Covid-19

The coronavirus is spreading and could hit ten percent of the population, says the Mail.

One in ten Britons could end up in hospital with coronavirus according to NHS officials who are drawing up a ‘battle plan’ to tackle the deadly outbreak.
Britain’s 20th coronavirus case has tonight been confirmed – after a British man who was on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship died in Japan earlier today.
The latest case is the first time a patient has caught the infection on British soil, marking a ‘new chapter’ in the country’s spiralling health crisis.

Health bosses are considering a plan to fight the virus, reports the Telegraph.

One in 10 people in the UK could be hospitalised with coronavirus, health officials believe, as they drew up new plans to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed.
Health chiefs are drawing up a “battle plan”, which will say that hospital operations could be cancelled, and treatment rationed, in a bid to contain the outbreak.
Yesterday saw the first death of a British patient, an elderly holidaymaker who caught the virus on the Diamond Princess cruise liner that was docked in Japan. The patient has not yet been identified.

And we’ve now got 20 confirmed in the UK, says the Mail.

The UK’s 20th coronavirus case has been confirmed and is the first time a patient has caught the infection on British soil, marking a ‘new chapter’ in the country’s spiralling health crisis.
The patient, from Surrey, is understood to be a man who was treated at Haslemere Health Centre before being transferred to Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital in London.
He contracted the illness in England from an unknown spreader – who authorities are racing to track down to avoid them contaminating more people.

It’s being passed on within the UK, reports the Times.

Britain moved on to a coronavirus war footing last night as a man in Surrey became the first person to contract the disease within the country.
Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, said a case had been confirmed in a patient who had not left the country recently. “The virus was passed on in the UK,” he said. “It is not yet clear whether they contracted it directly or indirectly from an individual who had recently returned from abroad.”
The total diagnosed in the UK rose to 20, with the first case in Wales and at least one in Surrey.

Health bosses are trying to track down contacts of the man who caught the virus in the UK, reports BBC News.

Health officials are trying to discover how a man in England caught coronavirus, after he became the first person to be infected within the UK.
The man, from Surrey, had not been abroad recently – unlike the 19 others who have tested positive in the UK.
Health minister Helen Whately told BBC Newsnight officials are trying to trace people he was in contact with.

The Pope is ill, reports the Sun.

POPE Francis cancelled events for the second day in a row today after falling ill.
The Vatican said the 83-year-old pontiff had decided not to go ahead with official audiences after he skipped a church service yesterday.
It comes as Italy is reeling from a worsening coronavirus outbreak which has so infected more than 500 people and caused 17 deaths.
The Vatican declined to say whether the Pope will be tested for the virus.
A spokesman said he celebrated Mass as usual this morning and will go ahead with some private meetings.

Fox News says he has a cold – apparently.

Pope Francis canceled his official audiences Friday after apparently coming down with a cold.
The Vatican said the 83-year-old pontiff celebrated morning Mass as usual and greeted participants at the end. He planned to keep his private meeting schedule as planned, but decided to cancel the official audiences, the Vatican said.
The Vatican hasn’t said what exactly Francis has come down with, but he was coughing and blowing his nose during Ash Wednesday Mass this week.

Emergency laws are being considered, reports the Mail.

Emergency laws to tackle coronavirus are being rushed in after the outbreak claimed its first British life yesterday.
The measures will be announced next week to ensure public services and the transport network can keep operating if the crisis worsens.
The unnamed British victim died in Japan after contracting the virus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship. He was one of 78 UK citizens on the vessel moored in Yokohama.

Schools could close, reports Sky News.

People should prepare for schools to close down to stop the spread of coronavirus, a former health secretary has warned.
Jeremy Hunt said the public might have to brace for “social and economic trade-offs” and cautioned the NHS will not function “business-as-normal” if a pandemic breaks out.
On the prospect of emergency hospitals being built like in China, he said: “I know all that thinking is happening.”

The Independent talks of an ‘economic meltdown’.

Emergency laws allowing health and safety measures to be bypassed in order to keep the country running should the coronavirus outbreak worsen will be rushed in next week amid No10 fears of an economic meltdown, reports suggest.
Councils, schools and the public sector will be given powers to suspend laws restricting classroom sizes and limiting the legal number of working hours in order to keep classes and supply chains running, according to The Times.

The Star reports the prospect of mass graves.

London could face mass graves, the military being deployed and up to 40,000 people dead in the “worst case scenario” of an outbreak like coronavirus .
Official documents obtained by the Daily Star Online reveal the chilling reality of the capital being hit by a large scale epidemic.
Contingency plans have been drawn by the London Resilience Partnership (LRP) – which includes the London Resilience Team (LRT) – about what options would be on the table in “significant event” such as a viral outbreak.

It could be very bad, reports the Mail.

The coronavirus could be up to 1,000 times more infectious than SARS because it plagues the body in the same way as HIV and Ebola, scientists warn.
Experts initially presumed the spread of COVID-19 would follow the same trajectory as the SARS outbreak in 2002/3, because the viruses are almost identical genetically.
But they have discovered the way it binds to cells in the human body is akin to far more aggressive diseases like HIV and Ebola.

And it could last for ages, reports the Sun.

BRITS are facing months of coronavirus chaos with sporting events, gigs and schools on lockdown to stop the spread of the killer bug.
Chief Medical Officer for England Prof Chris Whitty has said the UK will have to consider axing mass gatherings if the “virus intensifies”.
An emergency shutdown could mean this summer’s Euros tournament, Premier League games, the FA Cup Final, Grand National and Glastonbury are all under threat.
Even the famous April London Marathon could be called off as organisers say said they are “monitoring” the situation.

Planning a holiday?  Check and check again, says the Mail.

The holiday plans of millions of Britons could be at risk after the number of coronavirus cases around the world overtook China for the first time and the virus crisis tightened its grip on the UK today.
Brazil has reported its first patient with the illness, which means the virus has now spread to every continent except Antarctica, with cases also diagnosed for the first time in Norway, Greece, North Macedonia, Georgia and Pakistan.

The spread could be exacerbated by the EU’s movement rules, says the Telegraph.

The seemingly unstoppable spread of coronavirus has seen an ever-increasing number of Europeans coughing and sneezing. For EU apparatchiks, this disease may be about to cause a headache of a very different sort.
Coronavirus threatens not just public health, but also the very fundamentals of the EU system of free movement, and its Schengen Area that – in theory at least – provide for borderless travel across member states.

Trade talks

Big differences are emerging between the UK and the EU, reports the Times.

Ministers released details yesterday of the first round of Brexit trade talks next week, showing both sides at loggerheads over what to call the sessions.
There has been a stand-off between the two, with the EU wanting to use “Level playing field” to describe one section of the talks while the UK prefers “Open and fair competition”.
Both sides will now discuss their obligations under a proposed trade deal in a working group called: “Level playing field for open and fair competition.”

But the bloc is still trying to psyche our negotiators, reports the Guardian.

France has mocked Boris Johnson’s claim that the UK can have an Australia-style deal with the EU after Brexit as “for the birds”, warning an extra six months may be needed to strike an ambitious trade deal.
Its European affairs minister told an audience in London that such a deal did not exist and it was time for both sides to realise the next phase of Brexit was “for people … not for politicians”.
Amélie de Montchalin also warned that the EU would not be pressured into signing any trade deal by an “artificial deadline” created by Johnson, and if Europe needed an extra six months to achieve a good deal for both sides then that is what should happen.

The Mirror also reports the French minister’s taunts.

Brussels will not be pressurised by “artificial deadlines” in the post-Brexit trade talks between the EU and UK, France’s Europe minister has warned.
French European Affairs Minister Amelie de Montchalin has hit back at the UK’s threats to walk away from a trade deal with the EU if there is not “good progress”.

But Boris is also talking tough, says the Mail.

Boris Johnson put Britain on a collision course with the EU today, warning Brussels that the Government would pull the plug on trade talks in just four months’ time if it did not get its way.
The Prime Minister’s administration wants to see the ‘broad outlines’ of a ‘Canada-style’ deal with Brussels before a planned June summit, according to its confrontational official negotiating mandate, released this morning.
If the two sides remain at loggerheads Britain is ready to withdraw and concentrate on preparing the country for a bare-bones situation using World Trade Organisation terms under an arrangement with the EU similar to Australia’s.

There must be progress by June, says the Sun.

BORIS Johnson today threatened to walk away from EU trade talks in just three months’ time if a deal isn’t close.
The PM’s tough talk came as he published the British government’s 36-page blueprint for the all-important negotiation with Brussels.
Setting the breakneck timetable, Boris demanded that “the broad outline of a deal” must be in place by the time he meets the EU’s 27 leaders for a summit in June.
If it is, then the negotiations could be “rapidly finalised” by September, to allow three months for national parliaments to rubber stamp it.

Fisheries

And the bloc is still making threatening noises over our fish, says the Express.

THE European Union has issued another furious warning to the UK over post-Brexit free trade deal talks, ramping up pressure on Boris Johnson to drop his red lines on not allowing EU fishermen access British waters.
Boris Johnson has threatened to walk away from European Union trade talks in June unless Brussels drops demands for its rules and red tape to remain in place, the Government’s negotiating mandate warned.
The EU has demanded UK continues allow fleets from inside the bloc access to British waters in order to strike a post-Brexit free trade deal.

EU

Meanwhile, Turkish refugees are on the move, reports the Sun.

REFUGEES in Turkey are heading towards European frontiers after Ankara threw open its borders in revenge for the killing of 33 soldiers.
Turkey’s angry reaction has sparked fears of a repeat of the 2015-16 migrant crisis, when more than one million people crossed into Europe by foot.
But Turkey’s neighbours, Greece and Bulgaria, both European Union member states, vowed not to admit the refugees.

Greece won’t let them in, says Breitbart.

Greece has completely shut down its borders Friday, sending dozens of naval vessels to patrol the Greek islands after Turkey announced it would allow all Syrian migrants to head to Europe.
A government representative, who wished to remain anonymous, told German media that Greece has closed its entire land and sea border with Turkey and will allow no one to cross the border at all, German tabloid Bild reports.

The Turkish president has authorised artillery strikes, reports the Times.

President Erdogan tried to draw Nato, the US and Europe into his conflict with Russia and the Syrian regime yesterday, bussing hundreds of migrants to the Greek border as a warning of the consequences of inaction.
He also authorised drone and artillery strikes against Syrian regime positions in Idlib after 33 Turkish soldiers were killed by an air strike on Thursday night. He blamed the regime for the attack rather than its Russian backers but Moscow showed no sign that it intended to hold back President Assad from his continued assault on Idlib, where there are a million people displaced from other parts of Syria.

The Mail claims Turkey has reneged on a deal.

Europe is on the brink of a new migrant crisis as Greece locked down its land and sea routes while Turkey pulled out of a long-standing deal to stop the country’s 3.6 million refugees from travelling beyond its borders.
Hundreds of asylum seekers immediately began making their way towards Greece and Bulgaria – and, if they successfully cross the border, could carry on deeper into Europe.
Turkey’s neighbours responded by reinforcing their frontiers. Greece said it was locking down land and sea routes ‘to the maximum level possible’, while Bulgaria deployed 1,000 troops and military hardware to its 190-mile border with Turkey.

Breitbart claims the Turkish border is open.

The Turkish government has announced that for the next 72 hours it will open its border with Syria and allow any and all migrants to go to Europe unhindered.
A senior official has claimed that the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has opened the borders for Syrian asylum seekers and other migrants and will not prevent anyone from heading to Europe by land or by sea, Reuters reports.
According to the news service, all Turkish border and police officials have been ordered by the government to stand down along with members of the Turkish coastguard.

In another European story, the Telegraph reports young migrants may be allowed in to do low skilled jobs.

Boris Johnson is poised to allow thousands of young migrants into Britain who could fill low-skilled job vacancies as part of a post-Brexit trade deal.
The Youth Mobility Scheme, which currently allows under-30s from eight non-EU countries into the UK for a two-year period, is set to be extended to EU nations in any deal with Brussels.
It would enable businesses to hire young people to fill low- or unskilled jobs in hospitality, agriculture and other sectors, with ministers setting a cap on numbers depending on the needs of the UK economy.

Cummings

In an exclusive report, the Telegraph claims a top civil service has special powers.

Dominic Cummings asked Boris Johnson to sign a contract giving him special powers in Downing Street, The Telegraph has learned.
Although employed under the lowly title of “assistant to the Prime Minister”, Mr Cummings is understood to have a special agreement, believed to carry Mr Johnson’s signature, spelling out his authority over special advisers (SpAds).
It also confirms his jurisdiction over other government projects such as ARPA, the Tories’ pledge to recreate the United States’ Advanced Research Projects Agency in Britain.

Flooding

Pity the poor people getting flooded out time after time.  The Mail has pictures.

These dramatic aerial photographs show how a picture postcard village in the Malvern Hills of Worcestershire has been overwhelmed by severe flooding from the River Severn with residents left homeless.
The isolated area of Severn Stoke, which has a population of about 600 people, has been deluged after the river broke its banks following heavy rainfall in the aftermath of Storm Dennis nearly a fortnight ago.
Dozens of homes, the Grade II-listed church and playing fields have been left underwater in the village which is still under an Environment Agency flood warning amid fears more rainfall could see river levels rise further.

How will all this damage be paid for?  The Guardian opines.

The worst storms in years have left some councils facing “disastrous” cuts to public services to pay for widespread damage to roads and bridges that will cost tens of millions of pounds to fix, the Guardian has learned.
While the full scale of the destruction caused by storms Ciara and Dennis is not yet known, council leaders have expressed alarm about the spiralling repair bill and the implications for their already-stretched budgets.

And there’s more rain to come says ITV News.

Parts of Wales and northern England could receive up to 80 millimetres of rain on Friday as Storm Jorge hits the UK, the Met Office has warned.
Communities already hit by floods are bracing for further inundation, with the storm set to bring further heavy rain and wind across the UK over the weekend.
Strong winds are forecast for much of England, Wales and Northern Ireland on Saturday, reaching 70mph in coastal areas and up to 60mph inland.

And a danger to life, reports the Sun.

STORM JORGE has struck Britain prompting the Met Office to issue a severe “danger to life” flood warning.
With parts of the UK deluged, weather forecasters predict the flooding to continue this weekend and through till Monday.
Parts of the country have been swept by horror floods and bitter snow showers with no let up in sight as the Met Office issue four days of yellow warnings.

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