UK moves to defuse row with lawmakers over Covid-19 measures
Britain’s government moved to defuse a row with lawmakers over the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis on Monday, promising to engage with them more on restrictions some have complained impinge on society’s freedoms.
Some Conservative lawmakers have criticised the government after ministers announced a ban gatherings of more than six people and introduced a range of other fines, saying ministers were “ruling by decree” and undermining the role of parliament.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, criticised for his handling of the Covid-19 crisis, is keen to prevent a rebellion on Wednesday when parliament will vote on the renewal of the Coronavirus Act, which hands the government powers to impose restrictions.
Ministers were at pains to say they would ensure parliament was more involved in agreeing any further national measures.
“We’re looking at further ways to ensure the House (of Commons) can be properly involved in the process, in advance if possible. I hope to provide the House with further details soon,” health minister Matt Hancock told parliament.
He said he would also meet Graham Brady, a senior Conservative, who has led efforts to try to win parliament more power over the government’s restrictions.
But he warned lawmakers over tying the government’s hands, saying the nature of the pandemic meant that ministers sometimes had to act quickly.
“Sometimes in this pandemic ... we have had to move fast, and we may need to again. The challenge we have in this house is how to ensure proper scrutiny while also being able to move fast in response to the virus,” he said.
Johnson won last year’s election by a large margin, handing him an 80-seat majority in parliament, but the depth of the anger among Conservative lawmakers on this issues has threatened to undermine his authority.
The World Health Organization has said that the Covid-19 outbreak in North Korea is worrying for new variants of the virus, as the country is battling a rapid spread of a mysterious fever since late April. On Wednesday, the country reported 232,880 more cases of the mysterious fever and six more deaths, taking the infection tally and toll to over 1.7 million and 62 respectively.
A decline in genome sequencing and testing for coronavirus disease (Covid-19) has made it “increasingly difficult” to know where the virus is and how it is mutating, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhenom Ghebreyesus on Tuesday as cases have risen over the last week in four out of six WHO regions. He also expressed concern over the first reported Covid outbreak in North Korea, with more than 1.7 million suspected cases since late April.
New York City, the largest city in the United States, raised its Covid-19 alert level from "medium" to "high" on Tuesday, as infections continue to go up in recent weeks. The guidance requires New Yorkers to wear a face mask in all public indoor settings and crowded outdoor settings and consider avoiding higher-risk activities. New York City raised its Covid-19 alert level to "medium" from "low" in early May.
A video of Pakistani actor and TikToker Humaira Asghar has drawn flak on social media as Asghar was shot walking in a silver ball gown in front of a forest fire raging behind her. This in Pakistan has in fact become a trend as earlier this month a man was arrested in Abbottabad for intentionally starting a forest fire for the background of a video.
Ukraine's defence minister Oleksiy Reznikov said that the ongoing war in his country is entering a protracted phase. In his speech to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg and European Union defence ministers, Reznikov said on Tuesday, "Russia is preparing for a long-term military operation." Reznikov added that Russian forces are currently building fortifications in the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions to move to defence if necessary.