UK issues travel warnings for Mindanao; asks citizens to be vigilant

Marje Pelayo   •   January 2, 2019   •   2421

MANILA, Philippines – The United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised British citizens against all travels to Mindanao following the bomb attack in Cotabato City on Monday (December 31).

The travel advisory covers all travels to western and central Mindanao as well as the Sulu archipelago citing ‘terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups.’

“The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the remainder of Mindanao, excluding Camiguin, Dinagat and Siargao Islands, and to the south of Cebu province, up to and including the municipalities of Dalaguete and Badian, due to the threat of terrorism,” the advisory further read.

The FCO cited the December 26, 2018 public notice issued by the United States Transport Security Administration which highlighted poor aviation security at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

“Additional security measures are in place on flights departing from this airport to the UK. You should co-operate fully with security officials. The UK keeps aviation security measures under constant review, in conjunction with international partners and the aviation industry,” the FCO said.

The advisory stressed that “terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in the Philippines, including in Manila” and these attacks can be carried out “at any time and anywhere in the country, including in places visited by foreigners, like airports, shopping malls, public transport, including the metro system, and places of worship.”

Thus, the UK government advises its citizens to “remain vigilant at all times and report anything suspicious to the local authorities.” – Marje Pelayo

UK to increase visa rights if China pursues Hong Kong security law

UNTV News   •   May 29, 2020

The United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and Canada scolded China on Thursday (May 28) for imposing a new security law that they said would threaten freedom and breach a 1984 Sino-British agreement on the autonomy of the former colony.

British foreign minister Dominic Raab said the four countries were “deeply troubled” by the decision of China’s People’s Congress, which democracy activists in Hong Kong fear could erode its freedoms and jeopardise its role as a global financial hub.

China says the legislation will aim to tackle secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference in the city but the plan, unveiled in Beijing last week, triggered the first big protests in Hong Kong for months.

Raab said Britain will give greater visa rights to British national overseas (BNO) passport holders from Hong Kong unless China suspends the proposed security laws. (Reuters)

(Production: Ben Dangerfield)

UK researchers to test dogs’ ability to sniff out COVID-19

UNTV News   •   May 18, 2020

Dogs’ ability to sniff out whether people are infected with COVID-19 before showing any symptoms will be put to the test by British researchers, in a bid to develop a fast, non-invasive means of detecting the disease.

Britain’s government said on Saturday (May 16) it had given 500,000 pounds ($606,000) towards the research, which will be conducted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Durham University and a British charity, Medical Detection Dogs.

Professor James Logan, lead researcher for the work, said the study seeks to determine whether people with COVID-19 have a distinctive body odour that could be detected by dogs in a similar way to those with malaria.

A decade of research by Medical Detection Dogs has found dogs can be trained to detect certain diseases at the equivalent dilution of a teaspoon of sugar in two Olympic-sized swimming pools.

More than 4.55 million people have been reported to have been infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 306,001 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019. (Reuters)

(Production: Hanna Rantala, Mussab Al-Khairalla)

No end to UK lockdown but some measures will be eased, says Johnson

UNTV News   •   May 11, 2020

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday (May 10) the coronavirus lockdown will not end yet, urging people to “stay alert” to the risks as he outlined plans to begin slowly easing measures that have closed down much of the economy for nearly seven weeks.

While his government was giving directions for England, it wants the United Kingdom’s other constituent nations – Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – to take the same approach. But there were immediate divisions, with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon saying she was sticking with the existing “stay at home” message.

Johnson announced a limited easing of restrictions, including allowing people to exercise outside more often and encouraging those who cannot work from home to return to their jobs.

In his address, Johnson said people should continue to work from home if they could, but from Monday (May 11) those who cannot, such people working in construction and manufacturing, should be “actively encouraged to go to work”.

From Wednesday (May 13) , people will be allowed to take unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise, he said, and can sit in the sun in their local park, drive to other destinations, and play sports with members of their own household.

Until now, people have been expected to exercise outdoors once a day, do so locally, and – despite recent spells of warm weather – told not to go to parks to sit in the sun.

Social distancing rules must still be obeyed, Johnson said, adding that fines would be increased for those who break them.

He detailed an alert system ranging from level 1, where virus is no longer present, to level 5, the most critical, that will allow the government to flag risks in different parts of England and to decrease or increase restrictions where necessary.

Johnson said that by the earliest by June 1, the government might be in a position to begin the phased reopening of shops and to get primary pupils back into schools, in stages.

At the earliest by July, and if the infection rates support it, there could be the re-opening of at least some of the hospitality industry and other public places, provided they are safe and enforce social distancing, he added.

With both the death rate and hospital admissions falling, Johnson said it would be “madness” to allow a second spike in infections.

Changes will be closely monitored at a local, regional and national level and the government would “not hesitate to put on the brakes” if there are outbreaks, he said. (Reuters)

(Production: Kristian Brunse, Aiden Nulty)

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