Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Wednesday 20 May 2020


Schools defy ministers on June reopening

Up to 1,500 primary schools are expected to remain closed on 1 June after at least 18 councils forced the government to say it had no plans to sanction them. Although ministers insist their plans are based on the “best scientific advice,” Professor Dame Angela MacLean, the government’s deputy chief scientific adviser, said yesterday that a “track and trace” system must be in place for schools to reopen.


Sunak warns of ‘severe recession’ and ‘more hardship’

Rishi Sunak has forecast that Britain is facing a “severe recession, the likes of which we haven’t seen” and warned that it is “not obvious there will be an immediate bounceback”. Following a sharp rise in unemployment benefit claims, the chancellor told a Lords committee that there is “no doubt there will be more hardship to come”.


World Bank says up to 60m will fall into extreme poverty

The World Bank has warned that as many as 60m people will be forced into “extreme poverty” by the coronavirus. The World Bank defines “extreme poverty” as living on less than $1.90 (£1.55) per person per day. President David Malpass said the bank expects global economic growth to shrink by 5% this year as nations deal with the pandemic.


Expert makes bold forecast as Covid-19 death figures fall

Coronavirus deaths are falling so quickly that it may be “difficult to find” people with the virus on their death certificate by the end of June, an expert said yesterday. Professor Carl Heneghan, director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University, said: “I think by the end of June we’ll be looking at the data and finding it difficult to find people with this illness, if the current trends continue.”


Institute says cancer delays risk thousands of deaths

Delays in cancer surgery risk thousands of deaths, says the Institute of Cancer Research. Cancer doctors say they have had to make difficult decisions to postpone some patients’ care during the coronavirus crisis and an expert has explained that a three-month delay could make the difference between a tumour being curable or not.


Cambridge University goes online until next summer

Cambridge University has announced that lectures will only be held online for the academic year beginning in September because of coronavirus. With the University of Manchester taking a similar move, Sky News says increasing numbers of students due to begin their courses in September may decide to defer their studies until 2021/22.


Tourism agency suggests an October bank holiday

The government is considering adding an extra bank holiday to the UK calendar this year. The proposal for an October bank holiday came from the official tourist agency VisitBritain to help extend the season and make up for lost earnings from two bank holiday weekends in May caused by the coronavirus shutdown. However, Downing Street said: “It is worth acknowledging that an extra bank holiday comes with economic costs.”


Mahmoud Abbas calls time on security cooperation with Israel

The Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, has announced an end to security cooperation with Israel and the US. Following predictions that Israel is preparing to annex of parts of the West Bank, Abbas said: “The Palestine Liberation Organization and the state of Palestine are absolved, as of today, of all the agreements and understandings with the American and Israeli governments.”


Canada police say machete attack was misogynistic terror

Police in Canada say they are treating a machete attack in which a woman was murdered as an act of terrorism. Officers discovered evidence suggesting that the incident, in which two others were injured, was motivated by violent misogyny. The Guardian says the ruling is thought to be the first time that terrorism charges have been brought in a case connected to the so-called “incel” ideology.


Fundraising hero Captain Tom Moore to be knighted

Captain Tom Moore, the centenarian who raised £33m for the NHS, is to be knighted. The prime minister recommended the Bedfordshire pensioner for the honour, which will be formally announced today. “Colonel Tom’s fantastic fundraising broke records, inspired the whole country and provided us all with a beacon of light through the fog of coronavirus,” Boris Johnson said.

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