Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Friday 3 Apr 2020

1

Global coronavirus cases pass million mark

More than a million Covid-19 coronavirus cases have now been reported worldwide, official figures show. The latest milestone represents an alarming increase, with the number of recorded infections doubling in just eight days. The total reported death toll stands at more than 53,000 people - although experts say that as with the rate of infections, the real number may be many times higher. 

2

Police admit £660 coronavirus fine was mistake

Police have admitted that a woman convicted under new coronavirus laws for “loitering between platforms” at Newcastle Central Station last Saturday was wrongfully charged. Marie Dinou, 41, was convicted in her absence at North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court on Monday, and fined £660. But following pressure from legal professionals, a review of the case has established that she “was charged under the incorrect section of the Coronavirus Act 2020”, British Transport Police said in a statement.

3

UK government promises 100,000 daily coronavirus tests

At least 100,000 coronavirus tests are to be carried out every day in the UK by the end of April under a new government target unveiled by Health Secretary Matt Hancock yesterday. Speaking at the government’s daily briefing at the end of his week of quarantine after contracting the virus, Hancock unveiled a “five-pillar” testing strategy that includes working with commercial partners such as universities and private businesses such as Amazon to do more swab testing; introducing antibody blood tests in the hope of offering “immunity passports”; and upping surveillance measures to track infections.

4

WHO calls for action as infections spike in Middle East

The World Health Organization (WHO) is urging Middle Eastern countries to act more quickly to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the region, where cases have almost doubled in a week to nearly 60,000. “I cannot stress enough the urgency of the situation,” said Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO’s director for the Eastern Mediterranean. “The increasing numbers of cases show that transmission is rapidly occurring at local and community levels. We still have a window of opportunity, but this window is slowly closing day by day.”

5

US weekly jobless claims double to 6.6 million

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in around ten million job losses in a fortnight in the US, with the number of people seeking unemployment benefits doubling to a record 6.6 million last week, latest figures show. Until last month, the worst week for unemployment filings in the US was 695,000, in 1982. The trend is being repeated in countries worldwide, with four million French workers filing for unemployment benefits in the last two weeks, while Spain recorded 800,000 job losses last month.

6

Final decision on Democratic candidate delayed until August

The Democratic National Convention - where the US party is to confirm its candidate to take on Donald Trump in November’s presidential election - has been pushed back a month until August as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Former vice president Joe Biden, widely expected to beat rival Bernie Sanders to secure the nomination, called for the delay on Wednesday and the decision was then confirmed yesterday.

7

Heathrow to close one runway as air traffic slows

Heathrow Airport is to close one of its two runways in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The decision will take effect on Monday, and is intended to “increase resilience and safety for staff, passengers and cargo”, said  airport bosses, who added that the runway used will alternate each week. Half of the world’s aeroplanes are now in storage, and international seat capacity has dropped by almost 80% year-on-year.

8

Premier League considering players’ pay cut

Calls are growing for Premier League players to take a pay cut during the coronavirus crisis. The demand comes as a number of clubs put non-playing staff on furlough, which means they will only get 80% of their salary, while still handing full pay cheques to footballers and managers. Senior figures for the league are meeting today to discuss a proposed blanket reduction in players’ wages of up to 25%. Backing the plan, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I think everybody needs to play their part in this national effort and that means Premier League footballers too.” 

9

Women dominate Booker International Prize shortlist

The Booker International Prize shortlist has been announced, with Japanese author Yoko Ogawa’s The Memory Police and German writer Daniel Kehlmann’s Tyll among the favourites to win the £50,000 prize for the best book translated into English and published in Britain or Ireland. The shortlist also includes works translated from originals written in Dutch, Persian and Spanish. For the second year in a row, most of the nominated authors are women.

10

Briefing: will warmer weather halt the march of coronavirus?

Speculation is growing over whether the coronavirus outbreak could be tempered by the warmer weather of the summer months after scientists said it has hallmarks of a seasonal virus.

The data for infection rates supports a climactic dimension to Covid-19. “Look at the World Health Organization (WHO) map of the coronavirus outbreak, and it is difficult to avoid spotting a pattern,” writes Tom Whipple, science editor of The Times.

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