Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Thursday 12 Mar 2020
Johnson to step up UK coronavirus measures
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce after a meeting of the emergency Cobra committee today that the UK is stepping up its response to the coronavirus outbreak. The move to the “delay” phase of the government’s four-part emergency response plan would see the introduction of “social distancing” measures, which may include closing schools, encouraging home working and banning large-scale public events.
Trump suspends travel from Europe to US
US President Donald Trump has announced a 30-day ban on passenger flights from Europe to the US in an attempt to curb the spread of the new coronavirus. However, the UK is not included in the restriction, which starts at midnight on Friday, with a presidential proclamation issued after Trump’s televised address specifying that only travellers from the 26 countries in the Schengen border-free travel area were barred.
Sunak’s £30bn Budget is ‘biggest spend since 1992’
Rishi Sunak’s Budget yesterday marks the biggest “spending spree” since 1992, as the new chancellor “opened the spending taps to nurse the economy through the coronavirus crisis and roll back the austerity era”, says The Times. Sunak announced £12bn of immediate spending for the NHS, public services and small businesses, on top of an existing £18bn of manifesto commitment spending.
Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson test positive for coronavirus
Hollywood couple Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have announced that they have both been diagnosed with the new coronavirus. The two actors, both 63, have tested positive while in Australia, where they have been living while Hanks works on a film about Elvis Presley. He said they would be “tested, observed and isolated for as long as public health and safety requires”.
Stock markets in freefall
Asian markets tumbled this morning, with similar slumps expected in the West as trading begins after the US announced a ban on flights from Europe. US futures fell overnight and oil prices dropped by more than 4%, with Brent crude at $34 per barrel. Analysts said the travel ban had taken investors by surprise.
UK and US soldiers killed in Iraq attack
A British soldier and two Americans were killed in a rocket attack on a military base in Iraq on Wednesday. The US-led coalition said in a statement that a total of 12 people were injured when 18 rockets struck the Taji camp, north of Iraq. No one has claimed responsibility as yet but the attack is suspected to have been carried out by an Iranian-backed militia.
Attenborough reveals fears for climate summit
David Attenborough has spoken of his “desperate hope” that the Cop 26 UN climate conference in Glasgow this November will not be derailed by the coronavirus epidemic. The 93-year-old told Sky News that despite the ongoing health crisis - which has been labelled a pandemic by the World Health Organization - world leaders must keep their “eyes on the ball” in order to safeguard the future of the planet.
Web inventor Berners-Lee warns of online abuse
World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee has warned that online harrassment “silences women and deprives the world of their opinions and ideas”, in an open letter to mark the 31st anniversary of his creation. The warning comes after new research found that 52% of young women and girls have experienced online abuse.
Pavement parking ban ‘to help pedestrians’
A ban on parking on the pavement for cars and vans may be introduced in England to make life easier for pedestrians, particularly elderly and vulnerable people, the Department for Transport has announced. With the exception of London, where a ban already exists, only lorries are currently prevented from pavement parking. The government is to open a consultation on whether to give local authorities more parking powers.
Briefing: how did coronavirus start?
Coronavirus has spread to 120 countries, with significant outbreaks in China, Italy, Iran and South Korea.
Wednesday saw the biggest daily rise in UK cases, which have now reached 456. Here is what we know about the origin of coronavirus.