Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: Queen gets vaccinated, Trump supporters riot and gorillas catch Covid

16 January 2021

9:00 AM

16 January 2021

9:00 AM


The government, in the face of overwhelming numbers of people with Covid-19 being admitted to hospital, told everyone to stay at home and threatened them with unspecified harsher measures. The law brought into force on 6 January allowed any amount of exercise and visits to food shops, dry cleaners, takeaway restaurants, banks, pet-food suppliers, off licences, public lavatories, garden centres, bicycle shops and libraries (for collection of books ordered in advance) or anywhere for the purpose of picketing. The Speaker asked MPs to wear masks in the House, except when speaking. Two women were stopped by Derbyshire police as they walked in the country, told that the cups of peppermint tea they carried were ‘classed as a picnic’, and had to pay a £200 penalty each; five days later police rescinded the penalties.

At the beginning of the week, Sunday 10 January, total deaths (within 28 days of testing positive for the coronavirus) had stood at 80,868, including 6,298 in the past week. London’s Nightingale hospital began to admit patients, none suffering from Covid. A third vaccine, from Moderna, was approved but would not be available until the spring. The government set a target of 15 million people to be vaccinated by mid-February, having vaccinated 2.3 million by 11 January. The Queen, aged 94, and the Duke of Edinburgh, 99, were vaccinated against Covid-19.

At least 160 migrants crossed the Channel to England in ten boats on Saturday and Sunday. Khairi Saadallah was sentenced to his whole life in jail for murdering three homosexual men with a knife in a Reading park in June. Kwasi Kwarteng became Business Secretary in place of Alok Sharma. James Brokenshire, found to have lung cancer three years ago, is to leave his post as a Home Office minister for surgery on a lung tumour. Sir Simon Rattle is to leave the London Symphony Orchestra to conduct the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, in Munich, in 2023. Sir David Barclay, owner with his twin Sir Frederick of the Telegraph Group, died aged 86. Katharine Whitehorn, the Observer columnist, died aged 92. Chorley beat Derby County and Crawley beat Leeds in the FA Cup.


The Capitol in Washington DC was overrun by weird people supporting President Donald Trump. One, a woman, was shot dead by law officers; a policeman died of his injuries and three other people died incidentally. Plain-clothes police drew handguns at a barricade across the door of the chamber of the House of Representatives. Scores got into the building through smashed windows and thronged the rotunda, some letting themselves down by ropes into the chamber after Congressmen had been led to safety. One man lounged in the office of Nancy Pelosi the Speaker; another carried a Confederate flag. A bare-chested man in a two-tailed coonskin hat with horns stood at the podium in the Senate. Before the riot, Mr Trump, in an open-air speech of nearly an hour, punctuated by chants of ‘Fight for Trump!’, had insisted that he had won the election: ‘Everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.’ Congress was debating objections to election results. After dark, Mr Trump tweeted: ‘Go home with love and in peace. Remember this day forever!’ The next day, after Twitter had blocked his account, he said: ‘The demonstrators who infiltrated the Capitol have defiled the seat of American democracy.’ Democrats introduced a resolution to impeach Mr Trump again, accusing him of incitement of insurrection; no action need follow for 100 days.

The total number in the world who had died with coronavirus reached 1,928,531 by the beginning of the week, an increase of 85,425 from the week before. Although Britain had the highest number of dead in Europe, its mortality at 1,188 per million was not as bad as Italy’s at 1,298 or Belgium’s at 1,721. The United States, with 379,120 dead, had a mortality per million of 1,142. China placed 11 million people in the city of Shijiazhuang under Covid lockdown. Eight gorillas tested positive for the virus at San Diego Zoo, California.

Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, said: ‘Al-Qaeda has a new home base: it is the Islamic Republic of Iran.’ Prince Khalid bin Abdullah, the racehorse owner, died aged 83. A Boeing 737 with 62 on board crashed into the sea after taking off from Jakarta. Snow blanketed Madrid and temperatures fell to -25˚C at Molina de Aragón. CSH

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