Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Monday 16 Mar 2020


Wife mourns ‘soulmate’, the youngest Covid-19 victim

The wife of Britain’s youngest coronavirus victim has spoken of her pain at losing her “soulmate”. Nick Matthews died on Saturday morning aged 59. He had underlying health conditions. There have now been 35 deaths of people with the virus in the UK and 1,372 confirmed infections. A total of 40,279 people have been tested.


Downing Street to give daily coronavirus updates

After criticism of its communications and strategy on the coronavirus outbreak, the government has said there will be daily press conference updates on Covid-19 held at Downing Street from today. There are also plans to put more than 10,000 UK service personnel on standby to help with the crisis, supporting police and the elderly.


US slashes interest rates as major cities shut down

The Federal Reserve, the US central bank, is cutting interest rates to close to zero in a co-ordinated action with Europe, Japan and Canada to offset the economic impact of coronavirus. And the cities of New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas also announced yesterday that they are closing down bars and restaurants.


Biden and Sanders bump elbows at first debate

US Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders held their first one-on-one TV debate last night – and bumped elbows rather than shook hands, to avoid risking spreading coronavirus. Sanders went on the attack more than is customary for him and Biden revealed he wants a female running mate.


Gig economy fears over ‘inadequate sick pay’

The GMB union has expressed concern over inadequate sick pay offered to workers in the “gig economy” during the coronavirus outbreak. The union says it may force ill people to keep working, possibly spreading the virus. The Guardian singles out delivery firms Hermes, DPD and Deliveroo for their sick pay rates.


US says UK air strikes on Iraq killed civilians

The UK has long insisted that it has killed only one civilian during five years of bombing and firing missiles at Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria. Now the US says there is “credible” evidence the UK has killed civilians on at least three occasions. The BBC says the RAF method for identifying civilian casualties has been criticised.


Louis Vuitton to make hand sanitiser

LVMH, the parent company of luxury fashion brand Louis Vuitton, is to convert its perfume production lines to make hand sanitiser, to help tackle a shortage of anti-viral products in France. The firm said it would deliver the sanitiser free of charge to local authorities. There have been more than 120 coronavirus deaths in France.


US Dead Sea Scrolls fragments ‘are all fake’

Using sophisticated dating techniques, a team of researchers has established that 16 supposed fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls on display in a Washington DC museum are fakes. Forgers used Roman-era shoe leather to lend authenticity, the team says. The fakes were bought for millions of dollars by the Museum of the Bible.


Falkland Islands ‘were hit by ancient tsunamis’

A British geological team says the Falkland Islands have been hit by huge tsunamis over the past three million years, with landslides on the ocean floor to the south of the islands causing waves tens of metres high. The team says the tsunamis happen once every one million years, so islanders should not worry about recurrences.


Briefing: What is ‘herd immunity’?

The UK’s long-term plan to fight coronavirus is to rely on “herd immunity” to stop the spread of the disease, government scientists say.

Boris Johnson announced last week that the country was being stepped up from the “contain” to the “delay” phase of the government’s four-part response to the Covid-19 outbreak. Anyone with a “new, continuous” cough or high temperature is being advised to self-isolate for seven days.

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