Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Tuesday 12 May 2020

1

Government to reopen primary schools by end of June

All UK primary pupils will return to schools in June under plans announced by the government. Children in Reception and Years One and Six are due to return on 1 June, and ministers say that “if feasible” all other primary pupils should also go back by the end of the month. However, teaching unions have described the plans as reckless.

2

Trump storms out of press briefing after China clash

Donald Trump abruptly walked out of a White House press briefing on Monday after responding to a question from an Asian-American reporter by saying: “Don’t ask me. Ask China.” Weijia Jiang of CBS News had asked why the president kept boasting about testing levels, adding: “Why is this a global competition to you if every day Americans are still losing their lives and we are still seeing more cases every day?”

3

Seoul nightclub outbreak tops 100 cases

A total of 101 new coronavirus cases in South Korea have been linked to a nightclub district in the capital city, officials say. Although the number of cases across the East Asian nation has been brought down through testing, the new cluster of infections in Seoul poses major problems for health officials trying to track people who may be infected, because many visitors to gay nightclubs provide false information for fear of homophobic persecution.

4

UK public to be permitted to socialise with friend or relative

People in the locked-down UK will be allowed to play sport with a friend or family member from outside their household or socialise with them in the open air, Boris Johnson has announced. The prime minister has also raised to prospect of a regional approach to lockdown, saying: “If there’s a flare-up in a particular part of the country, in a town or in a village, then we will be doing whack a mole to deal with that.” 

5

Rishi Sunak to outline future of furlough scheme

The chancellor will reveal the next stage of the government’s coronavirus Job Retention Scheme today. Rishi Sunak has already warned that the scheme, due to end in June, is not “sustainable” at its current rate. More than six million people are having 80% of their wages paid by the government while they are temporarily on leave from their jobs as a result of the pandemic.

6

Bank of England chief warns of permanent scars from pandemic

The Bank of England’s chief economist has warned that the coronavirus pandemic will leave permanent scars on Britain’s economy as households and businesses cut back spending. “All crises leave scars and this crisis will be no exception,” said Andy Haldane on a Royal Economic Society webcast. The Times says the remarks suggest that the Bank may have been “too bold” when it warned of a 14% fall in GDP this year.

7

Did humans and Neanderthals coexist longer than thought?

Humans and Neanderthals coexisted in Europe for longer than thought, according to a new study. After examining objects found in Bulgaria, the researchers concluded that modern humans were present in Europe at least 46,000 years ago. “It gives a lot of time for these groups to interact biologically and also culturally and behaviourally,” said study co-author Professor Jean-Jacques Hublin, from Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

8

Skirmish between China and India leaves troops injured

A cross-border skirmish between Chinese and Indian forces left troops with minor injuries, a spokesperson for the Indian Ministry of Defence has confirmed. Commenting on the incident, which occurred at a remote, mountainous crossing near Tibet, the spokesperson said: “The two sides disengaged after dialogue and interaction at a local level. Troops resolve such issues mutually as per established protocols.”

9

Richard Branson to sell fifth of his stake in Virgin Galactic

Richard Branson will sell $500m (£405m) in Virgin Galactic shares to try to save his airline and leisure companies. Branson’s Virgin Group has announced that a total of 25 million shares will be sold off  - just over a fifth of the billionaire’s stake in the space tourism sector. His previous plea for a bailout from the UK taxpayer for his companies sparked a backlash.

10

Police searching for missing top diplomat

Hampshire police have issued a new appeal for information about a British diplomat who went missing after going out for a run last week. The Foreign Office says it is “extremely worried” about the disappearance of Richard Morris, 52, who has a distinctive birthmark on his face. He has not been seen since leaving his home in Bentley on Wednesday morning. A diplomatic colleague said his disappearance was very out of character.

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