Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: Covid retreats, raves resume and a £165,000 squid

8 May 2021

9:00 AM

8 May 2021

9:00 AM


‘I think we have got a good chance of being able to dispense with the one-metre-plus from 21 June,’ Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, remarked. By the beginning of the week, 29 per cent of the adult population had received both doses of coronavirus vaccination; 65 per cent the first dose. In the seven days up to the beginning of the week, 107 people had died, bringing the total number of deaths (within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus) to 127,534. Maldon in Essex reported three cases per 100,000 people, which meant only two people in the whole district. Care home residents in England were allowed to make outdoor visits without having to self-isolate for 14 days on their return. In a medical experiment, 3,000 young people were lured into a Liverpool warehouse for a rave with no social distancing, to see if any could be infected with Covid-19. Manchester United’s game against Liverpool was postponed after 200 fans broke into the Old Trafford ground, from which coronavirus had excluded them, to protest against the Glazer family’s ownership of the club; a policeman’s face was gashed with a broken bottle. Visiting London for the G7 summit, Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, said that America had ‘no closer ally, no closer partner’ than Britain.

More than four million people in Scotland over 16, including short-term prisoners and resident foreigners, were invited to elect 129 members of its parliament. More than six million people in London could vote for 25 members of its assembly and a mayor. In Wales fewer than 2.5 million people elected 60 members of its Senedd. In English local councils elections, the Conservatives defended 2,052 seats and Labour 1,621. Twelve mayors were to be directly elected. There was also a parliamentary by-election in Hartlepool. Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the opposition, said: ‘I take full responsibility for the results.’

Two former paratroopers accused of the murder of an Official IRA man in 1972 were acquitted after their trial collapsed because evidence was inadmissible. In a message to Northern Ireland on the centenary of the partition of Ireland, the Queen said that ‘continued peace is a credit to its people’. Sir Jeffrey Donaldson challenged Edwin Poots for the leadership of the Democratic Unionist party after the resignation of Arlene Foster. The final episode of Line of Duty was watched by 12.8 million, compared with 13.6 million for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral. The walrus that had taken to basking on a slipway at Tenby in Pembrokeshire was shooed away with an airhorn to allow the lifeboat to be launched.


The total in the world recorded to have died with coronavirus reached 3,206,145 by the beginning of the week. India had many new cases daily and many dying in cities where hospitals could not cope. So far, India had suffered only 157 deaths per million population. Australia said it would jail any of its citizens who tried to return from India. Hungary had seen 2,844 deaths per million, the worst rate in the world. The United States, with 590,856 deaths, saw a decrease in new deaths because of vaccination, 146 million people having received at least one dose, including about 103.4 million fully vaccinated by Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine, out of an adult population of 209 million. Munich cancelled the Oktoberfest for a second year.

German police said they had uncovered a site on the dark web called Boystown on which images of child abuse were shared among 400,000 users; three men were arrested in Germany and one in Paraguay. In Israel 45 men and boys died in a crush at a pilgrimage to Mount Meron. A metro train crashed from a bridge that collapsed on to a busy road in Mexico City, killing 23. Bill and Melinda Gates said they were to divorce after 27 years. Jose Mourinho is to manage Roma.

Iran was in talks about the £400 million that Britain owes it for tanks undelivered in the 1970s, but Britain denied that it had paid the debt or that this was connected with the holding of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe by Iran. Jihadists killed about 30 people in the village of Kodyel in Burkina Faso, in a continuing Islamist crisis in the Sahel. In Japan, the fishing town of Noto spent a £164,700 emergency Covid-19 relief grant to build a 43ft statue of a squid, in the hope of reviving tourism. CSH

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