Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Monday 30 Mar 2020

1

UK ‘won’t return to normal’ for half a year

England’s deputy chief medical officer has said that the UK’s coronavirus lockdown could last for “between three to six months”, with life unlikely to return normal until autumn. Speaking at Downing Street’s daily press conference on Sunday, Dr Jenny Harries said the current measures would be reviewed every three weeks going forward. The UK death toll from the virus rose to 1,228 over the weekend, with two NHS doctors among the latest fatalities.

2

US coronavirus death toll may reach 200,000, top scientist warns

The US could be hit by millions of coronavirus cases, with the loss of up to 200,000 lives, Washington’s top infectious disease expert has predicted. Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN that “looking at what we’re seeing now, I would say between 100,000 and 200,000… deaths”, but added that “it’s such a moving target that you can so easily be wrong”. The US has reported more than 142,000 cases so far, more than any other country in the world, with almost 2,500 deaths.

3

Virus deaths fall in Italy for second consecutive day

The number of deaths from Covid-19 fell for a second consecutive day in Italy on Sunday, with a tally of 756 fatalities bringing the total to 10,779. The slowing mortality rate suggests that strict lockdown measures are beginning to have some effect, but experts say the crisis in the country - which accounts for a third of the world’s coronavirus deaths - is far from over. “The measures that were due to expire on 3 April inevitably will be extended,” said Regional Affairs Minister Francesco Boccia.

4

Trump abandons hope of lifting US restrictions by Easter

President Donald Trump has backed down from his controversial ambition to open the US for business by Easter, instead extending social distancing restrictions nationwide until the end of April. “The highest point of the death rate is likely to hit in two weeks. Therefore we will be extending our guidelines,” Trump said at a White House briefing, adding that the US “will be well on our way to recovery” by June.

5

Ventilator Challenge UK to start production

The UK government has placed an order for 10,000 ventilators to be made by a consortium of British companies including Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Ford, Downing Street is expected to confirm today. The UK currently has 8,175 ventilators but aims to secure a further 30,000 within a matter of weeks with the help of Ventilator Challenge UK, a group of 14 different firms. Dyson last week became the first to announce a formal contract from the government to produce ventilators, with an order for 10,000 of a prototype that has yet to secure final regulatory approval.

6

Mercedes F1 engineers building alternative breathing aids

Mercedes Formula 1 team engineers have partnered with University College London to build breathing aids that can help keep coronavirus patients out of intensive care and reduce reliance on ventilators. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices are already used in NHS hospitals but are in short supply. “These devices will help to save lives by ensuring that ventilators, a limited resource, are used only for the most severely ill,” said Mervyn Singer, a critical care consultant at UCL Hospitals. 

7

Trump says Harry and Meghan must pay own security bills

Donald Trump has responded to reports that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are moving to California from Canada by warning that the US will not fund their security. The president tweeted on Sunday that he was “a great friend and admirer of the Queen and the United Kingdom”, but added: “They must pay!” The couple, who officially step down as senior royals tomorrow, said they had no plans to ask for publicly funded security in the US.

8

Modi seeks ‘forgiveness’ from India’s poor

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked the nation’s poor for forgiveness, as the economic and human cost of his 21-day nationwide coronavirus lockdown continues to grow. The restictions have forced millions of jobless migrant labourers to flee cities and walk hundreds of miles to their native villages, spreading the virus in the process. “I apologise for taking these harsh steps that have caused difficulties in your lives, especially the poor people,” Modi said in his monthly address on Sunday, broadcast on state radio.

9

Budding writers invited to help find real-life Uriah Heeps

A charity founded by Charles Dickens has launched a competition to find real modern-day characters who could have provided the basis for one of the author’s works. To mark the 150th anniversary of Dickens’ death, the Journalists’ Charity is inviting entrants to submit 300-word written portraits that bring to life a contemporary figure - anyone from a politician or celebrity to an NHS worker - who could rank alongside the likes of Miss Havisham, Bill Sykes and Uriah Heep. More information on the challenge is available at journalistscharity.org.uk.

10

Briefing: why men are much more at risk from coronavirus

Men are proving much more susceptible to the coronavirus than women, dividing opinion as to whether it is linked to behavioural factors such as smoking and drinking - or biology.

While it has been widely reported that the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions are most at risk from Covid-19, emerging data from around the world has revealed that the virus also discriminates by sex.

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