Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Wednesday 8 Apr 2020

1

‘Power vacuum’ fears as Johnson remains in ICU

Senior UK cabinet ministers are facing questions about who is having the final say in government while Boris Johnson battles the Covid-19 coronavirus in hospital. Fears of a power vacuum are growing following the revelation that Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is deputising for the prime minister, does not have authorisation to make key decisions without cabinet agreement, unlike Johnson, who has spent a second night in intensive care amid concerns about the seriousness of his condition.

2

US records highest coronavirus deaths in a day

More than 1,800 coronavirus-related deaths were reported in the US on Tuesday, marking a new global high for the number of fatalities linked to the outbreak in a single day in one country. The US has recorded a total of almost 13,000 deaths and now accounts for almost a third of the more than 1.4 million infections reported worldwide. In the UK, 786 deaths were confirmed yesterday, bringing the total to 6,159.

3

UK ‘will have worst death rate in Europe’

Analysis by world-leading disease data scientists suggests the UK will have the highest number of deaths in Europe from the coronavirus outbreak, accounting for more than 40% of fatalities across the continent. Experts at the Seattle-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) predict that UK daily deaths will peak at 2,932 on 17 April, with the high death toll blamed in part on delays in introducing a lockdown.

4

China ends lockdown measures in Wuhan

China has lifted lockdown measures that were imposed in January in Wuhan, where the coronavirus outbreak originated. The 11 million inhabitants of the city, in Hubei province, are now allowed to leave the area without special authorisation as long as a mandatory data-tracking smartphone app shows they are healthy and have not been in recent contact with anyone confirmed to have the virus.

5

Britons divided over police enforcement of lockdown

A third of Britons believe the police have gone too far in enforcing lockdown measures designed to limit the spread of coronavirus, according to a poll of more than 1,600 adults carried out by YouGov over the weekend. However, 42% of those quizzed said they fully supported the approach taken by officers, and 14% said the police should take tougher action.

6

Google pays £44m in UK tax and hands £1bn to staff

Google paid just £44m in corporate taxes in the UK last year while handing more than £1bn in pay and bonuses to its 4,439 staff in the country, newly filed accounts show. The tech giant’s UK tax spend was down from £66m the year before. Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge, former chair of the Public Accounts Committee, has blasted the tax payments as “a joke” and claims Google is not paying a “fair rate”.

7

Locked-down stargazers enjoy ‘pink moon’

Stargazers across continental Europe and the UK last night enjoyed the sight of a so-called “pink moon” - when the full moon is at its closest point to Earth, making it appear bigger and brighter in the night sky. The pink moon, which did not have any unusual colouring despite the name, was at its perceived largest to UK observers by 3.55am on Wednesday.

8

Record-sized hole in ozone layer over Arctic

The largest recorded hole in the ozone layer is currently open over the Arctic, researchers say. Experts say the gap in the strata of gas in Earth’s atmosphere, which blocks out harmful UV radiation from the Sun, is the result of low temperatures over the pole, and believe it will close again in a few weeks without causing significant problems to humans.

9

Poet Andrew Marvell ‘spied for the Dutch’

The 17th century love poet and MP Andrew Marvell may have been a spy for the Dutch, new evidence suggests. Marvell was famed as an English patriot, but a note that he wrote in the margins of a newly discovered pamphlet suggests otherwise. Marvell sent the annotated pamphlet, which had been banned for criticising the Church of England, to an Englishman in Holland known to be part of a spy network set up by William of Orange.

10

Briefing: behind Trump’s obsession with hydroxychloroquine

Donald Trump has again touted the supposed benefits of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to combat the new coronavirus.

The drug has not been shown to be effective against Covid-19, and some experts have warned that it may not be safe.

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