UK Covid news LIVE: Shapps announces travel shake up ‘We are making travel easier for you’

·26-min read
UK Covid news LIVE: Shapps announces travel shake up ‘We are making travel easier for you’

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps was delighted to announce the travel shake-up to the UK’s rules.

The Maldives and Turkey were among eight countries removed from the red list.

Double-Jabbed holidaymakers will no longer need to take a pre-departure test before arrival into England from a non red list country from October 4.

Later in October, travellers will be able to take a cheaper lateral flow test instead of the day 2 PCR test.

Mr Shapps said he hoped the new measures would “strike the right balance to manage the public health risk as No.1 priority”.

Read More

Anti-vaxxer Alan Steel dies from Covid hours after being put on a ventilator

Strictly Come Dancing: Two pro dancers refuse Covid jabs

Anti-lockdown protests turn ugly in Australia as Covid cases surge

Scotland will not follow England’s lead and change its travel requirements

Friday 17 September 2021 18:34 , Robert Dex

Scotland will not follow England in removing the requirement for people who are fully vaccinated to take a pre-departure test before returning from non-red list destinations.

In a statement, the Scottish Government said: “A UK Government decision to implement proposals to remove the requirement for a pre-departure test in England and to use lateral flow tests on day two have not been adopted at this stage in Scotland due to significant concerns at the impact on public health.”

Heathrow boss says ‘simplification’ of the rules is welcome

Friday 17 September 2021 17:52 , Robert Dex

Heathrow’s CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “This simplification of the travel rules is very welcome for businesses and families across the country but the decision to require fully vaccinated passengers to take more costly private lateral flow tests is an unnecessary barrier to travel, which keeps the UK out of step with the rest of the EU. Ministers must continue to work towards friction-free travel for vaccinated passengers.”

EasyJet boss welcomes move but says ‘unnecessary’ test on arrival should go

Friday 17 September 2021 17:27 , Robert Dex

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said: “This is a welcome step forward for our customers and a move that will make it significantly easier for the fully vaccinated to travel to Europe, opening up flying again for many more UK consumers.

“Removing the pre-departure test coupled with the disbanding of the traffic light system will inject some much needed confidence into travel once again.

“However, vaccinated travellers and those from low-risk countries will still have to do an unnecessary test after arriving in the UK, making travel less affordable for all. Since July 1 there has been no testing at all for vaccinated travellers within the rest of Europe, and this is why the UK will continue to fall further behind the rest of Europe if this remains.

“We will continue to support travel restrictions that protect the vaccine programme and the NHS, and argue for the removal of measures that are not necessary for this.”

BA boss welcomes travel move

Friday 17 September 2021 17:15 , Robert Dex

British Airways CEO and Chairman Sean Doyle said: “We welcome the simplification of the traffic light system, and the changes to the testing requirements allowing UK travellers to benefit from our world-leading vaccination programme and finally giving customers and business the confidence to book the journeys they’ve been waiting for.

“ Based on the scientific evidence, with fewer than 1% of people returning from low-risk countries testing positive for Covid (lower than the UK’s rate), we urge ministers to keep this policy under review, eliminating all testing for fully vaccinated travellers as soon as possible in the future, in line with most other European countries.”

Government names the eight countries coming off the red list

Friday 17 September 2021 17:09 , Robert Dex

The Department for Transport confirmed the eight countries coming off the red list as of 4am on Wednesday are Turkey, Pakistan, the Maldives, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Oman, Bangladesh and Kenya.

Health Secretary welcomes ‘simplified’ rules

Friday 17 September 2021 17:08 , Robert Dex

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Today we have simplified the travel rules to make them easier to understand and follow, opening up tourism and reducing the costs to go abroad.

“As global vaccination efforts continue to accelerate and more people gain protection from this dreadful disease, it is right that our rules and regulations keep pace.”

Shapps says new system is ‘simpler’ and ‘more straightforward'

Friday 17 September 2021 17:07 , Robert Dex

Mr Shapps said the new system was “proportionate” and “reflects the new landscape” of the numbers of those who are fully vaccinated.

He said: “Today’s changes mean a simpler, more straightforward system. One with less testing and lower costs, allowing more people to travel, see loved ones or conduct business around the world while providing a boost for the travel industry.”

Airline industry body welcomes changes

Friday 17 September 2021 16:58 , Robert Dex

The moves were also welcomed by the Board of Airline Representatives in the UK (BAR UK).

Its chief executive Dale Keller said: “Greater freedom of movement for many vaccinated passengers, without the anxiety of pre-departure tests and the high cost of PCR testing on arrival, will help restore traveller confidence and set the aviation, travel and tourism sectors on what is still a long road to recovery.

“Moving from the established three traffic light system to a red list, and a two-tier entry regime for vaccinated or non-vaccinated passengers, brings greater clarity to entry requirements and recognises the vaccination status of an additional 17 countries.

“This is to be applauded, however the revised system can only work effectively – and without discrimination, when fully vaccinated status is recognised for all travellers to the UK. Testing requirements for many remains costly and excessive, and a significant number of inbound markets for the UK will still remain unfairly treated.”

Gatwick boss welcomes ‘significant’ step towards recovery

Friday 17 September 2021 16:55 , Robert Dex

Stewart Wingate, Gatwick Airport CEO, said: “This is a significant and welcome step towards recovery. Fully vaccinated passengers now have a larger choice of destinations and can book with more confidence in the months before Christmas and beyond - free from the need to arrange pre-departure tests before coming back into the UK. We know there is significant pent-up demand for travel and our staff, restaurants, cafes and bars are ready to welcome back passengers over the coming months. “We also welcome the news that Day 2 PCR tests will be replaced with the quicker and more affordable lateral flow tests, which will allow us to start catching up with our competitors in Europe and the US - where passenger numbers are already approaching pre-pandemic levels. “However, we also hope that the remaining constraints including the passenger locator form can be removed soon and we continue to call for the slot rules to be reinstated to incentivise airlines, increase competition and provide passengers with greater choice and flexibility.

“Gatwick is doing everything it can to make travel as easy as possible and only yesterday announced that it is further subsidising cut-price lateral flow tests for holiday-makers.”

Shapps: Amber list scrapped and eight countries come off red list

Friday 17 September 2021 16:54 , Robert Dex

Mr Shapps also announced the Amber list had been scrapped as the Maldives, Pakistan and Turkey were named among eight countries removed from red list.

He said: “We’ll also be introducing a new simplified system for international travel from Mon 4 Oct , replacing the current approach with a single red list and simplified measures for the rest of the world - striking the right balance to manage the public health risk as No.1 priority.”

Journeys to England to be made easier for fully-vaccinated travellers from non-red list countries

Friday 17 September 2021 16:52 , Robert Dex

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced that from Monday October 4 fully vaccinated travellers won’t need to take a pre-departure test before arriving in England from a country not on the red list.

He added that day 2 PCR test would also be replaced with a lateral flow test later next month.

Another 178 deaths from Covid

Friday 17 September 2021 16:25 , Robert Dex

The Government said a further 178 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Friday, bringing the UK total to 134,983.

Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have been 159,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

As of 9am on Friday, there had been a further 32,651 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK, the Government said.

Welsh Government accused of U-turn as vaccine passes planned

Friday 17 September 2021 15:08 , Tom Ambrose

The Welsh Government has been accused of a U-turn after announcing vaccine passes will be needed for entry into nightclubs and large events.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said people will have to show an NHS Covid Pass from next month, as part of measures introduced to help control the spread of coronavirus.

The Welsh Conservatives said the First Minister had previously been against the idea, and highlighted that the scheme will only be introduced two weeks after the peak in infections as shown in the Government’s own modelling.

Mr Drakeford said rates of Covid-19 remain very high in Wales, but the alert level will be kept at zero for the next three weeks.

He encouraged everyone to work from home whenever possible and to make sure they are fully vaccinated.

Scotland suffers 30 further Covid deaths

Friday 17 September 2021 14:45 , Barney Davis

Scotland has recorded 30 coronavirus-linked deaths and 5,529 new cases in the past 24 hours, according to latest figures.

The data published by the Scottish Government on Friday indicates the death toll under the daily measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – is now 8,349.

The daily test positivity rate is 9.9%.

There were 1,037 people in hospital on Friday with recently confirmed Covid-19, and 87 people in intensive care.

So far, 4,150,157 people have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccination and 3,798,938 have received their second dose.

Far right activist gets Covid

Friday 17 September 2021 14:40 , Barney Davis

Far right internet personality and conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer revealed she had Covid today after saying she wished she had the virus.

She has previously been open about the fact that she is anti-vaccine and denied the pandemic.

Laura took to the American conservative social media platform Gettr today (September 17th) to reveal that she has contracted Covid-19 and is feeling very unwell.

“Yesterday I was feeling ill. I had a fever, chills, a runny nose, sore throat, nausea and severe body aches that made my whole body feel like I got hit by a bus, and after sleeping for a few hours, my symptoms started to remind me of how I felt when I had a bad case of the flu a few years ago,” she wrote.

She continued: “So I took a COVID test and it came back POSITIVE. I have not taken the COVID-19 vaccine, and I don’t plan on ever taking it because it is unsafe and ineffective.”

Laura then revealed she has started taking Azithromyacin and Hydroxychloroquine to treat it, and is also taking the dietary supplement OrthoMune.

Scotland still has highest rate of Covid infection in UK - ONS

Friday 17 September 2021 14:24 , Barney Davis

Scotland continues to have the highest level of coronavirus cases in the UK, according to the latest figures.

The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) infection survey estimated about one in 45 had Covid in the week ending 11 September.

This was the second week in a row it has been at the highest level since estimates began a year ago.

The data showed the figure for England was one in 80 people, Wales was one in 60 and Northern Ireland was one in 75.

Cabinet minister fires starting gun for autumn getaways

Friday 17 September 2021 13:43 , Tom Ambrose

Grant Shapps tweeted that he would be announcing measures later to simplify international and cut costs later on Friday.

“I’ll set out measures to simplify international travel later today in order to reduce costs, take advantage of higher levels of vaccination, and keep us all safe,” the Transport Secretary wrote.

Holidaymakers and the travel industry were braced for take-off as the Government was set to announce a shake-up of foreign travel rules.

Funerals firm Dignity to report results after fall in Covid deaths

Friday 17 September 2021 13:11 , Tom Ambrose

Dignity’s revenue depends on two variable factors – the number of deaths and how elaborate people want funerals to be – and it is these measures which will draw investors’ eyes on Tuesday when the company reports its first-half results.

But shareholders will also be looking for signs of the new Dignity – the firm was taken over in an investor coup earlier this year and has promised a new direction.

The last time shareholders were able to peek behind the scenes was in June, when Dignity released a trading update ahead of its annual general meeting.

At the time the Covid-19 vaccine rollout in the UK had one obvious impact on the company and the sector as a whole: deaths were falling.

In April and May 7% fewer people died than the average for the five years before the pandemic, Dignity said at the time.

As for any funeral company, fewer deaths mean fewer customers.

Friday 17 September 2021 12:57 , Tom Ambrose

When modelling the level of Covid-19 infections among different age ranges in England, the ONS said rates have increased for those in school years 7 to 11 and in those aged over 50 years, although the over 70s continue to have the lowest rates at one in 150.

The trend for all other age groups is uncertain.

Around one in 35 people from school years 7 to 11 are estimated to have had Covid-19 in the week to September 11 – the highest positivity rate for any age group.

Friday 17 September 2021 12:51 , Tom Ambrose

The percentage of people testing positive for Covid-19 is estimated to have increased in north-west England and decreased in the West Midlands and the East of England, the ONS said.

The trend for all other regions is uncertain.

North-east England and Yorkshire and the Humber had the highest proportion of people of any region likely to test positive for coronavirus in the week to September 11: around one in 60.

Eastern England had the lowest estimate: around one in 120.

Friday 17 September 2021 12:29 , Tom Ambrose

In Wales, around one in 60 people are estimated to have had Covid-19 in the week to September 11, up from one in 65 in the previous week and the highest level since the week to December 23 2020.

In Northern Ireland, the latest estimate is one in 75, down from one in 60 in the previous week.

For Scotland, the ONS estimates that around one in 45 people had Covid-19 in the week to September 11, the second week in a row it has been at the highest level since estimates began for Scotland in October 2020.

The ONS said that while the percentage of people testing positive had increased slightly (from 2.23% to 2.29%) in the week ending September 11, the rate of increase had slowed.

All figures are for people in private households.

Friday 17 September 2021 12:17 , Tom Ambrose

No 10 confirmed that Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is due to “make an international travel update later” on Friday amid suggestions the Government is set to overhaul its travel traffic light system and testing rules for travellers.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman hinted that the approach will see Mr Shapps announce an easing of restrictions following “steady progress” in the struggle against coronavirus.

Asked about whether the changes were likely to be permanent, the Downing Street spokesman said: “I think with all the rules and guidance and systems we have with regard to coronavirus, we are aware that the pandemic is still ongoing and there is always the chance of unexpected challenges, such as an even more transmissible or more deadly variant emerging.

“That said, because of the success of our vaccine programme, it is enabling us to move steadily and remove restrictions, as you saw when we came out of Step 4.

“While we have seen slow easing of the restrictions on travel, I’m not going to speculate on what the Transport Secretary will say later today.

“I think it would be wrong to rule out anything in the future but it is important to note that we continue to make steady progress to ease restrictions, and that is very much the intention of the approach we will be taking.”

Vaccine passports to be introduced in Wales

Friday 17 September 2021 12:16 , Tom Ambrose

Vaccine passports will be needed to enter nightclubs and attend large events in Wales, the First Minister has announced.

Mark Drakeford said people will have to show an NHS Covid Pass from next month as part of measures introduced to help control the spread of coronavirus.

Rates of Covid-19 are currently very high in the country, but the alert level will remain at zero for the next three weeks, Mr Drakeford confirmed.

He also encouraged everyone to work from home whenever possible and to make sure they are fully vaccinated.

Awareness and enforcement of other key Covid-19 protection measures, including face coverings in indoor public places and on public transport, will be increased.

Friday 17 September 2021 12:15 , Tom Ambrose

Around one in 80 people in private households in England had Covid-19 in the week to September 11, down from one in 70 the previous week, according to the latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics.

One in 80 is the equivalent of about 697,100 people.

At the peak of the second wave in early January, around one in 50 people in England were estimated to have coronavirus.

Friday 17 September 2021 12:13 , Tom Ambrose

Some 12,407 people had been admitted to hospital in England up to September 12 who were either confirmed or likely to have the Delta variant of Covid-19, Public Health England also said.

Of this number, 6,230 were under the age of 50 and 6,167 were aged 50 or over.

Of the 6,230 under 50, 4,517 (73%) were unvaccinated, 848 (14%) had received one dose of vaccine and 721 (12%) had received both doses.

Of the 6,167 aged 50 or over, 1,786 (29%) were unvaccinated, 435 (7%) had received one dose of vaccine and 3,913 (63%) had received both doses.

A small number of virus samples from people admitted to hospital could not be matched with vaccination records.

Half-term getaway clear for take-off as travel rules set to be relaxed

Friday 17 September 2021 11:51 , Tom Ambrose

Holidaymakers and the travel industry were braced for take-off on Friday as the Government was set to announce a shake-up of foreign travel rules.

Travelling was being made cheaper and more straightforward for the doubled-vaccinated under the long-awaited review of coronavirus rules.

One tour operator said it had already seen a jump in bookings ahead of the relaxation of the regime.

James Pieslak, of Jet2, said: “Bookings have risen in the last few days, particularly the last 24 hours. If what we have seen speculated happens, they will certainly go up even further.

“These changes, if they happen, will give people a lot more confidence to get away to the sunshine.”

Friday 17 September 2021 11:36 , Tom Ambrose

A total of 2,542 deaths occurred in England up to September 12 of people who were either confirmed or likely to have had the Delta variant of Covid-19 and who died within 28 days of a positive test, according to new figures from Public Health England.

Of this number, 204 were under the age of 50 and 2,336 were aged 50 or over.

Of the 204 deaths of people under 50, 132 (65%) were unvaccinated, 17 (8%) had received one dose of vaccine and 48 (24%) had received both doses.

Of the 2,336 deaths of people aged 50 or over, 590 (25%) were unvaccinated, 149 (6%) had received one dose of vaccine and 1,565 (67%) had received both doses.

A small number of virus samples could not be matched with vaccination records.

Trial over COVID-19 outbreak in Austria's 'Ibiza of the Alps' begins

Friday 17 September 2021 10:59 , Tom Ambrose

A trial opened in Vienna on Friday over an outbreak of the coronavirus at the ski resort of Ischgl in early 2020 in which Austrian authorities stand accused of responding too slowly, possibly due to pressure from the tourist sector.

The outbreak at Ischgl was Austria's biggest and helped spread the virus across Europe.

Hundreds of Austrians were infected and thousands of foreign tourists say they were too as the virus found a breeding ground in crowded apres-ski bars at the resort, a party hotspot that branded itself the "Ibiza of the Alps".

In the case, the first of more than a dozen civil lawsuits brought by a consumer rights group, the widow and son of a man who died after being exposed to the coronavirus in Ischgl are seeking 100,000 euros ($117,780) in damages from the Austrian government.

The private Consumer Protection Association (VSV), which has brought the case against the government, says authorities mishandled the response to the outbreak, possibly giving in to pressure from the tourism sector not to act initially.

The authorities in the province of Tyrol say they responded appropriately given what was known at the time.

Ischgl's first case was detected on March 7, 2020, days after Iceland said that tourists had been infected there and 11 days after Austria's first infections were confirmed.

Austria's public health agency has since said it believes the virus arrived in Ischgl far earlier, on Feb. 5.

PPE worth £2.8bn is not fit for purpose, health minister admits

Friday 17 September 2021 10:30 , Tom Ambrose

Personal protective equipment (PPE) worth £2.8 billion is not fit for purpose and cannot be used by the NHS, a health minister has revealed.

Lord Bethell said 1.9 billion items of stock are currently in the “do not supply” to the NHS category.

He was answering a Parliamentary question from crossbencher Lord Alton of Liverpool around “faulty PPE” that has not met the required level of protection.

“As of June 10, 1.9 billion items of stock were in the ‘do not supply’ category,” Lord Bethell said.

“This is equivalent to 6.2% of purchased volume with an estimated value of £2.8 billion.

“We are considering options to repurpose and recycle items in this category which ensures safety and value for money.

“Discussions with suppliers are ongoing.”

Earlier this month, it emerged the Government is in dispute with several companies over £1.2 billion of PPE that has been deemed “sub-standard” or was undelivered.

Cambodia vaccinating 6-to-11-year-olds before schools reopen

Friday 17 September 2021 10:06 , Tom Ambrose

Cambodia began vaccinating 6-to-11-year-olds Friday so students can safely return to schools that have been closed for months due to the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Hun Sen inaugurated the campaign to vaccinate the children, speaking live on state television and his Facebook page as his grandchildren and young family members of other senior officials were shown being given their jabs.

"To protect children's health and their lives is our duty because we want to make sure that once they go back to their schools, these children and their teachers are safe from COVID-19," Hun Sen declared.

Cambodia already has been vaccinating older children, and Hun Sen said he ordered health officials to study if children ages 3 to 5 can also be vaccinated. No date has been announced for schools to reopen.

Friday 17 September 2021 09:38 , Tom Ambrose

Jonathan Athow, ONS deputy national statistician for economic statistics, said: “Sales fell again in August, though not nearly as much as in July and, overall, remained above their pre-pandemic level.

“Other data suggest that the drop in food stores’ sales is linked to an increase in eating out following the lifting of coronavirus restrictions.

“Meanwhile, motor fuel sales increased on the month as people ventured out more, but they remained below pre-pandemic levels.”

UK retail sales drop for fourth month in a row

Friday 17 September 2021 09:22 , Tom Ambrose

UK retail sales dropped in August for the fourth consecutive month as grocery sales were impacted by more people returning to restaurants and pubs, according to official figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said retail sales volumes dropped by 0.9% last month, following a 2.8% fall in July.

However, retail sales volumes remain 4.6% ahead of pre-pandemic levels.

The drop in sales for August came as a surprise to analysts, who had forecast a 0.7% increase for the month.

It represents the first time since 1996 that retail sales have dropped for four months in a row.

Friday 17 September 2021 08:49 , Tom Ambrose

A shadow minister said Labour has been “calling for ages” for ministers to scrap the amber travel list because it is poorly understood by the public.

Sarah Jones told Sky News: “We want travel to open up as safely and as quickly as possible.

“We’ve been calling for ages for the amber list to be scrapped, which has been touted in the papers today, because it always added to confusion – people never quite understood what the system was.

“And we’ve been calling for a proper process to work out an international vaccine passport so we can get people safely moving around.”

Asked whether she supports removing the requirement for the double vaccinated to take a pre-departure PCR test for those arriving in the UK, Ms Jones said: “I think we need to make it simpler, we need to make it clearer.

“People have been confused about what the rules are, they have been paying extortionate prices – we need to see what the Government is going to suggest and hopefully it will be based on evidence and, if it is, then we will support them.”

Long Covid symptoms in children rarely persist beyond 12 weeks, study suggests

Friday 17 September 2021 08:14 , Tom Ambrose

Long Covid symptoms rarely persist beyond 12 weeks in children and adolescents unlike adults, new research suggests.

The review found existing studies on the condition in children and adolescents have major limitations.

Some do not show a difference in symptoms between those who have been infected with the virus and those who have not.

It comes as research from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) in Australia found that after 10 months in circulation, the Delta variant had not caused more serious disease in children than previous variants and most cases remained asymptomatic or mild.

Friday 17 September 2021 08:11 , Tom Ambrose

Asked whether PCR tests could be scrapped in favour of lateral flow tests for foreign travellers, Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “I haven’t heard that because I’m not on that particular sub-committee that deals with this.

“They will want to consider all the evidence before taking a final decision.

“The rationale for the PCR test is that you can do genome sequencing of variants and you can, therefore, detect possible variants of concern.

“The difficulty with the lateral flow test, although it is cheaper and simpler to do, it is not able to pick up those variants.

“So, that’s the rationale and that’s been the rationale so far for making sure we keep some of that PCR testing in place.”

Mr Eustice said that Health Secretary Sajid Javid, while he did not want “unnecessary” testing taking place, “recognises the value of those PCR tests and that there “is a discussion to be had about this” in Government.

Eustice: Travel decisions could be signed off today

Friday 17 September 2021 07:44 , Tom Ambrose

The Environment Secretary has said a Cabinet sub-committee meeting due to take place on Friday could sign off on travel rule changes.

The green and amber lists are expected to be merged to form one category of low-risk countries while the number of destinations on the red list will be reduced.

There is also speculation that fully-vaccinated arrivals will no longer need to take a pre-departure lateral flow test or a post-arrival PCR test.

George Eustice told Sky News: “My understanding is that no decisions have actually been taken yet, although I understand there may be a meeting today to review this. We regularly review those travel restrictions.

“Obviously we took an important step earlier this summer when we removed the need to quarantine for those countries coming from amber list countries – that was a really big step forward – but we have retained the need for testing, and that’s really so we can pick up any variants of concern through that PCR test.

“But, look, I know this has been raised by the travel industry, that they think some of that testing may be unnecessary, may be onerous – the Government will be listening to that and the Covid sub-committee of Cabinet that decide these things will be considering that probably later today.”

Travel review announcement expected

Friday 17 September 2021 07:42 , Tom Ambrose

The government is expected to announce a shake-up of the UK’s Covid travel rules later amid reports that dozens of countries will be removed from the red list.

There is speculation the red list effectively banning international travel to 62 countries could be halved, with holiday hotspots such as Turkey as well as destinations like Pakistan and Kenya opened up in time for the school half-term break in October.

A key question for holidaymakers will be whether ministers will scrap the requirement for fully-vaccinated people to take PCR tests after arriving back in the UK.

A plane takes off past the control tower at Heathrow Airport (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Archive)
A plane takes off past the control tower at Heathrow Airport (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Archive)
Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting