Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Monday 20 Apr 2020

1

At least 16 killed in Nova Scotia gun attack

At least 16 people have been killed in a 12-hour shooting rampage in Nova Scotia by a gunman disguised as a policeman - the deadliest such attack in Canadian history. Police said the suspect, named as 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman, was killed in a shoot-out with officers after killing people at several locations across the province on Saturday. Lee Bergerman, assistant commissioner for the Nova Scotian Royal Canadian Mounted Police, said it was a “devastating day” that would “remain etched in the minds of many for years to come”.

2

No date for schools reopening, says Williamson

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has dismissed reports that UK schools could reopen as early as 11 May. Speaking at the government’s daily briefing, Williamson said that there were “no plans” to open schools over summer and that five “tests” must be met before children could return to classes, including a fall in infections and the daily death rate.

3

Inquiry as more than 1,000 Covid-19 cases reported on French Navy ship

The French Navy has launched an investigation into the handling of a Covid-19 outbreak on the country’s flagship Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, after almost 60% of the 1,746 crew members on board tested positive for the infection. The ship - the only carrier in France’s Navy - is now being disinfected. The counter-infection measures taken were “obviously circumvented” by a “stealthy, insidious virus”, said French Navy chief Admiral Christophe Prazuck, who added that “we must understand what happened”.

4

Unions call for minute’s silence to mark key workers’ deaths

The unions Unison, the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives are urging people across the UK to observe a minute of silence at 11am on 28 April to remember the health, care and other key workers who have died from the new coronavirus. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Friday that the government had identified 27 NHS workers who had died after contracting Covid-19, but the true total is thought to be significantly higher.

5

US crude falls below $15 a barrel

US oil prices plummeted to below $15 a barrel early this morning - the lowest level for more than 20 years - amid fears that the world is running out of space to store crude as demand falls during the coronavirus pandemic. The drop in prices, which have since recovered slightly, comes despite oil-producing nations last week agreeing a record production cut to end a month-long price war.

6

Trump warns China over pandemic

US President Donald Trump has suggested that the Chinese government may have played an active role in causing the coronavirus pandemic.  “It could have been stopped in China before it started and it wasn’t, and the whole world is suffering because of it,” the president said in his daily White House briefing. “If it was a mistake, a mistake is a mistake, but if they were knowingly responsible, yeah, I mean, then sure there should be consequences.”

7

Thousands flock to anti-Netanyahu rally

Around 2,000 Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Sunday - while standing 6ft apart in accordance with social distancing rules - to protest against what they believe is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corrosion of the country’s democratic system. The “Black Flag” demonstrations, which began in March, are in response to Israel’s draconian coronavirus lockdown measures, which include a massive surveillance programme.

8

Dozens of coronavirus cases confirmed in Afghan president’s palace

At least 40 staff in Afghanistan’s presidential palace have tested positive for Covid-19, officials say. President Ashraf Ghani has isolated himself amid the outbreak and will run the war-torn country by video link, although there is no suggestion that he is infected. Ghani’s spokesperson refused to say whether the president had been tested. 

9

Bob Dylan’s handwritten lyrics on sale for $2.2m

Bob Dylan’s handwritten lyrics to his 1964 song The Times They Are A-Changin’ are going on sale in Los Angeles with a $2.2m asking price. The one-page sheet of lyrics, being offered by an anonymous private seller, show scribbles and changes. If the asking price is reached, it would eclipse the record for the lyrics to another Dylan classic, Like a Rolling Stone, which sold for $2m in 2014.

10

Briefing: do face masks work to protect against coronavirus?

Wearing face masks while travelling in London should be compulsory, according to Mayor Sadiq Khan.

UK public health experts do not currently recommend the use of face masks, but Khan is lobbying the government for those guidelines to be changed.

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