13th March 2020 Part 2 – United Kingdom – 798 Cases ¦ 10 Deaths

UPDATES COMING SOON

More updates coming shortly

21:26 US House Democrats press aid package

The Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, hopes to pass a relief package to help those affected by coronavirus – but President Donald Trump appears to remain opposed to it, despite days of negotiations.

The bill includes free testing as well as a new paid sick leave programme and unemployment benefits. A BBC correspondent says Ms Pelosi has had detailed talks on the bill with President Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

But Mr Trump said no agreement had been reached and some Republicans say the bill is expensive and ineffective.

21:16 Death toll in Washington state rises to 37

The number of people who have died from coronavirus in US hotspot Washington state has risen to 37 – an increase of six – the state governor says.

All public and private schools there will close from Tuesday, and gatherings of more than 250 people are banned across the state.

“We’re going to fight this epidemic as much as we can and the reason is we don’t want to see an avalanche of people coming into our hospitals with limited capacity,” Governor Inslee told a press conference

20:43 ‘Most likely I will be tested’ – Trump

Reporters have been continuing to press Donald Trump about whether he will take a coronavirus test after he was photographed standing next to an Brazilian aide who later tested positive. He says he will “most likely” take a test, but “not for that reason”.

“I will do it anyway, fairly soon. We are working on a schedule,” Mr Trump said.

US government advice is that anyone exposed to the virus should speak to their doctor who will advise about testing.

20:38 Dow Jones ends the day up

Wall Street shares rallied on Friday after US President Donald Trump declared the coronavirus outbreak a national emergency, freeing up money to fight the spread of the disease.

As the president spoke, the three main US indexes jumped more than 9%.

Earlier, London’s FTSE-100 closed up 2.5%, retreating from an early surge, while other European indexes made similar moves.

The rally comes a day after Wall Street suffered its biggest losses since 1987.

20:29 Ski resort guests told to leave Zermatt

Guests in the Swiss ski resort of Zermatt have been told to leave by Monday. This is because Switzerland’s ski resorts are shutting down due to the new government regulations on controlling the coronavirus.

Zermatt’s ski lifts and mountain railways will stop on Sunday. Hotels and holiday apartments will then be emptied.

It is not entirely clear if other resorts are asking all guests to leave, but the St Moritz region is closing every public space including all ski slopes, cinemas, swimming pools – and some hotels are closing.

This will be a huge blow to Switzerland’s alpine resorts: Swiss hotels have just posted a good year, after struggling for some time with the strength of the Swiss franc and financial downturns in Eurozone countries. What’s more, after a slow start to the winter season, the last couple of weeks have seen lots of snow, and thousands of guests had been expected over the next few weeks.

20:16 Trump ‘may add’ UK to travel ban

President Donald Trump says that he “may add” the UK to the list of European countries affected by the US travel ban. He said his government is looking at the rise in cases in Britain in the past 24 hours, which he described as “precipitous”.

The total number of cases in the UK is now 798, up by more than 200.

20:09 President Trump announces new national measures

Image caption: President Donald Trump speaking in the White House on Friday

More now from the White House where President Donald Trump is still speaking to reporters. He has declared a state of emergency across the US.

He also announced new testing measures – here’s the latest from his address:

  • The state of emergency opens up $50billion of funding and “every hospital” will activate their emergency plans
  • It also waives doctor licensing laws to enable physicians to work across states and relaxes laws about how and where hospitals can treat patients in their hospitals
  • Rules around telehealthcare will also be waived
  • Up to 500,000 tests will be available from next week, and the testing locations will be announced on Sunday
  • The president promised that within a month, 5m tests will be available, as well as drive-through testing facilities
  • Mr Trump says the government is partnering with Google to develop a website that helps citizens identify how and where to test for the virus
  • Visitors will be banned to nursing homes nationally, with the exception of end-of-life situations
  • The president also said interest on student loans will be waived
  • He said the government will take advantage of the low price of oil to buy large quanities for storage in the US – “We’re gonna fill it right up”, he promised
  • “This will pass – and we’re going to be stronger for it”, Mr Trump said

19:55 Cyprus limits entry to country

In the last hour, the Cypriot government has announced that only its citizens, along with other Europeans working on the island and people with special permits will be allowed into the country for a 15-day period beginning on Sunday.

President Nicos Anastasiades announced the move in a televised address on Friday.

Nationwide school closures have also been extended until 10 April.

19:53 A look at border restrictions in Europe

Various European countries have closed their borders or announced new restrictions in the past day or two. Here’s a summary of some of the measures introduced:

  • Denmark: Bans all foreigners from entering without a valid purpose (such as residency or emergency family visit)
  • Poland: Foreigners banned from entering from Sunday
  • Czech Republic: Bans all foreigners from entering the country, except those with residence permits. Bans its own nationals from leaving
  • Slovakia: Closes borders to all foreigners except Poles and those with a residence permit
  • Austria: Closes three land border crossings with Italy to all foreigners, except those with a medical certificate issued within four days. No restriction on Austrian nationals
  • Ukraine: Closes border crossings to foreigners (except diplomats) for two weeks
  • Hungary: Closes land borders with Austria and Slovenia
  • Slovenia: Closes six border crossings with Italy. Bus and train travel suspended. Foreigners may only enter with a medical certificate issued within three days
  • Serbia: Closes border crossings with Romania, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Croatia
  • Romania: Closes borders with Hungary, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Moldova
  • Albania: Closes borders with Montenegro, Kosovo and North Macedonia

19:35 Trump declares a national emergency over coronavirus

US President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Speaking at the White House, Mr Trump said the US had made incredible progress compared with the rest of the world.

The declaration gives him the ability to access a $50bn disaster relief fund. It will also allow the federal government to co-ordinate the response to the epidemic with state and local governments

19:31 Health minister’s 84-year-old mother tests positive

Nadine Dorries, a health minister in the UK government who has tested positive for coronavirus, has tweeted that her elderly mother also has the disease.

She added that the 84-year-old was “made of strong stuff”

19:22 Poland announces travel ban on foreigners

Poland has become the latest EU country to close its borders to foreigners, following Denmark and the Czech Republic in implementing strict measures to stem the spread of coronavirus.

Foreigners will be banned from entering Poland from Sunday, the country’s prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki said.

A 14-day quarantine will be imposed on Polish citizens who return home, he said.

“The state will not abandon [its citizens]. However, in the current situation we cannot allow ourselves to keep borders open to foreigners,” Mr Morawiecki said at a news conference.

Restaurants, bars and casinos are to be shuttered and public gatherings will be limited to 50 people, Mr Morawiecki.

Poland has confirmed 68 cases of coronavirus so far with one death.

Earlier, Denmark, the Czech Republic and Slovakia announced similar temporary bans on foreigners entering their countries, though Slovakia exempts Poles from the restrictions.

Ukraine, which is not a member of the EU, will also close its borders to foreigners.

18:57 London Marathon postponed until October

Organisers of the London Marathon have said all runners who had a place in this year’s race will be contacted on Friday to inform them of the decision to postpone the event until 4 October.

The marathon, which had been due to take place on 26 April, attracts about 40,000 runners each year.

Hugh Brasher, event director, said: “The world is in an unprecedented situation grappling with a global pandemic of Covid-19 and public health is everyone’s priority.

“We know how disappointing this news will be for so many – the runners who have trained for many months, the thousands of charities for which they are raising funds and the millions who watch the race every year.

18:49 Access to UK Parliament to be curtailed

Officials at the UK’s Houses of Parliament have announced that access by visitors will be restricted from next Monday.

House authorities say that public tours will end and Members of Parliament are to be discouraged from bringing in visitors.

The public can still watch Parliamentary proceedings in the Houses of Commons and Lords and be able to meet MPs in the central lobby. School visits can also still go ahead.

18:34 Wales cancels planned hospital surgery appointments

The Welsh health minister has announced that all elective operations and non-urgent outpatient appointments in the nation are to be cancelled, to help the NHS there cope with an expected increase in the number of conoravirus-related admissions.

Vaughan Gething said he expected a “larger number of people requiring high levels of care is highly likely over the coming weeks”. Access to cancer treatments and dialysis for kidney failure would not be affected, he added.

BBC Wales health correspondent Owain Clarke said the move would affect those patients who needed to stay in intensive care after their operation, and that to see the Welsh government act in this way was “unprecedented”.

18:23 Italy death toll rises by 250 in one day

The number of deaths from coronavirus in Italy has rise by 250 to 1,266 – the largest increase in absolute terms since the outbreak began, according to the country’s Civil Protection Agency.

Officials said the total number of cases had risen from 15,113 to 17,660.

The increase in the death rate is almost the same as the figure for China’s worst day on 13 February, when according to the World Health Organization, the city of Wuhan – the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak – reported 254 additional deaths.

18:22 Denmark closes its borders

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has announced her country will close its borders at 12:00 local time (11:00 GMT) on Saturday, until 13 April.

While Danish citizens will still be allowed to enter, those of other nationalities will need a valid reason to travel to Denmark to be allowed in.

It will still be possible to transport food, medicine and other necessary goods to Denmark, the government says

17:42 Louisiana official confirms delay to primaries

Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin has confirmed earlier media reports that the state is postponing its Democratic – and Republican – presidential primaries to help limit the spread of coronavirus.

Elections had been due to take place in Louisiana next month, but have now been pushed back to June and July, Mr Ardoin told a news conference on Friday. He added that all voting equipment would be disinfected before the rescheduled primaries.

“The law provides for extraordinary measures to be taken when facing disasters,” Mr Ardoin said.

17:35 Canada advises against all non-essential travel

Justin Trudeau is advising Canadians to postpone or cancel all non-essential international travel outside of Canada.

The federal government is now looking at ways to support Canadians and small businesses financially affected by the pandemic, said the prime minister.

It would be introducing a “significant fiscal stimulus package in the coming days”, he said.

Mr Trudeau’s address comes amid a host of new measures being taken by the government to limit the domestic spread of the virus.

All cruise ships carrying over 500 passengers will not be able to dock in Canada until 1 July.

Canada will also be limiting the number of airports where international flights can land in order to improve screening of travellers.

As of Friday, there were 157 cases of the coronavirus in Canada. One death has been linked to the virus.

A number of provincial governments have taken their own steps in recent days to limit contagion.

Ontario has closed all public schools, and many schools in Quebec have also been shut.

British Columbia and Quebec have banned all public gatherings of over 250 people.

17:24 New UK Estimates

UK is estimating between 5,000 and 10,000 are already infected.

17:15 London Marathon postponed over coronavirus

April’s London Marathon is postponed and rearranged for 4 October because of the coronavirus outbreak

16:55 Six Oxford University students test positive

One of the world’s leading universities has cancelled or postponed all exams scheduled for the Easter holidays due to an outbreak.

The University of Oxford says it made the decision to change exam dates between next Monday and 2 April after six students were diagnosed with coronavirus.

In a memo to staff and students, vice-chancellor Louise Richardson said the institution “intends to remain open until instructed to do otherwise” and was “advising all domestic undergraduates to return home for the break unless they have a compelling reason to stay”.

A elderly patient who had tested positive for Covid-19 has died in a hospital in the Lothian area.

16:31 Louisiana ‘postpones Democratic primaries’

Louisiana has postponed the Democratic presidential primaries scheduled for April, becoming the first state to do so as fears over the pandemic intensify, US media report.

The state now plans to hold the elections in June and July,

16:18 Miami’s mayor tests positive after Brazilian meeting

Miami’s mayor has tested positive for coronavirus, four days after coming into contact with a Brazilian government official who has since also tested positive.

Mayor Francis Suarez asked that those who had come into contact with him to take preventative measures.

“If we did not shake hands or you did not come into contact with me if I coughed or sneezed, there is no action you need to take whatsoever,” he said.

“If we did, however, touch or shake hands, or if I sneezed or coughed near you since Monday, it is recommended that you self-isolate for 14 days, but you do not need to get tested.”

The mayor is one of many US politicians, including Donald Trump and Republican Rick Scott, who interacted with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his staff – including the infected press secretary – during a trip to South Florida last week.

Mr Bolsonaro has tested negative for the virus. Mr Trump has so far resisted getting a test done.

16:14 Palestinian police enforce strict restrictions

Palestinian police have been enforcing strict restrictions on movement in Bethlehem, which has been placed in lockdown.

16:14 Europe now ‘epicentre’ of the pandemic, says WHO

The head of the World Health Organization says that Europe is now the “epicentre” of the Covid-19 pandemic.

16:13 UPDATE FROM OUR LOCAL DOCTORS

Important information for patients
If you are experiencing a new, continuous cough and/or a high temperature of 37.8 or above you must self-isolate for 7 days. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

If:

  • you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
  • your condition gets worse
  • your symptoms do not get better after 7 days

Contact NHS 111 via their online coronavirus service. Only call 111 if you cannot access their help online. Further information and details of how to self-isolate are available on nhs.uk.

  • Following recent guidance and in order for us to protect our most vulnerable patients and staff we will be operating a triage only service for the foreseeable future.
    – We will not be booking any further advanced booking appointments until further notice.
    – All patients with pre-booked appointments will be contacted by a member of the team over the coming days.
    – If you have an urgent medical matter that is non-corona related you will have access to our GP’s via a triage service.
  • We kindly ask that paper prescriptions are not brought into the surgery but put into the letter box which is attached to the wall to the right of our main entrance doors.
    – We will not be providing blank prescription request forms, they have been removed from the reception and our team will not be able to provide you with one.
  • Prescription requests can still be made online via your online services account.
    – If you do not have access to online services and do not wish to be granted access, we will temporarily be accepting prescription request via email.  Please email your medication request with your name, date of birth and address to …………
  • If you must attend the surgery for any reason please use the wall mounted hand sanitizer next to the self-check in monitor.
  • Please do NOT attend the surgery if you are symptomatic as above or have been confirmed to have coronavirus.

We thank you in advance for your kind cooperation during an ever changing and challenging time.

15:53 Tunisia orders all arriving travellers to self-isolate

Tunisia’s ministry of health has ordered all incoming travellers from any country in the world to immediately self-isolate upon arrival to the country, without exception.

This latest preventative measure against the spread of Covid-19 is a step-up from earlier in the week when this was only a requirement for those coming back from the worst-affected areas.

It’s a move that puts a lot of faith in people to individually comply, because in reality they cannot monitor this on a large scale of this kind. Breaking quarantine rules is a criminal offence here – if you are caught.

The rules are changing fast, in Tunisia and elsewhere on the continent. It appears the authorities are trying to strike a balance between prevention and containment, and avoiding more stringent measures like further suspension of flights to avoid the severe economic impact that comes with even tighter controls.

The new Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh is due to address the nation at 19:00 local time (18:00 GMT) – there’s no telling what he will announce tonight, but many Tunisians will be watching closely.

15:50 England local elections postponed for a year

Local elections in England, scheduled for this May, have been postponed for a year due to the coronavirus

15:40 Queen postpones engagements over coronavirus

Buckingham Palace said changes were being made to the Queen’s diary commitments “as a sensible precaution”.

She was due to visit Crewe and Macclesfield in Cheshire on 19 March and Camden on 26 March.

It comes after the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall postponed their spring tour of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, and Jordan due to the pandemic.

15:37 US announces testing measures

In an effort to deflect criticism of its slow response to a shortage of coronavirus testing in the US, the White House has announced several measures to speed up testing.

The Department of Health and Human Services will give $1.3m to two laboratories vying to create new test kids for Covid-19 that can detect if a person is infected in less than an hour.

The new kits could be ready in six to 12 weeks, officials say.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also approved a Swiss-manufactured testing kit – the first commercially available Covid-19 test in the US.

The FDA has also set up a 24-hour help line for laboratories that are having difficult getting tests or encountering any other roadblocks to the process.

The US is still lagging far behind other countries in testing, leading several US health officials to speculate that the scope of infection could be exponentially higher than what is currently confirmed.

15:33 Latest headlines from around the UK

The total number of confirmed cases in the UK has risen to 798 – up from 590 on Thursday. Health officials have said they believe the actual number of people infected could be between 5,000 and 10,000. The total number of deaths in the country remains 10. 

In England

In Scotland

  • The number of coronavirus cases has risen to 85 – a rise of 25 since Thursday
  • The Scottish football season has been suspended until further notice
  • Scottish Rugby has today taken the decision to suspend all rugby in Scotland
  • Edinburgh Airport has warned it could have almost no passengers in the next three months – putting up to 100 jobs at risk
  • First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said widespread school closures were not yet necessary. However, from Monday all schools in Shetland will close for a week
  • Ms Sturgeon added that from next week restrictions would be placed on gatherings of more than 500 people

In Wales

  • There have been 13 new cases, bringing the total number to 38
  • Wales’ Six Nations match against Scotland match on Saturday has been postponed

In Northern Ireland

  • First Minister Arlene Foster said schools will remain open but admitted the policy could cause some confusion after the Republic of Ireland announced nationwide closures
  • Stormont has said that health and social care services are coming under growing pressure due to the increase in cases of coronavirus.

15:25 Canada MPs suspend parliament

In Canada, all federal parties have agreed to adjourn parliament amid the coronavirus pandemic. MPs passed the suspension motion on Friday morning. Parliament had a scheduled break next week but will now only return on 20 April. The House of Commons can still be recalled if needed to handle any emergency coronavirus measures, said Liberal House leader Pablo Rodriguez. “The priority for the government is the health and the safety of all Canadians,” Mr Rodriguez said. 

The government still has the means “to spend money in terms of emergencies”, he said. Opposition parties said they would continue to ensure the minority Liberal government is working to handle the virus outbreak. The federal budget, which was scheduled to be tabled on 30 March, is postponed. Legislators also unanimously approved the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement, the trilateral free trade agreement, which is expected to be voted on in the Senate later on Friday. As of Friday morning, there are 138 cases of the virus in Canada. One death has been linked to the disease. This news comes after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday. She said she is “experiencing uncomfortable symptoms of the virus” but will be back on her feet soon. Mr Trudeau has been in self-isolation since Thursday and is currently working from home.

15:23 UK insurance firms halt sale of travel cover

Two of the biggest UK insurance firms, Direct Line and Churchill, have halted the sale of travel insurance to new customers because of the coronavirus, PA news agency reports.

A statement from Direct Line Group, on behalf of both firms, said: “Due to the impact coronavirus is having across the world we have experienced a huge increase in demand for travel insurance.

“Our priority is to protect and service our existing customers and therefore we have taken the difficult decision to temporarily suspend the sale of travel insurance to new customers so that we can focus on our existing customers.”

Axa, another large firm, has put a notice on its website saying: “If you purchase a new policy now, it will not cover any trip cancellation or disruption in relation to coronavirus.”

And Aviva said earlier this week it was adjusting its cover in light of the pandemic, so customers can no longer select add-on cover for “travel disruption” or “airspace closures”.

15:14 Hong Kong to quarantine arrivals from Europe

Hong Kong will make all travellers from Europe stay in quarantine for 14 days, its government says.

The new measures will come in on 17 March.

Hong Kong has also issued a red outbound alert for European countries, urging members of the public to avoid non-essential trips and adjust their travel plans.

Europe, including the UK, has a total of 29,398 cases, more than half of which are in Italy.

15:09 Trump to give press conference

US President Donald Trump has announced he will give a press conference from the White House on the subject of coronavirus at 15:00 local time (19:00 GMT).

15:04 Edinburgh Airport ‘could see zero customers for three months’

Image caption: Unions say that Edinburgh Airport and others across Scotland could be on the brink of collapse

Edinburgh Airport has warned that it is potentially facing the scenario of receiving no passengers in the next three months because of coronavirus.

In a statement released on Friday, a spokesman for the airport said: “We are facing an unprecedented situation, looking at the potential of three months of zero or close to zero passenger demand.

“We have spent the last few weeks looking at how we deal with the immediate and longer term effects and unfortunately that means taking some extremely tough decisions as the industry continues to react.”

More than 100 jobs at the Scottish airport are said to be at risk.

14:59 Pakistan shuts land borders and limits flights

The country has also closed all schools nationwide.

“It has been decided that all borders will remain closed for 15 days,” minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told Pakistani networks ARY and Dunya TV.

“International flights will operate only out of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad airports.”

The country borders China, where the coronavirus originated, and Iran, one of the worst-hit countries.

Pakistan itself has reported 21 cases of the coronavirus and no deaths.

14:57 Ukraine closes borders to foreign visitors

Ukraine has become the latest country to announce travel restrictions.

It says it will close its borders to all foreign nationals from Sunday, initially for two weeks.

On Thursday the country closed schools and universities nationwide and banned all major public events, while Ukraine’s Orthodox Church told worshippers it was acceptable not to kiss icons.

The latest move was announced shortly before the country reported its first death due to Covid-19. Only two other cases have been recorded there so far.

14:53 BA to ‘cut flights and jobs’ in response to virus

14:43 Spain declares state of emergency as cases jump

Image caption: Pedro Sanchez earlier held a video conference over the coronavirus outbreak from his office in Madrid

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus pandemic which will come into effect on Saturday.

It follows news earlier today that the number of deaths recorded in Spain jumped 40% in one day to 120. The number of confirmed infections has now reached 4,209.

The state of emergency – or “state of alarm” – allows the government to take wide-ranging measures, these include:

  • limiting the movement of people or vehicles
  • ordering evacuations
  • prohibiting access to certain areas or places
  • intervening in areas of industry and farming

The government will be able to implement the emergency measures for a maximum of 15 days, but will then require Spanish parliamentary approval to extend them.

Mr Sanchez announced the planned move in a televised address to the nation in which he said that the number of cases in Spain could reach 10,000 by next week.

14:39 Malta annnounces 14-day quarantine for all arriving passengers