Coronavirus

The Times reports the latest prediction of how the virus will develop.

Ministers are preparing for a potential coronavirus death toll as high as 100,000 as they try to brace the country for months of upheaval without spreading panic.
Boris Johnson will chair his second meeting of the Cobra emergency committee tomorrow, where medical experts are expected to recommend that the government move formally into the second “delay” phase of the government’s response.
That could lead to more people working from home and fewer public gatherings.
Officials in Whitehall last week began describing a 100,000 figure as the “central estimate” of the potential death toll, according to a source involved in the preparations, rather than the previously publicised worst case scenario of 500,000 deaths if 80% of the population were infected.

The Sun reports a warning sent to councils.

MINISTERS have warned local councils to brace themselves for a coronavirus death toll of 100,000, it has been reported.
Whitehall officials have given the ‘central estimate’ after medical experts are expected to recommend the government move into its second ‘delay’ phase to tackle the deadly bug.
According to the Sunday Times, the figure was revised after an initial death toll of 500,000 was given if 80% of the population was infected.
The total was circulated to town hall leaders to prevent panic and included those most likely to die from seasonal flu, which average 17,000 over the past five years.

Panic buying of groceries is being addressed, says the Mail.

Tesco has begun rationing the amount of pasta, baked beans and hand sanitiser per customer to stop shelves being stripped amid coronavirus fears.
In a move to ensure the supermarket has enough supply, they have decided to limit the amount of dry pasta, UHT milk and baked bean tins that each customer can purchase.
As well as the frequently purchased disaster goods, the store has decided to limit antibacterial gels, wipes, sprays and children’s cold medicine, Calpol.
Tesco confirmed that shoppers would be limited to five items on Saturday, adding that they would apply to online orders from tomorrow.

The Telegraph lists the rationed products.

Supermarkets have begun rationing food as a result of coronavirus panic buying.
Tesco is limiting the amount of baked beans, dry pasta and UHT milk its customers can buy to ensure they have enough supply, as its shelves were emptied across Britain.
On Saturday the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Britain rose to 206, with scientists warning diagnoses are doubling every other day. On its current trajectory, experts fear the UK could breach 1,500 by the end of the week.
Supermarkets have been forced to act after their shelves were plundered again on Saturday, with customers reporting shortages of ready meals, toilet roll and paracetamol.

The Times concentrates on the effect the virus is having on hospitals.

The coronavirus outbreak is presenting hospitals with a huge challenge, as data shows that dozens of intensive care units (ICUs) were often at full capacity before the outbreak.
Senior medics have warned of a “logjam” in hospitals as ICU units fill up, resulting in seriously ill patients being placed on less well-equipped wards. They fear this could lead to more patients being treated in A&E corridors as ambulances queue outside hospitals.
On January 15, the busiest day this winter, 28 of 131 hospital trusts in England had ICUs that were full.

And the Guardian reports on the plans the government is working on.

A range of drastic new measures, including emergency legislation allowing people to switch jobs and volunteer to work in the NHS or care homes, are being drawn up by ministers in an attempt to tackle the coronavirus crisis.
The measures – which also include plans for courts to use telephone and video links to avoid people having to attend in person – are likely to be included in a special Covid-19 emergency bill, as the government prepares to move to the next phase – delay – of its response to the spread of the virus.
Sports governing bodies and broadcasters have been called to an emergency meeting on Monday by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to examine whether large events should be held behind closed doors if the situation worsens. Another measure reportedly being considered is banning over-70s from attending large gatherings.

The Times claims exams could be delayed.

Exam boards are drawing up plans to delay GCSEs and A-levels amid predictions that the coronavirus epidemic will be at its height as the exam season starts, forcing mass closures of schools.
The boards, working with the exam regulator, Ofqual, are planning “for a range of scenarios”. One is understood to involve looking at predictions of the rise in cases and considering alternative exam dates. A decision is expected shortly. GCSEs and A-level exams are due to start on May 11 and finish in mid-June.
In an attempt to reassure teenagers, Ofqual is planning to waive rules to help those who miss some exams because they fall ill or their school is closed.

And refuse collections could be delayed, says the Times.

Councils are preparing to stop weekly bin collections under contingency plans to deal with the potential spread of the new coronavirus.
Local authorities have been advised that they will have to prioritise services if large numbers of their staff are forced to work from home because of illness.
A senior Whitehall source said: “Councils may well have to look at less frequent bin collections, or prioritising certain routes or areas, and will be in close communication with residents about this nearer the time.

But although the Queen is in her 90s, she’s not giving in to the virus, says the Mail.

The Queen has vowed to not let the coronavirus  outbreak stop her from performing her duties – as Government officials discuss how best to protect senior Royals from the bug.
The Monarch, who is 93, will attend the Commonwealth Day service in Westminster Abbey tomorrow with eight other members of the Royal Family, where they will mix with representatives from 54 Commonwealth countries. A senior Palace source said last night that the Queen was determined to set an example by ‘keeping calm and carrying on’ until there was ‘compelling advice to the contrary’.
However, if the virus spreads, Whitehall experts have suggested the Queen should cancel her garden parties, which start in May, when the epidemic is predicted to be near its peak.
In such a scenario, the Queen would also be likely to operate with a reduced retinue of staff and to relocate to either Sandringham or Balmoral to limit the risk of infection.

He’s at it again!  The former chancellor says Brexit negotiations could be delayed, reports the Express.

PHILIP HAMMOND has warned that the coronavirus outbreak could delays to Brexit negotiations.
The virus outbreak has infected over 200 Britons. The UK is trying to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement with the European Union before the end of the year. Speaking to the Sunday Times, the former Chancellor said: “If the virus starts to disrupt everyday life . . . and many other processes have slowed down as a consequence, there is no reason to think that Brexit trade talks will be immune, then the parties will have to work together in good faith to decide how to manage that.”
Boris Johnson, who removed the Tory whip from Mr Hammond, introduced legislation to prevent the transition period, in which Britain is out of the EU but the regulations still apply, being extended after December 31.

Priti Patel

A supporter of the current home secretary has let the cat out of the bag, reports the Telegraph.

A senior civil servant has launched an attack on Sir Philip Rutnam, the Home Office’s former top official, for “declaring war” on Priti Patel, accusing him of having “undermined the integrity” of his profession.
In an interview with The Telegraph, the mandarin said they had witnessed officials openly undermining Ms Patel in meetings, having apparently “disagreed with what she was trying to do”.
The official witnessed the minister becoming “frustrated” but said they never witnessed “bullying”. The senior Whitehall figure, who has served under both Labour and Conservative governments, said the “normal process” in Whitehall would have seen Sir Philip take a new role if he and Ms Patel could not work together.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said: “He should have been saying, ‘you’re the democratically elected Home Secretary and it’s me who’s got to go.’

And the Mail claims an ex-chancellor could be involved.

Former Chancellor Sajid Javid has been accused of playing a key role in the crisis engulfing Home Secretary Priti Patel over allegations that she bullied staff.
The pair previously clashed over immigration  policy, and now allies of Ms Patel believe that aides loyal to Mr Javid helped to orchestrate Home Office Permanent Secretary Sir Philip Rutnam’s dramatic resignation last weekend.
Sir Philip stormed out after claiming Ms Patel had sworn at staff and made unreasonable demands.

Fisheries

The Independent reports a trawling opportunity.

Campaigners say Brexit presents the government with the perfect opportunity to ban industrial supertrawler fishing boats from UK seas.
Supertrawlers are huge factory ships many times larger than fishing boats, with the capability to net and process as much as 250 tons of fish a day.
Environmentalists fear the presence of these “monster” ships is linked to increasing numbers of dolphins washing up dead on British shores, but admit more evidence is needed.
Negotiations on Brexit include fishing rights to UK waters, and campaigners are calling for a ban on supertrawlers. At the very least, the ships should have CCTV cameras or independent observers on board, said the groups.

And the Express reports a warning to the prime minister.

BORIS JOHNSON has been warned British voters will turn on him if he sacrifices UK fishing for a favourable post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union.
Boris Johnson Europe advisor David Frost travelled to Brussels earlier this week, armed with a team of some 100 UK officials, for the first round of post Brexit trade talks with the European Union and chief negotiator Michel Barnier. The UK and EU both published their negotiating mandates last week ahead of the crunch trade talks, with both sides hoping to secure a full trade agreement (FTA). But the plans have highlighted massive cracks in negotiations across a number of key areas in the post-Brexit future relationship.

EU

Meanwhile, on the border between Turkey and Greece, thousands of migrants are trapped, says the Sun.

IN their tens of thousands the refugees flocked to the Turkish border with Greece – and the EU – after being given new hope for the first time in years by Turkey’s strongman ruler.
The desperate families fleeing the horror of IS and neighbouring Syria’s brutal civil war believed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan when he pledged to open the door to Europe.
The country’s authorities even laid on buses to the border as more than 75,000 people gathered their meagre belongings and heeded his call.
But a week later Erdogan’s pledge rang hollow as the refugees found themselves hungry, cold and trapped in a desolate, wind-blown hell camp at the newly fortified frontier. Yesterday they branded Erdogan a monster and accused him of using them as pawns in a political game.

And if the virus gets into the camps, it could spread alarmingly, says the Times.

Fears are growing that conditions in camps housing migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey after Ankara opened the border could turn them into breeding grounds for the coronavirus.
Hostility towards the new arrivals, already running high, looks set to grow after Athens voiced concerns that some crossing into the country could carry the virus.
Greece has suffered only a few dozen cases — almost entirely among people travelling there from the Middle East. But numbers are growing and it has closed schools and universities and cancelled large gatherings in parts of the country.

The Express reports on a trip by the Turkish president.

TURKISH President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is planning to visit Brussels on Monday amid mounting tensions with the bloc over the intensifying migrant crisis on the continent.
A statement from Mr Erdogan’s office on Saturday said he would travel to Brussels on March 9. Although the precise nature of the summit was not specified, the Turkish leader is likely to unleash a furious response over how the bloc has handled the ongoing migrant situation as tensions soar on the Turkey-Greece border.

Fox News reports the money being poured into Greece.

The European Union, in an effort to curb a brewing crisis at its borders, is pouring hundreds of millions of euros into Greece in the hope it will act as a “shield” against fresh migrant flows that could foreshadow a migrant crisis similar to that that wreaked havoc on the continent in 2015.
“This border is not only a Greek border, it is also a European border,” E.U. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. “I thank Greece for being our European shield in these times.”
She announced nearly $800 million in funding for Greece, for establishing and keeping up “infrastructure” at the border. The dramatic move comes amid a sharply escalating crisis after Turkey opened the country’s border to Greece as part of an apparent push to make Europe offer more support in dealing with the fallout of the Syrian war.

Business

A new group concentrating on business after Brexit has been launched, reports the Telegraph.

Leading Brexiteer businessmen have launched a new “voice for business” intended to rival a prominent lobby group criticised by senior ministers.
John Longworth, the former director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, and John Mills, the founder of JML, said the new network would provide an “alternative, post-Brexit voice” after the CBI spent months campaigning for the closest possible relationship with the EU.
The cross-party Foundation for Independence will test the views of firms using online surveys, and help to “hold the Government’s feet to the fire” on Brexit, Mr Mills said.
Its founders said the body would campaign for comprehensive free trade deals with the EU and US and challenge attempts by pro-Remain groups to undermine the Brexit process.

And a major car manufacturer is investing in the country, says Breitbart.

The Nissan Motor Company has announced that it will be doubling down on its investments in the United Kingdom, bucking predictions by anti-Brexiteers that the British car industry would crumble after Brexit.
As a part of a £1 billion investment scheme at its British factory in Sunderland, Nissan announced that it has already invested £400 million to produce the next generation of its Qashqai compact crossover SUV in post-Brexit Britain.
The Japanese auto-giant has installed a gigantic press to stamp out vehicle pannels for the new Qashqai. The press, which was tailor-made to produce the SUV, took 18 months to install and cost an estimated £52 million, according to The Telegraph.

Flooding

It continues, says the Guardian, but more money is to be pumped into the problem.

The government is to double spending on flood defences in this week’s budget after recent storms caused havoc across the country and drove thousands from their homes.
The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, will announce an increase from £2.6bn to £5.2bn in spending on  flood defences between 2015 and 2021. He will tell MPs that the money will give protection to 336,000 homes in England and allow 2,000 new flood and coastal defence schemes to be built.
The announcement will be a centre-piece of Sunak’s first budget, which he is determined will focus not only on measures to combat the spread of coronavirus but also on national infrastructure to reduce risk of flooding in England by 11% by 2027.

BBC News also has the story.

Funding for flood defences in England is expected to be doubled to £5.2bn over five years in the forthcoming budget, the Treasury has said.
The money, due to be announced on March 11, will help to build 2,000 new flood and coastal defence schemes and protect 336,000 properties in the country.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said communities had been “hit hard” in recent floods.
The funding – double the £2.6bn budgeted between 2015 and 2021 – is due to be available from April 2021.
This year was the wettest February in the UK since records began in 1862, with more than three times the average rainfall – as three successive storms left rivers bursting their banks and communities flooded.

ITV News looks at how the cash could be spent.

Funding for flood defences is expected to be doubled to £5.2 billion in the forthcoming Budget, the Treasury has said.
The investment will help to build 2,000 new flood and coastal defence schemes and better protect 336,000 properties in England over the next six years.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said communities in Britain have been “hit hard” by severe flooding this winter, saying it is “right that we invest to protect towns, families, and homes across the UK”.
The funding – which doubles the £2.6 billion spent on flood defences between 2015 and 2021 – is expected to be targeted in every region, and will be available from next April.

But there’s more rain on the way, says the Sun.

THE UK is set to be hit with torrential rain and more flooding in the coming days, as the Met Office warns that high rivers are likely to overflow.
139 flood alerts are currently in place across the UK, with areas of the South, Wales and Scotland expecting the wettest weather.
The south of England and Scotland will likely be hit worst today, with some people being told to move valuable possessions from the ground floor of their homes and to install flood defences.
Sunday is expected to be sunnier, but the rain will return to Wales on Monday.
The government has put 22 flood warnings in place across England, meaning that “flooding is expected”.

Human rights

The rights of soldiers could be amended, reports the Telegraph.

Boris Johnson could use his majority to depart from human rights laws in areas where European judges have “overreached”, under a plan being discussed by senior Tories.
The Prime Minister is being urged to declare that laws such as those providing safeguards to soldiers would apply “notwithstanding” the Human Rights Act.
The move would form part of an attempt to roll back the influence of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, which Cabinet ministers have accused of distorting the 67-year-old European Convention on Human Rights.

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