Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: Boris Johnson’s wedding, bitcoin blackouts and a £140m tomato ketchup factory

5 June 2021

9:00 AM

5 June 2021

9:00 AM


Freelance scientists urged the government not to end coronavirus regulations on 21 June, for fear of a third wave. Fewer than 900 people remained in hospital with Covid, compared with 39,249 in January. Chris Hopson, the head of NHS Providers, said ‘very, very few’ Covid patients in hospital had received two coronavirus vaccinations, and usually had additional conditions. Heathrow got round to using a separate terminal for passengers arriving from countries with a high risk of Covid. The government considered compulsory Covid vaccination for NHS staff. The Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine was approved for use. By the start of the week, 47.3 per cent of the adult population had received two doses of vaccine; 74.2 per cent the first dose. In the previous seven days, 52 people had died, bringing the total of deaths (within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus) to 127,768. There was no death at all to report on 1 June, for the first day since March 2020.

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, married Carrie Symonds, who took his name, at an unannounced ceremony in Westminster Cathedral. The Prime Minister had ‘unwisely’ embarked on refurbishment of his flat in Downing Street without quite knowing how it was to be paid for, Lord Geidt, the independent adviser on ministers’ interests, ruled, finding that the ministerial code had not been broken. Transport for London got another £1.08 billion bailout. Over the bank holiday weekend, 568 migrants crossed the Channel in small boats. A new national flagship to replace the Royal Yacht Britannia, crewed by the Royal Navy and built at a United Kingdom shipyard, would enter service in four years, Mr Johnson announced. Kraft Heinz said it would invest £140 million in a factory that would make its tomato ketchup in England for the first time since 1999.

Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, denied ‘lying to everybody on multiple occasions’, as Dominic Cummings had said during his politically charged seven-hour appearance, wearing an open-necked white shirt with the sleeves rolled up, before the joint session of the parliamentary health and science committees. He had said ‘tens of thousands of people died who didn’t need to die’, and that Mr Hancock should have been sacked on 15 to 20 occasions. Mr Cummings had said that his relationship with Mr Johnson had broken down in October: ‘The heart of the problem was fundamentally I regarded him as unfit for the job,’ he said. ‘The fact that his girlfriend also wanted rid of me was relevant but not the heart of the problem.’ Travis Perkins, Britain’s biggest builders’ merchants, said the price of cement was going up by 15 per cent because of demand.


The total in the world recorded to have died with coronavirus reached 3,540,440 by the beginning of the week, an increase of 72,101 from the week before. Peru revised its deaths from Covid to 180,764, from 69,342. Israel dropped its vaccine passport after less than three months. A coalition schemed to replace Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister of Israel. Iran put a four-month ban on the ‘mining’ of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin after high electricity consumption led to blackouts. A walrus that had visited Tenby in Pembrokeshire was spotted at Les Sables-d’Olonne in the Vendée.

Turkish security services detained a nephew of the exiled cleric Fetullah Gulen overseas and took him back to Turkey. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan inaugurated a mosque in Taksim Square, Istanbul, a place previously associated with the secular aspirations of Kemal Ataturk. President Emmanuel Macron said that France would withdraw troops from Mali if political instability there led to greater Islamist radicalisation. The world’s largest meat-processing company, JBS, was hit by a ransomware attack, said by the White House to originate in Russia. Chelsea won the Champions League after beating Manchester City at Porto, in Portugal.

China accused Anthony Fauci, the US director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, of ‘fanning a huge lie against China’ by entertaining the possibility that coronavirus escaped from a laboratory. President Joe Biden prepared to release the results of an intelligence report on the origins of the virus. China is to allow couples to have three children. Orphans in North Korea were said to show ‘wisdom and courage’ by volunteering for manual labour; ‘Orphan children rushed out to the Chonnae Area Coal-mining Complex to fulfil their oath to repay even just a millionth of the love the party showed,’ the North Korean news agency reported. CSH

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