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Cutting down the rainforests ‘risks new pandemic’

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‘Every hectare’ of forest removed ‘risks a new pandemic’, according to one wildlife group (Picture: WWF)

A wildlife group is warning that more destruction of the natural world will make future pandemics more likely. 

With the coronavirus crisis widely linked to a wet market selling animal products in China, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has told Metro.co.uk that cutting down trees will bring wild animals closer to humans – increasing the chance of them spreading diseases. 

Branding deforestation ‘one of the biggest threats to human health’, the organisation is particularly concerned about the Amazon rainforest. Tree clearing has been linked to a wide variety of environmental issues as well as possible disease spreading – and the WWF claims that ‘every hectare’ removed ‘risks a new pandemic’. 

Executive Director of Advocacy and Campaigns Kate Norgrove said: ‘To prevent future pandemics we must stop destroying our natural world. Around 70% of emerging infectious diseases come from animals. When we destroy natural habitats, like the Amazon, we force wildlife and humans together, increasing our risk of infection. Making money from deforestation by seizing indigenous lands for farming, is short term gain for long term pain.’

The intervention comes after a world-leading expert on diseases said the climate crisis could lead to dangerous microbes thawing in the Arctic. 

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Dr Dennis Carroll told Metro.co.uk that humanity ‘should be exceedingly cautious about underestimating the potential threats’ from reborn microbes, as the planet warms. 

Environmentalists have repeatedly linked ecological issues to possible disease outbreaks, with loss of wild animals’ habitat considered a major issue. Trees are often cut down to allow for the growth of urban areas or for more farming.  

In April, deforestation increased 64% compared to the same month in 2019, according to the WWF, which says 405.6 km² was lost, compared to 247.7 km² last year. 

Fires in the Amazon rainforest have led to mass deforestation (Picture: WWF/Michael Dantas)
Loss of habitat brings animals that carry diseases closer to humans (Picture: Luis Barreto/WWF)

Mike Barrett, WWF’s Executive Director of Science and Conservation, added: ’Deforestation is now one of the biggest threats to human health, as well as to our climate and every hectare that is cleared risks a new pandemic. 

‘If we’re going to protect human health, we need to protect the health of our planet – they are one and the same.’

Deforestation can also result in changing weather patterns, the loss of certain animal and plant species and ‘desertification’. 

Trees themselves have been branded the ‘lungs of the planet’, because — like the oceans — they remove CO2 and convert it into oxygen. So scientists fear cutting them down could cause ‘feedback loops’ making the environment significantly worse.

Colombia, as well as Bolivia and Brazil, has been the site of deforestation (Picture: Luis Barreto/WWF)
A timber-loaded truck drives through Brazil (Picture: Marizilda Cruppe/WWF)

But it is the threat to animals’ habitats that could lead to them spreading new infections by coming into closer contact with humans. 

Mr Barrett continued: ‘The science is clear – human health and the health of our planet are undeniably linked. To stop future pandemics we must stop destroying habitats such as forests and exploiting nature. 

‘Intensive farming and agricultural expansion into wild areas is creating a petri dish for new viruses to emerge.’

Between August 2019 and April 2020, deforestation in the Amazon reached 5,666 km² – roughly the size of Paris, twice over. It is the around 94% as large as the area deforested in the same periods in 2018 and 2019 combined.

Environmental activists have accused new Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro of allowing deforestation in the Amazon to grow rapidly, notably in ‘deliberately started’ fires.

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Coronavirus

What are the 5 levels of lockdown in the UK?

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5 levels of lockdown in the UK

The pandemic, COVID-19, has left people devastated and governments are taking every measure to help people face this problematic situation. Coronavirus disease is not for you or me, it’s for everyone. No one knows the beginning and end, it’s just happening around! Coronavirus outbreak is divided into five different levels and The UK is currently at Level 4 of the breakdown structure. Read below to know about various levels and other information about lockdown in the UK.

5 Levels of lockdown

Level 5: RED

The disease is spreading like hell at this stage. R number is significantly above one in most parts of the nation.

As a result, the country runs under a shortage of resources in hospitals.

Level 4: Between orange and Red

When the value of Ro increases from 1 at least in some areas, it falls you in level 4. More strict measures have been taken in this.

The lockdown is imposed by the government. Britain is at this level.

Level 3: ORANGE

New Infections are reported and Ro number is increasing but not significantly. Ro is the reproduction rate of disease from person to person. R<1 in Level 3.

The partial lockdown has started in this stage. Supermarkets and essential commodity shops are allowed to open. Schools, restaurants, Malls have closed.

Level 2: Between Green and Orange

Virus Transmission is at minimum level leaves you in Level 2. This means the cases have started rising from 0 to above. Advised to stay indoors but no lockdown is there. Schools are allowed to open, supermarkets re allowed to open with social distancing.

Level 1: GREEN

If the country reached level one, it means we have achieved normal lives. Everything will be back to normal and reopen. No more lockdown and fear of anything. But this could only be possible when a certain vaccine been made to recover the COVID-19 infected patient. The world has to pass through a lot of losses before attaining this level. Many universities and medical pharmaceutical companies are working over the vaccine and hope to get the good news soon.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab confirmed on Sunday the country is in the process of ‘transitioning’ to level three, telling Sky’s Sophy Ridge: ‘We’re transitioning from level four to level three.’

Maintaining Social Distancing is the only big measure to save yourself from such a deadly disease. Other measures to consider are wash hands frequently, maintain hygiene, wear masks, Do not cough, or sneeze directly in the air. Yes, people around the world can not do anything for this deadly COVID-19 disease but I would say some measures that are in your hands should be followed properly. Take care 🙂

 

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When are department stores reopening and will you be able to try on clothes?

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Department stores have re-opened in some parts of the world (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)

The next phase of the easing of the UK’s lockdown measures will see the return of some non-essential retail to the high street, with shops set to open their doors from 15 June.

Boris Johnson announced the measure on Monday, giving the green light to clothes shops and other stores – which have been shut since the end of March – to re-open.

Some retailers have already announced their plans for re-opening – although shopping is likely to be very different for some times with social distancing and other measures being put in place as a bid to keep Covid-19 at bay.

But where does this leave department stores? Here’s what we know so far…

When are department stores re-opening?

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Some department stores have already announced their re-opening plans, and here’s how it is currently looking:

John Lewis

John Lewis will be opening its doors again next month (Picture: Rex Shutterstock)

John Lewis has announced a phased re-opening of its stores, starting with the Poole and Kingston branches on 15 June, followed by 11 others on 18 June – and more to follow over the summer.

The chain has said it will have new social distancing measures in place, from limiting the number of customers entering the store, through to having prominent social distancing signs, control procedures for escalators and a limit on the number of people in lifts, and rigorous cleaning routines implemented.

They will also provide hand sanitiser for customers at entrances and install protective screens at checkouts and in parts of the shop where social distancing is not possible.

Debenhams

Debenhams has closed some branches permanently while it has been shut (Picture: Getty Images)

Debenhams has yet to reveal its plans for re-opening, although it’s been reported they plan to open 90 branches across England from 15 June.

However the reports say not all of their stores will open on that date, while branches in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which have been subject to different restrictions, are likely to be later.

The company announced in April that four of its branches – Southampton, Kidderminster, Borehamwood and Swindon – were to close permanently.

House Of Fraser/Sports Direct

House Of Fraser has yet to reveal its re-opening plans (Picture: Getty Images)

House Of Fraser and Sports Direct have yet to reveal their plans for re-opening.

The company hit the headlines back in March after Sports Direct announced they were remaining open during lockdown, saying that selling sports and fitness equipment which could be used at home while gyms were closed was providing people with an essential service.

However they closed the following day in a dramatic U-turn.

Marks and Spencer

Marks and Spencer’s food halls have remained open while the rest of the store is closed (Picture: PA)

Marks and Spencer’s food halls have remained open during lockdown, although other parts of their stores have been closed.

However they have said they also plan to re-open stores more fully from June, putting in place the same social distancing measures that have been in place in their food halls in the wake of the pandemic.

Will you be able to try on clothes in department stores?

It’s likely that while shops will re-open, changing rooms will remain closed for the time being.

However retailers are reported to be working on ways to allow changing rooms to re-open at a later date.

This could potentially include ‘quarantining’ clothes – that is, removing all clothes that have been tried on by customers from the shop floor for 72 hours before they can be put back on sale.

This has been adopted in countries including Canada, France and Italy, where clothes have been kept off sale for a period of time and steam cleaned before they are returned to the shop floor.

Shoe shops could have a similar system, with Kurt Geiger having reportedly said that shoes will be quarantined for 24 hours after a customer has tried them on, while people will be asked to wear disposable socks when trying on shoes.

MORE: This Morning’s Ruth Langsford insists she hasn’t broken lockdown as fans suspect she’s flouted rules to see a hairdresser

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This is what theatres could look like when they reopen after lockdown

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A picture of a German theatre shows a ‘new reality’ amid the coronavirus crisis (Picture: @blnensemble)

A theatre company in Germany has offered a first look at how social distancing will work when audiences return.

Normally there is space for around 700 people in the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm in Berlin – but, amid the coronavirus crisis, only 200 guests will be welcomed to watch plays at one time.

A picture posted to the Berliner Ensemble’s social media shows the bizarre circumstances theatre-goers will find themselves under, with seats arranged metres apart, in groups of one or two.

Speaking on Twitter, the theatre company said it would be the ‘new reality’ from when it reopens in September.

They added that all chairs were being refurbished and renovated, but would not reveal information about how booking tickets would work and how much they would be.

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The picture, which received more than 2,000 retweets, provoked a mix of reactions from fans.

One person said the image made her sad as it looked ‘so unusual’, while another said: ‘I do not know if I should laugh or cry…’

Meanwhile, one Twitter user joked that it was his ‘dream’ to be as far away from other people as possible at the theatre.

Theater am Schiffbauerdamm before the coronavirus crisis (Picture: Berliner Ensemble)

The UK government has stated some hospitality businesses could reopen from 4 July – but this relies on infection and death rates staying low.

The Society of London Theatre has been unable to give a firm date for the reopening of all West End theatres, saying different theatres and productions are likely to reopen at different times.

It comes as Vue, one of the UK’s biggest cinema chains, sets out a plan to reopen cinemas using social distancing measures.

In a statement, Vue said families would sit together apart from strangers to watch films, while screening times would be staggered and enhanced cleaning would be put in place.

It read: ‘We have been liaising closely with authorities across Europe to design operating procedures that can provide the degree of social distancing required and allow an experience for our customers and staff that is as safe as possible.’

Bosses at Cineworld have stated they are monitoring the situation and cannot provide a firm date for reopening.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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