Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Wednesday 29 Apr 2020

1

UK’s true Covid-19 death toll to be revealed

The UK government is to publish daily figures for coronavirus-related deaths in UK care homes and the community from today, revealing the full impact of the outbreak. Until now, there has been an 11-day time lag for the Office of National Statistics’ (ONS) data, but Health Secretary Matt Hancock says care deaths will be tracked in the same way as hospital fatalities going forward to “bring as much transparency as possible”. Experts fear that deaths in homes are still rising, despite peaking in hospitals - and say that once all fatalities are factored in, the UK could end up with the highest casualty rate in Europe.

2

Germany considering tightening lockdown again

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that lockdown measures may be reimposed in the country, as the number of coronavirus infections begins to rise again. The German authorities have been praised for their swift response to the initial outbreak, which has kept deaths low, but following the reopening of shops, schools and other public buildings over the past week, the country’s virus reproduction rate, known as the R value, has rebounded to 1.0 - the dividing line between growth and decline. 

3

Labour calls for Priti Patel report publication

The Labour Party is demanding that the findings of an inquiry into alleged bullying by Priti Patel be made public “as soon as possible”, amid reports that the Home Secretary has been cleared of wrong-doing. Patel is alleged to have bullied staff in three government departments and is also named in a wrongful dismissal claim by the former head of Home Office civil servants, Philip Rutnam. She is is due to appear before the Home Affairs Select Committee this morning.

4

Domestic violence refuges ‘running out of space’

Domestic violence is an “epidemic inside this pandemic”, with refuges running out of space or unable to operate properly because of the coronavirus outbreak, a cross-party committee of MPs has been warned. Victims’ Commissioner Dame Vera Baird QC said there was evidence of a spike of attacks by older children on their parents.

5

Bollywood star Irrfan Khan dead at 53

A major star of both the Indian film industry and Hollywood movies has died at the age of 53. Irrfan Khan was admitted to an intensive care unit in a Mumbai hospital earlier this week with a colon infection. As well as starring in many Bollywood hits, Khan found fame in the West in films including Slumdog Millionaire and Life of Pi.

6

Queen to commemorate VE Day with TV address

The Queen will lead national commemorations of Victory in Europe Day on 8 May with a TV speech, broadcast on the BBC at 9pm - the same time when her father King George VI announced the end of the Second World War in Europe 75 years ago. Plans to mark the day with street parties have been dropped because of the coronavirus lockdown.

7

US vice president refuses to wear face mask

Mike Pence was filmed yesterday visiting a leading medical clinic in Minnesota without wearing a face mask, despite the Mayo Clinic’s coronavirus policy demanding that he do so. The US vice president is said to have been the only person in the building who refused to wear a mask as he toured wards, meeting at least one virus victim.

8

Kim Jong Un ‘hiding from virus’, South Korea suggests

Kim Jong Un is probably keeping a low public profile as he tries to avoid the coronavirus outbreak, even though North Korea claims to have no cases, according to South Korean and US officials. The North Korean dictator has been noticeably absent from public life in recent weeks, prompting rumours that he is gravely ill or even dead following heart surgery.

9

Mile-wide asteroid ‘in mask’ to pass near Earth

An asteroid more than a mile in diameter is set to make a pass by Earth today - but scientists stress that it poses no danger. Known as (52768) 1998 OR2, the asteroid will come within about 3.9 million miles of our planet – 16 times further than the distance to the Moon. Astronomers have joked that the space rock appears to be wearing a face mask in recently captured images, owing to dust and debris passing around it.

10

Briefing: is Trump on course to win the 2020 election?

This year’s US presidential election will take place against the backdrop of never-before-seen circumstances, with a rising death toll from the new coronavirus and an economy reeling from the pandemic’s impact.

CNN reports that President Donald Trump’s response to the virus has “upended Republican plans for how to run against Democrats”, leaving the party “worried about November’s election”.

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