Boris

Star
The Prime Minister is “extremely sick” and many coronavirus  patients who need intensive care require a ventilator to help them breath, an expert has said. Boris Johnson was moved to the critical unit at St Thomas’ Hospital on Monday evening as part of his ongoing treatment for Covid-19. He was understood to be conscious when he was moved to intensive care at about 7pm, as a precaution should he require ventilation to aid his recovery. Derek Hill, professor of medical imaging at University College London (UCL), said the PM could be given a breathing aid known as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which bridges the gap between an oxygen mask and full ventilation. CPAP uses pressure to send a blend of air and oxygen into the mouth at a steady rate, thereby boosting the amount of oxygen that enters the lungs. But Prof Hill said many Covid-19 patients eventually “progress to invasive ventilation”.

Sky News
The prime minister is “extremely sick” and it is very likely he will need a ventilator, according to a medical expert. Boris Johnson has spent the night in intensive care after his health deteriorated – 11 days after he initially tested positive for COVID-19. Downing Street says Mr Johnson has been suffering from “persistent” coronavirus  symptoms – and Sky’s Beth Rigby reports he had been struggling to breathe and needed oxygen on Monday. Derek Hill, professor of medical imaging at University College London, said Mr Johnson  could be given a breathing aid known as continuous positive airway pressure.

Mail
Boris Johnson has spent the night in intensive care but there has been ‘no change’ in his coronavirus condition, sources close to the Prime Minister said today. Mr Johnson, 55, was moved to ICU at St Thomas’ Hospital in central London after his health worsened badly over just two hours with doctors fearing he might need a ventilator to aid his battle. The Prime Minister was transferred to intensive care at 7pm yesterday because of breathing difficulties – forcing him to delegate his powers as Prime Minister to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. The sharp downturn in his condition came 11 days after first suffering coronavirus symptoms – with Mr Johnson looking increasingly unwell in that period until his admission to hospital on Sunday.

Times
Boris Johnson was moved into intensive care last night after his condition worsened amid concerns that he may need a ventilator to aid his fight against coronavirus. The prime minister was put into the intensive care unit at St Thomas’ Hospital, south London, at 7pm after experiencing breathing difficulties. Downing Street said that he was conscious and that the move was a precautionary measure. Pneumonia had not been diagnosed. Mr Johnson, 55, had not been intubated — where a tube is inserted into the windpipe before ventilation — but needed four litres of oxygen in intensive care, sources at the hospital said.

Telegraph
Boris Johnson was last night moved to intensive care after his coronavirus symptoms worsened. The Prime Minister was admitted to the unit at St Thomas’ Hospital in London at 7pm when his condition deteriorated. He was later given oxygen after suffering breathing difficulty, No 10 confirmed. Mr Johnson remained conscious last night, government sources said. Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, will deputise for the Prime Minister, No 10 said. A Downing Street spokesman said: “Since Sunday evening, the Prime Minister has been under the care of doctors at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, after being admitted with persistent symptoms of coronavirus.

Lockdown

Telegraph
Government advisers have warned ministers that a tighter lockdown will lead to a second outbreak of coronavirus later this year. Putting in place “very stringent” measures which have been seen in countries such as Hong Kong and China could just delay the peak until after the restrictions were lifted, potentially into the autumn, official modelling found. It comes amid repeated warnings from ministers that the Government will tighten social distancing measures including a ban on exercising outdoors if it is shown that people are not complying with the rules. Senior police officers have warned that any further restrictions would be difficult to enforce. The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) report on the “potential impact of behavioural and social intervention” casts doubt on whether a tighter lockdown would be effective.

BBC News
It is too early to consider a strategy for exiting the coronavirus lockdown, the foreign secretary has said. Dominic Raab said the current measures were “beginning to work” – but shifting focus could mean “we won’t get through the peak as fast as we need to”. He added Boris Johnson remained in charge of the government from hospital, where the PM spent the night receiving treatment for coronavirus symptoms. The number of virus hospital deaths in the UK now stands at 5,373. The Department of Health and Social Care reported 51,608 confirmed cases. Asked during the government’s daily briefing when the current social distancing measures could be lifted, the government’s chief medical adviser, Prof Chris Whitty, said it must first establish when the peak of the epidemic will come.

Mail
A new coronavirus heat map shows that Middlesbrough has the worst offenders when it comes to flouting the ‘stay at home’ rules during the coronavirus crisis.  The ‘COVID-19 heat map’ from NHS-backed health record app Evergreen Life shows people in the North Yorkshire town have been going outdoors the most.  Liverpool and Wandsworth in southwest London, meanwhile, are some of the regions where people have heeded the stay at home advice best.  Residents of Hull, East Cambridgeshire and Babergh in Suffolk are reporting the lowest level of symptoms per household, as of this weekend.

Face masks

ITV News
There is no strong evidence to support the general public wearing face masks to protect against Covid-19, researchers have said, although they may offer some protection for the vulnerable or those living with somebody who is ill. A team from the University of East Anglia (UEA) carried out a rapid review of existing scientific evidence and concluded there was no push to change current UK policy, which does not recommend the widespread use of face masks. It comes after the US recommended that people wear masks or face coverings in public and the World Health Organisation (WHO) said it was looking at the issue. The new study, which has not been peer-reviewed, found that widespread use of face masks was not needed. But experts did find that if both an ill person and those who are well – and who live in the same household – wear masks, the risk of transmission is cut by 19%.

Exit strategy

Telegraph
At the Centre for Applied Microbiology and Research, housed within the high security Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down near Salisbury, scientists are pouring over 800 blood samples taken from a representative sample of the English population. They are conducting tests today which, more than any others you may have read about, will decide the shape and timing of Britain’s coronavirus exit strategy. Perhaps, just perhaps, they will provide the key to the door that is lockdown. If the tests work, and virologists are confident they will, they will provide Britain with the answers to the most important unknowns about Covid-19:

Sun
THE CORONAVIRUS lockdown is to be ended in stages amid Treasury fears that businesses won’t survive past June. A list of options is being drawn up to remove the restrictions once the number of hospital admissions begins to fall. Civil servants have been asked to draw up options for a staggered release so Britain can get closer to going back to normal. It comes after Treasury officials warned if the lockdown went beyond June the Government would not be able to stop normally successful businesses going under. The restrictions are to be officially reviewed next week but with cases still rising there is little chance of anything changing soon.

iNews
England’s Chief Medical Officer has warned it is a mistake to begin to discuss the relaxing of social distancing rules in the UK until the Government is confident the country has overcome the peak of coronavirus. Speaking at the Downing Street press briefing for the first time since recovering from the Covid-19 virus himself, Professor Chris Whitty said it was too early to begin predicting the next phase of managing the pandemic. His message was echoed by Dame Angela McLean, deputy chief scientific adviser, who said it was too early to say whether the lockdown was having any effect on infection rates, hospital admissions and deaths.

Mail
As Britain and America start to draw up plans for life after the lockdown, they may look for inspiration from European countries where the coronavirus crisis has already showed signs of peaking.   Austria today became the first country to set out detailed plans for ending the standstill, with smaller shops re-opening on April 14 and larger ones on May 1.  Denmark also plans to start lifting restrictions after Easter, but wants people to ‘work in a more staggered way’ to avoid crowding into trains and buses.

Testing

Independent
The promise of 100,000 daily coronavirus tests by the end of the month is in huge doubt, with a warning that the technology will not be ready by then. Health secretary Matt Hancock staked the government’s credibility on the pledge last week, amid growing public anger about missed targets and NHS staff forced to isolate unnecessarily, rather than return to work. But an Oxford University  professor advising ministers has warned that none of the antibody tests – to find out if someone has had the virus and recovered – is yet working properly. Without mass antibody tests, it will be very difficult to achieve the 100,000 commitment, given the problems securing sufficient chemicals and swabs for antigen tests, which show if someone currently has the virus.

Times
An effective antibody test will take “at least a month” to develop and no country in the world has yet found one that is good enough to give to millions of people, according to the scientist overseeing Britain’s efforts. Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University, said he was working with companies to improve the accuracy of tests that would be crucial for returning to normality. After The Times revealed yesterday that no test had proved good enough for routine use, Sir John confirmed that “none of the tests we have validated would meet the criteria for a good test”.

BAME

Mail
Coronavirus patients from black and ethnic minority backgrounds may be at higher risk of suffering deadly complications of the disease, an NHS report suggests. Despite making up just 13 per cent of the UK population, a third of patients who fall critically ill with COVID-19 are from black, Asian or minority ethnic (BME) groups. The report, by the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre, found 14 per cent were Asian, 14 per cent black and 7 per cent described themselves as other.  The study of 2,249 patients has raised fears non-white communities could suffer a disproportionate amount of deaths during the pandemic.

Virus reactivated

Mail
Fifty-one patients who recovered from coronavirus in South Korea have tested positive again, raising fears the virus can be reactivated. The patients – from the country’s worst-hit city, Daegu – were put in quarantine after being diagnosed with the virus, then tested positive again days being released. Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said the virus was likely ‘reactivated’, rather than patients becoming re-infected. Scientists at the Government-run health body believe the virus may lay dormant at undetectable levels in human cells. They say that for unknown reasons the viral particles can then be reactivated – but it is unclear if patients become infectious again.

Sun
FEARS have been raised that the coronavirus may be able to remain in the body and “reactivate” later after 51 recovered patients tested positive again.The patients, from the city of Daegu, South Korea, had all spent time in quarantine while recovering from the virus, but were diagnosed again within days of being released. South Korea has been among the most successful countries globally in controlling the outbreak, using strict quarantining and widespread testing to slow its spread of the virus. The number of new cases being diagnosed each day in the country is now at levels last seen as the pandemic was getting underway in February. The 51 cases were identified as part of a study conducted in Daegu, the epicentre of the outbreak in South Korea, by a team of epidemiologists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

China

Mail
Long queues at the funeral homes have fuelled scepticism about China’s numbers, prompting claims that 42,000 people or more could have died in Wuhan alone.  The country has recorded 3,331 deaths from coronavirus and 81,708 cases but many have speculated that this number is much higher and that China is trying to cover up the true reality of the spread. Delay and deceit over the origins of the outbreak cost precious time – and many thousands of lives both in China and subsequently in the rest of the world. Scepticism about China’s numbers has swirled throughout the crisis, fuelled by official efforts to quash bad news in the early days and a general distrust of the government.

Telegraph
The Government will look for a refund for millions of coronavirus tests ordered from China after scientists found they were too unreliable to be used by the public. Ministers will attempt to recoup taxpayers’ money spent on the fingerprick tests after an Oxford University trial found they returned inaccurate results. The failure is a significant setback because it had been hoped the antibody tests would show who had already built up immunity, therefore offering a swifter route out of lockdown. On March 25, Dr Sharon Peacock, from Public Health England (PHE), hailed fingerprick tests as a “game-changer” and suggested they would be available to the public within days. But Professor Sir John Bell, from Oxford University, who advises the Government on life sciences, said on Monday that disappointing trials meant a mass antibody test was now at least a month away. He said no country in the world had yet rolled out a reliable antibody testing programme.

Breitbart
The British government has ordered millions of coronavirus tests made in China that do not work, Public Health England’s Professor John Newton has admitted. Professor Newton, the government’s new testing chief, said that while some of the Chinese tests could identify immunity in those who had been very sick, all of the tests had failed the minimum thresholds set for the trials. They “are not good enough to be worth rolling out in very large scale”, he said. “The test developed in China was validated against patients who were severely ill with a very large viral load, generating a large amount of antibodies… whereas we want to use the test in the context of a wider range of levels of infection including people who are quite mildly infected,” Prof Newton said in comments reported  by The Times. “So for our purposes, we need a test that performs better than some of these other tests,” he added.

Independent
China’s efforts to downplay the coronavirus pandemic in its earliest stages and subsequent disinformation campaign surrounding the disease has cost lives and is hindering the international effort to contain it, MPs in Westminster have warned. A new report by the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee argues the country where the outbreak began should have taken a leading role in collecting data and sharing its research with other nations to help control the spread of Covid-19, accusing Xi Jinping’s Beijing of engaging in “obfuscation” rather than transparency. The report also accuses  Russia and Iran of refusing to come clean about their experiences of the global catastrophe and calls on the British government to “confront and rebut” untruths from foreign powers. But the committee, led by Conservative chairman Tom Tugendhat MP, reserves its sharpest criticism for China, which it says “allowed disinformation to spread as quickly as the virus”.

Mail
The director-general of the World Health Organization is facing calls to resign over criticisms of the way China‘s response to the coronavirus crisis was managed. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is facing growing calls to step down from US politicians for trusting the communist regime’s official reporting about the extent of the spread of the disease. Republican Senator Martha McSally said Dr Tedros should resign over the ‘Chinese cover-up’. She told Fox News that part of the blame for China’s lack of transparency lay with the WHO director-general.

5G

Times
The “crazed conspiracy theory” that 5G causes coronavirus has been criticised by the government for putting lives at risk, as attacks on mobile network infrastructure threaten to block 999 calls. Baseless theories linking the rollout of fifth-generation mobile network technology with the Covid-19 pandemic began to spread on social media in February. The claims were initially disseminated by established anti-vaccine groups and online conspiracy communities. Profiteers flogging bogus “cures” for Covid-19 have amplified the claims to undermine trust in official information. Celebrities including Amanda Holden, the Britain’s Got Talent judge, have also been accused in recent weeks of spreading disinformation about the false link between 5G and coronavirus.

Brexit

Express
NICOLA STURGEON’S plea to postpone Brexit negotiations during the coronavirus pandemic has been rejected by the UK Government. The Scottish Government had written to a member of Boris Johnson‘s top Brexit team to urge the UK to pause Brexit  negotiations. Mike Russell, Scotland’s Constitution Secretary, wrote to cabinet secretary Michael Gove requesting a halt to the withdrawal process amid the coronavirus pandemic. But Mr Gove rejected the plea and said the UK Government had no intention of changing the end date of the transition period, currently set at December 31. Mr Russell has refused to take no for an answer however, and said he has already resubmitted a letter to Mr Gove to restate the Scottish Government’s case. He questioned how the UK Government can be focused on tackling the coronavirus pandemic while also pursuing Brexit negotiations. The Scottish minister said there had been “no meaningful discussion of issues with the devolved governments for almost two months”, and this was unlikely to improve given the coronavirus outbreak.

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