Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Wednesday 17 Jun 2020

1

Covid-19: steroid drug could save thousands of lives

Researchers say a cheap and widely available drug can help save the lives of patients seriously ill with Covid-19. The steroid treatment dexamethasone is being hailed as a major breakthrough in the fight against the deadly virus. It will be given to all Covid-19 patients in hospital who require oxygen - a move the Department of Health says will save thousands of lives.

2

North Korea ups the stakes amid tensions with the south

North Korea says it will send troops into areas near the border with South Korea, further raising tensions a day after it blew up an office established to encourage better ties between the two countries. Pyongyang has accused South Korea of breaking 2018 agreements and behaving like a “mongrel dog”. South Korea said it would “no longer tolerate” North Korean provocations.

3

China and India blame each other for deadly clashes

At least 20 Indian soldiers have died after clashes with Chinese troops along the countries’ de facto border in the Himalayas. The face-off occurred during a “de-escalation process” in the disputed Aksai Chin-Ladakh area. The BBC says the battle was fought with rocks and clubs, with no shots were fired. The two armies, which blame each other for the fighting, have held talks to try to defuse tensions.

4

Marcus Rashford welcomes PM’s U-turn on school meals

Marcus Rashford says he is “grateful” for Boris Johnson’s change of heart on free school meals. About 1.3m children in England will be able to claim free school meal vouchers in the summer holidays, after a campaign by the Manchester United and England football star. The 22-year-old welcomed the six-week voucher for eligible children, saying: “Look at what we can do when we come together.”

5

Top surgeon says NHS staff should be tested twice weekly

A top surgeon has said NHS staff must be routinely tested for coronavirus up to twice a week. The president of the Royal College of Surgeons, Prof Derek Alderson, said: “It’s absolutely essential to regain public confidence that we are able to test our staff regularly.” He added that it would be “pragmatic” for testing to take place “about twice weekly”.

6

New restrictions as Covid-19 cases rise in Beijing

Millions of people in Beijing are living under renewed restrictions after the city reported another 31 Covid-19 cases, bringing the total to 137 in the past week. The outbreak, which followed 57 days without a local case, is believed to have started in the vast Xinfandi food market that supplies 80% of the city’s meat and vegetables.

7

Former PMs slam Johnson’s plan to merge two departments

Three former prime ministers have attacked Boris Johnson’s plan to merge the Department for International Development with the Foreign Office. After the PM said he would create a new “super-department” - called the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office - David Cameron, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair all condemned the move.

8

Trump administration sues to block Bolton book

The US Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit to prevent former National Security Adviser John Bolton from publishing a book about his time at the White House. The suit claims that the book, entitled The Room Where It Happened, contains “classified information”. President Donald Trump says: “I will consider every conversation with me as president highly classified.”

9

Prince Charles says his taste and smell have yet to return

Prince Charles says he has still not fully regained his sense of smell and taste after having coronavirus in March. The royal discussed his experience with the virus as he met NHS staff at the Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. The 71-year-old prince was diagnosed with Covid-19 near the start of the outbreak, after suffering mild symptoms. He later said he had “got away with it quite lightly”.

10

Premier League returns after 100-day coronavirus pause

The Premier League returns today following a 100-day absence because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Aston Villa vs. Sheffield United will be the first of 92 league games that will be packed into 40 days before the season concludes on 26 July. Matches will be played behind closed doors and a minute's silence will be held to remember those who have died with coronavirus.

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