Grant Shapps slammed by host on Cop26 vaccine rules
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The final number could be considerably higher as the delegates will be accompanied by staff, security and other members of the Russian state entourage. A final decision on whether Mr Putin will attend the climate summit – being held in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12 – has yet to be made, the Russian ambassador to the UK has said.
Appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme this morning, Andrei Kelin said the Kremlin would be “represented at a very high level” at the summit which seeks to combat global warming by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.
He added: “We will send a large delegation and believe me it will be a delegation that will consist of more than 200 people.
“The government will be represented at a very high level.”
He also defended Russia’s efforts to decarbonise, saying “we take the issue very seriously”.
“The day before yesterday the President announced that we now have set a goal of reaching hydrocarbon neutrality by 2060.”
Despite Mr Putin’s bold promise to decarbonise his country, more pressing worries appear to focus on the effect his delegation could have on the UK’s already increasing Covid rate.
International conferences are breeding grounds for the virus – seen by a huge spike in cases after the G7 summit in Cornwall over the summer.
It was dubbed a “super spreader event” and saw increases in the surrounding area of up to 2,450 percent compared to before the summit.
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And after Russia reported 34,303 new coronavirus cases – the biggest one-day increase on record – and 997 new deaths, there are fears the Cop26 summit could have a similar if not worse effect.
Case rates have also been surging in the UK, as social distancing measures have ended and people move back towards a semblance of their pre-pandemic lives.
This combined with the possibility of Russia’s Covid spike travelling to the UK via its delegation has sparked fears of a perfect storm.
Such an eventuality could propel the UK back into a fourth lockdown – something Boris Johnson’s Government seems very keen to avoid.
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The warnings came as teaching unions accused the Government of “standing by” as cases surged.
It called on it to reinstate safety measures at schools to prevent further disruption to education this winter amid a spike among teenagers.
Prof Calum Semple, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), warned that the rapid spread of the virus among children aged 11 to 16 could mean that children reach herd immunity through infection rather than vaccination.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s not a good way to get to herd immunity.
“Commentators would usually say it’s ridiculous to aim for herd immunity using natural wild-type infection because that brings with it disease and damage to children both from acute disease and potentially long Covid.”
A total of five unions have written to Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi asking him to consider tightening safety measures in schools.
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said: “We are concerned that the government is standing by while Covid cases surge across schools.
“It is evident that more needs to be done, and sooner rather than later, to prevent further massive disruption to children’s education, caused either by children contracting Covid-19 or Covid-related staff absence.”
A COP26 spokesperson said: “We are working tirelessly with all our partners, including the Scottish Government and the UN, to ensure an inclusive, accessible and safe summit in Glasgow for delegates and local residents with a comprehensive set of Covid mitigation measures.”
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