6th April 2020 – United Kingdom
Source: Public Health England and news reports. (Public Health England Web Site)
*=Interim Figures / Key: UK USA Other
** A new process for collecting numbers of recovered patients is in development: the figure shown is for 22/03/2020.
More news coming soon
22:58 US cities struggling with the numbers of dead
More than 10,000 people in the US have died from coronavirus, and some local officials say they are struggling to store and bury the bodies. In New York City, the chair of the city council’s health committee, Mark D Levine, tweeted that hospitals are now forced to rely on refrigerated trailers to hold bodies. The city was preparing contingency plans in case the death rate didn’t fall, including temporarily burying bodies in a local park, he said. The tweet caused a stir, and since then, the mayor’s office has said it is not currently planning to use local parks as burial grounds, but is exploring using Hart Island for temporary burials instead. The island is an uninhabited strip of land north-east of the Bronx which is used for mass burials.
Meanwhile, in New Orleans, which has over 4,560 cases and 170 deaths, the mayor has asked the federal government to provide more refrigerated units to store bodies, because morgues, coroners officers and funeral homes are overwhelmed. One funeral director told Nola.com: “I’ve been a funeral director since 1962, and I’ve never seen this.”
22:52 White House Briefing
The White House coronavirus task force briefing has begun. President Donald Trump begins by saying America “sends prayers to the people of New York, New Jersey and the whole country”. Then he expresses his concern for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, saying he wants to “send best wishes to a very good friend of mine and a friend of our nation”. He says he was “sad to hear he was taken into intensive care a while ago. Americans are all praying for his recovering, he’s been a really good friend”. He adds that Boris Johnson is “resolute, doesn’t quit, doesn’t give up”. He adds: “We’ve contacted all of Boris’s doctors… when you get brought into intensive care, that gets very, very serious.”
Mr Trump said he had agreed with the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s request that the USNS Comfort – a navy hospital ship – could be used to treat coronavirus patients. He also highlighted efforts to distribute and produce more personal protective equipment for health workers – saying government departments had distributed 1.7m N95 respirator masks, and 26.5m surgical masks. He also said he had reached an agreement with 3M, a major mask manufacturer whom he had a row with last week, to supply 165m masks for frontline healthcare workers. Trump said he was “being told most of the critical needs are being more than met”. However, a US government report published today said that hospitals were experiencing “severe shortages of testing supplies” and “widespread shortages” of personal protective equipment (PPE), while an AP news investigation said that the government waited until mid-March to place bulk orders of protecting equipment – losing almost two months of valuable time.
President Trump said the US had “now performed 1.79m tests” – adding that “nobody has done more testing” and that he believed the US had “more [coronavirus] cases [than other countries] because we have more tests”. The US has lagged behind other countries in testing until recently. President Trump also highlighted his administration’s efforts to help state governments, maintaining that some governors sound “very happy” during discussions with his administration. “They may see you [the media] and say ‘ooh, we’re not happy’ – but they’re very happy on the phone,” Mr Trump said. He has recently hit back at Democratic state governors who have criticised the federal government’s response to the outbreak.
President Trump says he had a positive phone call with former US Vice-President Joe Biden, the Democratic White House candidate who looks likely to challenge him in November’s election. We “had a really wonderful, warm conversation… he gave me his point of view and I fully understood that. We just had a very friendly conversation, which lasted probably 15 minutes, and it was really good… I appreciate his calling,” says Trump. Joe Biden’s campaign said Mr Biden “shared several suggestions for actions the administration can take now to address the ongoing coronavirus pandemic”. However, when asked for details, Mr Trump refrained from giving specifics, only saying he didn’t necessarily agree with all of Mr Biden’s suggestions.
President Trump was asked to comment on a row in the Navy, after the captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, Brett Crozier, was fired for sending a letter urging Navy officials to help halt a coronavirus outbreak on board the aircraft carrier. The acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said on Sunday that Capt Crozier was “too naive or too stupid” to command the ship. Mr Trump said “that was a rough statement” from Secretary Modly, but “the letter shouldn’t have been sent”. He added that he had “heard very good things about both gentlemen” and that he “may just get involved… believe it or not I’m good at settling arguments”.
President Trump says “nobody has done more testing” than the US, and that “in my opinion… we have more cases because we have more testing” compared to other countries. However, while US testing numbers have greatly increased in recent weeks, it’s not strictly true that the US has tested more than other countries, if you take each country’s population size into account. Mr Trump says the US has conducted 1.79 million tests. The US has a population of about 329 million – so that comes out to 0.5% of the population. Meanwhile, South Korea, which began widespread testing from an earlier stage and has a population of 51 million, says it has conducted 466,804 tests – which comes to about 0.9% of the population.
Dr Deborah Birx, the coronavirus response co-ordinator for the White House, urges the American public to minimise their trips outside, “out of respect” for healthcare workers risking their lives to treat those infected. “Out of respect for them, we should be doing everything possible,” she says. She urged families to “consolidate” their trips outdoors, saying the “entire family doesn’t need to go on separate occasions” because it’s a “highly transmittable virus. We want every American to know that what they’re doing is making a difference. Maybe, once every two weeks we can do a grocery store or pharmacy shop for the family.”
Mr Trump has finished speaking at the press briefing, ending by offering “my best to the UK and the family of Boris Johnson. We just hope he’s going to be OK, he’s a fine guy”. He’s now handed over to Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the coronavirus task force.
22:42 Pound drops in reaction to Boris Johnson’s worsening health
The pound dropped against the dollar and the euro on Monday after the news that the British prime minister had been admitted to intensive care in a hospital in London. “Markets hate uncertainty and this does not bode well for further steps in battling COVID-19 and for future Brexit trade negotiations,” explained senior market analyst Edward Moya at Oanda Corporation.
20:44 Denmark to start easing restrictions next week
We reported earlier that Austria is considering lifting some of its coronavirus restrictions. Now Denmark has announced plans to re-open nurseries and primary schools from next week, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen says. However, it will only happen if the number of current infections remains constant and if people respect existing restrictions, she warned.
20:13 Boris Johnson moved to intensive care
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved into intensive care in a London hospital.
The UK PM first tested positive for coronavirus 10 days ago, experiencing what his team called “mild symptoms”. However, earlier today, his spokesman said the symptoms had become “persistent”, and he was admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital on Sunday evening. A statement from Downing Streets says: “Over the course of this afternoon, the condition of the prime minister has worsened and, on the advice of his medical team, he has been moved to the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital. “The PM has asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is the First Secretary of State, to deputise for him where necessary. “The PM is receiving excellent care, and thanks all NHS staff for their hard work and dedication.”
After very, very little information was shared today, the prime minister was taken into intensive care at around 19:00 BST (18:00 GMT) tonight. We’ve been told he is still conscious, but his condition has worsened over the course of the afternoon. And he has been moved to intensive care as a precaution in case he needs ventilation to get through this illness. The statement from Downing Street makes clear he is receiving excellent care and he wants to thank all of the NHS staff. But something important has changed, and he has felt it necessary to ask his foreign secretary to deputise for him where needs be. That is a completely different message from what we have heard in the last 18 hours or so, where it was continually “the prime minister is in touch” and “he is in charge” – almost like everything is business as usual. But clearly being in intensive care changes everything.
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith says he is “shocked” at the news Boris Johnson has been moved into intensive care. He tells BBC News: “He is a friend and, as prime minister, it is a bad moment. It is a bad moment for anybody. “I am deeply saddened it should have come to this.” Sir Iain says the PM has “obviously worked like mad to come through this and it has not worked so far”. But he adds it “doesn’t mean he won’t pull through this”. He tells us: “Let’s hope and pray that Boris will pull through.”
Well wishes have been coming in from all sides of the political spectrum in the UK after the news Boris Johnson has been moved into intensive care. Chancellor Rishi Sunak tweeted: “My thoughts tonight are with Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds [the PM’s fiancee]. I know he’ll be getting the best care possible and will come out of this even stronger.” Scotland’s First Minister and leader of the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon, tweeted: “My thoughts are with the PM and his family – sending him every good wish.” The Labour Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, tweeted that he was “praying for the prime minister’s swift recovery”. He said St Thomas’ Hospital has “some of the finest medical staff in the world”, adding “he couldn’t be in safer hands”. Lib Dem MP Layla Moran tweeted: “My thoughts are with Boris Johnson, Carrie Symonds and anyone who is or whose family is in a bad way due to Covid-19”. She said it “must be so scary”, before adding: “I hope the government can now stop this pretence that all is fine and concentrate on getting him well and reassure the country.” And Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage tweeted: “I hope and pray for Boris Johnson to come through this ordeal quickly.”
The UK does not have a formal constitutional role of a deputy or caretaker prime minister to step in if he or she is incapacitated, says the Institute for Government (IoG). However, the prime minister usually designates someone to perform his duties, were something to happen. At the beginning of the outbreak, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was announced as the UK’s “designated survivor”. Downing Street has confirmed he is now taking charge where he is needed. The IoG says, were a prime minister to die in office and there was a majority government (as there is now), it would be up to the cabinet to recommend an immediate successor to the Queen. But we are nowhere near that point, with No 10 saying Boris Johnson has been moved to intensive care as a precaution.
Andrew Murrison, a Tory MP, has been speaking to BBC News. He said: “Boris has been working heroically over the past seven days despite his deteriorating condition. He is an extraordinary man and I am very sure he is going to pull through from this.” He said the latest news was “devastating” but added: “I don’t think we should jump to any conclusions. I suspect the doctors will want to monitor him closely in the way that is only really possible on ICU. “I know he’s in the very best of hands at St Thomas’ and of course we all wish him well for a speedy recovery.” Asked whether the PM should’ve stepped back from duties earlier to focus on recovery, Mr Murrison, who is a doctor, said: “That’s not the nature of the man. He’s a selfless individual with a very strong sense of public service so I don’t think it would be in his nature to step back.”
Political leaders and their predecessors across the UK are joining the swell of good wishes for Boris Johnson. Former Tory PM David Cameron tweeted: “You are in great hands and we all want you safe, well and back in 10 Downing Street.” Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his thoughts were with the PM and his family, adding: “Thanks to the NHS staff for their hard work and dedication.” His successor, Sir Keir Starmer, tweeted: “Terribly sad news. All the country’s thoughts are with the prime minister and his family during this incredibly difficult time.” Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster tweeted: “On behalf of the Northern Ireland Executive, I send our best wishes to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Praying for a full and speedy recovery.” And Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford said it was “concerning news”, adding: “My thoughts are with him and his family.”
The French president has tweeted his reaction to the news. Emmanuel Macron’s tweet, in French, reads: “My full support for Boris Johnson, his family and the British people at this difficult time. I hope he overcomes this ordeal quickly.”
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab tells the BBC he will deputise for the PM “where necessary in driving forward the government’s plans to defeat coronavirus”. He says Boris Johnson has been receiving “excellent care” at St Thomas’ Hospital in London and says the government wants to thank all NHS staff across the country for the work they are doing during the outbreak. Asked by the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg how worried the public should be about a functioning government, Mr Raab says the focus will continue to be on making sure the “prime minister’s direction and all the plans for making sure we can defeat coronavirus and pull the country through this challenge will be taken forward”. He adds: “There is an incredibly strong team spirit behind the prime minister and making sure that we get all of the plans that the prime minister has instructed us to deliver… implemented as soon as possible.”
Sir Gus O’Donnell, who served as the UK’s top civil servant under three British PMs, says Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will have to take decisions, with the cabinet, in Boris Johnson’s absence. He says ideally important decisions would be deferred, but in these fast-moving times, “I suspect some decisions will have to be made”. He adds that in his experience, if prime ministers were away, they would want to be informed if “something serious came up”. “They did not want the decisions delegated because they knew they’d have to live with the consequences,” he adds. But he says in this case “clearly he needs to rest”, and others should take over the government’s response to the virus.
Intensive care is where doctors look after the sickest patients – so Boris Johnson’s admission to ICU is the clearest indication of how ill the prime minister is. We do not know the full details of his condition, but we have been told he is conscious and not being ventilated. Not every patient in intensive care is ventilated, but around two-thirds are within 24 hours of admission with Covid-19. This is a disease that attacks the lungs and can cause pneumonia and difficulty breathing. This leaves the body struggling to get enough oxygen into the blood and to the body’s vital organs. There is no proven drug treatment for Covid-19, although there are many experimental candidates. But the cornerstone of the prime minister’s care will depend on getting enough oxygen into his body and supporting his other organs while his immune system fights the virus.
Last night, the Queen was on our screens sending a message of comfort to the public during the coronavirus crisis. Now she is hearing the news her prime minister has been moved into intensive care. A Buckingham Palace spokesman says she is being been kept informed by Downing Street about Boris Johnson’s condition.
While the White House hasn’t formally responded to news that Boris Johnson is in intensive care, Donald Trump’s daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump, has tweeted that her “thoughts and prayers” are with Mr Johnson. My thoughts and prayers are with @BorisJohnson and his family. Mr Trump had expressed his best wishes to Mr Johnson on Sunday, when the PM had been hospitalised, but was not yet in intensive care. “All Americans are praying for him; he’s a friend of mine and a great gentleman,” he said during a press briefing.
Theresa Villiers, who was serving in the cabinet alongside Dominic Raab until February, told BBC Radio 5 Live the foreign secretary now faces a “daunting challenge”. She says that he will be reassured that in his current role he will have had to take “very similar sensitive decisions”. But she adds: “Even with that experience under his belt, it will be a daunting situation he’s tackling as the prime minister’s deputy.”
The government has said throughout this crisis that ministers are being guided by the latest science. Every morning they hold a call with top medical and scientific experts – dubbed the “war cabinet”. Dominic Raab chaired that meeting this morning and will continue to do so while the PM is in hospital. There won’t be any change to the strategy. But what Boris Johnson has done is told his foreign secretary to make the big decisions while he can’t. That is likely to involve taking responsibility on matters like security and foreign affairs, and, as foreign secretary, Mr Raab has experience on this front. But Mr Raab, if necessary, will have to make big calls about the government’s reaction to this crisis. And that could involve financial decisions. Tory MPs I’ve been speaking to in the last hour are in a state of shock, while cabinet ministers were briefed this evening on a conference call. The political world is unsurprisingly united tonight in wishing Boris Johnson a speedy recovery.
Boris Johnson was given oxygen before being taken into intensive care on Monday afternoon, the BBC’s Chris Mason reports. Not much has been released as to the prime minister’s condition, but Number 10’s statement earlier said he had “worsened” after suffering persistent symptoms of the coronavirus.
Guto Harri, Boris Johnson’s communications director when he was mayor of London, has spoken to BBC News. “There has tragically been quite clearly a deterioration that is quite significant for him to now have to succumb to intensive care and to have to deputise formally to the foreign secretary,” he said. Mr Harri said in the four years he worked for Mr Johnson, “I don’t think he was ill once” and said the PM would be “hugely frustrated” that he cannot now take the lead. “I think what’s clearly happened over the last few weeks, there have been enormous decisions about lives and livelihoods… and he’d have felt that the important thing was he was out there, he was seen to lead from the front and he probably wouldn’t have slept well and would have been working too hard.”
While Boris Johnson has been unwell with coronavirus, so has his fiancée, Carrie Symmonds. She confirmed via Twitter over the weekend that she had spent a week in bed with the main symptoms, isolating away from the PM, but said she felt “stronger” and was “on the mend”. However, she also had the extra concern of being pregnant. The couple announced in February they were expecting their first child together in the early summer, and were engaged. She said having coronavirus while being pregnant was “obviously worrying”, but advised other expectant mothers to follow the “reassuring guidance” from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
More well wishes are being tweeted for Boris Johnson – including from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who wrote: “Hope to see you back at Number 10 soon.” Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, wished him a “speedy recovery”, as did EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who also sent thoughts to Johnson’s family. And the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the most senior cleric in the Church of England, invited the public to join in prayer.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is standing in for Boris Johnson, says the government is working to carry out the prime minister’s decisions.
20:09 Netanyahu announces Passover lockdown
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced a national lockdown, from Tuesday to Friday, over the Jewish holiday of Passover. In a televised address, he said this means people will have to stay at home on Wednesday evening, instead of travelling to traditional “Seder” meals.
19:08 Turkey to post five masks a week to some residents
Policies concerning masks vary from country to country. In Turkey, the government says it will post five masks a week to anyone aged 20-65 who requests them. The government’s Sewing Factory Department normally makes military uniforms – but is now producing one million masks and 5,000 items of protective clothing a week. People aged under 20 or over 65 are under curfew, apart from some workers. The country has more than 27,000 confirmed cases – the ninth highest in the world – and 574 deaths.
18:54 US death toll passes 10,000
More than 10,000 people have now died from coronavirus in the US, according to Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking the pandemic. The death toll is currently 10,335, with more than 347,000 confirmed cases in the US.
18:48 Canada tells people to start wearing non-surgical masks
Canada’s chief public health officer is now telling people to wear non-surgical masks out in public. Dr Theresa Tam told media that there was evidence that the virus can be transmitted by people without symptoms or just before they develop symptoms. She cautioned that while there was no evidence that a mask can protect the wearer, it may prevent the wearer from spreading the virus to others. The about-face in policy is similar to the one issued by the US Center for Disease Control last week. She cautioned that people should not wear surgical masks, which must be saved for front-line workers.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said his province would run out of personal protective equipment, including masks, within a week. The issue has been compounded by Donald Trump’s order halting shipments of masks to Canada. Mr Ford said a shipment of three million medical masks was blocked from coming into the country at the US border. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that several shipments coming from abroad had been delayed or were missing equipment. Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland cautioned the US that the market was a “two-way street”, and that Canada also shipped necessary supplies across the border.
18:40 Highest daily death toll in France since epidemic began
France has reported 833 deaths in 24 hours, its highest since the outbreak began. The figure includes people who died in hospitals and nursing homes. The total number of fatalities from coronavirus there now stands at 8,911 – the fourth highest in the world after Italy, Spain and the US. “We have not yet reached the end of the ascent of this epidemic,” Health Minister Olivier Véran said.
18:32 ‘The challenge is not to lose anyone who could have been saved’
More from the briefing by New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo. He says the number of deaths is “frightening”. He added he has kept a sense of perspective by talking to his daughters, who are “frankly wiser than myself sometimes”. “We like to think we can fix everything – we can’t… the undeniable truth here is that this virus is a deadly enemy, and we will lose people who are vulnerable to the virus,” says Mr Cuomo. “The challenge is to make sure we don’t lose anyone who could have been saved if our healthcare system was operating fully.” “We’re also very aware of the mental health aspect of this situation, the stress, the isolation that this has caused. People are trying in their own way to grapple with what this means.” He added that mindfulness app Headspace was offering free resources to New Yorkers, while the state also had an emotional support hotline.
18:27 UK care worker named as suspected Covid-19 victim
A care worker in Manchester is suspected to have been infected with coronavirus before her death last week. Mother-of-two Carol Jamabo, 56, who worked as a carer for Cherish Elderly Care in Bury, died at Salford Royal Hospital on Wednesday. Her family said she fell ill about a week before her death, and her youngest son – who had been living with her – has tested positive for the virus. Ms Jamabo moved to the UK from Nigeria in the early 1990s and had previously worked in the prison service and as an NHS administrator at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in London. Her nephew Dakuro Fiberesima, from Purfleet in Essex, said she was “just an amazing aunt”. “Growing up in an African background, the aunts are very strict, but she was fun and had such a positive character,” he added.
18:22 JK Rowling ‘fully recovered’ after Covid-19 symptoms
Harry Potter author JK Rowling has revealed that she has been showing “all symptoms” of coronavirus over the last fortnight. In a Twitter post, Ms Rowling said that she was now “fully recovered”. She added that a video posted by doctors at Queen’s Hospital in east London, on how to relieve respiratory symptoms had “helped a lot” during her illness. Her husband – a doctor – had recommended it to her.
17:55 Italy death toll jumps again
Some bad news now from Italy. The country has seen the daily death toll fall in recent days but on Monday went back up again, with 636 deaths reported – a jump of more than 100 from the previous day. The infection rate is still slowing, though, with 3,599 new cases, a growth of 2.8%.
17:00 UK Press Conference
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has emerged, and today’s UK government briefing is under way.
Dominic Raab says the government’s “step-by-step action plan” is aimed at slowing the spread of virus so fewer people need hospital treatment. The foreign secretary says, at each point, the government has been following scientific and medical advice and has been “very deliberate” in its actions. He confirms the number of deaths across the UK – which has now reached 5,373. He pays tribute to those who have died and to all the front-line workers helping them.
Dominic Raab says the prime minister is still in hospital, but in “good spirits”. And he says the government is also still “united” in its leading of the crisis. Moving on to his own department – the Foreign Office – he says the government has brought home 20,000 people from Spain, 13,000 from Egypt and 8,000 from Indonesia – along with another 2,000 people from seven other countries. Mr Raab adds: “For those travellers still stuck abroad, we are doing everything we can to keep airports open, commercial flights [running] and to charter flights.” He continues: “Every arm of government is doing everything it possibly can to defeat the virus… both at home and abroad.” Mr Raab concludes his remarks by thanking the NHS for its “heroic work”.
The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg asks how the PM can be well enough to run the country if he is unwell enough to be in hospital. Dominic Raab says the PM was admitted to hospital for tests “as a precaution” because of persistent symptoms. But he repeats Mr Johnson had a “comfortable night” and is “still in charge”. Asked about the lockdown measures in place, Professor Dame Angela McLean says they need a “good long time series of data on all stages of infection to tell the impact of the measures”. She adds: “It is too early to tell yet. We need people to carry on following those instructions so we can work out three weeks later what happens in hospital.” Mr Raab adds that this is the “overriding focus of the government right now”.
There’s another question about whether Boris Johnson should be doing more to rest whilst he is in hospital. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, again, says the prime minister is “in charge” and will take advice from his doctors. Asked how long the current restrictions will have to continue, Prof Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, says a “serious discussion” about this will only be possible once the peak of the virus has been reached. He adds it is “too early” to say what should happen until this is known.
Asked again about Boris Johnson’s health and whether he should rest rather than work, Professor Chris Whitty says his advice to the PM was “to take the medical advice of the excellent NHS doctors treating him”. He adds: “I did advise him to get tested in the first place, but after that I didn’t wish to muddy my role with him.” The experts are also asked again about an exit strategy from the lockdown measures. Dominic Raab says the planning is taking place, but adds: “The risk right now is if we take our focus off the strategy, which is beginning to work, we won’t get through this peak as soon as we want to.” Prof Whitty says there are a “large number of technical elements” to look at for that strategy, such as vaccines, drugs and testing. But there are also the other ill-health effects of the virus, such as making sure emergency care is still accessible, and the socioeconomic impacts. “We have have to balance all of these different elements and it is a complicated set,” he says.
There’s a question about whether the number of intensive care beds that will be required in London could be lower than had been expected. Prof Chris Whitty says it is important to always “have some room to spare” and having extra beds “would be a success”. He says having “headroom” for intensive care is part of the strategy. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says the government is “not at all complacent”.
Prof Whitty again says it was not him who told the PM to go to hospital. Asked if the PM could have pneumonia, he adds: “This is a question for him and his medical advisers, who are outstanding. “I am absolutely not going to discuss any individual patient and I do not have the full details, nor should I.”
There’s a question about when the government is planning to roll out the antibody tests it has ordered to tell people if they have had the virus. Prof Chris Whitty says the tests are more effectively used in the “later stage of the epidemic”. It is “not particularly surprising” that the initial results have not provided a viable test given that the virus is new, he says. He adds it will “take a while” before the tests reach their “optimal performance”.
The reporters are not letting up on questions on the PM’s health. But all Dominic Raab reveals is the last time he spoke to the PM was on Saturday. Prof Whitty says some patients are able to work from their hospital beds, and others aren’t, but again says it is up to the PM’s doctors – and he isn’t one of them. Pushed about businesses wanting to know about exit strategy, Mr Raab says he understand the challenges being faced by firms and their workforces. But, he adds: “The risk is if we start to take our eye off the ball tackling coronavirus and getting through the peak… we risk delaying the point [when we can start] easing measures. “It would undermine business confidence if we took our foot off the pedal, eased up and found we were not stopping spread of disease as fast as we could.” He appeals again to the public to adhere to social distancing guidelines and to stay at home.
Asked what the government can do to make sure banks continue to lend to businesses. Dominic Raab says the chancellor will set out further details on the government’s support for businesses “as soon as practical”. He adds that the government is in “regular contact” with the banks and is keen to ensure otherwise viable firms are supported. Ministers are keen to ensure small businesses in particular “see their way though this crisis”.
16:25 Chechen leader: ‘I’d rather beat one person, than bury a thousand’
Ramzan Kadyrov, the authoritarian leader of Chechnya, has emerged as the most hardline enforcer of social-distancing measures in Russia. Following an incident in the Chechen town of Argun, where a policeman hit a man violating local quarantine rules, Kadyrov has praised the police officer and promised to reward him. “I’d rather beat one person, than bury a thousand,” he said via Instagram.
So far Chechnya is the only region of Russia to introduce a curfew to stop the spread of coronavirus: from 8:00 to 20:00. Last week, Kadyrov announced that Chechnya would ban entry into and exit from the region by land or air. On Monday, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said regional leaders had no right to shut administrative borders
16:17 EU facing biggest test since its founding – Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the EU is facing its biggest challenge since its founding as it tackles the coronavirus outbreak. She said it was essential that the bloc as a whole recovered, calling for the union to boost its ability to make vital protective gear for medical workers. “Germany will only do well in the long run if Europe does well,” she said, speaking after a cabinet meeting. Germany has seen more than 100,000 infections – the fourth highest number in the world – and 1,590 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
16:12 More than 400 new deaths confirmed in England
NHS England has confirmed that a further 403 people have died after contracting coronavirus, bringing the English death toll to 4,897.
The patients were aged between 35 and 106 years old. Of these 403 people, 15 had no known underlying health condition. The latest figures cover the period up until 17:00 on Sunday.
Elsewhere around the UK, 27 more people have died in Wales after testing positive for coronavirus, taking the overall death toll there to 193. Public Health Wales said another 302 cases have also been confirmed. As of 07:00 today, the total number of cases across Wales stands at 3,499.
In Scotland, two people have died in the last 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 222. A further 255 patients have also tested positive there, taking the total numer of Scottish cases to 3,961, as of 14:00 today.
The UK’s Department of Public Health is expected to release an update on coronavirus testing later this afternoon.
15:49 Austria reveals plans to ease lockdown
Austria has set out plans to ease restrictions in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus. It is one of the first countries outside of Asia to do so. Under the scheme, some shops will be able to reopen as early as next week but restaurants and bars will have to wait until May and it won’t be until the end of June that large-scale public events, such as football matches, can take place.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz also stressed loosening the restrictions depended on the public continuing to follow guidelines on social distancing. Denmark is also likely to firm up a timetable for how it will end its lockdown, but, in an interview on Sunday, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen warned it would be some time before normal life resumes.
15:39 Guardiola’s mother dies after contracting coronavirus
The mother of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has died after contracting coronavirus. Dolors Sala Carrió, 82, died in Barcelona, City said. “Everyone associated with the club sends their most heartfelt sympathy at this most distressing time to Pep, his family and all their friends,” the Premier League club added.
Spain has recorded one of the largest death tolls in the world: more than 13,000 people have died from the virus. Last week Guardiola, who has been at home in Barcelona, donated 1m euros (£880,000) to fight the coronavirus outbreak in Spain.
15:11 MP calls for investigation into ‘false narratives’
The chair of the UK’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Julian Knight MP, has called on communications watchdog Ofcom to investigate concerns foreign state-backed news organisations are “disseminating false narratives” about Covid-19 through social media.
Earlier, the UK government criticised Russian state media use of “disinformation” after RIA Novosti reported that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was on a ventilator. The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “That is disinformation. Our specialist government units have seen a rise in false and misleading narratives since the coronavirus pandemic started. “It’s vital that any disinformation is knocked down quickly.”
14:50 BT pledge to retain jobs
Britain’s largest telecoms company, BT, has pledged not to fire or furlough any of its staff for the next three months. Chief executive Philip Jansen, who tested positive for coronavirus in March, will also donate half his annual salary to charity and said the company will do “everything we can” to support its 84,000 UK employees. “For the foreseeable future – at least the next three months – no BT, Openreach, EE or Plusnet colleague will lose their job as a result of the changing trading conditions. That’s a promise,” Mr Jansen wrote in a letter to staff.
While recruitment is on hold and managers’ salaries have been frozen, BT has reaffirmed its commitment to provide shares worth £500 to employees and frontline staff will also be given a 1.5% salary increase. Mr Jansen’s donation to NHS charities and affected small businesses in his local community is reportedly worth over £500,000.
14:12 England’s chief medical officer back at work
England’s chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty has returned to work after recovering from his coronavirus symptoms.
The 53-year-old announced on 27 March that he was self-isolating, shortly after Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock both confirmed they had tested positive.
Prof Whitty has appeared regularly at the government’s daily news briefings.
12:28 Sweden opens new field hospital
Swedes remain freer than their neighbours in crisis. Sweden is opening a field hospital at a trade-fair complex in Stockholm, with capacity for 600 patients. Initially the hospital in Aelvsjoe will take up to 140, to ease the pressure on the capital’s hospitals, as Covid-19 cases continue to rise. Sweden’s armed forces prepared the facility.
In Sweden, 401 people have died from coronavirus and there are 6,830 current cases, Johns Hopkins University reports. More than half the deaths were in the Stockholm area.
Unlike neighbouring Denmark and Germany, Sweden has not imposed a lockdown, and there were still plenty of shoppers in the capital at the weekend. The authorities have urged Swedes to: stay at home if they are over 70 or have viral symptoms; work from home if possible; avoid non-essential travel and avoid big groups. Social-distancing has been advised. But Sweden’s more relaxed policy has left it looking isolated in Europe
12:18 France ‘facing worst economic recession since WW2’
The French Economy and Finance Minister, Bruno Le Maire has warned that the country is facing its worst post-war economic downturn since the end of World War Two – surpassing the -2.2% slump that followed the 2009 global financial crisis. Last month, the government estimated that the economy would shrink by 1% in 2020. But at a Senate hearing today, Le Maire said that figure had been revised substantially. “We will probably be at more than the -2.2% in 2009. That shows the magnitude of the economic shock we are facing,” he said.
11:41 India ‘considering’ supplying hydroxychloroquine to US
India is reportedly considering a request by Donald Trump to release stocks of a drug that the US president has called a “game-changer” in the fight against Covid-19. Trump called India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, a day after India had banned the export of hydroxychloroquine, which it manufactures in large quantities. Reports in India media, citing government officials, say the country is now considering supplying the drug to the US.
Hydroxychloroquine is very similar to chloroquine – one of the oldest and best-known anti-malarial drugs. President Trump has touted the drug and claimed the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had approved it for treating coronavirus – a claim the FDA denied. Trump later said that it had been approved for “compassionate use” – which means a doctor can give a drug that is yet to be cleared by the government to a patient in a life-threatening condition. But it’s not clear if the drug will even work against the coronavirus. And is India really in a position to help the US?
11:04 US to give India nearly $3m for coronavirus fight
The US government has announced a grant of £2.3m ($2.9m) to India to help its efforts against Covid-19. Kenneth Juster, the US Ambassador to India, said that USAID, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as other agencies will work closely with India to combat the pandemic. “Covid-19 is a global public health threat that can be addressed best by close collaboration among governments and international organizations,” Juster said in a press release. The funds will be used to support the work of USAID as well as the WHO in India, which involve strengthening its health services.
11:04 UK chain Debenhams to file for administration
UK department store Debenhams has announced it will file for administration after the coronavirus lockdown forced it to shut its shops. It described the process as a “light touch” administration to protect it from legal action from creditors while its department stores are closed. Debenhams boss Stefaan Vansteenkiste said the circumstances of the decision were “unprecedented”. “We have taken this step to protect our business, our employees, and other important stakeholders,” he said. Vansteenkiste said it would allow Debenhams “to resume trading from our stores when government restrictions are lifted”. On the announcement, BBC Radio 5 Live business correspondent Danni Hewson said: “This prevents legal action from suppliers, landlords and people who are owed money – legal action which would push Debenhams into liquidation and effectively see all 142 stores closed completely. “This buys Debenhams a bit if time. It means they can look at some sort of administration.”
10:54 Spain deaths drop again
The daily death toll in Spain has dropped for a fourth consecutive day. The number of new deaths announced by the government on Monday was 637, compared to 674 on Sunday. It’s the lowest number since 24 March. New deaths hit a peak of 950 last Thursday. The latest figures show the country also registered 4,273 new confirmed cases. Officials believe the virus may finally be peaking in Spain, which has the second-highest death toll in the world at 13,055.
10:53 Ecuador city resorts to using cardboard coffins
The authorities in Ecuador’s most populous city, Guayaquil, say they are handing out 4,000 cardboard coffins amid a shortage of traditional wooden caskets. Forensic services have struggled to cope with the number of people who have died in the city of three million since the coronavirus pandemic started and funeral directors say they have run out of caskets. The official number of those who have died after contracting the virus nationwide stands at 180, but President Lenín Moreno has said that number probably falls short as only the cases which have been tested are included.
Guayaquil, a port city, has been at the centre of the outbreak and residents say they have had to wait for days for the dead to be picked up. Bertha Salinas told BBC News Mundo that it took four days for the bodies of her sister and brother-in-law to be removed from their home. The family wrapped the bodies in plastic sheeting, which they burned after their loved ones’ remains were finally taken away.
10:31 British nurse and midwife died with coroanvirus
The death of a third British nurse with coronavirus has been confirmed. “Long-serving” nurse Liz Glanister, who worked at Aintree University Hospital in Liverpool, died with coronavirus on Friday, said the trust which runs the hospital. Chief nurse Dianne Brown said Glanister would be “sadly missed by all those who knew and worked with her”.
The deaths of two other nurses with coronavirus – Aimee O’Rourke and Areema Nasreen- were announced last week. It comes as the death of a serving midwife was also confirmed in Essex.
Lynsay Coventry, 54, had supported hundreds of women over a decade at the Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust in Harlow. She died on Thursday. Paying tribute to her, Coventry’s family said she was a “wonderful and caring mum, sister, daughter and grandmother”.
On Friday, the UK’s largest nursing union warned that the deaths of more health workers was “inevitable”.
10:15 Sturgeon came to ‘mutual agreement’ with chief medical officer
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says she came to a “mutual agreement” with Dr Catherine Calderwood over the chief medical officer’s resignation, after it was revealed Calderwood made two trips to her holiday home during the coronavirus lockdown. Calderwood initially vowed to stay in her job, and was backed to do so by Ms Sturgeon, but Calderwood released a statement later on Sunday saying she had quit. “It became obvious to me that the risk I saw of losing the continuity of advice from the chief medical officer, who has been immersed in this since the beginning of the outbreak, was outweighed by the risk of the government’s message being undermined or drowned out by her staying in office,” Sturgeon told BBC Breakfast.
Sturgeon said she came to a “firm view” last night Calderwood should step down, adding Calderwood “came to the same view” in a phone conversation between the two. The first minister said it was not an error of judgement that Calderwood was not removed straight away.
09:35 Britons stuck in Asia with mounting costs
Nick Cross and his partner are among thousands of Britons stuck in Asia, unable to board flights home. Shortly after their arrival in Cambodia in mid-March, Thailand imposed new restrictions on foreigners, meaning they’d need a medical certificate to be allowed in to the country. They went to a doctor to get the certificate, and then headed to Phnom Penh to try to connect with their flight home from Bangkok. But Nick says two of the flights they booked to Bangkok were cancelled. They were then denied boarding on a third because airline officials said their certificates did not show a negative Covid-19 test. He is now helping organise more than 260 British people trapped in Cambodia, lobbying the UK embassy to find a way out for them. The embassy is telling them to take whatever commercial options they can. But Nick says they are now short of funds, after booking four flights which were cancelled and getting no refunds yet, worth around £5,000 ($6,150). Unless he can be sure he won’t lose it on yet another cancelled flight, Nick said he wants to preserve what funds he has left to survive if they get stuck for many weeks. He says there are other British travellers with health conditions who are very low on funds and in urgent need of assistance. British diplomats in the region say they are exploring every possible option to get stranded UK travellers home, and are lobbying the airlines to lay on extra flights, at a reasonable cost. There are thought to be around 2-3,000 in Thailand, around 70 left in Laos, and a few hundred in the Philippines.
09:03 First death of a frontline doctor in Afghanistan
Afghanistan has had its first death of a frontline doctor due to the coronavirus, the health ministry confirmed to the BBC. The ministry spokesperson said the doctor was working in a private hospital in Kabul and 20 of his colleagues will now be tested for Covid-19. Pajhwok Afghan News reported the doctors’s name as Hanifullah Hanif and said he died on Sunday. Afghanistan has confirmed 367 cases of coronavirus, with 10 deaths. The province of Herat, which borders Iran, is the worst affected. Afghanistan is among the poorest countries in the world, ravaged by war and with a weak public health system. The health ministry has warned that millions of people will be infected, with a huge loss of life if the country does not receive international support to fight the pandemic.
09:01 Residents destroy testing centre in Abidjan
Residents in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, have destroyed a coronavirus testing centre over fears it would pose a contagion risk for the people living nearby. Videos show the building, which was still under conduction, being demolished by people shouting, “We don’t want it”. An official from the health ministry said the site was never meant for the treatment of patients but only for testing. Judging by official figures, the country has so far not seen a widespread outbreak. Just over 260 infections and three deaths have been confirmed. Abidjan has already been placed under quarantine and a nationwide overnight curfew is in force. Schools, churches and all non-essential shops have been closed.
08:52 ‘Johnson will be back at Number 10 shortly’ – Jenrick
The housing secretary, Robert Jenrick has confirmed that foreign secretary, Dominic Raab will chair a coronavirus meeting on Monday morning in the absence of Boris Johnson. However, Mr. Jenrick told BBC Radio he expects the prime minister to return to Downing Street shortly. “He will be updated regularly in hospital as he has been while self-isolating. Dominic Raab is the first secretary of state so he will chair the regular morning meeting however, the PM does remain in charge of the government,” Jenrick said.
08:51 ‘The PM is doing well’ – Jenrick
The Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has been providing an update on the health of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was taken to a London hospital on Sunday evening 10 days after he tested positive for coronavirus. Speaking on BBC Radio 4, Jenrick said: “The Prime Minister has now had persistent symptoms for 10 days after he tested positive and as a result he went to hospital last night on the advice of his doctor. “This was not an emergency admission, it was planned admission to have some routine tests. Those tests are under way and he will stay in hospital as long as he needs to. I have heard he is doing well and I look forward to him being back in number 10 as soon as possible. “He will take the advice of the doctors and nurses in the hospitals that are doing those tests and act accordingly.”
08:41 ‘Nearly a third of under 25s in jobs that are gone for now’
The Institute for Fiscal Studies says “nearly a third of employees aged under 25” are in jobs that “are likely gone for now” during the UK lockdown. Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, IFS director Paul Johnson pinpointed closures in the leisure, retail and hospitality sectors as particularly damaging for younger people and lower paid workers. “We are not talking about students or those in part-time jobs. We are talking about people on the early rungs of their careers, either going to be furloughed or out of work,” he said. “A lot of the jobs will presumably come back when hotels, restaurants and shops return but how quickly will depend on if it is the same businesses that return. “If they are not able to get back into work there may be longer term consequences. Then there are those finishing school or university that are moving into the labour market in probably the most difficult time in living memory. “Something like seven times as many of the lowest paid workers are affected by the lockdown than those in the highest 10% of income distribution. It is a very sharp differential.”
08:31 Spain and Italy ‘giving US hope’
The situation in Italy and Spain, where infections and deaths have fallen in recent days, is “giving hope” on what the United States’ “future could be”, says Deborah Birx, one of President Trump’s coronavirus advisers. On Sunday, New York, the epicentre of the US outbreak, reported a drop in the number of new infections and deaths. “We’re hopeful over the next week that we’ll see a stabilisation of cases in these metropolitan areas where the outbreak began several weeks ago,” Dr Birx said. The US has reported 337,274 confirmed infections and 9,619 deaths from Covid-19, by far the highest tally in the world. On Sunday, Italy reported that 525 people had died in the previous 24 hours – the lowest daily figure since 19 March. Another 674 people died in Spain – the lowest daily death toll in over a week.
08:00 Former captain of US aircraft carrier ‘tests positive’
The New York Times reports that a US Navy captain has tested positive after he was relieved of the command of a virus-stricken aircraft carrier. Citing two of his classmates from the US Naval Academy, the Times reported Captain Brett Crozier began exhibiting symptoms before he was stripped of his post on the USS Theodore Roosevelt. The US Navy has declined a request for comment by the BBC.
Captain Crozier was fired last week for allegedly leaking a letter he wrote to the Pentagon. In the letter, he said the Navy was not doing enough to contain the spread of coronavirus on the ship, and called for help in quarantining the majority of his crew. Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the Captain Crozier “exercised extremely poor judgement”. “It creates the perception the Navy is not on the job; the government is not on the job. That’s just not true,” said Mr Modly. Uninfected members of the ship’s more than 4,000 crew are now being quarantined in Guam after spending days restricted to the naval base’s pier.
07:01 South Korea deports Taiwanese woman
South Korea has deported a Taiwanese woman who refused to stay at a quarantine facility, reports news outlet Yonhap. All international arrivals into the country have to go through a two-week period of self-isolation, either at their homes or government-designated facilities. These cost around $81 (£66) a day. The woman agreed to be quarantined but refused to pay the expenses. She was deported back to Taiwan late on Sunday.
06:57 Race to halt the virus in a vast Indian slum
On 23 March, a 56 year old man living in a vast, labyrinthine slum in the western Indian city of Mumbai went to see a doctor. He was feeling feverish and had a bad cough. The garment trader lived in Dharavi where more than half a million people are spread over 2.5 grubby sq km, which is less than a square mile. (Imagine a population larger than Manchester living in an area smaller than Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.) A few days later, he died – after becoming the first person to be infected from Covid-19 in the slum. An outbreak of coronavirus in a place where social distancing is an oxymoron could easily turn into a grave public health emergency and overwhelm the city’s stretched public health system. Nobody realises this more than the officials racing to track and contain the infection.
06:42 Bangladesh unveils $8bn stimulus package
Bangladesh has announced a $8bn (£6.5bn) stimulus package to help cushion the blow to its economy. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made the announcement in a televised speech on Sunday, adding that it would support low-cost loans for a variety of businesses. The country has around 70 confirmed cases and nine deaths so far.
06:26 NZ man in court for coughing on shoppers
In New Zealand, a man has been convicted of “offensive behaviour” after he filmed himself deliberately coughing on other people in a supermarket in Christchurch. Raymond Coombs, 38, said he had been drunk and did it as a prank. He later said he regretted doing the “foolish, sensitive act”. Police arrested him on Saturday after he posted the video to Facebook where it went viral and sparked outrage. He had faced two criminal charges – including the violation of a public health order – but these were later dropped. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had described him as an “idiot”.
06:19 Scottish official resigns after flouting lockdown
It’s been two weeks since the UK entered a state of lockdown – people have been told to only leave their homes if they have a “reasonable excuse” like exercise or shopping for basic necessities. And it’s clear the country’s taking these rules very seriously – with very few exemptions allowed. Scotland’s top medical officer, Catherine Calderwood – who had fronted adverts urging the public to stay home – was found making two trips to her second home, something that’s been expressly banned. She had at first said she would continue in her role but faced calls to step down. Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman said her actions “undermined Scotland’s pandemic response and her own credibility”. Dr Calderood has now resigned. It’s a clear message that Scotland is sending – stressing the importance of everyone following the rules during this critical time
06:10 UK ambassador appeals to Brits in Philippines
The British ambassador has made a “last chance” appeal to Britons stranded in the Philippines – calling on them to book repatriation flights leaving the country on Tuesday. “I understand some of you have not yet booked in the hope there will be more opportunities later on,” said Daniel Pruce in a video posted on Twitter. “Let me stress. This is it… something better will not come along.” Four flights from the Philippine tourist spots of Palawan, Cebu, Bohol and Siargao – where the majority of stranded Britons are – are due to leave tomorrow. They will connect to Manila’s main airport and fly onwards to London’s Heathrow airport. The total cost per passenger, regardless of where they are flying from, is £1,000 ($1,220).
05:51 Singapore quarantines 20,000 migrant workers
Here in Singapore, we saw the highest spike in daily cases yesterday, with 120 new confirmed infections. Around 20,000 foreign workers have now been told to stay in the dormitories where they’re required to live, after two dormitories emerged as new Covid-19 clusters. These places have now been sealed off. During their time in isolation, the workers will get their salaries, as well as three meals a day, plus masks, hand sanitisers and thermometers. But six workers in one dormitory told news outlet The Straits Times that they were living in squalid conditions, with overflowing toilets, cockroaches and queues for food. There are now 1,300 cases and six deaths in Singapore.
05:44 India death toll rises to 109
In the past few minutes, we’ve got confirmation that the number of deaths in India has officially reached109, as confirmed cases climb to 4,067. We had earlier reported that local media were saying 100 people had died from Covid-19, but this was not yet confirmed by the health ministry. The country has been seeing a steady spike in cases recently, as the spread has been doubling every 4.1 days, according to officials.
05:39 Trump blocks Fauci from answering
US President Donald Trump has been praising a malaria drug called Hydroxychloroquine as a possible cure for Covid-19. His medical advisers though have been somewhat more reserved on this, saying repeatedy there have been no studies to sufficiently confirm this. At Sunday night’s press conference in the White House, Mr Trump again praised the drug – and when a reporter asked Dr Anthony Fauci of the government’s Coronavirus Task Force what he thought of the drug, the president cut in and didn’t let the expert speak. Instead, Mr Trump told the reporter Dr Fauci had answered this already about 15 times didn’t need to do so again.
05:35 Oil slides as Saudi-Russia talks delayed
Global oil prices have dropped after Saudi Arabia and Russia postponed a meeting about a deal to cut output as the pandemic hits demand. The two countries have been locked in an oil price war for the last month. Traders are concerned that, with large parts of the world in lockdown, there will be too much crude available, putting pressure on prices. In Asian trade, the global benchmark Brent crude fell 12%, while US-traded oil, known as West Texas Intermediate, was more than 10% lower.
04:43 India media reports rising death toll
In India, the health ministry coronavirus tracker still lists 83 deaths so far. But according to local media reports, the number of casualties of Covid-19 touched 100 on Sunday. During a news briefing on Sunday, Lav Agarwal, an official from the health ministry, said the spread was doubling every 4.1 days. “Our focus is that we chase the virus, rather than the virus chasing us,” he said. The number of total infections in the country has crossed 3,000 and a recent spike in both cases and casualties has been linked to a Muslim congregation. Some estimates say that more than a 1,000 cases in India have been traced to the weeks-long event.
04:30 BA to suspend Japan flights
British Airways will stop all flights to and from Japan this Wednesday 8 April. Since last week, Japan has not allowed UK nationals to enter the country – along with citizens from dozens of other countries. The British Foreign Office’s travel advice for Japan also says UK residents should avoid “all but essential international travel” and says citizens currently travelling abroad are “strongly advised to return now”. This Wednesday is also the airline’s cut off date for flights from Australia via Singapore. The pandemic has brought global aviation essentially to a standstill with many carriers around the world cancelling almost all their flights.
04:21 Indonesia makes mask-wearing mandatory
Indonesia has become the latest country to make it compulsory for everyone to wear face masks outside, with a new rule kicking in on Sunday. Health authorities are urging people to wear cloth masks so that medical-grade face masks will still be available for frontline workers. There’s concern over Indonesia’s growing number of cases and deaths, and its capability to handle an outbreak. Officially it has close to 2,300 positive cases. But the country is vast, comprising of thousands of far-flung islands, and there is a serious lack of testing. Some estimate as few as 2% of infections are being reported. The country also has the highest death toll from the virus in Asia after China, with about 200 coronavirus-related deaths – again, these are only officially reported figures and the true figure is still unknown. There are also deep fears that the pandemic may overwhelm the healthcare system, which is already considered poor even in good times, particularly in rural areas.
03:54 The iShield?: Apple turns to medical gear
Best-known for phones and computers, Apple has now turned its hand to making face shields for medical workers. Apple chief executive Tim Cook tweeted on Sunday that the company has designed and is now making the protective gear. The tech giant plans to make more than one million shields a week, which will be shipped first to US medical workers and then distributed globally. It has also sourced 20 million face masks which it is donating worldwide to help prevent the spread of the virus. Companies from electronics firms to carmakers have been shifting production to help make vital medical equipment and supplies for hospitals around the world.
03:31 Global confirmed cases close to 1.3 million
The number of confirmed virus cases around the world has reached 1,273,990, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, which has been keeping track of the developing data for months. The US still has the highest number of confirmed cases, with 337,274, followed by Spain and Italy at 131,646 and 128,948 respectively. Italy has reported the highest number of deaths from the virus, a sobering 15,887 people. There have been 69,444 deaths globally. But it’s worth remembering too that most people will rec
03:26 Japan expected to declare state of emergency
Parts of Japan are expected to go into a state of emergency in the coming days. That’s according to Japanese media, as the number of confirmed infections continues to rise despite measures to contain the virus. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to announce the move later on Monday though it’s thought it won’t come into effect that same day. It likely won’t be for the entire country but for big cities such as Tokyo and Osaka only.
The decision would give the government the power to implement stricter measures to ask people to stay at home or to close businesses. It will not, though, give Mr Abe the power to impose full lockdowns like we’ve seen in China, or some European countries, where there are heavy fines for breaking the rules. Japan has had more than 3,600 confirmed infections and 85 deaths. There’s particular concern for Tokyo, where the number of people with confirmed infections has been sharply rising and now exceeds 1,000.
02:56 Pope speaks in near-empty Basilica
It’s the beginning of Holy Week in the Christian calendar, leading up the Easter Sunday. In the Catholic Church this is usually marked by a service in the Vatican attended by thousands. But it was a very different scene this year, as Pope Francis delivered his Palm Sunday address to only a handful of people seated in the vast St Peter’s Basilica.
02:36 New York cases drop for first time
The number of infections and deaths in the state of New York has dropped for the first time, say officials. Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday that the number of patients requiring hospital treatment was down for the first time in a week and that deaths were down from the previous day – from 630 deaths on Saturday to 594 on Sunday. But he also added that it was too early to know how significant this data was. There have so far been 4,159 deaths in New York, making it the hardest-hit area in the US.
02:30 UK’s PM in hospital with virus
There was a major political development in the UK last night, as it was announced that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been taken to hospital. Mr Johnson was confirmed to have the virus on Friday 27 March, and has been in isolation. A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “On the advice of his doctor, the prime minister has tonight been admitted to hospital for tests. “This is a precautionary step, as the prime minister continues to have persistent symptoms of coronavirus 10 days after testing positive for the virus.” The prime minister remains in charge of the government, but the foreign secretary is expected to chair a coronavirus meeting on Monday morning.
Sources: Various news sources including but not limited to BBC News, Fox News, CNN.