21st March 2020 – United Kingdom 

Total Cases

21/03/2020

New Cases

21/03/2020

Deaths

21/03/2020

Recovered

20/03/2020

Infected

Source: Public Health England and news reports. (Public Health England Web Site)
Key: UK USA Other

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22:27 UK PM in Mother’s Day warning

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged people not to visit loved ones on Mother’s Day, which will be celebrated on Sunday. He warned that the country’s national health service could be “overwhelmed” if people did not act to slow the “accelerating” spread of coronavirus, .

The number of people who have died in the UK with coronavirus rose to 233 on Saturday, as cases topped 5,000. It comes as NHS England plans to write to 1.5 million people most at risk. Those at-risk people will receive letters or text messages strongly advising them not to go out for 12 weeks to protect themselves, the government said. They include people who have received organ transplants, are living with severe respiratory conditions such as cystic fibrosis or specific cancers such as blood or bone marrow.

22:22 Italy’s worst-hit region imposes harsher measures

Italy’s northern Lombardy region has introduced even stricter measures than the rest of the country to try and stop the spread of coronavirus. On Facebook, the regional president Attilio Fontana announced that sport and physical activity in the open air, even on your own, will be banned.

Other measures include banning the use of vending machines and suspending all open-air weekly markets. Work on building sites will be stopped apart from those working on hospitals, roads and railways.

Of the 793 coronavirus deaths in Italy in the last 24 hours, 546 were in Lombardy.

22:17 Ex-Real Madrid boss dies

Former Real Madrid president Lorenzo Sanz died on Saturday after being hospitalised with coronavirus. Sanz, 76, was president at the Bernabeu from 1995-2000, a period in which Real won the Champions League twice. “My father has just died,” wrote Sanz’s son Lorenzo Sanz Duran on Twitter. “He did not deserve this end in this manner.”

21:59 North Korea says Trump offered help to fight virus in letter

US President Donald Trump has sent a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, offering co-operation in tackling the coronavirus outbreak, North Korea’s state media report.

Mr Trump “explained his plan to propel the relations between the two countries… and expressed his intent to render co-operation in the anti-epidemic work,” KCNA news agency quoted Mr Kim’s younger sister Kim Yo-jong as saying.

The US president “was impressed by the efforts made by the chairman [Kim Jong-un] to defend his people from the serious threat of the epidemic”, Ms Kim, who is an influential figure in Pyongyang, is also reported as saying.

KCNA did not say when the letter was received.

The White House has not commented on the issue.

21:43 The worst is yet to come, warns Spain’s PM

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has said that, “sadly”, the numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths will rise in the country, warning that “the worst is yet to come” and that “very difficult days lay ahead”.

In a news conference on Saturday night, he said the risk was “everywhere”, urging people to stay indoors. He called the country’s measures to curb the virus one of the strictest in Europe.

Mr Sánchez also praised the response of his compatriots to the crisis, one week into the state of emergency.

Spain has recorded 24,926 cases with 1,326 deaths.

21:25 Warning over ‘reckless’ Scottish travel

Scotland’s Rural Economy and Tourism Secretary Fergus Ewing has said he is “furious” at the “reckless and irresponsible behaviour” of people travelling to the Scottish Highlands and Islands during the coronavirus pandemic.

His comments come after reports of people in campervans trying to find solace from outbreaks elsewhere across the UK.

“This has to stop now. Let me be crystal clear, people should not be travelling to rural and island communities full stop,” Mr Ewing said in a statement. “They are endangering lives. Do not travel.

“Panic buying will have a devastating impact on the livelihoods of rural shops and potentially puts unwanted pressure on NHS services in our rural communities.”

Kate Forbes, Scotland’s finance secretary and a Highlands MSP, has also hit-out at those travelling.

19:43 Deaths in Italy rising steeply

Italy has reported another big increase in the number of deaths of people with coronavirus – 793 in the last 24 hours. It’s by far the worst single-day total worldwide since the pandemic began. In total 4,825 people have now died across the country. On average, one coronavirus patient is dying in Italy every two minutes.

More than 53,500 people have been diagnosed with the virus nationally, up more than 6,500 since Friday. And that’s despite strict measures in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus.

19:19 Bolivia orders people to stay at home for two weeks

Bolivia has ordered people to stay at home for the next 14 days, the latest South American country to impose strict restrictions on movement in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus. “It’s a tough but necessary decision for the good of everyone,” said interim President Jeanine Anez. “We must be at home for 24 hours a day.”

So far, Bolivia has confirmed 19 coronavirus cases. Colombia and Argentina have also imposed similar restrictions.

19:06 UK confirmed cases climb over 5,000

There are now 5,018 confirmed cases of Covid-19 – the disease caused by coronavirus – across the UK, according to an update by the Department of Health.

Officials say almost 73,000 people have been tested so far. The figures, based on data up until 09:00 on Saturday, shows a rise of more than 1,000 cases in the last 24 hours.

In total 233 people with coronavirus have died across the UK. There have been 56 new deaths, including 53 in England, recorded since Friday.

18:47 Nigeria to halt all international flights

Nigeria will close its airspace to all international flights on MondayImage caption: Nigeria will close its airspace to all international flights on Monday
Nigeria has confirmed 10 new coronavirus cases – three in the capital Abuja and seven in Lagos.

So far there are now a total of 22 confirmed cases in the country.

Nine out of the 10 new cases have travel history outside Nigeria in the last week, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control

One case is said to be a close contact of a confirmed case.

Authorities said they were engaged in aggressive contact tracing and containment strategies to curtail further spread.

Meanwhile, the government says it is closing its airspace to all international flights from Monday. The use of passenger trains shall also to be suspended on that day.

On the brighter side however, Lagos state governor announced that the Italian man who was the first registered case back on 28 February was discharged from hospital on Friday.

18:19 France reports 112 more deaths

France has reported 112 more deaths from coronavirus, bringing the country’s death toll to 562, according to the health ministry.

17:58 Very special spending bill being prepared, Trump says

The spending bill being worked out by Congress is going to be “really something very special,” says President Donald Trump. “It’s gonna help people,” he said about the stimulus bill that is forecast to be worth over $2 trillion (£1.7tn). “We had the greatest economy in the history of the world and then we hit this problem,” he says. Stock markets have shed all of the gains earned in the three years of the Trump presidency, economists said on Friday. “We’re doing this package, the likes of which nobody has ever done before,” Mr Trump adds.

US President Donald Trump is still taking questions from reporters at the White House. He says his business, the Trump Organization, has been taking a hit from the coronavirus outbreak. He mentions that other hotel chains, such as the Hilton, have also been suffering. “I guess, I haven’t even asked, that Mar-a-lago is closed down,” he says. “As far as the hotels, I would probably do what everybody else is doing. You have to close things up. You don’t want people to get together.”

“Why aren’t we sanitising masks,” President Trump asks, adding: “We have very good liquids to do this.” He says some mask designs “don’t lend themselves” to this, and that he’s studied all the different mask designs. In New York, doctors and nurses have reportedly only been given one mask to use per week, and have taken to using hand sanitiser in an effort to keep them clean. Health officials recommend throwing away masks between patients.

President Trump has now left the news conference at the White House. Before that, he talked about the 2020 Olympic Games, set to begin in Tokyo in late July. He says a decision about whether to postpone the games will be made by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe soon. “Prime Minister Abe has a big decision to make. They’ve built one of the most beautiful venues I’ve ever seen… It’s his decision and I know he is going to make it soon, I don’t know what it’s going to be and I didn’t think I should be influencing it. “The job that Japan has done on that venue is incredible,” he adds, calling the stadium “flawless”, “beautiful” and “on-budget”.

During this Saturday’s news conference, US President Donald Trump told US citizens to stay at home to help in the fight against coronavirus. A number of US states have already ordered shutdowns with one in five Americans soon set to be under a “stay at home” order.

17:41 Singapore deaths – big blow for country with sophisticated operation

The confirmation that Singapore has had its first two deaths is a huge blow to this country. Singapore prides itself on its excellent healthcare system – 131 of its 385 cases have been discharged already.

But it ultimately wasn’t enough to save the lives of these two – a 75-year-old Singaporean woman and a 64-year-old Indonesian man, both with underlying health conditions.

The first diagnosed case in Singapore was on 23 January, but a sophisticated operation kicked into gear to test any suspected cases quickly then forensically trace their last seven days of movements to identify anyone they had come into close contact with.

Those people were then ordered to stay at home for 14 days – and if they fell ill, the cycle started again. That has really helped keep the numbers down, and provided a lot of public reassurance.

But domestically transmitted cases have in recent days started to be surpassed by cases brought in by people returning home from abroad.

It’s getting harder to keep up the contact tracing. We’ve all been asked to download an app which helps keep track of our as yet relatively unrestricted movements around the island.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong warned today that cases would keep coming and more people will need intensive medical care.

“We must brace ourselves for more losses,” he said in a statement on Facebook

17:41 US vice-president to be tested

US Vice-President Mike Pence, who heads the White House coronavirus taskforce, says he and his wife will take coronavirus tests later on Saturday after it was discovered that a member of this team tested positive.

Mr Pence said the man, who he did not name, is doing well and has not been to the White House since Monday.

17:33 NHS confirms 53 more deaths in England

Another 53 people with coronavirus have died in England, bringing the total of deaths in the country to 220.

The patients who died in England were aged between 41 and 94 years old and all had underlying health conditions.

Earlier, two more deaths were recorded in Wales, bringing its total to five, and another death in Scotland, taking the number to seven

Northern Ireland has recorded one death.

17:12 This is a medical not financial situation, says Trump

US President Donald Trump is briefing reporters at the White House on the government’s response to the coronavirus crisis.

“This is a medical situation not a financial situation,” Mr Trump says, updating the public on the “war against the virus”.

17:04 Almost 800 more dead in Italy

Deaths continue to spiral in Italy. Official figures show 793 have died of Covid-19 in the last 24 hours – another daily record.

In total 4,825 people have now died across the country.

More than 53,500 have been diagnosed with the virus nationally, up more than 6,500 since yesterday

16:49 France chides ‘irresponsible’ citizens

France’s health minister echoed recent remarks by the head of the World Health Organization and New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo about people who flout directives on social distancing.

“In these circumstances,” Olivier Véran told a news conference, “a casual attitude is unfortunately not just irresponsible. It is dangerous – for oneself and for other people.”

16:33 NHS England to get extra 8,000 hospital beds

The National Health Service (NHS) England has said it struck a major deal with independent hospitals to boost the organisation’s capacities in tackling the coronavirus outbreak. “Nearly 20,000 fully qualified staff will be joining the NHS response to the pandemic, helping manage the expected surge in cases,” it said in a statement. “The extra resources now secured by the health service will not only be available to treat coronavirus patients, but will also help the NHS deliver other urgent operations and cancer treatments.

“The deal – the first of its kind ever – includes the provision of 8,000 hospital beds across England, nearly 1,200 more ventilators, more than 10,000 nurses, over 700 doctors and over 8,000 other clinical staff.” It said that in London, the deal includes over 2,000 hospital beds, and over 250 operating theatres and critical beds.

Reacting to the announcement, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This is great news for the hospitals and staff doing everything they can to combat coronavirus.”

16:25 US stimulus plan to top $2 trillion

The US coronavirus economic stabilisation bill will be worth over $2 trillion (£1.7 tn), White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow says.

“The package is coming in at about 10% of GDP. It’s a very large package,” Mr Kudlow said about the stimulus bill, which is still being worked out by Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

That’s twice the sum that the White House requested days ago.

US lawmakers have been frantically negotiating an agreement to be voted on as early as Monday. A sticking point appears to be over how to distribute funds directly to Americans and how to bolster social safety net programmes such as unemployment assistance.

The White House coronavirus taskforce is due to brief the media in the coming hour.

16:23 New prime minister appointed in a face mask

Matovic, an anti-corruption activist with the reputation of being a maverick, won a surprise victory in February’s elections, the first since the murder of journalist Jan Kuciak two years ago which shook Slovakia.

He and his cabinet colleagues all wore face masks and white gloves for the ceremony at the presidential palace in Bratislava, our correspondent Rob Cameron has written in to tell us.

Slovakia has so far registered 137 cases of Coronavirus and no deaths.

15:59 NY governor: Young people ignoring orders

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says there has been “a significant amount of non-compliance” regarding the state’s social-distancing directives.

At a news conference on Saturday he said that young people in particular have been ignoring orders not to gather in groups, and that it tends to be happening in the city’s parks. Mr Cuomo said that he planned to visit a park “to see what the situation is myself”. “I don’t care frankly. This is a public health issue and you cannot be endangering other peoples’ health,” he said. “You shouldn’t be endangering your own.”

New York state has confirmed more than 10,000 cases – 6,211 of them are in New York City. New York is now the US state most affected by coronavirus, with more than one person dying per hour on Friday.

15:57 Hotels to house the homeless in London

Hotels in central London will open their doors to rough sleepers to help protect them against the coronavirus, according to London Mayor Sadiq Khan. The mayor’s office is in talks with Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) about block booking rooms at a discounted rate for the next 12 weeks.

It comes as rough sleepers are deemed more at risk, as they are considered significantly more likely to have underlying health conditions – including respiratory problems – than the wider population.

Mr Khan said rooms would provide “vital protection” for rough sleepers, who are less likely to be able to follow Public Health England advice on self-isolation, social distancing and hand-washing.

15:53 Singapore, Finland and Mauritius report first deaths

Singapore, Finland and Mauritius have all reported their first coronavirus-linked deaths.

In Singapore, health officials said there were two fatalities on Saturday: A 75-year-old Singaporean woman who had been treated for pneumonia since late February. She passed away after developing serious complications and a 64-year-old man from Indonesia, who had been in a critical condition after arriving in Singapore from his home country eight days ago.

In Finland, the first fatality was announced on Saturday by the country’s National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL). The victim was an elderly resident of the capital Helsinki, the THL was quoted as saying by the Yle news website. The institute provided no further details, citing patient confidentiality.

In Mauritius, the authorities also confirmed the country’s first fatality. They said the person had recently travelled from Belgium via Dubai.

15:38 French health minister condemns face mask thefts

French Health Minister Olivier Véran is holding a new conference focusing on ways to alleviate the country’s shortage of face masks. He condemns the theft of protective equipment by people who break into emergency vehicles.

14:03 UK Press Conference

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary George Eustice has begun today’s daily news briefing at Downing Street. He appears alongside the chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, Helen Dickinson, and Stephen Powis, national medical director at NHS England.

Mr Eustice begins by asking people to be responsible when they shop. “Buying more than you need means that others may be left without,” he says. “As you shop think of those who are finishing their late shifts and need to pop to their local shops.”

Mr Eustice says we all have a role to play to get through the crisis together. He outlines government measures such as ending restrictions on deliveries. He adds that supermarkets are taking on more staff to ensure shelves are stocked. Mr Eustice adds: “We need every citizen in this country to play their part too.” He says everyone must respect rationing measures in place in some stores and respect food shop workers.

Helen Dickinson of the British Retail Consortium says there has been a whole list of issues raised with government which have been quickly solved – including restrictions on food delivery times. She adds that the PM Boris Johnson wants to underline the message for everyone to be considerate in what they buy – and to think about others in the community.

Stephen Powis of NHS England issues a plea on behalf of his health service colleagues for people to shop responsibly so that they can buy essentials after they finish work. “It is critical by not stockpiling, by leaving those supplies for others too” that health workers can get access to those supplies as well.

Asked whether more pressure has been placed on supermarkets by the decision to ask pubs and bars to close, Mr Eustice says “there has already been a significant switch in the past three weeks to people switching to supermarkets”. He says the further step of closing public venues will help the NHS – he says that decision will only cause a small increase in demand. He estimates that £1 billion of extra food has been brought into homes that has yet to be consumed.

Prof Powis is asked about suspected new symptoms – the loss of smell or taste from Covid-19. But he says that the most common symptoms are a raised temperature or fever and a persistant dry cough.

Asked if he can rule out state-backed rationing, Mr Eustice says all of the major retailers are working together and exercising their own judgement when it comes to placing item-limits on the number that can be purchased by shoppers. He mentions toilet roll as an example of where a product is now subject to restrictions. Mr Eustice says he believes retailers are best-placed to consider such restrictions.

Ms Dickinson says that big retailers will only introduce policies like restrictions if they believe they will make the most difference to help out vulnerable shoppers.

Mr Eustice says there is no shortage of food production, adding that more food is arriving daily. He said: “The crucial thing is that we need people to calm down and only buy what they need and to think of others when they are purchasing.” “The food supply chain is used to dealing with spike in demand,” Mr Eustice says, as he likens the recent surge in demand to that experienced in the run-up to Christmas. Asked about the availability of farm labour, Mr Eustice says that there will be increased UK food production from May – and staff will begin to move around to facilitate that. “We anticipate we will be able to supply the labour to ensure we continue that harvest,” he says.

Prof Powis says that the advice around social distancing is for us all to follow – not somebody else. “Your action will save somebody’s life – it is as simple and as stark as that,” he says.

Asked whether he can rule out rationing or ration books, Mr Eustice says supermarkets are best placed to put restrictions on product lines. He adds there is no shortage of food. “We think it is better that individual retailers or retailers together make judgements” regarding restrictions on any particular product.

13:55 UK government holding talks with supermarkets

The government is to hold talks with supermarket bosses about keeping supplies in stock and overcoming panic buying which is taking place across the UK amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Supermarkets have seen their shelves stripped of essential items such as toilet rolls, hand sanitiser, paracetamol, meat, fruit and vegetables.

The stockpiling has led to supermarkets introducing limits on the amount of some items sold, with golden shopping hours introduced to help the elderly and NHS and care workers.

Stores are also taking on thousands of temporary and permanent workers to deal with the increased demand from the Covid-19 crisis.

The government will speak to leading supermarket chains on Saturday to see what the authorities can do to ensure the shelves remain stocked and the supply chains can cope with the demand.

12:16 Hiring: UK supermarkets appeal for more staff to ‘help feed the nation’

Supermarkets in the UK have gone on a hiring spree as demand surges as a result of the coronavirus crisis. Along with other measures to cope with the increased demand, some of the chains have embarked on big recruitment drives for a total of more than 30,000 jobs.

Tesco, Asda, Aldi, and Lidl said they would hire thousands of staff after hugely increased demand saw shoppers clearing shelves. Sainsbury’s has asked shoppers to stay 1m away from shop staff if possible, to help keep them safe. It comes as supermarkets have been overwhelmed by a wave of panic-buying.

To combat the stockpiling, in recent days the major British supermarkets imposed limits on how much of each item shoppers can buy.

Tesco, the UK’s biggest supermarket, wants to take on 20,000 temporary workers “to help feed the nation”, it said.

Aldi announced it was looking to fill 5,000 new temporary posts and take on 4,000 permanent new workers for jobs in all its stores and distribution centres.

And Lidl said it would create about 2,500 temporary jobs across its 800 stores in the UK.

Comment: Whilst the creation of new jobs is a welcome move, it should be pointed out that the vast majority of these jobs are temporary and will disappear as quickly as they have appeared once every household has 2 years supply of toilet rolls, or those that are currently ill are fit to return to work.. There are a few permanent jobs in the announcement but only time will tell if these are truly permanent long term.

11:49 Smiths will allow others to use ventilator model

British technology firm Smiths Group says it is making the details of one of its ventilators available for other manufacturers to produce, in an attempt to tackle the shortage of equipment. It comes as British engineering firms have been called on to switch to making medical ventilators, which helps breathing by getting oxygen into the lungs and removing carbon dioxide.

The group’s Smiths Medical unit is also ramping up its own ventilator production, as well as providing intellectual property and advice to other companies to make its PARAPAC Plus lightweight ventilators. A spokesperson said: “We are doing everything possible to substantially increase production of our ventilators at our Luton site and worldwide.”

Ford, Honda, car parts firm Unipart, digger maker JCB, and aero-engine maker Rolls Royce are among companies looking into the feasibility of switching some production. Japanese carmaker Nissan is also looking at manufacturing ventilators, as it confirmed it is halting UK vehicle production for the foreseeable future.

11:09 Spain death toll – record one-day rise

The number of people who have died in Spain has gone up to 1,326 in total – a rise of 324 in one day, according to the health ministry. Yesterday’s rise was 235.

 The country’s health ministry revealed the country’s biggest daily jump in deaths on Saturday: a rise of 324 in one day, bringing the total to 1,326.

There has also been a significant rise in the total number of Covid-19 cases recorded across the country. In just one day almost 5,000 more people have been confirmed to have the virus, bringing the total registered number to 24,926.

Spain is now thought to be the world’s third-heaviest hit country, behind Italy and China.

Local reports say that hospitals, especially in the Madrid area, are struggling to cope with the rise in cases. The Spanish government locked down public life last weekend to try to stem the outbreak.

10:15 US economic deal still in the works

Negotiators in the US Congress have failed to reach agreement on details of a $1tn (£858bn) economic programme to support American households during the coronavirus pandemic.

A midnight deadline set for the deal passed with the talks reportedly stuck on how best to distribute financial support and how much it should be.

Negotiations are expected to resume later on Saturday.

US stock markets recorded their biggest weekly loss for a decade when they closed on Friday – they’re down 17% since Monday

10:11 Cost of UK’s rescue package is ‘unknowable’

The director of the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) has warned that the cost of the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme is simply “unknowable”.

Paul Johnson said if the support was claimed for 10% of employees it could cost the Government £10 billion over three months.

In a move previously considered unthinkable for a Conservative government, employers will be able to apply to HM Revenue and Customs to cover 80% of the wages of staff they keep on up to £2,500 a month.

Mr Johnson said: “The cost of the wage subsidy package is unknowable at present but will run into several billion pounds per month that it is in operation.

“It is clearly a policy designed in haste and will require considerable speed and flexibility from HMRC to deliver. As a result there are obvious concerns about its design.”

When asked how the measures will be funded, Mr Johnson told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that at the moment “this is all going to be paid for by borrowing”.

09:58 UK government ‘planning to buy into airlines’

The UK government is planning to buy shares in airlines and other firms hit hardest by the coronavirus outbreak, according to the Financial Times.

Three sources reportedly briefed on the plans told the newspaper that the plan would inject billions of pounds into companies like British Airways in exchange for shares that would eventually be sold back to private investors.

The move is reportedly being contemplated after warnings by bankers that sweeping economic measures announced by the government this week would not be enough to save many companies from collapse.

A spokesperson for British Airways has declined to comment on the story.

09:56 Bangkok shopping malls closed

Thai authorities have ordered the closure of all shopping malls in the capital Bangkok after the country reported its largest daily increase in coronavirus infections on Saturday. The city’s governor Aswin Kwanmuang said that, from 22 March, all malls will be closed for 22 days along with boxing stadiums, salons and arcades.

Those violating the order face up to one year in prison, a fine of up to 100,000 baht ($3,000), or both.

Thailand reported 89 new cases of Covid-19 on Saturday, taking the national total to 411. The new cases have been linked to earlier infections from a boxing match, an entertainment complex and a religious gathering in nearby Malaysia. Of those infected, 366 are currently being treated, while 44 have recovered.

09:31 Sydney’s Bondi Beach temporarily closed

Sydney police have temporarily closed Bondi Beach after crowds exceeded Australia’s outdoor gathering limit. The country has banned outdoor gatherings of more than 500 people. However, large crowds of people are still flocking to beaches across Sydney, flouting advice to stay inside.

Police were called to Tamarama beach after a large number of people refused to leave, despite being asked by lifeguards. Health Minister Greg Hunt said the beachgoers’ behaviour was “unacceptable” and called on local councils to step in to ensure people are complying with the social distancing advice.

09:15 Income protection for the self-employed ‘operationally’ difficult

Providing income protection for the self-employed during the coronavirus outbreak is operationally difficult, according to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Stephen Barclay.  “We are looking at operationally what we can roll out to people.”

It comes as the government faces criticism that its plan to underwrite the wages of millions of workers does not cover freelancers, contractors and the self-employed.

But Mr Barclay said some would benefit from measures such as the deferral of self-assessment tax requirements, mortgage holidays and the strengthening of the welfare “safety net”.

He said: “The main thing we have done is twofold: it is to support the economy as a whole, because the best thing for people who are self-employed as for all people is to sustain the economy and ensure that we can return with those viable businesses, and alongside that strengthen the safety net.

“So we have increased the allowance on Universal Credit, we have made it available from day one, we have removed the minimum income floor so if people who are self-employed are working less than 35 hours in a week they are not penalised within the benefits system.”

09:07 Singapore reports first two virus deaths

Singapore has reported its first two deaths from coronavirus: a 75-year-old Singaporean woman, and a 64-year-old Indonesian man. Authorities said the pair both had suffered from previous health conditions.

The city-state has been lauded by the World Health Organization for its response to the outbreak – until now suffering no fatalites despite being one of the earliest countries to report cases of the virus.

Sources: Various news sources including but not limited to BBC News, Fox News, CNN.