Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Monday 27 Apr 2020

1

Boris Johnson back at work and “raring to go”

Boris Johnson is resuming his prime ministerial duties today, more than three weeks after being hospitalised with the Covid-19 coronavirus. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who has been deputising for him, said the PM was “raring to go”. Johnson returns to growing scrutiny over what critics deem a slow initial response by his government to the pandemic, and is under pressure to reveal a strategy to ease lockdown conditions. The Telegraph reports that he is expected to outline plans as early as this week for how the restrictions might be eased. 

2

Italy announces date to begin easing lockdowns

Italy’s prime minister has outlined plans to ease the strict restrictions imposed in the country seven weeks ago to curb the spread of the coronavirus. In a televised address last night, Giuseppe Conte said that although schools will remain closed for the remainder of this academic year, from 4 May people can begin to visit relatives and certain industries will resume business again. Social distancing and mask-wearing will still be mandatory, however. “If you love Italy, keep your distance,” Conte said.

3

Spanish children freed from homes

Spain has begun allowing children to leave their homes for the first time in six weeks, in an easing of some of the strictest lockdown measures in Europe. A total of 6.3 million under-14s are now free to roam for an hour a day between 9am and 9pm, but may venture no further than a kilometer from their homes. Seniors will be granted the same liberty from 2 May if infection figures in Spain continue to fall.

4

Trump shuns daily briefings after disinfectant row

Donald Trump skipped the White House coronavirus daily briefing on Sunday for the second day in a row, in the wake of criticism of his suggestion that injecting humans with disinfectant might help combat the new coronavirus. Sunday also saw the US president deleting a tweet in which he demanded that journalists return their “Noble prizes” for their reports on Russian election interference. The misspelling was not the only error: the journalists received a Pulitzer Prize, not a Nobel.

5

Intelligence officials believe Kim Jong Un is alive

US and South Korean intelligence experts have dismissed rumours that Kim Jong Un has died, as new satellite images provide a possible clue as to the missing North Korean leader’s whereabouts. The images, released by a Washington-based North Korea monitoring project, show that Kim’s personal train has been parked at his family’s coastal resort of Wonsan since at least 21 April. Speculation about Kim’s health has been growing since he skipped a commemoration on 15 April of the birthday of his late grandfather, North Korea founder Kim Il Sung.

6

Airbus at risk of collapse, warns CEO

Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury has warned his employees that the European aerospace giant is “bleeding cash at an unprecedented speed”. In a letter sent to staff late on Friday, Faury said that the company’s “very existence” is under threat and that its 135,000-strong workforce should brace for cuts. The coronavirus pandemic has decimated the revenues of airlines - Airbus’s main customers.

7

Downing Street insists Dominic Cummings not part of Sage

The UK government has denied reports that the prime minister’s most senior advisor, Dominic Cummings, was a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) - the group that gives independent, expert advice to Downing Street on health policy. A spokesperson said that while Cummings has attended Sage meetings, it “is factually wrong and damaging to sensible public debate to imply [Sage] advice is affected by government advisers listening to discussions”.

8

England hit by spate of stabbings

A one-year-old girl and a three-year-old boy were stabbed to death in east London on Sunday evening. A 40-year-old man said to have been known to the children was taken to hospital with knife injuries following the attack, in Ilford. The killings came a day after the fatal stabbing of a 20-year-old man at a shopping centre in Smethwick in the West Midlands. In a separate attack in the region, two teenagers, aged 19 and 16, were stabbed in broad daylight in Solihull, with the younger victim said to be in a critical condition.

9

Britons in lockdown exhibit one of three mental states, says experts

The response of Britons in lockdown can be divided into three categories - accepting, suffering or resisting, according to new research by a team at King’s College London. The experts say that 48% of people accept their confinement, 44% suffer because of it, and 9% resist the lockdown. Young people were the most likely be in the resisting group, which was 64% male, while people aged between 55 and 75 were most likely to accept the restrictions.

10

Briefing: Richard Branson in race to save Virgin Atlantic

Richard Branson is facing a race against time to secure a bailout for Virgin Atlantic amid reports the billionaire is looking for a buyer to save the airline from going into administration.

The Daily Telegraph says Branson has set an end-of-May deadline to save the airline from collapse after a taxpayer bailout proved beyond his reach.

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