Infection

Mail
The coronavirus could have infected as much as half of the population of the United Kingdom, according to researchers at the University of Oxford – as the official death toll jumps a record 87 in one day to 422 and confirmed cases leap by 1,427.  The new model from Oxford University suggests the virus was circulating in the UK by mid-January, around two weeks before the first reported case and a month before the first reported death. This means it could have had enough time to have spread widely, with many Britons acquiring immunity.

Mail
An intensive care specialist has described how one person with coronavirus could infect up to 59,000 others – as the virus is more than twice as infectious as flu. Dr Hugh Montgomery, a professor of intensive care medicine at University College London, explained how the virus could be passed from one person to thousands as he called on Britons to heed advice on social distancing.  ‘Normal flu, if I get that, I’m going to infect on average about 1.3 or 1.4 people – if there was such a division,’ he told Dr Xand van Tulleken on Channel 4’s Coronavirus: How to Isolate Yourself programme.

Deaths

Mail
In the UK, 87 more patients died overnight in England, including 21 at the one NHS trust in London. The UK’s death toll has risen almost six-fold in the space of a week, with just 71 fatalities recorded last Tuesday. And in Spain the armed forces asked NATO for humanitarian assistance to fight the novel coronavirus as the national death toll touched 2,700 and infections soared towards 40,000.  The Madrid region has suffered the brunt of the epidemic with 12,352 infections – just under a third of the total – and 1,535 deaths, or 57 percent of the national figure. Outside of Europe, in the United States, the death toll has risen quite slowly compared to other nations so far, but the trajectory for New York’s mortality curve is much steeper, suggesting it could overtake Madrid.

Reuters
The number of coronavirus deaths in Britain jumped on Tuesday, the first day of a national lockdown, while the government called for 250,000 volunteers for the health service and announced a temporary hospital would open in London next week. In a TV message on Monday evening watched by more than 27 million people, Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered people to stay at home, told nearly all shops to close and banned social gatherings including weddings and baptisms. However, public transport in London was busy during the morning rush hour and the streets were far from deserted amid confusion over the government’s advice to workers.

Lockdown

Telegraph
Police officers are to “persuade, cajole, negotiate and advise” the public to follow lockdown restrictions, as police leaders said they did not want to be forced to take more draconian measures. Hundreds of thousands of people continued to travel to work on Tuesday with the blessing of the government, as Downing Street said that construction work could carry on despite the restrictions on movement announced by the Prime Minister on Monday. This provoked a row with the mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who said that more workers should be staying at home and insisted that the Tube – which was crowded during rush hour – could not run more services.

Sky News
Boris Johnson’s “stay at home” lockdown has been backed by political opponents, business leaders and trade unions, despite fears of major job losses on the high street. The prime minister has ordered all shops apart from food stores and chemists to close immediately for at least three weeks and banned more than one form of daily exercise and gatherings of more than two people. But his dramatic announcement – in a momentous TV address – of sweeping restrictions on daily life, with fines of between £30 and £1,000 for people who flout the new rules, has won grudging support.

Field hospital

Telegraph
Health chiefs are taking desperate action to build makeshift critical care wards, amid fears London could run out of intensive care beds in four days. The news came as one London trust became the epicentre of the growing crisis, with 21 deaths since Friday. Medics said they were being forced to choose which patients to try and save as the Health Secretary announced plans to use London’s ExCeL conference centre as a field hospital, with 4,000 beds split into two giant wards.  From next week, it will provide 500 beds equipped with ventilators and oxygen.

ITV News
London’s ExCel Centre will open as a makeshift hospital from next week to help deal with the increased pressures on the NHS from coronavirus. The Ministry of Defence are helping to set up the temporary NHS Nightingale hospital at the ExCel, while is expected to have around 4,000 beds in two separate wards. Speaking at the daily Government press conference, Mr Hancock said: “We will, next week, open a new hospital – a temporary hospital – the NHS Nightingale Hospital at the Excel centre in London.  “The NHS Nightingale Hospital will comprise two wards, each of 2,000 people.

Guardian
London’s ExCel conference centre will become an emergency hospital treating coronavirus patients “within days”, with 500 beds initially made available at what will be the first of several crisis facilities dotted around the UK. The cavernous 100,000 sq metre Docklands site is being converted in a high-speed operation involving military planners and personnel, and its capacity will rise quickly from the initial 500 beds, defence sources said on Tuesday. It is intended to deal with the expected surge in coronavirus patients with severe breathing difficulties for whom beds are unlikely be available in London’s overflowing intensive care units.

Breitbart
The British Army will assist the UK state healthcare provider in establishing a temporary hospital in London, the government has announced, as it continues to ramp up its response to the coronavirus epidemic. Speaking at the government’s daily coronavirus press conference — now performed to an empty room, with journalists appearing remotely to ask questions of the government by television-link — health secretary Matt Hancock christened the new hospital in the manner of a warship, calling it the NHS Nightingale.

Sun
LONDON’S Excel Centre will become a 4,000-bed field hospital in a bid to deal with the coronavirus crisis. The massive conference centre is being transformed by the Army with military and civilian medics expected to help deal with the swell in patient numbers. As it was announced the death toll had hit 422, Matt Hancock told the nation this afternoon: “We will next week open a new hospital, temporary hospital, the NHS Nightingale hospital.

Times
The Excel London convention centre will be converted into an NHS-run field hospital for 4,000 coronavirus patients, the health secretary has announced.  Matt Hancock said the temporary medical facility, set up with the help of the armed forces, will be called NHS Nightingale Hospital. The Docklands site in the east of the capital will open next week initially with 500 beds, all equipped with ventilators and oxygen. Mr Hancock said the ambition will be to build two wards with 4,000 beds in total.

EU

Breitbart
The 25th anniversary of the open-border Schengen agreement is set to take place this year as most European Union member states have closed their borders due to the Wuhan coronavirus. The Schengen open borders agreement was signed by Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Spain, and Portugal on the 26th of March, 1995, and was long touted as a success of the European Union. But few are celebrating open borders, as coronavirus spreads throughout Europe, as Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung notes in their coverage of the virus in central Europe.

Volunteers

Breitbart
Health secretary Matt Hancock has called for 250,000 Britons to volunteer in the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic to deliver medicines and shop for the vulnerable. The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care made the call to arms during a public announcement from Downing Street on Tuesday. Mr Hancock said: “I know how worried people are, and while this is a great time of turbulence, it is a moment, too, that the country can come together in that national effort. As the next step in that effort, today we launch NHS volunteers.

ITV News
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Government is launching a new scheme to recruit 250,000 volunteers to support the NHS through the coronavirus pandemic. Speaking at the Government press briefing, Mr Hancock said more than 35,000 extra NHS staff would be helping fight against Covid-19, including retired doctors, nurses and final years students joining frontline services. He also announced that a temporary hospital the NHS Nightingale hospital – would be set up at London’s ExCel centre – with a capacity of 4,000.

Testing

Times
NHS chiefs are pressing to start testing key staff for coronavirus as they see no sign that the mass checks promised by the government are imminent. Hospitals are already reporting serious gaps because doctors and nurses have to self-isolate if they or a family member get a cough or a fever.  Although the government plans to roll out testing so they can return to work if they are clear, they are not currently automatically entitled to a check. On Monday only 5,605 tests were carried out, despite labs having capacity for 7,500.

Independent
Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has issued a plea for the government to step up coronavirus testing, after it emerged that tests continue to run at around 5,000 a day. As long ago as 11 March, the NHS set out its plans to ramp testing up to 10,000 a day, and last week Boris Johnson told the House of Commons that this would be increased to 25,000. In an upbeat press conference on Thursday, the prime minister suggested the number could eventually reach 250,000 as new tests came on stream.

Times
The government has ordered 3.5 million tests that can tell if someone has recovered from Covid-19. Public Health England is checking the accuracy of the antibody tests, and ministers have refused to say when they will be available. After criticism of the decision to stop testing everyone with apparent symptoms, the government is pinning its hopes on these finger-prick antibody tests, which indicate whether people have had the disease in the past. Boris Johnson described them as a “game-changer” that would allow people who had recovered to go back to work, and also to help track the spread of the virus.

Self employed

Telegraph
The Chancellor is weighing up an unprecedented rescue package for Britain’s 5 million self-employed workers that could follow measures introduced in Denmark and Norway. An option being considered by the Treasury is paying contractors a proportion of their income using earnings made in recent years, it is understood.  Sources close to the discussions said there were still major sticking points over how to support the self-employed, including avoiding handing out money to wealthy contractors.

Independent
The Government should guarantee 80 per cent of the incomes of the self-employed amid the economic crisis created by Covid-19, an influential think tank today urges. The Treasury is currently working on a plan to assist those roughly five million people in the UK who do not work for companies but many of whom, nonetheless, face a collapse of their incomes because of the enforced lockdown of the UK economy. Last Friday the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, unveiled a plan for the state to cover 80 per cent of the wages of UK employees in order to prevent a damaging spike in unemployment. That plan was similar to a proposal from the Resolution Foundation think tank presented just days earlier.

Times
The government has promised that it will provide support to Britain’s five million self-employed as MPs warned they were “running out of money”. Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, said yesterday that the government would “find a way to support” workers suffering hardship. Representatives of the self-employed were in talks with Mr Sunak and are optimistic that an announcement by the government is imminent. The government has promised to underwrite 80 per cent of private sector wages of furloughed employees, leading to complaints that the self-employed have been left behind.

Crime

Mirror
Online crime could rise during the coronavirus outbreak as more people spend time on the internet, the Justice Secretary has warned. It after councils warned people to beware of scammers on the doorstep, phone or online pretending to be health officials or offering to pick up food and medicines. The LGA is advising people not to accept help from cold-callers and double check messages you receive online. Robert Buckland told the Commons Justice Committee on Tuesday the country may also see more cases of fraud and domestic abuse.

Sun
VULNERABLE folk have had food parcels stolen from their doorsteps. One meals delivery ­service said at least four families had been targeted. A man was seen on a doorbell camera snatching a £42 Gousto delivery. The grub was meant for Naseem Walker, 42, whose daughter Leila, seven, has a chromosome disorder. Naseem, of Wimbledon, South West London, was targeted on Monday. She said: “We are a vulnerable family because of my daughter, it is disgusting someone has done this.

Breitbart
Callous thieves broke into Withington Community Hospital in Manchester, England, and stole canisters of oxygen and nitrous oxide — vital for treating patients struggling with respiratory infections such as coronavirus. Police say three men were seen getting out of a black BMW at approximately 3:30 a.m. near the loading area for hospital deliveries and approaching a metal unit containing the oxygen. The lock securing it was cut and eight canisters stolen. “Following the theft of a mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide canisters at Withington Community Hospital over the weekend, we have notified Greater Manchester Police and are working with them to investigate this incident,” said a spokesman for the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), in comments reported by the Manchester Evening News.

Antibodies

Telegraph
The UK has ordered 3.5 million antibody tests to detect who has already contracted coronavirus and ensure that NHS staff and other key workers can return to the frontline, the Health Secretary has confirmed.  Matt Hancock said that millions of the new tests, described as a “game changer” by Boris Johnson, would soon be available to help determine who may be immune from the disease and safe to go back to work. The tests can show if someone has developed antibodies in their bloodstream after fighting the virus, with medical advisers confident those who recover will have developed immunity.

Olympics

Times
The International Olympic Committee has finally bowed to overwhelming pressure and announced that the Tokyo 2020 Games has been postponed until next year. Katarina Johnson-Thompson, the world champion heptathlete and one of Britain’s leading contenders to win a gold medal, described the unprecedented postponement as “heartbreaking” but necessary. The impact of the delay will be huge both in financial terms — the cost to the organisers is estimated to be about £2 billion — and in the knock-on effect to other major sporting events in 2021 that will now have to move.

Mail
Tokyo Olympics will be postponed until 2021, veteran IOC member Dick Pound said today. The International Olympics Committee member has said that the competition will not take place as planned this year. Pound told USA Today: ‘On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided. ‘The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.

MOT

Sun
MINISTERS are considering an MOT holiday for motorists during the coronavirus crisis. Officials are meeting this morning to implement a ‘holiday period’ during the time lockdown so that drivers do not have to take their vehicles in for the annual check until the crisis is over. The decision is being treated as ‘urgent’ by the Department of Transport with an announcement expected in the next few days. In the proposals discussed by officials, the MOT holiday was an option being considered.

Council tax

Sun
MILLIONS of people in England are set to get their council tax bills slashed by £150 this year because of the coronavirus crisis. Ministers today revealed that working age people who get Council Tax Support will be able to get an extra helping hand with their bill. A £500 million Hardship Fund will provide support to those who need it most, the Government said today. New bills should be being issued in the coming weeks to everyone affected for the 2020/21 year. The Government expects councils to use the extra cash to reduce the bills of everyone who is eligible by £150 a year.

Cruise ship

Times
Traces of coronavirus have been found in the cabins on the Diamond Princess 17 days after the ship was evacuated, according to research. The cruise liner became an incubator for the disease with 712 passengers and crew testing positive for Covid-19. Ten people have died and at least 15 remain in critical care. A report by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that coronavirus “was identified on a variety of surfaces in cabins of both symptomatic and asymptomatic infected passengers up to 17 days after cabins were vacated on the Diamond Princess but before disinfection procedures had been conducted”.

Alex Salmond

Times
A former deputy leader of the SNP has called sexual assault allegations against Alex Salmond the “dirtiest blow” he has seen delivered in his 60 years of political life. A former deputy leader of the SNP has said that Alex Salmond was “set up” on sexual assault allegations by people at the highest level of his own party. Jim Sillars, who served under Mr Salmond in the early 1990s before their friendship soured, said there was compelling evidence for his claim.

BBC News
Alex Salmond has walked free from the High Court after being acquitted of charges of sexual assault – but he has made clear that this is far from the end of the matter. With a series of inquiries in the pipeline, what is going to come next? In the first instance, very little is going to happen. Politics is essentially on hold while the country is in the grip of the coronavirus crisis – there are frankly far more important things to be dealing with right now. But there is already much activity beneath the surface, with both opposition politicians and some within the SNP starting to pose questions.

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