Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Monday 9 Mar 2020
Johnson convenes Cobra meeting on coronavirus outbreak
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is chairing a meeting of the emergency Cobra committee today to discuss bringing in “social distancing” measures to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. The move follows the UK’s third death linked to the virus, as the number of confirmed cases rises to 278. The measures being considered by the government include banning big events, closing schools and encouraging home working.
Markets tumble as infection spread fuels recession fears
Stock markets plunged around Asia this morning as the week began with panic selling amid the double threat of a coronavirus-driven global recession and an oil-price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia. Analysts expect markets in the West to follow suit today, with the UK’s FTSE 100 projected to drop by 6.3% and the Dow in the US by 4.9%.
Alex Salmond in court on sex offence charges
Former SNP leader Alex Salmond goes on trial in Edinburgh today accused of sexually assaulting ten women while serving as Scotland’s first minister. The 65-year-old is facing a total of 14 charges, all of which he denies. The trial is expected to last for about four weeks.
Westminster police shooting ‘not terror related’
A man brandishing two knives was shot dead by police in Westminster at around 11.30pm on Sunday. Officers approached the man after spotting him “acting suspiciously” in the Whitehall area, where there are many government offices. The incident is not being treated as terror related, the Met Police said.
Trial over downing of Flight MH17 begins
The trial of four men suspected in the downing of MH17 is starting in Amsterdam today, more than five years after the Malaysian Airlines plane was shot down as it flew over eastern Ukraine. Prosecutors say the Buk missile that hit the passenger flight, killing all 298 people on board, came from a military base in Russia. The four suspects - three Russians and a Ukrainian - are not expected to attend the trial.
Harry and Meghan make last official appearance
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are making their last official engagement as members of the Royal Family today, before stepping down to live a more private life. The couple will attend the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey with the Queen. They have left baby son Archie behind in Canada, where they intend to spend most of their time in the future.
Petition targets Pornhub over rape and abuse
A petition accusing online firm Pornhub of profiting from videos of rape and abuse has attracted more than 350,000 signatures. The site, which is the world’s biggest provider of pornography, raises revenue through advertising and paid-for promotions by porn producers. The petition, started in the US, says the firm’s safeguarding is inadequate.
Trevor Phillips investigated for alleged Islamophobia
The former head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission has been suspended from the Labour Party over allegations of Islamophobia, The Times reports. Anti-racism campaigner Trevor Phillips, 66, is being investigated over past comments dating back a number of years and could be expelled from the party.
Indian Wells tennis tournament cancelled
California’s Indian Wells tennis tournament has been called off after a case of coronavirus was confirmed in the local area. Health officials said it was “too great a risk” to hold so large a gathering. Tournament director Tommy Haas said the event might be rescheduled.
Briefing: why Africa seems to have few coronavirus cases
Cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Senegal and Nigeria.
Yet Africa remains largely free of coronavirus infections compared with Europe and Asia - a phenomenon that has health specialists scratching their heads, given the continent’s close ties with China.