14th 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
23:46 Battle for survival in German zoos
Zoos that should have been crowded in the sunny Easter holidays are now hard up, asking for donations, as the coronavirus lockdown bites. A zoo director in northern Germany has even admitted that some animals might soon have to be fed to others. “We’ve listed the animals we’ll have to slaughter first,” Neumünster Zoo’s Verena Kaspari told Die Welt newspaper. She said killing some animals so that others could live would be a last resort, but even that would not solve the financial problem.
23:16 White House Briefing
“I am directing my administration to halt funding while a review is conducted to access the World Health Organization’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus,” says Trump. “The WHO failed in its basic duty and it must be held accountable,” he adds.
Trump also accused the WHO of putting political correctness above saving lives and taking China’s claims about the outbreak at face value. Mr Trump has accused the WHO of being biased towards China in recent weeks, and recently attacked the organisation for being too “China-centric” in its tackling of the coronavirus pandemic. US financial contributions to the WHO accounted for just under 15% of its funding in 2019. The US decided against using a coronavirus test approved by the WHO in January, in favour of a test being developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – but some of them did not work properly, and led to inconclusive results. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the first African head of the WHO, has been accused of being too cozy with China in the past.
“Many countries said they were going to listen to the WHO and they have problems now the likes of which they cannot believe,” Trump continues. He adds: “The world received all sorts of false information about misinformation and mortality.” If the WHO had gone to China to oversee the outbreak, mores lives would have been saved, he claims, adding that “their reliance on China’s disclosures… likely caused a 20-fold increase in cases worldwide and it may be much more than that.” “So much death has been caused by their mistakes,” he says. The US president previously praised China’s role in containing the virus in this tweet, sent a few days after the two countries signed a trade deal.
Trump has been feuding with governors over who has the right to end lockdowns. But in a change of tone on Tuesday, he said: “The governors are responsible, they have to take charge and do a great job.” He said the plans to reopen the country are close to being finalised and could be even earlier than 1 May. “I will be speaking to all 50 governors very shortly and I will then be authorising each individual governor of each individual state to implement a reopening and a very powerful reopening plan of their state at a time and in a manner as most appropriate.” He added: “The federal government will be watching them closely. We will hold governors accountable, but will be working with them to make sure it goes really well.” Experts agree it’s the state governors who are responsible for policing their states under US law. He said that governors “are going to do a great job of leading.” “And if we’re unhappy with a state, we’re going to let them know that we’re unhappy,” he added.
The president says: “We have to get our sports back. I’m tired of watching baseball games that are 14 years old.” The National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, National Hockey League have all either cancelled or delayed their seasons amid the pandemic.
Trump is asked why he previously praised China’s “transparency” but is today saying their “so-called transparency” cost lives. “Well you know if I’m so good to China then why am I the only person that closed our border so tightly to China?” he hits back. “I don’t talk about China’s transparency!” he adds. In fact, on 24 January, whilst negotiating a trade deal, Trump tweeted: “China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency.” Furthermore, other countries have also tightened their borders, and banned non-essential travel, in response to the outbreak. This exchange with the reporter arose because, earlier in this press conference, Trump said he was pulling US funding to the WHO because the agency “defended the actions of the Chinese government, even praising its so-called transparency”.
Trump ends the press conference after less than 90 minutes, cutting short one reporter who wanted to ask a second question on behalf of a colleague who could not attend today. “Who cares,” says the president with a shrug. No other members of the coronavirus task force, such as Vice-President Mike Pence, Dr Anthony Fauci or Dr Deborah Birx, spoke today.
23:13 Mass gatherings in California likely to be banned until at least summer
California governor Gavin Newsom has warned that mass gatherings of hundreds or thousands of people are likely to be banned until at least summer. He made the announcement during a news conference on Tuesday, where he also said that stay-at-home orders could be loosened “a few weeks” after evidence shows the rate of coronavirus infections and deaths are decreasing. He warned that things would be changing in the state and some measures may stay in place for some time. “You may have dinner where the waiter is wearing gloves and maybe a face mask, where menus may be disposable, where your temperature is checked as you walk into the restaurant,” he said. Mass gatherings in the state, such as Coachella festival, have already been rescheduled or cancelled.
22:24 New York City revises death toll
New York City has revised its coronavirus death toll to include those who died with respiratory symptoms but had not tested positive for the illness. The increase of over 3,700 on Tuesday puts the count at 10,367 dead, according to city health officials. New York City Councilman Mark Levin, who chairs the city’s health committee, said the new figure represents a spike of 57%.
22:11 France summons Chinese ambassador over Covid-19 criticism
France’s foreign minister has summoned the Chinese ambassador following comments made on the embassy’s website about western countries’ handling of Covid-19. The comments were made by an unnamed diplomat and in part suggested that pensioners had been left to die in nursing homes. Yves Le Drian said he expressed his disapproval to ambassador Lu Shaye on Tuesday. In a statement he said: “Certain publicly voiced opinions by representatives of the Chinese embassy in France are not in line with the quality of the bilateral relation between our two countries.”
21:52 ‘Stay away from me’ – Trump jokes with coronavirus survivor
President Trump has been meeting with coronavirus survivors at the White House. ‘I’ve never felt this bad before,” one woman told Trump, adding that she now feels about 85% better. “Stay away from me,” Trump joked in response. Another survivor told of being stuck on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, calling it a “floating petri dish”. Trump replied: “They called it a ghost ship.” Trump also again touted the use of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug which is not yet proven to fight off Covid-19. “You know if somebody else endorsed that medication it would be great,” he said, claiming that US media has remained skeptical just because he has supported it. “But it’s OK. The word is out. These people don’t get it, the media, but the people get it,” he continued.
21:34 Rio de Janeiro governor tests positive
Wilson Witzel, the governor of Rio de Janeiro has announced he has tested positive for coronavirus. The 52-year-old told his followers on Twitter that he hadn’t been feeling well for a few days and had a fever and a sore throat. He said he was told on Tuesday that he had tested positive. He said: “I will continue working. I request once again that you stay at home. This sickness, as you can all perceive, does not choose and contagion is rapid.” This week he extended the lockdown in Rio until the end of the month. On Monday a study by a number of Brazilian universities and institutes found that the country is likely to have 12 times more cases of coronavirus than the number being reported by the government. It estimated that only 8% of cases are being officially reported.
21:03 Florida judge to lawyers: ‘Put some clothes on for Zoom hearings’
A judge in Broward County, Florida, has complained that lawyers are not dressing or grooming appropriately before video-conference legal hearings. “It is remarkable how many ATTORNEYS appear inappropriately on camera,” Circuit Judge Dennis Bailey wrote in a letter posted on the Weston Bar Association website. “We’ve seen many lawyers in casual shirts and blouses, with no concern for ill-grooming,” he wrote adding that one male lawyer appeared shirtless and another lawyer appeared to still be in bed. “And putting on a beach cover-up won’t cover up you’re poolside in a bathing suit. So, please, if you don’t mind, let’s treat court hearings as court hearings, whether Zooming or not.” Judge Bailey told the Miami Herald he wrote the memo just to provide an update on how the court was dealing with the move to online hearings.
20:39 Eurovision venue turned into emergency hospital
Rotterdam’s Ahoy concert venue was supposed to host the glitz and glamour of the Eurovision song contest in May, but instead has been converted into an emergency hospital to help the Netherlands battle its coronavirus outbreak. Eighty-two beds have been installed so far and the rapidly erected temporary hospital has the capacity to scale up to 688. A number of Covid-19 patients have already been transferred from the Netherlands across the border to Germany to free up intensive care beds and the emergency hospital is designed to alleviate pressure on Dutch hospitals. So far the Netherlands has seen at least 2,945 deaths in the outbreak and almost 9,000 people have needed hospital treatment. Four halls have been kitted out with beds for coronavirus patients while another separate room will accommodate patients who have other types of illnesses. The temporary hospital has a recovery zone and palliative care rooms so families in protective clothing can spend a few precious final moments with their loved ones. The first patients are expected to be admitted into the emergency wards this week.
20:32 Fake face masks plot foiled
Police have foiled a plot to sell non-existent face masks that nearly cost German authorities €15m (£13m), Europol has announced. At least two people have been detained in the case, which involved investigations across Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, the UK and Republic of Ireland. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, countries around the world are facing shortages in protective gear — prompting governments to look outside their normal supply channels to secure the life-saving supplies. But when it emerged the masks ordered by Germany did not exist, police and law enforcement agencies including Europol and Interpol had to scramble to recover the money.
19:47 France reports 762 more deaths in hospitals and care homes
France reported a further 762 Covid-19 deaths in hospitals and care homes on Tuesday. The new figures brings the death toll in the country to 15,729. Jerome Salomon, head of the public health authority, said the number of confirmed cases in the country is now more than 100,000. He added that the number of people in intensive care had fallen for the sixth consecutive day. On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron announced an extension of the lockdown in France to 11 May. He said schools would gradually reopen after the new extension but restaurants would stay closed and there could be no festivals until mid-July. He said the most vulnerable people should remain in isolation even after the rules were eased.
19:15 Trudeau says Canada won’t reopen anytime soon
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the country is weeks away from easing pandemic restrictions, if not longer. “Right now we’re still very much in this phase and have to remain in this phase for a good while,” he said during his daily press briefing Tuesday. Trudeau’s caution seems well supported by Canadians. A Leger poll found that 21% of Canadians wanted to wait until there is a vaccine to ease restrictions, which could be more than a year away. Only 6% said they wanted the economy opened now, compared to 13% of American survey respondents. The province of Ontario, which accounts for 41% of Canada’s population, extended emergency orders by four weeks on Monday. Trudeau also fielded questions about his plan to support long-term care homes, where more than half of Canada’s Covid-19 deaths have taken case, and promised to better fund elderly support workers.
18:57 UK chancellor in no hurry to lift lockdown
The chancellor tackled head-on the Office for Budget Responsibility’s report that the UK economy may shrink by more than a third in the short term due to the impact of coronavirus. He said he was troubled by the figures, acknowledging these were tough times and there would be more to come. But he tried at least to sound hopeful about the future. Things would be far worse if the government had not acted, he said, and the plan put in place was the right one and the time would come to “right the ship.” He said the economy would “bounce back.” Righting the ship will involve paying for the huge amount of borrowing that the government has undertaken to fund its unprecedented support measures. It’s not surprising that Mr Sunak did not get into detail about any future tax rises – but notably he did not commit to keeping the so-called triple lock policy protecting state pensions. And perhaps an insight into the chancellor’s thinking came from his comment that there was no choice between protecting the economy and saving lives. That may be a sign that he is not in as much of a hurry as some reports have suggested to lift lockdown restrictions sooner rather than later and allow the economy to recover sooner.
18:43 Cuomo: I will not engage with Trump’s attacks
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has responded to President Trump’s accusation that governors are staging a “mutiny” by making their own decisions about when to re-open, rather than the federal government that he leads. He dismissed Trump’s morning tweets which, he said, show that “he’s clearly unhappy”. “The president will have no fight with me. I will not engage with him,” said Cuomo, who had earlier criticised him for behaving like a king on CNN. In a brief civics lesson, he said: “The colonies formed the federal government, the federal government did not form the states… It’s the colonies that ceded some of their authorities to the federal government.”
18:26 New York death rate ticks up again but infections slow
The death rate from coronavirus in New York state increased with 778 new deaths on Monday – up from 671 on Sunday, Governor Andrew Cuomo said at his daily news conference. Sunday’s figure, however, was the lowest daily total in a week. Cuomo also offered hope that the “apex” had been reached. There were 1,600 newly infected patients admitted to hospitals across the state, he said, more than half the figure recorded at the start of April. Cuomo called the trend evidence that residents were “artificially flattening the curve with all these drastic actions”.
17:00 UK Press Conference
Chancellor Rishi Sunak begins with a few words on today’s economic outlook from the UK Office for Budget Responsibility. He says “these are tough times” and it will be impossible to protect every household and business. He adds that the prediction “may not even be the most likely scenario”. He says the OBR has been “clear” that the situation would have been “much worse” without government action announced so far.
Rishi Sunak adds that the UK’s strategy is not about “choosing” between people’s health, and the health of the economy. It would be “self-defeating” from an economic point of view, he adds, not to take action to protect people’s health. He says the latest death figures for the UK are a “powerful reminder” of the need for people to follow social distancing advice.
Prof Stephen Powis, national medical director at NHS England, says there is evidence that hospital admissions in London and the Midlands are “plateauing”. He says the figures show the benefits of social distancing, but adds that it is important for people not to take their “foot off the pedal” and continue to follow advice.
There’s also a question about why UK deaths in care homes are not published daily, unlike deaths in hospitals. Prof Yvonne Doyle, from Public Health England, says recording deaths in the care sector is a “bit more complicated”. But she adds that they are “working towards” getting daily data on all deaths in the UK.
There’s a question about claims that suppliers of protective kit for healthcare workers were asked to prioritise England over Scotland. The claim has been made by the head of Scottish Care, the body representing private care homes in Scotland. Chancellor Rishi Sunak says there is “no truth in those stories”. He adds that the Scottish government’s clinical director has dismissed the claims as “rubbish”.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak insists care home residents and workers have not been forgotten. Work is under way to get accurate data from care homes but there is a “logistical challenge”. Yvonne Roberts, director of health protection for Public Health England, says care homes are a “very dispersed sector”. Mr Sunak says there are far more care homes than hospitals, and that makes it difficult to collect reliable data.
Amid an economic downturn from lockdown measures, Chancellor Rishi Sunak is asked what his message to young people is. He dodges a question about whether the UK will continue to increase pensions in line with the so-called “triple lock”, saying he doesn’t want to write future Budgets. But he says the government wants to make sure there is “economic opportunity” for everyone on the other side of the crisis. There’s also a question about coronavirus infections in hospital, and Prof Stephen Powis, national medical director at NHS England, says this is “not unexpected”. He adds though that data is “not clear enough” to say what the average infection rate is in hospitals, whilst the total number of hospital infections is being “looked at the moment”.
Asked if he really believes the UK economy can quickly get back to normal after the coronavirus emergency, with predicted record levels of debt, Chancellor Rishi Sunak says it is “possible”. The aim is to “keep as much of the productive capacity of our economy as possible,” says the chancellor. He adds that the government’s plan to boost regional growth, set out in the Budget, will help it “bounce back”.
Firms should be able to apply for money to help pay furloughed staff “on or around” 20 April, Chancellor Rishi Sunak says. “That is the working assumption”, he adds, with testing of the new system currently being carried out. There will be a gap of “several days” between applying for help and getting the cash, he says, to allow for fraud checks and the BACS payment process.
Rishi Sunak is asked how greater borrowing to cope with coronavirus will eventually be paid for. The chancellor says he is “not able to talk about future tax policy” – but adds that the best policy is to ensure the UK economy can bounce back to normal as soon as possible. The medical experts are also asked if there is anything they regret in the UK’s strategy. Prof Yvonne Doyle, from Public Health England, says “undoubtedly we perhaps could have done things differently,” but officials have been working “tirelessly” to better understand the virus. Prof Stephen Powis, national medical director at NHS England, says it will take time to be able to “learn the right lessons”.
There “may be very good reasons why people from care homes are not being admitted to hospital,” says Yvonne Doyle. But she added: “At no time has it been said to me anywhere that the NHS would not accept a patient who needed to be admitted.” Prof Stephen Powis said doctors should make decisions about patient care “as they always have done, in the current epidemic”.
17:00 NHS England chief Stevens ‘had virus’
The head of NHS England, Sir Simon Stevens, has revealed he contracted coronavirus and self-isolated at home for seven days. He has said his condition was at “the milder end of the symptoms”. Sir Simon has appealed to people not to stay away from urgent NHS care. New figures for England and Wales show an unexplained number of non-coronavirus deaths, some of which may be due to people avoiding hospitals because of coronavirus risks. Sir Simon said: “These figures underline the seriousness of coronavirus – there are 19,000 coronavirus patients in hospitals in England. “But we’ve also got capacity in the NHS to look after patients with urgent and emergency needs that aren’t about coronavirus so our message is… our staff are here to look after you.”
16:24 NHS field hospital has no patients or staff
Work on the NHS Birmingham Nightingale Hospital was completed last week, but the facility – which has 500 beds and capacity for 1,000 more – stands empty. A spokesperson for NHS England said that they were not staffing the temporary facility because the 23 local hospitals that feed into it haven’t needed to use it. They added that the Nightingale can be opened and staffed with 24-48 hours notice, should the situation change. A medic in the West Midlands told the BBC: “Birmingham Nightingale has stood down for the moment. Medics have been told not to come to Nightingale as of yesterday and will be called upon when needed.” The Midlands is the second worst hit NHS Trust area in the UK. More than 2,000 deaths have been reported in the region – more than anywhere except London. Several temporary field hospitals have been created around the UK in response to coronavirus. This map plots some of their locations
15:26 Police disperse large crowd defying lockdown in Mumbai
Police have used force to disperse a large crowd of migrant workers who defied the lockdown in place in the western city of Mumbai. They thought that the lockdown would end today and gathered at a railway station to return home, state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh told BBC Marathi. The lockdown was due to end on 15 April, but on Tuesday Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that it would be extended until 3 May.
However, opposition leaders claimed the protests were about a lack of food and job security. Many of these workers are paid daily and have been left without any income due to the lockdown. Thousands are said to have begun walking to their villages from cities such as Mumbai and the capital Delhi. But those left behind are stuck in the city as all district and state borders in the country have been sealed.
This is the second violent incident involving migrant and daily-wage workers. A few days ago a large number of migrant workers protested on the streets of Surat, in the western state of Gujarat. A number of shops were set on fire.
15:16 20 phone masts targeted in suspected arson attacks
The UK’s mobile networks have reported 20 cases of phone masts being targeted in suspected arson attacks over the weekend. Conspiracy theories falsely claiming the 5G network has caused or helped accelerate the spread of Covid-19 have been circulating. News of the attacks came as media regulator Ofcom announced earlier today it was assessing comments made by ITV presenter Eamonn Holmes about 5G technology and coronavirus. Trade group Mobile UK said the reported cases had been in England, Wales and Scotland. The figure represents a lower incidence rate than had been the case the previous weekend. There were also cases reported in the Netherlands over the weekend and a suspected case in Ireland.
15:02 ‘World faces worst recession since Great Depression’
The global economy will contract by 3% this year as countries around the world shrink at the fastest pace in decades, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned. It described the global decline as the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s. It said the pandemic had plunged the world into a “crisis like no other”. The IMF added that a prolonged outbreak would test the ability of governments and central banks to control the crisis. Gita Gopinath, the IMF’s chief economist, said the crisis could knock $9 trillion (£7.2tn) off global GDP over the next two years.
14:45 UK death toll passes 12,000
Coronavirus-related deaths in UK hospitals have risen to 12,107, an increase of 778 on yesterday’s total. The UK Department of Health said as of 09.00 BST on Tuesday, 302,599 people have been tested of whom 93,873 were positive. Overall, 382,650 tests have been concluded, with 14,982 tests carried out on Sunday, excluding Northern Ireland.
14:16 UK chancellor reacts to economic downturn predictions
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has responded to an OBR report that says the UK economy could shrink by 35%. He said the figure represented “just one potential scenario” but added the government had to be honest that there was “hardship ahead”.
The opposition Labour party have also responded to the OBR. New shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds said: “Behind these very concerning figures lie many businesses which have gone bust and many people who have lost their jobs. “Labour has been working constructively with Government on its economic support package. It is clear that additional action needs to be taken to increase the take-up of the different measures. We have called for urgent action in relation to the loans scheme in particular, as take-up is worryingly low.”
13:54 Sinn Fein president ‘was very unwell’ with coronavirus
The president of Ireland’s Sinn Fein party, Mary Lou McDonald, says she is “responding well” to medication after health complications caused by coronavirus. Ms McDonald said she was “very unwell” for weeks before testing positive for the virus over the weekend and also developing post-viral pleurisy in her right lung. In a statement she said the infection had been “a setback” in her recovery but said she is no longer infectious and hopes to return to work next week.
13:35 Record fall coming for UK economy?
Britain’s independent tax and spending watchdog has warned the coronavirus pandemic could trigger a record 35% drop in UK growth by June. The Office for Budget Responsibility said that this was based on an assumption that the current lockdown would last for three months. Under this scenario, unemployment would hit 10%, up from its current 3.9% rate. However, once restrictions are lifted, the OBR said it expected growth to recover quickly with no lasting damage. The OBR outlined the potential hit to the economy and public finances in a special report on Tuesday. The BBC’s economics editor, Faisal Islam, said: “These sorts of numbers are anticipated across the developed world, as most nations pursue forms of shutdown to control the spread of the virus and protect health systems from being overwhelmed. “The forecast declines illustrate the difficult balancing act for the government in deciding when and how to lift lockdowns, now not expected until May at the earliest.”
12:57 Death toll in Belgium moves past 4,000
The number of coronavirus-related deaths in Belgium has risen by 262, taking the country’s number of fatalities to 4,157 – the fifth highest in Europe. According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the number of deaths in Belgium is behind only Italy, Spain, France and the UK. National broadcaster RTBF has reported the country’s lockdown is likely to be extended until 3 May and the national security council is scheduled to meet on Wednesday to discuss when to end it. There have also been 530 new cases of patients affected by Covid-19 in Belgium, bringing the total to 31,119. Of these, 20,094 are classed as “active” cases and 1,223 people are currently in intensive care.
12:01 Fear of measles resurgence amid coronavirus outbreak
Measles outbreaks may occur as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, officials say, because some vaccination programmes are being delayed. The UN children’s agency, Unicef, says 117 million children in 37 countries may not get immunised on time. There have been several large outbreaks in countries across Europe where the MMR vaccine uptake has been low. The UK has already lost its measles-free status, because of rising cases of the potentially deadly infection. The disease, which causes coughing, rashes and fever, can be prevented by two doses of the mumps, measles and rubella (MMR) vaccine, available free to all young children in the UK.
11:27 New plans for recording UK care home deaths
The UK has been releasing daily coronavirus death tolls, but the figures have been hospital deaths only – they have not included deaths at people’s houses or in care homes. New figures from the Office of National Statistics published on Tuesday provide more information on deaths in care homes, but they are about two weeks out of date. That’s because they rely on death certificates, which take a while to process. Health officials are now trying to find ways to provide more up-to-date information from care homes. From later this week, deaths that are suspected or confirmed to involve Covid-19 will be recorded daily, England’s care regulator has said. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) says these new figures should provide a “clearer picture of deaths” and highlight worst-hit regions. The CQC says it will work with the ONS and Public Health England. It is currently unclear whether these figures will be released publicly.
11:03 Pakistani officials use containers to seal high-risk areas
In the Pakistani city of Karachi, police have sealed a number of high-risk neighbourhoods by blocking all entry and exit points with shipping containers, in a bid to freeze any movement. Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah confirmed that his government has sealed the areas that are worst-affected in the city. “We are arranging to increase testing points in these areas,” he said. But crowds in the city’s vast slums, as well as other districts, continue to disregard calls for social distancing by crowding in public spaces such as markets. Similar scenes have been observed in other major cities in the country such as Lahore and Multan. Pakistan has reported more than 5,000 infections and at least 90 people have died from the virus.
10:35 Surge in coronavirus deaths in UK care homes – ONS
New figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that 217 deaths in care homes in England and Wales have mentioned Covid-19 this year. That was more than 10 times the number that had been recorded by the end of the previous week. Two of the country’s leading care home companies published their own figures on Tuesday, showing 521 deaths in recent weeks. HC One said that as of 8pm on Monday there had been 311 deaths and 2,447 cases of suspected or confirmed Covid-19 in the company’s 329 homes. MHA said there have been 210 deaths across its 131 homes. The ONS figures come as leading charities warn that many older people are being “airbrushed” out of coronavirus figures in the UK. Currently, the government’s daily toll does not include deaths outside of hospitals.
09:55 Nearly half of London deaths linked to Covid-19 – ONS
Nearly half of all deaths (47%) registered in London in the week ending 3 April were linked to Covid-19, new figures show. Figures released on Tuesday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that across England and Wales, one in five of the 16,387 death certificates issued that week mentioned the disease. That total is the highest number of deaths recorded since records began in 2005.
09:28 Poland to ease restrictions from Sunday
Poland’s Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski said the country will start easing restrictions from 19 April. “We will slowly unfreeze the economy,” Szumowski told the RMF FM radio station. Government spokesman Piotr Muller said restrictions on shops will likely be lifted first. Muller told public Polish Radio that decisions would be made on Wednesday or Thursday, once the government has analysed data from the long Easter weekend. From Thursday, it will be mandatory for everyone to wear a face covering when outside, either a mask or scarf, which Mr Muller said could facilitate the lifting of restrictions on the number of customers inside shops. Currently, supermarket numbers are limited to three customers per cashier. The government is also considering lifting a ban on visits to forests and national parks. As of Monday evening, Poland had recorded 6,934 Covid-19 cases and 245 virus-related deaths.
09:16 Heathrow Airport predicts 90% drop in passengers
The number of passengers passing through London’s Heathrow Airport will fall by up to 90% in April as coronavirus restrictions prevent people from travelling, the airport has forecast. Usually one of the busiest airports in the world, Heathrow said passenger numbers for March were down 52% compared with the same period last year. The airport said it was now only using one of its two runways, as flights continue for cargo. Air passenger numbers have plummeted across the world because of the pandemic. In the US, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson international airport usually handles up to 2,600 flights a day and 63,000 people work at the airport when flights run at capacity. “Right now, we’re down to 1,200 flights and they’re mostly empty,” said the airport’s general manager, John Selden.
08:52 China ‘willing to look at’ debt relief for African nations
China could temporarily freeze debt repayments by African nations to free up cash for those countries to tackle the coronavirus outbreaks, reports the Reuters news agency. China is a major creditor to African economies, having lent them billions of dollars over the last two decades. “The origin of Africa’s debt problem is complex, and the debt profile of each country varies,” China’s foreign ministry told Reuters. “We are aware that some countries and international organisations have called for debt relief programmes for African countries, and we are willing to study the possibility of it jointly with the international community.” China is a member of the G20 group of economies, which meets this week. The group is expected to make an agreement on debt relief for the world’s poorest nations. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank are also pushing for debt relief to help poor countries during the virus.
08:46 Austria re-opens small shops
Austria is beginning to lift its lockdown measures. Smaller shops of less than 400 sq m (4300 sq ft), as well as DIY and gardening stores, are scheduled to reopen today. But the country is sticking to a number of other restrictions. People have to wear face masks when they go out and are asked to maintain a 3m (10ft) distance from each other. Austria has more than 14,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, with more than 7,000 of those already recovered. There have been 368 deaths linked to Covid-19.
08:04 UK driver hits 151mph, as police say speeding is up
The UK is in its fourth week of lockdown and police have raised concerns that some drivers are disregarding speed limits. Officers have reported more speeding on empty motorways and A roads. One car reached 151mph on the M1 in London as it was being followed by police. The driver later got out and ran off, and has yet to be arrested. There has also been an increase in fly-tipping – illegal rubbish dumping – since the restrictions came into force. A website where people can report fly-tipping said it had seen a 50% increase in the illegal dumping of waste across parts of the UK since the lockdown began.
07:38 ‘Be strong. Be kind,’ New Zealand PM urges nation
It’s been almost three weeks since New Zealand went into a month-long lockdown. During that time, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has held regular press conferences to update the nation on the latest Covid-19 numbers. But Ardern has also used Facebook for more informal updates, posting family photos and sharing moments from her life under lockdown. And her Facebook lives – usually after she’s put her baby to sleep – have been quite a hit. “Left before anyone in my house was up,” she wrote in the latest post. “Turns out mum had got up and packed breakfast and a cup of tea for me and left it outside my door.” Ardern has taken to ending almost all her public appearances with the same message “Be strong. Be kind.”
06:47 Hokkaido re-declares state of emergency after second wave
It looks like Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido is starting to experience exactly what many epidemiologists had predicted; after the successful suppression of an initial outbreak, the relaxing of restrictions has led to a second wave. Hokkaido was the first place in Japan to be hit badly by the virus. In mid-February the governor declared a state of emergency, schools were closed and people were urged to stay at home. The shutdown hit in the middle of the ski-season, the worst possible time. I was there myself at the beginning of March and the ski resorts were completely deserted. But it worked, and by the middle of March the infection rate had fallen to a handful of infections a day.
At the end of March schools re-opened and life in Hokkaido began to return to some sort of normality. But now just two weeks later a new state of emergency has been declared. By the end of last week new infections had climbed to between 15 and 20 a day which is higher than during the first wave in February. Schools have again been closed and people asked to stay at home. Hokkaido is not alone of course – Tokyo, Kanagawa, Osaka and six other prefectures are now also under a state of emergency. Across Japan there are now close to 8,000 confirmed cases with Tokyo being the epicentre.
06:26 The heavy social and economic toll of India’s lockdown
India’s grinding lockdown has been extended until 3 May. It has already caused economic disruption and social distress. It has hurt the economy immensely. Joblessness has risen sharply, according to an independent assessment. India’s already sputtering economy is now expected to grow between 1.5-2.8% in 2020-21, according to the World Bank. Migrant workers, the backbone of key service industries, have either fled their shuttered workplaces or are stranded in homeless centres in cities. The thriving informal economy is in tatters. Access to food, medicines and emergency medical care for non-Covid-19 patients has become difficult for the poor. The lockdown, says an economist, “seems to be the case of the privileged transferring their epidemic risk to the under-privileged”. There is no doubt that lifting the lockdown at a time when India is seeing a rise in infections and trying to catch up on testing, can be risky. At the same time, it is also abundantly clear that India will have to ease the lockdown to save the economy and livelihoods of people. Some economic activity – farming, transportation of goods, wholesale markets, key gig economy services – has to reopen with social distancing and hygiene protocols. How this will be implemented will depend purely on the acumen of the states.
06:10 Taiwan reports only five new cases, all imported
Taiwan’s success in containing the virus continues. For Monday, it recorded five new cases, all of which were imported, meaning people who had travelled to Taiwan from abroad. One person had come from the US while the other four were passengers on the virus-stricken Coral Princess cruise ship in Florida. In total, Taiwan has 393 confirmed cases of which 109 have already recovered. Six deaths have been linked to Covid-19. Over the past weekend, the island had even seen its baseball and soccer seasons get under way. While the season was delayed and the first games were held without any fans in the stands, it did nonetheless provide people with a rare bit of live sports action. Taiwan’s success in limiting the spread is largely attributed to Taipei’s early and decisive action to curb travel, pursue aggressive contact tracing and impose strict quarantine for all incoming travellers.
06:01 More than 100 Africans test positive in Guangzhou
The city of Guangzhou in China says 111 Africans have tested positive for coronavirus as of Monday, state news agency Xinhua reports. Around 4,500 Africans in the city have been tested since 4 April, and 19 of those with positive results were imported cases, officials said. China has dismissed accusations that it was forcefully testing foreigners with African appearance. There have been reports of Africans being evicted from their homes and forced into quarantine – leaving tensions running high. Africans have also said they are being barred from restaurants and other public places, leading to complaints from some African diplomats and governments, The Guangdong provincial government responded by insisting that China and Africa remain good friends, partners and brothers. The Chinese foreign ministry said “all foreigners are treated equally”.
05:33 Indian PM speaks to the nation
Indian PM Narendra Modi has started his televised address to the nation amid expectations that he will extend the coronavirus lockdown in some form.
He has started his speech by thanking people for saving India from coronavirus. He acknowledged that many people faced difficulties with food and transport. “But you all did this for the nation like a disciplined soldier. I pay my respect to all of you,” he said.
Mr Modi said the nation-wide lockdown will be extended until 3 May. He said the decision was taken after consultations with states. He appealed to people to keep following the measures.
Mr Modi has praised his government’s efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus, saying that India responded better to the crisis than many other nations. “We started screening international passengers even when there were no cases in the country. We announced a harsh 21-day lockdown when we had fewer than 500 cases,” he said. Mr Modi also praised India’s “holistic and integrated” approach and has justified the decision to impose the three-week lockdown. “Social distancing and the lockdown has really helped. The decision looks very costly economically. But there can be no cost for the lives of Indians,” he added. Experts say that India does not seem to be as badly affected yet – but have pointed to a worrying lack of testing. There has also been criticism about the way the lockdown was implemented – tens of thousands of migrant workers fled cities, possibly carrying the infection into rural areas.
The Indian prime minister has said that the next week – until 20 April – will possibly see even tougher measures to ensure that the virus doesn’t spread to new areas. “New hotspots will create more problems for India. That is why we have to be very strict for the next one week,” he said. But he has said that following that, there may be some relaxations of the lockdown in areas that report no new hotspots. He said the government would issue detailed guidelines on Wednesday about the new measures.
05:14 ‘Virus will be devastating for Afghanistan’
More than 80 Afghan charities and international organisations have issued an urgent appeal for a full and immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Afghanistan as the coronavirus threatens to overwhelm a war-torn country without a health system and infrastructure to respond. The statement also calls for greater preparedness to prevent the spread of the virus, warning its impact could be devastating at a time when Afghanistan is facing multiple crises. This joint statement warns the country now threatens to become one of the world’s worst affected countries, which will intensify the global health crisis.
Officially, the number of infections remains low, but there’s little testing, and little capacity and resources to treat the sick. And this deadly virus is spreading at a time when Taliban attacks are intensifying, and protracted political infighting in Kabul recently led the United States to cut $1bn (£800m) in aid. There’s a growing chorus of voices urging Afghans to stop fighting each other to focus on their common enemy. With more than half of the population living under the poverty line, Afghans have little to protect themselves. And more than one hundred thousand people recently returned home from neighbouring Iran, an epicentre in the region, and most have not been tested or traced.
05:07 MP arrested in Kenyan crackdown
Dozens of people were arrested in Kenya over the Easter weekend after they were found drinking in bars and flouting strict measures announced by the government. Those detained included a member of parliament and a magistrate. This comes after a ninth person died with Covid-19, which has so far infected more than 200 people in the country. Police say they carried out the arrests after being tipped off by members of the public – and have warned of more raids.
04:51 More human vaccine trials in China
Two more experimental vaccines against the new coronavirus will be trialled on humans, Chinese state media is reporting. Recently, a World Health Organization document said more than 70 possible vaccines were being developed worldwide, with three at the clinical testing stage – meaning tested on humans. Of those three, two are US-based, with the third in China. These new potential vaccines will be the fourth and fifth to reach clinical stage. The race for a vaccine means many normal steps are being sped-up or bypassed. But as our reporter James Gallagher explained earlier this month, a vaccine is not imminent. “Even if these – or any other tests – do prove successful, it’s not expected that manufacturers will be able to produce a mass-produced vaccine until the second half of 2021,” he wrote.
04:45 Portugal extends border closure
Portugal has said it will keep its border with Spain closed for another month, until 15 May. The border was closed a month ago to everything but goods and commuters. Portugal has far recorded fewer cases and deaths than its larger neighbour. It has around 17,000 cases – around one case per 600 people. Spain has 170,000 cases – around one per 275 people.
04:00 Kyiv monastery under lockdown
Authorities in Ukraine have put an Orthodox Christian monastery in the capital Kyiv under lockdown after two of its members died from Covid-19. The Kyiv Pechersk Lavra monastery has recorded more than 90 infections – a fifth of all cases in the city. Last month, the head of the complex said the virus was caused by human sin and could be tackled with hugs, prayers and fasting. He later said he had underestimated the problem. The monastery, which was founded in the 11th century, and is part of the wing of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarchate which initially had asked people to ignore the lockdown measures. It later fell in line and closed its churches to the general public. The monastery is one of Ukraine’s cultural treasures, known for its labyrinthine caves housing the mummified bodies of monks.
03:30 Chinese cases keep coming from Russia
China reported 89 new cases on Monday – down from 108 cases a day earlier, its highest spike in almost six weeks. The spike in numbers was driven by a surge of Chinese people returning from Russia through the northern province of Heilongjiang, which sits on the border. According to China’s National Health Commission, of the 89 new cases on Monday, 86 were imported and three were local cases in Guangdong province. And broadcaster CCTV said of the imported cases, 79 were Chinese citizens who had travelled back via Russia. Of these, 65 were originally recorded as asymptomatic cases.
03:21 ‘Floating hotels’ for migrant workers in Singapore
Singapore has recorded its highest daily spike so far with 386 new cases – the majority of which are foreign workers living in dormitories. Several clusters have emerged across Singapore – with 586 cases linked to one migrant worker dormitory which was said to house workers in cramped conditions. Officials are now working to move about 1,300 healthy workers out of these dorms and into “floating hotels” -the first batch of workers has now moved in. There will be two of these floating facilities – which can each take a few hundred people. Authorities have said they will house two or three occupants to a room with sufficient space for safe distancing. There are now 2,918 confirmed cases in the country and nine deaths.
02:41 Trump says no intention to fire Fauci
US President Donald Trump has said he has no intention of firing one of his senior medical advisers, Anthony Fauci, after the infectious diseases expert said earlier mitigation efforts against the coronavirus outbreak could have saved more lives. Trump told reporters at the White House that he liked Dr Fauci and that they had been on the same page about the viris “from the beginning.” Speaking at the White House briefing, Dr Fauci said he’d been answering a hypothetical question when he told a TV interviewer that lives could have been saved. He’d been responding to media coverage that suggested Donald Trump hadn’t done enough to contain the virus. Dr Fauci made it clear that the President had listened to him when he recommended mitigation efforts that included strict social distancing guidelines. During a sometimes contentious briefing, the US president played a video for reporters defending his administration’s response to Covid-19.
Sources: Various news sources including but not limited to BBC News, Fox News, CNN.