25th March 2020 – United Kingdom 

# Cases

25/03/2020

New Cases

25/03/2020

Deaths

25/03/2020

Recovered

24/03/2020

Infected

Source: Public Health England and news reports. (Public Health England Web Site)
*=Interim Figures / Key: UK USA Other

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21:58 White House press briefing

The coronavirus task force in the US is giving a press briefing. President Donald Trump is speaking now.

So far, President Trump has reiterated the importance of social distancing and listed a number of things the government has done, including:

  • Approving “major disaster” declarations for New York, California, Washington state, Iowa, Louisiana, Texas and Florida
  • “Building numerous hospitals and medical centres” to help New York state. He adds: “There are lots of good capable people working with us – our people are working with state representatives”
  • Calling Japanese PM Shinzo Abe and congratulating him “on a wise choice” on delaying the Olympics by a year.
    He says Congress is “close to passing” the emergency relief bill.

President Trump has been keen to stress that the US is “now doing more testing than anybody by far”, including South Korea. Numerically this is true – but as our Reality Check team has found, this doesn’t take into account the fact the US population is much larger.Mr Trump said that the emergency relief package going through the Senate would include “$350bn [£295bn] in job retention loans for small businesses” and “funding for development of vaccines”. The economy is also on Mr Trump’s mind – he said the economy would take off “like a rocket ship” once the situation got better, adding: “I don’t think it’s going to be such a rough patch… we’re going to open – the sooner the better.” He said the governor of New York was happy with the support from the federal government, adding: “It’s hard not to be happy with the job we’re doing.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has thanked politicians on both sides for their “bipartisan work” on the relief bill. Earlier, President Trump urged Congress to pass the stimulus bill quickly, saying he would “sign it immediately” once it reached his desk.

President Trump is now taking questions from reporters. Asked about his comments that the US should not rely on other countries, Mr Trump takes a swipe at the European Union (EU). “We make the best medical equipment in the world… but they have specifications, designed specifically so that our equipment can’t come into their countries,” he says. The EU has its own safety and specification standards for a variety of products – and the US does not meet all of them. “They’re all playing games against us OK? They’ve been playing games against us for years… Some of the people who took the biggest advantage of us? Our allies. They took advantage – financially but even militarily as well.” Mr Trump has long argued that NATO allies should contribute more financially to the alliance, and that other countries should shoulder more of the burden.

The economy is very much on Mr Trump’s mind. He says that “certain people” would like the US “not to open so quickly – would like it to do financially poorly, because they think that would do well at defeating me at the polls.” He tells a reporter: “There are people in your profession that would like that to happen… there are people in your profession that write fake news.”

He adds: “We’ve done one hell of a job – nobody’s done the job we’ve done.” Mr Trump regularly emphasises the importance of the economy – and attacks the media – in a way that appeals to his base. His re-election campaign is built around the claim that he has presided over record economic growth and low unemployment.

21:56 France pulls troops out of Iraq

France is withdrawing its contingent of almost 200 soldiers from Iraq because of the pandemic that has caused 27 deaths there. Iraq’s president has said the medical infrastructure is not up to required standards.

In a statement the French military said the US-led coalition had “decided to adjust its deployments”. The French contingent is involved in training Iraqi soldiers and working at coalition headquarters in Baghdad.

21:33 Trump declares ‘major disaster’ in Florida and Texas

President Trump has declared a “major disaster” in Florida and Texas over the coronavirus pandemic.

The phrase “major disaster” may sound scary, but it’s actually something that states want – the declaration makes them eligible for federal assistance for relief work.

Mr Trump has already issued disaster declarations for New York, Washington state, California, Iowa and Louisiana.

21:21 UK orders 10,000 ventilators from Dyson

British manufacturer Dyson has received an order for 10,000 ventilators from the UK government. The order will be ready in April, and that the firm will also donate an extra 1,000 to the UK, and 4,000 to other countries.

Ministers have asked manufacturers to switch their production in order to make the equipment, which can be used to help keep the worst-affected Covid-19 patients alive. The UK has even published the design online in a bid to help.

Around the world, major car firms – including Ford, Tesla and Fiat – have been among those to answer similar calls from governments.

21:06 Peru arrests 16,000 for failing to observe social distancing

Over 16,000 people have been arrested in Peru for ignoring compulsory social distancing measures announced in the country, President Martín Vizcarra has said. They were taken to police stations where they were detained for a few hours and reprimanded. The government is considering a fine for repeat offenders.

Mr Vizcarra declared a state of emergency on 15 March and imposed an overnight curfew in many cities between the hours of 20:00 and 05:00. Those living in the areas under the state of emergency are only allowed out to buy food or to go to the hospital. Videos shared on social media showed residents of the capital, Lima, openly flouting the measures by drinking on the streets and playing football.

Meanwhile, more than 1,000 Britons have been stranded in the South American country after it closed its borders and stopped all flights amid the coronavirus outbreak. UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said special flights will be laid on later this week to bring them back.

Peru has recorded 480 cases of the virus so far, and nine deaths.

20:52 First supplies ready to go to ‘shielded’ people

The UK government has been sending letters to 1.5 million people telling them to stay indoors for 12 weeks to avoid contracting coronavirus. The measure is known as “shielding” and covers people most at risk of requiring hospital treatment if they are diagnosed, such as those with organ transplants and some cancer patients.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick promised that those without the support of friends and family nearby would get help from the government for their essentials. This evening the minister tweeted a picture of what he said was the first food and supplies box ready to be delivered to one of the “shielded” people.

20:47 Another 28 deaths from virus recorded in England

Another 28 people have died from coronavirus in England, according to the latest numbers from the NHS. This brings the total number of deaths in the country to 414. NHS England said the patients who died were aged between 47 and 93 years old.

All of the people, except the 47-year-old, had underlying health conditions. The figure brings the total number of deaths in the UK to 468. Earlier today, a further five were recorded in Wales, a further six in Scotland and two more in Northern Ireland.

20:38 Canada brings in mandatory quarantine for all arrivals

Canada is implementing a mandatory 14-day self-isolation period for all travellers returning to the country from abroad. The decision to make the self-isolation measure legally required follows reports people weren’t following the existing guidelines.

Officials had warned travellers not to stop and pick up groceries or visit friends upon their return. Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland told a news conference that self-isolation would be a “legal obligation” across the country as of midnight. People could face fines or criminal charges.

20:15 Major UK supermarkets bring in safety measures

Major supermarkets in the UK are bringing in measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, including limiting the number of people in stores and floor markings to help customers maintain a safe distance while queuing. Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda and the Co-Op are among those to implement changes, including extra hand sanitisers in stores for staff and customers to use, cleaning products to wipe down baskets or trolleys and putting up protective screens at checkouts.

Stores have also asked people to try to arrive throughout the day, rather than first thing in the morning, and to pay by card. Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe wrote to customers on Wednesday to say “we will limit the number of people allowed in our stores and at our ATMs at any one time”.

20:02 Isle of Man closing borders ‘to preserve life’

Nobody will be allowed to enter the Isle of Man after Friday as part of new measures to help tackle the spread of the virus. Announcing the move, the island’s government said its main aim was the “preservation of life”.

Schools and all non-essential shops on the island have also been told to close. It comes after the island’s famous motorcycle race, the Isle of Man TT, was suspended this year.

19:37 Pompeo deepens US-China row

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the G7 group of big economies have discussed China’s “intentional disinformation campaign” on the new coronavirus during a virtual meeting. He says all the leaders were aware of the campaign, which, he says, Beijing continued to engage in so as to deflect attention from what really happened.

The Trump administration has repeatedly alleged that China was and is suppressing information about the coronavirus. President Trump has called it the “Chinese virus” – angering Beijing and ignoring World Health Organization guidelines. Mr Pompeo said the world needed transparency and accurate information from China in order to fight the pandemic. 

Some Chinese officials have suggested that the virus was brought to China by the US military.

Mr Pompeo dismissed that as “crazy talking”. He also appeared to dismiss China’s sales of medical supplies to combat the pandemic, saying Beijing was now trying to claim that it was the “white hat” (showing moral leadership).

19:30 US refuse collectors strike over lack of protection

Sanitation workers in the US city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, are refusing to collect rubbish until the city provides them with face masks and hazard pay. “We risk our life every time we grab a garbage bag,” one striking worker told reporters as he announced that rubbish would not be collected on Wednesday. Sanitation workers are considered essential employees that are exempted from the city’s lockdown orders. “We’re playing Russian roulette with every garbage bag that we’re grabbing,” Sheldon White told local channel WPXI-TV.

“Half the people don’t tie their bags, so when the stuff spills out, they tell you to pick it up. There’s Kleenexes that people blow their nose and cough in.” In a statement, the City of Pittsburgh said that workers had been supplied with cleaning wipes and gloves and were being “encouraged” to wash their uniforms daily. The refuse collectors were sent home with pay on Wednesday and told to report back to work on Thursday, according to WPXI.

18:55 France reports 231 new deaths

France says the number of coronavirus deaths has risen by 231 to a total of 1,331. The total number of confirmed cases is now 25,233 – they include 2,827 people who are in a serious condition requiring life support.

The French death toll is so far only counting those who have died in hospital. But French authorities say they will soon have figures for deaths in care homes, which could result in a large jump in the overall number of fatalities.

18:33 Irish postal staff to check on elderly

Postal delivery workers in the Republic of Ireland are to check on elderly and vulnerable people as part of their rounds. They will knock on doors to find out if people in those groups need food or medication, and make sure those requests are fulfilled, the Irish postal system An Post has confirmed.

They will also deliver parcels and letters from the elderly and vulnerable – about 160,000 homes – for free. Each home in the Irish Republic will get a Covid-19 public information booklet through the post.

The UK’s Royal Mail has not implemented any similar systems but says it “takes the health and safety of its colleagues, its customers and the local communities in which we operate very seriously”.

17:59 Palestinians report first death

The first Palestinian has died as a result of Covid-19. The woman, who was in her 60s, was a resident of Bidu, near Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority said.

Sixty-two confirmed cases have been reported in the occupied West Bank and two in the Gaza Strip.

17:40 British diplomat, 37, dies of coronavirus

A British diplomat has died in Hungary after contracting coronavirus. Steven Dick, the deputy ambassador in the capital, Budapest, was aged 37. Mr Dick, an Arabic speaker who had worked for some years in Kabul and Riyadh, took up his post in Hungary last year. It is not known if he had any underlying medical conditions.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “I am desperately saddened by the news of Steven’s death and my heart goes out to his parents Steven and Carol. “Steven was a dedicated diplomat and represented his country with great skill and passion. He will be missed by all those who knew him and worked with him.”

17:12 Italy sees slight fall in new cases

Italy has reported another 683 deaths in the past 24 hours. That is a slight fall from Tuesday’s 743 deaths, but it brings to 7,503 the number of people who have died in Italy since the outbreak there began. There has also been a slight drop in the number of new cases. Italy has 57,521 current cases, a rise of 3,491 in the past 24 hours. On Tuesday the recorded increase was 3,612. Details are normally given by Italy’s head of civil protection, Angelo Borrelli, but he has a mild fever.

17:04 UK Press Conference

Boris Johnson says any “world class health service has only limited numbers of doctors, nurses and specialist equipment”, so the more people who become sick at any one time, the harder it is for the NHS to cope. “It is vital to delay the spread,” he adds. “And with your help we will slow the spread of the disease.” The PM thanks “everyone who has been following the clear rules set out on Monday”, along with frontline NHS staff and public services. He also praises all those who have volunteered to help the NHS – a number, he says, equivalent to the population of Coventry. Mr Johnson concludes by repeating the government’s “core policy” – “stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives”.  Boris Johnson defends the government’s programme to support businesses, calling it “unprecedented”. He says the country is “coping very well indeed” under challenging circumstances. 

Asked about the rate of testing in the UK, Prof Chris Whitty, the UK government’s chief medical adviser, says testing of people to determine whether they have the virus is being “ramped up”. He says an antibody test – to see whether people have had it – is “quite close”, but has not yet finished being evaluated.

Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK government’s chief scientific adviser, says testing is “crucial” and the UK needs to do more of it. Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK government’s chief scientific adviser, is asked about a recent Oxford University study which said as much as 50% of the UK population may have been exposed to the virus. He says that they “don’t know” yet how many people in the UK have had the virus, which is why more testing is vital.

There’s a question about how long it will be before NHS staff will get greater access to coronavirus tests. In reply, Boris Johnson says the UK is ordering “huge numbers of tests”. He says UK-wide testing should hit 250,000 “very soon”. Prof Chris Whitty, the UK government’s chief medical adviser, says the UK has to face the “practical reality” that other countries want the components as well. The prime minister says the UK has done more tests than “most” European countries.

The PM is asked if more lives could be saved if he stopped more people going to work. Mr Johnson says he wants to “repeat the basic message, if you can stay at home then you overwhelmingly should”. But he says for those who have to go to work, it is “vital” for employers to follow rules on social distancing and “ensure” the necessary protection.

Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty says every country is approaching this “slightly differently and has a slightly different epidemic pattern”. But he says the modelling in the UK was “based on the idea quite a lot of people would have to go to work”. However, he adds that people should avoid anything that is “discretionary”.

Boris Johnson again faces pressure to do something to help the self-employed. The PM says the government has “moved with extraordinary speed to support and prop up the whole of the economy of this country, putting our arms around workers of all kinds to the best extent we possibly can”. He admits it was “easiest” to help employees and more “tricky” to work out a package for the self-employed. “But that has been done at incredible speed,” adds the PM, promising that Chancellor Rishi Sunak will make an announcement on the plan tomorrow. He adds: “I don’t think there has been a time in our history in the last century that a government of this country has put its arms around so many people to get through such a tough time.”

Mr Johnson concludes the press conference saying: “We will beat this and we will beat this together, and we will do it by protecting our NHS and staying at home. That is how we will save lives.” There has been talk of antibody tests being available to buy online. These tests would allow people to see if they have been infected – meaning they should then be immune.

Chief medical officer Chris Whitty says: “Once we are confident of which tests work… there is a hierarchy of things we need to do.” First, experts will need to assess what proportion of people get coronavirus without any syptoms, he says. Then it will be a case of testing NHS workers to “work out who is immune to this infection and who isn’t”, then moving from there to others. But Prof Whitty adds: “I do not think this is something we will suddenly be ordering online for next week.” 

In response to a question about his strategy, Boris Johnson says the UK will follow scientific advice not “political diktat”. Asked about firms profiteering during the crisis, he says firms should not be “exploiting” the needs of the public at a time of “national emergency”. He says the government is “looking very carefully” at what it “may be necessary to do” using the law to stop profiteering, “as in wartime”.

16:53 Work begins on London’s makeshift field hospital

Work is under way to boost NHS capacity by turning London’s ExCel Centre in the Docklands into a makeshift field hospital capable of serving up to 4,000 patients. NHS medics will treat coronavirus patients at the facility, which will be known as the Nightingale Hospital. It will initially provide about 500 beds equipped with ventilators and oxygen.

15:26 Air pollution plummets in Europe

Europe’s major cities have turned into ghost towns over the past few weeks amid efforts to stem the spread of coronavirus. The European Environment Agency (EEA) says this has had one major health benefit – air pollution rates are plummeting. Over the past week, levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the Italian city of Milan have dropped 21% compared to the same week in 2019. Rome’s average NO2 levels over the last four weeks were up to 35% lower than the same period last year.

It’s not just Italy. In the week 16-22 March, Madrid’s NO2 levels were down 41% compared with 2019, and Lisbon’s rates were down 51%. The EEA says the drop in levels is down to reduced traffic. But societies will need “ambitious policies and forward-looking investments” if they want to keep air clean after this crisis finally ends.

15:10 UK not part of EU effort to secure equipment

The UK government has confirmed it is not working with the European Union (EU) to secure more personal protective equipment and ventilators for the NHS. Asked whether the UK was taking part in the Brussels scheme, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said: “I think the short answer to that is no.” The EU has been working for weeks to acquire crucial equipment – like face masks and other medical products – since the coronavirus epidemic spread to the continent earlier this year.

14:54 Coronavirus antibody test ‘available within days’

The public will soon be able to conduct coronavirus antibody tests at home, the director of the national infection service at Public Health England says. Prof Sharon Peacock told the science and technology MPs’ committee that 3.5 million tests had been bought and would be available in the “near future”. She said the tests would allow key workers, such as doctors and nurses, to return to work if they have developed antibodies. “Once we are assured that they do work, they will be rolled out into the community. Testing the test is a small matter, and I anticipate that it will be done by the end of this week,” Prof Peacock said.

“In the near future, people will be able to order a test that they can test themselves, or go to Boots, or somewhere similar to have their finger prick test done.” Asked if tests would be available in days, rather than weeks or months, she added: “Absolutely.” Antibodies are produced by the body to fight off infection, and tests could indicate whether someone has had the disease in the past. These tests could also help work out how widespread the disease has been.

14:16 Netherlands reports 80 more deaths

Dutch authorities have confirmed 80 more virus-related deaths in the country during the last 24 hours. They also confirmed 852 additional cases. This latest figures bring the total to 6,412 cases and 356 deaths in the country of 17 million. The Netherlands’ health ministry stressed the actual number of infections will be higher because not everyone has been tested. A ban on public gatherings has been extended until 1 June to help fight the Netherlands’ outbreak.

13:57 New restrictions in London on the Tube

New measures have been brought in to stop non-essential London Underground journeys, as passengers posted pictures of crowded carriages again this morning. Queues are being introduced at ticket gates and some escalators are being turned off to slow the flow of passengers to platforms. British Transport Police is also deploying 500 officers to patrol the network and remind the public that they should only be making essential journeys for work.

13:45 Corporation to ‘pause’ BBC News job cuts

In a briefing to staff this afternoon, BBC Director-General Tony Hall said that a planned modernisation of BBC News would be “paused”. This was due to contribute £40m of savings, toward an overall target of £80m.

The DG said it would be inappropriate to pursue this target while BBC News was so stretched in covering the pandemic. As a result, around 450 planned redundancies will be delayed. While these savings will probably be implemented under Hall’s successor (he leaves at the end of the summer), the BBC is racking up a huge bill because of coronavirus. It has already said it will delay changes to free TV Licences for the over-75s by two months (at least) – and absorb that cost, which is coincidentally around £80m (at least).

The next Director-General is going to inherit an even bigger financial black hole that she or he imagined. However, negotiations with a government that had threatened to “whack” the BBC may be made marginally easier if the BBC – like other public service broadcasters – can prove its worth through this crisis.

13:37 Putin postpones public vote on constitution

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said a vote on constitutional reform – which would allow him to stay in power for another two terms – will be postponed to a later date for health and safety reasons, due to the coronavirus crisis.

12:10 Prime Minister’s Question Time

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is now questioning the PM for his last time as leader of the opposition. At his 136th weekly appearance at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Corbyn will be allowed to ask 12 questions instead of his usual six, as the length of questioning is doubled for social distancing measures. He begins by paying tribute to public services, saying they are the “unsung heroes” of this crisis – paying special tribute to cleaners. Mr Corbyn then pushes the PM on testing, saying a leaked email showed Mr Johnson appealing to research institutes for testing machines just three days ago. He asks: “Why wasn’t this done weeks ago?” After paying tribute to Mr Corbyn on his last appearance, Mr Johnson says the government is increasing testing every day and it has been “a priority ever since the crisis was obviously upon us”.

After more questions on testing, and calls for help for care workers, Mr Corbyn then asks about protective equipment for NHS staff. He says the Healthcare Supply Association has been forced to use Twitter to ask DIY shops to donate equipment to NHS staff. “This is an appalling situation,” he adds. But Mr Johnson says he has been “assured” stocks are on the way, saying the army has distributed 7.5 million pieces of equipment in the past 24 hours. The Labour leader says it is “important” they get it – and points to a survey where 77% of NHS chiefs said lack of testing and shortages were the two biggest concerns for them.

The Westminster leader of the third largest party in the Commons, the SNP, uses his questions to push for more help for the self-employed. Ian Blackford says one in three self-employed people are now at risk of losing their income. “Last Friday, the self-employed were promised by the prime minister and the chancellor that help was coming… but they and we are still waiting,” he adds. Boris Johnson says the government has done “a huge amount already to strengthen the safety net” for those losing income. He adds: “There are particular complexities about the self-employed that do need to be addressed. “We are working as fast as possibly can to get an appropriate package of support.” But Mr Blackford warns him: “Telling them to wait another day simply isn’t good enough.”

The Westminster leader of the third largest party in the Commons, the SNP, uses his questions to push for more help for the self-employed. Ian Blackford says one in three self-employed people are now at risk of losing their income. “Last Friday, the self-employed were promised by the prime minister and the chancellor that help was coming… but they and we are still waiting,” he adds. Boris Johnson says the government has done “a huge amount already to strengthen the safety net” for those losing income. He adds: “There are particular complexities about the self-employed that do need to be addressed. “We are working as fast as possibly can to get an appropriate package of support.” But Mr Blackford warns him: “Telling them to wait another day simply isn’t good enough.”

The Westminster leader of the third largest party in the Commons, the SNP, uses his questions to push for more help for the self-employed. Ian Blackford says one in three self-employed people are now at risk of losing their income. “Last Friday, the self-employed were promised by the prime minister and the chancellor that help was coming… but they and we are still waiting,” he adds. Boris Johnson says the government has done “a huge amount already to strengthen the safety net” for those losing income. He adds: “There are particular complexities about the self-employed that do need to be addressed. “We are working as fast as possibly can to get an appropriate package of support.” But Mr Blackford warns him: “Telling them to wait another day simply isn’t good enough.”

In his final contribution to PMQs as the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn tells the Commons the coronavirus crisis has shown “how deeply we depend on each other”. He says the wealthiest businessman will depend on the cleaner keeping his office safe, adding: “We can only come through this as a huge collective effort. No one is an island, no one is self made.” Mr Corbyn concludes: “At times like this, we have to recognise the value of each other and the strength of a society that cares for each other and cares for all.” Boris Johnson says he wants to associate himself fully with the Labour leader’s comments. He adds: “We are coming together as a nation like I haven’t seen in a lifetime…. to help save the lives of many, many thousands of our citizens. “We all understand that we will need to make a sacrifice, but we are gladly making that sacrifice.”

 

11:24 Spain’s death toll now exceeding China’s

The death toll in Spain from the coronavirus has just officially surpassed that of China to become the second highest in the world. New data from the Health Ministry shows that there have now been 3,434 deaths in Spain – an increase of 738 in just 24 hours. It is the steepest daily increase in the death toll since the virus hit Spain. The overall number of cases increased to 47,610 from 39,673 on Tuesday. Spain is now second only to Italy in the number of coronavirus deaths. According to data collated by Johns Hopkins University, at least 6,820 people have died in Italy and 3,285 in China.

10:38 Prince Charles tests positive for coronavirus

Prince Charles – the heir to the British throne – has tested positive for coronavirus, according to palace officials.

A Palace statement says: “He has been displaying mild symptoms but otherwise remains in good health and has been working from home throughout the last few days as usual.” The spokesman says his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, has also been tested but does not have the virus. The royal couple are now self-isolating at home in Scotland. The statement added: “It is not possible to ascertain from whom the Prince caught the virus owing to the high number of engagements he carried out in his public role during recent weeks.”

BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell says the prince and his wife flew to Scotland on Sunday, although they did not travel on a scheduled flight. He adds that they were both tested on Monday and got their results last night.

Prince Charles’s last public engagement was on 12 March – the same day he last saw his mother, the Queen. Palace officials say the Monarch remains in “good health”. The prince, 71, and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, 72, are self-isolating at Birkhall on the Balmoral Estate in Aberdeenshire. A Palace statement said: “The tests were carried out by the NHS in Aberdeenshire where they met the criteria required for testing.”

Prince Charles attended what is believed to be his most recent public appearance on 12 March. According to the Court Circular record of the Royal Family’s engagements, the Prince of Wales attended a dinner in aid of the Australian Bushfire Appeal at Mansion House in the City of London. Pictures from the occasion show Prince Charles giving a speech and mingling with attendees. We also now understand that he met his mother the same day, though precise details of that occasion are unclear. The Queen remains “in good health”, according to palace officials.

Royal doctors advise that Prince Charles would not have been contagious up until 13 March – a day after his last public engagement. They are working on presumably his symptoms, the date he has taken the test and their understanding of where he is now in the virus’ path. We are waiting to see if there will be further statements or broadcasts from the Royal Family. Our understanding is that the Queen will speak to the nation – only extraordinary circumstances prompt that and this is exactly that circumstance. But the feeling is that the palace does not want any message from the Royal Family to get in the way of the more urgent messages from the government. Any broadcast will be fairly carefully timed.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has sent her best wishes to Prince Charles, who tested positive for coronavirus in Scotland. She declined to comment on the specifics, when questioned on the fact that Prince Charles, 71, had tested positive at what some people have described as a second home – the prince is currently staying at Balmoral in Scotland. Ms Sturgeon repeated the advice she gave on Sunday – that she didn’t want people to see the Highland and Islands as places where they can outrun the virus. She added that remote areas were under pressure at the best of times and she didn’t want health services in these areas to be put under additional pressure. Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood said she had discussed the situation with the team at NHS Grampian and, from the information she had been given, it was clear Prince Charles had been tested for clinical reasons. Separately, Prime Minister Boris Johnson wished Prince Charles a “speedy recovery”, a Downing Street spokesman told reporters.

10:18 Putin dons protective gear for hospital visit

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin put on special protective gear as he visited coronavirus patients at a hospital in Moscow on Tuesday.

Mr Putin has so far declared the outbreak “under control” in Russia.

However, the official number of people infected in Russia rose to 658 on Wednesday – the largest one-day increase in cases so far.

The mayor of Moscow told him during his hospital visit that the number of cases in the Russian capital far exceeded the official figures.

“A serious situation is unfolding,” Sergei Sobyanin told the president.

Russia has closed cinemas, nightclubs and children’s entertainment venues.

Meanwhile, MPs have proposed imposing severe punishments – including up to seven years in prison and hefty fines – for people breaking coronavirus quarantine rules.

10:13 Brazil’s president criticises coronavirus ‘hysteria’

As Brazil’s largest city – São Paulo – goes into lockdown, President Jair Bolsonaro has continued to downplay the threat of coronavirus.

In a televised speech last night, he criticised the media for “fear-mongering” and called on the country’s mayor and governors to roll back restrictions they have introduced to curb the spread.

Mr Bolsonaro added that people aged over 60 were at risk, but most people – including himself – had nothing to fear.

“With my history as an athlete, if I were infected with the virus, I would have no reason to worry, I would feel nothing, or it would be at most just a little flu,” he said.

Critics of Mr Bolsonaro have accused him of a cavalier attitude to coronavirus.

Concerns have also been raised about him having possibly contracted the disease. Over the last couple of weeks, 22 officials who joined him on a trip to the US have tested positive. Mr Bolsonaro has twice said that his test came back negative, but he has refused to release the results.

Over 2,200 infections have been reported in Brazil, along with 46 deaths related to coronavirus.

09:43 MOTs extended for six months

There’s some good news for drivers in the UK. Drivers are to receive a six-month extension to annual tests of a car’s roadworthiness.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says MOTs due for renewal from 30 March will be extended for half a year due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Mr Shapps said on Twitter that drivers must still keep their cars safe and that garages would remain open for any repairs.

09:16 Tube carriages remain ‘squashed’

London Underground passengers have been complaining about carriages being crowded again this morning despite continued warnings to limit non-essential travel.

One passenger – a senior nurse named Danny – posted on Twitter: “Another busy tube. Can we not stagger people’s start times so we aren’t all squashed on the same tube!”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said early data from Wednesday morning suggested Tube travel was down a third compared to yesterday.

He added that a third of Transport for London staff, including drivers, were off sick or self-isolating, meaning the service couldn’t run any more trains

08:53 Malaysia extends lockdown

Malaysia will extend its two-week lockdown and is also planning another stimulus package to help its economy.

The country is already the worst-hit one in south east Asia and the number of confirmed infections continues to grow.

With another 172 positive tests, the total number confirmed cases is now just under 1,800. The country closed its borders last week, cut down internal movement and shut down all schools and non-essential businesses until end of March. The extension will now take that to 14 April.

Malaysia has recorded 17 virus deaths so far. Most of the positive tests have been linked to a religious gathering in February, which had more than 16,000 people attending.

08:32 Pressure grows to halt construction work in UK

The UK government is facing growing pressure to stop non-essential construction work – which has been allowed to continue as long as people are 2m (6.5ft) apart.

Some builders and construction workers have said they feel “angry and unprotected” continuing, with other saying they are under pressure from employers to go in.

One critic was Andy Burnham, Labour Mayor of Greater Manchester, who said the decision to allow non-essential work appeared to have been made for “economic reasons”.

“When you’re in the middle of a global pandemic, health reasons alone really should be guiding all decision-making,” he said.

On Tuesday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said those who cannot do their jobs from home should go to work to “keep the country running”.

In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said building sites should close, unless it involves an essential building such as a hospital.

07:55 UK prisoners may be freed to ease pressure

Some prisoners in England and Wales could be released temporarily in a bid to ease pressure on jails.

Around 3,500 prison staff have taken time off work – the majority of them sick or self-isolating. Many prisons in the country are already overcrowded as it is.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said releasing some inmates could help “alleviate” pressures.

He said he was looking “very carefully” at whether 50 pregnant prisoners could be released, adding that around 9,000 inmates who are awaiting trial could be transferred to bail hostels.

07:31 UK Parliament ‘to close’ on Wednesday

Several sources have told the BBC that the UK Parliament will close tonight, after the emergency laws to deal with the coronavirus crisis have been passed and granted royal assent.

MPs will vote on whether to close Parliament later, with the plan to return on 21 April.

05:49 US lawmakers agree deal

The Senate and White House have reached a deal on a $2 trillion stimulus package for the US economy.

“At last, we have a deal,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, citing the massive “wartime level of investment into our nation”.

The Senate and House of Representatives still need to pass the legislation before sending it to President Donald Trump for his signature.

05:34 ‘Only go to work if you can’t do it from home’

That’s the message from UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who said Britons should only leave home to go to work “where absolutely necessary and [it] cannot be done from home”.

Pictures on Tuesday showed workers in London packed tightly together in Tube carriages, despite warnings that people should keep two metres paprt.

The mayor of London Sadiq Khan called for people to stop packing into trains, saying “stop Tube travel or more will die”. Last week, a number of stations were closed and services reduced, which has exacerbated the congestion.

More than 130 people have died in London from Covid-19 – a third of the whole of the UK total.

05:19 Conflict-torn Libya confirms first coronavirus case

Libya’s Centre for Disease Control has announced the North African country’s first confirmed case of coronavirus.

This comes after both the internationally-recognised government in Tripoli and the rival administration in the east of the country imposed strict travel measures, shutting their air space and land borders last week.

Libya has been torn by conflict since Nato-backed forces overthrew long-serving ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

04:19 US sailors test positive for virus

Three sailors on board aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in the Philippine Sea have now tested positive for the virus.

A US defence official told me all staff who were in close contact with the three sailors have been identified and are now being tested for the coronavirus.

This is the first known case of the virus on board a US military ship at sea.

The official wouldn’t disclose the number of people who had been placed in quarantine but did say the warship has around 5,000 people on board.

The three sailors are due to be evacuated from the ship by helicopter to a Department of Defence hospital in the Pacific.The official confirmed that the facility isn’t in the Philippines.

Earlier this month the warship docked in Da Nang, Vietnam, and the sailors were allowed to go ashore, although it hasn’t been confirmed where they contracted the virus.

03:55 G7 to debate next steps to tackle virus

Foreign ministers from the G7 group of leading industrial nations will discuss the coronavirus pandemic in a video conference later on Wednesday.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is expected to push for more co-ordinated action to find a vaccine and to help repatriate tourists stranded by travel restrictions. The meeting had been due to be held in the US city of Pittsburgh but was cancelled as countries restricted travel to combat the spread of the virus.

On Thursday, leaders from the wider G20 group of nations will hold their own video conference on the outbreak.

03:41 US death toll almost at 800

The United States has seen its deadliest day of the outbreak so far with the overall death toll now at almost 800.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says the US could become the next global epicentre of the pandemic, citing a “very large acceleration” in infections.

The WHO had first identified the epicentre in China where the virus first broke out, then in Europe where Italy has seen the highest number of deaths worldwide.

The US is thought to be only at the beginning of its outbreak and authorities are warning they are expecting things to get worse over the next weeks. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has warned that his state’s soaring numbers are giving a bleak outlook for what has to be expected for the country as a whole.

Across the US, there are around 55,000 people confirmed to be infected. The worst hit states are New York and California. Many states have implemented lockdowns to a varying degree, shutting down much of daily life in many major cities.

03:38 Indian students stranded on Bangladesh border

About 100 medical students from India are stranded on the Bangladesh border, as they are not being allowed to enter the country. Benapole land port deputy director Mohammed Mamun Kabir Tarafder told the BBC that Bangladesh had cleared the students to leave, but Indian port authorities are refusing to let anyone enter.

Bangladesh has closed all its educational institutes in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus. The 100 students are all from Indian-administered Kashmir, Mr Mamun said. “Everyone here has Indian passports and legal visas, so we don’t know what to do in this situation,” he added.

03:25 Stocks continue their coronavirus rollercoaster ride

Asian shares are continuing a global rally today as investors hope the US is about to pour some $2 trillion (£1.7tn) into the world’s biggest economy to help cushion it from the huge blow being dealt by the coronavirus pandemic.

That follows the Dow Jones Industrial Average seeing its biggest one day gain, in percentage terms, since 1933.

For some perspective, in points terms, this month alone has seen the Dow having the five biggest daily gains and five biggest falls of its 135-year history.

So why are are we seeing these historic swings?

Simply put, on a daily basis, or often hourly or even minute-by-minute, investors and speculators are having to revalue the assets (shares, bonds, oil, gold etc) they buy and sell as they weigh the latest news on the economic impact of measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus against steps being taken to support the global economy by governments and central banks.

So-called algorithmic trading, where computers automatically trade based on pre-programmed instructions, are also seen as adding to market volatility. That’s because this kind of software is able to buy and sell assets at lightning speeds – high-frequency trading – which can magnify price swings.

And, while making predictions about the stock market at the moment is probably unwise, we are likely to see more of these big moves in the coming days, weeks or even months.

02:37 Officials point fingers over Australia ship ‘disaster’

The decision to allow passengers off the Ruby Princess cruise ship in Sydney last Thursday is being seen as a catastrophic error. One woman has died and there are least 130 cases.

A furious public has been calling for accountability. In response, the Australian Border Force (ABF) spoke out this morning to point the finger squarely at state health officials. ABF commissioner Michael Outram said the ship’s doctor flagged flu-cases two days before arrival in Sydney.

New South Wales (NSW) Health assessed this information but cleared the ship as “low risk”. It dismissed doing an on-board medical check at port, and told the Ruby it was free to disembark.

“The decision to allow them off … was one of the New South Wales Health,” said Mr Outram. NSW Health has defended itself, saying it followed national protocols. This morning it stressed all cases so far had been exposed on the ship – something they couldn’t have prevented. But they didn’t address the critics questioning why they let infected passengers off the ship to then go home to their individual countries.

Authorities were still seeking to “identify an onward transmission from any contact with those people travelling home”.

02:10 US lifts sanctions on glove maker

Washington has lifted sanctions on a Malaysian glove manufacturer it accused of using forced labour.

The US is struggling with a shortage of personal protective equipment to deal with the outbreak of the coronavirus in the country.

The ban placed on the company WRP had been in force since September but “was revoked based on recent information obtained by CBP showing the company is no longer producing the rubber gloves under forced labor conditions,” the US Customs and Border Protection said in the statement.

Malaysia is the world’s biggest producer of medical gloves, according to news agency Reuters and the US is the world’s biggest consumer of that very product per person.

The global coronavirus pandemic means that gloves are in huge demand in pretty much every country around the globe as most health systems are struggling to ensure protection for their staff.

01:39 Australia ‘very worried about rate of rise’

Australia is ramping up response measures. About 2,300 people here have now tested positive – it was about 600 a week ago. “We are very worried about the rate of the rise. It is a very, very steep growth,” chief medical officer Dr Brendan Murphy told Australians last night.

From midnight, strict limits will apply to people attending funerals and weddings. Many businesses have been ordered to close – we have more details here. For the first time, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also expressly discouraged gatherings at home. This morning, he added elective surgeries would be banned and a new taskforce would be created to stimulate businesses.

New South Wales, which has more than 1,000 cases, said its first children under 10 had tested positive: a two-month-old boy and a seven-year-old girl.

01:21 Hard-hit Spain asks Nato for help

Spain has asked Nato for humanitarian assistance after the death toll from the virus jumped by 514 in a single day and the number of infections soared to nearly 40,000.

The government has requested tens of thousands of surgical masks, gloves, disposable gowns, respirators, thermometers and other equipment. Half a million testing kits are also on the list, El Pais reports. “This is a very hard week because we’re in the first stages of overcoming the virus, a phase in which we are approaching the peak of the epidemic,” Health Minister Salvador Illa told reporters. Spain is the worst affected country in Europe after Italy.

01:16 India begins three-week lockdown

India is waking up to its first day of a three-week lockdown aimed at controlling the spread of coronavirus. 

Panic-buying broke out in the Indian capital Delhi and other major cities after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the drastic new measures would come into force at midnight. In a televised address, he said that the only way that Indians could save themselves from coronavirus was for no-one to leave their home. Otherwise, he said, India would be set back decades.

01:10 Bolsonaro calls for ‘end to mass confinement’

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has called for “an end to mass confinement” and accused states of using excessive measures to try to stop the coronavirus. In a televised address, the controversial right-wing leader blamed the media for spreading “dread” and said that if he caught the virus he would only get “a little cold”.

Brazil’s health ministry declined to comment on the president’s statement, the G1 news website reported. As soon as the president started talking, people began banging pots and pans on their balconies in protest. Mr Bolsonaro has previously dismissed precautions taken against the coronavirus as “hysteria” and “fantasy”.

On Tuesday, Coronavirus deaths in Brazil rose to 46 from 34 and cases rose to 2,201 from 1,891, the health ministry said.

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