Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Tuesday 17 Mar 2020

1

Britain under lockdown to save 260,000 lives

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has dramatically reversed his policy on Covid-19 coronavirus, asking people to avoid pubs, theatres, offices and non-essential travel for up to three months in a bid to save lives. Johnson was told 260,000 people would die without this stricter approach, which it is hoped will reduce the number of deaths to a few thousand.

2

New powers ‘unprecedented in peacetime’

New legislation will be tabled today allowing police to detain people to stop them spreading the virus, care homes to lower their standards and hospitals to send patients home to free up beds as the government brings in measures that Boris Johnson called “unprecedented in peacetime”. He said the new powers would be temporary.

3

EU borders to close, and Ohio suspends vote

As the coronavirus spreads, countries are bringing in stricter social distancing measures to slow the disease. From Tuesday, the EU will ban all non-essential travel between member states. With exceptions, travel from non-EU countries to the EU is already banned. In Ohio, the latest Democrat primary has been suspended.

4

‘Rich to blame for climate change’, says study

A study of 86 nations by the University of Leeds has found that the rich are primarily to blame for man-made climate change. The wealthiest 10% of people on the planet use about 20 times more energy than the poorest 10%, wherever they live, the team says. This is particularly true of transport, as people on low incomes cannot afford to drive.

5

Carphone Warehouse to axe 2,900 jobs

Dixons Carphone is to close all 531 of its standalone Carphone Warehouse stores, cutting 2,900 jobs. Instead, the firm will concentrate on selling mobile devices through its 305 Currys PC World shops and online. The 2,900 redundancies will be in addition to around 40% of existing employees being re-employed within the company.

6

Salmond: ‘It was like wrestling an octopus’

One of ten women who accuse former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond of sexual assault told the high court in Edinburgh yesterday an alleged attack was like “wrestling with an octopus”. The senior Scottish government official said Salmond tried to kiss her and grabbed her wrists. He faces 13 charges including one of attempted rape.

7

Theatre producers want government ban

Government advice to “avoid” the theatre and cinemas because of the coronavirus outbreak is a “crippling blow” to the UK’s creative industries, an industry body is warning. Producers say they will be unable to recoup their losses through insurance because Boris Johnson has stopped short of issuing an outright ban on performances.

8

Tom Hanks and wife released from hospital

Hollywood star Tom Hanks and his singer wife Rita Wilson have been released from hospital in Queensland, Australia, after treatment for Covid-19 and are now self-isolating to avoid spreading the coronavirus. The 63-year-old actor is in Australia working on a film about Elvis Presley, which has been put on hold during the outbreak.

9

Mel and Sue: ‘We quit Bake Off twice’

TV comics Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins famously quit hosting The Great British Bake Off after it went to Channel 4. Now the pair, promoting a new show, have told Radio Times they also quit on the first day of filming at the BBC because “it was not a kind show. They were pointing cameras in the bakers’ faces and making them cry”.

10

Briefing: Is coronavirus ‘disease X’?

Coronavirus is “rapidly becoming” the unknown “disease X” that scientists had warned about, a World Health Organization (WHO) expert has said.

WHO said in February 2018 that it was preparing for an unknown international epidemic it called disease X. And Professor Marion Koopmans, head of viroscience at Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam, has said coronavirus fits the profile.

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