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News story: CMA launches funerals market investigation

first_imgThe purpose of a market investigation is to further examine the competition concerns identified and decide what action, if any, is appropriate. The CMA has power to make legally binding orders requiring changes to be made.The investigation will be conducted by a Group drawn from the CMA’s panel of independent members, chaired by Martin Coleman. The other members are Richard Feasey, Sheila McClelland and Karthik Subramanya.Alongside the market study, in conjunction with Age UK and the Money Advice Service, the CMA has today produced advice for those who need to arrange a funeral, so that some additional support is available to people immediately.A report of the CMA’s market study, and further information relating to the market investigation are available on the funerals market investigation page. The rise in cost of organising a funeral, the essential elements of which have increased by 6% each year – twice the inflation rate – for the last 14 years. Funerals typically cost several thousand pounds which is a significant outlay for households. The vulnerability of many people when organising a funeral, which may mean that they are not in a position to look at a range of choices. This appears to have made it easier for some funeral directors to charge high prices. Reluctance of firms to publish/disclose clear prices, including online, or to provide comprehensive information on quality and range, making it difficult for people to compare funeral directors. Low numbers of crematoria providers in local areas, and difficulty for new companies to enter the market due to the planning regime and high fixed costs. High prices in relation to crematoria services – the largest private operators have implemented average price rises of between 6% and 8% each year for the past 8 years and some local authorities have also implemented large increases in fees. Following publication of its interim report in November 2018, the CMA consulted on whether to progress to a market investigation. Having carefully considered the consultation responses, the vast majority of which were supportive of the proposal, the CMA remains concerned about the effectiveness of competition in the funerals sector and will therefore carry out an in-depth market investigation. The investigation will focus on the supply of services by funeral directors and the supply of crematoria services.The CMA’s concerns include:last_img read more

Zika alert WHO declares global health emergency over spread of virus

first_imgGENEVA, Switzerland — The World Health Organization on Monday declared that a surge in serious birth defects in South America was “strongly suspected” of being caused by the Zika virus and constituted an international health emergency.“We need to take action,” WHO chief Margaret Chan told reporters in Geneva.The U.N. health body said that a surge in cases of microcephaly — a devastating condition in which a baby is born with an abnormally small head and brain — was likely caused by the mosquito-borne Zika virus and declared the situation a “public health emergency of international concern.”Chan said a meeting of global health experts who make up the agency’s emergency committee had agreed “a causal relationship between the Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly is strongly suspected, though not scientifically proven.”“All agree on the urgent need to coordinate international efforts to investigate and understand this relationship better,” she said.“The experts also consider patterns of recent spread and the broad geographical distribution of the mosquito species that can transmit the virus, the lack of vaccines and rapid and reliable diagnostic tests and the absence of population immunity in newly affected countries were … further causes for concern,” Chan said.“The clusters of microcephaly and other neurological complications constitute an extraordinary event and a public health threat to other parts of the world,” she said.WHO warned last week that the mosquito-borne virus was “spreading explosively” in the Americas, and said the region could see up to four million Zika cases this year alone.The WHO is under pressure to act quickly in the fight against Zika, after admitting it was slow to respond to the recent Ebola outbreak that ravaged parts of west Africa.In addition to microcephaly, Zika is also believed to be linked to a neurological disorder called Guillain-Barre syndrome.Infections have been reported in 13 countries in the Americas, according to WHO, as well as in Asia, and in Africa, from where it originated.The virus is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also spreads dengue fever and the chikungunya virus. It produces flu-like symptoms including a low-grade fever, headaches, joint pain and rashes.WHO has so far refrained from issuing travel warnings related to Zika, stressing that the most effective form of prevention is getting rid of stagnant water where mosquitos easily breed, and using personal protection against mosquito bites such as using repellant and sleeping under mosquito nets.Panama, Colombia warn of Zika virus spreadPanama on Monday said it has 50 cases of Zika virus infections and warned that the disease will end up spreading across the Central American nation.“Let’s be clear: it [Zika] is going to enter, it is going to spread,” the head of the health ministry’s epidemological department, Israel Cedeno, told the television network TVN-2.The 50 cases confirmed so far were concentrated in Panama’s predominantly indigenous Guna Yala region along its Caribbean coast.Vice President Isabel De Saint Malo last week had spoken of 38 cases in Guna Yala. She said “right now there is no big public health risk.”Panama borders Colombia, which has so far reported more than 20,000 cases of Zika, including 2,100 in pregnant women. Colombia is forecasting it will see more than 650,000 infections.Colombia Health Minister Alejandro Gaviria said Monday he expected more than 1,500 cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome in the South American country.“We are currently talking about a rate of 2.3 cases of Guillain-Barre for every 1,000 patients with Zika. That is quite a lot,” Gaviria said on Colombian radio.Costa Rica has thus far reported just two cases of the Zika virus, neither of which were contracted in the country. Facebook Comments Related posts:WHO advises against blood donations from people returning from Zika areas UN prods Latin America on abortion as Zika spreads World Bank: Zika will cost Latin America $3.5 billion in 2016 Zika: Tragedy or Opportunity?last_img read more