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Euromillions Lottery results July 3: What are the winning numbers?

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A whopping £115 million is up for grabs in tonights Euromillions jackpot, one of the biggest amounts ever for the National Lottery. If a single person wins the jackpot this evening, it will catapult them to sixth on the National Lottery’s rich list. And, as the saying goes, it could be you.

The Euromillions is famous for making mega-millionaires of out ordinary people.

The biggest prize won in the UK was for Colin and Chris Weir, from North Ayrshire in Scotland, who won £161m in 2011.

Camelot’s Andy Carter, Senior Winners’ Advisor at The National Lottery, said: “What a big night Friday promises to be for National Lottery players.

“With that giant cheque, you’d have more than enough to change the lives of the people close to you and spend your days with your loved one.

Read More: NHS Charities Together in new partnership to raise thousands


  • Betting site launches new SUPER Jackpot worth £15million

“As always, the team is on hand to support and help guide the winner as they start their new adventure with their life-changing win.”

The EuroMillions jackpot can go up to a maximum of €190 million.

Once it reaches this level and assuming it isn’t won, it will stay at €190 Million for a further four draws until it has to be won in the fifth draw.

In the ‘must be won’ draw, if no ticket matches all five main numbers and two Lucky Star numbers, the entire jackpot prize will roll down into the prize tier where there is at least one winner – likely to be five main numbers and one Lucky Star.

Tonight’s winning numbers are:

4, 16, 27, 37, 39. Bonus balls : 3, 6

For the Thunderball, the winning numbers are: 

10, 20, 24, 34, 39 Bonus ball : 3


  • Fuel pump price ‘lottery’ as some pay almost £20 more

How can I check if I’m a winner?

Playing online via the website or app means that your ticket is checked, and you get an email notification if you win a prize.

You can also scan your retail tickets on the National Lottery App to check if you’re a winner.

If you do win big, you will be contacted by a representative from Camelot.

Around £30 million is raised every week on average by National Lottery players for projects big and small across the country.

Hundreds of millions of pounds will be distributed to charities and local voluntary organisations over the next few months to help support people through the COVID-19 crisis.

This ranges from supporting food banks to causes that combat loneliness and isolation, support for the elderly and projects that support health in the community.

The UK National Lottery was first drawn on November 19, 1994.

Half of all money spent by players goes to the prize fund, with 28 percent to good causes, 12 percent to the Government as duty and five percent to retailers.

The final five percent has operated the lottery throughout its history.

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World News

Coronavirus: Houston doctor says ‘we’re heading to pure hell’ as COVID-19 cases spike in Texas

Texas is at the centre of huge spike in coronavirus cases in the US, with hospital admissions quadrupling since the end of May.

Sky News’s special correspondent Alex Crawford has travelled to Houston, the state’s most populous city, where medics are warning that they are becoming stretched.

At the Houston Memorial Medical Centre (HMMC), one doctor told her they are “heading to pure hell”.

One of the first tasks on entering the coronavirus wing at the HMMC is to get your photograph taken.

It’s to hang around your neck so the patients can relate better to you and see what you really look like.

Because after three layers of protective tunics, double gloves, double shoe coverings, a plastic beret, two masks and a full face visor, you look more like an astronaut from the city’s famous Lyndon B Johnson Space Centre than a medic.

The medics at HMMC are not taking any chances

Strict hygiene protocols are among the reasons the hospital team can boast a 100% success rate in treating COVID-19 patients over a period which lasted longer than 80 days.

“Then the lockdown was lifted,” chief medic Dr Joseph Varon told us. “And it changed. We are getting many more patients, they are coming to us much sicker and a few are so sick, we can’t save them.”

Dr Varon says they are 'heading to pure hell'

Still, even the hospital’s reduced success rate of 96% is impressive.

But now Dr Varon, along with the state’s other doctors, is bracing himself for what’s been called the “tsunami” of infections heading this way.

They are already adapting a 30-bed wing to cope with the extra patients they believe will come in the next few weeks.

Staff attend to a patient

The number of coronavirus cases in Texas has nearly tripled in two weeks and there have been days of record high infections in the largest city, Houston.

The city streets around testing centres are filled with vehicles carrying worried people waiting to be swabbed.

Those queues are likely to be a lot longer after the weekend’s Independence Day celebrations, with the doctors frantic about how they’ll cope and city hospitals already nearing capacity.

Dr Varon took the Sky News team around the hospital’s ICU, joining the chorus of medics, scientists and politicians pleading with Texans to be vigilant in not spreading the virus.

“Because if you aren’t, you will die,” Dr Varon said.

“There’s no more Mr Nice Guy now. You must stick to the guidelines, wear a mask and keep social distances because otherwise you are going to get killed or you will kill someone else.”

The team have been trialling a new way of treating patients

Texas was one of the first states to end the stay-at-home measures in order to revive the economy – a decision which Governor Greg Abbott has admitted was a mistake.

That mistake now looks set to make the state the worst affected in the country, with Houston being the epicentre of the new epicentre.

The frustration among the medical staff is acute.

“I’ve been an emergency care nurse for 20 years,” one tells me.

“I’m passionate about my job but I can’t save everyone and if people are ignorant, and not going to take precautions, then they are going to have to die so the rest of us can live.”

A patient receiving oxygen at the hospital

Dr Varon admits he’s “thrown the kitchen sink” at trying to find new ways of beating this virus.

And now he thinks there’s a game-changer.

He and a group of medical colleagues from five different hospitals across America have created a cocktail of commonly but separately-used drugs they’re calling the Math+ protocol – and the combination is having some staggering results.

Alex Crawford speaks to a patient

Math+ includes cortisone steroid, vitamins and anti-coagulants to try to curb the key challenges caused by the virus – blood clotting and inflammation.

“We’ve been doing it for a few months now,’ Dr Varon said, and “it’s working a charm”.

He very much believes the hospital’s 100% success rate for nearly three months is down to Math+.

Inside the medical centre

But the medical team is also using other methods; among them, stem cells and a mechanically-operated “vest”, which constantly vibrates to shift the secretions caused by coronavirus.

But Dr Varon is convinced the real difference is with Maths+.

“No-one needs to die from coronavirus any more,” he said.

“This won’t cure you of coronavirus but it can stop the build-up of problems which can lead to you needing a ventilator and when that happens, your chances of survival are only about 20%.

“Putting someone on a ventilator is like signing their death warrant.

“Finally, we have an option and I think it’s going to work.”

The hospital is taking no risks with the outbreak

When I suggest that critics might accuse him of using his patients as guinea pigs, he insists he’s not worried, saying: “They have life!”

But he’s expecting to see many more thousands of infected people needing hospital help in the next fortnight.

“It will be critical and I think we are heading to pure hell.”

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World News

Trump 'not welcome' at Mt Rushmore: Native American leader

The president’s rally is met with worry over fire hazards, the coronavirus and Indigenous rights as many voice concerns.

US President Donald Trump will be an unwanted guest of the Sioux People as he begins his July Fourth celebration weekend with a massive event on Friday where masks and social distancing are not required as coronavirus cases spike across the country.

Oglala Sioux President Julian Bear Runner wrote a letter informing Trump he was not welcome ahead of the event, “due to lack of consultation” with Lakota leaders, Bear Runner said in an interview with MSNBC.

“It’s very hard for me to remain diplomatic,” Bear Runner said, considering the lack of communication and the historical importance of the mountain.

Mount Rushmore is carved into a sacred site that represents the ancestors of the Oglala and other Indigenous groups, Bear Runner explained.

The Black Hills where the monument was built also belongs to the Lakota under a treaty with the United States that tribal leaders say has been violated by the US for more than 100 years. 

The monument to former US Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln – revered as the emancipator of Black slaves but remembered by Indigenous people for his aggressive actions against Native Americans – was designed by a white nationalist and Ku Klux Klan member, reports suggests. 

Protests are expected in Keystone, the small town near the monument, amid a nationwide reckoning with racial justice and monuments to racism after the death of George Floyd. 

Chase Iron Eyes, a spokesman for Bear Runner, said protesters would like to make their voices heard at the memorial itself, but it is not clear they will be able to get close.

Security is expected to be tight, with the road leading up to Mount Rushmore shut down. The governor’s spokesperson, Maggie Seidel, would not say whether the South Dakota National Guard was being deployed, but said organisers are making sure it is a safe event.

COVID-19 concerns

Trump is expected to speak at the event, which has issued 7,500 tickets to watch fireworks that he says will be a “display like few people have seen”.

The president will likely enjoy a show of support, with the state Republican Party selling T-shirts that feature Trump on the memorial alongside George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.

But concern about the coronavirus risk and wildfire danger from the fireworks, along with protests from Native American groups, will also greet the president.

Republican Governor Kristi Noem, a Trump ally, has said social distancing will not be required during the event and masks will be optional. Event organisers will provide masks to anyone who wants them and plan to screen attendees for symptoms of COVID-19, the highly-infectious disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The Republican mayor of Rapid City, the largest city near the monument, said he is watching for a spike in cases after the event, the Rapid City Journal reported. 

“We’re going to have thousands of people, shoulder to shoulder at these events – someone in line to see a president and being able to see fireworks at Mount Rushmore – they are probably not likely to disqualify themself because they developed a cough the day of or the day before,” Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender said.

Leaders of several Native American tribes in the region also raised concerns that the event could lead to coronavirus outbreaks among their members, who they say are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 because of an underfunded healthcare system and chronic health conditions. 

“The president is putting our tribal members at risk to stage a photo op at one of our most sacred sites,” said Harold Frazier, chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. 

“Our experts … are telling us that these are necessary steps to take in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It’s not just a threat to my people, but a threat to the land … and human life,” Bear Runner said in the MSNBC interview.

Fire concerns

Several people who once oversaw fire danger at the national memorial have said setting off fireworks over the forest is a bad idea that could lead to a large wildfire. Fireworks were called off after 2009 because a mountain pine beetle infestation increased the fire risks.

Noem pushed to get the fireworks resumed soon after she was elected, and enlisted Trump’s help. The president brushed aside fire concerns earlier this year, saying: “What can burn? It’s stone.”

The National Park Service studied the potential effect of the fireworks for this year and found they would be safe, though it noted that in a dry year, a large fire was a risk.

Organisers are monitoring the fire conditions and were to decide on Friday if the fireworks are safe.

Trump made no mention of the fire danger in fresh comments on Thursday.

“They used to do it many years ago, and for some reason they were unable or unallowed to do it,” he said. “They just weren’t allowed to do it, and I opened it up and we’re going to have a tremendous July 3 and then we’re coming back here, celebrating the Fourth of July in Washington, DC.”

Trump has presided over several large-crowd events – in Tulsa, Oklahoma and at an Arizona megachurch – even as health officials warn against large gatherings and recommend face masks and social distancing.

He plans to hold a July Fourth celebration on the National Mall despite health concerns from DC’s mayor.

Trump and first lady Melania Trump plan to host events from the White House south lawn and from the Ellipse.

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World News

Norilsk: The city built by gulag prisoners where Russia guards its Arctic secrets

The drive from Norilsk airport to the city takes you past mile after mile of crumbling, Soviet-era factories.

It looks like an endless, rusting scrapyard – a jumble of pipes, industrial junk and frost-bitten brickwork. If you were looking for an industrial apocalypse film setting, this would be your place – but you’re unlikely to get the permissions.

Norilsk was built in Stalin’s times by gulag prisoners. This gritty industrial city is a testament to their endurance both of the cruelty of Stalin’s regime and of the harsh polar climate. There were no thoughts then on how to build to protect the environment, just to survive it.

Vasily Ryabinin doesn’t think much has changed, at least in ecological terms. He used to work for the local branch of the federal environmental watchdog, Rosprirodnadzor, but quit in June after exposing what he says was a failure to investigate properly the environmental impact of the gigantic diesel spill which poured into two Arctic rivers in late May.

At 21,000 tonnes, it was the largest industrial spill in the polar Arctic.

Despite the Kremlin declaring a federal emergency and sending a host of different agencies to participate in the clean-up, just last week Mr Ryabinin and activists from Greenpeace Russia found another area where technical water used in industrial processes was being pumped directly into the tundra from a nearby tailing pond. Russia’s investigative committee has promised to investigate.

“The ecological situation here is so bad,” Mr Ryabinin says.

“The latest constructions such as the tailing pond at the Talnack ore-processing plant were built exclusively by Nornickel chief executive Vladimir Potanin’s team and supposedly in accordance with ecological standards, but on satellite images you can see that all the lakes in the vicinity have unnatural colours and obviously something has got into them.”

Mining company Nornickel would disagree. It has admitted flagrant violations at the tailing pond and suspended staff it deems responsible at both the Talnack plant and at Norilsk Heat and Power plant no 3 where the diesel spill originated from.

On Thursday it appointed Andrey Bougrov, from its senior management board, to the newly-created role of senior vice president for environmental protection. It has a clear environmental strategy, provides regular updates on the status of the spill, and its Twitter feed is filled with climate-related alerts.

But what investors read is very different to the picture on the ground.

Norilsk used to be a closed city – one of dozens across the Soviet Union shut off to protect industrial secrets. Foreigners need special permissions approved by the Federal Security Service (FSB) to enter the region. It would take an invitation from Nornickel to make that happen and, for the past month since the spill, that has not been forthcoming.

Unlike in Soviet times, Russian citizens are now free to come and go. That’s why our Sky News Moscow team were able to fly in and travel around the city, even if getting to the spill site was blocked. What they were able to film provides a snapshot of the immense challenge Russia faces in upgrading its Soviet-era industrial infrastructure, particularly at a time when climate change is melting the permafrost on which much of it was built.

Just downwind from one of the rusting factories on the city outskirts is a huge expanse of dead land. The skeletal remains of trees stand forlorn against the howling Arctic winds. Sulphur dioxide poisoning has snuffed the life out of all that lived here. Norilsk is the world’s worst emitter of sulphur dioxide by a substantial margin.

“For 80km south of here everything is dead,” Mr Ryabinin says, “and for at least 10km in that direction too. Everything here depends on the wind.”

Immediately after the spill, Mr Ryabinin filmed and took samples from the Daldykan river just a few kilometres from the fuel tank which had leaked. By that point the river was a churning mix of diesel and red sludge dredged up from the riverbed by the force of the leak. Norilsk’s rivers have turned red before and the chemical residues have sunk to the bottom, killing all life there. Nothing has lived in those rivers for decades.

In his capacity as deputy head of the local environmental watchdog, Mr Ryabinin says he insisted that he be allowed to fly further north to check the levels of contamination in Lake Pyasino and beyond. Nornickel at the time claimed the lake was untouched by the spill. Mr Ryabinin says his boss encouraged him to let things be.

“I can’t be sure I would have found anything, but this sort of confrontation – making sure I didn’t go there with a camera, let alone with bottles for taking samples, it was all very clear to me. It was the final straw.”

Rosprirodnadzor refused to comment to Sky News on Mr Ryabinin’s allegations or suggestions that the agency was working hand in hand with Nornickel.

Georgy Kavanosyan is an environmental blogger with a healthy 37,000 following on YouTube. Shortly after the spill, he set out for Lake Pyasino and to the Pyasina River beyond to see how far the diesel had spread.

“We set out at night so that the Norilsk Nickel security wouldn’t detect us. I say at night, but they’ve got polar nights there now, north of the Arctic Circle. So it’s still light but it’s quieter and we managed to go past all the cordons.”

He is one of the few to have provided evidence that the diesel has in fact travelled far beyond where the company admits. Not just the 1,200km (745m) length of Lake Pyasino but into the river beyond.

He says his measurements indicated a volume of hydrocarbons dissolved in the water of between two and three times normal levels. He thinks after he published his findings on YouTube, the authorities’ vigilance increased.

Greenpeace Russia have spent the last two weeks trying to obtain samples from Lake Pyasino and the surrounding area. They have faced difficulties getting around and flying their samples out for independent analysis.

They are now waiting for results from a laboratory in St Petersburg but say the samples remain valid technically for just four days after collection and that they weren’t able to make that deadline due to the authorities’ actively obstructing their work.

Elena Sakirko from Greenpeace Russia specialises in oil spills and says this has happened to her before. This time, a police helicopter flew to the hunter’s hut where they were staying and confiscated the fuel for the boat they were using. Then a deputy for the Moscow city parliament tasked with bringing the samples back from Norilsk was forced to go back empty-handed.

“We were told at the airport we needed permission from the security department of Nornickel,” Ms Sakirko says. “We asked them to show us some law or statement to prove that this was legal or what the basis for this was, but they haven’t showed us anything and we still don’t understand it.”

Nornickel announced this week that the critical stage of the diesel spill is over. The company is now finalising dates for a press tour for foreign media and for other international environmentalists.

Mr Ryabinin thinks this should have happened weeks ago.

“If we don’t let scientists come to the Arctic region to evaluate the impact of the accident, then in the future if anything similar happens, we won’t know what to do.”

A spokesperson for Nornickel said the company “is actively cooperating with the scientific community and will meticulously assess both the causes and effects of the accident.

“We are currently focusing all our efforts on cleaning up the affected territory and safely processing whatever contaminated soil or water is collected. We expect decontamination efforts to largely be completed before the onset of winter.”

Nornickel considers permafrost thawing to be the primary cause of the accident, but is waiting for the end of investigation before making a final statement, the spokesperson said.

“In the meantime, Nornickel has implemented a series of urgent measures to increase industrial safety. Among other solutions, an advanced system for monitoring the state of permafrost is expected to be developed by the end of 2021,” they said.

“Nornickel accepts full responsibility for the incidents on its sites these past two months and holds itself accountable for any infrastructural deficits or poor decisions by personnel. The imperative is to do everything to clean up our sites, instil a stronger culture of transparency and safety in our workforce, and ensure that such situations do not occur in the future.”

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World News

Ukraine central bank chief: I quit over smears and pressure to take bad decisions

KYIV (Reuters) – Ukrainian Central Bank Governor Yakiv Smoliy said on Friday he had quit to register a protest against sustained pressure from the government and politicians to take policy decisions that were not based on economics.

Speaking minutes before parliament voted to approve his resignation, Smoliy said the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) had been pressured to cut interest rates, let inflation rise and the hryvnia lose value.

He also complained of smear campaigns against him and other central bank employees, paid rallies outside the bank and pressure being exerted on courts where the central bank was involved in legal cases.

It was the first time Smoliy has spoken at length in public since his shock resignation on Wednesday evening, which rattled the market and raised concerns among Ukraine’s Western backers about the government’s commitment to reforms.

“My resignation – this is a protest, a signal, a red line,” Smoliy told lawmakers.

“I made a difficult but necessary decision – to resign, because for a long time the National Bank has been under systematic political pressure, pressure to make decisions that are not economically justified … and can cost the Ukrainian economy dear,” he added.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office has denied that Smoliy has been put under pressure and sought to reassure investors that the central bank would remain independent under Smoliy’s successor, who has yet to be named.

Zelenskiy’s party is discussing several potential candidates and will aim to confirm the appointment in parliament between July 14 and 17, lawmaker Iryna Vereshchuk said, according to Interfax Ukraine.

The candidates include Danylo Hetmantsev, head of the parliamentary finance committee and a member of Zelenskiy’s party.

They also include the head of the central bank’s supervisory council, Bohdan Danylyshyn; Kyrylo Shevchenko, the head of the state-run Ukrgasbank, and Volodymyr Lavrenchuk, the former head of Raiffeisen Bank Aval, she added.

Smoliy’s deputy Kateryna Rozhkova took temporary charge and told reporters at a briefing that maintaining the central bank’s independence would remain a “red line”, and that it would not be pressured into printing money.

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World News

Nine Mali soldiers killed in ambush: Army

Military unit dispatched to help bury 31 victims of Wednesday’s attack on civilians was ambushed on Thursday.

Nine Malian soldiers have been killed in an ambush in the conflict-wracked centre of the country as they made their way to the site of a massacre of villagers, the army said.

The latest attack took place on Thursday at the entrance to Gouari, one of the villages where armed men killed about 30 civilians the day before.

A military unit was dispatched to the site on Wednesday to help bury the 31 bodies, army spokesman Colonel Diarran Kone told AFP news agency.

On Thursday, the army received information about a new attack and sent the unit to Gouari, he said.

“When it arrived at around 8pm, the village seemed deserted, there were practically no signs of life,” he said. “Just at the entrance, the FAMa (Malian Armed Forces) walked into an ambush,” he said, without naming who might be behind the attack.

“We regret that nine died and two were injured, and equipment was also destroyed.”

Unrest in central Mali has killed nearly 600 civilians this year, the United Nations said last month.

Clashes between the ethnic Fulani and Dogon communities have increased in recent months, with community-based armed groups – initially formed for defence – now launching attacks.

Mali is struggling to contain a multilayered and complex conflict that erupted in 2012 when ethnic Taureg separatists, allied with fighters from an al-Qaeda offshoot, launched a rebellion that took control of the country’s north.

Armed group fighters swiftly pushed over the Tuareg rebels and seized key northern cities until they were driven out in early 2013 by French troops, together with Malian forces and soldiers from other African countries.

But the fighters including some with links to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) have since regrouped and extended their operations into neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger despite the presence of thousands of national and international troops, including French and United Nations forces.

Attacks have grown fivefold between 2016 and 2020, with 4,000 people killed in 2019, up from about 770 killed in 2016, according to the UN.

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World News

Polish president accuses German-owned tabloid of election meddling

WARSAW (Reuters) – Polish President Andrzej Duda suggested on Friday that Germany was trying to meddle in the presidential election after a German-owned tabloid newspaper reported on a pardon that he granted to a man who had served his sentence in a paedophilia case.

Duda, a conservative who faces a neck-and-neck race against a centrist opponent in a presidential runoff election on July 12, was angered by reporting by the Polish tabloid Fakt.

“Does Axel Springer, a company of German descent that owns the Fakt newspaper, want to influence the Polish presidential election?” Duda, an ally of the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS), said during a campaign rally in the western town of Boleslawiec.

“Do the Germans want to choose the president in Poland?” he said.

The case, in which the pardon was granted in March, was initially reported by the Rzeczpospolita daily, but Fakt followed up with more details on Thursday.

Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, who also serves as prosecutor general, confirmed the pardon was related to a paedophilia case but said it consisted only of lifting a restraining order and the man had served out his entire sentence.

Duda had applied the law of pardon following a request of a victim who was now an adult, added Ziobro, who was shown speaking by Polish state TVP.

According to Fakt the man finished serving his sentence five years ago.

Earlier on Friday, Duda’s re-election campaign spokesman, called on the German ambassador to Berlin to talk to the owners of Fakt.

“We do not want this kind of foreign interference in the electoral process,” spokesman Adam Bielan told public radio PR1.

The German embassy referred questions to the German ministry of foreign affairs, which declined to comment.

Fakt denied meddling in the election, saying in a statement published on its website that it is run by Polish journalists and editors.

PiS has long accused foreign-owned media outlets of meddling in Poland’s affairs.

Duda’s spokespeople could not be reached for comment.

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World News

China FINALLY admits coronavirus failure as it announces crackdown on wet markets

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COVID-19 was first spotted at Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in the city of Wuhan towards the end of last year, and is widely thought to be a zoonotic illness which jumped species at some point prior to that – although the details remain unclear. Beijing has never admitted the disease originated in China, with some officials claiming it was imported from Italy or even the United States.

However, Beijing’s market watching today announced restrictions to the killing and trading of live farm animals such as chickens and ducks in the wet markets.

Chen Xu, a market-inspecting specialist, said the move was the first stage in a plan to halt the live-poultry trade altogether.

He urged all cities in the country to initiate similar procedures to identify potential safety risks.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce has admitted the outbreak exposed flaws in the design, construction and management of tens of thousands of ‘agricultural products markets’.

Hu Jianping, a deputy director at the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, said such facilities lacked proper planning or layout, with insufficient construction funds and in need of infrastructure.

In total there are an estimated 44,000 such markets across the nation, including more than 4,000 wholesale markets, she said.

JUST IN: Barnier’s ‘sabre-rattling’ shamed as EU chief tries to ‘punish’ UK

Ms Hu made her remarks at a press conference in which she was also questioned about worries over public health safety following the latest COVID-19 spike in Beijing, where 331 confirmed cases have been spotted since mid-June.

Experts blame raw meat sold at the Xinfadi, which is the city’s largest wholesale market, covering an size of more than 150 football pitches, and which has been closed since June 13.

Ms Hu, who is second-in-command at the Ministry of Commerce’s Department of Market System Development, pledged to increase the support provided to agricultural markets.

China would also introduce laws to clarify the “public welfare status”, she added.

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I think we should shut down those things right away

Dr Anthony Fauci

Critics of the notorious markets include Dr Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert.

He told Fox News: “I think we should shut down those things right away.

“It boggles my mind how when we have so many diseases that emanate out of that unusual human-animal interface, that we don’t just shut it down.

“I don’t know what else has to happen to get us to appreciate that.”

Sir Paul McCartney, a long-standing vegetarian, has described them as “medieval”.

The Beatle said: “They will not close down these wet markets, that got us into this trouble in the first place. It’s mind-boggling, right?

“It wouldn’t be so bad if this is the only thing it seems like you can blame on those wet markets.

“It seems like Sars, avian flu, all sorts of other stuff that has afflicted us … and what’s it for? For these quite medieval practices.

“They need to clean up their act.”

Wet markets remain popular in China where there is a belief that freshly butchered meat has more flavour than frozen meat.

As well as seafood, Huanan stocked live wild animals, such as foxes, crocodiles, wolf puppies, giant salamanders, snakes, rats, peacocks, porcupines, koalas and game meats, according to some reports.

Beijing issued a temporary law in February banning ban the trading and eating of wild animals in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

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Botswana top vet defends investigations into unexplained elephant deaths

GABORONE (Reuters) – Botswana’s top wildlife vet on Friday dismissed accusations from some conservationists that the government had not moved quickly enough to investigate the unexplained deaths of least 275 elephants.

Authorities said on Thursday they were still trying to find out what killed the elephants around two months after the first carcasses were spotted in the Okavango Panhandle region.

Widely-published pictures of the bodies triggered an international outcry, and some campaign groups raised questions about why tests results had not come through.

“A government investigating team has been on the ground since the first cases were reported,” Mmadi Reuben, principal veterinary officer in the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, told Reuters. “Botswana responded swiftly.”

He said local teams had carried out tests and ruled out anthrax as a cause. “We then sent samples to Zimbabwe and South Africa to test for other known pathogens or a novel pathogen,” he said.

The coronavirus crisis had delayed some samples leaving the country, he said.

Poaching has been ruled out, as the carcasses were found intact.

Botswana is home to around 130,000 elephants, a third of Africa’s total, making it a magnet for wildlife lovers.

“Elephants began dying in huge numbers in early May and the government would normally respond within days to an event of this scale,” Mark Hiley, co-founder of National Park Rescue, said on Thursday.

“Yet here we are, months later, with no testing completed and with no more information than we had at the start.”

Chris Thouless, head of research at Save the Elephants, said mass elephant deaths on this scale were almost unprecedented, save during droughts. But he said it was wrong to assume the government had been dragging its feet.

“This is pretty remote country, hearing about the carcasses, getting in there, taking a whole range of samples, knowing how and where to get them from, … that is a pretty difficult task.”

If a virus was to blame, he said the government had a limited range of options. “You’re not going to be able to get the elephants to do social-distancing, and you’re not going to be able to inoculate them.”

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World News

Priest to stand trial accused of raping woman more than 30 years ago

A priest accused of raping a woman more than 30 years ago will stand trial next year.

The Rev John Anthony Clohosey did not appear before Newcastle Crown Court due to the coronavirus pandemic, but his barrister indicated he would have pleaded not guilty if he had been at the hearing.

The 71-year-old is said to have attacked the woman in Gateshead in 1986. He was priest at Our Lady Immaculate and St Cuthbert’s RC Church in Crook, County Durham, until his suspension last year.

His trial will take place at Newcastle Crown Court on May 17, 2021, and he was bailed to live near Filey in North Yorkshire.

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