Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Friday 10 Apr 2020

1

Corbyn critic Jess Phillips appointed as Starmer’s cabinet appointments end

Sir Keir Starmer, the new Labour leader, has promoted Jess Phillips, who ran briefly against him in the leadership race, to the position of shadow Home Office minister. Starmer’s new cabinet is now complete, and contains a conscious mix of allies and opponents of the former leader, Jeremy Corbyn. “This is a new team that will take the Labour Party forward in a new era,” Starmer said.

2

EU agrees €500 billion coronavirus bailout

European Union finance ministers have agreed to a €500 billion emergency response plan designed to bolster member states’ economies against the coronavirus pandemic. The deal contained disappointment for two of the hardest-hit nations, however. Italy and Spain had campaigned for the bloc to issue joint debt - so-called corona bonds - but the plan made no allowances for such a move.

3

Johnson under close observation after leaving intensive care

Boris Johnson has been moved out of intensive care, but remains hospitalised, Downing Street have said. The prime minister “has been moved this evening from intensive care back to the ward, where he will receive close monitoring during the early phase of his recovery,” his office revealed in a statement, adding “he is in extremely good spirits.” It was, said US President Donald Trump, “great news”.

4

Opec+ agrees fragile deal to prop up oil prices

Opec+ - the consortium of oil-producing nations fronted by Russia and Saudi Arabia - have agreed to cut their collective oil output by over a fifth. 10 million barrels per day (bpd) - equal to 10 percent of global supplies - will be cut from current production levels by the group, while a further 5-million-barrel cut will be shouldered by other nations. It is not clear to what extent the world’s largest oil-producer, the US, will take part in the cuts, as oil companies in America are not subject to state control.

5

US jobless claims reach staggering 16 million

6.6 million more US workers filed for unemployment benefits last week alone, according to data released by the country’s labour department. The staggering sum brings the total number of people out of work in the three weeks since the coronavirus lockdown to 16 million. In the last recession of 2008, half that number lost their jobs in two years. As the number only reflect filings for benefits, the real number is likely to be higher still.

6

Cabinet minister breaks his own lockdown rules

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has come under scrutiny after being caught traveling 40 miles to visit his parents last weekend, in defiance of the government’s - and his own - repeated instructions to stay isolated. Last month, Jenrick specifically told citizens to refrain from visiting their mother on mother’s day, but his office has defended his actions, saying his parents were in need of food and medication, and that Jenrick observed social distancing rules.

7

New York’s contagion probably came from the UK

New research has found that the coronavirus was brought into New York City - the area hardest-hit by the outbreak in the US - by travellers from the UK and Europe. Geneticists suggested that the strain of the virus from one of the first known patients in the city was “practically identical” to that already spreading in Britain. The state of New York now has more Covid-19 cases than any other country outside the US.

8

Saudi Arabia announces Yemen ceasefire

The Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting Houthi shias in Yemen for five years declared a unilateral ceasefire on Thursday, citing the coronavirus pandemic as a reason. Yemenis agree, however, that there is one plus side to the traumatic war - it has, at least, kept them isolated and protected them from the coronavirus pandemic. Skeptics say Riyadh is simply looking for a way to extricate itself from an increasingly costly conflict, and that aid workers entering now may bring the virus with them.

9

Chinese government to officially ban dog meat

10 million dogs are still killed for meat every year in China, but the country’s agriculture ministry has drawn up measures to reclassify the animal as pets, not livestock. Invoking “the progress of human civilisation and the public concern and love for animal protection,” Beijing is likely responding to shifting cultural norms - last month, Shenzhen became the first city to ban the consumption of canine flesh. The move has been welcomed by animal rights groups.

10

Briefing: The social events that fuelled the Covid-19 outbreak

Countless people unwittingly spread the new coronavirus at mass social gatherings worldwide before lockdowns came into force, according to academics studying how the pandemic began.

“A hundred days after a Chinese government website announced the discovery of a ‘pneumonia of unknown cause’, it has become clearer that the dynamics behind the virus’s rapid expansion across the globe has relied heavily on such ‘cluster effects’,” reports The Guardian.

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