22nd 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. The figure shown is an estimate based on a three week recovery time line.
$ Cases now include Pillar 2 cases as of 11th April 2020
More information coming soon.
23:12 White House Briefing
The president is joined by Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control, Surgeon General Jerome Adams, Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr Deborah Birx, Coronavirus Response Co-ordinator, and Vice-President Mike Pence, who leads the taskforce.
Trump says recent comments from Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director Dr Robert Redfield that a second Covid-19 wave could be even worse were “inaccurate”. “He was totally misquoted,” Trump says. “His whole purpose in making the statement was to get a flu shot.” Redfield joins Trump to clarify. He says he noted that next autumn “could be more difficult, more complicated” if influenza and Covid-19 were circulating at the same time. “I think it’s really important to emphasise what I didn’t say,” Redfield says. “I didn’t say this was going to be worse, I said it was going to be more difficult and potentially complicated. “The issue that I was talking about being more difficult is we’re going to have two viruses circulating at the same time.” Redfield says he was accurately quoted in the Washington Post, but takes issue with the headline, “CDC director warns second wave of coronavirus is likely to be even more devastating”. Here’s what Redfield is quoted as saying by the Post: “There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through. “We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time.”
Trump asks Dr Deborah Birx, one of the taskforce experts, if there is a good chance that Covid-19 won’t come back at all. Birx instead says it’ll be easier to find it if it does. “I think we are assured that the CDC is putting in place today what we are going to need in the fall so that we can stay in containment if, potentially, the virus comes back,” she says. “We’re hoping that the flu infections also go down because people are much more aware of respiratory illnesses and how to protect themselves.” Trump says: “And if it comes back, though, it won’t be coming back in the form that it was. It will be coming back in smaller doses that we can contain. He says “you could have some embers of corona”, but adds: “We will not go through what we’ve been going through for the last two months.” “It might not come back at all,” he adds.
“It’s been encouraging to watch states begin to open up, it’s a beautiful thing to see,” Trump says. “I want to remind all Americans to adhere to our guidelines, very important,” Trump adds. He goes on to say he wants the state governors “to do what they think is best, but ideally they’ll adhere” to the administration’s guidance. He reminds Americans to wash their hands, avoid close contact and wear a face covering in cases where social distancing is impractical. “We don’t want a rebound,” Trump says. The president’s reminder comes after weeks of anti-lockdown protests across the country. Protesters say the restrictions in states are an overreaction and have demanded governors reopen their economies. Democratic governors had requested the Trump administration remind Americans of the guidelines due to these demonstrations.
The president also noted he disagreed “strongly” with Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, a fellow Republican, who has decided to reopen some non-essential businesses. “I told the governor very simply I disagree,” Trump says, noting “safety has to predominate” in reopening the states. “I think spas and beauty salons and tattoo parlours and barber shops – in phase one [of reopening] is just too soon.” The president added: “But at the same time I want him to do what he thinks is right.” Kemp, a Trump ally, on Monday announced Georgia would allow gyms, bowling alleys, nail salons and massage therapists to open on Friday. In-person church services can resume. Restaurants and cinemas can also open. His order also prohibited cities from imposing their own restrictions on businesses.
President Trump tells reporters he’s just signed an executive order that he said yesterday would temporarily suspend green cards. “I’ve just signed it before coming into the room,” he says. “This will ensure unemployed Americans of all backgrounds will be first in line for jobs as our economy reopens,” Trump adds. “As for amending it, extending it, that we can do at the appropriate time.”
Trump thanks Harvard University after it decided not to accept nearly $9m (£7.3m) in coronavirus relief aid. The president said on Tuesday he was unhappy that the prestigious US university had received stimulus money. “I’m pleased to announce that Harvard has announced today that they will not accept the funds, nor will Stanford University or many of the others that were involved,” he said. “They’re not accepting the money and that’s great, so I want to thank Harvard, I want to thank Stanford and I want to thank the other companies,” he added.
Infectious diseases chief Dr Anthony Fauci says he is “convinced” the US “will have coronavirus in the fall” because of how transmissible the disease is. But he says the nation will be “much, much better prepared” in the autumn “compared to what happened to us this winter”. Fauci notes that the programme to deal with Covid-19 “is not one that is going to be, ‘turn the lights on in America, we’re finished’.” “We have to proceed in a very careful and measured way,” he says, adding that the guidelines by the administration are just that. Fauci also says that if the US does not adopt such an approach, “there’s a likelihood that it will rebound and the one way not to reopen the economy is to have a rebound that we can’t take care of”. “If you leave the virus to its own devices it will take off,” Fauci adds.
Trump was asked about a senior government vaccine expert, Dr Rick Bright, who says he has been sidelined for refusing to toe the political line. The president says: “I’ve never heard of him.” On the claim he was driven out, Trump adds: “Maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t.” Dr Bright told the New York Times he was removed after conflicting with the Trump administration over unproven coronavirus treatments. The president has often touted chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as possible treatments against Covid-19.
Infectious disease chief Dr Fauci is asked about the recent news of two pet cats catching Covid-19. “Certainly animals, pets can get infected,” he says, noting big cats in zoos have become infected with the coronavirus. But he says there is no proof the virus can be transmitted from pets to humans. “Biologically, anything is possible,” Fauci says. “But there’s no evidence whatsoever that we have seen from an epidemiological standpoint that pets can be transmitters within a household.” Fauci also points out that finding an animal has the virus does not necessarily mean the animal is transmitting it. He says zoo animals that have caught Covid-19 likely contracted it from an asymptomatic keeper who was caring for them.
US Health Secretary Alex Azar reportedly appointed a trusted aide who previously ran a dog-breeding business in Texas to lead the Department of Health and Human Services’ day-to-day response to coronavirus. The aide, Brian Harrison, 37, had no experience in public health or medicine, reports Reuters. Asked about this, Trump says: “I don’t know about that.” Before joining the Trump administration Harrison ran a company called Dallas Labradoodles for six years, according to financial disclosures unearthed by Reuters news agency. Five sources told Reuters that some officials in the White House derisively called him “the dog breeder”. “Everyone had to report up through him,” said one official.
Fauci says he has no concerns that public health officials are being muzzled by the Trump administration, noting that he is still on the podium even after expressing dissenting views. He was responding to a question about hydroxychloroquine, a drug touted by the president as a possible coronavirus treatment. There has been a global surge in demand for drugs normally used against malaria to tackle the coronavirus, as governments urgently seek out treatments for the new disease. Chloroquine, and a related derivative, hydroxychloroquine, have gained attention – despite the World Health Organization (WHO) saying there is no definitive evidence they work. According to a study released on Tuesday, coronavirus patients taking hydroxychloroquine had higher death rates compared with those who did not take the drug. The research focused on 368 patients at US Veterans Health Administration medical centres. It found 97 patients who took hydroxychloroquine had a 27.8% mortality rate. The 158 patients who did not take the drug had an 11.4% death rate. The research, which was not peer reviewed or published in a medical journal, was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the University of Virginia. So what exactly is the evidence of the effectiveness of malaria drugs as a treatment for the coronavirus, and who is using them?
22:15 Pet cats test positive for virus
It’s long been a worry for pet owners, but now it’s been confirmed: domestic cats can contract the coronavirus and show symptoms. Two pet cats in New York state in the US tested positive for the virus after developing “mild respiratory illnesses”, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a joint statement. The two cats weren’t part of the same family. None of the people who lived with the first cat were confirmed to be ill with the coronavirus, so it’s thought the cat either caught it from an asymptomatic household member or from someone outside their home.
The owner of the second cat had tested positive for the coronavirus before their cat was tested. In the statement, the CDC and USDA urged people not to abandon their pets, because “there is no evidence that pets play a role in spreading the virus in the US”. Instead, they recommend keeping cats indoors where possible. These aren’t the first animals in the US to contract the virus. Earlier this month Nadia, a tiger at Bronx Zoo, tested positive.
A pet cat in Hong Kong tested positive for the virus in late March but showed no symptoms.
21:31 Harvard now says it won’t accept relief funds
Harvard University has reversed its decision to accept coronavirus economic relief funds from the US government. The university, which is the wealthiest in the world, had previously said it would keep the funding after President Donald Trump demanded Harvard pay back nearly $9m (£7.3m) in coronavirus stimulus money.
In a statement on Wednesday, Harvard said that though it would see serious financial challenges from the pandemic, it did not want the “intense focus” on Harvard to “undermine participation” in a relief bill meant to help “students and institutions whose financial challenges in the coming months may be most severe”. “As a result of this, and the evolving guidance being issued around use of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, Harvard has decided not to seek or accept the funds allocated to it by statute.”
The university said it had received funding based on its total number of students as well as the number of lower-income students enrolled. Other elite universities, including Princeton and Yale, have also received this money.
21:19 Welsh minister caught swearing about colleague
A prominent Welsh politician has apologised after he was caught swearing about a Labour colleague in a virtual session of the Welsh Assembly about coronavirus. Health secretary Vaughan Gething was heard complaining about Assembly member Jenny Rathbone during the videoconferencing session. Having left his microphone on by mistake, he told an unknown person: “What the [expletive] is the matter with her?” I’m obviously embarrassed about my comments at the end of questions today. I’ve sent a message apologising and offered to speak to @JennyRathbone if she wishes to do so. It is an unwelcome distraction at a time of unprecedented challenge.
He has since apologised on Twitter but opposition leaders have called for Mr Gething to be sacked. Welsh Conservative assembly leader Paul Davies said: “For a health minister to show such unprofessionalism and disdain at this time is completely unacceptable and he should be sacked.”
21:06 WHO issues guidelines on Ramadan
The World Health Organization (WHO) has reissued its guidance on observing Ramadan – a month-long Islamic fast that begins tomorrow – during the pandemic. The guidance says that while it’s fine for healthy people to fast as usual, Covid-19 patients should “consider religious licences regarding breaking the fast in consultation with their doctors, as they would do with any other disease”. “Despite the different execution in practices this year, it is important to reassure the faithful that they can still reflect, improve, pray, share, and care – all from a healthy distance,” it adds. So although Ramadan may be different this year, it’s still possible to observe it faithfully. Earlier this month, BBC religion journalist Sophia Smith-Galer looked at different ways of celebrating religious festivals while staying at home.
20:39 Ukrainian town sealed off after monastery outbreak
Pochayiv in Ukraine has been closed off after a coronavirus outbreak at the Pochayiv Lavra, one of the largest Orthodox monasteries in Eastern Europe. Dozens of people have contracted the virus in the western Ukrainian town, including some priests at the 500-year-old monastery. The population of Pochayiv is about 8,000. Hundreds of people defied a police ban on visiting the monastery for Orthodox Easter, the BBC’s Vitalii Chervonenko reports. Officials had already sealed off the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra in the Ukrainian capital, one of the world’s most well-known Orthodox shrines.
20:21 Vaccine could be available this year, says UK scientist
Two scientists who are leading the charge for a vaccine in the UK have been speaking to the BBC about their projects. Professor Sarah Gilbert is head of a team at the University of Oxford. Trials, which have had 5,000 volunteers, are set to begin on Thursday. “We just start with two people on the first day, to make sure that everything is well with them, and also that all the procedures are working for the trial and that we are ready to move on to larger numbers.” Professor Robin Shattock, who leads Imperial College London’s effort, said if either project provides the “right signal in terms of safety and efficacy”, a vaccine could be available for the UK’s front-line workers and the most vulnerable before the end of the year. But he said it would be next year before it could be rolled out around the world.
19:49 WHO chief defends Covid-19 response
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), has said he believes the group warned the world of Covid-19 early enough. “Looking back I think we declared the emergency at the right time and when the world had enough time to respond,” he said. He added the WHO issued its warning when there were no deaths and just 82 cases. “That was enough to cut it from the bud, enough. That was January 30 and this is more than two months and 21 days ago – close to three months now.” Dr Tedros has faced some calls to resign over handling of the Covid-19 crisis, particularly from a number of US lawmakers. But many governments have praised the organisation, saying its work at this time is vital. When asked about calls for his resignation, Dr Tedros said he would keep working “day and night” to save lives.
19:30 Red Square party to mark 150th anniversary of Lenin’s birth
For everyone else in Moscow, big birthday parties are banned during the coronavirus epidemic. But not for Vladimir Lenin, founder of the Soviet Union. To mark the 150th anniversary of his birth, several dozen communists processed across Red Square, beneath red banners, to where Lenin’s embalmed body lies in a mausoleum. The FSO security agency responsible for the area said the group had been allowed to meet providing they observed the social distancing rules. But an initial attempt to stay two metres apart lasted only moments. And while some of Lenin’s loyal followers wore medical masks, the party leader – who’s in his mid 70s – went barefaced. The rest of Moscow has been staying at home for several weeks to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus – all mass gatherings are outlawed. So it’s not clear why the Communists were granted such a high-profile exception. A group in the neighbouring region of Tula weren’t so lucky. Three were detained there when they laid flowers at one of some 6,000 Lenin statues that still stand on squares and streets across Russia.
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19:25 Italy deaths top 25,000
The number of people who have died with coronavirus in Italy, one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic, has passed 25,000. Italy’s civil protection services on Wednesday reported a further 437 fatalities over the past 24 hours, increasing the overall tally to 25,085. However, the number of people registered as currently carrying the illness fell to 107,699 from 107,709 on Tuesday, a third consecutive daily decline. There were 2,384 people in intensive care on Wednesday compared with 2,471 on Tuesday. Italy’s death toll is the second highest in the world after the US. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Italy will announce a plan to gradually exit its lockdown by the end of this week.
19:20 US government employees targeted by hackers – Google
Google’s Threat Analysis Group (Tag) said on Wednesday that US government employees had been targeted by hackers during the Covid-19 crisis. Tag said it had identified “over a dozen government-backed attacker groups using Covid-19 themes as lure for phishing and malware attempts”. It did not specify the governments backing such attacks. One notable campaign targeted personal accounts of US government employees with messages offering free meals, coupons, online ordering and delivery from fast food franchises. Google said most of these attack messages were filtered into spam folders. The company said its security systems have found numerous such examples of hackers trying to exploit the pandemic, including emails linking to sites “spoofing the World Health Organization login page”. There are more than 240 million Covid-related spam messages sent daily, according to Google. “These findings show that health organisations, public health agencies and the individuals who work there are becoming new targets as a result of Covid-19.”
19:02 France deaths pass 21,000
A further 544 people have died with coronavirus in hospital and care homes in France. The tally – 336 in hospital and 208 in care homes – brought France’s total Covid-19 death toll to 21,340. Wednesday’s daily figure of 544 deaths is 13 more than was reported in the previous 24 hours. On Monday, France became the fourth country after Italy, Spain and the USA to pass the 20,000-fatality mark. France has been under lockdown for five weeks. Last week French President Emmanuel Macron said this would be extended until 11 May, and that public events could not be held until mid-July at the earliest.
18:42 US secretary of state criticises China, WHO
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has criticised the Chinese government and the World Health Organization (WHO) over the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. “We strongly believe the Chinese Communist Party did not report the outbreak of the new coronavirus in a timely fashion to the World Health Organization,” Pompeo told reporters. Pompeo said there were very clear expectations about nations needing to “disclose data to protect global health”.
He said China did not share all the information it had and instead “covered up how dangerous the disease is” and “censored those who tried to warn the world”. “The WHO’s regulatory arm clearly failed during this pandemic,” he added. “Transparency and getting it right is critical to saving lives.” The US administration has said it will withdraw funding from the WHO, but officials at Mr Pompeo’s briefing said it would not take back money that had already been given to the WHO.
18:24 New York governor responds to protests
There were protesters outside the New York state capitol as Governor Andrew Cuomo gave his daily update. A reporter told Cuomo the demonstrators said they were not receiving unemployment funds and could not feed their families. Similar anti-lockdown protests have occurred across the US, with demonstrators often quoting President Donald Trump’s line that “the cure cannot be worse than the disease”. Cuomo responded: “How can the cure be worse than the illness if the illness is potential death?” He said emotional stress, economic hardships, even rising domestic violence are all “very bad, but not death”. “You’re now responsible for my life,” he said, adding: “What if it was your family that might get infected?” The governor also promised unemployment payments would be coming in “a couple of days”. “You wanna go to work? Go take a job as an essential worker,” Cuomo suggested.
17:33 Virus will be with us a long time – WHO boss
At the World Health Organization’s briefing, its head has warned that although epidemics in Western Europe “appear to be stable or declining”, there are still “worrying upward trends in Africa, Central and South America, and Eastern Europe”. “Make no mistake – we have a long way to go, this virus will be with us for a long time,” director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. He said that while people are “understandably frustrated” with stay-at-home orders, “one of the greatest dangers we face now is complacency”. “The world will not and cannot go back to the way things were,” Dr Tedros added. “There must be a new normal, a world that’s healthier, safer and better prepared.”
17:00 UK Press Briefing
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has emerged and today’s Downing Street briefing is under way.
The foreign secretary starts by confirming the latest figures for the number of people who have tested positive, those who are currently in hospital and the number of deaths in hospitals (up 759 to 18,100). He says his “heart goes out” to every bereaved family. But he insists the government has been guided by the scientific advice at all times and insists that social distancing measures have helped save lives and protected the NHS. He says these have been “tough times” for businesses, families and the vulnerable, describing it as an “economic, physical and mental strain” for the whole nation. He says there is “no hiding from the tragedy” that the virus has wrought and says the UK is “not out of the woods yet”. While he acknowledges there continues to be “challenges” in many areas, such as providing protective kit for NHS and care staff, he praises the way the nation has pulled together. He goes on to pay tribute to the role that the armed forces have played in helping setting up the Nightingale hospitals and praising the “calm reassurance” they have provided. “If we stick together and stay the course, we will defeat the virus for good.”
We are now hearing from the head of the UK’s armed forces – General Sir Nicholas Carter – who is making his first appearance at these briefings. The military has been helping in the distribution of protective kit to frontline services, delivering mobile testing labs and building emergency field hospitals. Gen Sir Nicholas Carter says “humility” has been the military’s “watchword” while providing that support to “heroic” front-line workers. He says dozens of military experts have been providing support to local organisations and their work has helped the NHS get deliveries to about 50,000 locations. He says that the operation to support the NHS has been “the single greatest logistical challenge” that he’s come across in a 40-year career. The UK government continues to face criticism and complaints over the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Prof Chris Whitty, the UK government’s chief medical adviser, says the drop in transport usage during the UK lockdown remains “very stable”. He adds that the number of people in hospital beds is either “improving” or “broadly flat”, while UK deaths are “flattening off”. But, unveiling the new slide shown above with a rolling 7-day comparison of global deaths, he says based on other countries the UK should not expect a “sudden” decline in numbers. For context, the UK hit a peak of 980 deaths in hospitals on 10 April. The latest increase, reported hours ago, was 759 deaths.
The first question is from the BBC’s Alison Holt. She refers to suggestions that English care home deaths could be double the number originally thought. She asks Dominic Raab, who is leading this briefing, whether so many deaths is an inevitable outcome in an elderly and vulnerable population. Mr Raab says no and insists the government is “straining every sinew” to minimise the loss of life. He accepts that care home residents are vulnerable but says the government is doing everything it can, in terms of providing kit and testing residents and staff, to help them through the crisis. Pressed further by Alison Holt on reported PPE shortages and testing shortfalls, Mr Raab insists the “situation is improving”. Prof Whitty says the number of deaths in care homes, which many say have been consistently under-reported, have been “relatively modest” so far but concedes the mortality rate will sadly be high. On Tuesday, figures published by the Office for National Statistics suggested there had been 975 coronavirus deaths in care homes in England by 10 April. But today the government said the number of deaths in the five days following 10 April could be double that.
Sky’s political editor Beth Rigby asks when the government will deliver on its promises to get protective kit to frontline workers and about the prospect for modest relaxations of the current lockdown, at the government’s next review in early May. On the lockdown, Mr Raab says there is “light at the end of the tunnel” and the UK is coming through the peak – but he adds we “are not done yet” and the government will be guided by its five tests. (Read more about those here.) On PPE, Prof Whitty says he is no expert but concedes that supplies have been “tight for different items at different times”. While there have been big logistical challenges, he says the NHS has never “gone underwater” – a reference to running out of key items.
Asked whether the army is being underused, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says the government is “considering what more can be done” with the armed forces. Chief of Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter says the army has deployed “all that we need to deploy at this stage”. He adds that soldiers working alongside healthcare workers will receive protective kit in the same way. Prof Chris Whitty, the UK government’s chief medical adviser, is also asked about blood tests to tell people whether they’ve had the virus – these are not yet available in the UK. He says there have been issues developing a reliable test, but he hopes there will be one in the “pretty near future”.
Gen Sir Nick Carter is asked about testing – an issue that has dogged the government for weeks. He says the military is working with the government and the NHS to create a “very sophisticated” system to ramp up testing across the country. Part of this will involve a move to “upscale” mobile testing units, which he compares to pop-up libraries. He says the system must “match demand to supply in the right way”. Currently only about 20,000 tests are being carried out each day, despite ministers promising 100,000 a day by the end of April. The government says there is now capacity for 40,000 tests but demand has fallen short. But the Labour Party says many workers have struggled to get to testing sites during the lockdown.
There’s a question about whether a reported increase in railway services for mid-May is an indication of when the lockdown measures will be eased. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says the reports are “not something I recognise”. He is also asked whether the NHS surcharge paid by non-EU citizens will be waived for the family members of healthcare workers. The charge is due to be extended to EU citizens at the end of the post-Brexit transition period. Mr Raab does not respond to the question directly, but says the government is determined to “look after staff in every way possible”.
The Sun’s Tom Newton Dunn asked what advice ministers were getting from scientists on face masks and whether they recommend people travelling to work tomorrow morning should wear them? Dominic Raab said the Sage advisory committee recently discussed the issue but had not yet reported back to ministers. Until it does, the advice that masks are not necessary “will not change”. Prof Whitty, the chief medical adviser, was asked about the medical criteria for relaxing the lockdown. In response, Prof Whitty hit a fairly downbeat note, saying the transmission rate – known as the R number – could not be allowed to rise above one again as that would quickly lead from “bad to really bad numbers”. The R number signifies how many other people one infected person is expected to pass the virus on to. He warned the virus would “not be eradicated or disappear” any time soon and the UK would have to live with it for some time yet.
The briefing has now ended. There was a question about whether UK citizens would be the first to receive a successful vaccine developed in the country. You might remember that a human trial is beginning in the UK this week. Prof Chris Whitty, the UK government’s chief medical adviser, said the matter was a “commercial question”. But he said the UK would want to get any vaccine, whether it is developed in the UK or overseas, “as fast as we can”. He cautioned, though, that the chances of a vaccine or “highly effective” drug treatments arriving within a calendar year were “incredibly small”.
UK Chief Medical Officer Prof Chris Witty acknowledged deaths in care homes reported so far “will be an underestimate”. On Tuesday, the Office for National Statistics reported there had been 826 deaths in care homes linked to coronavirus in the week up to 10 April. But what was striking was that there were many more extra deaths where the cause seemed unexplained. There were around 5,000 deaths in care homes during that week – twice the normal number. That leaves around 1,700 extra deaths. The suspicion is that a number of coronavirus deaths are going under-reported because a lack of tests means it is difficult for doctors to be sure if the virus is playing a role when filling in death certificates.
Asked whether the Nightingale hospital in Bristol would be needed, Prof Chris Whitty said England’s south-west, where the city is located, was “probably least” affected. He added that the Nightingale field hospitals rapidly set up around the UK had in general not been needed to be used in “great numbers”. But he said the NHS would be under pressure for “really quite a long time” and having the extra capacity gave the health service “flexibility”.
The panel at the UK government’s daily press briefing (which concluded a few minutes ago) was asked about a new app being tested that would make contact tracing of those exposed to the virus much easier. David Hughes, from the Press Association, asked them how important the app – which people will be able to download on their phones and will be voluntary – could be in preventing a second wave of infections, and whether the army would have a role in its roll-out. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said it could have a “significant impact” on helping the UK ease out of the current restrictions and move onto the “next phase”. Prof Whitty, the UK’s chief medical adviser, emphasised the importance of greater contact tracing and testing as “early as possible” in the incubation period of the virus to prevent further “resurgences”.
16:46 All German states back face mask use
All 16 German states have announced plans to make face masks compulsory, as the country slowly reduces its lockdown restrictions. The rules will differ slightly from state to state. Mask use will however be mandatory on public transport throughout the country, and nearly all states will also make people wear face coverings when shopping. You can read more about the plans here. Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has confirmed 145,694 cases and recorded 4,879 deaths in total.
16:38 Second home fears rise in Wales
A group of senior doctors from across Wales has written an open letter to Wales’ first minister and health minister calling on them to make second home use unlawful during the Covid-19 pandemic. “Tourism and holiday home use facilitate non-essential movement into rural areas, increasing the population and thus placing additional pressures on local health and emergency services,” the letter said. First Minister Mark Drakeford has said that his government was looking at strengthening regulations on people travelling to second homes and that he would give more details by the end of the week.
16:25 First US death came weeks earlier than thought
A post-mortem in California has revealed the first US death related to the coronavirus came weeks earlier than previously thought. A death in Seattle, Washington state, on 26 February was originally believed to be the first in the country. But two people who died on 6 and 17 February in Santa Clara Country, California, have now been shown to have had Covid-19. At the time, national criteria restricted testing only to people with a known travel history and who were showing specific symptoms. The county coroner’s statement said “we anticipate additional deaths from Covid-19 will be identified” as investigations continue.
16:10 British army general to join UK briefing
Today’s UK government press conference will take place in about an hour’s time from Downing Street. Fresh from standing in for PM Boris Johnson in the House of Commons, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will be leading the briefing. Today, he’ll be joined by the UK government’s chief medical adviser Prof Chris Whitty, also a familiar face at these events. But for the first time, we’ll also be hearing from Ch
15:12 German vaccine set for human testing
A possible vaccine for Covid-19, developed by German firm BioNTech and US drug giant Pfizer, has been given the green light for human testing. The trial will begin with 200 healthy people, aged between 18 and 55, being given the vaccine. “This is a good sign that the development of a vaccine in Germany is so progressed that we can start with the first studies,” the country’s health minister, Jens Spahn, said Wednesday. “At the same time the advice remains important that it will take months. This is an injection in the body. Safety first is the guideline for such a vaccine.” Only a handful of vaccine candidates have been approved for clinical testing on humans globally, and experts caution that it will take at least a year for a viable vaccine to be developed. Scientists at the UK’s Oxford University are starting human trials of a possible vaccine this week. Other clinical trials are taking place in the US and China.
15:04 UK death toll rises
A further 759 people have died with coronavirus across UK hospitals after testing positive for coronavirus as of 17:00 BST on Tuesday, government figures show. It takes the total number to 18,100. These figures do not include deaths in the community, in places such as care homes.
In England, daily figures show a further 665 people who tested positive for Covid-19 have died in hospitals. The NHS England update takes the total to 16,272. In Scotland, latest figures released earlier showed the daily death toll increased by 77, taking the total number of hospital deaths to 1,062. In Wales, another 15 hospital deaths have been reported, taking the total number to 624. Wednesday’s update has not yet been released for Northern Ireland.
14:51 UK’s virtual parliament ‘sort of worked’
It sort of worked. The new, virtual, House of Commons opened an unprecedented day with the first-ever remote Welsh Questions – with Secretary of State Simon Hart answering from home. Sound quality was occasionally ropey, questions had occasionally to be guessed at, with Mr Hart revealing previously unsuspected lip-reading skills. The pace was deliberately leisurely, with Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle spinning out the way he called MPs to speak, to allow the technical crews behind the scenes to get the right face up on the screens. And the close-ups from the home cameras gave a new dimension. By the time PMQs (Prime Minister’s Questions) began, the routine was established…but it was an unfamiliar cast of characters, with First Secretary Dominic Raab deputising for his convalescing boss, and Sir Keir Starmer making his debut as the Leader of the Opposition.
14:00 Some English football leagues end season
Football clubs in the National League – the fifth tier of English football – and the National League North and the National League South – the sixth tier – have voted to end the 2019-20 season at its current point. The league said there was a “clear majority of clubs in favour”, although it is unclear what will happen regarding teams being promoted and relegated. The Premier League – English football’s top level – and the EFL – consisting of the Championship, League One and League Two – are all trying to complete their current seasons fully. Premier League leaders Liverpool are 25 points clear at the top of the table and need to win two of their final nine matches to become English champions for the first time since 1990.
13:49 Chinese city near Russian border imposes lockdown
A Chinese city near the Russian border has now “imposed a lockdown on all residential communities and villages”, according to the national Global Times newspaper. The city of Harbin, which has a population of 10 million people, is implementing strict measures today, similar to those imposed on the central city of Wuhan during the early stages of the Covid-19 outbreak in January. Media are widely reporting that Harbin’s government has prohibited non-locals, and any vehicles without local licence plates, from entering the city. Communities and villages have also been instructed to guard compounds, and to ensure that anybody entering or leaving can prove that they are healthy.
Residents must not go out without a mask, and they are now being told they must comply with temperature checks. Global Times says that residents are encouraged to report any known returnees who fail to comply with these procedures. It says they should be electronically monitored. There are currently 52 confirmed cases in Harbin. Yesterday, state media reported that 4,106 people had recently been screened for the virus, after two clusters of Covid-19 infections were discovered at hospitals there. These have been traced back to a Chinese student who returned from New York in mid-March.
13:38 Third of Scotland’s Covid-19 deaths in care homes
About one in three of every coronavirus-linked deaths in Scotland so far have happened in care homes, new figures show. The latest data released weekly by the National Records of Scotland show Covid-19 had been mentioned on the death certificates of 1,616 people by 19 April. Of these deaths, 537 were in care homes, while more than half (910) occurred in hospitals. The numbers differ from those released daily by the Scottish government, which do not include deaths outside of hospitals. Equivalent figures were released for England and Wales by the Office for National Statistics on Tuesday.
13:13 Students ‘should be able to retake the year’
UK students should be given the option to retake or be reimbursed for this academic year, the National Union of Students (NUS) says. The NUS is also calling for a student hardship fund to help those who are struggling. The union says a survey of nearly 10,000 student union members shows 81% are worried about their future job prospects and 95% are concerned about the impact of Covid-19 on the economy. The government says it understands this is a difficult time for students.
12:33 India passes tough new law to curb attacks on doctors
The Indian government has passed a law by which those who are found guilty of attacking doctors or health workers can be sentenced to up to seven years in jail. Doctors, nurses and community health workers from across the country have reported being attacked – some of the assaults happened in neighbourhoods while health workers were in the process of contact-tracing suspected positive patients, and others occurred in hospitals. In some cases doctors have also been chased away by their neighbours who feared contracting the virus from them. The new law was introduced in an ordinance on Wednesday. It’s now part of The Epidemic Diseases Act, a 123-year-old colonial-era law, and also carries a hefty fine that could run up to $6,500 (£5,200). “We have zero tolerance and will not allow this,” Prakash Javadekar, a central minister told local media. India has so far recorded 15,474 active cases and 640 deaths.
12:24 Thousands of cancer cases going undetected, UK charity warns
Thousands of cancer patients are not getting life-saving treatment because of the coronavirus crisis, Cancer Research UK has warned. The charity says its “very concerned” that 200,000 people a week are no longer being screened for bowel, breast and cervical cancer across the UK. It said screening services have been formally paused in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and are “de facto” paused in England as no appointments are being made at screening hubs. Its research also found the number of urgent referrals by GPs has dropped by 75% due to concerns around the risk of Covid-19 at surgeries and hospitals. More than 2,200 new cancer cases could be going undetected each week, dramatically impacting patients’ chances of survival, the charity said. Its chief clinician Professor Charles Swanton told the BBC that ministers need to urgently deliver on their promise to create “Covid-free” hubs in private hospitals, which he said could be helped by the “routine screening of all staff”.
12:00 UK PMQs
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab begins PMQs with a statement telling MPs that Boris Johnson is in good spirits as he makes his recovery from coronavirus. He also thanks health workers and other frontline workers. “We owe them an enormous debt of gratitude,” he says. Sir Keir Starmer sends his best wishes to the PM and all those affected by coronavirus. He opens with questions on coronavirus testing – how will the UK government get to the 100,000 coronavirus tests a day that it has pledged? And he follows up with questions about the existing capacity for tens of thousands of tests that could be used each day. Mr Raab says the government is confident it will meet the target for testing people for coronavirus and is making good progress.
At PMQs, Sir Keir Starmer asks about the shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) saying front-line workers are “scared” at work because they don’t have the right kit. “The government plan clearly isn’t working,” adds Sir Keir. “When will they finally get equipment they need to keep them safe?” Mr Raab says getting kit to where it needs to be is an international challenge. He says the government has made a “huge effort” to bolster ventilator stocks, and they have delivered one billion items of PPE so far. But, he adds, the government “recognises we have got to strive even harder”.
11:55 Healthcare workers to receive cash bonus in the Netherlands
Healthcare workers in the Netherlands are to receive a cash bonus to recognise their efforts in fighting Covid-19, Dutch finance minister Wopke Hoekstra revealed on Tuesday. While it’s nice to see people recognising the efforts of doctors and nurses fighting to save lives, Wopke Hoekstra said the universal gratitude must be expressed in a more tangible way, not just in the form of applause – a reference to the current trend in countries like the Netherlands and the UK for people to go outside to clap in a public display of appreciation for staff involved in battling the pandemic. The idea of showing support with a financial reward was first discussed in the Dutch parliament a month ago. Politicians are now working out how much it will be and when the bonus be paid to those on the front line.
11:47 Romania hands out 200,000 fines for lockdown breaches
Romanians earn an average of £500 (€600) a month, so if you get caught breaking the lockdown rules, a fine of up to six times that amount is going to hurt. Now it’s emerged that authorities have issued 200,000 fines in just under a month and picked up some £69m (€78m) in the process. The mayor of Bucharest’s most densely populated area was himself fined for cycling in a public park. Robert Negoita said he’d been taught a lesson. Read the story here. People in Romania are allowed out only for work and essential shopping during the daytime.
11:41 Raab faces Starmer at ‘virtual’ PMQs
Boris Johnson is still recovering from coronavirus so Dominic Raab will deputise for him at Prime Minister’s Question’s shortly. The foreign secretary will face new Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, and MPs questions for the first time since the Easter break at about 12:00 BST. Mr Raab and Sir Keir will be in the House of Commons. Other MPs are expected to ask their questions via video link, with the number of MPs in the chamber limited to 50 to aid social-distancing. UK personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages and virus testing are expected to be among the key topics on the agenda.
11:20 Spain deaths continue to mount
Spain has recorded 435 deaths in the past 24 hours. This number, a slight increase on yesterday, brings their overall death toll to 21,717. It comes as the country’s parliament debates a request from the prime minister to extend the current state of emergency until 9 May. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says his government plans to start winding down the country’s lockdown measures after this date. “We will be going back-and-forth depending on how the pandemic evolves,” he said. The country has almost 205,000 confirmed coronavirus cases – the second highest in the world.
11:02 UK airlines and travel firms criticised
There has been a wave of complaints from air passengers and holidaymakers who have faced difficulty getting refunds on their cancelled travel plans. Consumer organisation Which? has accused many of the UK’s biggest airlines and travel companies of breaking laws in place to protect customers. It said the travel industry’s own estimates suggested £7bn of travelers’ money was affected.
10:47 Singapore cases pass 10,000
The number of cases in Singapore has crossed the 10,000 mark, tipped over by 1,016 new cases reported on Wednesday. Singapore now has the highest number of cases in South East Asia, with a large majority of these cases linked to dormitories that house foreign workers. Previously lauded as a model for how to get it right, it’s now had to extend and tighten a lockdown, as well as seal off multiple dormitories where these men live – raising questions about why more wasn’t done earlier.The government is carrying out extensive testing and trying to move healthy workers out, but people living in the dorms said they were scared about getting ill, and about what the future holds for them. We spoke to some of them:
10:40 Pakistan PM awaits Covid-19 test results
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is awaiting the results of his Covid-19 test after news emerged that he had come in contact with a charity group leader who has tested positive. Health authorities collected his sample on Tuesday, and results are expected later on Wednesday, local media reported. The philanthropist met the prime minister last week when he gave him a cheque to support Pakistan’s fight against the virus. Mr Khan has also held various meetings over the last few days, including a Cabinet meet on Tuesday. Pakistan has confirmed more than 9,000 infections and nearly 200 deaths. In the UK, Boris Johnson is recovering from coronavirus after testing positive for it last month. And in Canada, Justin Trudeau had to self-isolate after his wife tested positive in March.
10:12 Labour wants more PPE made by British firms
More now on the UK government’s attempts to acquire more personal protective equipment (PPE) for health and social care workers. Labour’s shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth has called on the government to “mobilise British firms” to make PPE. The government remains under pressure for failing to supply enough PPE and a number of British companies have told the BBC their offers to help have been ignored. Care minister Helen Whately told Radio 4’s Today programme the government had responded to 3,000 of 8,000 offers from companies, but was concentrating on those with established supply chains.
Ashworth said the delay in responding to offers was “understandable” but called for more focus to be given to making PPE in the UK, pointing to the delays in equipment arriving from Turkey as an example of issues with sourcing it internationally. “It may be companies can only make small quantities of it but that doesn’t matter,” Ashworth told BBC Breakfast. “We need everybody doing what they can as part of this national effort. “It is absolutely vital we are supporting small businesses because they are backbone of economy.”
09:25 R. Kelly denied virus jail release
R&B singer R. Kelly, awaiting sex abuse trials in New York and Chicago, has had a second emergency plea for his release denied. He is currently housed in Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago, where coronavirus has been reported in staff and inmates. But on Tuesday a US District Judge said he must stay behind bars over fears he could flee bail or intimidate witnesses if released. Several high-profile US inmates, including disgraced comedian Bill Cosby, have cited coronavirus in appeals for early release in recent weeks. Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen and rapper Tekashi 69 are among those who have been allowed to finish their sentences at home.
09:12 Stray email meant UK did not join EU scheme – care minister
Care minister Helen Whately says it is “very frustrating” that “an email went astray” meaning the UK did not participate in an EU scheme to source medical equipment. On Tuesday, a senior civil servant retracted claims the UK had taken a “political decision” not to join the scheme. Whately told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme it was a “communication error”. The MP also said it is “really troubling” not as many people in the UK are being tested for coronavirus as could be. She said the UK has the capacity to carry out 40,000 tests per day but on Tuesday only 18,000 were tested. Whately said the government will try to improve the access to tests by increasing mobile testing units and sending out home testing kits to NHS and care workers.
08:58 Japan discovers cluster in foster home
There’s been a virus cluster in a Japanese care home for infants, with eight children testing positive. They had been tested after one staff member was confirmed positive. None of the children were showing major symptoms but they have been taken to hospital, a spokeswoman at Saiseikai Central Hospital, which runs the institution, said. Japan has more than 11,500 confirmed infections and nearly 300 deaths have been linked to the virus.
08:45 Spain PM aims to ease lockdown in May
Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says his government plans to start winding down the country’s lockdown measures in the second half of May, reports Reuters. These restrictions will be eased slowly and gradually to ensure safety, he said at a parliamentary session. Mr Sanchez is also expected to extend Spain’s state of emergency until 9 May. Spain first enforced its lockdown on 14 March. It has the second highest number of virus cases in the world at 204,178, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.
08:14 Stephen Hawking ventilator donated to NHS
Stephen Hawking’s ventilator has been donated to the Royal Papworth Hospital in the English city of Cambridge in the hope that it will “help in the fight against Covid-19”, says a Press Association report. The physicist, who suffered from motor neurone disease, died in 2018. “After [he] passed away, we returned all the medical equipment he used that belonged to the NHS but there were some items which he bought for himself,” his daughter Lucy Hawking told the PA. “We are now passing them to the NHS in the hope they will help.” The UK is understood to currently have about 10,000 ventilators.The Health Secretary Matt Hancock had earlier estimated that the country needs 18,000.
07:54 Commonwealth summit postponed
This year’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), scheduled to be held in Rwanda, has been postponed due to the pandemic. More than 10,000 delegates – including the UK Prime Minister and Prince of Wales – were expected to attend the 26th summit in the capital Kigali in two months’ time. A new date has not been announced. It was going to be the first summit held in a country with no colonial links to the UK. Rwanda, which was formerly a Belgian colony, joined the Commonwealth in 2009.
07:44 Iceland announces new aid package
Officials in Iceland have announced a new package to support businesses and groups suffering in the pandemic. Unemployed people and low-income families will get extra help and smaller businesses will get loans to support them in a package reportedly worth $420m. “Today’s announcement reflects our priorities to protect jobs, embrace our people and look to the future,” Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir said. The northern European country has been praised for its virus testing, and has recorded 1,778 virus cases and 10 deaths so far.
07:42 UK teacher dies of Covid-19
An English teacher working at Kingsford Community school in Newham in east London has died of coronavirus. On the school’s website, headteacher Joan Deslandes wrote: “It is with a heavy heart and deep sorrow that I must share the tragic news that Doctor Louisa Rajakumari, a much-loved and gifted Kingsford teacher, sadly died this morning after contracting the coronavirus.”
07:33 Dozens of Kenyans escape from quarantine
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has said dozens of people who were filmed escaping from mandatory quarantine in the capital, Nairobi, will be arrested. The president spoke on Wednesday morning, just hours after the video was shared online. It showed some people jumping over a perimeter wall at one of the quarantine centres. President Kenyatta said the government knew the identities of all those who escaped and would take them back to the quarantine centre. Kenya’s Citizen TV channel said the escape took place when it started raining and guards took cover.
07:09 London Tube operator could run out of money by May
Transport for London (TfL) will run out of money by the end of the month unless the government steps in, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has said. TfL runs the UK capital’s public transport systems, including the London Underground, but services have seen a dramatic drop in passengers because of coronavirus . Khan said TfL is in discussions with the government about a grant but said it would not be able to pay staff and may have to cut services if that was not possible. Khan told BBC London TfL is currently using cash reserves to keep running.
06:41 Germany sees second day of slight rise in cases
Germany has seen 2,237 new positive tests over the past day, official numbers on Wednesday showed. The official overall number is now 145,694, although around two-thirds of those have already recovered. The daily increase marks a second consecutive day of new infections slightly rising. Earlier this week, the country eased some of its lockdown measures, allowing smaller shops to reopen and some school classes to resume. The reported death toll rose by 281 to 4,879.
06:15 Will Spain extend its lockdown?
The Spanish parliament will decide on Wednesday whether to extend for a further two weeks the national lockdown that has been in place since the middle of March. Spain has one of the highest rates of confirmed infections in the world, second only to the US. More than 21,000 deaths have been linked to the virus. But with the number of daily deaths falling, there is an increasing debate over how and when strict lockdown conditions should be lifted. Last week, some industries were allowed to return to work. From this Sunday, children will be allowed to leave their homes for the first time in six weeks. Other European countries such as Austria, Denmark and Germany have already begun easing lockdown measures.
06:07 PPE equipment arrives in UK
A British RAF plane believed to be carrying a delayed consignment of personal protective equipment for UK medical workers has landed in the UK. Flight tracker RadarBox showed the Airbus A400-M depart Istanbul and land just after 03:30GMT at the RAF Brize Norton, reports PA. The consignment was originally due to arrive on Sunday but was hit by “unexpected delays”. It is a small part of a gigantic procurement of PPE for the NHS.
05:58 South Africa unveils $26bn Covid-19 relief package
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced an economic relief package worth $26bn (£21bn) intended to protect companies and three million workers during the coronavirus pandemic. In a televised address, he said the assistance amounted to 10% of South Africa’s entire GDP. Mr Ramaphosa said economic relief measures include tax relief, wage support through the unemployment insurance fund and funding to small businesses. Mr Ramaphosa acknowledged that during just four weeks of lockdown, the number of people plunged into poverty and suffering food insecurity had risen dramatically. He said the lockdown had allowed the government space to save tens of thousands of lives. But he said that after 3,400 confirmed infections and 58 deaths, the country was still in the early stages of the pandemic.
05:15 Calls for India’s largest produce market to shut after trader dies
Sellers are demanding for Azadpur Mandi, one of Asia’s largest wholesale fruit and vegetable markets, to be closed after a trader died of Covid-19 on Tuesday. The 57-year-old man, who sold jackfruits and peas, tested positive on Monday, officials told the Hindustan Times newspaper. They added that a team was looking at all the people the trader was in contact with.
Meanwhile, some traders want a complete lockdown of the market. “The authorities are being very negligent about Covid-19 spread in the market. We urge the government to shut the market for the time being,” one of them said. The market is spread across 78 acres in capital Delhi and would often attract more than 200,000 people on any given day. It has remained open during India’s lockdown and has been operating with social distancing measures in place, authorities say.
05:04 Lululemon apologises for ‘bat fried rice’ shirt
Sports apparel giant Lululemon is the latest target of the Chinese public’s anger – after its art director was found to have promoted an offensive t-shirt on Instagram. Trevor Fleming had shared a link to a t-shirt called “Bat Fried Rice”, created by a Californian artist. The shirt featured a Chinese takeout box and a pair of chopsticks with bat wings. The words “No Thank You” are also featured prominently on the shirt. The shirt is in reference to a since debunked myth that the outbreak began with a woman in China eating bats.
The hashtag #LululemonInsultsChina immediately began trending on Chinese social media site Weibo, with many calling for the boycott of the brand. “My wife was a loyal follower of Lululemon but not anymore now. My wallet thanks you,” said one comment. Some other comments however, pointed out that the post was made by the art director and had no links to the company, calling for people to “be rational” in their boycott.
Lululemon has since apologised. They did not directly name Fleming but said “the individual involved is no longer an employee”. Fleming’s Instagram page has since been taken down. The Canadian company also clarified that the shirt was not a Lululemon product and called it “inexcusable”.
Sportswear brand Lululemon has fired one of its art directors after a post he shared caused the firm to become embroiled in a race row. Art director Trevor Fleming shared an image of a t-shirt depicting a takeaway box of “bat fried rice” over the weekend. His post was then shared onto Chinese social platform Weibo, where it was viewed hundreds of millions of times. It also sparked online calls for a boycott of the brand. The Canadian clothing firm, known best for its yoga pants, has 38 stores in China. “We acted immediately and the person involved is no longer an employee of Lululemon,” the firm said on Instagram. The coronavirus is thought to have originated in bats, with other wild animals, possibly pangolins, playing a role in transmission to humans.
04:05 China official calls Australian minister a ‘US puppet’
In another war of words between China and the West, Beijing’s embassy in Australia has accused a senior government minister of being a lackey in the “propaganda war against China” by the US. Washington has led calls in recent weeks for an investigation into the virus’ emergence and spread in China. Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton echoed such calls for Beijing to show transparency. He fell sick with the virus in March, and last week emerged to say Beijing owed answers to the families of the dead. “It would certainly be demanded of us, if Australia was at the epicentre of this virus making its way into society,” he told the Nine Network. In response, a Chinese embassy official told a state newspaper that “obviously he [Dutton] must have also received some instructions from Washington”. Beijing has also criticised foreign minister, Marise Payne, who has also called for an investigation. Canberra has stood by the calls, saying they’re in Australia’s national interest.
03:48 US top health expert warns of second wave
A senior US disease expert has warned that a second wave of coronavirus cases could be worse than the current one, as it would probably coincide with the start of the flu season. “There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through,” Robert Redfield, head of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told the Washington Post. He said that having two simultaneous respiratory outbreaks would put unimaginable strain on the health-care system. His warning comes as several US states prepared to reopen their economies and he urged the coming months to be used to prepare for what lies ahead and that social distancing must continue.
03:02 UN warns of famines of ‘biblical proportions’
The world is at risk of widespread famines “of biblical proportions” over the virus, the UN World Food Programme (WFP )warns. A new WFP report estimates the number suffering from hunger could go from 135 million to more than 250 million. Those most at risk are in 10 countries affected by conflict, economic crisis and climate change: Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Nigeria and Haiti. Even before the pandemic hit, parts of East Africa and South Asia were already facing severe food shortages.
Sources: Various news sources including but not limited to BBC News, Fox News, CNN.