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Outbreak of rare deadly black fungus among Covid-19 patients spreading from India to Pakistan

City of London News Stream by Cityam - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 19:22

Media in Pakistan are reporting that hospitals in the South Asian country are treating Covid-19 patients suffering from a rare black fungus, following dozens of cases in India in recent days.

“We have seen at least five cases of Mucormycosis also called, Black Fungus, among serious Covid -19 patients under treatment. At least four patients died due to this complication,” a physician dealing with Covid -19 patients at a tertiary-care hospital in Karachi disclosed to local newspaper The News earlier today.

Read more: Hospitals across India report Covid-19 patients with rare deadly black fungus that decays brains and lungs

India outbreak

In recent days, dozens of hospitals across India started to report cases of Coronavirus patients being hit by the rare fungal infection which has a mortality rate of about 50 per cent.

Symptoms of Mucormycosis, the extremely rare infection, which causes vital organs to rot, include the brain, lungs and sinuses.

According to a report earlier this week in The Hindustan Times, one of India’s largest newspapers, the country’s governmental Council of Medical Research warned doctors in recent days to look out for symptoms, such as blackening or discolouration over the nose, blurred or double vision, chest pain, toothache and loosening of teeth, breathing difficulties and coughing blood.

Read more: Pfizer vaccine not strong enough to resist South African Covid variant: study

The fungus is usually found in decaying fruits and vegetables and certain soils, often at markets and in agricultural settings.

Covid-19 surge

Before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Mucormycosis was close to non-existent, with only a few known cases reported every year.

However, since Covid-19 spiralled out of control in India last month, hospitals and clinics have started to report multiple cases a day, according to The Indian Express newspaper.

Some doctors have had to remove infected jaw bones, noses and eyes in order to save patients, namely to prevent the mucor from spreading to the brain.

“Mucormycosis is now playing absolute havoc. We are seeing four to five new patients every day and have around 35 patients still admitted,” Dr Prashant Rahate, the chairman of Seven Star Hospital in the city of Nagpur, told The Telegraph on Monday.

The hospital has reportedly treated more black fungus patients than any other clinic in India.

According to data from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, black fungus has a mortality rate of around 50 per cent. Early diagnosis and treatment significantly improve survival chances.

Read more: Norway to drop AstraZeneca jab from vaccination programme

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Categories: City of London

Will you show up? UK hotels fear last-minute cancellation chaos this summer

City of London News Stream by Cityam - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 18:19

Holidaymakers are holding on to their UK hotel bookings for this summer, with cancellations rates currently running at just 4 per cent, far below the usual 30 per cent levels.

However, rather than this being good news for the industry, there are fears of a late surge of cancellations, as people ditch their UK booking at the last minute in favour of a holiday abroad, according to data from hotel technology provider Avvio, shared with City A.M. this evening.

“Many holidaymakers have booked both a foreign holiday and a UK stay and our data shows they’re often holding on to both,” Avvio’s chief commercial officer, Michael De Jongh, explained.

Read more: Brits favour beach holidays over city breaks as the return of travel nears

“If they decide at the last minute to risk a holiday abroad, a late rush of cancellations in the UK would create chaos across the whole industry as hotels scramble to fill their suddenly vacant rooms. Many of these just won’t be filled, resulting in tens of millions of pounds in lost revenue,” he said.

Moreover, De Jongh stressed it is not just about holidaymakers booking both a stay abroad and one in the UK.

“There’s also a growing trend of booking rooms at multiple UK hotels, with a view to cancelling all but one at the last minute. This causes incredible problems for hotels, in the same way as multiple restaurant bookings did during Eat Out To Help Out,” he concluded.

Read more: Consumer spending grew in April as high streets and hospitality reopened

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Categories: City of London

Arthur Beale: Sailing goods business closes shop after 500 years

BBC London News Feed - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 17:40
The Arthur Beale store, which sells specialist marine supplies, says the pandemic has forced its closure.

30-year-olds to receive Covid-19 jabs in England from tomorrow

City of London News Stream by Cityam - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 17:25

NHS England has announced that people in their 30s will be able to book an appointment for a Covid jab from tomorrow, May 12, as the vaccine rollout in the UK continues.

NHS sources are widely reported to have said that they aim to give all adults at least one dose by the end of July.

Read more: Under-40s in Britain to be offered alternative to Astrazeneca vaccine

Those under 40 will be offered the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, as an alternative to the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab which has been linked to extremely rare blood clots. 

They will be able to book appointments online, starting from 7am tomorrow while people in their late 30s will receive an invitation to book via a text message.

As of Tuesday, 35.7 million first doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been given in the UK, with a further 18 million second doses, according to government statistics – bringing the total number of vaccinations given to over 54 million. 

Read more: New: Zero Covid-19 deaths registered in England today

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Categories: City of London

80 per cent of BP shareholders reject climate proposals to reduce emissions

City of London News Stream by Cityam - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 17:16

Shareholders have voted against a plan that would have forced BP to strengthen its climate commitments.

More than 79 per cent of investors voted against a resolution proposed by shareholder group Follow This, which pushes oil companies to reduce their emissions. BP said that 20.6 per cent of votes were in favour of the plan.

After the result was finalised, the company said: “We will continue to engage with shareholders on our strategy, targets and aims so as to ensure their views are fully understood.”

Follow This said that BP’s targets are not consistent with the 2015 Paris climate change agreement, and criticised the company’s net zero target for not including one of its major investments.

Read more: Barclays to offer climate vote to investors next year

However, it was unable to convince enough shareholders to back a resolution that would have forced BP to publish targets consistent with Paris, and would limit global warming to below 2°C. It also called for annual reports into what BP is doing to decarbonise.

However, shareholders listened to BP’s board, which recommended them to vote against the resolution at today’s annual general meeting.

Paris climate accord

BP said it already has a Paris-consistent strategy that will cut the carbon intensity of products it sells in half by 2050.

Part of the disagreement comes to how a business can figure out whether it is following the Paris targets.

“There is no single path to Paris, and there is no single metric that measures Paris consistency,” chief executive Bernard Looney said during the shareholder meeting.

The company said that the Follow This resolution would force it to go back to the drawing board on strategy, targets and aims, and “would disrupt our business plans.”

Read more: Legal & General backs activist investor over Exxon climate concerns

However, Follow This said: “This is exactly what shareholders should request of BP by voting in favour of resolution 13: BP should go back to the drawing board and disrupt its current business plans which involve an increase in emissions.”

At the meeting Looney was also pushed by shareholders over why he did not include BP’s stake in Russia’s Rosneft as part of its net zero targets. Rosneft is a major oil producer, yet BP has totally excluded it from the climate goals.

Chairman Helge Lund said that BP only owns a 20 per cent stake in Rosneft, so cannot unilaterally make climate decisions. The controlling owner of Rosneft is the Russian government.

Looney added: “The world is going to be using oil and gas for some time”, adding that “Rosneft’s greenhouse gas intensity is lower than most major oil companies.”

Read more: Extinction Refinancing: Banks are the next generation of climate activists withholding funding for carbon-heavy businesses

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Categories: City of London

Ex-Met Police sergeant sentenced for sex messages to woman

BBC London News Feed - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 16:30
Syed Ali sent nearly 500 texts to a woman who he had only spoken to years before as a witness.

‘Ramadan is all about charity’

BBC London News Feed - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 16:00
This Eid al-Fitr is very special for Zaavier, who has been fasting for the very first time this Ramadan.

Exclusive: Medical cannabis company chaired by former Lord Mayor of London to float on LSE

City of London News Stream by Cityam - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 15:30

Hellenic Dynamics, a medical cannabis cultivation business, plans to list on the London Stock Exchange next month, in a move likely to give the budding business a valuation of £50m.

The group will list on the main market of the London Stock Exchange via reverse takeover into a shell company.

“What we were looking for was a way of listing successfully, but also having enough oomph in our listing to accelerate our plans,” Hellenic Dynamics vice president and CEO Davinder Rai told City A.M.

Formed in early 2019, the company focuses on growing, exporting and selling THC-dominant dried cannabis flowers to markets like Germany, where there is demand for the products and the flowers can be legally imported.

“As soon as Kanabo listed in London we were getting phone calls from our lawyers saying, ‘look, London is open, London is going to be the place that a number of cannabis companies will end up listing, and you’d be in very good company if you listed in London,” Rai said.

“I’m hopeful we become the first European cultivator to get onto that exchange.”

Hellenic’s incoming chairman is Sir Anthony Joliffe, who Rai said has significant listed company experience, as well as being the former Lord Mayor of London.

FCA approval

In September, the Financial Conduct Authority allowed medicinal cannabis companies to list on the LSE, opening up the UK market to a growing sector already popular in North America.

Read more: Back of the net: Beckham-backed cannabis company scores soaring market debut

The regulator’s green light led to a flurry of activity, with companies like Kanabo Group and MGC Pharmaceuticals enjoying profitable market opens.

Hellenic Dynamics could be the next in line to take advantage of London’s new regulatory framework.


In the UK, cannabis products on the shelves that can be bought without prescription must contain no THC, or technically nothing more than 0.01 per cent.

However, cannabis medicine with more than 0.01 per cent THC is available via prescription from a licensed pharmacy, meaning Hellenic’s products can be precribed in the UK, but not sold on the shelves.

Read more: Will London’s budding cannabis market turn the EU green with envy?

According to Hellenic Dynamics, THC content of 18 per cent and above is the norm, and in Germany, the most requested cannabis products from doctors and pharmacists are those with THC of over 21 per cent. 

Hellenic Dynamics vice president and CEO Davinder Rai

The company grows its plants in a 200,000-square metre ex-military bunker in Northern Greece, but is headquartered in London.

The CEO quipped that he thought there was something “very romantic about growing cannabis in an ex-bunker.”

Read more: Exclusive: Purity Hemp CEO on the UK’s fast-growing medical cannabis market

Journey so far

Rai said he first became involved in the cannabis industry when his father, a kidney transplant patient, faced serious health problems. One of his transplanted kidneys had become cancerous and as a result Rai’s father was put on a heavy course of opioids for pain management.

“You could see that the pain treatment really wasn’t touching the sides,” the CEO said.

“My mother was beside herself, and it was around that time that I’d been reading so much about cancer and cannabis, that if there was a way that he could have accessed cannabis then, I guarantee to you that his recovery would have happened faster, because the side effects that he was having with the opioid medicine… Well I think he’d have rather had had the cancer.”

Rai said the UK issues more opioid prescriptions per capital than anywhere else in the world.

He said in North America, in states that have legalised medical cannabis, opioid prescriptions have fallen by about 30 per cent.

Read more: NBA star Chris Webber partners with asset manager to launch $100m cannabis impact fund

“I really think as a pain management medicine [cannabis] has more of the benefits with far less of the side effects,” he added.

Medical cannabis on a prescription basis is used for conditions including chronic pain, intractable chemotherapy-related nausea, PTSD, anxiety, insomnia, tourette’s syndrome, substance use disorder, multiple sclerosis, IBS and spinal cord treatment.

The cannabis industry is calling for a further easing of restrictions on medical use of the drug, arguing that the sector is being held back from creating thousands of jobs as uptake remains low three years after being legalised in the UK.

Read more: City watchdog to consult on changing listing rules for SPACs

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Categories: City of London

Concerns increase for mother of baby found dead in canal

BBC London News Feed - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 15:26
The newborn girl was found by a paddle boarder in the Grand Union Canal on Sunday.

Heathrow Airport could divert aircraft to ease crowding

BBC London News Feed - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 14:37
Contingency plans are being made to divert passengers to other UK airports or EU hubs due to border queues.

Boris Johnson confirms working from home advice set to be scrapped on 21 June

City of London News Stream by Cityam - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 12:57

Boris Johnson has confirmed the government will scrap its work from home advice on 21 June if its roadmap out of Covid restrictions goes to plan.

The Prime Minister told MPs today that he is confident office working will come back en-masse and that “I think it’ll come back remarkably quickly, but it does depend on keeping the virus down”.

When asked by a Tory backbencher if the work from home advice will be dropped on 21 June, Johnson said: “That is certainly our intention provided we stay on track, but I want to be sure that people will wait until we’re able to say that with more clarity later on, because we must be guided by what’s happening with the pandemic.

Read more: Investors sit on record levels of dry powder, says Silicon Valley Bank’s UK boss

“She’s so right about London and the dynamism of London and indeed any of our great cities that do depend on people having the confidence on going to work.”

The government’s roadmap lists 21 June as the target to lift most if not all Covid restrictions, however it was subject to reviews on several issues.

These included Michael Gove-led reviews into social distancing and the future of work.

Johnson’s comments today are the clearest indication yet that people will be encouraged to go back into their offices from this summer.

Read more: Goldman Sachs director quits after making millions from Dogecoin

Boost for bricks and mortar businesses

The news will be a boon to many bricks and mortar businesses in central London that have suffered from low footfall and intermittent lockdowns over the past 14 months.

Newly re-elected mayor of London Sadiq Khan made getting people back into central London his top priority as he got sworn in for a second term on Monday.

He launched the £6m Let’s Do London campaign in bid to kickstart the city’s economy by getting domestic tourists back to the capital.

Read more: Brexit hit: City of London suffers £2.3 trillion derivatives loss in a single month

This has so far included new artworks by world renowned British artist David Hockney on the Tube and is set to include a number of events and new advertisements.

“The work begins anew today to refresh and reignite our city and to kick-start our economy as London continues to reopen,” Khan said.

“This includes making jobs, jobs, jobs a top priority and banging the drum for London to attract the jobs, tourism and investment our city needs.”

Read more: King Khan: Mayor wants City Hall stay to last until 2040

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Categories: City of London

Nick Phipps: London Irish scrum-half agrees new contract

BBC London News Feed - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 12:51
London Irish scrum-half Nick Phipps agrees a new contract with the Premiership club.

Scottish campaigners call on Boris to block separatist referendum plans

City of London News Stream by Cityam - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 12:11

Scottish campaigners demanded Boris Johnson reject calls for a second independence referendum north of the border.

Scotland Matters, a pro-union group, drove an advertising van around Westminster yesterday arguing that despite the SNP’s victory in last week’s Scottish elections, there is no mandate for the referendum the party demands.

One message displayed pointed out that only 1.3m of Scotland’s 4.3m people voted for the SNP.

One of the other adverts displayed in Westminster this week

A spokesman for the group said: “Only a week ago polls were predicting a landslide for the SNP, and despite Nicola Sturgeon spinning the result this way, they failed to get an overall majority and are sustained in power by the Scottish Greens, a party whose manifesto trumpeted an accelerated shut down of our oil and gas industry, the very backbone of the SNP’s 2014 referendum campaign.”

Numerous figures in Westminster have begun talking openly about the possibility of another referendum in Scotland in the coming years.

The previous referendum in 2014 was called a “once in a generation” poll by both unionist and nationalist sides.

But the SNP’s leader Nicola Sturgeon has claimed the departure of the UK from the EU means a second vote is required.

Read more: Scotland election: SNP majority hopes on ‘a knife edge’ as Sturgeon pushes for second independence referendum

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Categories: City of London

Penguins: Same-sex couples formed at London aquarium

BBC London News Feed - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 11:51
Two all-female couples have formed at Sea Life London during the aquarium's mating season.

Covid-19: Rare condition leaves Gravesend boy fighting for life

BBC London News Feed - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 11:43
Marley Hanley, five, is still recovering from a rare condition which was triggered by Covid-19.

TikTok: Warning over teenagers getting stuck in play swings

BBC London News Feed - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 10:57
London Fire Brigade warns that crews are being diverted from more serious incidents.

Uefa Euro 2020: Trafalgar Square to host key workers for England games

BBC London News Feed - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 10:28
NHS staff, police and transport workers can watch England's first games in Trafalgar Square's fan zone.

Mike Brown: Harlequins full-back's time at club over after six-week ban

BBC London News Feed - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 10:24
Mike Brown looks to have played his last game for Harlequins after being handed a six-week ban for stamping.

Renters seize on lower costs to live in UK cities

BBC London News Feed - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 09:45
The cost of renting in some UK cities - particularly London - has fallen prompting a rise in demand.