Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: new alerts, birthday honours and fires on Kilimanjaro

17 October 2020

9:00 AM

17 October 2020

9:00 AM


‘The weeks and months ahead will continue to be difficult and will test the mettle of this country,’ Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, said in the Commons. In a complicated new system meant to be a simplification, English regions were put into one of three tiers of alert level: 1, medium; 2, high; or 3, very high, according to the proportion of coronavirus cases there. In tier 3, further local restrictions could be added. Liverpool was selected for tier 3, in which betting shops and libraries would close and pubs too, unless they sold main meals. Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the opposition, called for a two- or three-week circuit-breaker national lockdown, with closure of pubs and restaurants, but not of schools. His call came after Sage, the scientific advisory group, said it had asked for such a thing on 21 September. Scotland imposed 16 days of restrictions that included the closure of pubs in the central belt.

At the beginning of the week, Sunday 11 October, total deaths (within 28 days of testing positive for the coronavirus) stood at 42,760, of whom 443 had died in the past week, compared with 346 the week before. Of patients in English hospitals with Covid-19, 18 per cent tested positive for the virus for the first time seven days or more after admission, meaning that they caught it in hospital. Three Nightingale hospitals, in Manchester, Sunderland and Harrogate, were made ready to take patients. Employees of companies forced to shut by law because of coronavirus restrictions would have two-thirds of their wages paid via the government for six months from 1 November, under a scheme announced by Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Unemployment grew to 4.5 per cent in the three months to August from 4.1 per cent in the previous quarter. British Airways replaced Alex Cruz as its chief executive with Sean Doyle, the chief executive of Aer Lingus. Sir Samuel Brittan, the economic commentator for the Financial Times, died aged 86. Giles Auty, the art critic for The Spectator from 1984 to 1995, died aged 85.

In the Queen’s birthday honours, postponed from June, Sir Paul Smith, the clothes designer, was made a Companion of Honour. Mary Berry and Maureen Lipman were made dames, as was the writer Susan Hill. David Suchet and Tommy Steele were knighted, as was Geoff Mulgan, once a director of policy for Tony Blair. Health and social care workers make up 209 of the 1,495 recipients. There were 194 BAME recipients. Mohsin and Zuber Issa, the billionaire brothers who have taken over Asda, were appointed CBE, as was Katharine Birbalsingh, the reforming headmistress.


T he total number in the world who had died with coronavirus reached 1,040,147 by the beginning of the week, an increase of 37,143 from the week before. Peru was well ahead in deaths per million, at 1,004. The figure for the United States was 661 and for the United Kingdom 629. China set about testing all nine million people in the city of Qingdao over five days. In Spain the socialist government banned anyone from leaving Madrid, a provision opposed by the city authorities. France imposed more restrictions on Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Lille, Grenoble and Saint-Étienne. Rafael Nadal won the French Open for the 13th time. A 5.4 ton bomb, dropped on Germany by the RAF, went off as it was being defused near Swinoujscie, now in Poland, but no one was hurt.

President Donald Trump of the United States said at a rally in Florida: ‘They say I’m immune — I feel so powerful. I’ll walk in there and kiss everyone.’ A temporary truce between Armenia and Azerbaijan was broken by the destruction of a block of flats in Azerbaijan’s city of Ganja, apparently by a missile, and by the shelling of Armenians in Stepanakert. On the ninth Sunday of protests since the rigging of elections in Belarus on 9 August, 700 people were detained in Minsk; police were authorised to use lethal force. Facebook for the first time banned ‘any content that denies or distorts the Holocaust’.

More than 1,000 migrants from Africa arrived in the Canary Islands in 48 hours. From January to the end of July, 3,269 had made the crossing, and 250 are known to have died in the attempt. Cardinal George Pell met Pope Francis in Rome in a private audience for the first time since his conviction for child sexual abuse was overturned in April. Fire broke out on the slopes of Kilimanjaro. CSH

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