Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Thursday 2 Apr 2020

1

Doctors ‘will have to decide who gets ventilators’

Doctors may have to withdraw treatment from some coronavirus patients in order to help others who are more likely to survive, the British Medical Association is warning. The professional body’s latest ethics advice says that health professionals could be forced to make “grave decisions” owing to shortages of ventilators and other life-saving equipment in NHS hospitals. A total of 2,352 Covid-19 patients had died in hospital as of 5pm on Tuesday - up 563 in a day.

2

Johnson: testing will unlock ‘coronavirus puzzle’

Boris Johnson yesterday promised to “massively ramp up” testing in order to “unlock the coronavirus puzzle”. The prime minister, who is self-isolating after testing positive for Covid-19, made the pledge in a video statement following reports that only 2,000 key NHS workers in England have been tested for the virus so far. 

3

Thousands of reservists called up to fight Covid-19

As many as 3,000 Armed Forces reservists will be asked to aid Britain’s full-time troops during the coronavirus outbreak, the Ministry of Defence has announced. A 20,000-strong Covid-19 response force has already been created from full-time personnel, but reservists will provide medical and logistical support to the NHS, engineers and accountants.

4

British Airways ‘to suspend 36,000 jobs in UK’

British Airways is reportedly set to suspend its operations at Gatwick and London City airports, putting 36,000 staff on furlough. The airline has been in talks with unions and affected staff are expected to receive some of their wages through the UK’s coronavirus retention scheme, which covers 80% of workers’ salaries capped at a maximum of £2,500 each a month. Pilots have agreed a 50% pay cut for eight weeks.

5

Oil price rises after Trump signals price truce

Oil prices have surged on stock markets this morning after Donald Trump yesterday predicted an end to the oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia. Brent crude futures, which had fallen to 18-year lows, rose by more than 10%, while US oil was around 9% higher, after the US president told a White House conference that he believed the rival oil-producing countries would soon “make a deal”.

6

European courts will ‘hold sway for years’

A ruling by the Supreme Court yesterday means European judges will “hold sway” over the UK “for years to come”, The Times reports. In a ruling relating to a case about VAT charges, the UK’s most senior judges agreed that future legal disputes about unclear EU laws must be referred to the European Court of Justice until a final Brexit deal is agreed - a verdict that has angered many Brexiteers.

7

Charles ‘to pay for private security for Meghan and Harry in LA’

Prince Charles is to pay up to £2m for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to have private security as they search for a permanent home in Los Angeles, according to reports. The news comes after Donald Trump tweeted that the US would not foot the bill for guarding the couple, who are believed to be looking at properties in Malibu after leaving their former base in Canada last week.

8

Hope for house sparrows as numbers rise

The decline of the house sparrow in British gardens appears to be reversing, according to the latest RSPB national garden survey. House sparrows were once one of the UK’s most common garden birds – with an average of around ten per garden in 1979 – but numbers have crashed, perhaps because of changing agricultural practices. But the RSPB says there are now signs of recovery, with sightings of the small, brown bird rising by 10% in the last decade.

9

Letters from Thomas Hardy’s second wife found

Academics say three recently discovered letters written by Thomas Hardy’s second wife, Florence Dugdale, have shed new light on their relationship - and her weariness with media attention. Hardy was one of England’s most celebrated writers when he married Dugdale, 39 years his junior, in 1914. In one letter she calls him “one of the kindest, most humane men in the world”, but in another she says: “Accounts of me and my portrait have been printed in every paper, I think, in England... I am tired of this publicity.”

 

10

Briefing: how coronavirus is exposing class divides

The new coronavirus has turned life upside down around the globe, confining millions to their homes, putting people out of work and hospitalising hundreds of thousands.

But while the impact has been felt widely, it has not necessarily been felt evenly. Here is how the virus has exposed the differences between the haves and have-nots.

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