12th April 2020 – United Kingdom
# Cases $
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.
$ Cases now include Pillar 2 cases as of 11th April 2020
More information coming soon.
22:25 Erdogan refuses minister’s resignation
We reported earlier that Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu was resigning over a botched curfew. Well now President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stepped in to say he refuses to accept the resignation. “He will continue his duty,” a spokesperson for the president said. Soylu had submitted his resignation over the announcement of a two-day curfew to stem the spread of Covid-19 that critics say led to panic and confusion.
22:00 More on the oil deal
The deal agreed by oil producing countries to cut output by nearly 10% will see a reduction of about 9.7 million barrels per day, starting from 1 May 2020.
US President Donald Trump and Kuwait’s energy minister Dr Khaled Ali Mohammed al-Fadhel tweeted the news, while Saudi Arabia’s energy ministry and Russia’s state news agency Tass both separately confirmed the deal.
Global oil demand is estimated to have fallen by a third as more than three billion people are locked down in their homes due to the coronavirus outbreak.
21:31 Turkey’s interior minister resigns over botched curfew
The interior minister for Turkey has resigned over the announcement of a two-day curfew this weekend that critics say caused panic and confusion. Süleyman Soylu said he took full responsibility for the curfew, which was implemented with the “good intention” of stemming the spread of coronavirus. The Turkish government said late on Friday that people living in 31 major cities would not be allowed to leave their homes for 48 hours from midnight. Shops were reportedly overwhelmed in the wake of the announcement, as people rushed to buy food and other essentials before the curfew came into effect.
The abrupt announcement of the lockdown drew criticism, with many saying it heightened the risk of spreading coronavirus as people hurriedly descended on shops. “I acted in good faith to prevent the epidemic spreading,” Soylu, an ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, wrote on Twitter. “The scenes that occurred before the lockdown began, even for a short time, are my responsibility.” As of Sunday, Turkey has reported more than 52,000 cases of coronavirus, a number that is rising fast.
21:20 Andrea Bocelli streams concert from empty Milan cathedral
Classical star Andrea Bocelli has held an Easter concert in Milan, singing alone at the city’s famous cathedral. The concert, called Music for Hope, was live-streamed on YouTube and prompted an outpouring of support and gratitude on social media as millions of people around the world celebrate Easter under lockdown. “Thanks to music, streamed live, bringing together millions of clasped hands everywhere in the world, we will hug this wounded Earth’s pulsing heart, this wonderful international forge that is reason for Italian pride,” Bocelli said as the stream began. For his finale, Bocelli sang Amazing Grace outside of the cathedral, facing the empty streets of Milan. Clips of the performance were shared by fans, celebrities, and politicians from around the world. Actor Hugh Jackman joined thousands in thanking the singer, saying his music was “exactly what we needed”.
21:03 Paris police find unauthorised Mass
An unauthorised Easter Mass was discovered by Paris police late on Saturday night, according to AFP news agency. Religious services are banned in France because of the coronavirus crisis, which has killed more than 14,000 people in the country. The traditional Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet Catholic church went ahead with their Mass – with about 40 people in attendance. Local residents reported hearing music to police. The priest was warned and booked – meaning he could face a 200 euros (£176) fine – but the worshippers were not cautioned by the police.
20:37 The churches still open in the USA
Most churches in the United States were empty today – but for some of them it was business as usual. Those who have not closed their buildings say they can protect their members by checking temperatures, sanitising sanctuaries and spacing worshippers six feet apart. And in at least eight states, stay-at-home orders do not apply to religious organisations – sometimes after legal battles. Some see a ban on church services as a violation of religious liberties guaranteed by the US constitution.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan ordered churches to shut in his state, but The Friendship Baptist Church pastor Alvin Gwynn kept his Baltimore church open.
Some services in the USA found inventive ways to make sure worshippers were still involved, while obeying social distancing.
Mass at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in South Orange, New Jersey was streamed live, which parishioners’ photos being placed on the seats.
Daytona Beach Drive-in Christian Church in Florida saw worshippers follow the service from their cars.
20:09 Loans scheme must work faster, UK government admits
UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma has admitted that “more money needs to go out faster” to businesses applying for emergency loans from the government. He said 4,200 loans, worth a total of £800m, had been given to firms seeking cash to survive the coronavirus crisis. However, that is just 1.4% of the 300,000 enquiries that are thought to have been made through the scheme.
19:10 France’s hospital deaths and ICU patients drop
France has reported a slight drop in the number of hospital deaths and patients in intensive care, as its health ministry said the country’s coronavirus epidemic had reached a “plateau”. The country recorded 315 additional hospital deaths in the last 24 hours, a drop from the 353 announced on Saturday. That brings the total number of coronavirus-related deaths in hospitals and care homes to 14,393 in France, the third highest in the world. There was another glimmer of hope, however. The net number of patients with Covid-19 in intensive care dropped for the fourth consecutive day, bringing the total down to 6,845. France’s health ministry said the epidemic appeared to be plateauing but stressed caution, saying: “We must remain vigilant.”
18:55 Raven puppet to reach Canadian indigenous people in Cree
A public health campaign in Manitoba is using a raven puppet to deliver a message in the Cree language, which is spoken by more than 100,000 indigenous people in Canada. Often government messages are not successful in remote indigenous communities because they use foreign concepts or language, researcher Steph McLachlan told Canadian broadcaster CBC. Funded by the Covid-19 Rapid Response Program, the new campaign uses a raven puppet to promote handwashing and social distancing. The raven is known traditionally as an environmental protector and cleaner. But the videos are also humorous, and it is hoped will reach people who have not yet heard about the virus.
18:43 EU chief: Elderly may be isolated until 2021
The elderly may have to remain in isolation until next year to protect themselves from coronavirus, the EU Commission president has told a German newspaper. Ursula von der Leyen told Bild “we have to limit as much as possible contact with the elderly” until a vaccine against Covid-19 was developed. Most experts say a vaccine that provides immunity to coronavirus will not be ready for mass production for at least a year. Von der Leyen said she recognised the difficultly of isolation, but stressed when “it is a question of life or death, we have to remain disciplined and patient”. “Children and young people will enjoy more freedom of movement earlier than elderly people and those with pre-existing medical conditions,” she told Bild.
She said she hoped that a European laboratory would develop a vaccine towards the end of the year. The EU has been criticised for its approach to tackling the coronavirus pandemic. Last week, the president of the EU’s scientific research council resigned after three months in the job with an attack on the EU’s scientific governance and political operations.
18:36 Analysis: No clear date for Johnson’s return to work
Even before we heard that Boris Johnson had been discharged from hospital, it was clear that the prime minister would not be rushing back to work. And his fiancée Carrie Symonds’ tweet – which refers to “dark” times last week – is a further sign of how unwell he’s been. So, for now, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will continue to deputise. The extent to which Boris Johnson may want to feed into any forthcoming decisions – whilst not being fully back at work – isn’t yet known. Much may depend on the advice of his doctors. But the fact that the man who was elected to run the country is out of hospital will be a relief to many. Like or loathe his politics, agree or disagree with the way the coronavirus outbreak has been handled so far, Boris Johnson is the prime minister and political authority ultimately rests with that office. And authority will likely be what’s needed when big decisions lie ahead.
18:18 taly to quarantine migrants aboard rescue ship
Italy has said it will quarantine and assess the health of 156 migrants aboard a rescue ship off its southern coast, citing concerns over the spread of coronavirus. The migrants were on board the Alan Kurdi, a German-flagged non-governmental rescue ship that was heading to Sicily to seek humanitarian assistance. On Sunday, Italy’s transport ministry said the migrants would be transferred to quarantine on another ship and checked by the Italian Red Cross and local health authorities.
Earlier this week, the Italian government issued a decree declaring its ports “unsafe” to disembark people rescued at sea “for the duration of the national public health emergency”. The ban is due to remain in effect until 31 July. Human Rights Watch has called on Italy to scrap the decree and immediately assign the Alan Kurdi a safe port. But in its statement, Italy’s ministry of transport said it could not allow the Alan Kurdi to make port because of the strain Covid-19 was placing on the country’s health system. Sea-Eye, the non-governmental group running the ship, said the migrants on board were rescued in international waters off the Libyan coast on Monday. Italy had evacuated some migrants but most were still on board, it said in a tweet on Sunday.
17:12 New York governor: ‘We want to reopen soon’
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he wants the state to open “as soon as possible” but cautioned: “We need to be smart in the way we reopen.” He called for a co-ordinated approach between neighbouring states, more testing availability and federal funding help. “Nobody wants to pick between a public health strategy and an economic strategy,” he said. While the governor said the number of hospital admissions and deaths was plateauing, supporting the notion that New York’s outbreak curve is flattening, there were still 758 lives lost yesterday. “Put in the context of 9/11, which was supposed to be the tragedy of my lifetime, at 2,753 lives lost, we’re now at 9,385 [total deaths from Covid-19],” Cuomo said. Cuomo also announced he has issued an executive order to expand the number of people eligible to do the Covid-19 antibody test, which shows whether someone has already had the virus and might be immune.
17:05 Canadian care home investigated after 31 deaths
Police in the Canadian province of Quebec have opened an investigation into a private care facility in Montreal where 31 people have died in the last month. At least five of the 31 deaths were confirmed to be due to Covid-19. Quebec Premier François Legault told reporters on Saturday there might have been “gross negligence” by management at the Residence Herron home. When health officials inspected the facility at the end of March, they found the majority of staff had left and residents living in terrible conditions, without food and water, some lying in soiled beds. Those who were infected with the coronavirus had not been isolated properly. “It’s not acceptable, the way we treat our elderly in Quebec,” Legault said, according to the Globe and Mail. “We’ve known nursing homes are understaffed, that people are underpaid, particularly in private homes… I’m not proud to see what’s happening.”
16:57 US deposits first Covid-19 relief payments
The US tax service said on Saturday that the first Covid-19 economic relief payments had been deposited into taxpayers’ bank accounts. The payouts are part of the $2.2tn (£1.7tn) stimulus package Congress passed in March to combat the pandemic’s effect on the US economy. Americans making less than $75,000 annually will receive $1,200 from the federal government; families will also receive $500 per child. Anyone earning above $99,000 is not eligible for stimulus money. People who have filed their tax returns should receive their payments within the next few days, US media say. Those who have not filed or do not have direct deposits set up could still wait weeks to receive the money. The government has requested people in this situation to fill out payment information on the Internal Revenue Service website to speed up the process.
16:48 MPs want vaccine to be accessible to all
An all-party parliamentary group has written to the government calling for any coronavirus vaccine that is developed to be made accessible to all. The letter, written by the chairwoman of the APPG on Vaccinations, Dr Philippa Whitford and signed by dozens of MPs, says any final product must be “affordable, accessible and available for everyone who needs it, within the UK and developing countries”. It says no company should have a monopoly on any product developed using public funding in the UK. “The government needs to impose public-interest conditions on all UK funding committed to develop Covid-19 vaccines and treatments, to ensure widespread access and transparency,” it adds.
16:05 UK Press Briefing
Health Secretary Matt Hancock begins by saying it’s “great news” that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is out of hospital. “I hope everyone has seen his message of love and thanks to all those who have supported his recovery,” he says.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock says there are 2,295 spare critical care beds across Great Britain today, up by 150 from yesterday, “We have always been able to provide the very best of care to everybody who needs it through the NHS,” he says. There is more spare capacity for critical care than there was when coronavirus “first hit our shores”, he adds. Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the government is working “very hard” to resolve the logistical challenges around getting personal protective equipment (PPE) out to those on the front line of the health service. In the last two days, 121,0000 gowns have been delivered around the country, he says. The average time for dealing with PPE queries has also gone down from six days in March to an average of two-and-a-half days over the past week, he adds. His comments come amid ongoing concern that healthcare staff are having to put themselves at risk because of a lack of equipment.
The health secretary announces a new NHS app to help trace those who potentially have contracted coronavirus. “If you become unwell with the symptoms of coronavirus, you can securely tell this new NHS app,” Matt Hancock says. “The app will then send an alert, anonymously, to other app users that you’ve been in significant contact with over the past few days, even before you had symptoms. So that they know and can act accordingly.” All data will be held according to the highest standards, he says.
Matt Hancock finishes his comments by reminding people to stay at home this Easter. “At a time when we normally come physically together, we must stay apart,” the health secretary says. “It runs counter to every human instinct and every intuition that we possess, but we must persevere. “Because if we follow the rules and slow the spread of the virus, then each new day will bring us closer to normal life.”
Yvonne Doyle, medical director of Public Health England, says the number of people in hospital beds in London is stabilising but it is increasing in the North West, Yorkshire and North East. “It’s important the message about staying at home and social distancing is adhered to because we’re certainly not past this virus damage yet,” she says. She adds that the UK is “somewhere in the middle” in global death comparisons, “tracking France and close to the Italian trend” but says “it’s still early days”. Use of all transport has “reduced greatly, particularly rail and Tube”. She says that the “drive-through testing of key workers and NHS staff” is part of the “increased enhacement of our testing capacity”.
We’re onto questions now, and first up is the BBC’s science editor David Shukman. He asks for the health secretary’s reaction to the comments of one of the government’s own advisers that the UK may be on course for the highest death toll in Europe. Matt Hancock says: “The future of this virus is unknowable, as yet because it depends on the behaviour of millions of people.” He adds that there are encouraging signs, but that the effort needs to continue.
Martha Fairlie of ITV says the Royal College of Nursing has issued new guidance to members saying they should refuse to work rather than risk their own safety if they do not have appropriate PPE and have no other way of treating a patient. She asks Health Secretary Matt Hancock if he will apologise for leaving nurses and other medical workers with that “impossible decision”. “As I said in my previous answer, we’re working night and day to make sure we get the right PPE. The thing I want to do is pay tribute to the unbelievable efforts of people to get to this position,” Hancock said. “It is improving but we won’t rest until we get there. I work closely with the Royal College of Nursing on these matters and other things – I was in contact with them today because it’s so important we get this right.”
The health secretary is pressed on whether he is satisfied that care homes have enough support to tackle coronavirus. “I’m constantly trying to get more support to them is the honest truth,” Matt Hancock says. He adds that there has been a sharp increase in the number of tests available. Prof Yvonne Doyle, from Public Health England, says: “Testing does occur in the nursing homes, but we have more to do. “Nursing and care homes, we understand there’s much more to do here to get to every last quarter where there is anxiety, where the most vulnerable are.”
The health secretary is asked whether he has an update on the number of NHS staff who have died after contracting coronavirus. “I don’t have an update on the figure of 19 NHS staff who have died that I gave yesterday,” he says. “We are looking into each circumstance to understand – as much as is possible – how they caught the virus. Whether that was at work, outside of work, and the clinical setting that they were working in.”
One last post from Sunday’s Downing St briefing: the UK’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance previously said it would be a “good outcome” for the UK if the number of deaths from the virus could be kept below 20,000. The health secretary is asked whether it’s still possible to achieve that “good outcome”, given the death toll exceeded 10,000 today. In response, Matt Hancock says: “The future path of this pandemic in this country is determined by how people act. “That’s why it’s so important that people follow the social-distancing guidelines. “Predictions are not possible, precisely because they depend on the behaviour of the British people.” Prof Yvonne Doyle from NHS England says she agrees with the health secretary, adding that at the moment the most important thing to do is continue social distancing and shielding the most vulnerable – which she says is an “absolutely crucial”.
15:46 UK deaths exceed 10,000 after 737 die in hospital
A further 737 people have died with coronavirus in UK hospitals, taking the total recorded death toll to 10,612. These figures do not include those who died in care homes or in the community.
15:06 More on Boris Johnson
Carrie Symonds, Boris Johnson’s fiancee, has thanked the NHS after the prime minster was discharged from hospital where he was treated for coronavirus. Johnson spent three nights in intensive care between Monday and Thursday. Symonds, who is pregnant, has self-isolated with coronavirus symptoms but she was not tested. “I cannot thank our magnificent NHS enough,” she wrote in a series of tweets. “The staff at St Thomas’ Hospital have been incredible. I will never, ever be able to repay you and I will never stop thanking you. “There were times last week that were very dark indeed. My heart goes out to all those in similar situations, worried sick about their loved ones. “Thank you also to everyone who sent such kind messages of support. Today I’m feeling incredibly lucky.”
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has posted a video in which he thanks NHS staff, hours after he was discharged from hospital in London. He was admitted to intensive care one week ago with coronavirus. He thanks medics for saving his life, saying “it’s hard to find words to express my debt”. He also thanks the country for following social distancing rules, despite the warm weather in Britain.
Even before we heard that Boris Johnson had been discharged from hospital it was clear that the prime minister would not be rushing back to work. And his fiancee Carrie Symonds’ tweet, which refers to “dark” times last week, is a further sign of how unwell he has been. So, for now, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will continue to deputise. But the extent to which Johnson may want to feed into any forthcoming decisions – while not being fully back at work – is not yet known. Much may depend on the advice of his doctors. But the fact that the man who was elected to run the country is out of hospital will see many breathe a sigh of relief. Like or loathe his politics, agree or disagree with the way the coronavirus outbreak has been handled so far, Johnson is the prime minister and political authority ultimately rests with that office. And authority will probably be what is needed when big decisions lie ahead.
14:53 US top doctor: Reopenings could begin by May
Dr Anthony Fauci, the US infectious disease chief, says it is possible parts of the country could begin returning to normal “at least in some ways, maybe next month”. “You don’t want to do something precipitously,” Dr Fauci warned on CNN, emphasising it would not be a nationwide “light switch” moment, which could cause a rebound. “It’s going to be depending on where you are in the country, the nature of the outbreak you already experienced and the threat of an outbreak you may not have experienced.” Dr Fauci was also hopeful that the US presidential election, slated for 3 November, would still take place – if the nation takes a measured approach at returning to normalcy.
14:32 Latest death toll figures in the UK
England reports the number of people to have died with coronavirus in the country has risen to 9,594, up 657 from 8,937 the previous day.
In Scotland, 24 people who tested positive for the virus have died in the past 24 hours, taking the number of confirmed deaths to 566.
Public Health Wales says a further 18 patients have died, bringing the country’s total to 369.
In Northern Ireland the total death toll has risen to 118, with 11 further deaths reported on Sunday.
14:25 Moscow cameras catch quarantine-breakers
Officials in Moscow say 30 people infected with coronavirus have been caught breaking strict home-quarantine rules and 1358 other residents will be fined for venturing onto the street on Saturday with no “proper” purpose. Facial recognition cameras send instant alerts to police when anyone obliged to stay at home leaves their building. That includes those diagnosed with Covid-19 and people returning from abroad.
Police foot patrols have also increased noticeably over the weekend – I’ve seen several pedestrians and a cyclist being stopped and questioned. Police cars are driving through near-empty streets warning people over a loudspeaker to stay at home. Residents here are allowed to visit the nearest shop or chemist, or walk their dog, but parks and playgrounds are closed and outside exercise is banned. From Monday, a system of electronic passes comes into effect, obliging anyone moving around by car or public transport to register online for approval before each trip. Officials have warned that Moscow hospitals are already stretched ‘to the limit’ by the coronavirus epidemic.
Outside Russia’s capital, where there are fewer registered cases, large congregations gathered today in Orthodox churches to celebrate Palm Sunday. Moscow will now close all churches until after Orthodox Easter Sunday (19 April), leaving parishioners to follow masses online.
13:30 Boris Johnson discharged from hospital
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been discharged from hospital after being in intensive care with Covid-19, Downing Street has said. Johnson had been receiving treatment for coronavirus at St Thomas’ Hospital in London since last Sunday.
Johnson will continue his recovery at Chequers, the prime minister’s country residence in Buckinghamshire, Downing Street says. “On the advice of his medical team, the PM will not be immediately returning to work,” a spokesman said. The spokesman said Johnson wished to thank the staff at St Thomas’ Hospital for the “brilliant care he has received”, adding that his thoughts were with others affected by Covid-19. On Saturday, Johnson, 55, said he owed his life to the NHS staff treating him for coronavirus. Johnson tested positive for the virus on 27 March.
Boris Johnson has gone back to Chequers in Buckinghamshire, his official country residence. He hasn’t returned to Downing Street and will be out of action for some time, although it is not clear how long that will be. Obviously he will be continuing to take advice from his doctor in terms of his recovery. We heard a couple of days ago he was able to make short walks in hospital, which gives you an indication of how seriously unwell he was. Each patient differs in terms of how long their recovery takes, but crucially the prime minister didn’t need to go on a ventilator. That, of course, would have been much more serious and would have taken longer to recover from. He is going to be based at Chequers and, no doubt, monitoring what is going on and having conversations with colleagues. But he won’t be working as such.
13:23 Tim Brooke-Taylor dies from Covid-19 aged 79
Comedian and BBC broadcaster Tim Brooke-Taylor has died at the age of 79 after contracting coronavirus, his agent has announced. Best known for The Goodies and I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, Brooke-Taylor died on Sunday. His agent said he was “an exceptional client” who had “many fans whom he always treated cheerfully even after long and exhausting rehearsals and recordings”. “It is with great sadness that we announce Tim’s death early today from Covid-19,” his agent said in a statement. “Joining Footlights in 1960 took him to providing a huge variety of splendid entertainment – television, radio, theatre, film, books, DVDs, CDs, quizzes, etc – all of which he undertook with energy and a great sense of fun. “We will remember him for so much but must just mention The Goodies and I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue.”
13:14 Cautious hope for a vaccine ‘in the autumn’
A coronavirus vaccine could be available for some people in autumn this year, says Wellcome Trust director Sir Jeremy Farrar. “The vaccine will be available, I think, during the autumn of this year but that will not be at the scale that’s required to vaccinate maybe many billions of people around the world,” he said. “That vaccine will be going into volunteer studies in the summer – so May, June, July – [and] the results will be available in September, and then there’ll be a push to give it to more people and see if it’s safe and also effective.” Sir Jeremy, a member of the UK government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, hopes it will then be more widely available next year. “I would hope we would get it done in 12 months but that is in itself an unprecedented ambition,” he added.
13:00 Africans evicted from homes in China over virus rumours
Early last week unfounded rumours began to emerge that African communities had become a new hotbed for the coronavirus in the Chinese city of Guangzhou. Soon after, health officials began door-to-door testing targeting African immigrants. Landlords and hotels have evicted hundreds of Africans. Many, including community leaders, were forced into quarantine despite testing negative for the virus. Hundreds now remain homeless as fears grow that cities like Guangzhou could face a second wave of the outbreak.
Various African ambassadors in China have written to the country’s foreign minister to voice complaints about “stigmatisation and discrimination”. On Saturday, the Chinese embassy in Zimbabwe dismissed the accusations in a tweet: “China treats all individuals in the country, Chinese and foreign alike, as equals.” Guangzhou was the largest African community in Asia in the late 2000s, but over the last five years the numbers of Africans living in the city have dwindled. Many say they face frequent discrimination, visa restrictions and challenges in doing business. I spoke to one evicted student from Nigeria who told me he had been forced into hiding. “I am running [from the police] because of the way they are testing people and claiming that the person has a sickness, bringing all sorts of injections,” he said. “They are going to houses and bringing people out, keeping them in hotels. I am just hiding and living by the grace of God.”
11:56 Christianity’s holiest site closed at Easter
Easter is a time of joy for Christians as they celebrate Jesus’s resurrection. But the site in Jerusalem where Jesus is believed to have been crucified and rose again is closed on Easter Sunday, for the first time in more than a century. A small number of priests gathered at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Sunday, while a few worshippers gathered in the inner courtyard. A man in an immaculate white gown prayed in front of the closed door. “Easter is a time for life,” said Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa. “Despite the signs of death everywhere, life will prevail as long as someone is giving life out of love for others.” At the Western Wall, a small group of Jewish worshippers prayed to mark Passover. The Old City in Jerusalem is largely empty as Israel follows strict social distancing measures.
11:35 Easter Mass at empty St Peter’s Basilica
Pope Francis has celebrated Easter Sunday with a Mass held behind closed doors at St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. This year’s Holy Week events were modified to take place without the public. The Pope will also replace his traditional address to crowds at St Peter’s Square with an online message. Last year, more than 70,000 people joined the celebrations. Italy, one of the countries worst hit by coronavirus, remains in lockdown with the entrance to the Vatican sealed off by police. On Saturday, the Pope urged people not to “yield to fear” over coronavirus, calling on them to be “messengers of life in a time of death”.
11:18 Treat dead with dignity – Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued a plea to crematoriums and local authorities to ensure they treat those who die during the coronavirus lockdown with dignity. “Don’t just dispose of bodies like we did in the foot-and-mouth episode with cattle. “Human beings must be said goodbye to with dignity even when it has to be swift and with very few people there,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show.
The head of the Church of England advised people who had lost loved ones to “plan a thanksgiving and a memorial service for after this nightmare, as you rightly called it, is over. “At the end of it, we will celebrate, we will grieve, we will have parties, we will have wakes, we will remember those we have lost.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged people to “not let fear dominate” and to look after one another during the coronavirus crisis. Justin Welby said churches had to set an example on how to behave during “challenging times” – adding that it was “not complicated”. “We’ve gone through so much, and we’re seeing such common spirit and an attitude to the common good coming through by the vast majority of people – we mustn’t lose that,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. The head of the Church of England earlier led the first national digital Easter Sunday service from his kitchen at Lambeth Palace.
11:07 Spain reports rise in daily death toll
The number of daily reported deaths from coronavirus in Spain rose by more than 100 on Sunday following a nearly three-week low on Saturday. Spain’s health ministry reported 619 deaths, up from 510 on Saturday as a three-day run of declines came to an end. The country’s total death toll from the virus climbed to 16,972 from 16,353, the ministry said in a statement. Overall cases rose to 166,019 from 161,852.
10:54 US Navy ship reports 103 new cases
You might remember the story about a US Navy captain who was fired for publicly raising the alarm about a coronavirus outbreak on his ship. Another 103 infections on the aircraft carrier were announced by navy officials on Saturday. That brings the total number of cases among the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt to 550 – or 10% of those on board. 3,696 workers have been moved offshore to Guam, where the ship is docked. The row over the sacking of Captain Brett Crozier resulted in the acting US Navy secretary resigning last week.
10:42 Pope urges people not to ‘yield to fear’
Pope Francis has urged people not to “yield to fear” over coronavirus, calling on them to be “messengers of life in a time of death”. The leader of the Roman Catholic Church spoke at his Easter vigil service on Saturday evening in an almost empty St Peter’s Basilica. He is giving his Easter Sunday address at a ceremony behind closed doors.
It’s all part of efforts to prevent large crowds of worshippers from gathering and potentially spreading the coronavirus. Lockdown measures are in place across Italy and other countries around the world. But congregations are still finding new ways to celebrate one of the most important festivals in the Christian calendar.
10:22 Two ‘hotspot’ Australian hospitals to close
Two hospitals in Tasmania will be forced to close for two weeks because of large-scale infection among their staff. More than 1,000 staff in the North West Regional Hospital and North West Private Hospital will go into quarantine, state Premier Peter Gutwein has announced. Tasmania has 133 cases of Covid-19, of which 49 are linked to an outbreak in the hospitals.
10:09 Policeman’s hand cut off in lockdown attack in India
A police officer’s hand was cut off as he stopped people from violating the lockdown in the northern Indian state of Punjab. Two of his colleagues were also injured in the attack. The incident happened in Patiala district when a car rammed into a police checkpoint. The occupants of the car then left the vehicle and attacked the officers. At least three attackers, who are reportedly from a religious sect, have been arrested.
Punjab police chief Dinkar Gupta told NDTV that after a two-hour standoff the perpetrators had surrendered and “came out carrying swords and knives”. Officials said the officers were being treated by the top doctors in the state. Police have come under attack in other parts of the country while trying to enforce the lockdown.
10:00 UK Parliament to return on 21 April
The UK’s Parliament will re-open for business as planned on 21 April, the leader of the House of Commons has confirmed. MPs at Westminster have been on an extended Easter recess since 26 March, amid concerns about the spread of coronavirus.
Officials are working to set-up a “virtual Parliament” to allow MPs to hold debates and question ministers remotely, with further details to emerge next week. In a statement, House of Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said: “Parliament will return on 21 April to fulfil its essential constitutional functions of conducting scrutiny, authorising spending and making laws. “In these unprecedented times, technological solutions have already been implemented for select committees, and options are being prepared for the Speaker, the government and other parties to consider next week. “It is important that we have a comprehensive solution that does not inadvertently exclude any members.”
09:52 UK ‘could be worst affected country in Europe’
Wellcome Trust director Sir Jeremy Farrar says the UK is “likely to be one of the worst, if not the worst, affected countries in Europe”. Sir Jeremy, a member of the UK government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said this was down to the lack of testing and tracing.
He also told the BBC’s Andrew Marr a second or third wave of coronavirus was “probably inevitable” and a vaccine was the only way out, A vaccine could be available by autumn, he added, but it would take months to ramp up manufacturing of it to get to “the scale required to vaccinate many millions of people”. “I would hope we can get done in 12 months,” said Sir Jeremy.
09:34 Christians find ways to celebrate an unusual Easter
This is a very strange Easter. The pandemic has denied millions of Christians the joy of worshiping together in person, as well as the ritual of breaking bread and drinking wine to celebrate Jesus’s resurrection. In a few hours, Pope Francis will deliver his Easter message from his private library instead of in front of a full St Mark’s Square. And at 09:00 local time (10:00 BST) the Easter mass will be live-streamed from the Vatican.
Leaders of the Church are innovating with ways of bringing their congregations together. In the UK, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will lead the first national digital Easter Sunday service from his kitchen.
In the Philippines, a pastor taped photos of his congregation to the church pews where he offered a Mass.
But in Belarus, where the government has ignored calls for strict restrictions, Catholic congregations are gathering as normal.
Meanwhile, later on Sunday, opera superstar Andrea Bocelli will perform an Easter concert in an empty Milan cathedral.
Sources: Various news sources including but not limited to BBC News, Fox News, CNN.