Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Thursday 27 Feb 2020

1

Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia closed to pilgrims

Saudi Arabia has suspended visas for religious pilgrims seeking to worship in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, in a bid to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. The decision, less than 60 days ahead of Ramadan, comes after pilgrims brought the deadly infection to Iran. In the UK, all hospitals have been told to prepare isolation pods for victims.

2

Trump: Covid-19 risk to US ‘remains very low’

President Donald Trump yesterday insisted that the risk posed by the new strain of coronavirus to the US people “remains very low”. Trump has put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the country’s response to the Covid-19 infection, saying: “Mike has a certain talent for this.” The president’s reassurances came as health authorities confirmed the first coronavirus case in the US where the origin of the infection is unknown, in Calfornia.

3

Midlands floods: ‘another ten days of misery to come’

The authorities in the West Midlands are preparing for another week or more of difficult conditions in local areas affected by flooding. A severe flood warning remains in place for the Wharfage area of Ironbridge in Shropshire and further rainfall forecast for the next few days is expected to top up flood waters across the county and neighbouring Worcestershire. Deputy Chief Constable Julian Moss of West Mercia Police told a press conference on Wednesday that the force anticipated its presence on the ground will “continue for the next ten days” at least.

4

Labour leadership: Starmer tops latest poll

Keir Starmer is comfortably in the lead in the Labour Party leadership race, according to a new poll for Sky News by YouGov. The survey - the first to include trade unionists and registered supporters as well as party members - put centrist candidate Starmer on 53%, ahead of Rebecca Long-Bailey, on 31% and Lisa Nandy, on 16%.

5

Police warn of crush risk at Greta Thunberg rally in Bristol

Avon and Somerset police are warning of a crush risk when young demonstrators gather on the streets of Bristol on Friday for a climate change protest attended by Swedish teenage campaigner Greta Thunberg. Parents are being told that the Youth Strike 4 Climate march is expected to be so big that normal safety measures may not be enough.

6

Heathrow expansion: court to rule on climate case

The Court of Appeal will rule today on whether building a third runway at Heathrow would put the UK in breach of its commitments to reduce emissions to fight climate change. If the judges side with the environmentalists who brought the case, Prime Minister Boris Johnson could take the opportunity to ditch the runway plans.

7

Universities pushing to make offers after results day

A “growing number” of university vice-chancellors want to withhold offers to would-be students until after candidates have received their A-level results, The Times reports. Under the current system, offers are based on predicted grades or are unconditional. The proposed new approach based on exam results has been included as one of three options in the Office for Students’ official consultation on admissions reform, which is being sent to universities today.

8

Five killed in shooting at US beer company

Five people were killed when a gunman opened fire yesterday at a large brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Police say the 51-year-old gunman, who was a local resident, shot himself dead after the attack at the Molson Coors complex. His motives have not been established. All five victims were employees of the brewery.

9

Revealed: movie baddies don’t carry iPhones

Hollywood director Rian Johnson has revealed a trade secret: characters using Apple products in US films are never villains. The Star Wars filmmaker said the tech giant’s strict product placement rules “lets you use iPhones in movies, but – and this is very pivotal if you’re ever watching a mystery movie – bad guys cannot have iPhones on camera”. 

10

Briefing: how New Delhi became a battleground

At least 23 people have been killed in clashes between Muslims and Hindus in New Delhi, in the worst religion violence seen in the Indian capital for decades.

The Guardian reports that many Muslims have “fled from their homes, and several mosques in the capital smouldered after being attacked by Hindu mobs”, following a fresh outbreak of violence on Sunday. Here is what’s going on.

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