Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: Covid fines, cancelled flights and sunflower oil shortages

9 April 2022

9:00 AM

9 April 2022

9:00 AM


Jonathan Reynolds, Labour’s business spokesman, said that the government should be preparing for energy rationing, but Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary ruled it out. Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, asked the British Geological Survey to reassess the effects of fracking, Essex police arrested 192 people from Just Stop Oil in a weekend of protest at oil refineries. By the end of March, 4,700 visas had been issued from 32,200 applications to sponsor accommodation for Ukrainian refugees; under the family visa scheme, 24,400 had been issued from 32,800 applications. Britain’s biggest bottler of sunflower oil had stocks for only three weeks left and said that food manufacturers were turning to rape.

Among those so far issued with fixed penalties by the Metropolitan Police for breaching coronavirus regulations at Downing Street was Helen MacNamara, the former head of ethics in the Cabinet Office, and Kate Josephs, a former director-general of the Cabinet Office Covid-19 Taskforce. In the seven days up to 4 April, 1,118 people had died with coronavirus, bringing total deaths (within 28 days of testing positive) to 165,789. In the previous week 992 had died. Numbers with Covid remaining in hospital in the United Kingdom rose from about 18,000 to about 20,000. The managing director of Manchester Airport resigned after weeks of delays making some travellers miss their flights. EasyJet and British Airways cancelled dozens of flights a day as staff were off with Covid.

Jamie Wallis, the Conservative MP for Bridgend, who suddenly announced last week that his ambition was to transition to a female gender, said he was ‘bitterly disappointed’ at the government’s decision not to criminalise dissuasion of those wishing to change gender when it introduces new laws against attempts to convert homosexual people from their sexuality. The government decided to privatise Channel 4. June Brown, who played Dot Cotton in EastEnders between 1985 and 2020, died aged 95. At Southampton docks, 2 tons 14 cwt of cocaine, with a street value said to be £302 million, was found hidden in a consignment of bananas from Colombia.


In areas on the outskirts of Kyiv retaken by Ukraine hundreds of civilians were found to have been killed by Russian forces. The Mayor of Bucha, adjoining Irpin, said 300 had been killed. In one house the bodies of five men with their hands bound were found shot. The town of Borodyanka was found to be devastated; 400 were missing in Hostomel. President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia had been carrying out genocide. He addressed by video the Security Council of the UN from which he called for Russia to be removed. ‘We came to you to Ukraine not to conquer lands,’ said Vasily Nebenzya, Russia’s ambassador at the UN. ‘We need to cut out the malignant Nazi tumour that is consuming Ukraine and would in time begin to consume Russia.’ ‘Well the truth of the matter, you saw what happened in Bucha – he is a war criminal,’ said President Joe Biden of the United States about President Vladimir Putin of Russia. ‘We have to gather all the detail so this can have a war crimes trial.’ Germany expelled 40 Russian diplomats, but could not bring itself to stop buying oil and gas from Russia.

Russia turned its military aggression to the east and south of Ukraine. Thousands fled the region. The Red Cross tried on successive days to evacuate people from Mariupol where tens of thousands remained trapped after weeks of heavy bombardment from the Russians. Russia hit oil facilities in Odessa and three hospitals in Mykolaiv. The Czech Republic was reported to be sending tanks to Ukraine. The UN found that 7.1 million Ukrainians had been displaced inside the country; more than four million had fled the country.

The total in the world reported to have died with coronavirus reached 6,147,947 by the beginning of the week. In Shanghai everyone was locked down in their homes, or in some cases their factories. Viktor Orban secured a fourth term as Prime Minister of Hungary when his Fidesz party won the general election. Mubarak Bala, the 37-year-old president of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, was sentenced in the northern state of Kano to 24 years in prison after being convicted of blaspheming Islam. The African army worm devastated coffee crops in Uganda. A man was arrested after six people were shot dead in Sacramento, the capital of California. Elon Musk spent $2.89 billion buying 73,486,938 shares, a 9.2 per cent stake, in Twitter. CSH

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