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Coronavirus

Sky News
The health secretary has urged Britons to follow the government’s advice – saying life will return to normal more quickly if everyone does so. Matt Hancock said that embracing social distancing measures will help the UK avoid “difficult situations” like those seen in Italy, where hospitals are overwhelmed with gravely ill patients. “The more people follow the public health advice, the quicker we will be through this and the quicker we will be back to normal,” he told Sky News. The health secretary also said the government is looking “very, very closely” at why there is a coronavirus hotspot in the Midlands. Asked about 28 deaths recorded in the West Midlands, Mr Hancock said: “There is a hotspot, not as big as in London, but there is a hotspot in the Midlands. “It’s something that we’re looking at very, very closely to find out why, frankly. ”

BBC News
The world is shutting down. Places that were once teeming with the hustle and bustle of daily life have become ghost-towns with massive restrictions put on our lives – from lockdowns and school closures to travel restrictions and bans on mass gatherings. It is an unparalleled global response to a disease. But when will it end and when will we be able to get on with our lives? Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he believes the UK can “turn the tide” against the outbreak within the next 12 weeks and the country can “send coronavirus packing”. But even if the number of cases starts to fall in the next three months, then we will still be far from the end. It can take a long time for the tide to go out – possibly years.

Independent
Matt Hancock has told Britons to “stay at home to save lives” and appealed to people to stop stockpiling food and vital goods as the coronavirus outbreak deepens. Amid concerns people are continuing to flout social distancing guidance by going to pubs, the health secretary said the only way for the country to get through the crisis was for people to behave responsibly. Mr Hancock also appealed to retired health workers to join the fight against the virus, adding: “Your NHS needs you now.” “How quickly we get through this will be determined by the actions of every single person in this country,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Corona/cure

Telegraph
A powerful antibody which could neutralise coronavirus has been discovered by British scientists in the blood of a patient who recovered from Sars, offering hope of a treatment. Researchers at the Diamond Light Source, a super-powerful x-ray machine in Harwell, Oxfordshire, have been studying the blood of those who fought off Sars to Cee if they could find how they had done so. Coronavirus is a type of Sars and shares many of the same features as the older virus, which caused an epidemic between 2002 and 2004. In one recovered patient, scientists found a potent antibody – a small molecule which attaches to a foreign invader such as a virus and flags it up to the immune system so it can be destroyed. Further tests showed it is even better at attaching to coronavirus than to Sars.

ITV News
Government plans to purchase antibody tests to detect if someone has had coronavirus could be a “gamechanger” in the UK’s response to Covid-19, the Prime Minister has said. Boris Johnson said “hundreds of thousands” of kits could be bought if the tests prove effective – though negotiations are currently still ongoing. It comes as the number of people  tested positive for coronavirus in the UK rose to 3,269. The death toll from the virus in the UK stands at 144. According to Public Health England (PHE), understanding who has previously had the virus will allow authorities to better refine their estimates of how many people in the population will be affected and the rate of spread.

Times
The first British patient entered a trial for a Covid-19 treatment yesterday as Boris Johnson promised 250,000 tests a day to be held to remove the virus’s “cloak of invisibility”. The prime minister said that the government was in negotiations to buy a “game-changer” antibody test to determine whether people had already had the virus. This would allow them to return to normal life knowing that they no longer posed an infection risk. Leading scientific advisers have said that treatments and tests to prevent intensive care units from being overwhelmed could allow Britain to ease restrictions before a vaccine is found.

Corona/Brexit

Independent
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has tested positive for coronavirus. Mr Barnier’s illness is the latest setback to hit talks which must be concluded by the end of 2020 if the UK is to avoid a no-deal Brexit on disadvantageous World Trade Organisation terms. But Downing Street said Boris Johnson had no plans to ditch his self-imposed 31 December deadline and ask for an extension to negotiations on a UK/EU trade deal. “We would of course send Michel Barnier our best wishes for his recovery,” said a UK government spokesman.

Express
BREXIT chief negotiator, David Frost, has decided to self-isolate after showing symptoms of coronavirus. Mr Frost’s decision was confirmed last night by a British official. The news comes after his EU counterpart, Michel Barnier, confirmed he had tested positive for the disease. Mr Barnier took to Twitter today to announce he had contracted coronavirus and would be self-isolating.   He said: “I would like to inform you that I have tested positive for #COVID19.  “I am doing well and in good spirits. I am following all the necessary instructions, as is my team.

Corona/medical staff

BBC News
Letters are being sent to more than 65,000 retired doctors and nurses in England and Wales asking them to return to the NHS to help tackle the coronavirus outbreak. Senior officials say the ex-employees are needed to boost frontline services. It comes after the government pledged to ensure that all hospitals have enough protective gear and ventilators. It also published a list of key workers whose children will still be able to go to school after they shut later.

Breitbart
Emergency coronavirus legislation will empower the government to “provide indemnity for clinical negligence liabilities of healthcare professionals and others arising from NHS activities carried out as part of the response to a coronavirus outbreak.” The proposed Coronavirus Bill will, if it becomes law, provide the state with sweeping, authoritarian powers to regulate the public’s behaviour throughout the emergency, in order to mitigate its potentially devastating effects. By providing “indemnity for clinical negligence liabilities arising from NHS activities connected to the diagnosis, care and treatment of those who have been diagnosed as having coronavirus disease or who are suspected, or who are at risk, of having the disease” through the Secretary of State for Health or “a person authorised by the Secretary of State”, the bill aims to “ensure that, in the exceptional circumstances that might arise in a coronavirus outbreak, sufficient indemnity arrangements are in place to cover all NHS activities required to respond to the outbreak,” according to explanatory notes provided by the Department of Health and Social Care.

Mirror
Frontline health and social care staff, people involved in food production and delivery, and utility workers are among a list of workers deemed “essential” to the Covid-19 response. The Government published a list of “key workers” in the early hours of Friday whose children will continue to be cared for at school amid the coronavirus pandemic. The “key workers” list was expected to be published on Thursday, with those included anticipated to be NHS staff, police and supermarket delivery drivers. But on Thursday evening, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, speaking on BBC Question Time, confirmed that the list would not be published until Friday – when most schools will shut their gates until further notice.

ITV News
NHS and social care staff, food producers and delivery drivers, along with utility workers are among a list of workers deemed “essential” to the coronavirus response. The Government has published a list of “key workers” on Friday, whose children will be cared for at school amid the Covid-19 outbreak. Also included in the key workers list include police, supermarket staff, teachers and public transport workers.  The Department for Education said: “If your work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or you work in one of the critical sectors listed below, and you cannot keep your child safe at home, then your children will be prioritised for education provision.”

Corona/NHS

Guardian
Local authorities will get more than half of a £2.9bn pot of emergency funding to sort out – at least for now – the long-running problem of elderly and vulnerable people stuck in hospital because the social care they need is not available. The announcement came as the NHS launched an appeal to 65,000 retired doctors and nurses to come back to help with the coronavirus epidemic, under the slogan evocative of wartime: “Your NHS needs you.”  The beds occupied by elderly and vulnerable people who have recovered from illness but need care in the community are now urgently needed for the expected influx of severely ill coronavirus patients. Getting them home with support or into a care home will enable the NHS to free up 15,000 beds and convert them to critical care.

Corona/workers

Times
Boris Johnson is expected to reveal an unprecedented package of wage subsidies and tax cuts today after he pledged to “stand by the workers of this country”. Cuts to employers’ national insurance and the basic rate of income tax and a plan to subsidise people’s wages are being considered by the Treasury to help those who will “really suffer” in the economic shutdown. One source suggested that the government could in effect underwrite 60 per cent of the average national wage for each worker.

Express
THE UK government is set to offer a new lease of support to workers whose jobs have been affected by the coronavirus crisis. Plans to offer unprecedented financial support to millions of British workers hit by the coronavirus pandemic will be unveiled by the chancellor today. The government is currently discussing the option of subsidising wages by freezing income tax payments and giving National Insurance tax breaks. Rishi Sunak has also been in discussions about paying workers a weekly subsidy in what would be the biggest intervention by the British state in the economy since the Second World War.

Independent
Boris Johnson is facing a Tory revolt over failure to protect millions of workers from redundancy during the coronavirus crisis, with a former cabinet minister urging the state to start paying wages. Greg Clark, the ex-business secretary, said ministers should fund workers’ pay if firms continuing to employ staff as he warned that the government’s loan scheme was “not enough” to save jobs. He said firms were being forced to make “irreversible” decisions, adding: “If the government does not act immediately, large numbers of people will be unemployed. “Registering them will put huge pressure on the welfare system, vital skills will be lost and good businesses will cease trading, who themselves will be the customers and suppliers of other businesses.”

BBC News
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is to announce an employment and wage subsidy package to try to protect millions of jobs. Talks went on into the night with business groups and union leaders, who urged the government to help pay wages amid the coronavirus pandemic. Many firms are warning of collapse, wiping out thousands of jobs, as life in the UK is largely put on hold. News of more help for companies pushed stock markets higher, with the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 up 5% at one point. The pound rose 3.3% from a 35-year low to $1.18.

Corona/travellers

Buzzfeed
Travellers who are stuck overseas because of the novel coronavirus say they are getting no help from the Foreign Office, from travel insurers who say they won’t pay out, or from airlines that are overwhelmed by demand. Holidaymakers stranded abroad told BuzzFeed News that both insurers and the Foreign Office had told them that it was up to airlines to get them home, but as airlines are receiving an unprecedented number of calls — both from people currently abroad and customers whose future travel plans have been disrupted —they are struggling to get help. BuzzFeed News spoke to travllers stranded around the world, as COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, continues to cause travel issues.

Corona/weddings

Yahoo News
Church weddings held during the coronavirus outbreak should be limited to five people per ceremony, the Church of England has said. Adopting the measure would mean only a priest, the bride and groom and two witnesses are allowed to attend Church marriage ceremonies. “Apart from the couple themselves, everyone else should observe a social distance as far as possible,” the church said in a statement. “The guidance makes clear that traditions such as the priest touching the rings or the couple’s hands as part of a prayer or blessing are not required.” The statement on Thursday came after NHS England said a further 29 patients in England have died after testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the overall UK death toll to 137.

Corona/Army

Mirror
The Ministry of Defence has put 20,000 troops on standby to deal with the coronavirus crisis. As many as 150 troops are learning to drive oxygen tankers to supply hospitals. An 10,000 extra personnel, on top of 10,000 already at “high readiness”, will be part of a “Covid Support Force” ready to help Government departments and local resilience forums. Reservists could be drafted into help as the crisis escalates. Meanwhile, a Navy hospital ship which supported operations to curb the ebola outbreak could be used to treat coronavirus patients. The Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel Argus, which was based off West Africa in 2014-15 during the ebola crisis, could be used to ease pressure on packed NHS wards. Today the death toll in the UK reached 104 with that figure expected to rise in the coming days and weeks.

iNews
British troops in Iraq are to be flown home to join the 20,000 service personnel who will join the fight against coronavirus. Around 10,000 troops are held at “higher readiness” in case of a civil emergency and this figure is being doubled in an effort to support public services during the epidemic. The Government stressed that they would carry out roles such as driving oxygen tankers to hospitals, and would play no part in maintaining law and order. The Ministry of Defence said it was “fully engaged” with all levels of Government to work out how the military can provide a support role over the coming months.

Corona/schools

ITV News
NHS and social care staff, food producers and delivery drivers, along with utility workers are among a list of workers deemed “essential” to the coronavirus response. The Government has published a list of “key workers” on Friday, whose children will be cared for at school amid the Covid-19 outbreak. Also included in the key workers list include police, supermarket staff, teachers and public transport workers. The Department for Education said: “If your work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or you work in one of the critical sectors listed below, and you cannot keep your child safe at home, then your children will be prioritised for education provision.” It added that children with at least one parent or carer identified as critical workers by the government could send their children to school if required. The Department for Education said they expected the majority of educational establishments to stay open where required – but recognised it may be “impossible” for small rural schools. It said when a school is unable to stay open, it would work with local officials to find an alternative setting for pupils, as well as providing transport arrangements.

Mail
All staff who work in Britain’s food supply chain will be designated as key workers and have access to childcare during the coronavirus crisis, Food Secretary George Eustice suggested today amid wider confusion about who will be eligible for the help.  All schools in the UK will shut as of tomorrow afternoon but children of key workers will still be looked after to enable their parents to continue to work. Boris Johnson said NHS workers, police officers and supermarket delivery drivers will all be eligible for the childcare provision but the government is yet to publish a planned full list of key worker professions having said it will be published today.  Mr Eustice gave a clear hint to the House of Commons earlier today that people who work in food industries will be included.

Mirror
Schools across the UK will shut their gates from Friday in a landmark move to deal with the coronavirus outbreak. Millions of British children will be sent home – meaning their parents are forced to stay home too to care for them. And sending children to live with grandparents is not an option because they are most at risk from COVID-19. It will radically alter millions of parents’ lives – and mean GCSEs and A-levels are cancelled leaving millions of teenagers in limbo. But not all children are being told to stay away from school. Those of key workers – including police, NHS workers and delivery drivers – will still attend. The move was announced today as UK cases soared by 676 in a day to 2,626. The government admitted the virus was spreading more quickly than anticipated and needed drastic action.

Sun
TEENS are set to be given their GCSE and A Level results based on mocks, predicted grades and teacher assessment as schools nationwide shut down tomorrow. Boris Johnson yesterday announced students would not sit their exams as he confirmed schools across the country would close from Friday until further notice. Students who think their results are unfair are expected to be allowed to sit their exams in the autumn instead. Around a million youngsters in England were left in limbo after the Government dramatically axed all exams as part of the unprecedented coronavirus shutdown. Ministers have drawn up emergency measures – expected to be announced tomorrow  – to make sure kids can go on to university or college. Leora Cruddas, the chief executive of the Confederation of School Trusts, revealed the plans in a leaked email to headteachers.

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