Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Wednesday 15 Apr 2020

1

Hancock promises care home coronavirus testing

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said yesterday he was “determined” to increase testing for Covid-19 coronavirus in care homes, after charities warned the outbreak was “running wild” in residents, and 2,000 homes in England alone reported infections. Hancock said all staff and residents would be tested when capacity increased.

2

UK economy ‘could shrink by 35% and 2m jobs’

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) is warning that the UK economy could contract by 35% in the next quarter – and 13% for 2020 as a whole – because of the coronavirus lockdown. It says unemployment could soar by two million jobs to hit 10% by the end of June, with government borrowing increasing at a vertiginous pace.

3

Starmer calls for coronavirus exit strategy

Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour Party, has written to Dominic Raab urging the government to publish its coronavirus lockdown exit strategy this week, saying his party will back the extension of the restrictions expected to be announced on Thursday. The government said it was too early to start talking about easing measures.

4

Trump condemned for cutting funding to WHO

US President Donald Trump has been slated for his decision to cut funding to the World Health Organization in an apparent attempt to divert attention from his own handling of the coronavirus outbreak. In the UK, Richard Horton of The Lancet said it was a “crime against humanity”. US author Laurie Garrett called it “damnable”.

5

Captain Tom’s garden walk raises £4m for NHS

A 99-year-old war veteran who is raising money for the NHS by doing a sponsored walk in his back garden, using a walking frame, has exceeded his original target of £1,000. Captain Tom Moore, known as Captain Tom, has so far raised £4.3m as he attempts to complete 100 laps of the 25-metre space by his hundredth birthday on 30 April.

6

Fraudsters ‘are using virus as hook for scams’

The National Crime Agency is warning that scammers are using fear about the coronavirus outbreak to hook victims. A 46-year-old pharmacist from south London was arrested on Saturday after trying to sell virus testing kits, making false claims about their efficacy, and another man was held on Sunday after promising to sell 250 kits.

7

Ardern and NZ cabinet take coronavirus pay cut

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her cabinet have agreed to take a 20% pay cut for the next six months in solidarity with those affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Ardern’s salary will be reduced by $47,104 (£22,600). Outside Europe, New Zealand is predicted to take the biggest economic hit, after Venezuela.

8

Coronavirus distancing ‘needed until 2022’

A US scientific paper warns that social distancing measures to control the spread of Covid-19 may have to continue intermittently until 2022. The authors say secondary outbreaks could be worse than the first unless measures are renewed. A group advising the UK has already said the lockdown should last one year.

9

World’s longest animal discovered in ocean

A team exploring the deep sea off Australia’s coast has discovered what may be the world’s longest animal, a 150-foot long siphonophore. The string-like predator feeds by dangling tentacles in the water. The researchers believe they have discovered as many as 30 new species including a long-tailed sea cucumber and giant hydroids.

10

Briefing: How virtual Parliament might work

MPs are expected to approve plans for a partly virtual Parliament next week in an effort to adhere to physical distancing measures.

House of Commons speaker Lindsay Hoyle has called on the government to allow a virtual Parliament so MPs can work from home when the current recess ends this week.

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