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Reid says Covid positivity rate is now 8.4% with ‘very high levels’ of testing

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The coronavirus positivity rate is now 8.4 per cent amid “very high levels” of testing, HSE chief executive Paul Reid said this morning, due to an earlier-than-expected surge in infections caused by the Delta variant.

The last time the positivity rate was above 8 per cent was in May 2020.

Mr Reid also said more than 5.1 million vaccines have now been administered to residents of the Republic, with 63 per cent of adults fully vaccinated and 76 per cent partially.

There are 78 people in hospital with Covid-19 on Saturday, with 22 of those in intensive care (ICU), according to the State’s Covid-19 data hub.

Mr Reid said on Saturday morning that hospitalisations and ICU are “holding well”.

Fears are growing Ireland could have up to 2,000 cases of coronavirus a day by the end of the month.

Although a surge on cases here had been anticipated due a combination of restrictions being eased and the impact of the Delta variant, the spike in infections is happening about two weeks sooner than anticipated and moving more quickly.

A further 1,173 infections were reported in the Republic on Friday, with 79 patients in hospital and 23 in intensive care.

The State’s chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan, said just over 50 per cent of Friday’s cases were in those aged between 19 and 34.

National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) member Prof Philip Nolan said on Friday the growth in cases among 16- to 18-year-olds was exceptional”, while rates among 19- to 24-year-olds are also moving quickly.

Despite the sharp surge in cases in Ireland and many other countries, including Britain, non-essential international travel is due to resume from Ireland from Monday while 34 states have been removed from the Mandatory Hotel Quarantine list.

There are now 29 countries on the list, with the addition of Cuba – starting from 4am on Tuesday.

However, the sharp rise in cases is causing concern and on Saturday former British health secretary Jeremy Hunt warned prime minister Boris Johnson may be forced to reimpose lockdown restrictions if Covid cases continue rising into the autumn.

Donnelly

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly yesterday warned the Seanad of “roaring” case growth in Ireland. He told The Irish Times that modelling by Nphet shows “a wide range of cases for the end of July, with the maximum being around 2,000 cases a day”.

Another senior Government source said the threshold of 2,000 cases a day could be breached earlier than the end of the month.

A return to January levels of pressure on healthcare is not countenanced, but political sources are increasingly wary of the impact of infections – especially among the unvaccinated – on hospitals.

If cases hit 2,000 per day, hospital admissions could be in the region of 40 per day, with four to five deaths, Coalition figures believe.

Kingston Mills, professor of experimental immunology with Trinity College Dublin, said he cannot make a proper judgment on the impact this Delta wave is likely to have without knowing the age, health profiles and vaccination status of Covid-19 patients in hospitals and intensive care units.

“If they are younger people in their 30s and 20s then you would be less concerned because they are going to be vaccinated in a few weeks, and those numbers then will drop,” he said. The situation would be more “concerning” if the people being hospitalised are older, he added.

People enjoying the good weather outside restaurants on Capel Street in Dublin on Friday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins
People enjoying the good weather outside restaurants on Capel Street in Dublin on Friday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

The biggest risk to younger cohorts is long Covid, but some of them are in hospital, he said. The number of people aged 13 to 18 who are infected with the virus is “very high” showing there is “significant transmission in adolescents”, he added.

19 to 24 year-olds

According to the latest HSE epidemiology report, this age cohort makes up 15.3 per cent of new cases over the last two weeks, while the 19 to 24 age group represents nearly a quarter.

A fifth of new cases are among those aged between 25 and 34, while just 2.8 per cent are in people aged 64 and older.

It is understood the latest Nphet modelling, which has incorporated the pace at which Delta is surging as well as the impact of vaccination, has shown an improvement in the outcomes associated with worst-case scenarios, but the best-case scenario is disimproving.

Mr Donnelly urged people to act in line with public health advice, emphasising the serious risks, especially for the unvaccinated: “It’s time once again to be super careful.”

A Department of Health source said there is “concern but not alarm” at current trends. Mr Donnelly said that possible death rates for just three months range between 335 and 1,760 people.

A further 1,173 infections were reported in the Republic on Friday, with 79 patients in hospital and 23 in intensive care.

In Northern Ireland the Southern Health Trust has suspended visits at hospitals amid the rising number of Covid-19 cases. A further 1,380 people tested positive for coronavirus there on Friday.



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VGP acquires French logistics development

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VGP NV and VALGO signed an agreement to purchase 32 hectares of land that housed the former Petroplus refining units in Petit-Couronne, near Rouen. This brownfield rehabilitation project is fully in line with VGP’s core expertise and strategy. Thanks to the six years ownership of the site by VALGO and its expertise in asbestos removal, soil and water table decontamination, in-situ waste treatment and development, this area has now become a suitable site for the development of new industries and business activities.

 

On the banks of the river Seine and close to the A13 highway, the 32-hectare area of land offers its future users a highly strategic location. Following the extensive depollution work carried out by VALGO, the site is now ready for redevelopment. VGP expanded into France only a few months ago and is delighted to start its French business activities in the dynamic Rouen Normandy metropolis area, via this major project. In total, around 150,000m² of land are set to be redeveloped to accommodate industrial and logistics projects, with work due to begin in 2023.

 

Jan Van Geet, CEO VGP, said: “VGP is delighted to begin its business activities in France on a site as exceptional as this one, with strong economic and environmental ambitions that are shared by both our partner, VALGO, and the local authorities. As the rehabilitation of brownfield sites is at the heart of our business, this project is a great opportunity for us to deploy our industrial and logistical know-how. The uncertain geopolitical situation and the rise in transport prices mean that companies are increasingly looking for local support to start their business. In this context, we strongly believe in the relevance of our integrated model with a long-term vision. We are now eager to get to work and bring all the expertise of the Group to the project.”

 

Francois Bouche, CEO VALGO, commented: “We are delighted that this huge piece of land has been sold to a major investor with experience in redeveloping brownfields in Europe. However, I would first like to celebrate the work of the men and women who worked so hard to make this colossal project a success. It took more than 1 million hours and over €60m in investment by VALGO to turn the page on over 80 years of refining on this site, which already employs 600 people.”

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Selling your home? Here’s how to make sure it has kerb appeal by sprucing up outside space

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As anyone who has indulged in the brutal ‘swipe left’ culture of internet dating will testify, you don’t often get a second chance to make a first impression. And the same is true when trying to sell your property.

That’s why what lies at the front of your house — be it lawn, gravel or flagstones — can play a major role in making a sale.

Indeed, having a pleasing ‘shop front’ to snag potential buyers scrolling through listings or even walking past outside can offer leverage to boost the asking price, says Colby Short, CEO of estate agent comparison site getagent.co.uk.

Dress to impress: Colourful flower beds transform the look of a cottage in East Lothian, Scotland

Dress to impress: Colourful flower beds transform the look of a cottage in East Lothian, Scotland

‘Homes that offer a front garden carry a 4 per cent property price premium versus those without, and that equates to more than £11,000 in the current market,’ he says.

So what changes can you make to the patch in front of your house to help improve the saleability of the property?

Some alterations are simple, entry-level innovations. For example, even the smallest swatch of grass should be mown and rubbish-free. 

In fact, bins and recycling boxes are often the first thing you see in a front garden, as well as the detritus left by squirrels who have curated bits of dinner from your bags of rubbish. But it’s easy to hide bins away in a box unit.

‘If you’re trying to hide ugly bins, how about building a bin store with a planter on the top, then you can have some gorgeous outdoor succulents and flowering alpines?’ says QVC UK’s gardening expert Michael Perry. 

You can also buy wooden bin stores from outdoor furniture suppliers such as Wayfair (from £125.99).

Meanwhile, hanging baskets outside your front door help to break up a harsh brick wall, says Sean Lade, of Easy Garden Irrigation.

‘Hanging baskets are an excellent choice for adding colour and scent to your front garden and soften the front of your house. They should be installed at eye level —about 5 ft off the ground.’

Hanging baskets add colour and scent to a front garden and soften the front of a house

Hanging baskets add colour and scent to a front garden and soften the front of a house

And think about replacing tired fencing or dilapidated brick walls with natural borders, such as Boxwood hedging, which will add visual interest and is also easy to prune throughout the year.

‘If you prefer a cottage garden appearance, then why not train climbing plants to create natural archways around your front door, porch or gate?’ says Deborah Cobb, product manager at builders’ merchants MKM.

‘Raised flower beds are also a clever way to add some natural foliage. If you fill them with evergreen shrubs, then they are an easy-to-look-after and low-maintenance option that will look good all year round.’

In terms of what plants to go for, Nicola Bird, founder of seed subscription service The Floral Project, suggests some annual flowers are perfect for planting at the front of your house if you’re looking to sell. 

‘They include varieties such as cosmos, phlox, zinnias and sweet peas — not only to bring a bright splash of colour to your front garden, but also serve as a great conversation starter with your potential buyers.’

Even if you don’t have a patch of grass in front of your home, there are other fundamentals which will help with the sale, says Jonathan Rolande, professional property buyer at housebuyfast.co.uk.

This includes jet-washing your path. And just before a visit from potential buyers, remove any vehicles, where possible, to help to create an impression of space.

‘Clean the windows, frames and front doors — and clean the house number,’ he says. ‘If the garden is mostly given over to parking, soften the look with pots and planters filled with bright flowers and attractive shrubs.’

 You may think your garden gnomes are cute, but to a prospective buyer, they can be just plain creepy

He adds that if you don’t have a lawn, terracotta planters on the front sills look great with fragrant plants such as lavender and rosemary appealing to the sense of smell, too.

If your front garden is really small, use decorative gravel such as pea shingle or slate chippings, suggests Thomas Goodman, property expert at homeowner and tradesman connection website myjobquote.co.uk.

‘This will give you an attractive, low-maintenance base for topping with a few nice plant pots.

‘Fix anything that’s broken, including gates, fences and walls. These detract from any nice planting and give the impression of a home that’s not properly maintained and is going to need work.’

Colby Short says some items in your garden should be permanently jettisoned to improve the chances of a sale.

‘You may think your garden gnomes are cute, but to a prospective buyer, they can be just plain creepy. The same goes for any large statues or display items, particularly if they are of a political, religious or risque nature.

‘When it comes to potential buyers, you want to present a blank canvas. But that doesn’t mean this canvas can’t look good and add appeal in its own right.’

On the market… with kerb appeal 

Buckinghamshire: This four bedroom semi-detached cottage is on the edge of Denham Village. The bedrooms are spacious overlooking front and rear gardens. Struttandparker.com, 01753 481 781, £800,000

Buckinghamshire: This four bedroom semi-detached cottage is on the edge of Denham Village. The bedrooms are spacious overlooking front and rear gardens. Struttandparker.com, 01753 481 781, £800,000

Suffolk: There are four bedrooms in this detached house in Old Newton. The property dates from the 16th century and has a thatched roof and mature gardens. Fineandcountry.com, 01379 646 020. £1.2m

Suffolk: There are four bedrooms in this detached house in Old Newton. The property dates from the 16th century and has a thatched roof and mature gardens. Fineandcountry.com, 01379 646 020. £1.2m

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Elephant Park expands its retail offer (GB)

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Lendlease has announced the openings of two new spaces at Elephant Park: all-day kitchen and bar RAREBIT; and community garden store The Nunhead Gardener.

 

RAREBIT – the all-day kitchen and evening dining, bar, and grocery store – has opened its first brick-and-mortar location on Elephant Park’s casual dining hub, Sayer Street. The brand-new concept has a menu focusing on British favorites including the Welsh ‘rarebit’, and its grocery stocks a range of independent wines, craft beers, and coffee from East London coffee shop, Climpson & Sons. This selection is complemented by cheeses from Neal’s Yard Dairy, charcuterie from London Smoke & Cure, and produce from Natoora.

 

The Nunhead Gardener is the latest brand to move from one of Lendlease’s meanwhile units into a permanent space at Elephant Park, following the likes of Dima Beautiful, Beza Ethiopian Vegan, and bar and bottle shop The Tap In. The 900ft² unit on Sayer Street stocks a selection of indoor and outdoor plants, as well as specialty gardening tools, seeds, and seasonal scented candles.

 

Guy Thomas, Head of Place Assets at Lendlease, commented: “Both of these openings speak to our core values at Elephant Park, with a commitment to providing our local community with uses that are independent, sustainability-oriented, and unique. The arrival of RAREBIT adds a new cuisine to casual dining hub Sayer Street, and The Nunhead Gardener’s revamped permanent space has created a plant haven that we know local people will love.”

 

Mark Angell and Will Nias, Co-Founders of RAREBIT, said: “RAREBIT is about bringing a modern, fresh concept to people who want top-quality food and drink. Whether that be for grocery shopping or sit-down dining, we are so excited to be welcoming customers through our doors at Elephant Park. It is such a buzzing area, and we are proud to introduce RAREBIT to this diverse and vibrant environment.”

 

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