Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Friday 17 Apr 2020
Three more weeks of lockdown as big business gets help
Foreign secretary and stand-in leader Dominic Raab has confirmed that the UK lockdown will be extended for a minimum of three weeks, as the government seeks to get the economy moving while preventing a damaging second wave of infections. Chancellor Rishi Sunak also announced on Thursday that all large businesses – those with a turnover of more than £45 million – will be able to apply for the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme.
China’s economy contracts for the first time in nearly 50 years
China reported that its GDP shrank by 6.8% in the first three months of 2020 – its first recorded contraction since 1976 – after the coronavirus outbreak shut down large swathes of the country. The data from the National Bureau of Statistics of China is all the more notable because even during the 2008 financial crash, the Sars epidemic, and the destabilising Tiananmen Square crackdown, the country still reported continuous growth.
65,000 Britons still stranded abroad
Roughly 65,000 UK nationals need to be repatriated after being stuck abroad during the coronavirus pandemic. According to The Guardian, four in ten Europeans stranded in foreign countries are British, but the UK government has not availed itself of the EU-funded repatriation program to its fullest extent. Six flights have brought 1,000 Britons home via the scheme, while 101 flights have repatriated 21,815 Germans.
Trump unveils plan to reopen US
US President Donald Trump revealed on Thursday a three-phase plan to get the US economy moving again, suggesting some states may be able to lift lockdown this month. Trump promised that beginning the process will be at the discretion of state governors. “America wants to be open and Americans want to be open,” he said. “A national shutdown is not a sustainable long-term solution.”
Ivanka Trump criticised for breaking lockdown guidelines
Ivanka Trump, President Trump’s eldest daughter who is a senior adviser to the president, along with her husband, Jared Kushner, has violated the country’s guidelines on social distancing, travelling with her three children and husband from Washington to the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey to celebrate the first night of Passover last week. Ms Trump has led the calls for people to adhere to the lockdown conditions, saying recently: “Each and every one of us plays a role in slowing the spread.”
Leaked coronavirus drug trial causes stock futures to leap
A video obtained by STAT news that shows a doctor from the University of Chicago discussing the success of the drug remdesivir in treating Covid-19 patients appears to have been taken seriously by markets in the US and Asia. After treatment with the drug, produced by US biotechnology company Gilead, 125 Covid-19 patients suffering severe respiratory symptoms were discharged. The study was too small to qualify as clinical data, but stocks have soared.
US unemployment claims reach 22 million
Americans filed 5.2 million jobless claims last week, the US Labor Department reported on Thursday, bringing the total number of claims since the country declared a national emergency in response to the Covid-19 pandemic to 22 million. Not since the Great Depression of 1929 have such large job losses been reported, and the real number is likely to be much higher, given that many may not have claimed yet.
EU offers Italy ‘heartfelt apology’ for early coronavirus inaction
The EU Commission’s president Ursula von der Leyen has acknowledged that the Union was too slow to assist Italy when the coronavirus outbreak began. “Yes, it is true that no one was really ready for this. It is also true that too many were not there on time when Italy needed a helping hand at the very beginning,” she said. “For that, it is right that Europe as a whole offers a heartfelt apology.”
Princess Beatrice cancels wedding
The Queen’s granddaughter Princess Beatrice has cancelled her wedding to British property developer Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi due to the coronavirus outbreak. The relatively modest ceremony had been planned for May 29 in the 150-seat Chapel Royal of St James's Palace. “There are no plans to switch venues or hold a bigger wedding. They aren’t even thinking about their wedding at this time. There will come a time to rearrange, but that’s not yet,” a spokesperson said.
Briefing: What is ‘segmenting’?
Public health experts are considering the idea of “segmenting” the population into different risk groups, with enhanced protection for the elderly and vulnerable people, as a route out of the coronavirus lockdown.
The million-plus people deemed to be most in danger if they caught the virus would be told to continue self-isolating even after close family members have movement restrictions lifted.