Boris Johnson and Priti Patel were embroiled in a row over closing Britain’s borders as the Prime Minister refused a plea from the Home Secretary to stop flights to the UK. Ms Patel tried to build a coalition of senior Cabinet ministers to put the case to Downing Street, only for Number 10 to state publicly that there were “no plans” to stop flights from countries blighted by coronavirus, including Iran and the US. Mr Johnson was angry that Home Office discussions of a border lockdown – disclosed in the Daily Telegraph – had been made public, according to Whitehall sources. Ms Patel is understood to have wanted to raise the issue in one of the daily meetings of Cabinet sub-committees, arguing that Border Force, which is overseen by the Home Office, would be able to use existing immigration rules to stop flights on the basis that they would not be “conducive to the public good”.
Boris Johnson today distanced himself from Home Secretary Priti Patel after she called for the UK borders to be closed to stop people arriving from coronavirus hotspots. Downing Street said it was not seeking to seal up Britain’s borders in the midst of the pandemic, despite the hardline measure being taken by other nations. Mrs Patel believes flights from virus hotspots should not be allowed when the country is on lockdown to prevent its spread, The Daily Telegraph reported. The Home Secretary is seeking support for her plans to stop passengers being able to fly in to the UK from countries with high levels of infections such as Iran, the US and China.
The president of the European Commission has criticised EU member states for throwing up border controls to each other during the coronavirus pandemic. Ursula von der Leyen warned of “crucial equipment stuck in bottlenecks at borders for days” following the decisions to impose movement restrictions and export controls on vital medical equipment. Her call comes on the 25th anniversary of the EU’s passport less Schengen area, which was established in its current form on this day in 1995. “A successful European response can only be coordinated if our internal market and our Schengen area work the way it should: a crisis without borders cannot be resolved by putting barriers between us,” she told a mostly empty European Parliament in Brussels, from which MEPs were following from home.
French National Rally (RN) leader Marine Le Pen has claimed that the European Union was the first victim of coronavirus, citing a lack of solidarity in combatting the outbreak. Ms Le Pen said that the political bloc even failed when it gave announcements on the virus — a likely reference to statements made by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen calling for member-states’ borders to remain open earlier this month. “This is extremely serious because the first thing that we do when we are confronted with a human, plant, or animal epidemic is obviously to immediately control the borders to prevent the spread of the epidemic,” Le Pen said.
SPAIN has bought 640,000 faulty coroanvirus testing kits from China. The Spanish government purchased the kits from the firm Shenzhen Bioeasy Biotechnology for mass testing to discover the true extent of the country’s Covid-19 infection rate. Spain has suffered a higher death rate than any country except Italy, with more than 4,100 people dying and around 57,000 infected. There are fears the country’s health system is now collapsing under the weight of patients. Analysis in laboratories revealed the new rapid testing kits only correctly identify positive patients 30 per cent of the time. If 10 patients with coronavirus are tested seven will be incorrectly declared negative. The tests are supposed to have an 80 per cent success rate.
Asylum seekers and migrants in Germany and Italy are not respecting measures to help prevent the spread of the Chinese coronavirus, with some becoming violent when confronted. Yhe mayors of the German towns of Schneeberg and Zschorlau in the Saxony region have both complained to the regional government that asylum seekers at a local asylum home have not been respecting the measures in place to halt the spread of the virus. According to the mayors, the asylum seekers have been under the impression that the measures announced by German Chancellor Angela Merkel this week do not apply to them, tabloid Bild reports.
Boris Johnson faces escalating pressure to suspend all post-Brexit trade negotiations and concentrate government’s resources on fighting the coronavirus pandemic. In a letter coordinated by the Trade Justice M ovement and signed by several charities – including Friends of the Earth and the RSPCA – the prime minister has been urged to pause talks until parliament returns and the crisis is under control. Addressed to both Mr Johnson and Liz Truss, the international trade secretary, the groups claim it would be “deeply inappropriate” for trade talks between the UK and the US to commence at a time when both countries have imposed widespread lockdowns. “The UK government’s attention should be focused on dealing with the public health and economic crises which face our nation,” they added.
Planned negotiating rounds on the UK’s future relationship with the EU have been abandoned as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, with Boris Johnson’s government still to table a comprehensive legal text for both sides to work on. During a European commission briefing on Thursday, envoys for the EU capitals were told that holding negotiations via video-conferencing had so far proved impossible. The two sides are trying to find a way to maintain dialogue in the coming weeks and months to kickstart the talks, but a previous schedule for negotiating rounds, with weeks set aside for consultation and preparation, has been ditched.
The government is preparing to turn ten more sites into coronavirus field hospitals, akin to that being constructed in the ExCeL centre in London. One Whitehall source has told Sky News that military logisticians are already looking at five sites across the country and, whilst not naming their locations, they are likely to include other large cities like Birmingham, Manchester, and Newcastle. Birmingham is in the West Midlands, the worst-hit contagion area outside of London. A second source told the news broadcaster that the government is looking at between eight and ten sites, while a third said it was around ten to 13. None of the reported proposed facilities would be as large as the one currently being built at the ExCeL convention centre in the Docklands area of London; however, a fourth said that the military was scoping out ten “ExCeL-type” facilities around the country. The east London field hospital, designated NHS Hospital Nightingale, will hold 4,000 beds on two wards and will be staffed by both NHS staff and military medics.
A CORONAVIRUS home test kit will be available “within days” – from Amazon and Boots, the Government has revealed. The finger-prick test, which detects antibodies to the virus in the blood, is able to determine if someone has or has already had Covid-19. When a person gets infected by the virus, the body starts making specially designed proteins called antibodies to fight the infection. MPs heard the Government has bought 3.5 million antibody tests and will priorities NHS staff and key workers – like doctors and nurses – to enable people to go back to work.
One million home testing kits for coronavirus could be sent out in a matter of weeks, according to public health officials. Public Health England (PHE) appeared to provide hope that the UK lockdown could be scaled back after announcing that testing kits were being assessed for household use. People are currently having to obey strict rules about remaining indoors in a bid to stall the spread of coronavirus. But testing kits could allow those who have had the deadly virus to return to their normal routines because health experts believe there is a period of immunity after having contracted the disease.
Unemployment will soar after the Chancellor delayed a coronavirus bailout for millions of self-employed people until June, the Government was warned on Thursday night. Announcing a £9bn package for self-employed workers, Rishi Sunak acknowledged millions will have to claim welfare until the summer if they have no other money to live on. The Chancellor also put the self-employed on notice that they will have to pay more tax in the long term to help pay for the bailout, described by one freelancers’ trade body as the “kicker” that could finish off start-ups even if they get through the current crisis.
BORIS JOHNSON was under pressure to shutdown building sites after furious construction workers said they feel “angry and unprotected”. Many builders were forced to turn up for work yesterday, many using packed public transport, after being excluded from lockdown measures. Downing Street said they should continue to work if they can follow public health guidelines to remain two metres apart. But the government advice was at odds with official instructions in Scotland and London mayor Sadiq Khan said he clashed with the PM about the move. Electrician Dan Dobson said the Government must provide support to self-employed workers, including about a million in the construction industry, and then shut down building sites.
People over the age of 90 should think twice about going into hospital during the coronavirus outbreak to avoid “clogging up” the NHS, the former chief scientific adviser has suggested. Professor Sir David King urged frail elderly people to consider refusing hospital treatment during the crisis because their chances of survival were slim. But charities representing older people criticised his remarks and said patients should be offered the same standards of life-saving care regardless of their age. It comes as under-pressure hospitals across the country begin drawing up plans to ration ventilators and intensive care beds, with priority given to younger and healthier patients.
NHS staff who have contracted coronavirus but remain at work because they show no symptoms are probably infecting patients, a public health official admitted yesterday. Doctors said they were worried about becoming “part of the problem” owing to a lack of testing and a shortage of protective equipment, particularly outside hospitals. Masks, gloves and visors can help stop people infecting others and stop them becoming infected. The British Medical Association said that staff testing was urgently needed so that doctors and nurses knew if it was safe for them to see patients.
General Practitioners and community doctors are not being supplied with even basic equipment to stop them from being infected by the coronavirus, the British Medical Association has warned. Official guidance states health workers should wear eye protection, such as goggles, if they are within one metre of patients suspected of carrying Covid-19. But Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the BMA, said the pack of personal protective equipment delivered to GPs across the country provided them with just gloves, a face mask and a sleeveless apron. Speaking to the Commons Health and Social Care Committee, Dr Nagpaul said his association had been “flooded” with concerns from doctors and frontline staff, who are worried about the lack of PPE they are being given, raising the risk of exposure to the disease.
NHS and social care staff will be given free car parking during the coronavirus outbreak, the government has said. It comes after 400,000 people signed a petition urging the government to thank NHS workers by scrapping charges. GP Anthony Gallagher, who began the petition, welcomed the move but said fees should be abolished permanently. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I will do everything I can to ensure our dedicated staff have whatever they need during this unprecedented time.” The government has promised to provide NHS trusts with the money so they can offer free parking to workers at hospital car parks.
The sound of applause rang around the streets of Britain on Thursday night as millions of people took part in a mass cheer to ‘clap for our carers’. Live feeds on social media showed people leaning out of windows, standing in gardens and venturing on to balconies to join the nationwide gesture of gratitude. The #ClapForOurCarers hashtag and poster started circulating on social media a week ago and quickly attracted the support of millions of households across the UK wanting to thank NHS workers during the coronavirus crisis. The poster read: “Please join us on 26th of March at 8pm for a big applause… to show all nurses, doctors, GPs and carers our appreciation for their ongoing hard work and fight against this virus.”
The nation has come together in a mass round of applause for NHS workers for their help in treating patients during the coronavirus outbreak. The Clap For Carers initiative saw residents applauding from their doorsteps, windows and balconies at 8pm, with some venturing into the streets, and motorists joining in by tooting their horns. Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis were among those applauding the NHS as part of the Clap For Carers initiative. A video of the three young royals clapping was posted on Kensington Palace’s Twitter account.
The NHS has thanked the British public after millions were led by Princes George and Louis and Princess Charlotte in showing appreciation for staff who are slaving away to try to stem the number of deaths from coronavirus. The service’s official Twitter page posted ‘that was emotional’ with a blue heart following the incredible display of unity. It came after the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge shared a video on Instagram of their children laughing and clapping together in the garden. The post on Kensington Palace’s account read: ‘To all the doctors, nurses, carers, GPs, pharmacists, volunteers and other NHS staff working tirelessly to help those affected by #COVID19: thank you.’
BRITAIN turned blue tonight and joined in a mass round of applause to thank NHS heroes battling deadly coronavirus. Landmarks lit up for frontline healthcare workers, while Brits up and down the country clapped and whooped in a joint show of support. The Clap For Carers campaign, which started online, was staged because “during these unprecedented times they need to know we are grateful”, according to the organisers. At 8pm, grateful Brits obeyed government advice to stay indoors and instead showed their support from inside their homes, on balconies and in their gardens.
THE NHS has said thank you to the British public after millions lined the street to applaud heroic frontline staff battling coronavirus. Last night at 8 pm millions lined the street to show their appreciation for NHS and key workers who are in the race against the clock to prevent the spread of coronavirus. On the service’s official Twitter page they said “that was emotional” followed by a blue heart emoji. The historic scenes saw the London Eye, the Wembley Arch and Royal Albert Hall light up blue to mark the occasion. Cheers, claps, and even drum rolls were delivered by the British public as exhausted NHS staff continue to battle the pandemic. On social media, many celebrities flocked online to share their thanks to medical staff.
The housing market was halted on Thursday night by the Government after financial institutions said they could no longer operate properly. Ministers are discouraging buyers from going ahead with house sales and purchases unless they have already exchanged contracts as part of wider efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus, saying no one should move unless absolutely necessary. Britain’s biggest banks have already pulled hundreds of mortgages from the market, as experts warned that they are being overwhelmed by homeowners with unnecessary demands for payment holidays.
The housing market was effectively suspended by the government last night in an unprecedented move as the sector was plunged into chaos by the coronavirus outbreak. Banks struggling with the volume of customer inquiries, difficulties with valuations and legal uncertainty has led ministers to call on people to delay moving. Finance has dried up with mortgage providers ceasing to offer many new home loans. They include Lloyds, which owns the Halifax and Bank of Scotland and is the largest player in the market, and Barclays.
HOUSE buyers have been urged by the government to delay moving home during the coronavirus crisis. Ministers say Brits looking to buy a house should postpone completion dates to avoid breaking social distancing rules. Lenders have now said they would extend mortgage offers for up to three months, which would allow buyers to move in at a later date, Daily Mail reports. The advice comes after banks lobbied MPs for a full freeze on the property market as the killer virus continues to grip Britain. A government spokesman said: “Home buyers and renters should, as far as possible, delay moving home while emergency measures are in place to fight coronavirus.
Britons are being told not to move house during the coronavirus outbreak to avoid breaking the rules on social distancing, in another huge blow to the UK property market. With some banks already withdrawing mortgages from sale, the government’s order that all house moves be put on hold will effectively freeze the housing market. In new government advice, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick’s department declared: “Homebuyers and renters should, where possible, delay moving to a new house while measures are in place to fight coronavirus (COVID-19).” In an attempt to breathe some life into the market, mortgage lenders have agreed to extend all house purchase loan offers by three months to give borrowers more time to complete transactions.
Airlines have been accused of cheating passengers by refusing to provide refunds for future flights despite a lockdown imposed in most countries. The consumer group Which? said that customers were being offered vouchers or the chance to rebook rather than get their money back even though holidays scheduled for the coming months are unlikely to happen. The Foreign Office is advising against all foreign travel until April 15. However, most flights due to take off after that date are still scheduled to operate and passengers due to fly with carriers such as British Airways, EasyJet and Ryanair are unable to cancel and claim a refund.