Coronavirus

Sky News
Boris Johnson is set to escalate the UK’s coronavirus response to the next phase – meaning schools could be forced to close, major sporting events cancelled and people made to work from home. The prime minister will chair an emergency COBRA meeting on Thursday where he is expected to declare that the UK will switch from trying to contain COVID-19 to delaying its spread. It comes as two more people in the UK diagnosed with the virus died – taking the total number of fatalities to eight.

Telegraph
Britain will enter a new phase of its response to the growing coronavirus outbreak, following a £30bn package of measures aimed at postponing the peak of the crisis until June.  Boris Johnson will say the UK has moved to the “delay” phase of efforts to battle the virus, and outline “social distancing” measures expected from the public. A meeting of Cobra on Thursday is expected to discuss the timetable for such moves, which could include asking the elderly to stay home, and encouraging working from home, as well as strict isolation by those with symptoms.

Sun
BORIS Johnson will today declare Britain has given up the fight to “contain” the coronavirus outbreak after it was declared a global pandemic. The PM is set to say the nation has now reached the “delay” phase and put Brits on notice that they could face sweeping restrictions on their lives. It means the public could be told to start working from home and to scale back their socialising as the country tries to get a grip on the outbreak. Care homes could place extra restrictions on visitors to protect the elderly, who are most likely to die from the killer bug. While any Brit with a cold, cough, sniffle or fever could be told to stay at home for a week to help halt the spread of the infection.

ITV News
President Donald Trump has said Wednesday he is suspending all travel between the U.S. and mainland Europe for 30 days beginning Friday as he seeks to combat a viral pandemic. Trump made the announcement in an Oval Office address to the nation, blaming the European Union for not acting quickly enough to address the novel coronavirus and saying U.S. clusters were “seeded” by European travellers. Trump said the restrictions won’t apply to the United Kingdom and the U.S. would monitor the situation to determine if travel could be reopened earlier.

Times
Donald Trump last night slapped a month-long American travel ban on “most foreign nationals” who have been to mainland Europe in the last fourteen days. Unveiling a “strong but necessary” package to stop the spread of coronavirus, the president said the “foreign virus” had been “seeded” in the US because the European Union had failed to ban flights from China. The ban, which excludes the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, applies from midnight on Friday for thirty days. It does not apply to US citizens, their immediate family members or permanent residents of the US.

Telegraph
All travel from Europe to America will be suspended for 30 days but the United Kingdom will be exempt, Donald Trump has announced in a major step to limit the spread of the new coronavirus. The US president used a live address to the nation to announce the restrictions, saying they will take effect at midnight on Friday and US citizens once screened will not be affected. Mr Trump suggested businesses would be impacted too, saying that “tremendous amounts of trade and cargo” would be hit, but aides later suggested he had misspoken. He stressed on Twitter that trade would not be affected.

Mail
The World Health Organization today finally declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic after blaming ‘alarming levels of inaction’ by governments across the planet for fueling the crisis.   As the number of confirmed cases of the bug worldwide surpassed 112,000 – and the death toll neared 4,500 – the WHO said it was ‘deeply concerned by the alarming levels of spread and severity’.  Director-General of the UN agency Dr Tedros Adhanom also blasted governments for ignoring repeated WHO pleas to take urgent and aggressive action, with cases of the deadly illness outside of China having risen 13-fold in the space of a fortnight because of escalating crises in Italy, Iran, Spain, Germany, and France.

City AM
The World Health Organisation (Who) today declared that the worldwide outbreak of coronavirus is a pandemic. “We have…made the assessment that Covid-19 can be characterised as a pandemic,” Who director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press briefing today. “In the past two weeks, the number of cases of Covid-19 outside China has increased 13-fold & the number of affected countries has tripled,” Ghebreyesus said. “There are now more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries, and 4,291 people have lost their lives.”

Times
Advice on how people should keep their distance from one another is to be issued by the government as the World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus outbreak to be a pandemic. Boris Johnson will announce today that Britain is moving into the “delay” phase of fighting the virus as he chairs a Cobra emergency meeting to sign off “social-distancing” measures telling people how to stay away from others. Advice to stay at home if you have a cough and fever even if you have not travelled, ways of “cocooning” elderly people, and suggestions about standing farther apart will all be considered. Ministers are pledging “whatever it takes” to fight the virus.

Mail
Ministers will step up their war against coronavirus today after the World Health Organisation declared the outbreak had become a pandemic. Britain is set to switch from a ‘contain’ policy to ‘delay’, with advice on ‘social distancing’ to stop the disease from spreading.  Hospitals are preparing to cancel thousands of non-urgent operations to free up beds, while sporting events, concerts and festivals scheduled for the next few weeks are likely to be cancelled or held behind closed doors. The elderly and those with long-term illnesses will be advised to stay at home when the epidemic hits its peak in Britain. Healthy adults will be advised to work from home where possible.

Telegraph
Italy announced late on Wednesday that it will close all shops apart from pharmacies and supermarkets in a desperate attempt to tackle the spread of the coronavirus. The unprecedented measures – a significant step up from a strict lockdown that already affects the entire country – were announced by Giuseppe Conte, the prime minister. “We will close shops, bars, pubs and restaurants. Home delivery is allowed,” he said in a national television address. In Italy, the death toll posted its highest daily rise on Wednesday and the virus has now killed 827 people and infected more than 12,000.

Times
Italy extended restrictions on daily life last night by ordering the closure of all shops except grocers and chemists as the death toll rose to more than 800. In a hastily announced live speech on Facebook, Giuseppe Conte, the prime minister, said that he was adding shops, bars, restaurants and cafés to the closures. On Monday he told Italians to stay at home and ordered travel restrictions, although people could travel for work, medical reasons and emergencies. Yesterday he said he was tightening the screws, leaving only supermarkets, food stores and chemists open until March 25.

Mail
Denmark is on coronavirus lockdown, becoming the second country in Europe to grind to a half as the life-threatening disease rips across the continent.  Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen declared that all Danish schools, universities, and kindergartens will be shut for two weeks to slow the spread of the bug. Tough new measures will also include banning indoor events with 100 or more participants, and sending non-critical public sector employees home. Private sector workers will also be encouraged to work from home, after the Danish Patient Safety Authority reported 442 new cases this week.

Express
BRITONS have reacted angrily to a professor’s suggestion that the European Union could delay the UK’s access to a coronavirus vaccine after the Brexit transition period has come to a close. A vaccine for the viral disease which has killed six people in the UK is expected to take from 12 to 18 months to be ready. By this time, Britain is expected to be an independent country after the Brexit transition period has come to a close. The country will no longer be under the authority of the EU’s medicines regulator, the European Medicines Agency, which could spell trouble for British citizens.

Mail
The government response to the coronavirus outbreak is expected to shift to the ‘delay’ phase on Thursday – reportedly meaning that a crisis plan concerning football could shortly be unveiled. All matches are expected to be played behind closed doors under new plans to combat the spread of the virus. According to The Times, the current season will not be postponed but games will be contested with no supporters present. All Premier League ticket holders for individual clashes will be able to stream coverage of matches in their homes instead.

Independent
The next round of post-Brexit trade talks is likely to be shelved because of the coronavirus crisis, Michael Gove has revealed. The government has received “indications today” that the EU wants to postpone the negotiations – scheduled to start in London on 18 March – MPs were told. Calling it “a live question”, the minister overseeing the talks said: “We were looking forward to the joint committee meeting in the UK on the 18th of this month and, obviously, the next stage. “We have had indications today, from Belgium, that there may be specific public health concerns.” The development threatens to have huge consequences for the likelihood of the UK crashing out of the post-Brexit transition period at the end of the year without a trade deal – with the risk of a recession.

Sun
BREXIT talks were under threat over fears they could help spread coronavirus. Michael Gove said the Government had been given “indications” that chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier and his team won’t travel to London next week. EU sources said negotiations are now “highly likely” to be pulled. Both EU and UK sources said they were looking at alternatives which may include holding video conferences instead. Mr Gove also admitted to MPs that a future security deal with the EU “may not be concluded” by the year’s end. Well over 200 officials from both sides are due to take place in the talks amid a growing number of cases of the virus in both Brussels and Westminster. The EU Parliament was effectively put on shutdown on Wednesday as all but “indispensable” staff were told to avoid the office and work from home.

Guardian
Brexit talks due to take place in London next week have been thrown into doubt because of the coronavirus, Michael Gove has confirmed. Gove told MPs fresh concerns about the second round of talks going ahead as planned had been raised by Brussels counterparts this morning. About 150 delegates from Brussels were due to arrive in London for three days of talks next Wednesday. Gove also said there was a question mark over the inaugural meeting of the EU-UK joint committee, on which he will sit, on 30 March. Asked at the Brexit select committee if talks would be affected by the coronavirus, Gove said: “It’s a live question. We were looking forward to a joint committee in the UK on the 30th and we were also looking forward to the next stage of negotiations going ahead, but we have had indications today from Belgium there may be specific public health concerns.”

Reuters
Britain and the European Union will keep under review whether the next round of talks on their future relationship in London should go ahead as planned, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday. The spread of coronavirus has put a question mark over whether officials should travel for meetings. The spokesman said any decision about the talks, which are due to be held March 18 to 20, would be made jointly with the EU.

Brexit

Mail
Leaving the EU will free up more than £40billion for domestic spending and slash net immigration by almost half, Budget documents forecast yesterday. The official Treasury ‘Red Book’ predicts that cash saved from EU contributions will total £42.3billion over the next five years, even after the effects of the Brexit divorce bill are taken into account. A separate document produced by the independent Office for Budget Responsibility suggests that net immigration is likely to fall sharply from 240,000 last year to 130,000 by the time of the next election.

Immigration

Sun
BORIS Johnson’s post-Brexit immigration plans will nearly halve the number of net arrivals to Britain, according to official forecasts published yesterday. The Government’s independent spending watchdog predicted the new Australian-style points-based immigration system will reduce net numbers coming to the UK to 129,000 by 2024/25. This is down from the current level of 240,000 and 60,000 fewer than would have been the case had Theresa May’s more lenient immigration plans come into effect. But it means that by the middle of the decade, net migration will still be running at above the Tory party’s  previous target to reduce numbers to below 100,000.

Huffington Post
A family of four from the EU migrating to the UK will face a new £2,200-a-year fee to use the NHS, the Budget has confirmed. Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced an extra £6bn for the NHS, but buried news that the government plans to hike up the immigration health surcharge.  The levy is added to visa applications as an annual fee for UK healthcare. The document also confirmed that EU citizens face paying the levy alongside all other migrants when the UK leaves the bloc in January.  A single person will now face a £624 per annum fee, while a child will pay £470.

Budget

iNews
The Chancellor has pledged to spend “whatever it takes” to support the UK through the coronavirus outbreak and said he would set aside at least £5bn for the NHS and public services. In his first Budget, new Chancellor Rishi Sunak set out a three-point plan he said was designed to support the country through the spread of the virus. He claimed the Government was willing to spend “whatever it costs” to support people unable to work, protect jobs and businesses and provide money for public services. He promised a £7bn fund which he said would support the self-employed, businesses and vulnerable people and £5bn to help the NHS and other public services, adding that he “will go further if necessary”.

Mail
Rishi Sunak today unveiled a massive £30billion bonanza to stop coronavirus plunging Britain into Italy-style chaos – as he effectively reversed a decade of austerity. Delivering his crucial first Budget, the Chancellor admitted that people were ‘worried’ and the killer disease will inevitably have a major impact on the economy. But he insisted the government will do ‘everything it can’ to keep the country ‘healthy and financially secure’, saying Britain will ‘get through this’.

Telegraph
Rishi Sunak scrapped business rates for a year for smaller firms as he unveiled a £12 billion plan to help employers, workers and the NHS through the coronavirus crisis. The Chancellor said he would do “whatever it takes” to support the economy as he predicted a “tough” period ahead but insisted “life will return to normal”. He announced a £5 billion coronavirus response fund – which will increase if necessary – to support the NHS and public services, with another £7 billion for businesses and individuals to help with sick pay and lost wages and revenue. Mr Sunak said it was impossible to avoid a fall in demand for goods and services because people were following “doctor’s orders” to stay at home, meaning that “for a period, our productive capacity will shrink”.

Foreign aid

Mail
MPs are to investigate the effectiveness of the foreign aid  billions spent by Britain. The £14.6billion budget has faced criticism, with questions over the legitimacy of the projects it is used on. During its inquiry, the International Development Committee will consider whether or not the aid makes a real and lasting impact. Labour MP Sarah Champion, the chairman of the committee, said: ‘The UK is second only to the US in the amount it spends on aid.

Cancer

Mail
Deadly cancer cells have ‘chemically assisted mechanical drills’ that use brute force to penetrate healthy flesh and spread disease around the body. Scientists have, for the first time, been able to measure exactly how much force these drills apply by creating their own ‘cancer cells’ in the lab. This feat — which was previously impossible — has been achieved thanks to an entirely new form of imaging technology. ‘It has been known for a long time that cancer cells have little spots on their surface that secrete chemicals to degrade the surrounding tissue,’ said paper author Malte Gather, of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

Roads

Mail
A tunnel could be built under Stonehenge after plans were given the green light as part of a £27billion masterplan to improve the nation’s roads. For decades, motorists on the A303, which passes the stone circle, have endured severe congestion on the popular route to and from the South West. Opponents have argued that plans for a 1.8mile (2.9km) tunnel to ease gridlock around the World Heritage Site could ruin the prehistoric archaeological surroundings. But the £1.6billion project has finally been approved after years of controversy as part of the biggest road expansion fund since the 1970s.

Sun
THE HATED A303 road will FINALLY be fixed after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the government’s spending blitz today. The promise was made as part of a £27billion fund in today’s budget to fix Britain’s roads. The traffic-plagued A303 will finally be fixed after years of delay and moved into a 1.8 mile dual-carriageway tunnel called the Stonehenge Tunnel.  It is currently a single carriageway which runs between Basingtoke in Hamphsire and Honiton in Devon past the iconic Stonehenge, connecting the M3 to the A30. It is one of the main routes from London to South West England. Plans to fix the road and lay down a two-mile long tunnel were earmarked all the way back in 2014 under David Cameron, and given the green-light three years ago as part of a £2billion project.

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