic Law.

The British government needs to immediately galvanise the international community and urge the authorities to drop these charges.

https://protect-eu.mimecast.com/s/koBRCoVxqfQvg7oC1vJsQ?domain=hongkongwatch.org

MPs, PEERS, CHURCH LEADERS, POLICE CHIEF AND WOMEN’S GROUPS URGE HOME SECRETARY TO SAFEGUARD PROSTITUTES DURING CORONAVIRUS

Press Release – For immediate release from Sarah Champion MP
Member of Parliament for Rotherham

sarah champion

Thursday 2nd April 2020

MPS, PEERS, CHURCH LEADERS, POLICE CHIEF AND WOMEN’S GROUPS URGE HOME SECRETARY TO SAFEGUARD PROSTITUTES DURING CORONAVIRUS

Text of letter – Click here:

Dear Home Secretary final.

Sarah Champion MP, Chair of the APPG prostitution and global sex trade, has joined forces with a cross party group of MPs, Peers, former Met Police Chief, Church and women’s groups to urge the Home Secretary to support prostitutes in the UK.

“We write to seek reassurance that the Home Office is responding to the heightened risks faced by prostituted people during the Coronavirus emergency by enabling them to access support and exiting services.

Sexual exploitation is gendered: it is predominantly women and girls who are subjected to sexual exploitation, and it is overwhelmingly men who pay to sexually exploit them. Sexual exploitation drives modern slavery in the UK. The overwhelming majority of women reported to the National Referral Mechanism are brought here to be prostituted.

Prostitution is a profitable business. We are therefore hugely concerned that when the exploiters are unable to use the women to make money because of coronavirus, the women’s lives literally become worthless to them.

We welcome the Home Secretary’s strong position on tackling Domestic Violence during the pandemic. As part of this campaign, it must be recognised that forcing women into prostitution is a recognised form of coercive control used by abusive partners. We ask that the commitment given to tackle domestic abusers is applied to anyone trying to profit from sexual exploitation, and that similar support is given to the victims.”

The letter has three asks;

• Victims of sex trafficking and modern slavery be granted reliable accommodation and support services.

• The police are advised to consider sexual exploitation when responding to cases of Domestic abuse.

• Specialist services for victims of sexual exploitation receive the funding they need to continue to deliver exiting support and adapt to likely emerging service user needs due to Coronavirus.

Commenting on why she wrote the letter Sarah Champion said:

 “I’ve become increasingly concerned about the plight of the most vulnerable in our society due to Covid19, prostituted people are just such a group, but one we find easy to overlook. Unless the Government is pro-active in supporting prostitutes, they will be failing in their duty to safeguard some of the most marginalised in our society.”

ENDS
List of signatories:
Sarah Champion MP, Chair of the APPG on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade
Baron Hogan-Howe QPM Kt, former Head of London’s Metropolitan Police
Revd Vivienne Faul 56th Bishop of Bristol, Church of England lead on Modern Slavery
Lord Alton of Liverpool
Baroness Gale
Baroness Grey-Thompson DBE
Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Lord McColl of Dulwich
Rt Hon Diane Abbott MP, Shadow Home Secretary
Fiona Bruce MP, Chair of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission and Vice Chair of the APPG on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade
Ronnie Cowan MP
Angela Crawley MP
Carolyn Harris MP, Shadow Minister Women & Equalities
Dame Diana Johnson MP
Pauline Latham MP
Jess Phillips MP
Fiona Broadfoot, survivor
FiLiA
Not Buying It
Nordic Model Now!
Dionne Reid, CEO Women Work
Rosemary Hack, Director, Press Red
Equality Now
Lynda Dearlove, CEO, Women at the Well
Harriet Wistrich, Centre for Women’s Justice
Zarin Hainsworth, National Alliance of Women
Phil McCarthy, CEO Caritas Social Action Network

Ministerial Reply About The Plight Of UK Nationals In Haiti and Democratic Republic of the Congo Awaiting Evacuation from Haiti due to the COVID-19 pandemic; and a helpful letter from the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab MP, about the challenges and progress in bringing British Nationals home.

 

Ministerial Replies About The Plight Of UK Nationals In Haiti and Democratic Republic of the Congo Awaiting Evacuation from Haiti due to the COVID-19 pandemic; and a helpful letter from the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab MP, about the challenges and progress in bringing British Nationals home.

Haiti:

Baroness Sugg, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL2854):

Question, Lord Alton of Liverpool:


To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have received about British humanitarian aid workers arranging evacuation from Haiti due to the COVID-19 pandemic; how many British nationals are currently unable to return from Haiti; what assessment they have made of the personal safety of such workers: and what discussions they have had with the government of Haiti about opening airspace and borders to charter flights for evacuation. (HL2854)

Tabled on: 24 March 2020

Answer:
Baroness Sugg:

We have advised against all but essential travel to Haiti since February 2019 because of the volatile security situation. We are closely monitoring the presence of UK nationals in Haiti, including humanitarian aid workers, and their wellbeing remains our priority. We are working closely with other diplomatic missions in Haiti to enable British people to get home. British Nationals are currently able to travel to the UK via the United States and Canada from Haiti, providing they hold a valid ESTA (USA) and fulfil the entry requirements including not having visited the UK, Ireland, Schengen zone, Iran or China within the previous 14 days, or ETA (Canada) as well as on a flight to Paris open to European nationals. Consular services are delivered through our Embassy in Santo Domingo and our consular team is working around the clock to provide support, advice and information to all affected British nationals.

Date and time of answer: 02 Apr 2020 at 12:43.

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DRC

Democratic Republic of the Congo 

Dear Lord Alton,

 

Thank you for your email on behalf of Patrick, who is currently stuck in Lubumbashi, DRC, along with other British nationals.

 

I have checked with the Consul at our Embassy in Kinshasa, he has confirmed that the Embassy is aware of the group in Lubumbashi and that they have been in contact with a number of them, either directly, or via the Embassy’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. They have confirmed that they are working hard with the government, airlines and other diplomatic mission to ensure that those who wish to leave are able to do so. They will keep the group updated on the situation directly, and via their social media and the FCO’s Travel Advice.

Kind regards

Courtney

Mr Courtney Roots | Country Casework Support | Consular Directorate

Room WH4.26 | Foreign and Commonwealth Office | King Charles St | London | SW1A 2AH

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A helpful letter from the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab MP, about the challenges and progress in bringing British Nationals home.

Dominic Raab

Dominic Raab 1

Dominic Raab 2

Dominic Raab 3