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‘This really hurts’: man shares Covid-19 experience in video | World news

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Gasping for breath and struggling to speak, Andy Hardwick can barely keep his head upright as he describes the coronavirus symptoms he is experiencing.

The 51-year-old is normally fit and healthy, visiting the gym at least three times a week, and suffering from asthma only occasionally. But he has been completely floored by Covid-19, and his friends and family urged him to make a video to show others how serious the illness can be.

“My spine hurts, my back hurts, my neck hurts. You don’t want to talk, you get shortness of breath if you move around, and you don’t want to lift your head off a pillow,” Hardwick explained in the video, which has been shared on Facebook over 37,000 times.

In it, he lies back in a grey hoodie, fighting to keep his eyes open as he talks in short bursts to the camera. “It does come in waves, you will feel slight relief sometimes, then it will go … This really hurts, it’s like nothing I’ve ever had before, I wouldn’t wish it on my enemy,” said Hardwick.

According to Hardwick’s wife, Nicola, many friends have said they didn’t even recognise Andy in the video. “It was like everything had just left him, all the energy,” she said.

Symptoms are defined by the NHS as either:

  • a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • a new continuous cough – this means you’ve started coughing repeatedly

NHS advice is that anyone with symptoms should stay at home for at least 7 days.

If you live with other people, they should stay at home for at least 14 days, to avoid spreading the infection outside the home.

After 14 days, anyone you live with who does not have symptoms can return to their normal routine. But, if anyone in your home gets symptoms, they should stay at home for 7 days from the day their symptoms start. Even if it means they’re at home for longer than 14 days.

If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.

If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.

After 7 days, if you no longer have a high temperature you can return to your normal routine.

If you still have a high temperature, stay at home until your temperature returns to normal.

If you still have a cough after 7 days, but your temperature is normal, you do not need to continue staying at home. A cough can last for several weeks after the infection has gone.

Staying at home means you should:

  • not go to work, school or public areas
  • not use public transport or taxis
  • not have visitors, such as friends and family, in your home
  • not go out to buy food or collect medicine – order them by phone or online, or ask someone else to drop them off at your home

You can use your garden, if you have one. You can also leave the house to exercise – but stay at least 2 metres away from other people.

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, use the NHS 111 coronavirus service to find out what to do.

Source: NHS England on 23 March 2020

Hardwick, a father of two from Wickford, Essex, said the illness started on Friday with a “very dry cough” which made his throat sore. “You start to feel generally crappy and then you’ll find your lungs will tighten,” he described.

He wasn’t suffering from a fever initially, so he went to bed expecting the symptoms to pass. However, he woke up a few hours later with a temperature, unable to breathe properly. “[I was] sweaty, clammy but freezing – I couldn’t get warm and I had a raging thirst.”

After calling 111, he was assessed by a doctor over the phone who said his symptoms suggested he did have Covid-19, and he was instructed to call back if his breathing deteriorated and he was in need of hospital treatment.

Although paracetamol helped to reduce his temperature, his preventative asthma pump did little to help his breathing difficulties, he said.

“If you get the cough, it’s very painful, and if you feel the need to laugh, don’t, because it’s very painful.”

His family think he probably picked up the virus while travelling to London, where he works as head of repairs and operations at Camden council, although he had been working from home since 18 March.


On Wednesday morning, Nicola said Andy’s state had improved and he was starting to breathe more easily, a welcome development after days of watching her husband suffer. “It is hard because you just want to give him a hug and you can’t. I must admit I was very scared with the way he was,” she told the Guardian.

She said she never expected the video to go viral, but is glad it has made an impact, having received many messages from people saying they’re going to change their behaviour as a result. “You do think you’re invincible. You think: ‘Oh, if I get it, I’ll be ok, I’m fit.’ But this virus doesn’t really care whether you’re fit or young or old,” Nicola said.

“Everyone seems to get [coronavirus] different. Some get it mild, some get it very strong, some are hospitalised, and that’s the scary part, not knowing how you are going to be when you get it.”

The video concludes with Hardwick’s plea to the general public. “Please stay away from each other, respect each other. If our parents or grandparents get this, and they’re vulnerable or not fit, I’d hate to think what it will do to them. They will become a statistic. Stay safe.”

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Iran Agency Says Chain of Errors Caused Ukrainian Plane Crash | World News

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DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran’s Civil Aviation Organisation blamed a misalignment of a radar system and lack of communication between the air defence operator and his commanders for the accidental downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane in January that killed 176 people aboard.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards shot down the Ukraine International Airlines flight with a ground-to-air missile on Jan. 8 shortly after the plane took off from Tehran,in what Tehran later acknowledged as a “disastrous mistake” by forces who were on high alert during a confrontation with the United States.

“A mistake in aligning the radar system had caused human error. An operator had forgotten to re-adjust the direction on the radar system after moving to a new position, an error that contributed to misreading the radar’s data,” an interim report on the Civil Aviation Organisation (CAO) website said.

The CAO report, which was published on late Saturday, said the missile battery that targeted the passenger plane had been relocated and “was not properly reoriented”.

The downing occurred at a time of high tension between longtime foes Iran and the United States. Iran was on alert for attacks after it fired missiles at Iraqi bases housing U.S. forces in retaliation for the killing on Jan. 3 of its most powerful military commander, Qassem Soleimani, in a U.S. missile strike at Baghdad airport.

“A failure occurred after the relocation of one of the air defence units of Tehran  … It occurred because of a human error,” the CAO report said, adding that the plane was detected by the system as a target approaching Tehran.

The operator of the air defence system “lacked awareness of the relocation of the air defence unit”, and fired the two missiles without authorisation from the command centre, the report said.

“When the first missile was fired, the passenger plane was flying at a normal altitude and trajectory,” the report added.

Last month, Iran said the black boxes of the Boeing 737-800 airliner will be sent to France, to be analysed starting July 20.

(Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Pope Francis ‘very distressed’ over Hagia Sophia mosque move | World news

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Pope Francis has said he was “very distressed” over Turkey’s decision to convert the Byzantine-era monument Hagia Sophia back into a mosque.

“My thoughts go to Istanbul. I’m thinking about Hagia Sophia. I am very distressed,” the pontiff said in the Vatican’s first reaction to a decision that has drawn international criticism.

On Saturday the Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano carried reaction from various countries to Friday’s decision, without making any comment.

A magnet for tourists worldwide, the Hagia Sophia was first constructed as a cathedral in the Christian Byzantine empire but was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453.

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, announced on Friday that Muslim prayers would begin on 24 July at the Unesco world heritage site.

In the past, he has repeatedly called for the building to be redesignated as a mosque, and in 2018 he recited a verse from the Qur’an at Hagia Sophia.

Erdoğan’s announcement came after a court cancelled a 1934 cabinet decision under modern Turkey’s secularising founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk to preserve the church-turned-mosque as a museum.

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EU leaders are split over coronavirus recovery | World news

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Lockdown has proved challenging for most workplaces, and the European Council is no different. All-night sessions, corridor huddles and fine dining in the glass Europa building in Brussels have been replaced with hours staring at a gallery of fellow heads of state reading out prepared lines in front of a backdrop of EU and national flags – and the odd bit of pop art, as in the case of Luxembourg’s prime minister Xavier Bettel.

But this week, leaders will be forced to switch off their laptops and make their way across recently reopened borders to Brussels for their first face-to-face meeting in five months – and it is set to be a bruising encounter.

With the continent heading into a recession not seen since the 1930s, the EU’s institutional heads, the presidents of the European commission and council, Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, have struggled to find consensus between sparring member states over both a long-term budget and a huge one-off economic stimulus. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and French president, Emmanuel Macron, have given their backing to a €750bn (£675bn) pandemic recovery fund. But “frugal” northern states have raised issues. Efforts to placate them have angered Hungary’s nationalist prime minister and the European parliament.

Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron



Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron have backed the €750bn pandemic recovery fund. Photograph: Hayoung Jeon/EPA

“It became obvious deals weren’t going to be made online,” said one EU official. “You need the work in the margins, bilaterals and discussions between advisers to find the common ground. It needed a physical meeting.”

But the set-up will be far from normal this weekend. The usual back-slapping and cheek-kissing will be replaced by social distancing in the presence of mask-wearing aides. The army of reporters that flock to the summits has also been banned from taking the usual seats in the expansive foyer of the Justus Lipsius building next door to the Europa.

The European commission forecasts an 8.3% drop in economic activity across the EU this year followed by a 5.8% rebound in 2021 but countries are expected to emerge from the crisis at starkly different speeds, risking a breakdown in the bloc’s single market as the disparity between Europe’s haves and have-nots is exacerbated

In Brussels’ latest proposal, Michel, a former Belgian prime minister said to have had a lacklustre first year in his role chairing leaders’ debates, only appeared to stir up new problems.

In response to the unapologetically “frugal” positions taken by Mark Rutte, the Netherlands’ prime minister, Michel tabled a €25bn smaller seven-year budget than last proposed, through which day-to-day programmes including the common agricultural policy are funded.

He also suggested greater accountability for countries seeking cash from the separate recovery pot, which is to be partly financed through issuing joint EU debt. But the move to placate the Dutch ended up annoying Hungary and Europe’s parliament.

One of the big tasks facing Brussels is bridging the demand for financial relief from countries such as Italy and Spain, whose economies are in freefall due to the pandemic, and maintaining the faith of sceptical taxpayers in the richer north. “Are European governments ready for their business to be our business?” asked one EU diplomat from a northern state.

Confirming EU officials’ predictions that the leaders faced a “very difficult” meeting, with doleful diplomats fearful that the talks starting on Friday will drag on into Sunday, Michel’s plan to find the right balance drew immediate fire from countries outside the “frugal four” of the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Austria, who have hitherto made Michel’s life difficult by demanding less spending and tighter controls.

Following Michel’s suggestion that the commission be joined by the European court of auditors, the EU’s financial watchdog, in reporting on the governance of member states seeking recovery cash, and making funding conditional on backing from a qualified majority of member states, Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orbán was first to go on the attack.

Speaking on state-owned Kossuth Rádió, Orbán threatened to scupper both the long-term budget and the recovery fund if “rule of law” strings were attached to funds, telling reporters “there will not be an economic restart, there will not be a budget, there will be drawn-out debates”.

“Let’s put this debate aside now,” Orbán said. “Let’s resolve the economic problems, restart our economies, start creating jobs, then we can continue the rule of law debates.”

Hungary and Poland could be big winners from the recovery fund but are facing proceedings over concerns that changes to their judicial systems have undermined the independence of their judges and breach EU treaties.

There was also rejection of Michel’s proposals from the European parliament’s negotiators, who disapprove of cuts to the budget known as the multi-annual financial framework.

Both the budget and recovery fund have to be approved by MEPs. A cross-party group has been tasked with finding a package that can command a majority in the chamber. The European parliament has strongly advocated a significantly larger budget for the bloc than Michel’s proposal of €1.074tn over seven years.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban



Hungary’s Viktor Orbán has threatened to scupper any budget deal that comes with ‘rule of law’ strings attached. Photograph: Janek Skarżyński/AFP/Getty Images

Rasmus Andresen, a Green MEP who is the only German budget negotiator for the parliament, told the Observer that Michel’s proposal would be swiftly voted down if it came to the chamber. He said: “We need a strong budget and if you want to deal with the future challenges you need to invest and it is not enough to have a recovery fund for three or four years.

There is a lot of criticism in the parliament and it will be much louder when colleagues are analysing what it means.”

If this week’s meeting fails to find common ground, a second has been pencilled in for the last week of July, with Merkel insisting the EU must resolve the problem by the summer.

Rutte – whose country would benefit from Michel’s proposed retention of its budget rebate and €5bn reserve set aside should the UK end its relationship with the EU without a new deal – said he would “handle” any criticism at this week’s summit.

“I’m not made of marzipan,” he said. “It is starting to go our way.”

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