Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Thursday 21 May 2020

1

WHO announces largest daily rise in Covid-19 cases

The World Health Organization has warned that the coronavirus pandemic is a long way from being over, after recording the largest daily rise in global cases since the outbreak began. The UN health agency’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus highlighted rising infections in low and middle-income nations as he announced that 106,000 new cases had been reported in the last 24 hours.

2

‘Kangaroo’ barb increases tensions between Australia and China

Tensions between Australia and China have risen after an editorial in Chinese state media paper The Global Times described the former as the “giant kangaroo that serves as a dog of the US”. Diplomatic and trade relations have worsened since Australia echoed Washington’s call for an inquiry into the origins of Covid-19, with Beijing slapping a tariff on Australian barley.

3

Bosses warn that two-metre rule will ‘bankrupt’ firms

Business leaders say that many companies will be bankrupted if staff and customers have to keep two metres apart. Edwin Morgan of the Institute of Directors said that enforcing social distancing will be “impossible” for some firms. Hospitality bosses are particularly concerned, with eight in ten pub owners saying their premises would have to stay closed under the present advice.

4

Respected election model predicts Trump will lose

Donald Trump will suffer a “historic defeat” in November’s presidential election, according to an election model that has predicted the winner of the popular vote in 16 of the past 18 elections. The model by Oxford Economics, which uses unemployment, disposable income and inflation to forecast results, has found that the coronavirus economic recession will see Trump get just 35% of the popular vote. 

5

Coronavirus infection rate dropping in London

The government says “promising” figures show only small numbers of people are now testing positive for coronavirus in London, raising hopes of an easing of lockdown measures. However, speaking at yesterday’s daily briefing, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden ruled out regional variation in the lifting of social distancing restrictions, saying the plan was to “move as a whole nation”, but added that different measures might be inplemented in “micro-hotspots” of infections identified once a track and trace system is in place.

6

Don’t count on vaccine, says top scientist

A leading US scientist has said governments should not count on a Covid-19 vaccine being developed any time soon. William Haseltine, a groundbreaking cancer, HIV/Aids and human genome projects researcher, said that although a vaccine could be found, “I wouldn’t count on it”. Instead, careful tracing of infections and strict isolation measures are the best approach, he argued.

7

‘Madness’ at British hotspots as people ‘forget’ virus risk

Scenes of busy beaches in Britain have caused uproar. The Daily Mail says thousands of sunseekers flocked to beaches on the hottest day of the year, and a study by University College London has found more than half of young adults are no longer sticking to the coronavirus lockdown. Reporting at a busy Southend beach, LBC’s Charlotte Sullivan said: “One man told me, ‘It’s madness, it’s like everyone’s forgotten about coronavirus.’”

8

Bereavement scheme extended following public uproar

A bereavement scheme allowing indefinite leave to remain in the UK for relatives of foreign national NHS staff who die from Covid-19 has been extended to low-paid workers following an outcry. A hospital cleaner had posted a video on Twitter pleading with Boris Johnson to extend the scheme, while the GMB union had described the situation as an “outrageous scandal”.

9

Greece to restart its tourist season in June

The Greek tourist season will restart next month, with international charter flights to popular locations resuming in July, the prime minster has announced. “The tourism period begins on 15 June, when seasonal hotels can reopen," said Kyriakos Mitsotakis. “Let us make this summer the epilogue of the crisis.” EU ministers have vowed to do “whatever it takes for the quick and full recovery of European tourism”.

10

Johnson hints atreshuffle to promote more women

Boris Johnson has hinted that he could carry out another cabinet reshuffle, following criticisms that there are too few women in high office. Asked at Prime Minister’s Questions why there are only a “handful” of women on the Sage committee of scientific advisers, and why only one female cabinet minister has given a Downing Street press conference, Johnson said it was an “extremely important point”. 

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