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April 27: This live blog on the coronavirus outbreak in the UK is no longer being updated.
For all the latest global case total, death toll, and travel information, see Business Insider’s live updates here.
Kieran Corcoran, Alison Millington, Rachel Hosie, Lindsay Dodgson, Rob Price, and Julian Kossoff contributed reporting to this post.
Fears of lockdown fatigue as senior Conservative MPs press Boris Johnson to start easing the coronavirus restrictions
April 26: Boris Johnson is under pressure from senior colleagues to start easing the coronavirus lockdown soon.
The prime minister reportedly fears a “second peak” of infections if the government begins to lift the rules too early.
But several of his Cabinet colleagues are said to believe that the economic risks of prolonging the lockdown for much longer outweigh the health risks of maintaining it.
The UK government has extended the lockdown until at least May 7.
The UK death toll is more than 20,000
April 25: A further 813 people have died in UK hospitals testing positive for the coronavirus, as the national death toll passes 20,000.
20,319 people have died after catching the COVID-19 virus, the Department of Health & Social Care announced today.
UK government distances themselves from Trump’s bleach cure comments
April 24: The UK government has distanced themselves from comments by President Trump on Thursday suggesting that people could be injected with a disinfectant in order to treat people infected with the coronavirus.
“We can only speak for the UK’s response and in relation to disinfectant, I’m certainly not aware that it’s anything being recommended,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said.
They added: “Our approach is driven by UK science and medical advice.”
Millions of essential workers and their families can get coronavirus tests this week
April 23: Millions of essential workers and their families can get coronavirus tests from Friday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced.
He said that, from today, employers of essential workers – which is likely to number millions of people – would be able to visit the gov.uk website and book a test for their staff.
From tomorrow, essential workers would themselves be able to book a test. Other members of their household will be eligible too, Hancock said. Results will then be sent out by test.
The UK government set a target of testing 100,000 people a day by the end of the month.
Just 22,814 tests were carried out in the 24 hours up to 9am on Wednesday, however. There was the capacity for 48,273 tests in the same period, the prime minister’s spokesman said.
The government still hasn’t confirmed if it will tell people to wear masks
April 23: Amid reports that Boris Johnson’s government is preparing to advise people to cover their faces at work and on public transport, Downing Street today said a decision hadn’t yet been reached.
The prime minister’s spokesman said SAGE – the group of scientists which advises the government on issues including coronavirus – had given advice to ministers to review on the issue.
“In terms of face masks, SAGE met on Tuesday to look at further evidence relating to effectiveness of masks in preventing transmission of the disease,” the spokesman said on Thursday.
“They have finalised their advice and ministers will review this to decide on any further action which may be needed.”
Removing social distancing measures will take ‘a long time’
April 22: The UK will have to adhere to some sort of social distancing “for really quite a long time,” the country’s chief medical officer Sir Chris Whitty warned on Wednesday.
Speaking at the UK government’s press conference, Whitty warned that until a vaccine was widely available, everyday life would not return to normal, adding that the chances of finding a vaccine in 2020 were “incredibly small.”
“We are going to have to do a lot of things for really quite a long period of time, the question is what is the best package and this is what we’re trying to work out,” Witty said.
“Until we have those [a vaccine], and the probability of having those any time in the next calendar year are incredibly small and I think we should be realistic about that,” he said.
“We’re going to have to rely on other social measures, which of course are very socially disruptive as everyone is finding at the moment.”
Speaking about the prospect of easing the current lockdown measures, Whitty said: “If you release more on one area, you have to keep on board more of another area so there’s a proper trade-off and this is what ministers are having to consider.”
36 companies tell Labour their offers to provide PPE have not had a response
April 22: 36 companies have told Keir Starmer’s Labour Party that their offers to provide PPE to the UK government have not had a response.
Labour on Wednesday published a list of companies which had agreed to be named, as well as the PPE they had offered to provide to Boris Johnson’s government.
They include Issa Exchange Ltd in Birmingham, which said it offered a quarter of a million aprons and masks, and Network Medical Products in Ripon, which says it can provide 100,000 face visors a week.
The UK government’s system for procuring PPE like masks from manufactures has been heavily criticised.
Business Insider reported on Tuesday that a supplier based in Liverpool last month offered the Department of Health & Social Care 10 million face masks to provide to NHS staff. However, the department was too slow to respond to offer, meaning the masks were sold to other countries like Germany.
Starmer today accused the government of being “very slow” in its response to the coronavirus crisis in his first Prime Minister’s Questions as leader of the opposition Labour Party.
In a one-on-one exchange with Dominic Raab, who is deputising for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Starmer said: “There is a pattern emerging here. We were slow into lockdown, slow on testing, slow on protective equipment and now slow to take up these offers from British firms.”
The UK government is reportedly set to tell people to wear face masks
April 22: The UK government is reportedly preparing to tell people to wear face masks in public in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Boris Johnson’s government has until now resisted calls to recommend the public use of face masks to stop the transmission of the coronavirus, saying it is not fully supported by scientific evidence.
However, UK scientists met on Tuesday to discuss the matter, and are reportedly set to tell the government that people should wear masks and face coverings at work and on public transport to stop carriers of the virus passing it onto others. Here’s the full story.
April 21: The UK will begin trialling a coronavirus vaccine on April 23
Clinical trials of a coronavirus vaccine will begin in the UK on Thursday, according to Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
The vaccine, which has been developed by Oxford University, will be trialled on patients who have been infected with Covid-19, Hancock told the government’s daily press briefing. Imperial College is also developing a vaccine.
He said that vaccines are an “uncertain science” but added that the government was making “rapid progress” in securing one for mass testing.
Johnson will speak to Donald Trump today and the Queen later this week
April 21: Boris Johnson will today talk to Donald Trump and speak to the Queen later in the week, his official spokesperson said. It’ll be the first time the UK prime minister has spoken to the pair since being hospitalised with a severe case of the coronavirus.
Johnson is still recovering from the COVID-19 virus and not “formally doing government work,” his spokesperson said. However, he has this week sent a message to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and is due to speak to Trump and the Queen in the coming days.
His spokesperson said Johnson “has been receiving updates from Number 10 on the coronavirus response and has spoken with the First Secretary Of State [Dominic Raab] and with senior members of his team.”
They added: “Yesterday, he sent a message of condolence to Justin Trudeau, after the very sad loss of life in the shooting in Canada. Later today, at around 2pm, he will be speaking with President Trump. You’ll know the US is a current G7 resident and it will be opportunity for an update, and to thank the President for the messages of support he sent to the prime minister.
“Later this week, the PM is expected to have an audience with Her Majesty the Queen, and I believe that will be the first for 3 weeks.”
Here’s what else Johnson’s spokesperson said:
- UK government scientists are meeting on Tuesday lunchtime to discuss whether to advise British people to wear face masks, as some foreign governments have done.
- The target to carry out 100,000 coronavirus tests a day by the end of this month remains a government target. Reports on Monday evening suggested Downing Street was trying to present the target as being unrealistic and belonging to Health Secretary Matt Hancock. However, Johnson’s spokesperson said it was a government-wide objective. They said:” I think the story you’re referencing was one quoting an ‘insider close to Downing Street’ which I must admit is a new one to me. But whoever they are, they are wrong.”
New figures show a surge of coronavirus deaths in UK care homes
April 21: The number of elderly people who died in care homes after catching the coronavirus was 1,043 up until Friday, April 10, according to new Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures.
This is a big increase on the 217 total recorded the week before, and suggests the number of people dying in care homes after catching the COVID-19 virus is much higher than the UK government has previously suggested.
UK care providers have warned that hundreds of elderly people in care homes are dying after catching the coronavirus, but not being included in the UK government’s figures.
The same ONS data said that there were 13,121 deaths involving the coronavirus in England and Wales registered up until Saturday, April 18. This is 40% higher than the UK Department for Health & Social Care’s figures, which only include hospital deaths.
Our weekly deaths data show that
– of all deaths in England and Wales that occurred up to 10 April (registered up to 18 April), 13,121 involved COVID-19
— Office for National Statistics (ONS) (@ONS) April 21, 2020
Liz Kendall, the Labour Party’s Shadow Minister for Social Care, called on Boris Johnson’s government to publish coronavirus deaths which take place outside of hospitals.
“This shows the terrible toll that Coronavirus is having on elderly and disabled people in care homes,” Kendall said.
“Yet these awful figures are only scratching the surface of the emerging crisis in social care, because they are already 11 days out of date.”
“The Government must now publish daily figures of Covid-19 deaths outside hospital, including in care homes, so we know the true scale of the problem.
“This is essential to tackling the spread of the virus, ensuing social care has the resources it needs and getting vital PPE and testing to care workers on the frontline.”
140,000 firms apply for the UK government’s job retention scheme in day one
April 20: 140,000 firms in the UK have applied to receive the government’s Jobs Retention Scheme since it launched at 8am this morning, Chancellor Rishi Sunak says.
Sunak at the UK government’s press conference on Monday said firms which apply for the support will receive government funding within six working days. Under the scheme, which Sunak first revealed last month, the government will help firms struggling with the financial impact of the coronavirus by paying 80% of the salaries of their employees. Over one million Brits are to set to have their salaries paid for as a result of today’s applications, Sunak said.
Elsewhere, the UK government’s most up-to-date data on the coronavirus shows that the number of people in London hospitals with the illness has fallen for a seventh day in a row.
Boris Johnson’s priority is to prevent ‘exponential’ second spike
April 20: A spokesperson for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that avoiding a second peak is now the government’s top priority, following reports that the government could extend the coronavirus lockdown for months to come.
“The big concern is a second peak and that will do the most damage to health and the economy,” the spokesman said.
“If you move too quickly, the virus could begin to spread exponentially again. The public will expect us to do every we can to stop the spread of the virus and protect life.”
It comes after Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, said on Monday that the Prime Minister is concerned that lifting current restrictions too soon would risk a second spike.
“The PM is very concerned about a second peak if we lift the restrictions too soon,” Dowden told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday morning.
Asked if the lockdown would be wound back at the start of next month, as some recent reports suggest, he replied: “We said right at the beginning of this and the Prime Minister said he expected this peak to last around three months.
“What’s happened is kind of consistent with that,” he said.
The UK government is under growing pressure to extend the Brexit transition period to focus on the coronavirus
April 20: Two-thirds of Brits (66%) want Boris Johnson’s government to extend the Brexit transition period and focus completely on fighting the coronavirus, according to a new poll for campaign groups Best For Britain and Hope Not Hate.
Downing Street is insistent that the prime minister will not seek an extension to the transition period, which is due to expire at the end of December. Both sides are committed to negotiating a new free trade deal by this deadline. However, the outbreak of the virus has made an already tricky set of negotiations incredibly difficult, and caused concern that the UK is heading for cliff-edge in January when it will move to dramatically new trading arrangements with the EU.
The poll published on Sunday evening said nearly half of Brexit voters (49%) and Conservative voters (48%) support extending the transition period.
Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish government today urged the UK government to extend the transition period by two years, the maximum length allowed by the Withdrawal Agreement.
Scottish Cabinet Secretary Michael Russell said: “The Scottish economy cannot afford the double hit of COVID-19 and the growing likelihood of a ‘no deal’, or at best a hard Brexit deal, in less than nine months’ time.”
Downing Street hits back at weekend reports on Johnson’s handling of the coronavirus
The UK government has published a 2,100-word rebuttal of an explosive Sunday Times article which claimed to expose failings at the heart of the UK government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak – including that Prime Minister Boris Johnson missed five COBRA meetings on the subject.
The report quoted a senior Downing Street adviser, who singled out Johnson’s complacency and told the newspaper: “There’s no way you’re at war if your PM isn’t there.”
They also criticized his work ethic, referencing his decision to spend two weeks in January at the prime minister’s grace-and-favor mansion Chevening with his fiancé Carrie Symonds.
Senior UK government minister Michael Gove on Sunday, April 19, said the report was “grotesque,” and insisted that Johnson had taken all major decisions despite not being present for five COBRA meetings.
In a clear sign of just how much anger the article caused in Downing Street, the UK government on Sunday evening took the novel step of publishing a lengthy rebuttal.
The UK government spokesperson who authored the rebuttal said: ‘This article contains a series of falsehoods and errors and actively misrepresents the enormous amount of work which was going on in government at the earliest stages of the Coronavirus outbreak.”
The UK government launches a task force to search for a coronavirus vaccine
The UK government has launched a vaccine task force to step up the search for a vaccine for fighting the coronavirus, Business Secretary Alok Sharma announced on Friday, April 17.
The task force will include members of the government, as well as key figures in industry and academia, Sharma said at the UK government’s daily press conference.
It will be led by led by the UK’s Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan van Tam.
Sharma warned that developing a vaccine would take “many months” but that the taskforce was “maximising the chance of success” of finding one as soon as possible.
The UK government has also announced 21 new research projects for finding a vaccine.
847 more people die in UK hospitals from the coronavirus
April 17: The UK’s coronavirus death toll has risen by 847 people, the Department of Health & Social Care announced on Friday.
The latest figures mean that 14,576 people in the UK have died in hospitals after testing positive for COVID-19.
341,551 people have been tested of which 108,692 tested positive.
G7 discussed ‘learning lessons’ from China outbreak, says UK.
April 17: G7 leaders discussed how the coronavirus outbreak started in China and what lessons could be learned from, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said on Friday.
“They obviously discussed, as the Foreign Secretary set out, the need to learn the lessons of how the virus came to be spread,” he said.
He added: “The virus began in China. I think that is accepted as being the case. And we would want the Foreign Secretary to look very carefully with our international partners at how the outbreak happened, why it couldn’t be stopped earlier, and what can be done in the future.”
The comments came after the First Minister of State Dominic Raab said on Thursday that the world could not return to “business as usual” with China after the outrbeak.
China told by the UK that it cannot return to ‘business as usual’ with the world
April 17: The UK has told China that it cannot return to “business as usual” after the coronavirus pandemic.
UK First Minister of State Dominic Raab told a press conference on Thursday that the international community must investigate the origins of the outbreak in China.
“There absolutely needs to be a very deep dive on lessons, including on the outbreak of the virus, and I don’t think we can flinch from that at all,” Raab said.
When he was asked if there would be a “reckoning” with China after the crisis ended, Raab said: “There’s no doubt that we can’t have business as usual after this crisis, and we have to ask the hard questions about how it came about and how it could have been stopped earlier.”
He added: “We’ll look very carefully with other international partners at how this outbreak happened.”
UK lockdown extended by 3 weeks
April 16: The UK’s lockdown will continue for at least another three weeks, Boris Johnson’s government has announced.
Other European countries have already begun to wind back their lockdown measures as the number of new coronavirus cases flatten across the continent.
However, the UK’s First Secretary of State Dominic Raab on Thursday, April 16, said that the country’s current strict social distancing measures introduced last month would be extended at least until early-May, with Britain still to reach its peak from the virus.
UK will refuse to extend the Brexit transition despite coronavirus crisis
April 16: The UK government will refuse to extend the Brexit transition period despite the ongoing coronavirus crisis, Boris Johnson’s spokesman said at a press briefing on Thursday.
“We will not extend the transition period, and if the EU asks we will say no,” he said.
“Extending the transition period would simply prolong the negotiations, prolong business uncertainty, and delay the moment of control of our borders.
“It would also keep us bound by EU legislation at a point where we need legislative flexibility to manage the response to the coronavirus pandemic.”
The comments come as UK and EU negotiators restarted negotiations earlier this week by video conferencing and amid growing speculation that the ongoing crisis could force an extension to Britain’s planned exit from the transition period on December 31, 2020.
The UK government is set to announce 3 more weeks of lockdown today
The UK government is set to announce today (April 16) that it is extending the nationwide lockdown by another three weeks as part of its fight against the coronavirus.
Here’s how the day is expected to play out:
- 11am: First Secretary of State Dominic Raab, who is deputisting for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, will chair a Cabinet meeting in which Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance will update UK government ministers on the impact of lockdown measures so far.
- Lunchtime: Raab will join other world leaders in a G7 video call, chaired by US President Donald Trump, to discuss the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- 3:30pm: The UK’s acting leader will then chair a COBRA meeting of senior officials where an extension of the lockdown is set to be formally agreed.
- This evening: Raab will confirm the news in the UK government’s daily press conference.
For three weeks, the UK like many other countries around the world has been in lockdown.
The vast majority of businesses have been closed, while Brits have only been allowed to leave their homes for essential reasons like to buy food and medicine and do exercise.
UK scientists believe these strict social distancing measures have had a clear effect on the spread of the virus, with the number of new cases of the coronavirus plateauing in recent days.
However, with the UK’s death toll continuing to rise, scientists are advising the government that it is not yet safe to relax the lockdown, and should stay in place to at least early May.
The UK has 2,657 spare intensive care beds
The National Health Service has 2,657 spare intensive care beds, the highest number on record, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Wednesday, April 15.
“At no point has the NHS been unable to offer care to people suffering from coronavirus,” he said at the government’s daily press conference.
The announcement indicates hospitals are coping with the number of new cases of the coronavirus as the UK approaches the peak of the pandemic, and are not at immediate risk of going beyond capacity.
In the same press conference, Deputy Chief Scientific Adviser Angela McLean said there was clear evidence showing a “flattened curve” in the number of new cases of the coronavirus.
The Chief Medical Officer Sir Chris Whitty said “we are probably reaching the peak overall.”
"It's probably reaching the peak overall and that's what the flattening shows"
Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty warns that high numbers of deaths will continue
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) April 15, 2020
Hancock also announced that the UK government was creating a new badge for all social care staff. The badge, which will be green and white, will give UK care workers a unified status, and help them be recognised when visiting essential shops and supermarkets.
UK says World Health Organisation has ‘an important role to play’ after Trump freezes funding
April 15: The UK government has called on countries, including the US, to “work together” after US President Donald Trump said he would cut funding to the World Health Organisation.
Trump on Tuesday, April 14, said he would freeze funding of between $400 million and $500 million because the WHO had failed to “adequately obtain and share information” on the coronavirus pandemic.
Downing Street confirmed it had no plans to stop funding and added said the WHO had “an important role to play” in shaping the response to the pandemic in future.
“The UK has no plans to stop funding the WHO which has an important role to play in leading the global health response,” said the prime minister’s spokesman on Wednesday.
“The coronavirus is a global challenge and it is essential that countries work together to tackle this shared threat.”
UK former chief scientific adviser says Boris Johnson’s coronavirus response cost lives
The UK government’s failure to act “much sooner” to tackle the coronavirus pandemic caused a significantly higher death toll in the country, according to the country’s former chief scientific adviser.
Professor Sir David King told LBC Radio on Wednesday said that Boris Johnson’s government should have acted as soon as the outbreak began in China.
“Why we didn’t respond so much sooner once this epidemic broke out in China, I simply don’t know,” Sir David, who advised the UK government between 2000 and 2007, said.
“And I say this because, in 2006, we published a report on actions needed to deal with a pandemic and in that report, we showed that if an outbreak occurred of any new virus of this kind, anywhere in the world, within three months, due to air travel, it would be everywhere in the world and that, of course, is what has happened – and it seems that we were unprepared and we didn’t take action.”
The UK economy could shrink by 35% with 2 million more unemployed
The UK economy could take a worse hit than it suffered during either World War as a result of the coronavirus according to the official national spending watchdog.
The Office for Budget Responsibility, the independent body which analyses the UK’s public finances, on Tuesday, April 14 published a potential scenario under which UK GDP would fall by 35% in the second quarter of this year.
Under this scenario, which is based on the lockdown continuing for a total of three months, with social-distancing measures continuing beyond that, unemployment will rise from 2.1 million to 3.4 million, meaning 10% of people would be out of work.
1.2 million people in the UK have been given mortgage holidays
Over one million people have taken up the UK government’s offer a mortgage holiday as the coronavirus continues to stretch the country’s finances, it emerged today (April 14.)
UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak last month said that Brits who were struggling to make mortgage payments as a result of the COVID-19 virus’ impact on jobs would be able to apply for a break lasting up to three months, during which they will not have to make payments.
Around 1.2 million people – or more than one in ten mortgage borrowers – were granted mortgage holidays between March 17 and April 8, according to lobby group UK Finance and reported by Bloomberg.
New figures suggest number of UK coronavirus deaths is significantly higher than previously thought
April 14: New figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) say 6,325 people in England and Wales died after catching the coronavirus up until April 3, compared to the 4,093 reported by the Department of Health & Social Care. This is a jump of over 50%.
Unlike the Department of Health & Social Care, the ONS included people who died in places other than NHS hospitals, like care homes, and based its numbers on death certificates which mentioned the COVID-19 virus.
Over the weekend, care providers warned that hundreds of elderly people were dying in care homes after catching the coronavirus, but not being included in the UK government’s figures.
UK scientists will meet to discuss lockdown extension
Scientists advising the UK government, known collectively as SAGE, will today (April 14) meet to discuss the impact social distancing measures have had on the spread of the coronavirus.
The UK has been in a state of lockdown for three weeks, with the vast majority of businesses closed and people only allowed to leave their homes for essentials reasons.
Health officials say we have started to see encouraging signs that the lockdown has slowed the spread of the virus in recent data on new cases and hospital admissions.
However, when the UK government meets to discuss SAGE’s conclusions this week, it is expected to decide to extend the lockdown by at least another three weeks.
Johnson has been released from hospital
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been discharged from London’s St Thomas Hospital as he continues to make progress in his recovery from the coronavirus.
“The PM has been discharged from hospital to continue his recovery, at Chequers,” a Downing Street spokesperson said on Sunday, April 12. “On the advice of his medical team, the PM will not be immediately returning to work.
“He wishes to thank everybody at St Thomas’ for the brilliant care he has received.”
Johnson spent a week in the hospital, including three nights in its intensive care unit.
The UK could end up being Europe’s ‘worst affected country’
Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust medical research charity, on Sunday, April 12 told the BBC’s Andrew Marr that while he was hopeful the UK was close to passing the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, the country could end up being the worst affected European country.
“I do hope that we are coming close to the number of new infections reducing and, in a week or two, the number of people needing hospital reducing, and the number of deaths starting to come down.
“But numbers in the UK have continued to go up. And yes, the UK is likely to be certainly one of the worst, if not the worst affected, country in Europe,” he told the BBC.
Farrar is one of several medical experts advising the UK government on how to fight the coronavirus. Here’s the full story.
Johnson is ‘continuing his recovery which is at an early stage’
Boris Johnson is continuing to recover from the coronavirus and is in “very good spirits” in St Thomas’ hospital, his spokesperson told journalists on Friday, April 10.
“The PM is back on a ward and continuing his recovery which is at an early stage. He continues to be in very good spirits,” the spokesperson said.
They added that Johnson is “enormously grateful for the care he is receiving from NHS staff” and the prime minister was “waving his thanks” to the nurses and doctors he saw as he was being moved from the hospital’s intensive care unit to the his ward.
Here’s what else Johnson’s spokesperson said:
- The condition of Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s chief adviser, is unchanged. He is self-isolating at home but “in contact with Number 10” after developing coronavirus symptoms a week-and-a-half ago.
- UK shops “are free to sell whatever they have in stock, providing it’s legal,” the PM’s spokesperson said. They sought to clarify that Brits are allowed to buy whatever they want from supermarkets and shops after a police chief in Northamptonshire threatened to start checking for “unnecessary” items in shopping trolleys.
- The UK government will announce a decision on whether the national lockdown will be extended by Thursday, April 16, next week. The government is set to extend the lockdown measures by at least another three weeks.
- The UK government is “working closely with universities to understand the financial risk and implications they may face at uncertain times.” This follows reports that universities have warned of a financial black hole worth hundreds of millions pounds as a result of the COVID-19 virus. Johnson’s spokesperson did not commit the government to giving universities further financial assistance.
- The UK foreign office (FCO) “has been working hard to bring British nationals back from countries around the world,” Johnson’s spokesperson said, adding it has “reached agreement with airlines to work together to bring people home and that work is ongoing.” The FCO is accused of being too slow to bring home Brits stranded abroad after on Friday it said it had arranged for 12 flights to bring home over 3,000 people who are stuck in India.
Boris Johnson leaves intensive care, remains in hospital.
Boris Johnson has left intensive care after his coronavirus symptoms continued to improve, though he remains in hospital.
A spokesperson for the British Prime Minister said on Thursday evening that Johnson was being transferred back to the hospital ward and is in “extremely good spirits.”
“The Prime Minister has been moved this evening from intensive care back to the ward, where he will receive close monitoring during the early phase of his recovery.’He is in extremely good spirits,” they said.
The UK’s coronavirus curve appeared to be flattening as of Thursday.
April 9: There are signs that the spread of the coronavirus in the UK is starting to slow, according to Patrick Vallance, the UK’s chief science advisor.
Speaking at a press conference in Downing Street alongside Dominic Raab, who is standing in for Boris Johnson as the prime minister receives intensive care treatment, Vallance said there appeared to be “some flattening” of the increase in new UK cases, which would otherwise be rising exponentially had lockdown measures not been implemented.
“The numbers go up and down a bit, but what you can see is it’s not taking off in that sharp uptake, it’s not gone sky high, and if anything there might even be some flattening,” Vallance said.
It means the social distancing measures introduced by Boris Johnson nearly three weeks ago are starting to work, he said.
“That is because of what we’re all doing with social distancing. If we had not done that, those cases would now be very much higher.”
The comments came after ministers met to discuss the potential extension of national lockdown measures next week.
Raab said the decision would formally be taken “at the end of next week.”
The prime minister’s official spokesman indicated earlier on Thursday that the measures would likely be extended.
“We need to keep bearing down on the rate of transmission, which will mean continuing with social distancing measures,” the spokesman said on Thursday afternoon.
Johnson’s spokesperson plays down reports of strict new social distancing rules
Boris Johnson’s spokesperson has played down suggestions that the UK government was planning to introduce stricter social distancing rules to coincide with the Easter weekend.
Senior figures in the UK police have reportedly urged the government to consider tougher action to stop people driving long distances and restrict people to one exercise a day.
However, Johnson’s spokesperson today (April 9) stressed that the focus was on enforcing the current social distancing rules.
“We’ve always said that if the scientific advice suggests further steps are needed, we’d be prepared to take them but for now our focus is on ensuring the steps we already have in place are properly enforced,” they said.
“The focus for now is on continuing to ensure people stick by the measure we put in place.
“The public response has been brilliant.
“People have made very big sacrifices in terms of the way people live their lives.”
Johnson had a ‘good night and continues to improve’
Boris Johnson’s condition continues to improve after he was moved into intensive care, his spokesperson said on Thursday, April 9.
His spokesperson today told journalists: “The PM had a good night and continues to improve in intensive care at St Thomas’s Hospital. He is in good spirits.”
Johnson spent a third night in intensive care after his coronavirus symptoms worsened on Monday.
Here’s what else Johnson’s spokesperson said:
- Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s chief adviser, is still self-isolating at home after developing COVID-19 sym toms 10 days ago.
- They poured cold water on suggestions that the government was about to introduce stricter social distancing measures for Easter weekend. “The focus for now is on continuing to ensure people stick by the measure we put in place,” Johnson’s spokesperson said. “The public response has been brilliant. People have made very big sacrifices in terms of the way people live their lives.”
- First Secretary of State Dominic Raab will take part in the Clap for Carers tonight while Johnson is in hospital. “On behalf of the PM, the PM thanks the NHS for the brilliant care which it is providing. The Clap for Carers has provided wonderful, unifying moments for the entire country,” the prime minister’s spokesperson said.
- The government will today look at evidence provided by scientists in SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) to determine how it should decide whether to extend the lockdown or not. The government is expected to extend the national lockdown measures for another three weeks.
- 14,682 tests were carried out in Great Britain on Tuesday, including 2,268 NHS staff. Johnson’s spokesperson said 100,000 tests a day by the end of April “very firmly remains” the government’s target.
Boris Johnson ‘doing reasonably well’ after a third night in intensive care.
April 9: Boris Johnson is “doing reasonably well” after a third night in intensive care, the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said on Thursday morning.
It follows a statement on Wednesday evening from the Prime Minister’s spokesperson and St Thomas’ Hospital which said that: “The Prime Minister continues to make steady progress. He remains in intensive care.”
The Chancellor Rishi Sunak told a press briefing on Wednesday that “his condition has been improving” and he has been “sitting up in bed and engaging positively with the clinical team.”
Johnson, 55, was moved to intensive care on Monday evening after his condition worsened.
The prime minister could remain in hospital for weeks to come however, with the Times reporting on Wednesday that “Senior figures in No 10 accept that the prime minister will need a period of recuperation after recovery; one week for every day spent in intensive care is the rule of thumb.”
Boris Johnson’s condition ‘has been improving’
Prime Minister Boris Johnson “remains in intensive care where his condition has been improving,” UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said.
Sunak on Wednesday afternoon (April 8) said Johnson had been “sitting up in bed and engaging positively with the clinical team” at London’s St Thomas hospital, where he has been in intensive care receiving treatment for the coronavirus since Monday, April 6.
Sunak said there will be a Cobra meeting of senior ministers to review the lockdown measures next week.
Rishi Sunak announces £750 million support package for charities impacted by the coronavirus
UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak has today (April 8) announced a financial package for charities impacted by the coronavirus worth £750 million.
Speaking at the government’s daily press conference, Sunak said government departments would directly allocate £360 million to charities providing key services during the coronavirus crisis, like those supporting the elderly and vulnerable.
Small-to-medium sized charities providing help and services at a local level will also get £370 million, funded partly by a grant through the National Lottery Community Fund.
Speaking about the financial package, Sunak said: “Our charities are playing a crucial role in the national fight against coronavirus, supporting those who are most in need.
“It’s right we do everything we can to help the sector during this difficult time, which is why we have announced this unprecedented £750 million package of extra funding.
“This will ensure our key charities can continue to deliver the services that millions of people up and down the country rely on.”
A further 938 people in the UK have died after testing positive for the coronavirus
A further 938 people in hospitals across the UK have died over the last 24 hours after catching the coronavirus, the Department of Health & Social Care announced on Wednesday April 8.
This is the biggest daily increase in deaths linked to the coronavirus so far in the UK’s crisis.
It brings the UK’s total death count to 7,097 minus today’s update from Northern Ireland.
A total of 232,708 people in the UK have been tested for the coronavirus, of which 60,733 tested positive.
Boris Johnson is ‘stable and responding to treatment’
Boris Johnson remains stable and is responding to treatment for his coronavirus symptoms, his spokesperson says.
The prime minister’s spokesperson today (April 8) told journalists that Johnson was receiving “standard oxygen treatment” in intensive care at London’s St Thomas’ hospital.
“The prime minister remains clinically stable and is responding to treatment. He continues to be cared for in the intensive care unit at St Thomas’s hospital, and he is in good spirits,” they said.
They added: “The PM is receiving standard oxygen treatment and breathing without any other assistance.”
Johnson was moved to the hospital’s intensive care unit on Monday after his symptoms worsened. He was first admitted to the hospital on Sunday after spending over a week in self-isolation.
Here’s what else Johnson’s spokesperson said:
- The UK government has ordered ventilators from the US, as revealed by President Trump on Tuesday. “We have been working rapidly to secure additional ventilator capacity through established UK suppliers and overseas. The NHS has ventilator orders in place with manufacturers around the world, which includes those in the US,” they said. Trump said the UK had asked the US for 200 medical ventilators.
- The UK government will announce its decision on whether the coronavirus lockdown will be reviewed on or around Easter Monday (April 13.) “We said we would make further announcement in three weeks and there’s no change to that,” they said.
- “It’s too early to say when the peak is going to be” in the UK.
- Dominic Cumming, Johnson’s chief adviser, is “in contact” with Downing Street but still self-isolating at home after developing symptoms of the COVID-19 virus.
- The UK now has 13 operational drive-thru testing sites.
- More than 20,000 NHS staff and their family members have been tested for the coronavirus.
Boris Johnson spent a second night in intensive care.
Boris Johnson has spent a second night in intensive care and remains stable, according to the UK Health Minister.
Edward Argar told the BBC on Wednesday that “the Prime Minister remains stable and has not needed mechanical ventilation overnight.”
A spokesman for Johnson said on Tuesday evening: “The Prime Minister’s condition is stable and he remains in intensive care for close monitoring. He is in good spirits.”
Dominic Raab says he is “confident” Boris Johnson will pull through
April 7: The UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is deputising for Boris Johnson while he is in hospital, said he is “confident” that the prime minister will recover, calling him a fighter.
"He's not just our boss, he's also a colleague and he's also our friend."
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says he's "confident that [Boris Johnson] will pull through, because if there's one thing I know about this Prime Minister, he's a fighter". pic.twitter.com/oizkH2Os9I
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) April 7, 2020
The coronavirus curve in the UK may be flattening
April 7: The UK may be flattening the curve of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK, according to the Chief Scientific Officer Patrick Vallance.
Showing a series of graphs, Vallance told the daily Downing Street press conference that there appeared to be a plateau in new cases and that there did not appear to be a rapid acceleration in new hospitalisations.
“It’s possible to say that we might be seeing a flattening off,” Vallance said.
He added that “things might be moving in the right direction.”
The Queen sends a message of support to Carrie Symonds
Queen Elizabeth has sent a message of support to Boris Johnson’s fiance Carrie Symonds and his family.
Earlier today The Queen sent a message to Carrie Symonds and to the Johnson family. Her Majesty said they were in her thoughts and that she wished the Prime Minister a full and speedy recovery. pic.twitter.com/Mo1SgAd9wh
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) April 7, 2020
The UK rejects Trump’s offer to help with Boris Johnson’s coronavirus treatment
The UK has today (Tuesday April 7) rejected an offer from President Trump to help with his coronavirus treatment.
Trump on Monday, April 6 Trump said his administration had contacted “all of Johnson’s doctors” and told them that he had asked two unnamed pharmaceutical companies to offer the prime minister support.
“We’re confident the prime minister is receiving the best possible care from the National Health Service,” the prime minister’s spokesman told reporters.
“Any treatment he receives is a matter for his doctors.”
Boris Johnson is in a ‘stable’ condition and is not on a ventilator
April 7: Boris Johnson is in a “stable” condition, “in good spirits” and is breathing without mechanical assistance, his spokesman said on Tuesday afternoon.
Johnson was admitted to hospital on Sunday with “persistent” symptoms of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.
His spokesman said on Tuesday (April 7) that while he was receiving oxygen treatment, he did not currently require mechanical assistance with his breathing through a ventilator.
“He is receiving standard oxygen treatment and breathing without any other assistance,” his spokesman said.
He added that “non-invasive respiratory support has not been required.”
Michael Gove self-isolates for the coronavirus
April 7: The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, is self-isolating for the coronavirus, after a family member experienced symptoms of the virus, according to ITV.
Gove, who did this morning’s broadcast rounds on behalf of the government, is not experiencing any symptoms himself.
NEW: Have just had it confirmed that Michael Gove is self-isolating.
A member of his family is displaying symptoms, but he remains well himself.
Gove continues to work, as per his round of interviews this morning. But yet another challenge for this government to work around.
— Paul Brand (@PaulBrandITV) April 7, 2020
Boris Johnson has spent the night in an intensive care unit
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has spent the night in an intensive care unit after his condition badly deteriorated on Monday.
Johnson, who was admitted to hospital on Sunday with “persistent” symptoms of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, was moved into intensive care at around 7 p.m. GMT on Monday.
He has been given oxygen treatment but has not yet been placed on a ventilator, Downing Street indicated on Tuesday morning.
The UK can have a ‘serious discussion’ about ending the lockdown once the peak of the coronavirus is over
The UK can have a “serious discussion” about ending the coronavirus lockdown only once the government is confident that the country is over the peak of the pandemic, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty says.
Speaking at the government’s daily press conference on Monday, April 6, Whitty said that Boris Johnson’s government would be able to consider relaxing social distancing rules once it has sufficient evidence to conclude that the UK was over the peak of the virus.
However, while the government believes the peak might be this weekend, “we do not know for certain that the peak will be at the end of this week.”
In the same press conference, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is standing in for Johnson while he is in hospital, revealed that he hadn’t spoken to the prime minister since Saturday, despite chairing government meetings in his absence.
The millions of antibody tests which the UK government has ordered do not work
None of the antibody tests which the UK government has ordered for testing the coronavirus currently work, Professor John Bell, a professor of medicine at Oxford University tasked with assessing the effectiveness of various antibody tests, has warned.
Bell said the tests the government have looked at so far do not work and that a large-scale solution would take “at least a month” to develop.
The UK government plans to roll out antibody testing in order to give people the opportunity to be granted “immunity passports” and leave the coronavirus lockdown early.
However, none of the world’s leading industrial nations have yet identified a working test.
Boris Johnson is in ‘good spirits’ and receiving his ministerial documents in his hospital bed
Boris Johnson spent Sunday night in hospital and is still there under observation, his spokesperson told journalists on Monday, April 6.
The prime minister is in “good spirits” and still in charge of the UK government, despite being admitted to St Thomas’ hospital, London for tests on Sunday evening, his spokesperson said today.
“Any information the prime minister needs to be updated on or any decisions that require action from the PM, that is what will happen. He is receiving updates in hospital and continuing to receive a [ministerial] box,” Johnson’s spokespersons said.
The UK prime minister was admitted to hospital on Sunday evening after testing positive for the coronavirus over a week ago. He went to hospital for tests last night after failing to shake off “persistent” COVID-19 symptoms.
His spokesperson today said: “The prime minister had a comfortable night in St Thomas’s hospital and is in good spirits. He remains in hospital under observation.”
Here’s what else Johnson’s spokesperson said:
- Johnson was not taken to hospital by ambulance on Sunday evening. “He went via private transportation,” his spokesperson told journalists.
- Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State Dominic Raab chaired Monday morning’s “War Cabinet” in Johnson’s absence.
- Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s chief adviser, is still self-isolating after developing COVID-19 symptoms.
- On Sunday, over 15,000 tests were carried out on 12,334 individuals. Some people had to be tested more than once. In addition to this, 1,000 NHS staff and their families were tested at a drive-thru site.
- A Russia Today report that said Johnson was put on a ventilator was fake news. “That is disinformation,” the prime minister’s spokesperson said. “Our specialist government units have seen a rise in false reports since the coronavirus outbreak started. it’s vital that any information is knocked down quickly.”
- “There are no current plans to ban exercise,” according to Johnson’s spokesperson. “Exercise is vital for protecting health and wellbeing, and that is why it was included in the list of exceptional reasons why people can leave their homes.” This comes after UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock over the weekend suggested that the government might introduce stricter lockdown rules to clamp down on people socialising in parks.
- A “huge amount of work going into” finding an exit strategy.
- The UK currently has 10,000 mechanical ventilators, with another 1,000 on order. The government also has thousands of provisional orders of ventilators, designed by external companies, which are being tested.
What happens if Boris Johnson becomes too ill to govern?
April 6: The Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick told the BBC on Monday that Johnson was “still very much in charge of the government,” despite reportedly receiving oxygen treatment in hospital for what Downing Street described as “persistent symptoms of coronavirus,” including a high temperature.
However, if Johnson’s condition does not quickly improve then Johnson will be under growing pressure to step aside and allow his de facto deputy Dominic Raab to take over while he recovers.
The Foreign Office Minister James Duddridge called on Johnson to “rest, look after yourself and let the others do the heavy lift.”
If Johnson does have to step aside, the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will deputise for him as his designated survivor.
Boris Johnson admitted to hospital for ‘as long as necessary’
Boris Johnson will remain in hospital “as long as necessary” after being admitted on Sunday, April 5, after experiencing “persistent symptoms of coronavirus.”
Johnson tested positive for the coronavirus 11 days ago but continued to work in isolation, with Downing Street insisting he only had “mild symptoms” of the virus.
However, aides had reportedly become “increasingly worried” about the prime minister’s health in recent days according to multiple reports.
The Times of London reported that Johnson has received oxygen treatment while in hospital.
The UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is his “designated survivor” will deputise for him at an emergency UK government coronavirus meeting on Monday, April 6
The Queen tells UK ‘we will meet again’ after coronavirus pandemic
The Queen addressed the nation on Sunday, April 5, in a special televised statement about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking from her Windsor Castle residence, she said: “While we have faced challenges before, this one is different.”
“This time we join with all nations across the globe in a common endeavour, using the great advances of science and our instinctive compassion to heal. We will succeed – and that success will belong to every one of us.
“We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return: we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.”
"We will succeed and that success will belong to every one of us"
The Queen delivers a rallying message to the UK in its fight against coronavirus, thanking healthcare workers as well as people for staying at home and following government ruleshttps://t.co/Ku4DOhcotY pic.twitter.com/wdBsaFQjeQ
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) April 5, 2020
People may be banned from exercising outside if they continue to ignore social distancing rules
April 5: Health secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC’s Andrew Marr that exercise outside of the home could be banned if people don’t stop gathering in outdoor areas during the lockdown.
“If you don’t want us to have to take the step to ban exercise of all forms outside of your own home, then you’ve got to follow the rules,” he said. “Let’s not have a minority spoil it for everybody.”
He also said sunbathing is explicitly against the rules, and that “the more people stay at home the less the virus will spread.”
New Labour leader Keir Starmer says there have been “serious mistakes” in tackling the coronavirus in the UK
The new Labour leader Keir Starmer wrote about the ongoing coronarvirus crisis in an article for The Sunday Times. He said “serious mistakes” have been made in the nation’s response to the pandemic.
“The public is placing an enormous trust in the government at the moment: it is vital that that trust is met with openness and transparency about those mistakes and the decisions that have been made,” he wrote.
He said the focus will be on finding out why the UK is “so far behind on testing,” and calling for a comprehensive vaccine programme.
“There will be many more difficult days ahead,” he said. “Great sacrifices must be made because of a crisis that was unimaginable only a few months ago. But Britain is a great country and we will get through this.”
Boris Johnson’s partner is also self-isolating
Carrie Symonds, is also self-isolating after experiencing “the main symptoms” of the coronavirus.
“I’ve spent the past week in bed with the main symptoms of Coronavirus,” she tweeted on April 4. “I haven’t needed to be tested and, after seven days of rest, I feel stronger and I’m on the mend.”
She followed this up with a message to other fellow women who are expecting babies and shared a link to the latest guidelines from the The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
“Being pregnant with Covid-19 is obviously worrying,” she said. “To other pregnant women, please do read and follow the most up to date guidance which I found to be [very] reassuring.”
New Labour leader Keir Starmer promises to work with the government on its coronavirus response
April 4: Keir Starmer has been elected as the new leader of the Labour party, replacing Jeremy Corbyn.
Following his election, Starmer promised to work with the government on its response to the coronavirus crisis.
“Our mission has to be to restore trust in our party as a force for good and a force for change,” he said in a statement.
Starmer’s comments followed an earlier call by Prime Minister Boris Johnson for opposition parties to meet him to discuss their response.
I have written to all leaders of opposition parties to invite them to work together at this moment of national emergency. pic.twitter.com/HgEsMo3DO2
— Boris Johnson #StayHomeSaveLives (@BorisJohnson) April 4, 2020
G7 nations are failing to find a working coronavirus antibody test
The world’s leading industrial nations have so far failed to identify any coronavirus antibody tests that will be accurate enough for home use, according to the UK’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
The UK and other nations are currently examining plans to use antibody tests to allow individuals with immunity to COVID-19 to exit their national lockdowns early through the use of a so-called “immunity passport.”
However, Hancock told a press conference on Friday that G7 leaders had discussed on Friday the search for an effective antibody test and revealed that none had yet been identified which would be suitable for mass use.
“On the G7 call earlier it was clear that no G7 country has found a home antibody test that works,” he said.
“But we continue to search for one [and] we are putting the orders in so should they work we can get them in the UK.”
Premier League donates £20 million to the NHS
The Premier League has decided to donate £20 to the NHS to help the health service fight the coronavirus.
The UK’s highest football league today (April 3) said in a statement:
“The League, clubs, players and managers express huge appreciation for the heroic efforts of NHS staff and all other key workers who are carrying out critical jobs in such difficult circumstances.
“In consultation with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Premier League is immediately committing £20 million to support the NHS, communities, families and vulnerable groups during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This includes a direct financial contribution to the NHS and funds to enable clubs to refocus their efforts and develop significant outreach programmes to help communities, including those most in need.
“This funding will enable both immediate and longer-term support during the crisis.”
Boris Johnson still has a coronavirus temperature so will remain in self-isolation
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is staying in self-isolation as he still has symptoms of the coronavirus, he said on Friday, April 3.
In a video posted on social media, Johnson said he still had a temperature so would remain inside his Downing Street residence.
His spokesperson told journalists that the prime minister would remain in isolation beyond the government’s official guidance to remain in isolation for 7 days after experiencing symptoms.
“The advice is very clear. You should stay at home for 7 days but longer if you have a temperature,” the spokesperson said.
In a video posted on social media, Johnson also urged British people to stay indoors this weekend and resist the temptation to go outdoors for the warm weather predicted for the UK.
“Please, please stick with the guidance now,” the prime minister said.
Here’s what else Johnson’s spokesperson said:
- The prime minister is urging the British public to resist the temptation to leave the house this weekend if, as expected, the weather is warm. “Don’t do it. We have asked people to make significant sacrifices so far… if you go outside and ignore that advice you are putting lives at risk,” Johnson’s spokesperson said.
- The UK government does not yet have an antibody test which is accurate enough to roll out to the general public. “Work is going on all the time to find a test that works… but until we have full satisfaction that it is reliable we won’t be able to roll it out to the public,” they said.
- Matt Hancock’s announcement on Thursday (April 2) that the government aims to carry out 100,000 tests a day by the end of the month is a UK-wide goal.
- Scientists advising the UK government believe community transmission of the coronavirus could have dropped to below 1 as a result of social distancing.
- UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock will deliver the government’s daily press conference. He’ll speak alongside John Newton, the government’s testing czar, and the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Jonathan Van-Tam.
The government reportedly thinks the peak number of coronavirus deaths could be on Easter Sunday
Government officials planning the UK’s response to the coronavirus believe the peak number of deaths could be in less than two weeks on Easter Sunday (April 12), according to The Telegraph.
The newspaper reports today (April 3) that Johnson’s government has a target of keeping the number of UK deaths below 20,000, with 50,000 regarded as the worst-case scenario.
The Health Secretary said on Friday that it was “perfectly possible” that the peak would take place by Easter Sunday with thousands of daily deaths taking place in the run-up to that date.
The UK government is coming under more pressure to protect workers excluded by its job retention scheme
The UK government is coming under yet more pressure to change its Job Retention Scheme so that it no longer excludes workers who started their jobs after February 28.
Under the scheme, bosses who are struggling to pay staff due to the impact of the coronavirus can furlough them, meaning the government will pay 80% of their salaries during the crisis. However, the cut-off point for staff protected by the scheme is the last day of February, meaning workers who joined the payroll after that date will miss out on this financial support.
Ed Davey, the acting leader of the Liberal Democrats, has today (April 3) written to UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak, urging him to allow workers who started their jobs after that date to be furloughed as long as they can provide three pieces of evidence to support their employment.
Davey says evidence can include job advertisements and applications, emails, and employment contracts, among other things.
He said: “The fact new employees can’t access the furlough scheme means they have quite simply been left to hang out to dry. Businesses may have spent thousands of pounds trying to find talented staff they now cannot keep.
“People up and down the country are now seeing their dream job turn into a nightmare through no fault of their own: it isn’t fair. We have provided a workable way forward which we hope Ministers will now take.”
UK promises 100,000 coronavirus tests a day by the end of the month
The Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Thursday (April 2) responded to growing criticism of the rate of coronavirus testing in the UK by promising that the government would manage to increase testing by over ten times in England by the end of April.
“The new national effort for testing will ensure that we can get tests for everyone who needs them,” Hancock said at the daily Downing Street conference.
“And I’m delighted that the pharmaceutical industry is rising to this challenge and putting unprecedented resources into testing. Taken together, I am now setting the goal of 100,000 tests per day by the end of this month. That is the goal, and I am determined that we will get there.”
Hancock, who has been in isolation for the past week since testing positive for COVID-19, confirmed that the increase would include both the testing of new infections as well as antibody testing to determine whether individuals had gained immunity to the virus.
The UK will write off billions of pounds of NHS debt
The UK government will write off £13.4 billion of historic National Health Service debt, Matt Hancock has announced, in a significant intervention which he said was designed to “help NHS trusts deliver what’s needed without worrying about past finances.”
The National Health Service is composed of different trusts which are each run separately, and many of them have overspent as they struggled to deal with the pressures of squeezed funding and an ageing population.
Hancock said today (April 2): “This landmark step will not only put the NHS in a stronger position to be able to respond to this global coronavirus pandemic, but it will ensure the NHS has stronger foundations for the future too.”
Boris Johnson is still suffering with the coronavirus and might not be able to leave self-isolation
Prime Minister Boris Johnson still has symptoms of the coronavirus and might not be able to leave self-isolation on Friday, April 3 as hoped, his spokesperson said on Thursday (April 2.)
Johnson announced he had caught the virus last week and has been self-isolating in his Downing Street residence ever since.
The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt also announced he had tested positive for the coronavirus last week and is due to make his first appearance since going into quarantine later on Thursday (April 2).
“More needs to be done” by the UK government to test people for the coronavirus, Boris Johnson’s spokesperson says
Boris Johnson accepts “more needs to be done” when it comes to testing people in the UK for the coronavirus, according to his official spokesperson.
The prime minister’s spokesperson said on Thursday, April 2: “We acknowledge that more needs to be done in relation to testing and we need a significant increase in testing.
“We need to be making progress very quickly and we acknowledge that.”
Johnson’s government is under immense pressure to ramp up UK testing capacity.
Currently, around 10,000 people are being tested every day. 10,412 people were tested for the virus on Wednesday (April 1.) This is well short of the prime minister’s 25,000 daily target, and miles behind the 500,000 people a week which Germany is testing.
Johnson’s spokesperson said two more testing labs would open in the north of England and Scotland next week, in addition to the lab which has recently opened in Milton Keynes.
Here’s what else Johnson’s spokesperson said about COVID-19 testing in the UK:
- The UK government has received potential testing equipment which cannot be used, because they “have not met the required levels of accuracy.”
- The NHS has produced a specification for swab testing which has been shared with manufacturers. Johnson’s spokesperson said: “We think that provides a way forward to allow us to complete 100,000s of tests.”
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock is expected to make further announcements on testing at the government’s daily press conference later today. He is set to take twice as many questions from journalists as usual amid growing pressure on the government to take swift action.
More than half of Brits think Johnson’s government was too slow to enforce social distancing
Over half of British people (56%) think Boris Johnson’s UK government was too too slow to introduce social distancing measures, according to a Ipsos MORI poll published today (April 2.)
Prime Minister Johnson introduced strict lockdown measures on Thursday, March 23, to prepare for an acceleration in the number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the UK. The measures included closing pubs, restaurants, and cafes, and imposing strict rules on when people could leave their homes.
However, the Ipsos MORI poll published today says that over half of the population believes the UK government should have brought in those measures sooner.
- 56% of respondents said they were taken too late.
- 35% said they were taken at the right time.
- 4% said they were taken too soon.
Nearly half of people who voted for Johnson’s Conservatives at December’s general election (44%) said the government should have brought in the measures sooner.
Two thirds of British people think Johnson’s government has handled coronavirus testing badly
Two thirds of British people believe Boris Johnson’s UK government have handled testing for the coronavirus badly, according to a YouGov poll published on Wednesday (April 2.)
The polling company found that 66% of respondents said the government “had handled the testing of people for coronavirus so far” either “fairly badly” or “very badly.”
The UK government and senior health officials are under immense pressure to ramp up the UK’s testing capacity, with the country testing around 10,000 people a day compared to the 500,000 a week being tested in Germany. It emerged on Wednesday just 2,000 NHS staff had been tested for the virus. The UK press turned on the government’s handling of testing on Thursday, including newspapers which are usually supportive of Johnson.
UK Press turns on Boris Johnson’s government over coronavirus testing fiasco
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has woken up on April 2 to a truly bleak set of front pages for the country and his government.
After the worst day so far in the coronavirus pandemic, in which there were 563 more deaths linked to the virus across the UK, the British press has gone big on the country’s slow response to the crisis and the continued lack of testing being carried out.
Even normally supportive newspapers, like his former employers at the Daily Telegraph, appear to be turning on Johnson’s government over its handling of the crisis.
— Neil Henderson (@hendopolis) April 1, 2020
— Neil Henderson (@hendopolis) April 1, 2020
— Neil Henderson (@hendopolis) April 1, 2020
— Neil Henderson (@hendopolis) April 1, 2020
— Neil Henderson (@hendopolis) April 1, 2020
— Neil Henderson (@hendopolis) April 1, 2020
— Neil Henderson (@hendopolis) April 1, 2020
Growing concern over continuing rise of coronavirus cases in the UK
The UK’s latest coronavirus figures are “concerning” as they suggest a recent plateau in the number of new cases is now over, according to Yvonne Doyle, Public Health England’s medical director.
Speaking alongside Business Secretary Alok Sharma at the government’s daily press conference on Wednesday (April 1), Doyle suggested that the 3,009 new cases reported on Wednesday could be the beginning of a significant increase, though it was “too early” to say.
Her comments came as the UK suffered the biggest increase in deaths and hospital admissions since the crisis began. 563 people were confirmed to have died after contracting COVID-19.
Doyle also highlighted an uptick in motor vehicle use, suggesting that observance of the coronavirus lockdown may be weakening.
Prof Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England, says there has been an increase in motor vehicle traffic in Great Britain which is a “concerning trend”
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) April 1, 2020
NHS gives trusts the green light to test more staff for the coronavirus
NHS England on Wednesday (April 1) wrote to all NHS trusts nationwide telling them that the 15% cap on staff testing had been removed immediately.
In the letter, which you can read here, NHS England asked trusts to use the testing labs they have to their full capacity, in order to ramp up the number of staff being tested for the virus.
A spokesperson for Boris Johnson t said that just 2,000 NHS staff had been tested.
The UK government is under immense pressure to significantly increase the number of tests being carried out. The UK’s testing capacity as of Wednesday was 12, 750 people per day. It carried out 10,412 yesterday (March 31.)
Trump says the UK’s ‘herd immunity’ plan would have been ‘catastrophic’
Donald Trump said on Tuesday that Boris Johnson’s abandoned plan for creating “herd immunity” to the coronavirus in the UK would have been “catastrophic” and caused “a lot of death.”
The president said that the UK government’s original coronavirus strategy plan, which involved allowing the virus to spread in order to achieve resistance to the virus in the population, would have caused millions of deaths if adopted in the US.
“If you remember, they were looking at that concept – I guess it’s a concept if you don’t mind death, a lot of death – but they were looking at that in the UK, remember,” Trump told a White House press briefing on Tuesday.
“And all of a sudden they went hard the other way because they started seeing things that weren’t good, so they put themselves in a little bit of a problem.”
Boris Johnson’s government believed coronavirus was only a ‘moderate’ risk to the UK
Boris Johnson’s government is under growing pressure to explain why it has failed to mirror other European countries in implementing widespread coronavirus testing, as reports suggest that it was operating until recent weeks under the false belief that COVID-19 would only be a “moderate” risk to the UK.
The World Health Organisation has advised all governments to implement mass testing regimes, in order to repeat the success of those countries, such as South Korea, who have used testing to “flatten the curve” of the virus’ spread.
However, the latest figures show that while Germany is currently testing around 500,000 people a week, while the UK’s testing capacity was 12,750 as of today (April 1.)
Why isn’t the UK testing to capacity?
Downing Street has today (April 1) admitted the UK is not currently testing for the coronavirus to full capacity. The UK carried out 10,412 tests yesterday (March 31), even though the current testing capacity is 12,750.
They also revealed that just 2,000 NHS frontline staff had been tested for the coronavirus. The health service has over one million full time employees, though Johnson’s spokesperson was keen to stress that not all frontline staff have required a test.
Downing Street insists the NHS is responsible for the allocation of tests, adding that “clear instructions have been sent to NHS trusts that where capacity is available, testing should be carried out on NHS frontline staff.”
It comes amid as the government comes under increasing pressure to explain why it has not implemented mass testing in line with most other European countries. Nearly 500,000 people a day are being tested for the coronavirus in Germany. Reports on Wednesday, April 1, suggested that the government had ignored advice to ramp up testing in March because it only deemed the coronavirus a “moderate threat.”
The prime minister’s spokesperson also said:
- The first 30 ventilators of the 8,000 the government has ordered will arrive next week.
- The government hopes to order “thousands” more ventilators from manufacturers in the coming weeks. The manufacturers need to pass safety and design checks first.
- The Nightingale hospital, which has been created in a London conference centre specifically for the coronavirus outbreak, will open later this week. It will initially operate 500 beds.
The NHS says there are ‘green shoots’ for the UK in tackling the coronavirus
Speaking at the UK government’s daily press conference on the coronavirus on Tuesday, March 31, Stephen Powis of NHS England said there are some causes for cautious optimism about the UK’s coronavirus outlook.
He says that despite the big increase in deaths in the previous 24 hours, there had been a “plateau” in the number of new confirmed cases of the virus over the last few days.
However, he said that the next two weeks will be “critical” for combating the coronavirus, and urged British people not to become complacent.
“These are green shoots, but only green shoots. We must not be complacent and we must not take our foot off the pedal,” he said.
NHS staff from abroad will have their visas extended for 12 months so they can focus on fighting the coronavirus
Around 2,800 doctors, nurses, and paramedics will have their visas extended by a year so they can stay in the UK to help the NHS fight the coronavirus, the UK government announced today (March 31.)
The extension will apply to those whose visas were due to expire before October 31, as well as family members they have in the UK.
“By giving them the peace of mind that they do not need to apply for a visa extension, this will allow those at the frontline – working around the clock in hospitals to treat the most seriously ill – to focus fully on combatting coronavirus and saving lives,” the government said.
Johnson’s spokesperson says the antibody test the government hopes to roll out will be a ‘game-changer’
Boris Johnson’s government hopes to be able to roll out a “game-changer” anti-body test to the general public as soon as possible, his spokesperson said on Tuesday, March 31.
They stressed that the test must be approved by UK scientists before it can be rolled out.
“The first thing to do is to ensure that we have a test which works as the chief medical officer has set out. A bad test would be worse than no test because it provides false reassurance.”
They added: “But the prime minister and chief medical officer and have all been clear that once this test has been established it can be a game-changer.
“We want it to be used as widely as possible.”
Here’s what else Johnson’s spokesperson said:
- The army is helping the UK government deliver vital safety equipment – known as PPE – to hospitals around the country. Yesterday (March 30) they delivered more than 2.5 million aprons, 867,000 eye protectors, 280,000 respiratory masks, 1 million surgical masks, and 11 million gloves.
- The NHS has identified three sites which could be used for temporary hospitals like the one established in east London last week. Manchester, Birmingham, and Harrogate are reported to be potential sites. Johnson’s spokesperson said: “We are in discussions with healthcare providers across the country and they have the support of military planners so that is certainly not to be ruled out in future.”
- British people are not limited to one shop a week. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on Tuesday morning suggested people should only be shopping once a week. However, Johnson’s spokesperson said: “The guidance doesn’t specify that, no. The guidance says it should be as infrequent as possible. As I say, the guidance sets out shopping should be as infrequent as possible. For some people, I’m sure that will be once a week. But it’s not what the guidance specifies.”
Boris Johnson tells his Cabinet “the situation is going to get worse before it gets better — but it will get better”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has just met with his Cabinet.
Here’s a readout of that meeting:
“For the first time, Cabinet met entirely using videoconference today.
“Ministers all appeared on a single digital screen, in a meeting chaired by the Prime Minister.
“Only the Cabinet Secretary and a small number of officials were in the Cabinet room itself, observing social distancing rules on keeping two metres apart.
“Updates on the Government’s coronavirus response were given by videoconference by the Chief Scientific Advisor and the Chief Medical Officer.
“Cabinet discussed the work which is taking place to support the NHS, expand testing, safeguard jobs and repatriate British citizens who are stranded abroad.
“They thanked the NHS and frontline workers for all of their tremendous hard work.
“The PM said the rising death toll in recent days showed the vital importance of the public continuing to stick to the social distancing guidance which has been put in place by the Government, based on scientific and medical advice.
“The message to the public is: Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives.”
“The PM said that the situation is going to get worse before it gets better – but it will get better.”
Johnson urged to set up compensation scheme for families of NHS staff lost to coronavirus
A cross-party group of 50 MPs have signed a letter urging Prime Minister Boris Johnson to create a “Coronavirus Compensation Scheme” for the families of NHS staff who lose their lives to the coronavirus.
The MP behind the letter, Liberal Democrat Layla Moran, said: “Our gratitude to all those on the frontline, who are working to save and help others, is limitless.
“They are putting their lives on the line and they should know that, should the worst happen, the state will help their families.”
Three NHS doctors have died after catching the COVID-19 virus.
The Cabinet prepares to hold a totally remote meeting for the first time ever
Boris Johnson and his Cabinet will on Tuesday morning (March 31) hold their weekly meeting without a single attendee sitting in the same room – the first this has happened in the history of the UK government.
The spread of the coronavirus has reached the highest echelons of government, with Prime Minister Johnson, his chief adviser Dominic Cummings, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, and Chief Medical Office Chris Whitty, all self-isolating after either testing positive for the virus or developing its symptoms.
The UK coronavirus lockdown has had a dramatic impact
The UK’s Chief Scientific Officer on Monday, March 30 unveiled a series of charts showing the huge impact the country’s social distancing measures are already having.
One chart showed quite how dramatically movement on the roads and rails has collapsed in recent weeks, down to a fraction of what it was the previous month.
The UK’s Chief Scientific Officer Patrick Vallance said the measures were already having big effect in terms of reducing the contact rate for the infection, which the government expects to see leading to a flattening of the coronavirus curve in terms of new cases over the coming month.
However, he said he expected the number of people being admitted into hospital to continue to rise in the coming weeks.
Prince Charles is out of coronavirus self-isolation
Prince Charles on Monday, March 30 left self-isolation after being tested positive for the coronavirus.
“Clarence House has confirmed today that, having consulted with his doctor, the Prince of Wales is now out of self-isolation,” a spokesman for the prince said, the BBC reported.
UK shops reportedly told not to sell Easter eggs
Some shops in the UK have been told by officials not to sell “nonessential” items such as Easter eggs, according to the Times of London Newspaper on Monday March 30.
Asked about the story, Boris Johnson’s spokesman said that all shops which are allowed to remain open during the lockdown should be allowed to sell whatever they have in stock.
“If a shop is allowed to remain open then it should be able to continue to sell its stock,” the spokesperson said.
Dominic Cummings ‘develops symptoms of coronavirus’
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings is now also self-isolating after developing symptoms of the coronavirus, the Political Editor of the Daily Mail, Jason Groves, reported on Monday March 30.
Dominic Cummings has developed symptoms of coronavirus over the weekend and is now self-isolating. No 10 source says he remains 'in contact'
— Jason Groves (@JasonGroves1) March 30, 2020
This means that the prime minister, his most senior aide, the Health Secretary and the Chief Medical Officer have all now developed symptoms of the virus.
Britain might not return to normal for 6 months or more
The UK government will review whether it should relax social distancing measures once every three weeks, but they could be in place for six months or more, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries said on Sunday afternoon (March 29.)
Speaking at a press conference in Downing Street, she said: “So over time, probably over the next six months, we will have a three-week review.”
She warned that it would be unwise for the government to suddenly remove social distancing measures if the daily number of new cases started to decrease, as that risked progress being “wasted,” adding “we could potentially see a second peak.”
“We must not then suddenly revert to our normal way of living. That would be quite dangerous,” she said.
An NHS consultant has died after catching the coronavirus
An NHS consultant has died after catching the coronavirus – the first frontline health professional to die during the outbreak of the virus in the UK.
Amged El-Hawrani, 55, has died after catching the virus, the University Hospitals of Derby and Burton where he worked said on Sunday (March 29.)
A spokesperson for his family said: “Amged was a loving and much-loved husband, son, father, brother, and friend. His greatest passions were his family and his profession, and he dedicated his life to both. He was the rock of our family, incredibly strong, compassionate, caring and giving. He always put everyone else before himself. We all turned to him when we needed support and he was always there for us. He had so many responsibilities and yet he never complained. “Amged reached the very top of his profession and we know he made a difference to thousands of lives during his career. He viewed his role as a doctor as one of life’s most noble pursuits. He was also a leader, who educated many doctors who have subsequently become ENT consultants. We are incredibly proud of the legacy he has left behind and all that he has achieved.
“We would like to thank all those involved in his care for their kindness and compassion during his illness. They worked tirelessly for their patient, as he would have done for his own. “Losing Amged is devastating for our family. Life without him is impossible to imagine but together, we will do all we can to honour his memory and live how he would have wanted us to.”
Brits are encouraged to clap for the NHS every week during the coronavirus crisis
The creator of the Clap for our Carers campaign, which organised a nationwide round of applause for NHS staff on Thursday (March 26), has urged British people to applaud health workers every Thursday at 8pm until the end of the coronavirus crisis.
There were moving scenes on Thursday when millions across the UK applauded NHS staff from their frontdoors, windows, and balconies.
The person behind the campaign, thirty-six-year-old Annemarie Plas, wants it to become a weekly event.
Plas told the i: “We are at the moment thinking our of our next steps, but after reading all the messages of support, we will do this every week on Thursday at 8pm until the end of the current measures, to keep supporting those who are under enormous stress day in and day out.”
The UK’s coronavirus lockdown does not have a ‘fixed’ length
Michael Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, has said that the UK’s lockdown does not have a “fixed” length and depends on how closely the British public follows social distancing rules.
“There are different projections as to how long the lockdown might last,” Gove told Sky News on Sunday morning (March 29.)
He said: “It’s not the case that the length of the lockdown is something that is absolutely fixed.
“It depends on all of our behaviour. If we follow the guidelines, we can deal more effectively with the spread of the disease.”
Two-thirds of Brits want the Brexit transition to be delayed
Two-thirds of Brits believe the Brexit transition period should be extended to allow the UK government to focus on the coronavirus, according to a new poll commissioned by campaign group Best For Britain and released today (March 29.)
The transition period is due to expire at the end of December. However, talks between the UK and EU to strike a free trade deal by that time have been derailed by the outbreak of the virus. Boris Johnson and the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier have both tested positive for it.
The poll carried out by Focaldata found:
- Two-thirds of Brits (64%) said they agreed with the statement: ‘The government should request an extension to the transition period in order to focus properly on the Coronavirus.”
- A third (36%) agreed with the statement ‘The Brexit transition period must end on 31 December whether a deal has been fixed or not.”
Best For Britain CEO Naomi Smith said: “Most people just want the government to get on with the job at hand so that lives can be saved and normality restored as quickly as possible. “This is the case across all age groups and UK regions, which explains why the government is facing calls to extend the transition period from such a wide variety of pressure groups. “The country is simply not in a place to weather two storms at the moment.”
Boris Johnson warns Brits “things will get worse before they get better” in a letter to all households
Boris Johnson has written to every household in the country urging people to stay indoors to protect the NHS and save lives as the UK’s battle with the coronavirus intensifies.
In the letter, which is being sent out to around 30 million households around the country in the coming days, Johnson urges national unity, and implores people to stay at home and follow the rules set out by the government.
“We know things will get worse before they get better,” Johnson’s letter says.
Top levels of the UK government compromised by the coronavirus
Michael Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, stood in for both the prime minister and the Health Secretary who earlier announced that they had tested positive for the coronavirus at a press conference on Friday March 27.
The Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty was also absent from the press conference due to experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
The developments meant that the three leading individuals in the UK government’s efforts to tackle the coronavirus may have all now themselves caught the virus.
Gove took a series of questions from journalists about whether the government had failed to properly protect the prime minister from the illness.
Gove also announced that coronavirus antibody testing, which establishes whether an individual has previously contracted COVID-19, will soon be rolled out to frontline workers in the NHS and beyond in order to ensure they can return to work.
The UK government’s chief medical officer is in self-isolation after developing coronavirus symptoms
Chris Whitty, the UK government’s chief medical officer, is self-isolating after developing coronavirus symptoms.
His announcement means that three of the UK government’s most senior figures in the effort to fight coronavirus are self-isolating.
Matt Hancock has also tested positive for the coronavirus
Following Boris Johnson’s announcement that he has the coronavirus, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has also confirmed that he is in self-isolation after testing positive for the virus.
Hancock said on Twitter that he has developed “very mild” symptoms.
Following medical advice, I was advised to test for #Coronavirus.
I‘ve tested positive. Thankfully my symptoms are mild and I’m working from home & self-isolating.
— Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) March 27, 2020
Johnson has got coronavirus — here’s what we know
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Friday (March 27) that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. He is self-isolating in Downing Street with mild symptoms of the virus.
His spokesperson has just briefed journalists on what happens next.
Here’s what they said:
- Johnson noticed he had developed mild symptoms yesterday afternoon. He took a test and received the results at midnight last night. He will self-isolate for seven days.
- Johnson will be unable to do press conferences while self-isolating. “In terms of press conference, that’s something the PM is not going to be able to do while he’s self-isolating,” his spokesperson said. A senior minister is set to take his place.
- The prime minister hasn’t seen the Queen for at least two weeks. The pair have been having their weekly chats over the phone for the last fortnight.
- His spokesperson was not aware that any of Johnson’s most senior ministers had been tested for the virus. The prime minister has had meetings with Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Hancock in recent days. “The position is that if people were to start to display symptoms, as with the rest of the country, the advice would be to self-isolate,” they said.
UK firefighters given powers to retrieve the dead during the coronavirus pandemic
Firefighters in the UK will be able to “deliver food and medicines, drive ambulances, and retrieve dead bodies during the coronavirus outbreak” according to a new agreement between trade unions and fire chiefs.
“Firefighters and control staff have always stepped in when the public has been in danger and this crisis is no different,’ Fire Brigades Union chief Matt Wrack said on Friday (March 27).
“The strain on all emergency services will be great, but we can and will get through it together.”
UK police are using drones to lockdown shame the public
UK police officers sparked a public backlash on Thursday (March 26) after using drones to “lockdown shame” people for continuing to visit remote areas to exercise and walk their dogs, despite the national coronavirus lockdown.
Derbyshire Police on Thursday posted drone footage of hillwalkers visiting the Peak District National Park.
Footage of two individuals walking their dogs in the park was labelled as “not essential” in the clip.
British people take to the streets to applaud the NHS
There were moving scenes across the UK at 8pm on Thursday March 26 when millions of people applauded NHS staff from their doorsteps, windows, and balconies.
It was organised by the “Clap for Carers” campaign, which said “during these unprecedented times they [NHS staff] need to know we are grateful.”
The incredible footage below captured the sound of people in London clapping:
— Natasha Clark (@NatashaC) March 26, 2020
— Ashley Moorman (@AshleyMoorman) March 26, 2020
The Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Chancellor Rishi Sunak also joined in the applause on Downing Street.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak showed their appreciation for the NHS by taking part in the Clap for Carers event pic.twitter.com/lToTTPJWFK
— PA Media (@PA) March 26, 2020
Self-employed people affected by the coronavirus will be given up to £2,500 cash a month — but not until June
The UK government has announced emergency financial support for self-employed people whose finances have been damaged by the coronavirus, but the money will not be available until June, raising serious questions about how people who work for themselves will stay financially afloat until then.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said on Thursday afternoon (March 26) that the government would give self-employed people taxable grants worth 80% of their average profits over the last three years, up to £2,500.
The grants will be available for three months, but the UK government will extend the period if necessary, Sunak said at a press conference in Downing Street.
Sunak said the UK’s support for the self-employed was “unprecedented” and “one of the most generous in the world.”
The UK Chancellor said: “I know that many self-employed people are deeply anxious about the support available for them. Musicians and sound engineers, plumbers and electricians, taxi drivers and driving instructors, hair-dressers and child-minders and many others through no fault of their own risk losing their livelihoods.
“To you, I say this: You have not been forgotten. We will not let [sic] you behind. We all stand together.”
Addressing questions about how people will access cash before June, Sunak said people could apply for advance loans through the Universal Credit scheme.
Boris Johnson announces £210 million funding to find a coronavirus vaccine
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced today (Thursday March 26) that the UK will inject an extra £210 million into the global effort to find a vaccine for the coronavirus.
The UK government says this is the biggest single contribution by any country to the international fund for finding a vaccine.
Johnson announced the news after holding a video call with G20 leaders at lunchtime.
The group pursuing a vaccine – the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) – has said that it needs an additional $2 billion to help develop a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus.
Johnson said on Thursday that this would be achieved if the governments of all other G20 countries each contributed $100 million to the scheme.
The UK prime minister said: “While our brilliant doctors and nurses fight coronavirus at home, this record British funding will help to find a vaccine for the entire world. UK medics and researchers are at the forefront of this pioneering work.
“My call to every G20 country and to governments around the world is to step up and help us defeat this virus. “In the meantime, I want to repeat to everyone that they should stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”
The UK has now contributed a total of £544 million to the scheme.
The British public will applaud NHS workers at 8pm tonight
The British public is set to thank National Health Service staff who are fighting the coronavirus by partaking in a nationwide round of applause at 8pm tonight (Thursday, March 26.)
It is being organised by the “Clap for Carers” campaign, which said “during these unprecedented times they [NHS staff] need to know we are grateful.”
British people are encouraged to join the round of applause from their doorsteps, windows, and balconies.
The UK is refusing to take part in an EU scheme to secure thousands of ventilators
The UK government is refusing to take part in an EU scheme to procure thousands of ventilators and other medical supplies.
The European Commission has launched a joint effort to secure ventilators and protective equipment for medical staff, which could significantly reduce costs because of the bloc’s greater buying power.
Speaking on Thursday (March 26), the prime minister’s spokesperson confirmed the UK could access the scheme if it wanted to because it is still in the Brexit transition period but said the government was not interested because “we are no longer a member of the EU.”
“This is an area where we are making our own efforts,” they added.
The decision will raise questions about whether the government is putting its commitment to Brexit over the national interest.
A government source also confirmed that the government was “actively considering” plans for more field hospitals across the country. Reports suggest sites in Birmingham and Manchester are being considered.
March 26: Rishi Sunak to unveil emergency support for Britain’s self employed today
UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak will today (March 26) announce support for self-employed people who are struggling to cope with the financial effects of the coronavirus.
The UK government has been under intense pressure this week to give more support to the self-employed after it announced grants and tax deferrals for businesses and their employees last week.
Sunak is set to reveal the new measures in a press conference later today.
A British worker films the inside of the huge London venue being transformed into a coronavirus hospital
A British worker has uploaded footage showing the inside of the massive east London conference venue which Boris Johnson’s government is turning into a hospital for up to 4,000 coronavirus patients.
In the footage, worker Alex Woodside says: “If you’re not taking it seriously like I wasn’t, I think we really need to start, because they’re preparing for an absolute high death toll here.”
560,000 people have volunteered to help the NHS
At least 560,000 people have volunteered to help the National Health Service protect vulnerable people from the coronavirus since the UK government launched the “Your NHS Needs You” scheme on Tuesday (March 24.)
Boris Johnson’s government has asked British people to help the NHS protect the 1.5 million people identified as being most vulnerable to the coronavirus.
Over half a million people have offered their services, Sky News Political Editor Beth Rigby tweeted today (March 26.)
March 26: Another 43 people have died in the UK, bringing the total to 465.
A further 43 people, who tested positive for the Coronavirus (Covid-19) have died, bringing the total number of confirmed reported deaths in the UK to 465, the National Health Service said on Wednesday evening (March 25.)
Patients were aged between 47 and 93 years old and all except the 47 year old had underlying health conditions.
Coronavirus antibody tests will be rolled out first to NHS workers
The UK’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty has revealed details of the coronavirus tests which could soon be rolled out to the public across Britain.
Speaking alongside Boris Johnson at today’s press conference (March 25), Witty said the UK had ordered a large number of these tests, but they would first need to be properly tested.
Under the plan the tests, which determine whether an individual has ever had the virus, will first be given to NHS staff, and then made more widely available to the general public.
Whitty stressed it’s unlikely that the tests will be made available to the public as soon as next week.
“I do not think this is something you will be ordering on the internet next week,” he said.
Whitty said the tests could be crucial for fighting the coronavirus as they might be able to indicate how many carriers of the virus are asymptomatic, therefore potentially allowing restrictions to be lifted sooner.
405,000 sign up to be NHS volunteers in 24 hours
405,000 people in the UK have signed up to be volunteers for the National Health Service since the UK government launched the scheme 24 hours ago, Boris Johnson said on Wednesday (March 25.)
The prime minister said that a huge number of people had responded to the government’s “Your NHS Needs You” scheme, designed to provide additional support to 1.5 million Brits identified as being most vulnerable to the coronavirus.
A 21-year-old woman with no pre-existing health conditions has died after testing positive for the coronavirus
A 21-year-old woman in the UK, who had no underlying health complications, has died after contracting the coronavirus.
Chloe Middleton died on Saturday (March 21.) She is believed to be the UK’s youngest victim with no underlying health issues. Here’s the full story.
London City Airport suspends all flights until the end of April
London City Airport has announced that it has suspended all flights until the end of April as the UK continues to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
Rishi Sunak will announce support for Britain’s self-employed on Thursday
Chancellor Rishi Sunak will announce new financial support for the self-employed on Thursday (March 26), the prime minister’s spokesperson has just told journalists.
The UK government is under pressure to provide financial support to self-employed people having already announced measures designed to help businesses and their employees.
Here’s what else Johnson’s spokesperson said today (March 25):
- Johnson is having his weekly meeting with The Queen over the phone, rather than in person.
- The prime minister is “still fit and well” despite government staff catching the virus.
- Companies which don’t follow government instructions and temporarily close “face enforcement action, up to an unlimited fine.” Sports Direct triggered outrage this week when owner Mike Ashley said his sports retailer would remain open, before agreeing to close his shops.
Doctors could quit the NHS over shortage of medical equipment
Doctors leading the fight against the coronavirus could quit if the UK government fails to provide them with adequate protective equipment soon, groups representing them have warned.
As the outbreak continues to grow in the UK, doctors say they are being forced to endanger their own health due to a nationwide shortage of the right equipment.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) includes masks, respirators, and gowns, and can help prevent transmission of the virus between medical staff and patients.
The House of Commons closes a week early for Easter and may not reopen for some time
The House of Commons will go for its Easter break a week early today (Wednesday March 25) and may not return for some time, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg said.
The House is currently scheduled to return on April 21, but this will be assessed nearer the time, Mogg told members of Parliament.
UK logistics urge Boris Johnson to extend the Brexit transition period following the coronavirus outbreak
The Freight Transport Association, which represents the UK logistics sector, has today (March 25) urged Boris Johnson to extend the Brexit transition period, warning that Britain’s borders and hauliers cannot prepare for new trading arrangements with the EU while dealing with the impact of the coronavirus.
“Our industry needs the support of government, not to be broken by it,” the FTA’s Elizabeth de Jong said in a statement.
The transition period is due to expire at the end of December. Until then, the UK will follow all EU trade and customs rules, in order to give businesses on both sides of the border time to adapt new trading arrangements.
However, the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus across the continent has derailed negotiations over a new UK-EU free trade agreement, with talks postponed and the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, testing positive for the virus.
NHS capacity ‘will not be breached’ by the coronavirus
The UK government’s national lockdown will be effective in preventing the NHS from being overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic, according to Professor Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London.
Ferguson, whose modelling was reportedly instrumental in persuading the UK and other governments around the world to go into lockdown, told the House of Commons Science Committee on Wednesday 25 March, that the crisis would peak in the UK in about 2-3 weeks before declining.
“We clearly cannot lock down the country for a year,” he said.
“The challenge is to move from an intense lockdown.. to something that will allow the economy to re-start… That is likely to rely on large scale testing and contact tracing.”
“We are reasonably confident – it’s all we can be at the current time – that at a national level, we’ll be within capacity.”
Professor Neil Ferguson says under the current strategy, ICUs “won’t be breached at a national level”. pic.twitter.com/Voub5JTQsH
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) March 25, 2020
Ferguson also dismissed a widely-reported Oxford University study suggesting more than half the UK population has already contracted the coronavirus.
He said that testing in Italy suggested that “we’re nowhere near that scenario.”
He told Members of Parliament that: “Sage [the UK government’s scientific advisory group] has considered that issue in a lot of detail. We have ruled out some scenarios in that paper…
He added that even if the Oxford modelling proved to be right, “It doesn’t make any difference to what the government response should be.”
170,000 sign up to be NHS volunteers in less than 24 hours
Over 170,000 members of the British public have offered to volunteer as National Health Service responded since the UK government launched the initiative on Tuesday.
NHS England tweeted today (Wednesday March 25) that this equated to 189 people every minute.
Health Secretary announced the launch of the scheme at a press conference yesterday. The UK government aims to create a nationwide “army” of volunteers who will help the NHS by supporting the 1.5 million people identified as being most vulnerable to the coronavirus.
Members of Parliament will go home today as Westminster goes into recess a week earlier than planned
Members of Parliament will head home a week earlier than planned today (Wednesday, March 25) with the UK Parliament set to break up for Easter recess.
MPs, Lords, and other parliamentary staff are set to return on Tuesday, April 21.
However, with the number of coronavirus cases growing exponentially in the UK, Parliament may be forced to into an even longer recess.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will take part in his last PMQs before the extended Easter break. You can expect most – if not all – questions to be about the strict new social distancing measures he announced on Monday evening, and the UK’s plan going forward.
Nearly 12,000 retired NHS workers are returning to the frontline
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has announced today (Tuesday March 24) that 11,788 retired NHS workers are returning to work to help out in what he called the health service’s “hour of need.”
He also said the government was opening a new temporary hospital at London’s ExCeL conference centre to provide support during the outbreak. It will be called the Nightingale Hospital and the army will help to set it up. Here’s the full story.
March 24: 422 people in the UK have died after catching coronavirus
A further 87 people in the UK have died after catching the coronavirus, taking the total to 422, the NHS announced on Tuesday (March 24.) 83 of these deaths were in England. 27 were in London.
There are 8,077 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus in the UK.
83,945 people in the UK have been tested for coronavirus
A spokesperson for Boris Johnson has told journalists the UK has tested 83,945 people for the coronavirus as of Tuesday morning (March 24), and is testing around 5,000 people a day.
The UK government aims to increase this to 10,000 tests per day by the end of the week, and 25,000 a day in the next three weeks.
Here’s what else Johnson’s spokesperson said:
- Johnson has spoken to London mayor Sadiq Khan about his decision to reduce transport services in the capital after pictures this morning showed packed Tube carriages. “The PM raised with the mayor the issue of reduced services on the Tube and its impact on people trying to get to work,” his spokesperson said.
- Around 10% of pupils attended school yesterday following the UK government’s decision to close them for all children apart from those of key workers.
- The UK government is “working at pace to find a well-targeted package” for Britain’s self-employed whose finances are being negatively affected by the COVID-19 virus.
- UK prisons have stopped allowing visitors in accordance with social distancing rules.
The Tokyo Olympics is to be postponed to 2021
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach have agreed to postpone the Olympics for one year.
The games were supposed to be held in Tokyo, Japan from the end of July until early August.
However, the global outbreak of the coronavirus means the games cannot go ahead this summer, and will take place in 2021 instead. Insider’s Will Martin has the story.
Boris Johnson’s Cabinet holds a video conference for the first time
Boris Johnson and his ministers today (Tuesday March 24) held a Cabinet meeting over a video call for the first time since the outbreak of the coronavirus in the UK.
The prime minister told Cabinet it was “vital that the public followed the instructions issued by the Government on the need to stay at home.”
His prime minister’s spokesperson said: “Cabinet received an update from Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer, on the coronavirus outbreak.
Cabinet discussed the extensive range of actions which the Government is taking to tackle the spread of the virus.
The Prime Minister said it was vital that the public followed the instructions issued by the Government on the need to stay at home.
“The PM said that by staying at home, people would protect our NHS and save lives.
“The Chancellor confirmed to Cabinet that the Comprehensive Spending Review will be delayed so that Government remains focused on responding to the public health and economic emergency.
“Further details of when the Comprehensive Spending Review will be held will be set out in due course.”
93% of Brits support Boris Johnson’s new coronavirus measures
A whopping 93% of Brits support the measures unveiled by the prime minister on Monday evening, according to a snap poll published by YouGov on Tuesday March 24.
93% of respondents said they supported the rules, with 76% saying they strong support them.
Two-thirds of respondents said they believed it would be “easy” to get through the next three weeks of lockdown, with 24% saying it’ll be very easy.
How will the UK’s lockdown work in practice?
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a series of new draconian measures for reducing human interaction last night (Monday March 23.)
The UK’s coronavirus lockdown could last up to 6 months
March 24: The UK is waking up to a state of lockdown after Boris Johnson on Monday evening introduced strict new measures to reduce human contact and the spread of the coronavirus.
Johnson announced that Brits would only be allowed to leave their homes for essential reasons, and would not be able to gather in groups of more than two people in public. He has also banned all social events and closed all non-essential retail businesses. Here are the details.
The Police have the powers to fine those who don’t comply with the new social distancing rules. These fines begin at £30 but could rise to £1,000. Officials have told the Police to prepare for the lockdown lasting for up to six months, according to reports on Tuesday morning.
The ban, which will last for an initial 3 weeks from today, is “highly likely” to be extended until May or June, the reports say.
Boris Johnson bans social events, closes down all non-essential shops, and says people can only leave their homes for essentials, exercise, and work in strict new coronavirus rules
March 23: Boris Johnson unveiled a series of strict new social distancing measures as his government steps up its efforts to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
In a TV address to the nation on Monday evening, the prime minister said: “Without a huge national effort to halt the growth of this virus, there will come a moment when no health service in the world could possibly cope; because there won’t be enough ventilators, enough intensive care beds, enough doctors and nurses.”
Here are the new measures he announced:
People will only be allowed to leave their home for the following very limited purposes:
- shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible
- one form of exercise a day – for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household;
- any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person; and
- travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.
The UK government will:
- close all shops selling non-essential goods, including clothing and electronic stores and other premises including libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms, and places of worship;
- we will stop all gatherings of more than two people in public – excluding people you live with;
- and we’ll stop all social events, including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies, but excluding funerals.
Police will have the power to fine people who don’t comply with the rules.
Boris Johnson will reportedly not do a press conference today
Boris Johnson will not do his daily press conference on Monday, according to multiple reports.
The prime minister had promised to update the nation on the government’s efforts to fight the coronavirus on a daily basis using a press conference.
However, Johnson is not set to do one on Monday, and will instead make a statement following a COBRA meeting of senior ministers and officials.
Another 46 people have in England after catching coronavirus
March 23: Another 46 people in England have died after testing positive for coronavirus, taking the total number of deaths in England to 303, NHS England has said.
The victims were aged between 47 and 105 years old and all had underlying health conditions.
The UK death toll is now 335.
Amazon is reportedly in talks with the UK government about delivering coronavirus tests
Boris Johnson’s government is reportedly in talks with Amazon and other companies about delivering COVID-19 test kits to the British public.
Under the plan being discussed on March 23, major logistics companies like Amazon would deliver testing kits to key workers like those in the National Health Service, before expanding the service to the general public. Here’s the story.
A social distancing ad campaign is coming in the next few days
The UK government will in the next few days launch a nationwide ad campaign on social distancing, the prime minister’s spokesperson said on March 23.
Boris Johnson has been accused of issuing confusing advice on social distancing after pictures over the weekend showed packed outdoor spaces like parks and beaches.
His spokesperson revealed the imminent ad campaign in the daily lobby briefing.
Here’s what else they said:
- The UK government will introduce more stringent social distancing rules if their data shows British people are not following Johnson’s instructions. “If our analysis is that people haven’t stopped their interactions then we will take further measures,” they said.
- Ministers are “working around the clock to find an appropriate package” for self-employed people who are being affected by the coronavirus. “We do understand the urgency of this situation,” the prime minister’s spokesperson said.
- The UK government is “working urgently” to help airline companies on the brink of collapse as a result of the COVID-19 virus.
- Boris Johnson and his Cabinet will meet today as planned. However, several ministers will be dialling in.
The UK government’s new coronavirus law will “enable a national quarantine”
The Coronavirus Bill being rushed through Parliament today will “enable a national quarantine,” according to Boris Johnson’s Parliamentary Private Secretary.
Conservative MP Trudy Harrison told BBC Radio Cumbria this morning: “It’s very sad that it has come to this because some people are just not listening.”
The prime minister is expected to announce more stringent social distancing measures at his press conference on March 23.
UK government sources believe a full national lockdown is “inevitable.”
Boris Johnson is considering plans to close all non-essential businesses and fine people who ignore social distancing rules
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will meet with ministers and officials on Monday morning to discuss more new measures for achieving social distancing as the coronavirus continues to spread across the country.
Johnson is considering plans to close all non-essential businesses – he announced the closure of pubs, restaurants, cafes, gyms, nightclubs, and leisure centres on Friday – and fine people who ignore social distancing instructions, the BBC reported on March 23.
The UK government is under immense pressure to enforce more stringent measures after pictures emerged over the weekend of people packing into parks and beaches across the UK.
The UK government effectively nationalises the railways to ensure trains keep running
The UK government has all-but nationalised Britain’s railways for a period of at least six months, in order to ensure key workers like doctors, nurses, and other emergency service personnel can travel during the coronavirus crisis.
The UK government will suspend all franchise agreements and take control of all revenue, the Department for Transport announced on Monday (March 23.) Private operators will continue to run services for a “small predetermined management fee,” the department said.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Today’s offer will provide greater flexibility to the train operators and the government and make sure the railway can continue to react quickly to changing circumstances and play its part in serving the national interest.
“It will ensure vital services continue to operate for key workers who are keeping the nation running and that we are able to reinstate a normal service quickly when the situation improves.”
Boris Johnson threatens to close parks if people don’t keep his ‘two-metre rule’
March 23: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has threatened to impose “further measures” to close UK parks and other public spaces if the public doesn’t follow government social distancing guidelines to keep two metres apart from other people.
“If people can’t make use of parks in a way which observes the two-metre rule then, of course, we will have to take further measures,” Johnson said.
He indicated that these measures would be similar to the sorts of lockdown on public spaces seen in other European countries.
The Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick also announced that the government would tomorrow write to the most clinically vulnerable people in the country advising them to stay at home for 12 weeks.
The UK’s coronavirus outbreak is just two weeks behind Italy’s
The United Kingdom has as little as two weeks to prevent its Coronavirus outbreak reaching the depths of the crisis currently seen in Italy, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned.
“The numbers are very stark, and they are accelerating. We are only a matter of weeks – two or three – behind Italy,” Johnson said on Saturday March 21.
Italy on Saturday recorded almost 800 deaths from the coronavirus in just one day and has overtaken China as the worst affection nation in the world.
The government will pay up to 80% of people’s wages
March 20: Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the government will pay most of people’s wages to stop businesses from going bankrupt.
The chancellor said that the government would use grants to pay 80% of the salaries of Brits still on the payroll but forced out of work by the coronavirus, in order to prevent them from losing their jobs. That figure will be capped at £2,500 a month.
He also announced that VAT would be deferred for the whole of the next quarter, meaning businesses will not have to pay the tax until June at the earliest.
MPs return to the NHS to fight the coronavirus
MPs who used to work for the NHS are returning to the healths service to help the fight against coronavirus.
Rosena Allin-Khan, who is standing to be deputy leader of the Labour Party, is set to help out at her local emergency department this weekend to ease the strain on staff there.
Conservative MP Maria Caulfield, a registered nurse, is returning to the NHS to do shifts and weekend work during the parliamentary recess.
She said Boris Johnson was “very supportive” of her decision, adding: “It’s important to help out if you can. With schools closed it’s putting a lot of pressure on the NHS.
“If one member of their family goes into self-isolation they all have to now, so that’s taking people out of the system.”
London pubs, restaurants and gyms were closed on the evening of Friday, March 20.
Pubs, restaurants, cinemas, leisure centres, and gyms will be closed under new coronavirus measures for London prepared by Boris Johnson’s government, the Evening Standard reports.
The newspaper says that the measures were agreed at a COBRA meeting on Friday morning.
Johnson could announce the new rules for the capital at his daily press conference later today.
The COVID-19 virus is spreading faster in London than anywhere else in the UK.
The prime minister has advised Brits to stay at home and not go to public places like pubs and restaurants. However, this week pictures have shown Londoners continuing to visit these places, putting pressure on the government to close premises altogether.
150 lorries are dropping off protective equipment at hospitals today
150 lorries are currently on their way to hospitals nationwide where they will drop off PPE (protective equipment) for doctors and nurses treating coronavirus patients, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said.
WATCH: After reports that NHS staff are not being given the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) equipment they need, @MattHancock tells me he has 150 lorries that are delivering PPE to NHS staff right now. pic.twitter.com/79D1GVbGrH
— Shehab Khan (@ShehabKhan) March 20, 2020
The UK’s chief Brexit negotiator is in self-isolation after showing coronavirus symptoms
David Frost, the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator, is in self-isolation after developing symptoms of the coronavirus, Bloomberg reports, citing a British official.
Frost has recently been in contact with Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, who announced on Thursday that he had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.
Transport for London announces more closures and tells people to use services only if “absolutely essential”
Transport for London has just announced that more Tube lines will close from today and next week in an effort to reduce contact between Londoners.
In an email to commuters, TfL said: “Only travel if your journey is absolutely essential. If you do travel, follow the expert advice on hand washing and other health measures.
“We are running reduced services and closing a number of stations, and also still need to undertake essential engineering work at weekends.”
Here’s what you need to know about TfL closures:
“From today, Friday 20 March, the Waterloo & City line will be closed and there will be no Night Tube or Night Overground services until further notice. “From Monday 23 March, we will also gradually reduce other services across the TfL network. “Our extensive night bus service will continue, in order to provide critical workers with a reliable night option as they continue to support the city throughout Covid-19. “These measures allow us to keep helping critical workers make their essential journeys, and keep the most used stations and services open and running.
“For the latest information on what we’re doing to tackle Coronavirus on our network, check back to our Covid-19 page.”
Rishi Sunak will today announce emergency support for workers facing losing their jobs
UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak will today announce more emergency measures to support workers facing redundancy as the coronavirus continues to damage businesses nationwide.
Sunak earlier this week announced that the government would give £330 billion worth of loans to companies which need support and three-month mortgage holidays to struggling households, among other things.
However, figures from across the political spectrum – including Conservative MPs – have urged Boris Johnson’s government to do more for workers, with companies across the country already beginning to lay people off.
The Financial Times reports that Sunak is seriously considering subsidising the wages of affected workers. Another idea he is reportedly considering is allowing businesses to have tax holidays.
Boris Johnson says Britain “can turn the tide within the next 12 weeks”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he believes Britain can begin to exit the coronavirus crisis within the next three months – but only of the British public follows the government’s advice.
At his daily press conference, Johnson said: “We can turn the tide within the next 12 weeks, and I’m absolutely confident we can send coronavirus packing in this country, but only if we all take the steps outlined.”
This means the UK government currently believes the country will need to continue with social distancing until at least June.
Johnson also said:
- Chancellor Rishi Sunak will announce more support for businesses and workers in the next day or so. The UK government is being urged to add to the measures it announced earlier this week amid businesses closing and jobs being lost across the country.
- The UK government is looking at potentially buying antibody tests which can detect whether someone is carrying or has carried the virus. Johnson said this would be a “game changer” because it would allow people to go back to work.
- Today a British patient was put into a trial for drugs for the first time.
The Queen says Britain is “up for that challenge” of defeating coronavirus
The Queen has issued her first public statement since the outbreak of the coronavirus in the UK.
“Many of us will have to find new ways of staying in touch with each other and making sure that loved ones are safe,” she said. “I am certain that we are up for that challenge. You can be assured that my family stands ready to play our part.”
Here’s the Queen’s full statement:
Final part of statement from The Queen pic.twitter.com/ez4oHvPT8u
— Chris Ship (@chrisshipitv) March 19, 2020
No more than 5 people should attend weddings during the coronavirus crisis
The Church of England has said that no more than five people should attend weddings for the foreseeable future. These should be the vicar, the bride, the groom, and two witnesses.
This is the latest piece of the advice issued by the Church in its efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Earlier this week, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said public worship was “suspended until further notice.”
UK government seeks sweeping new powers to tackle the Coronavirus
The UK government has just published its Coronavirus bill, which will give ministers sweeping new powers to tackle the pandemic in the UK.
The bill is over 300 pages long and contains huge new powers across large areas of public life.
Among the many powers it confers, the bill will enable the UK authorities to:
- Close premises, or direct people not to enter them.
- Force members of the public to be tested for coronavirus.
- Fine them up to £1,000 if they refuse to comply.
- Postpone or cancel elections.
The Premier League and other English football will be postponed ‘indefinitely’ until it is safe to resume the leagues
The Football Association, Premier League and other professional football bodies in England have agreed to postpone their competitions until April 30 at the earliest.
In a statement released on Thursday, they said they were prepared to extend competitions “indefinitely” until it was safe to resume the 2019/2020 season.
The bodies originally agreed to postpone competitions until April 4. However, the continued spread of coronavirus has forced them to postpone professional English football further.
It said: “We are united in our commitment to finding ways of resuming the 2019/20 football season and ensuring all domestic and European club league and cup matches are played as soon as it is safe and possible to do so. “We have collectively supported UEFA in postponing EURO 2020 to create space in the calendar to ensure domestic and European club league and cup matches have an increased opportunity to be played and, in doing so, maintain the integrity of each competition.
“The FA’s Rules and Regulations state that “the season shall terminate not later than the 1 June” and “each competition shall, within the limit laid down by The FA, determine the length of its own playing season”.
“However, The FA’s Board has agreed for this limit to be extended indefinitely for the 2019/20 season in relation to Professional Football.
“Additionally, we have collectively agreed that the professional game in England will be further postponed until no earlier than 30 April.”
Labour leadership frontrunner Keir Starmer urges Boris Johnson to give more support to workers
Labour leadership frontrunner Keir Starmer has called on Boris Johnson’s government to protect the income of every worker in the UK, warning that the government was “still several steps behind where they need to be.”
Starmer, who is likely to succeed Jeremy Corbyn as the next leader of the Labour Party, has urged Johnson to introduce a Danish-style system of subsidies for business facing job losses.
He has also called on statutory sick pay to be increased and extended to all those forced out of work by coronavirus, including the self-employed.
“These proposals are bold, but necessary,” Starmer said.
“We are potentially days away from further social-distancing measures that will change British life. It is imperative that the Government acts to support workers to buy food, pay the bills and cover the cost of living.”
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has got coronavirus
Michel Barnier, the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, has tested positive for the coronavirus.
He announced the news on Twitter on Thursday morning.
London’s transport network winds down
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced that services on the city’s public transport network will be scaled back with up to 40 London Underground stations closed down as the city heads towards lockdown over the coronavirus.
NEW: @TfL have announced a reduced service to enable key workers to make essential journeys.
➡️ Up to 40 stations now closed
➡️ Waterloo and City line and the Night Tube suspended from tomorrow
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) March 19, 2020
Schools across the UK will be closed from March 20.
Schools in the UK will be closed from next week as the government steps up its efforts to slow down the spread of coronavirus.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson on Wednesday afternoon told MPs that schools in England would close their gates on Friday and remain shut indefinitely.
The exceptions will be vulnerable children and children of key workers like NHS and emergency service staff.
This followed announcements from the Scottish and Welsh governments that they’d be taking the same action.
London lockdown could happen within days
London could be put on coronavirus lockdown within days with bars and restaurants closed and public events banned.
A Labour MP announces he has coronavirus
Labour MP Russell Lloyd-Moyle has just announced on social media that he has tested positive for coronavirus.
After a 6 day wait for results I have just been informed I have tested positive to COVID-19.
— Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP🌹🇪🇺🏳️🌈 (@lloyd_rm) March 18, 2020
Schools in Scotland and Wales will close on March 20.
Schools in Scotland and Wales will close on Friday, March 20, as their devolved governments try to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned parents that schools might not re-open until the end of the summer term.
The government says it will increase coronavirus testing to 25,000 people a day in the next 4 weeks
NHS testing for coronavirus will be increased to 25,000 people a day in the next four weeks, the UK government has announced.
The government says this raise testing levels in the UK to those in China.
Over 50,000 people have been tested in the UK up to now.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Public safety is my top priority, and radically ramping up testing for coronavirus is a key part of our plan to protect lives. We are already among the best in the world for coronavirus testing and today we are launching a national effort to increase our testing capability even further.
“Our aim is to protect life, protect the most vulnerable, and relieve pressure on our NHS – so it is right that we prioritise testing for those most at risk of severe illness. We will always do the right thing at the right time, based on the best scientific advice, and will do whatever it takes to protect life.”
British MPs start social distancing in parliament
The House of Commons has cut the number of MPs being allowed to enter the House of Commons chamber for Prime Minister’s Questions as the coronavirus spreads rapidly across Westminster.
Conservative and Labour whips both emailed their members instructing them only to appear in the Commons chamber if they had a question to ask the Prime Minister, the Independent reported.
Glastonbury is cancelled due to coronavirus
The organisers of Glastonbury Festival have cancelled this year’s festival because of coronavirus. Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift, and Kendrick Lemar were due to headline Britain’s biggest music festival.
Ticket-holders will have the option to roll their tickets over to next year’s festival.
We are so sorry to announce this, but we are going to have to cancel Glastonbury 2020. Tickets for this year will roll over to next year. Full statement below and on our website. Michael & Emily pic.twitter.com/ox8kcQ0HoB
— Glastonbury Festival (@glastonbury) March 18, 2020
Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich to pay for NHS staff to say in a west London hotel for 2 months
Roman Abramovich, the billionaire owner of Chelsea FC, will pay for NHS staff to stay at the club’s Millennium Hotel for two months.
“Chelsea Football Club is joining the medical response to the coronavirus outbreak in London with the news the National Health Service (NHS) has accepted the Club’s offer to make the Millennium Hotel at Stamford Bridge available for NHS staff,” the club said in a statement.
“The initiative came from club owner Roman Abramovich and, after contact with the NHS was made by Chairman Bruce Buck, it was decided the best way Chelsea can assist the NHS is to provide accommodation for NHS staff. Mr Abramovich will be covering the costs of providing the accommodation.”
BBC postpones filming of Eastenders and other shows
Filming on popular BBC shows like EastEnders, Casualty, and Holby City will be postponed “until further notice” due to the outrbreak of coronavirus, the BBC has said in a statement.
Police will be able to detain coronavirus carriers under the government’s new emergency coronavirus laws
Police will have the power to temporarily detain people who have caught coronavirus but are not self-isolating under emergency measures being prepared by the UK government.
Boris Johnson’s government will put The Emergency Coronavirus Bill before Parliament on Wednesday.
If as expected it passes into law, it will allow:
- Police and immigration officers to detain people who are a risk to public health
- Retired health and social care workers to return to work
- The creation of a compensation fund for people who take emergency leave from their jobs to volunteer in public services like the NHS
- The government to shut down schools and mass gatherings
- Ministers to close down ports and other transport hubs if there are staff shortages
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “The new measures we will be introducing in the Emergency Coronavirus Bill this week will only be used when it is absolutely necessary and must be timed to maximise their effectiveness, but crucially they give the government the powers it needs to protect lives.
“By planning for the worst and working for the best we will get through this, but this is a national effort and we must all work together – from businesses prioritising the welfare of their employees, to people thoroughly washing their hands.
“I also want to pay tribute to our brilliantly selfless NHS and social care staff who are working tirelessly to care for our friends and loved ones in this unprecedented period.”
The government is to announce emergency measures for renters
UK Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick is due to make an announcement on how the government will protect renters whose incomes are disrupted by coronavirus.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said on Wednesday morning that Jenrick would shortly be making an announcement.
Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak are under pressure to protect renters after failing to mention them in the emergency measures revealed on Tuesday evening.
Sunak said there will be mortgage holidays for people who are struggling to pay them, meaning they will not have to make payments for three months.
Rishi Sunak announces enormous financial support for businesses
UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced enormous financial support for businesses and workers in a bid to limit the economic impact of coronavirus.
Sunak said the government would make £330 billion of loans available to businesses which need them amid warnings that businesses nationwide and across several sectors could collapse.
The Chancellor also announced a three month suspension of mortgage payments for those struggling to pay, and said small businesses most vulnerable will be entitled to funding grants worth up to £25,000 each.
“We have never faced an economic fight like this one. We will do whatever it takes,” he said.
However, Sunak and Johnson faced questions on how businesses would be able to pay back those loans, and what financial support renters would receive.
The Chancellor said he would make further announcements later in the week.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe released from Iranian prison for 2 weeks
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe – the British-Iranian dual citizen who has been imprisoned in Iran since 2016 – has been released on temporary furlow for two weeks.
Iran has decided to release 85,000 prisoners in an effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe will be forced to wear an ankle tag and stay within 300 metres of her parents’ home during the temporary release.
Nissan suspends car production in Sunderland as coronavirus disrupts supply chains
Carmaker Nissan says vehicle production has been suspended at its plant in Sunderland, northeast England plant due to supply chain disruption and a sharp drop in market demand.
The plant employs around 7,000 people.
The UK government insists that the Brexit transition period will not be delayed
The UK government continues to insist that it will not extend the Brexit transition period beyond the current end date of December 31, despite coronavirus forcing upcoming trade negotiations to be cancelled.
A Downing Street spokesperson says: “In light of the latest guidance on coronavirus, we will not formally be convening negotiating work strands tomorrow in the way we did in the previous round.
“We expect to share a draft FTA [free trade agreement] alongside the draft legal texts of a number of the standalone agreements in the near future still, as planned.
“Both sides remain fully committed to the negotiations and we remain in regular contact with the European Commission to consider alternative ways to continue discussions, including looking at the possibility of video conferencing or conference calls, and exploring flexibility in the structure for the coming weeks.
“The transition period ends on 31 December 2020. This is enshrined in UK law.”
20,000 deaths or fewer would be best case scenario for the UK government
Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK government’s chief chief scientific adviser, has just told MPs that a coronavirus death toll of 20,000 or below would be a “good outcome.”
He said “seasonal flu tends to lead to 8,000 excess deaths, so if we can get [the number of deaths from covid19] down to 20,000 and below, that’s a good outcome of where we would hope to get to with this outbreak, but I mean it is still horrible.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury says public worship is suspended indefinitely
Public worship is “suspended until further notice”, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has just announced.
A Church of England spokesman said weddings and funerals could still go ahead.
Boris Johnson: “We are engaged in a war against the disease which we have to win”
Boris Johnson and his Cabinet have just discussed their plan to combat coronavirus.
The prime minister told his ministers “we are engaged in a war against the disease which we have to win,” according to a readout of the meeting.
Downing Street said “Secretaries of State will hold sector specific roundtables including, but not limited to, aviation, retail, manufacturing, food, insurance, financial services, sport, entertainment and events, and tourism and hospitality.”
Chancellor Rushi Sunak is to announce new economic measures to helping businesses deal with the impact of the virus later today.
UK government advises against all global travel
British people have been told to cancel all non-essential travel globally as the country ramps up its response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The UK Foreign Secretary told the UK Parliament on Tuesday that it would advise British people not to leave the country for at least 3o days.
“UK travellers abroad now face widespread international border restrictions and lockdowns in various countries. The speed and range of those measures across other countries is unprecedented,” Raab said.
“So I have taken the decision to advise British nationals against all non-essential international travel.”
Boris Johnson’s government drastically changed its coronavirus plan after realising only “in the last few days” that it would result in the deaths of up to 250,000 people, according to reports
The UK abruptly changed its strategy to cope with coronavirus yesterday after realising only “in the last few days” that its existing approach would result in the deaths of up to 250,000 people, according to a report by a team of disease experts who have advised the government on its scientific approach.
The report, from Imperial College’s COVID-19 response team, said the UK had initially adopted a “mitigation” strategy, by which it would slow, but not necessarily stop, the spread of the disease.
But Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced yesterday to abandon that strategy and adopt more draconian measures to “suppress” the disease.
Tate closes its art galleries across Britain
Tate has announced that it has closed all of its galleries across the country in a bid to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
In a statement, it said:
To all our supporters, “For over 120 years we have been welcoming people to our galleries to enjoy great art from around the world. However, the welfare of our visitors and staff must always come first. “That’s why we are closing Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives from this evening, Tuesday 17 March until 1 May 2020. We will be reviewing this and keep you updated. “We believe that access to art for everyone is a universal human right. Now more than ever, art can lift our spirits, brighten our days and support our mental health. So whilst our galleries are shut, we’ll be sharing some ideas for how you can still enjoy the best of Tate online. “If you have a ticket for an upcoming event or exhibition, we’ll be in touch as soon as possible. “Thank you for your support – we don’t know yet when galleries will reopen, but we look forward to welcoming you back when they do. “Until then, stay safe and take care.”
London’s public transport will run on a reduced service
London will reduce its public transport to weekend levels of service, mayor Sadiq Khan has said.
Khan told Sky News that the number of people using the Tube and London’s other public transport had plummeted amid the outbreak of coronavirus.
“Frankly speaking we don’t need the normal rush hour service we have,” he said.
“I was on the tube today and it was 40 per cent down today than it was a few weeks ago, so we have got to recognise that and follow the advice from the experts.”
British businesses ask Johnson for financial support to prevent jobs and companies being destroyed
As the stark reality of Boris Johnson’s extraordinary press conference on Monday sets in, British businesses are pleading with him for financial support to prevent entire industries collapsing.
French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday announced a €300 billion support package, promising that “no business whatever its size will face risk of bankruptcy.”
Johnson is under huge pressure to announce similar measures amid warnings that his policy of advising Brits to avoid pubs, cafes, and restaurants, but not telling them to close, will leave businesses unable to claim insurance to cover the huge loss in custom.
The hospitality sector is particularly worried.
UK Hospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: The PM’s statement is the worst of all worlds, leaving businesses, guests and teams all unprotected and in limbo.
“No insurance will apply unless the government requires closure – and even then any payout will come far too late to save millions of jobs.”
UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to announce a series of measures for keeping businesses afloat at a press conference on Tuesday.
Airlines, railway companies, construction firms, and sports teams are just some of other businesses seeking government help.
British people told to work at home and avoid social contact
“Now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact with others, and to stop all non-essential travel,” UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at a press conference on Monday.
“We need people to start working from home where they can and you should avoid pubs, clubs and other venues.”
The prime minister said that anyone living in a household where an individual within that household had experienced symptoms of the coronavirus should isolate themselves for 14 days.
EU announces 30-day ban on non-essential travel
The European Union has announced a 30-day ban on non-essential travel to the bloc, European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen has announced.
It means people from non-EU member states will not be allowed to enter the bloc unless they are long term residents of the EU, family members of EU nationals, diplomats, or essentials workers like doctors, nurses, and researchers. People transporting goods will aso be exempt from the ban.
However, the UK is set to exempt from these restrictions. Von der Leyen said “there are no restrictions for the UK citizens to travel to the continent.”
Here’s how the EU travel ban would work in practice
The EU on Monday said it would ask its 27 member states – plus European countries with close economic and political ties to the bloc – to impose a 30-day ban on non-essential travel.
The countries invited to implement the EU’s proposal are its member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, the UK, and Ireland.
Is it a binding decision?
No. This is a proposal. It is up to EU member states and the other European countries invited to implement it whether they do or not. They could adopt the proposals in full, partially, or not at all.
Are there exemptions?
Yes. The proposed ban is on non-essential travel. But long term residents of the EU, family members of EU nationals, diplomats, and essentials workers like doctors, nurses, and researchers, are all exempt. People who commute across the EU’s border are as well.
What does it mean for the UK?
Despite no longer being in the EU, the UK is in a transition period, during which it will continue to follow EU law. Because of this, UK citizens will continue to be treated as EU citizens and will exempt from the 30-day travel ban.
BBC delays license fee changes amid coronavirus chaos
The BBC has announced that it is delaying plans to abolish the free license fee for the over 75s until August. The policy was supposed to take effect on June 1.
The BBC has decided to keep the free license fee for the elderly until later in the year after it emerged that the UK government was planning to urge older people to stay at home for a period lasting up to four months.
— BBC Press Office (@bbcpress) March 16, 2020
Boris Johnson to speak to world leaders in G7 conference call
Boris Johnson will today speak to leaders of all the other G7 countries in a conference call, his spokesperson said on Monday morning, in what will be the first multilateral meeting of world leaders since the coronavirus outbreak.
Boris Johnson asks Britain’s biggest manufactures to develop medical ventilators
Boris Johnson will today hold a conference call with some of Britain’s biggest manufactures and ask them to develop ventilators for the over-stretched NHS, the FT reports.
Companies on the call are set to include JCB, Honda, Dyson, and Unipart Group.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said last week that the UK’s health service did not have enough ventilators and would need support from elsewhere.
The UK government is asking anyone who can develop medical ventilators to contact the business department’s support helpline on 0300 456 3565.
A second MP tests positive for coronavirus
Labour MP for Jarrow Kate Osborne has announced she has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.
Osborne is the second MP to catch coronavirus, the first being health minister Nadine Dorries.
I have been diagnosed with Coronavirus (#covidー19uk) following a period of self isolation and subsequent testing.
— Kate Osborne (@KateOsborneMP) March 16, 2020
Another MP, Labour’s Bell Ribeiro Addy, said she was self-isolating after experiencing coronavirus symptoms over the weekend.
Boris Johnson to host daily coronavirus press conferences
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other senior members of his government will hold daily press conferences on the coronavirus crisis from now on, Downing Street announced on Sunday evening.
The events follow a growing storm of criticism about the government’s communications strategy during the outbreak. Briefings that the government was aiming for “herd immunity” and other major developments in the UK’s response being briefed out to select journalists have triggered heavy criticism from both the government’s opponents as well as privately from Johnson’s own side. This appears to be an attempt to quell the criticism.
A Downing Street spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister and this Government are committed to keeping the public informed every step of the way about what we’re doing to fight the spread of coronavirus, when we’re doing it and why we’re doing it. At all times we will be led by the science to bring forward the right responses at the right time to this global pandemic.”
Newborn baby in London becomes youngest person in the world to test positive for coronavirus
A newborn baby has reportedly become the youngest person in the world to test positive for the novel coronavirus.
The baby’s mother was rushed to hospital in London with suspected pneumonia a few days ago, the Sun reported.
Once it was ascertained that both mother and baby had coronavirus, they were placed in separate hospitals overnight to receive treatment.
It’s unknown whether the baby contracted the virus in the womb or during the labour.
UK government will ban large public events and mass gatherings in coronavirus u-turn
Boris Johnson has u-turned and decided to ban large scale events in the UK from next week, despite all but ruling it out just days ago.
A Whitehall source said: “Ministers are working with the chief scientific adviser and chief medical officer on our plan to stop various types of public event, including mass gatherings, beginning next week.”
The source added that they would also look at encouraging more people to work from home, saying: “We are also talking to businesses and other bodies about the timing of moving towards much more widespread working from home.”
The u-turn comes despite Johnson saying earlier this week that: “on the issue of mass gathering, sporting events and so on, it is very important we are guided by the science. There is very little medical reason at the moment to ban such events.”
It follows multiple sporting and other large events being cancelled across the UK by organisers and heavy criticism of the prime minister’s reluctance to impose a ban.
Emergency legislation will also be passed next week giving the government emergency powers to detain sufferers of the virus.
The London Marathon has been postponed
The 2020 London Marathon was due to take place on April 26, but it has been postponed to October 4.
The announcement is the latest sporting event to be cancelled, alongside the suspension of the Premier League and Europa League, the postponing of Six Nations matches, and the cancellation of England’s cricket tour of Sri Lanka.
The Olympics in Japan this summer are currently still set to go ahead.
Scotland suffers its first coronavirus fatality
An older person with underlying health conditions has died in Scotland after testing positive for coronavirus, the Scottish government announced on March 13.
Chief Medical Officer Catherine Calderwood said: “I am saddened to report that a patient in Scotland who has tested positive for Coronavirus has died in hospital. I offer my deepest sympathy to their friends and family at this difficult time.
“The patient, who was being treated by Lothian Health Board was an older person who had underlying health conditions. No further information will be available to protect patient confidentiality.”
This brings the total number of coronavirus deaths in the UK to 11.
May elections postponed amid fears they would coincide with coronavirus peak
Boris Johnson has decided to postpone local elections due to take place in May amid fears that they would coincide with the peak of the coronavirus in the UK.
This includes London’s mayoral election.
The UK tells British people not to travel to certain parts of Spain
The Foreign Office has advised British people not to travel to parts of Spain where there have been acute coronavirus outbreaks.
In a statement, the FCO said: “We are advising against all but essential travel to the regions of Madrid, La Rioja and the municipalities of La Bastida, Vitoria and Miranda de Ebro. Airlines are continuing to run flights as normal to and from these areas.”
What to do if you need to stay at home and self-isolate because of the coronavirus
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday said that anyone who has even mild symptoms of the coronavirus should stay at home and self-isolate for at least seven days.
Here’s our guide to what you should and shouldn’t do if this applies to you.
Premier League and all other professional football suspended until April 3
The Premier League, English Football League and other footballing authorities in England have all agreed to postpone the professional game until April 3 at the earliest, it has just been announced.
English Football League games postponed until April 4
The English Football League has decided to suspend all fixtures until at least Saturday, April 4.
This means there will be no Championship, League One, or League Two games until next month at the earliest.
A London Underground driver has reportedly tested positive for coronavirus
A London Underground driver has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, Transport for London has just announced.
It said that the driver was not working in a customer-facing area and where they worked is being cleaned, including the trains.
UEFA postpones all competitions including the Champions League
UEFA – Europe’s chief football authority – has announced that its competitions have been suspended due to the outbreak of coronavirus.
Champions League and Europa League games scheduled for next week have been postponed.
This includes fixtures like Manchester City vs Real Madrid, Bayern Munich vs Chelsea, and Barcelona vs Napoli.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan named as Cabinet minister in isolation
The Cabinet minister who has been in isolation has just been named as International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan.
Trevelyan tested negative for coronavirus but is spending seven days in self-isolation to be safe.
Premier League to hold emergency talks
The Premier League will today hold emergency talks on how to respond to the outbreak of coronavirus as it spreads throughout the country’s biggest football teams.
Arsenal announced on Thursday evening that manager Mikel Arteta had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. As has Chelsea attacker, Callum Hudson-Odi.
The Premier League is expected to suspend the competition for several weeks.
Brexit trade talks cancelled because of the coronavirus
The next round of post-Brexit trade talks between the United Kingdom and the European Union have been cancelled because of the coronavirus crisis.
In a joint statement on March 12, negotiators from both sides said the talks could not go ahead as planned.
“Given the latest COVID-19 developments, UK and EU negotiators have today jointly decided not to hold next week’s round of negotiations in London, in the form originally scheduled,” they said in a statement.
However, they added that “Both sides are currently exploring alternative ways to continue discussions, including if possible the use of video conferences.”
The real number of coronavirus cases in the UK could be much higher than we think
The UK government believes that up to 10,000 have already been infected with the coronavirus, despite there being just 590 confirmed cases in the country.
The government’s chief scientific advisor, Patrick Vallance, said on March 12 that the number of actual cases was likely to be much higher than the number of confirmed cases because many people have not yet been tested.
Speaking alongside Boris Johnson, the prime minister, Vallance said the fact that more than 20 patients were in intensive care meant that it was statistically likely that thousands of cases were undiagnosed.
“There are more than 20 patients on intensive care units,” he said. “If you calculate what that really means in terms of the total number, it’s much more likely that we’ve got somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 people infected at the moment.”
Brits with even mild coronavirus symptoms told to stay at home for 7 days
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told British people with even mild symptoms of the coronavirus to stay at home for at least seven days, warning that the virus “is the worst public health crisis for a generation.”
He also warned that “Many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time.”
"More families are going to lose loved ones before their time."
— SkyNews (@SkyNews) March 12, 2020
Trump defends excluding the UK from his coronavirus travel ban
President Donald Trump on March 12 defended excluding the United Kingdom from his European coronavirus travel ban, saying that the country is “doing a good job.”
The president’s comments came after the number of confirmed cases in the UK rose by almost 30% in just one day.
Trump’s decision to exclude the UK and Ireland from the European ban raised eyebrows after it was pointed out that both countries host golf clubs owned by the president.
UK government advised to postpone May elections
The Electoral Commission, the independent body for overseeing UK elections, has advised Boris Johnson’s government to postpone local elections scheduled for May, including London’s mayoral election.
We’ve written to the UK Government to recommend that the May polls be postponed until the autumn as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. This is due to growing risks to the delivery of the polls & to mitigate the impact on voters, campaigners & electoral administrators.
— Electoral Commission (@ElectoralCommUK) March 12, 2020
Nicola Sturgeon confirms UK has moved to ‘delay’
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who attended the emergency Cobra meeting of UK leaders and advisers where the decision was taken, told a press conference on March 12: “The decision has been taken that we have now moved from a contain phase into the delay phase, where the objective is to seek to slow down the spread of the virus.”
She said the government would introduce new measures to protect vulnerable groups who are most at risk of dying from the virus.
She said the Scottish government would be advising those people with a fever or a persistent cough, which can indicate coronavirus, to stay at home and self-isolate for seven days.
Real Madrid players told to self-isolate for 2 weeks
Real Madrid football players have been told to self-isolate for 15 days after one of Real Madrid’s basketball players tested positive for coronavirus.
The move means Manchester City’s Champions League game with Real Madrid scheduled for next week almost certainly won’t go ahead.
La Liga – the Spanish football league – has decided to postpone the next two rounds of fixtures.
EU slams Trump’s European travel ban
The EU’s two most senior figures have slammed Donald Trump’s move to temporarily ban millions of Europeans from traveling to the US.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel criticised Trump for failing to consult with European countries before taking the decision.
“The coronavirus is a global crisis, not limited to any continent and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral action,” the statement said.
“The European Union disapproves of the fact that the US decision to improve a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation.”
Boris Johnson to introduce social distancing methods today
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is on Thursday expected to confirm (March 12) that Britain has moved into the “delay” stage of the government’s coronavirus plan, paving for the way for a number of “population distancing” measures.
Measures under consideration include population distancing-strategies such as school closures, encouraging more people to work from home and banning mass gatherings.
Six MPs placed in isolation as more ministers are tested for coronavirus
Six Members of Parliament are in self-isolation as fears grow that the coronavirus is spreading throughout Westminster, the Daily Telegraph reports.
Among those in isolation are an unnamed Cabinet minister who dined with the coronavirus-afflicted Health Minister Nadine Dorries shortly before she fell ill with COVID-19.
A second health minister in the government, Edward Argar, is also in self-isolation after dining with Dorries. Argar was seen coughing at the House of Commons despatch box on Tuesday.
The Health Minister Edward Argar has been placed in self-isolation after dining with Nadine Dorries according to the Telegraph. Here he is coughing at the despatch box on Tuesday. https://t.co/iqLsDBvtq5 pic.twitter.com/Ta1Cx35sjd
— Adam Bienkov (@AdamBienkov) March 12, 2020
Labour MP Rachael Maskell tweeted earlier this week that she had also been advised to stay at home after meeting with Dorries last Thursday.
NHS111 have advised that I self-isolate as a result of a meeting I had with the Government's Mental Health Minister last Thursday who has subsequently tested positive for Coronovirus. Thankfully I am asymptomatic. It is so important that we all follow all public health advice.
— Rachael Maskell MP (@RachaelMaskell) March 11, 2020
Maskell also called on the Prime Minister to take similar measures, having also met with Dorries last week.
“I I trust the PM has also contacted NHS 111… he must take that public health advice in the same way that I have”
— Tom Rayner (@RaynerSkyNews) March 11, 2020
However, Johnson has not been tested for the virus, with aides saying it is unnecessary because he has no symptoms.
UK expected to move to ‘delay’ phase of coronavirus response
The UK is expected to move into the “delay” phase of coronavirus response on Thursday. Government sources said that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will chair a meeting of emergency group COBRA around lunchtime, and that it is expected that the government will shift to a “delay” phase of its response to COVID-19.
The move is an effective admission that efforts to contain the spread the novel coronavirus in the United Kingdom has failed, and that the government is now focused on trying to slow its growth and mitigate its impacts.
UK sets up second drive-thru coronavirus test site
The UK has set up drive-thru coronavirus test sites as the number of cases across the country surged.
Health authorities have set up a new site in Wolverhampton, England, as part of a drive to ramp up the number of tests being carried out every day to 10,000, Sky News reported.
The first drive-thru test centre opened in Edinburgh, Scotland, in February.
UK Chancellor reveals emergency coronavirus measures
UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak has revealed a package of emergency measures to shore up the UK economy ahead of a likely coronavirus epidemic.
He told Members of Parliament that he would inject a £30 billion fiscal stimulus into the economy.
Among the measures are the scrapping of business rates for small businesses this year and a boost for funding of the NHS.
Michael Gove says the next round of Brexit trade talks might have to be cancelled
The next round of trade talks between the UK and EU might have to be cancelled due to coronavirus, government minister Michael Gove has suggested.
Gove, who is overseeing UK preparations for life after Brexit, told MPs that it was a “live question” whether the talks scheduled for next week would go ahead as planned.
Boris Johnson will not be tested for coronavirus
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not be tested for the coronavirus despite recently meeting with his health minister who has now been diagnosed with COVID-19.
Manchester City’s fixture against Arsenal is postponed
Manchester City’s game versus Arsenal scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed, making it the first Premier League fixture to be impacted by coronavirus.
The decision was taken on March 11 to postpone the game after it emerged that Arsenal players had recently interacted with Olympiakos owner Evangelos Marinakis, who has contracted the virus.
Bank of England slashes interest rates to 0.25% in emergency coronavirus move
The Bank of England has slashed interest rates in an emergency move to alleviate the economic damage caused by the coronavirus.
Rates will be cut from 0.75% to 0.25%
A minister in Boris Johnson’s government has caught coronavirus
UK health minister Nadine Dorries has caught coronavirus.
Dorries, a minister in Boris Johnson’s government, announced on Tuesday evening that she was in isolation after first experiencing COVID-19 symptoms last week.
She had interacted with the prime minister in the days leading up to her diagnosis.
Coronavirus forces major football teams like Chelsea, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, and Barcelona to play behind closed doors
Some of the world’s biggest football teams will play in empty stadiums tonight and tomorrow as the sport’s authorities try to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Four fixtures in Europe’s most prestigious club competition – The Champions League – will be played behind closed doors. They are:
- Bayern Munich vs Chelsea
- Valencia vs Atalanta
- PSG vs Borussia Dortmund
- Barcelona vs Napoli
And on Thursday, Manchester United’s Europa League game against LASK in Linz, Austria will also be played behind closed doors.
International football is being impacted, too.
Ticket sales for Northern Ireland’s Euro 2020 play-off game versus Bosnia-Herzegovina have been postponed. Tickets were scheduled to go on sale tomorrow.
British Airways cancels all Italian flights
British Airways has announced that it has cancelled all flights to and from Italy.
A spokesperson for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday morning that the government has booked a hotel near Heathrow airport in order to isolate people arriving from Italy.
The Italian government on Monday, March 10, took the extraordinary step of putting the entire population on lock down. Over 9,000 people have been infected there, with 464 deaths, as of Tuesday morning.
UK citizens with even mild symptoms of coronavirus will soon have to self-isolate for 7 days
Speaking at a press conference in Downing Street alongside the government’s chief scientific and medical advisers, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters that:
- Attempts to contain the coronavirus are “extremely unlikely” to be effective.
- The UK will therefore soo move to delay the peak of the coronavirus because “the more we can delay the peak of the epidemic to the summer the more likely the NHS will be able to cope.”
The Chief Medical Office Chris Whitty said that social-distancing methods such as bans on mass gatherings and encouraging people to work at home should not be taken too early as they would be difficult to maintain.
However, he said measures to encourage “self-isolation” of anyone potentially suffering from the virus would likely be taken within the next two weeks.
“Probably within the next 10-14 days [we will] say everybody who has even minor respiratory tract infections or a fever, should be self-isolating for seven days afterwards,” he told reporters.
"Containment is extremely unlikely to work on its own"
UK PM Boris Johnson says the "more we can delay the peak of the spread [of coronavirus] to the summer, the better the NHS will be able to manage"https://t.co/T6h8CbWPuk #COVID2019 pic.twitter.com/wYcjD0VHrZ
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) March 9, 2020
UK government prepares for coronavirus to ‘spread in a significant way’
Boris Johnson’s government remains focused on containing coronavirus but expects it to “spread in a significant way” in the coming days and weeks, his spokesperson said on Monday.
“We remain in the contain phase, but it is now accepted that this virus is going to spread in a significant way and that’s why officials have been working at speed on further steps we can take to delay the spread of the virus,” the prime minister’s spokesperson told journalists at a regular Downing Street briefing attended by Business Insider.
Johnson was still chairing a COBRA meeting with senior ministers and health officials when his spokesperson briefed the UK press at Monday lunchtime.
The prime minister’s spokesperson also said:
– Brits returning from quarantined areas of northern Italy are urged to self-isolate for two weeks – even if they do not have coronavirus symptoms.
Johnson’s spokesperson said: “For those returning from Italy, Public Health England have advised that anyone returning from locked-down areas should self-isolate for 14 days regardless of whether they show symptoms.
“People returning from the rest of Italy should isolate if they are showing symptoms.”
– There are still no plans to close the Houses of Parliament.
“The prime minister set out last week that he didn’t believe there was any reason why parliament should close and as much as possible, based on medical advice, it should carry on as normal,” they said.
“I would expect [the parliamentary authorities] to be guided by scientific advice.”
There were reports last week that Westminster could be closed for five months amid fears that MPs and Lords could be “super-spreaders” of the COVID-19 virus.
The UK economy is plummeting amid coronavirus fears
Britain’s markets are taking a battering as coronavirus continues to grip the country.
London’s FTSE Index fell by almost 9% when trading opened on Monday morning, putting it on course for its biggest fall in a single day since the Lehman Brothers crash in 2008.
UK Chancellor Ruski Sunak is set to announce measures for dealing with the financial impact of the COVID-19 virus when he delivers the government’s budget on Wednesday.
European Commission President Von Der Leyen on Monday morning said that the virus had inflicted huge damage on the whole European economy.
“The spread of the virus has a vast impact on people’s lives but it also has a vast impact on our economy,” she said.
“We are looking into everything that we can do to help to address the impacts on the economy.”
Transport for London staff member tests positive for coronavirus
Transport for London – the organisation responsible for operating London’s public transport – says that a member of staff has tested positive for coronavirus.
A TfL spokesperson on Monday said that “a deep clean has taken place within the building used by the staff member.”
The staff member reportedly works at one of TfL’s above-ground offices and not on the Underground.
Boris Johnson to chair emergency COBRA meeting as the UK moves to delay Coronavirus epidemic
Boris Johnson will on Monday morning chair an emergency meeting of the UK government’s COBRA committee.
The UK Prime Minister will meet with senior ministers and the government’s health and scientific advisers.
“The number of coronavirus cases continues to rise in the UK and around the world,” Johnson will tell the meeting.
“We are well prepared and will continue to make decisions to protect the public based on the latest scientific advice.
“Tackling Coronavirus will require a national and international effort. I am confident the British people are ready to play their part in that.
“The most valuable thing people can do is wash their hands with soap and water for twenty seconds.”
The meeting comes as the government prepares to officially move the UK towards the “delay” phase of its four-point action plan for tackling the coronavirus.
The delay phase will likely involve advice to limit human contact and unnecessary travel, with many workers advised to work from home where possible.
Johnson announced a £46 million package for accelerating efforts to find a coronavirus vaccine.
“Keeping the British people safe is my number one priority, and that’s why I’ve set out our four-part plan to contain, delay, mitigate and research coronavirus,” Johnson said in a statement on Friday.
“We are ensuring the country is prepared for the current outbreak, guided by the science at every stage. But we also need to invest now in researching the vaccines that could help prevent future outbreaks.
“I’m very proud that UK experts – backed by government funding – are on the front line of global efforts to do just that.”
UK airlines are running empty flights out of Europe.
Airlines operating out of Europe have run “ghost” flights, without any passengers on board, during the coronavirus outbreak to get around rules that could see them lose their flight slots.
UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has written to regulators asking for a suspension of the rules amid an increasingly gloomy outlook for the industry.
The UK airline Flybe collapsed earlier this week, though it said its financial problems existed long before the outbreak.
There is little chance of a coronavirus vaccine appearing this year.
The UK’s chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, told BBC Radio 4’s “Today” program on Friday that this coronavirus outbreak could become an annual outbreak.
Vallance also said it’s unlikely a vaccine will be created in time to contain this year’s outbreak.
“I don’t think we’ll get something in time and at scale for this outbreak,” he said. “That said, there have been remarkable changes in the ability to make vaccines and discover vaccines just in the last few years. And so things have progressed much more quickly than they would have done in the past, and it’s not unreasonable to assume that we will end up with a vaccine and we may do so in a year, 18 months.”
— BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) March 6, 2020
British people with flu-like symptoms could be told to stay at home.
March 3: UK citizens with flu-like symptoms could be told to stay at home even if they haven’t traveled to countries heavily affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
Other measures, including plans to reduce big gatherings, are also being considered.
“You’ve got a range of things that you can do to arrest or check the spread of a disease,” Johnson said this week. “But you can’t fire your shots too early.”
Funerals could be livestreamed if the outbreak escalates.
Funerals could be affected by any ban on large public gatherings.
The National Association of Funeral Directors told Sky News on Thursday that it had spoken with Johnson’s government about the steps it could take if the outbreak becomes an epidemic in the UK.
One option would be to livestream funerals, the group said.
“As well as supporting the government and local authorities in managing the impact of the additional deaths, funeral directors would be focused on helping families who lose a loved one during that time in finding meaningful ways to say goodbye – even if the funeral they would have preferred isn’t possible,” the group told Sky News.
“One option might include the webcasting of funeral services, as many crematoria now have these facilities – or holding a separate memorial service at a later date.”
Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty confirmed Britain’s first coronavirus-related death on Thursday.
March 5: The woman was thought to have contracted the virus in the UK and hadn’t traveled to other countries affected by the outbreak, suggesting it’s spreading in the UK.
“I am very sorry to report a patient in England who tested positive for Covid-19 has sadly died,” Whitty said.
“I offer my sincere condolences to their family and friends and ask that their request for privacy is respected.
“The patient, who was being treated at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, was an older patient who had underlying health conditions. We believe they contracted the virus in the UK and contact tracing is already underway.”
In a statement, Johnson said his “sympathies are very much with the victim and their family.”
Johnson said school closures “don’t work as well” as people might think.
Johnson has sought to play down the threat of the outbreak.
“We need to strike a balance,” Johnson told ITV’s “Good Morning” on Thursday, adding that there was no need to close schools at this stage.
“Slightly counterintuitively, things like closing schools and stopping big gatherings don’t work as well, perhaps, as people think,” he said.
He added, “As far as possible, it should be business as usual for the vast majority of people.”
The British government has stopped trying to contain the virus and is now trying to delay it, Whitty said on Thursday.
Whitty said that containing the spread of the virus among the early few patients who caught it is very unlikely and that the government was focused on trying to delay the outbreak until the spring.
Whitty said that approach – which overlaps in many ways with “contain” – had several benefits. Delaying could mean that the National Health Service is in a better position to respond and that the disease could be better managed, possibly with new drugs.
Additionally, delaying an outbreak until the spring or summer could mean the rate of infection goes down, as is generally the case with flu.
What measures are the government considering?
- Reducing the number of big gatherings, such as Royal Ascot and the Glastonbury Festival, as well as football matches.
- Closing schools.
- Using the armed forces to support emergency services.
- Asking employees across the country to work from home, possibly for about 12 weeks.
- Expanding the public information campaign, which encourages people to wash their hands regularly with warm water.
How is the virus affecting the rest of Europe?
- England’s Six Nations rugby games against Italy in Rome on March 14 and 15 were postponed.
- Italy has put 16 million people on lockdown to control the escalating coronavirus outbreak as the country reports 5,883 COVID-19 cases and 233 deaths.
- All professional sports in Italy will be played behind closed doors for a month.
- Switzerland reported its first coronavirus death, a 74-year-old woman who died in hospital, on Thursday.
What advice is the government giving about avoiding the coronavirus?
According to the NHS, the best way to avoid catching or spreading the virus is to:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Always wash your hands when you get home or into work.
- Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze.
- Put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterward.
- Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth if your hands are not clean.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
The symptoms of coronavirus include a cough, a high temperature, and shortness of breath.
They don’t necessarily mean a person has the illness, however, as they are also similar to illnesses like the common cold or the flu.