Just in case you haven’t heard, the Prime Minister has been diagnosed with Covid-19.  The Telegraph reports:

Boris Johnson and his key lieutenants in the battle against coronavirus were all fighting the illness as it struck at the heart of Government on Friday.
The Prime Minister and Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, both tested positive for the virus, with Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, in isolation with clear symptoms.
Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, was working from home as a precaution after taking part in the Clap For Carers event with Mr Johnson in Downing Street on Thursday night.
Duncan Selbie, the head of Public Health England, also revealed that he was self-isolating after developing symptoms last weekend.

The health secretary also tested positive, says the Mail.

Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock faced accusations they had failed to follow their own advice on social distancing after both tested positive for coronavirus.
The Prime Minister and Health Secretary were pictured at close quarters in the Commons in recent days – well within the advised 6ft limit.
Just hours after they confirmed they had the virus, Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty, who has been the face of the nation’s coronavirus response, revealed he too had symptoms.

And so is the country’s chief medical officer, reports the Times.

The three men leading the nation’s fight against coronavirus have all gone into self-isolation after the disease reached the heart of government.
Boris Johnson will work alone at No 11 Downing Street for the next week and will hold meetings by video link after contracting the virus, the first leader of a G7 nation to do so. He is suffering from mild symptoms.
Carrie Symonds, Mr Johnson’s pregnant fiancée, is not staying in Downing Street and is understood to be self-isolating in their south London flat.
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, was also diagnosed with the disease while Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, has gone into isolation after displaying symptoms.


Doctors and nurses will be tested for Covid-19 from next week, reports the Times.

NHS staff will begin to be tested for coronavirus next week in an attempt to boost numbers on the front line.
Experts warned, however, that a false negative rate of up to 10 per cent could mean infected staff incorrectly being given the all-clear to return to wards.
There are 6,200 confirmed Covid-19 patients being treated in English hospitals, while 846 patients have been treated in intensive care since the outbreak began. Hospital bosses say they are seeing absence rates of up to 50 per cent as staff or members of their households come down with suspicious symptoms and have to self-isolate.

BBC News says testing will start this weekend.

Frontline NHS staff in England will begin being tested this weekend to see if they have coronavirus.
Workers with symptoms or those who live with people who have symptoms will be checked – starting with critical care doctors and nurses.
It follows criticism over a lack of testing for health workers.
Meanwhile, the prime minister and Health Secretary Matt Hancock are self-isolating after testing positive for the virus.
Boris Johnson, 55, said he had experienced mild symptoms over the past 24 hours but would continue to lead the government’s response to the pandemic while working from his Downing Street home. Mr Hancock said his symptoms were also mild and he was working from home.

The Independent says the tests will find out if the staff are fit for work.

Frontline NHS staff will finally be tested for coronavirus from next week, after fierce criticism that they are being left to guess if they have been infected.
Critical care nurses and intensive care staff – as well as ambulance workers and GPs – will be given tests, to see if it is safe for them to be at work.
The government announced a deal struck with dozens of universities, research institutes and companies, which will lend their equipment to three new ‘hub laboratories’.
The first lab is expected to start operations over the weekend, initially processing around 800 samples, but with the capacity to scale up quickly.
The move is designed to end the situation where NHS staff who suspect they have symptoms must stay at home – or risk infecting others if they do carry on working.

The Mirror says the number of tests will double.

NHS nurses and emergency staff will be tested for coronavirus in the coming weeks, as the government aims to double testing capacity.
Sir Simon Stevens, the Chief Exec of the heath service, said the NHS would be doubling capacity within the next week.
Michael Gove said the Government had brought together universities, businesses and research institutes in a “new alliance” to boost testing capacity for frontline workers.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster told the daily Downing Street press conference: “Today I can announce that the Prime Minister has brought together businesses, research institutes and universities in a new alliance to boost testing capacity for frontline workers.

Field hospitals

Several new huge hospitals are being planned.  The Times says:

A new field hospital for coronavirus patients to be built in the NEC Birmingham will hold up to 2,000 beds, while another one planned for Manchester’s Central Convention Complex will contain 1,000.
Ministers are thought to be considering converting 13 venues around the UK into temporary hospitals to cope with sick people, with 10 sites visited by military planners last weekend.
The first new facility will be the NHS Nightingale Hospital at the Excel centre in east London. It will open next week with an initial capacity for 500 patients, but is expected to go on to host 4,000 beds in total.

There’ll be one in Wales, says the Mail.

The home of Welsh rugby union is to be turned into the fourth emergency hospital to deal with an onslaught of coronavirus cases.
The Principality Stadium has been offered to NHS Wales as a makeshift field hospital to provide 2,000 extra beds should hospitals in the Cardiff area become overwhelmed.
It comes as the UK’s coronavirus death toll jumped by a third to 759 after officials announced 181 more victims of the killer infection in the biggest daily rise yet.

The new hospitals will cater for thousands of patients, says the Mirror.

NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens has announced that 33,000 hospital beds are available to treat further coronavirus patients.
He also unveiled plans to build new ‘Nightingale’ hospitals to help deal with the outbreak during today’s daily Downing Street press conference.
Sir Simon also said NHS staff will start being tested for coronavirus from next week, including critical care nurses, intensive care staff, ambulance workers and GPs.
The new hospital-building project starts with the Nightingale Hospital at the ExCel centre in east London.
A further two facilities are planned at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre and the Manchester Central Convention Complex.

Birmingham and Manchester are also being planned, says the Sun.

TWO more makeshift coronavirus hospitals will be set up in the UK as the death toll continues to rise.
The temporary hospitals are due to be built in Birmingham and Manchester to help the NHS cope with the swell in patients across the UK.
NHS England chief Sir Simon Stevens made the announcement at No10’s daily briefing as the death toll jumped 181 in 24 hours to 759 – the biggest leap yet.
He said: “Today because this is a problem of course not just confined to London but across the whole country, I have given the go-ahead to the building of two further of these NHS Nightingale hospitals beginning at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre and the Manchester Central Convention Centre, with further such hospitals to follow.”

And hospitals all over the country are freeing up beds, says Reuters.

Britain has freed up the equivalent of 50 hospitals to help deal with the coronavirus outbreak, the CEO of England’s National Health Service said on Friday.
“Over the last several weeks we have freed up the equivalent of 50 hospitals across England, ready and waiting for coronavirus patients,” Simon Stevens said.
He said that in London there were just under 3,000 empty beds as of Thursday.

ITV News claims a mortuary is being set up in Birmingham.

Two more facilities in the UK are being converted into temporary field hospitals to help the NHS deal with the growing coronavirus crisis.
Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre (NEC) and Manchester’s Central Convention Centre will both temporarily become ‘NHS Nightingale Hospitals’.
And work has started on a temporary mortuary at Birmingham Airport with space for up to 12,000 bodies in a worst-case scenario amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Sun also has the story.

BIRMINGHAM Airport could be turned into a temporary coronavirus mortuary for 12,000 bodies.
Police chiefs say the huge mortuary could be expanded to cope with more bodies as the grim death toll today hit more than 750 fatalities.
The West Midlands itself is considered a coronavirus hot-spot with 112 deaths recorded so far.
The airport is next to Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre (NEC), which has already been discussed as a possible location for a temporary field hospital.
It is understood that any airport facility could initially have space for 2,500 bodies, increasing to up to 12,000, if needed.

Social distancing

Are we doing enough to keep away from each other?  The Telegraph reports:

The two-metre social distancing rule being used to keep people apart may need to be four times bigger to prevent coronavirus from spreading, a new study by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) suggests.
Currently, people are being asked to keep a distance of around 6ft 6in when out in the community, and many supermarkets have now stuck lines of tape
to the floor to ensure adequate separation between shoppers when queuing.
But the new analysis by MIT has found that viral droplets expelled in coughs and sneezes can travel in a moist, warm atmosphere at speeds of 33ft to 100ft per second (10sq m to 30sq m), creating a cloud that can span approximately 23ft to 27ft (seven metres to  eight metres).

The Mail says the rules could be made stricter.

Britain’s coronavirus death toll surged by 181 yesterday as Government advisers warned that even stricter social distancing measures could be on the way. It is by far the biggest daily increase and means the disease has claimed 759 lives, including young and previously healthy people.
Government advisers said stricter social distancing policies may have to be rolled out next month if the grim figures continued to rise. The measures would be introduced in three weeks as the outbreak reached its peak to further reduce ‘person-to-person interaction’.
This week France announced that individuals could only exercise alone – unless with children – for a maximum of an hour and within 1,000 yards of their homes.


Thousands will die of coronavirus but the number may not be as high as first thought, says the Times.

Britain is on course for an estimated 5,700 deaths from coronavirus, far lower than originally predicted, experts believe.
The country will avoid the 260,000 fatalities once feared if it keeps on the same path seen in China, statisticians at Imperial College London have calculated.
They emphasised that this did not imply that the fears of mass deaths were alarmist, but that the government strategy was working. “Our work shows that social distancing is working against Covid-19 as an effective parachute across multiple countries,” Tom Pike, of Imperial College, said.

The Mail reports the global death rate.

The true death rate of the coronavirus is still a mystery even as the global outbreak of the virus prepares to enter its fourth month.
Data from around the world suggests that 4.5 per cent of people who catch the coronavirus – one in every 22 patients – are dying of the disease.
There have been approximately 23,700 deaths recorded out of a total of 530,000 cases, according to today’s data.
The true fatality rate is expected to be considerably lower but official numbers vary wildly from country to country because of how people get tested.

The numbers are still rising, says the Guardian.

The number of coronavirus deaths in the UK has risen sharply, from 578 to 759, the country’s biggest day-on-day increase to date.
The daily number of new confirmed cases of coronavirus also reached a new high at 2,921 recorded in the 24 hours to 9am on Friday, compared with 2,129 in the previous 24 hours.
The Department of Health said a total of 14,543 people in the UK had now tested positive for Covid-19, up from 11,658 at the same point on Thursday.
The number of people tested in the UK rose by 8,911 to 113,777, of whom 99,234 had tested negative.

The Star’s report that cases could peak next week could be construed as good news.

Researchers say Britain could face the peak of coronavirus as early as next week – killing up to 20,000 Brits.
The Uk’s death rate could “much higher than China’s” if it Brits not follow the measures that have been put in place by the British government.
Professor Tom Pike, of Imperial College London, said: “Social distancing is working against COVID-19 as an effective parachute across multiple countries.
“That’s no reason for us to cut away our parachutes when we’re still way above the ground.”
Prof Pike estimates at its peak, the UK will experience more than 250 deaths a day.


How many have died in China?  Perhaps the authorities there have been a little disingenuous, reports the Telegraph.

Thousands of urns awaiting collection in Wuhan, the city that was the first epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, have raised questions about the true scale of the death toll in China.
New photos circulating online showing long lines of relatives waiting outside funeral homes in the Chinese city for the remains of their loved ones have renewed pressure on the ruling Communist party to reveal the full truth about impact of the Covid-19 virus.
According to Chinese government figures, 2,535 people in Wuhan died of the virus. But images and information obtained by the Caixin media outlet appear to contradict the official narrative.


The route to testing for the virus could lie with man’s best friend, says the Times.

To sniff out coronavirus, it may be time to turn to nature’s finest noses: the soft, wet and imploring kind.
Scientists are investigating whether dogs could be trained to detect people who have the disease, even if those infected don’t know it themselves yet. The hope is that, if successful, they could provide a border protection force to rapidly screen travellers as Britain comes out of lockdown.
The ability of dogs to smell the signs of disease was first spotted by owners who claimed their pets had detected their cancers.

The Star claims dogs can be trained to sniff out the virus.

Researchers are sure dogs can detect cases of coronavirus and have launched a six-week project to prove they can do it at airports.
It comes after researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine delved into dogs’ ability to sniff out malaria, based on a belief that every disease triggers a distinct odour.
The head of disease control at the LSHTM said dogs could detect malaria with “extremely high accuracy” and, as other respiratory diseases changed body odour, there was a “very high chance” it could also work with Covid-19.
They plan to start training dogs in six weeks’ time in order to “provide a rapid, non-invasive diagnosis towards the tail end of the epidemic”.
They could also detect subtle changes in skin temperature, potentially making them useful to determining if a person has a fever.


The head of the Roman Catholic Church has had a word upstairs, reports the Star.

Pope Francis today begged God to end the coronavirus pandemic – as Italy’s COVID-19 death toll jumped by nearly a thousand in just 24 hours.
The 83-year-old pontiff clasped his hands in prayer for an ultra-rare “Urbi et orbi” blessing – usually only given on Christmas and easter.
Standing in a deserted St Peter’s Square, he pleaded: “Lord, may you bless the world, give health to our bodies and comfort our hearts.
“You ask us not to be afraid. Yet our faith is weak and we are fearful.
“But you, Lord, will not leave us at the mercy of the storm.
“For weeks now it has been evening. Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void.

Brexit talks

Away from the coronavirus to another subject in which we at Independence Daily are interested.  The Sun claims talks have stalled.

BRITAIN and Brussels were last night “galaxies apart” on Brexit – as talks stalled and another major row blew up over fishing.
Eurocrats complained the UK had tabled an incomplete offer covering only its own key interests to try and split their position.
But British negotiators insisted concentrating on areas where maximum progress can be made early on is the best approach to the talks.
The EU is especially wary that No 10 has put forward the draft text for a free trade agreement but hasn’t submitted any plans for fishing.
Brussels has said that access to waters must be negotiated as part of the trade deal, but UK officials insist the two issues are separate.
An EU diplomatic source told The Sun: “We’re not going to go along with progress only in the areas where there are two texts.
“That would mean the negotiation being fully framed by UK interests. The situation basically means everything is sort of halted.”

But BBC News says talks will continue next week.

A post-Brexit meeting between the EU and UK will go ahead as planned next week, despite the coronavirus crisis.
Much of Europe is on lockdown, so Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove will meet EU officials via video link.
The UK and EU’s chief negotiators, David Frost and Michel Barnier are in self-isolation after testing positive for coronavirus.
Downing Street insisted there would be “no change” to its timetable for getting a trade deal done.
Under the terms of its withdrawal agreement with the EU, the UK has until the end of the year – during which it will continue to follow most Brussels rules – to reach a deal.

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