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Our baby died during lockdown – it affected our grief in so many ways | UK News

Jess Watson was seven months pregnant when the UK’s lockdown was announced.

Months earlier she had been told her baby had a 50/50 chance of survival having being diagnosed with a rare condition known as CDH.

Here, she reveals how she and husband James dealt with the loss of their son Leo after she gave birth – and the effect lockdown had on their grief.

I was almost 19 weeks pregnant when we had our first anomaly scan on 23 December.

We were having a boy.

Leo was diagnosed with congenital diaphragmatic hernia, or CDH

He was a very active baby so we had to return after Christmas because he wasn’t in the right position for his heart and stomach to be seen.

Christmas and New Year passed in a blur of celebrations and on 15 January we returned for our repeat ultrasound.

Within a few minutes the sonographer went quiet.

There was something wrong. The baby’s heart and stomach weren’t where they should be.

A lovely senior midwife came to speak with us and she called it congenital diaphragmatic hernia, or CDH.

Having had an almost textbook pregnancy first time around, we were in shock.

A few days later the fetal medicine consultant confirmed the CDH diagnosis.

Jess and James Watson with Leo
Leo was born at almost 39 weeks in Bristol

We were referred to the regional fetal medicine unit for the South West in Bristol for a second opinion.

They confirmed the hernia was large, right-sided with liver and bowel in the chest, which put us on the more severe side of the spectrum.

We were offered further genetic testing to look for any other anomalies that might have caused or be linked to the CDH.

The results came back clear so we decided to give our baby boy every chance to fight.

I was around 32 weeks pregnant when lockdown was announced. It meant that at all the remaining appointments, the discussions around induction of labour and delivery had to be done without James.

Leo was born at almost 39 weeks by planned c-section in Bristol where the specialist neonatal team could care for him.

We were able to visit him a few hours after birth once he had been put on a ventilator. He was finally here.

But by the next morning Leo had started to deteriorate.

He was already on the maximum level of support they could give him.

The day was spent with Leo whilst having difficult conversations about his care.

By early evening we knew there was nothing left to do but make sure he wasn’t in any pain.

Jess Watson pictured with his son Leo
Leo’s parents cast his hand and foot in clay

The nurses and doctors were incredible and made our last hours with him truly memorable.

We cast his hand and foot in clay, took so many pictures and told him all about his sister and the rest of his family.

We just couldn’t believe we were saying goodbye so soon without any of our family and friends around us.

Lockdown affected our grief in so many ways.

We had to register Leo’s death within five days, over the phone, but we weren’t able to register his birth until register offices opened again – almost two months later.

There were times when James felt isolated without face-to-face contact and direct support but the bereavement teams at both our local and regional hospitals, as well as CDH UK, have been able to help – albeit at a distance.

To learn more about CDH, visit https://cdhuk.org.uk/


Coronavirus: Only half of Britons say they would get a vaccine, poll reveals | UK News

Just over half of the UK would definitely get a coronavirus vaccine, with “damaging misperceptions” affecting potential uptake, a poll has revealed.

Only 53% of Britons would be certain or very likely to get vaccinated against COVID-19, researchers at King’s College London (KCL) and Ipsos Mori found.

One in six (16%) said they would definitely not get a vaccine or it would be very unlikely, the poll of 2,237 people between 16 and 75 showed.

The study found that people were more likely to reject the vaccine because of their attitudes and beliefs about science and authority than reasons related to coronavirus itself.

Young people were twice as likely not to want a vaccine, with 22% of 16 to 34-year-olds saying they would not have one – compared to 11% of 55 to 75-year-olds.

People who believe face masks are bad for people’s health and do not reduce the spread of the virus were among those who disagreed with a vaccine.

Of those who said they would not get one, 34% believe the government is trying to control the population by getting them to wear masks and 36% think “too much fuss” is being made of the pandemic.

People who are comfortable with lockdown restrictions easing and who have not found the outbreak stressful were also more likely to say no to a vaccine.

Other groups who would not want immunisation included those who say it is important they make their own decisions and “do not follow the rules”.

Where people get information about the virus was also a factor, with 27% of people who get their news from WhatsApp claiming they would be unlikely to get a vaccine.

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Professor Bobby Duffy, director of the policy institute at KCL, said: “Misperceptions about vaccines are among our most directly damaging beliefs and they’re clearly influencing people’s intentions during the coronavirus crisis.

“While one in six in the UK say they are unlikely to, or definitely won’t, get a potential vaccine, this rises to around a third or more among certain groups, with a clear link to belief in conspiracy theories and mistrust of government, authority and science.

“Vaccines are one of our greatest achievements and there is a great deal of faith that we’ll eventually develop one for COVID-19 – but more still need to be convinced of how important it could be for ending this crisis.”


UK weather: One more day of sun before nationwide thunderstorms hit | UK News

Britain will bask in one more day of blistering temperatures – before thunderstorms sweep the nation next week.

Temperatures are expected to reach 35C (95F) in Kent, Sussex and parts of London on Sunday.

But this weekend’s heatwave is set to come to an abrupt end on Monday, with the Met Office issuing a yellow weather warning for thunderstorms for the whole of the UK.

Forecasters say all of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are at risk of storms from 12am on Monday to the same time on Thursday.

But they said there is “significant uncertainty in location and timing” of where they will hit.

The Met Office’s yellow warning for Monday

Dan Harris, Met Office deputy chief meteorologist, said “the ingredients are there” for storms to strike, but “it’s just too early to pinpoint the details of exactly where and when thunderstorms will occur”.

The worst affected areas could get as much as 80mm of rain in just a few hours, he added.

And this could see homes and businesses flooded, train services cancelled and roads closed.

Thousands of people are soaking up the sun in Bournemouth
Thousands of people soaked up the sun in Bournemouth on Saturday

Sky News weather presenter Kirsty McCabe said Sunday will bring “more sunshine once early low cloud in the east clears to the coast, with the sunniest skies across northern Scotland”.

She added: “It will be very hot again in southeast England. A few showers may pop up in England and southeast Scotland, but most places will stay dry.”

In England and Wales, the mercury is expected to reach the high 20Cs and low 30Cs.

Saturday’s top temperature was 34.5C (94.1F), which was recorded at Frittenden, Kent, Wiggonholt, West Sussex, and Herstmonceux, East Sussex.

Beaches in Brighton, Bournemouth, Blackpool and Margate were packed with people, triggering major concerns over social distancing amid an apparent rise in coronavirus infections.

Friday was the hottest August day in 17 years, with health warnings put in place before the mercury hit 36.4C (97.5F) at Heathrow and Kew Gardens in London.

The record for the hottest August day ever was set in Faversham, Kent, on 10 August 2003, when temperatures there reached 38.5C (101.3F).


Border Force wants migrant boats turned around and taken back to France after crossing numbers soar | UK News

The government has said it wants to see migrant boats intercepted at sea and directly returned to France in a bid to curb recent increases in Channel crossings.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has appointed a “clandestine Channel threat commander” who will work to make the route “unviable for small boat crossings”.

Dan O’Mahoney, a former Border Force official and marine deployed to Kosovo and Iraq, will work with the French to explore what tougher action can be taken including “adopting interceptions at sea and the direct return of boats”.

Britain wants Paris to stop more small vessels heading to England and take them back to French ports, rather than shepherding them onward until they reach British waters.

A government source told Sky News on Saturday that a “passive blockade” in the Channel was being considered, with the Ministry of Defence being asked for assistance by the Home Office amid reports the Navy could be brought in.

A group of migrants are seen sat against a Border Force van waiting to be processed in Kent

Immigration minister Chris Philp will meet his French counterparts next week as he seeks to shut down the Calais-to-Britain route completely.

It comes after recent calm conditions prompted a huge surge in people trying to make the journey.

Kent County Council has said that 400 migrant children have been taken into its care this year, including 60 in the first week of August and 23 on Friday alone.

A pregnant woman walks near the coast of Dungeness after arriving in the UK. Pic: Susan Pilcher
A pregnant woman walks near the coast of Dungeness after arriving in the UK this week. Pic: Susan Pilcher

Ministers are believed to be looking at surveillance, reconnaissance and command controls as potential ways of reducing crossings.

But Helen Baron, a solicitor who is representing a number of migrants who arrived in the UK by boat, says the tactics are illegal and could risk lives.

“It’s completely illegal under international law and it’s deeply concerning that these kind of statements are coming out of government, they must know it’s completely against the law”, she said.

Some 4,000 migrants have already crossed the channel this year with more arriving during the clear weather this week.

UK heatwave allows more migrants to cross the Channel

Former Labour shadow home secretary Diane Abbott commented: “The danger is that if you try and blockade these boats, which are mostly rubber dinghies and mostly steered by people who are not experienced sailors, then the boats tip over and people die.”

But Ms Patel said: “The number of illegal small boat crossings is appalling.

“We are working to make this route unviable and arresting the criminals facilitating these crossings and making sure they are brought to justice.”

Border Force representatives meet migrants at Kingsdown in Kent

Migrants met by Border Force in Kent

On Saturday morning in Kingsdown in Kent, a boat carrying 14 people – including two pregnant women and a child – arrived on the shore, an eyewitness told Sky News.

She said: “A pregnant lady had to be assisted off by the ambulance service to go to hospital because she was clearly about to give birth.

“It was a mad show… I’ve never seen anything like that in my time. It was literally just random and just popped up on shore… All the border patrol and the coastguard were coming down at the same time because they caught them all at the same time when they got in.”

Witness describes seeing the arrival of migrants in a dinghy on a beach in Kent

Migrants beach landing ‘was a mad show’

Another dinghy with 12 people on board was later filmed being intercepted by a Border Force patrol boat.

A vessel carrying 19 people and a migrant in a wheelchair was also among those seen being brought ashore at Dover this weekend.


Coronavirus: PM says it is a ‘national priority’ to get all pupils back to school in September | Politics News

Boris Johnson says it is a “national priority” and a “moral duty” to get all pupils back in class next month, raising the prospect of closing shops, pubs and restaurants in local lockdowns to allow schools to stay open.

In a newspaper article, the prime minister writes that “social justice demands” that classrooms are full again, and says education is crucial for children’s welfare and future – especially the most disadvantaged.

He warns of the “spiralling economic costs” of parents and carers being unable to work, adding: “Keeping our schools closed a moment longer than absolutely necessary is socially intolerable, economically unsustainable and morally indefensible.”

The prime minister has spoken of ‘a moral duty’ to get all children back in class

Mr Johnson is understood to favour only closing schools as the last resort after scientific advisers warned further interventions may be needed to reopen classrooms in England next month.

Children’s commissioner for England Anne Longfield had said the reopening of schools “should be prioritised”, insisting they must be first to reopen and last to close during any reintroduction of restrictions.

But schools minister Nick Gibb said this week that the government could not “decree” that classroom education would be prioritised, instead saying decisions would be made by local health chiefs.

Jonathan Ashworth MP

Shadow health secretary: School reopening should be ‘national priority’

However, a Number 10 source said on Saturday that Mr Johnson’s expectation is that schools would be the last sector to close, with businesses being shut first in the event of severe local lockdowns.

“The PM has been clear that businesses including shops, pubs and restaurants should be forced to close first, with schools remaining open for as long as possible,” the source said.

Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, warned last week that the nation has “probably reached near the limit or the limits” of what can be done to reopen society safely.

And Professor Neil Ferguson, whose modelling led to the decision to impose the lockdown, suggested ministers would need to “row back on the relaxation of restrictions” to allow a full-time return to schools while keeping the virus under control.

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Regarding getting all pupils back, Mr Johnson writes in the Mail on Sunday: “This pandemic isn’t over, and the last thing any of us can afford to do is become complacent. But now that we know enough to reopen schools to all pupils safely, we have a moral duty to do so.”

He says the “costs of school closure have fallen disproportionately on the most disadvantaged, the very children who need school the most”, and time out of class leads to lower academic attainment on average, affecting “future life chances”.

There is a concern, he writes, that “some will tumble out of education, employment or training altogether, never to return”.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said school attendance will be 'mandatory from September'

‘School attendance mandatory from September’

He also says the “less children are in school, the worse it is for their health”.

Citing Sport England, the PM says a third of children have done less physical activity in lockdown, “with many suffering from poorer mental health”.

While the PM warns about complacency, he also points out that scientists have “learned more about how the virus spreads and how we can control it”.

He says Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) scientists have advised that the risk of children becoming severely ill with COVID-19 is low.

He adds that the government has “worked closely with teaching unions and school leaders on measures to ensure our schools are COVID-secure”.


Sideman quits BBC over use of racist term in news report | UK News

A BBC radio DJ has quit after the corporation used a racist slur in a news report, which he said felt like “a slap in the face to our community”.

1Xtra presenter Sideman announced his immediate departure from the station on social media following the report, which contained the N-word.

The story saw social affairs correspondent Fiona Lamdin repeat the word, which was allegedly used in a racially-motivated attack in Bristol.

The BBC defended using the N-word but admitted it knew it caused offence

It ran on the BBC News Channel and local news programme Points West on 29 July, but the broadcaster stopped running it later that day.

In a video posted on Instagram, Sideman, real name David Whitely, said: “This is an error in judgement where I can’t just smile with you through the process and act like everything is okay.

“I’m happy working with organisations until we all get it right, but this feels like more than getting it wrong”, he continued.

“The action and the defence of the action feels like a slap in the face to our community.

“With no apology I just don’t feel comfortable being aligned with the organisation.”

On Thursday, the BBC said it had received 18,656 complaints over the news report.

A spokesman said: “The BBC set out the context of the news report about the shocking attack on an NHS worker in Bristol.

“As we have said, the word is highly offensive and we completely accept and understand why people have been upset by its use.

“The decision to use the word was not taken lightly and without considerable detailed thought: we were aware that it would cause offence.

“But, in this specific context we felt the need to explain, and report, not just the injuries but, given their alleged extreme nature, the words alleged to have been used – a position which, as we have said, was supported by the family and the victim.”

Sideman said he had enjoyed his time at the BBC and has had “great opportunities”, but added: “Money and opportunity doesn’t outweigh the dissatisfaction that I feel with this situation.

“This is wild to me, especially in the current social climate, and I can’t make any sense of it no matter how much I think about it, so I think it is time that I left.”

A spokesman for Radio 1Xtra said: “Sideman is an incredibly talented DJ. Obviously we are disappointed that he has taken this decision.

“We absolutely wish him well for the future. The door is always open for future projects.”


Coronavirus: People adapting to new restrictions in Preston | UK News

In the first 24 hours of tighter restrictions in Preston it seemed most people, but not all, were buying into the council’s new public health campaign.

Officials are targeting the under-30s who are disproportionately catching and spreading coronavirus in the area.

But in a city centre charity shop three bare-faced twenty-somethings could be seen huddled together for a lunchtime catch up.

While in a nearby nail bar a bored-looking young woman was waiting her turn, sitting a seat apart from other customers, but with her mask perched ineffectively under her nose.

“Don’t Kill Granny” is the stark plea officials hope will change behaviour among the under-30s who make up half the area’s recent spike in COVID-19 cases.

Young people are being blamed for a spike in coronavirus cases in the north of England

The messaging campaign was launched as Preston joined areas already under tighter restrictions across the north in East Lancashire, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire.

In all of them, mixing with other households outside a support bubble is banned in houses, gardens and public indoor spaces including pubs and restaurants.

By early Saturday evening, licensing officer PC Julie Stewart was masked up in the city centre with more than two dozen of her Lancashire Constabulary colleagues, tasked with enforcing the new rules.

PC Julie Stewart talks to staff at Preston’s 1842 bar

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On the quiet streets it was not an onerous task, following a similar operation on Friday night that by midnight had resulted in only two arrests for offences unconnected to the pandemic.

Whatever activities are driving the rise in virus transmission in Preston, PC Stewart is convinced it is not pubs and bars.

“As you can see, everybody sits apart, everybody’s friendly,” she said.

“Maybe it’s from house parties, we’ve been to several of those over the past few months.”

Jemma Whewell (left) was out for drinks with her five housemates

In the socially distanced 1842 bar, university student Jemma Whewell, 25, was drinking with five housemates, in accordance with the new regulations.

She blames the local lockdown on the premature relaxation of nationwide restrictions.

“The bans were lifted too soon and now they’ve been taken back, so it makes it a little bit harder for everyone,” she said.

Public health messaging is visible throughout Preston city centre

Jemma Knight, 23, enjoying a drink with her sister Ellie at a table on a cobbled pavement, was broadly supportive of the new rules.

“Maybe it’s questionable what difference there is in meeting in a garden and a park, but I understand that they’ve got to do something,” she said.

Preston’s new restrictions are in place until at least 14 August, with the council warning of potential fines, and threatening further restrictions if the rate continues to climb.


Man paralysed after being tasered by police ‘traumatised’ by ordeal | UK News

A 24-year-old black man who was left paralysed after being tasered by police as he jumped over a wall has told Sky News he has been left “traumatised” by the ordeal.

Jordan Walker-Brown was paralysed from the chest down after he fell while being pursued by two officers on 4 May in Haringey, North London.

“It’s been mad”, he said. “Just waking up every morning and thinking ‘if I can walk again’, it’s traumatising, to be honest. It’s crazy.

“I can’t believe this is my life now.”

A Metropolitan Police officer who discharged his Taser is under investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct for the alleged offence of causing grievous bodily harm.

Mr Walker-Brown was one of hundreds of protesters carrying placards outside Tottenham Police station on Saturday to mark the ninth anniversary of the 2011 London riots, sparked by the death of Mark Duggan.

The 29-year-old was shot dead by police after officers believed he was carrying a gun. His death led to protests in Tottenham, which spread across the UK, becoming the biggest riots in modern British history.

“I don’t really go out a lot, but I had to come out today,” said Mr Walker-Brown.

Jordan says he has been left ‘traumatised’ by the incident

“People coming out to support the neighbourhood is good. There is a lot going on right now. It’s nice to see everyone out.”

According to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), he was being chased when officers drew their Tasers as he jumped over a wall, which was 4ft (1.21m) high on one side and had a 6ft (1.82m) drop on the other.

One of the officer’s discharged the weapon as he fell and landed on a canal towpath.

He spent several months in hospital, and now depends on a wheelchair.

“Just look at me. You can see the impact. Everyone has been hit by it. There are days people want to see me, but they can’t see me because they are scared to see me go through this,” he said.

“It’s crazy for my family. But there is a lot of support around me and that’s what I am grateful for. It’s mad. The way to explain it, is it’s traumatising.”

His mother Nadia and younger brother stood by him as he spoke out about his recovery.

Jordan has been left paralysed from the chest down
Jordan has been left paralysed from the chest down

“I have got to keep positive. I have got no choice. I celebrated my 24th birthday in hospital. But I just pray on this and whatever comes I’m taking it each day,” he said.

The Metropolitan Police said Mr Walker-Brown was arrested for possession of cannabis with intent to supply and taken to hospital.

“I’m just hoping to get justice out of this,” he said.

“I want the police officer or officers who done this, so I can do better in life. I want justice.”

The IOPC investigation is examining the cause of the 24-year-old’s injuries and whether his race played a part in the decision to stop him.


Police called to stabbing on Oxford Street in central London | UK News

Police were called to Oxford Street in central London after a person was stabbed in the world famous shopping district.

Scotland Yard said it responded at about 5.40pm on Saturday after getting reports of a stabbing at the junction with Market Place, not far from Oxford Circus Tube station.

“Officers attended and found a male suffering from a stab injury,” it said in a tweet.

The injured person was taken by ambulance to a central London hospital.

There have been no arrests and the victim’s current condition is unknown.

The street was partially closed after the stabbing, reports said.

Anyone with information is asked to call 101 quoting Cad 6404/08Aug.


Coronavirus: Disposable face masks creating new plastic pollution crisis, experts warn | UK News

Single use personal protective equipment (PPE) is significantly adding to the already serious plastic pollution crisis, experts have warned.

An estimated 194 billion disposable masks and gloves are being used worldwide every month as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a study in Environmental Science and Technology.

Most single use PPE is made from a variety of plastics, including polypropylene, polyethylene and vinyl.

PPE is now common among plastic bottles and packaging polluting our rivers and oceans

Volunteers across the UK have seen a “massive” rise in the amount of littering on high streets, beaches and in canals and rivers as a result of single use masks, according to Friends of the Earth.

Disposable plastic masks that end up at sea could take up to 450 years to fully decompose and leave the marine ecosystem, according to Waste Free Oceans, which says it collects and recycles marine litter by collaborating with fishermen and businesses.

Even when disposed of correctly, it is claimed PPE cannot be recycled, as it is considered medical waste.

It ends up either in landfill, or being incinerated, which can lead to toxic fumes and contributes to climate change.

More from After The Pandemic

With wearing masks now mandatory in shops, museums and on public transport, conservationists are urging those who are not considered high-risk, to buy reusable masks to help cut down on potentially tens of thousands of tonnes of extra plastic waste.

This face mask was discarded in a hedgerow in Whitley Bay
This face mask was discarded in a hedgerow in Whitley Bay
An increasing amount of PPE is being discarded on the UK's streets and parks. File pic
An increasing amount of PPE is being discarded across the UK. File pic

“The most important thing for all of us is health and to stop the virus spreading,” said Julian Kirby from Friends of the Earth.

He added: “But most of us are not in the high-risk category, and the government advice is clear that we should be using reusable face masks.

“We can reduce the amount of plastic we are using and still look after our health”.

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Certain single use respirators and plastic gloves do offer significantly more protection for those who are vulnerable.

Before the pandemic, the UN estimated that 13 million tonnes of plastic waste enters the world’s oceans every year.

Campaigners in France have warned that if single use masks continue being used at the current rate, there could soon be more masks in the Mediterranean than jellyfish.


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