Lockdown

Telegraph
The peak of coronavirus deaths in Britain may be still several weeks away, the government’s Chief Scientific Advisor has warned, in a development that could leave lockdown in place for far longer than expected. Last week, Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, said that a peak was expected this weekend after which a steady decline would follow. But at the daily briefing, Sir Patrick Vallance said deaths would continue to rise for a further fortnight after the number of intensive care cases improves. The exponential rise in patients admitted to intensive care is now slowing – taking six days to double, in contrast to three days in mid-March. But it suggests that the plateau is still some days away, and deaths will not start falling for two weeks after that, pushing the peak towards the end of April.

Sky News
Dominic Raab has said the UK “must keep going” with lockdown measures as he warned against giving coronavirus “a second chance to kill more people”. The foreign secretary, speaking at Downing Street’s daily briefing, said the government did not expect to be able to give more details on when coronavirus lockdown measures might be lifted until the end of next week. He urged people to stay home over the Easter weekend, saying social distancing “will have to stay in place” until there was evidence that “clearly shows we’ve moved beyond the peak” of the COVID-19 outbreak. “We are not done yet, we must keep going,” said Mr Raab, who is deputising for Boris Johnson while the prime minister remains in hospital. Although there are “early signs” the lockdown measures – which have been in place for approaching three weeks – are “having the impact we need to see”, the foreign secretary stressed it was “too early to say that conclusively”.

BBC News
“I can assure you, we will keep these restrictions under constant review. We will look again in three weeks, and relax them if the evidence shows we are able to.” That’s how, on 23 March, the prime minister presented the possible timetable for the limits the government was placing on our daily lives to protect our health during the coronavirus outbreak. The commitment was written into the emergency laws that were rushed through Parliament before it shut up shop. That formalised the promise, saying that the health secretary has to “review the need for restrictions and requirements” every 21 days, and it has to happen the first time by 16 April.

Yahoo News
A top police officer has warned his force will consider roadblocks and searching shopping trolleys to stop lockdown flouters putting lives at risk. Chief Constable Nick Adderley, of Northamptonshire Police, said his force would now ramp up the enforcement of coronavirus regulations. Mr Adderley said the “three-week grace period is over”, and people in the county could now face fines or a criminal record. His comments come as another police force has revealed it has had to close down more than 600 parties during the lockdown, including some with bouncy castles, fireworks and DJs. There were 1,132 incidents reported to Greater Manchester Police between March 25 and April 7. Read on for details. So what are the lockdown rules? In case you have been living in a cave (in which case, you have probably been complying) here is a reminder. In this evening’s Downing Street press conference, First Secretary of State Dominic Raab issued a plea to us all to stay at home over the Easter weekend, admitting the Government do not expect to make a decision on bringing the lockdown to an end until the latter part of next week.

iNews
After almost three weeks of lockdown in the UK, much of the country is itching to know whether there will be any relaxing of the isolation rules in the coming days. It has been suggested that cases of Covid-19 could be beginning to level off, meaning the country may be able to stay within the capacity of NHS intensive care resources.  But ministers have dampened hopes that this could mean the rules will be imminently lifted, stating that it is still too early to know for sure if the measures have been successful in stopping the health service from becoming overwhelmed. Boris Johnson announced the stricter social distancing measures and restrictions on leaving home in the UK on 23 March and said they would last for at least three weeks, when the rules would then be reviewed. He had been due to oversee this three-week review on Monday.

Sun
MINISTERS will not think of lifting the lockdown until UK coronavirus deaths start to fall — with peak fatalities still three weeks away. Their first expected move “is most likely the re-opening of schools so parents are able to go back to work”, government sources revealed. Officials believe new Covid-19 infections will peak on Easter Sunday and the NHS is braced for a “tsunami” of cases this weekend. Scientists modelling the outbreak think tough social distancing measures have slowed the spread of the bug. Officials claim infected people are likely to pass the virus on to 0.6 others — compared with 2.6 with no restrictions applied. Hospital admissions are now predicted to start falling in around a fortnight, if Brits continue to stay at home. And deaths are expected to stop rising by the end of April, allowing ministers to start looking at an exit strategy.

Mail
Dominic Raab read the riot act to Britons ahead of the sunny Easter weekend tonight saying lockdown must stay in force until the coronavirus outbreak peaks. The Foreign Secretary appealed to the public to keep following social distancing rules as he took the daily Downing Street briefing, insisting there will be no more information about changes to the draconian curbs until at least the end of next week.  In a stark message, Mr Raab – deputising for Boris Johnson as he is treated in intensive care – said the disease must not be allowed to ‘kill more people and hurt our country’. ‘We’re not done yet. We must keep going,’ he said.   However, ministers are facing a mounting backlash for stonewalling over their coronavirus ‘exit plan’, amid fears of massive damage to the economy. Mr Raab hinted this evening that they are avoiding doing so to avoid people ‘taking their eye off the ball’.

Times
Ministers are resisting growing demands to set out an exit strategy from lockdown as the government revealed that it believes that less than 10 per cent of the population has had the virus. Britain’s options for lifting restrictions are narrowed by initial evidence indicating that the epidemic has a long way to run, with the vast majority of the population still vulnerable to infection. Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, who is deputising for Boris Johnson, insisted that talking about the long-term route out of lockdown would be a “distraction”. Behind the scenes officials have been working on a series of options but no clear plan has emerged as scientists struggle to identify ways of easing restrictions that do not enable the epidemic to

Boris

Telegraph
Boris Johnson was last night moved out of intensive care as No 10 said he was in “extremely good spirits”. The Prime Minister is in the “early phase” of recovery, a Downing Street spokesman said, as Mr Johnson was moved back to a low-dependency ward at St Thomas’ Hospital, London. He had spent the past four days in intensive care  after being admitted to the hospital on Monday night with persistent coronavirus symptoms. Downing Street said he would now receive “close monitoring”. Politicians across the Commons last night sent their good wishes, while Donald Trump, the US president, said: “Great News: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has just been moved out of Intensive Care. Get well Boris!!!”

Mail
Prime Minister Boris Johnson last night called his pregnant fiancée Carrie Symonds after being discharged from intensive care and continues to remain in ‘good spirits’ despite his battle with the coronavirus. Mr Johnson was last night taken out of intensive care and placed on a ward at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, but wasted no time in calling Ms Symonds, who has been isolating in the couple’s Camberwell property. The Prime Minister, who has been in hospital since Sunday, has spent three nights in a high-dependency unit at St Thomas’ Hospital in central London after his condition deteriorated.

Guardian
Boris Johnson is back on a hospital ward after spending three nights in intensive care, and is in “extremely good spirits”, Downing Street has announced. In a statement released on Thursday evening, a No 10 spokesman said: “The prime minister has been moved this evening from intensive care back to the ward, where he will receive close monitoring during the early phase of his recovery.”  Dominic Raab, who is deputising for Johnson, had earlier said the prime minister was making “positive steps forward”.

Times
Boris Johnson has left intensive care after three nights and is in the “early stage of his recovery” from a coronavirus infection. The prime minister has been taken to a ward in St Thomas’ Hospital, where he was said to be in “extremely good spirits”, according to a statement from Downing Street last night. His move from intensive care, where he was taken after his condition deteriorated on Monday afternoon, came after the news that he was responding to treatment. He received standard oxygen treatment but did not require mechanical ventilation.

Mutations

Mail
Three types of the deadly coronavirus are spreading around the world – and the US is being rocked by the original strain from China. Cambridge University researchers mapped the genetic history of the infection from December to March and found three distinct, but closely related, variants.  Analysis of the strains showed type A – the original virus that jumped to humans from bats via pangolins – was not China’s most common. Instead, the pandemic’s ground-zero was mainly hit by type B, which was in circulation as far back as Christmas Eve. Results showed type A was the most prevalent in Australia and the US, which has recorded more than 400,000 COVID-19 cases. Two-thirds of American samples were type A – but infected patients mostly came from the West Coast, and not New York. Dr Peter Forster and team found the UK was mostly being bombarded with type B cases, with three quarters of samples testing as that strain.

Deaths

Mail
More than nine in 10 fatalities from coronavirus in England were people aged over 60, figures have revealed. Just five under 20s (0.07per cent) have died from the infection. People aged 20-39 made up 0.7 per cent of the deaths and 40-59 7 per cent. The NHS England data reveals the other 92 per cent killed by Covid-19 were over 60, 40 per cent aged 60-79 and 52 per cent over 80. Almost 6,500 people in England have succumbed to the disease, as well as 222 in Scotland, 212 in Wales and 70 in Northern Ireland.  Anyone can catch the killer virus, but how it affects the body depends greatly on the age and health status of the individual. Global data continues to show that those with underlying conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, are at greater risk of death.

Mirror
Coronavirus deaths will continue to increase for two weeks after the number of patients admitted to intensive care reaches its peak, the UK’s Chief Scientific Advisor has said. Sir Patrick Vallance said there were signs that hospital and intensive care admissions were beginning to level off. But he gave a stark warning that deaths will still rise, even after the number of intensive care admissions begins to fall. He said: “In general I’d expect the deaths to continue to go up for about two weeks after the intensive care picture improves. “So we’re not there yet in terms of knowing exactly when that would be, but that’s the sort of timeframe I’d expect.” Sir Patrick said it is important to continue with the measures in place.

Churches

Times
Angry clerics have said that the Archbishop of Canterbury may have acted unlawfully in locking them out of their churches. Discontent is brewing over guidance from the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, that clergy cannot enter churches even for solo prayer or to film a service, despite provisions for this in the government’s lockdown rules. Those who breach the rules have been threatened with disciplinary action that could mean suspension. Some are praying and lighting candles anyway, The Times understands. Downing Street said churches must remain closed to worshippers yesterday, after the Conservative MP Jack Lopresti called for services to resume for Easter in a letter to the Home Office.

Star
A “portable priest” is playing hymns and carrying out church services in deserted streets to lift the spirits of stay-at-home worshippers during coronavirus lockdown. Pat Allerton, the vicar at St Peter’s church in Notting Hill, west London, has been visiting the local neighbourhood to deliver prayers since the Government ordered all places of worship and religious buildings to close to curb the virus. In a video showing one of his mobile church services, he carries his equipment – a speaker, an amplifier, a microphone – in a car and drives to St Thomas’ Hospital where Boris Johnson was in intensive care earlier today for coronavirus treatment.

Testing

Times
A leading testing firm has said it can help Britain meet its target of 100,000 coronavirus tests daily by the end of the month. Thermo Fisher Scientific, based in the United States, is working with the government and NHS on plans to increase capacity. It produces antigen tests that show if someone has Covid-19 based on a nose or throat swab. The target was set by Matt Hancock, the health secretary, last Thursday, but had been described as ambitious by some involved in the drive. Mark Stevenson, the chief operating officer, told Today on Radio 4 that it was possible to meet the goal. “We began mobilising actually straight away after we learnt about the Covid-19 outbreak.

Mail
A British-based pharmaceutical firm claims it will have a reliable coronavirus antibody test ready in three weeks. AstraZeneca aims to deliver the test – which detects substances created and stored by the immune system when someone gets ill – by May. The company, headquartered in Cambridge, said manufacturing could be scaled up by the end of that month. But it comes just a day after research showed many recovered coronavirus patients have barely-detectable signs of past infection.  The Chinese study revealed around a third of past patients have very low levels of antibodies in their blood, which could make them hard to test for.

Trade talks

Telegraph
Negotiations on a UK-US free trade deal have been postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus crisis, raising fresh doubts about whether an agreement can be struck before Donald Trump faces re-election in November.  The Telegraph understands that formal talks were due to start after years of preparation in the week beginning March 23, with Liz Truss, the International Trade Secretary, flying out to Washington DC with her top trade officials.  However the plans, which would have seen around 100 politicians and negotiators discuss terms over multiple days, were cancelled along with events across all aspects of public life as lockdowns were announced due to Covid-19.  There is no new date agreed for a restart, despite political will on both sides, with the UK and US governments in emergency management mode as they tackle the twin crises of a worldwide pandemic and a potential global recession.

EU

Express
THE EU has itself to blame – and specifically its attempts to portray itself as an all-powerful empire – for the escalating row over its response to the coronavirus pandemic, a former German MEP has said. And Hans-Olaf Henkel has suggested Brexit was just the first symptom of a malaise which is now afflicting the entire bloc as countries become increasingly resentful of what he called endless “Europeanisation”. The EU has faced criticism for its stilted response to the pandemic, and its troubles were encapsulated by a huge row over the so-called coronavirus bonds – which would have allowed debt to be issued collectively, to the EU27, rather than to individual member states, in order to mitigate economic damage.

Telegraph
The EU struck a £470 billion rescue deal to help countries badly hit by coronavirus last night, after Italy’s prime minister warned that without one, the bloc could collapse. The agreement on a bail-out fund will help patch up bitter rifts between southern countries like Italy and Spain, which have borne the brunt of the pandemic in Europe, and fiscally conservative nations like Austria, Germany and the Netherlands. The breakthrough came after Germany put pressure on the Dutch to end their opposition to providing more help to the south.

Telegraph
Many more people may have been infected with the coronavirus and acquired immunity than previously thought, according to a groundbreaking study in Germany. Scientists studying the town at the epicentre of Germany’s first major outbreak said they had found antibodies to the virus in people who had shown no symptoms and were not previously thought to have been infected. Initial results released on Thursday suggest as many as 15 per cent of the town may already have immunity — three times as many as previous estimates. The findings suggest the mortality rate for the virus in Germany is just 0.37 per cent — five times lower than current estimates. “This means a gradual relaxation of the lockdown is now possible,” Prof Hendrik Streeck, the virologist leading the study told a press conference.

CapX
Coronavirus, the Euro, the EU and Brexit: all are becoming inextricably intertwined. This can be seen with contagion of a separate sort threatening the EU’s – and thus the world’s – financial order, as the economic impact of Covid-19 bites harder and harder. For the EU and the Euro area, existential questions now arise, as the countries of southern Europe in particular face an unprecedented need for vast sums of money to get through the crisis. Naturally, the political classes in the EU are less focused now on trade negotiation with the UK. The arguments in recent weeks have been all about whether Germany can afford, and will decide to accept, ’mutualisation’ of new sovereign debt across the EU; or whether, instead, the Germans will continue with their insistence that each EU state must retain sole responsibility for the obligations of their own country’s debt.

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