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NEWS | UK’s COVID-19 alert level upgraded to level four

The UK’s COVID-19 alert level has been upgraded from level three to level four, meaning transmission of the virus is high or rising exponentially.

The chief medical officers of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland recommended upgrading the measure to the second-highest level due to a “rapidly” rising number of cases.

In a statement, they said: “After a period of lower COVID cases and deaths, the number of cases are now rising rapidly and probably exponentially in significant parts of all four nations.

“If we are to avoid significant excess deaths and exceptional pressure in the NHS and other health services over the autumn and winter everyone has to follow the social distancing guidance, wear face coverings correctly and wash their hands regularly.

“We know this will be a concerning news for many people; please follow the rules, look after each other and together we will get through this.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “The raising of the alert level announced by the UK chief medical officers reflects the significant shift in the current threat posed by coronavirus.

“This country now faces a tipping point in its response and it is vital everybody plays their part now to stop the spread of the virus and protect lives.

“The first line of defence has always been all of us playing our part, remembering hands, face and space, the rule of six and self-isolation of those who risk passing on the virus.”

NEWS | Three further COVID-19 cases recorded in Herefordshire as UK records 4,368 new cases

Public Health England has confirmed that a further three cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in Herefordshire, taking the total number of positive cases of the virus to 990 since the outbreak started.

In the United Kingdom, 4,368 new cases were recorded, with further restrictions expected to be announced by the Prime Minister as early as tomorrow.

Boris Johnson will chair an emergency COBRA meeting on Tuesday ahead of a statement on the next steps in tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

It comes on a day when the prime minister will also chair cabinet – and it is expected he will announce new measures designed to curb the number of COVID-19 infections.

“One thing he will do is reiterate his commitment to working together with the devolved administrations as one United Kingdom in response to the rising infection rates that we’re seeing across the UK,” the PM’s spokesman said.

NEWS | No further COVID-19 related deaths recorded at hospitals in Herefordshire

NHS England has confirmed that no further COVID-19 related deaths have been recorded at hospitals in Herefordshire, meaning that the total number of COVID-19 related deaths at hospitals in the county remains at 57 since the outbreak started.

The most recent COVID-19 related death at a hospital in the county was recorded on 15th July. 

EDUCATION | NMITE – First View Of Refurbished Blackfriars Building


New Model Institute for Technology and Engineering (NMITE)  has completed the refurbishment of its first building on its (Blackfriars) central site in Hereford which has been renovated and fitted out as learning space.    

The new building layout reflects NMITE’s vision of its future technology and engineering teaching which will be centred around the principle of ‘Learning without Lectures’ using a series of project-based ‘sprints’ in their place. The space has been configured around learners gaining knowledge from hands-on projects and working as a team rather than through conventional lectures.  

NMITE took on the site in August 2019 and has had contractors on site since (with a pause during the Covid-19 lockdown). The building, which began its life as 58 modules comprising the Olympic Delivery Authority’s offices in the Olympic Park now has capacity for 175 future learners as well as academic and support staff and, over its three floors, includes seven teaching studios, a factory (manufacturing space with a range of equipment for metal working and wood working) and library space.  Accessed through an entrance foyer with offices and facilities for student services, the building also includes four quiet study spaces, breakout spaces and offices.  Building works and fit out were undertaken by local companies E C Joseph and Bolts of Hereford respectively with the mechanical and electrical works by CF Roberts.   

Development of the site has been led by NMITE Professor, Dave Allan and Learning Resources Lead Technician, Dave Coleman.  Funding for the development was provided by Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Growth Deal with part of the grant used for the identification, sourcing, procurement, installation and commissioning of in excess of 22,000 devices, machines and specialist equipment.  Examples of the latter include a Tensile Test Machine, manufactured by Thümler, used to test and understand the properties of engineering materials and Keyence’s Automated Measurement Machine as its non-contact measurement solution is particularly useful when developing soft or flexible products.  Attention now turns to the second building on the Blackfriars site which will increase capacity to 250 future learners.    

Professor Elena Rodriguez-Falcon, President and Chief Executive of NMITE, said: “We are so excited to be able to see our plans come so successfully to life.  It’s a physical demonstration of our future vision and I think will be motivating for my team and local community alike. We look forward to the day when we can “open our doors” and start delivering our objective of developing work ready engineers.” 

Herefordshire Council own the freehold of the Blackfriars Street premises and has granted a long lease to the Department for Education. The Department for Education has subsequently granted a 50 year sub-lease to NMITE. 

NEWS | Memorial benches damaged at Hereford park

Memorial benches have been covered in graffiti at a Hereford park over the weekend. Aylestone Park posted the following on Facebook this morning.

“It is with great sadness that we find seven of our benches spoilt by graffiti this morning. We are speaking to local organisations in an effort to find the culprit and explain the heartache that this has brought to so many families. APA will be restoring the benches to their original beauty in the near future, in the meantime please PM this page should you have any information regarding the perpetrator.”

BREAKING | Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil, Newport and Blaenau Gwent to enter local lockdown

Local lockdowns in Wales announced

Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil, Newport and Blaenau Gwent will be placed under a local lockdown from 6pm on Tuesday following an increase in coronavirus cases, the Welsh Government has announced.

Health minister Vaughan Gething said many of the coronavirus cases had been linked to people socialising indoors without physical distancing.

“We are seeing evidence of coronavirus spreading,” Mr Gething told a news conference in Cardiff.

“We need to take action to control and, ultimately, reduce its spread and protect people’s health.

“It’s always a difficult decision to introduce restrictions but coronavirus has not gone away – it is still circulating in communities across Wales and, as we are seeing in parts of South Wales, small clusters can quickly cause real issues in local communities.”

The Welsh government will call an urgent meeting of all local authority, health board and police forces from Bridgend to the English border on Tuesday.

This will discuss “the wider situation in South Wales and whether further measures are needed across the region”, the government said.

Restrictions are as follows:

People will not be able to enter or leave the areas concerned without a reasonable excuse, including to work if they cannot do so from home.

Licensed premises like pubs will need to shut by 23:00 every night, with that rule also extended to Caerphilly.

People will only be able to meet others outside their own household outdoors – meetings with people from their extended households will be banned in the four areas.

NEWS | Marches GP Surgeries in Leominster and Bodenham reopen

Joint statement from Public Health England, Herefordshire Council and the CCG

Update – Monday 21 September 2020

The Marches GP Surgery in Leominster and the branch surgery at Bodenham have now re-opened.

Following testing of all staff, one further person was found to be positive for covid-19 bringing the total number of cases to six. 43 members of staff have tested negative.

Staff affected are currently self-isolating and contacts have been notified. The cases were focused in a non-clinical area and no patients have been identified as having contact with the staff affected.

The practice has measures in place to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 and ensure the safety of both staff and patients, and has been working closely with Herefordshire Council, Public Health England and the Herefordshire and Worcestershire CCG to ensure all necessary steps have been taken.

The practice remains open for phone and video consultations, prescription requests and other queries. Face to face appointments with GPs are arranged when required after a phone consultation. Nursing and health care assistant appointments are operating normally again.

To help prevent the spread of the virus we would like to remind people to wash your hands regularly, use a face covering and keep your distance to help protect yourself and others. If you develop a fever, persistent dry cough, or have a loss or change in your sense of taste or smell, please call 119 or visit www.nhs.uk to arrange a test.

BREAKING | 50,000 COVID-19 cases a day possible by mid-October if no action is taken

Science Advisors Chris Whitty & Patrick Vallance have delivered an update on the current COVID-19 situation in the United Kingdom.

They warned that since July, cases have increased across all age groups – not just down to increased testing  – testing positivity also has gone up.

70,000 currently have virus, according to ONS; around 6,000 a day becoming infected. The increase in numbers is now translating into more hospitalisations.

Sir Patrick Vallance says that the epidemic is doubling about every 7 days and if the trend continues, by mid-October we could have 50,000 cases a day. We need to cut the doubling time and reduce exponential growth.


About 8% of population, three million, “may be infected and have antibodies”.

“Vast majority” are still vulnerable to the disease, says Sir Patrick, as he warns that most people in Briton are still in danger of contracting coronavirus.

The following graphs show the geographical difference in the rate of cases across England.

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty also spoke about addressing the rate of transmission.

He says high rates are highly concentrated but there are significant rates of transmission in many parts of the UK.

“This is not someone else’s problem. This is all of our problem,” he says.

‘The seasons are against us… and we have turned a corner.”

FOOTBALL | Round Up – Hereford win friendly and Lads Club thrash Moreton Rangers

Hereford FC boss Josh Gowling was delighted with the effort that his team put in after a late goal from a trialist saw The Bulls win 1-0 in a friendly at Solihull Moors on Saturday.

With just four trialists named in the Hereford starting eleven, it was clear that Josh Gowling was getting closer to selecting his preferred starting eleven, but it was a trialist who stole the show with a 35-yard wonder strike just a minute from time that handed Hereford their second pre-season win.

Elsewhere, Westfields were beaten 2-0 in front of a bumper crowd of 260 at Binfield FC. The hosts moved to the top of the Hellenic League Premier Division following the win. Westfield dropped to 10th.

Hereford Pegasus were beaten 2-1 by Racing Club Warwick at Old School Lane in the FA Vase. A goal from Harrison Summers wasn’t enough for Pegasus to progress.

Wellington FC were incredibly unlucky in their FA Vases tie at Highgate. Wellington did well to draw 3-3 in normal time before losing 8-7 on penalties.

Hereford Lads Club thrashed Moreton Rangers 6-0 to keep the pressure on Malvern Town at the top of the Hellenic League Division West table. Goals from Tom Bendall x2, Adam Hockey x2, Adam Newbury and Olly Price securing the victory.

Photo Credit: Official Hereford FC Website

NEWS | Chief medical officer warns that UK is heading in the wrong direction with COVID-19 infections rising

Chief medical officer Chris Whitty has warned that the UK is “heading in the wrong direction” and that the country needs to take things seriously to avoid a serious second wave of the virus.

Professor Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance will deliver a televised briefing on the latest coronavirus data at around 11am this morning.

Professor Whitty said the country was at “a critical point” in the pandemic.

“We are looking at the data to see how to manage the spread of the virus ahead of a very challenging winter period,” he warned.

In Herefordshire, NHS England confirmed yesterday that no further COVID-19 related deaths have been recorded at hospitals in Herefordshire, meaning that the total number of COVID-19 related deaths at hospitals in the county remains at 57 since the outbreak started.

The most recent COVID-19 related death at a hospital in the county was recorded on 15th July. 

Two further cases of the virus have been confirmed in the county, taking the total number of positive cases of the virus to 987 since the start of the outbreak.

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