Merseyside consultant joining the global
fight against Zika virus
A Consultant at
the Royal and Fellow of Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Dr Tom Blanchard,
will be working alongside local health partners and neighbouring Universities to
provide expert knowledge and support work developing a Zika vaccine candidate.
The vaccine candidate will be based on a safe derivative of the smallpox
vaccine, which was used in the only successful campaign to date to bring about
the global eradication of an infectious disease.
The Zika virus is a mosquito borne infection, which isn't harmful in most cases.
However, there are concerns for pregnant women travelling to the Pacific region,
South and Central America, the Caribbean, and the Cape Verde Islands off West
Africa as contracting the virus has been linked to birth defects specifically,
abnormally small heads (microcephaly).
It was 1st detected in the Zika forest of Uganda in 1947, and has circulated in
Africa and South and South East Asia without many documented outbreaks reported.
In the last few years, Zika outbreaks have been reported in the Pacific region,
and the virus has now spread to South and Central America, and the Caribbean.
Dr Tom Blanchard, Consultant in Infectious Diseases said:- "The infection
can be pretty mild and people can catch it without realising. Signs and symptoms
to be aware of can include an unusual rash, joint pain, itchy eyes and a
temperature. If left untreated, the infection will usually clear within a couple
of days. However the risks to pregnant women are much more serious, as the virus
can lead to birth defects. This also means that male partners returning from
affected areas should use condoms for 28 days to avoid unwittingly transmitting
the virus, given that there is a small but definite risk of sexual transmission,
and for 6 months if they experience symptomatic Zika. It is recommended that
pregnant women postpone non essential travel to areas with active Zika virus
transmission. If you travel to an affected area, you can reduce your risk of
catching the virus by using insect repellent and wearing loose clothing that
covers your arms and legs."
The World Health Organisation has advised that Zika virus is likely to spread to
all countries in the Americas where the climate is suitable for the affected
mosquitoes. There is no known immediate threat to those living in the UK as the
climate is not suitable for the species of mosquito that transmit the infection.
Most people don't have any symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they are usually mild
and last around 2 to 7 days.
Commonly reported symptoms include:-
► A low grade fever.
► Joint pain (with possible swelling, mainly in the smaller joints of the hands
► Rash, which is sometimes itchy.
► Conjunctivitis (red eyes).
► Eye pain.
Detailed travel health advice for your destination is also available from the
National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) website or the Scottish
Travel Health Service, Fit For Travel.
Alternatively for more information on the Zika Virus can be found on the NHS
High level competition and opportunities
combine for the county's young people at the Merseyside School Games Winter
11 March to 22
March 2016 has been a highlight of the sporting calendar for around 2,000 young
people from across Merseyside, as they competed in the Merseyside School Games
Winter Festival. High level competitive opportunities were combined with the
chance to experience elite facilities and meet notable personalities from the
world of sport here in the region during the week and a ½
Run jointly by Merseyside's School Games Organisers and Merseyside Sports
Partnership, this county level event is the culmination of months of preparation
by organisers, competitors and schools alike, including intra and inter school
competitions. 19 different events took place at venues across the county, each
offering the opportunity to compete alongside champions from other Merseyside
boroughs. A diverse range of sports was included, from Basketball, Girls
Football, Handball and Gymnastics, to Netball, New Age Kurling, Sportshall
Athletics and Table Tennis.
As well as the high level competitive opportunities on offer notable highlights
► The chance to play at top venues including the Select Security Stadium Halton,
home to Liverpool and Everton Ladies, plus the Halton Regional Table Tennis
► Mentoring by two notable characters from the world of sport:- Mo Marley MBE
(Ex England International Football Player and current England U19 Women's
Football Manager) who took part in a:- 'Women in Football' press
conference alongside the Girls' Football event; plus Karen Tonge MBE (Chair of
the British Table Tennis for People with Disabilities board), who officiated the
table tennis events.
► Inspiration in the form of attendances from sporting stars, including:-
Liverpool Ladies' Vicky Jepson, Satara Murray and Mandy Van Den Berg, plus
Sporting Champion Carol Galashan Artistic Gymnast and 10m Platform Diver.
Speaking about the event Chair of the Merseyside School Games Organising
Committee, David Sweeney, said:- "It's been an incredible week and a half
of sport. The passion shown by Merseyside's young people has been unbelievable
and we hope that participating in the School Games Winter Festival will prove an
inspirational milestone for each and every 1 of them."
Full results from the Merseyside School Games Winter Festival can be found
The 2016 School Games is supported by a range of partners including the
Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Sport England, Youth Sport Trust,
Department of Health and British Paralympic Association. For more information,
including how schools can get involved, visit:-
RMT rally to defend services, safety and
jobs on eve of Northern Rail hand over to Deustche Bahn
TRANSPORT Union RMT will be holding a
rally to:- "Defend Rail Services, Safety and Jobs" at the
Mechanics Institute, 103, Princess Street, Manchester, on Thursday, 31 March
2016, the eve of the Northern franchise handover to German State operator
Deutsche Bahn. The rally, supported by RMT's sister rail unions ASLEF and TSSA,
kicks off at 6pm.
The Speakers at the RALLY will be:- Andy McDonald MP Labour MP for Middlesbrough
and Shadow Rail Minister Lisa Nandy; Labour MP for Wigan Mick Whelan; General
Secretary of ASLE&F Mick Cash; General Secretary of RMT Steve Coe; TSSA Lynn
The rally will be followed up on Friday, 1 April 2016; the 1st day of the Arriva
(DB) Franchise; with the widespread distribution of special leaflets;
highlighting the rail privatisation franchise fiasco and the nonsense of German
state operator DB taking over Northern Rail services with the threat of Driver
Only Operation, and the sacking of the guards, to rail safety, jobs and front
line passenger services.
Rail unions will be handing the leaflets to passengers on Friday, 1 April 2016
► Manchester Piccadilly Station - between:- 07.30 and
► Leeds City Station - (Wellington Street/Aire Street
entrance) - between:- 11.45 and 13.30
► Newcastle Centeral Station - between:- 16.30 and
A ceremonial German State flag will be raised outside the stations during the
protests symbolising the nonsense of the Government opposing British state
ownership of our railways while allowing the German state to bleed our
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:-
"This rotten Tory government, opposed to British public ownership of our
railways, have now awarded the Northern franchise to the German state railway
company giving them the opportunity to bleed away millions in profits to
subsidise their domestic operations. Since 2007 Northern Rail has sucked
passengers dry to pay £179 million in dividends to the previous franchise owners
Serco and the Dutch State Railway."
He the added that:- "a German Transport Ministry spokesperson admitted to
such a strategy in reference to its state owned company Deutsche Bahn, which
will now be running Northern Rail services" The spokesperson is alleged to have
commented:- "We're skimming profit from the entire Deutsche Bahn and ensuring
that it is anchored in our budget; that way we can make sure it is invested in
the rail network here in Germany."
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash then said:- "If true
this is nothing short of a national scandal and according to Rail North's own
estimates passenger demand for the North's railway will soar by 50% over the
next 15 years opening the door to even greater profiteering while at the same
time threatening to axe safety critical guards from 50% of the Northern routes.
To add insult to injury, at a time when train building in this Country is
struggling to survive, the German State operator has announced their intention
to order new trains for the franchise from a manufacturer in Spain. Something
needs to be done we need a nationalised People's Railway for the North."
Charity welcomes easier access to flood
insurance for homeowners in Lancashire
Flood Forum hopes the new Flood Re insurance scheme will alleviate the stress
and frustration previously caused by the difficulties people in high flood risk
areas in getting affordable insurance in Lancashire.
As the only charity that focuses solely on flooding, the National Flood Forum
has been working with government and the insurance industry for many years to
get a better deal for homeowners. The state backed initiative is set to launch
on 4 April 2016 and aims to help flood risk households obtain affordable
Paul Cobbing, Chief Executive of the National Flood Forum said:-
"Thousands of homeowners and residents currently struggle to get buildings and
contents insurance which creates anxiety, stress and frustration. It is hoped
that Flood Re will be the game changer that enables more people to take out
affordable insurance to protect their homes and provide peace of mind."
It is expected that the vast majority of
insurance providers will sign up to the scheme which should create a more
competitive market for consumers to shop around in.
Paul continued:- "Until now, many people in flood risk areas either
couldn't obtain or afford insurance and insurers haven't been able to offer
affordable policies in flood risk areas, as the number of flooding incidents and
size of claims increased. Through Flood Re, insurers will now be able to change
all that. Flood Re is time limited to 25 years after which flood insurance will
return to the free market. Therefore, it is critically important that we use
this opportunity to radically reduce flood risk to communities across the
country. Our level of ambition needs to increase significantly, with roles for
all parts of society including Government and the insurance industry. It is a
critical time for government and all stakeholders with an interest in flood risk
management to work together to devise and deliver a much more robust,
collaborative and ambitious plan for managing flood risk. Whatever the approach
it must serve to lessen the impact and reduce the huge cost of flooding to
individuals and the public purse."
Flood Re works behind the scenes; people will continue to deal with their
insurance companies in exactly the same way as before. They will not need to
contact Flood Re. To ensure sufficient funds are available, all domestic
property insurers operating in the UK will pay a statutory levy. This will be a
total of £180m across all insurers. In addition, all household insurance
policies will pay a small fee that will be passed to Flood Re. Policy holders
can expect to see the flooding part of their excess capped at £250 and a more
competitive market will drive down policy premiums too.
Paul said:- "We will be keeping a close eye to see how effectively the
scheme performs but we are really hopeful that it will make a big difference to
people's ability to shop around for the best deal for them. However, in order
for the scheme to work most effectively, it is important that people shop
around. We are aware however, that there is still work to be done in other areas
of insurance, particularly around small businesses who are not covered by Flood
Re but who still struggle to find affordable cover. Whilst we fully recognise
this doesn't fall under Flood Re's remit, we will continue to push for changes
to be made so that all those affected by flooding have a fair chance of getting
For more information about Flood Re please visit:-