Coronavirus 1) Number 10 to hold daily televised daily briefings

“Boris Johnson will seek to shore up public confidence in the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic on Monday by holding the first of what are intended to be daily ministerial press conferences on the crisis. The prime minister, who had been under growing pressure to start holding daily briefings amid criticism of his response to Covid-19 and the media strategy used to explain it, will personally chair many of the daily briefings, which No 10 says will continue “as long as necessary”. On Monday afternoon he will also chair another Cobra meeting, where ministers will discuss measures that would dramatically escalate the steps being taken by the UK to tackle the virus.” – The Guardian

  • Doctors and scientists urge government to change strategy – The Guardian
  • Commons health select committee to question UK’s chief scientific advisor on herd immunity – The Times

Coronavirus 2) Anyone who refuses to self-isolate faces £1,000 fine or jail

“People aged over 70 face up to four months in self-isolation and the public risk being taken into jail or a £1,000 fine if they refuse to be tested or quarantined for suspected coronavirus. The emergency powers, expected to be announced this week, allow police in England and Wales to use ‘reasonable force’ to detain people who are at risk of infecting others. The Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020, published on the government’s website, states that those suspected of having the disease, can be held for up to 14 days in a secure hospital or other suitable location. If they abscond they can be taken into custody before being returned to detention or isolation, the regulations state. Failing to comply is a criminal offence punishable on summary conviction by a level 3 fine of up to £1,000. Not paying the fine could also lead to imprisonment.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Anyone suspected of infection must consent to giving blood and having throat and nose swabbed – The Sun
  • They must also provide a comprehensive list of areas they’ve travelled to – Daily Express
  • Low-risk inmates could be temporarily released to free up prison spaces – Daily Telegraph
  • TUC demands protection for Britain’s zero-hours workforce – Daily Mail

Coronavirus 3) Crisis “could last until Spring 2021 and see 7.9m hospitalised”

“The coronavirus epidemic in the UK will last until next spring and could lead to 7.9 million people being hospitalised, a secret Public Health England (PHE) briefing for senior NHS officials reveals. The document, seen by the Guardian, is the first time health chiefs tackling the virus have admitted that they expect it to circulate for another 12 months and lead to huge extra strain on an already overstretched NHS. It also suggests that health chiefs are braced for as many as 80% of Britons becoming infected with the coronavirus over that time. Prof Chris Whitty, the government’s chief medical adviser, has previously described that figure as the worst-case scenario and suggested that the real number would turn out to be less than that. However, the briefing makes clear that four in five of the population “are expected” to contract the virus.” – The Guardian

  • UK death toll hits 35 – The Times
  • Global death toll passes 6,000 – The Sun
  • Death registration safeguards introduced after Harold Shipman scandal to be suspended – The Times
  • Government could be forced to buy up land for mass burials – The Sun
  • First clinical trial for potential coronavirus vaccine to be delivered by Monday – The Sun

Coronavirus 4) Banks act to bolster world economy

“America’s central bank slashed interest rates to close to zero last night and restarted a money-printing programme not seen since the global financial crisis as it sought to calm markets rocked by the coronavirus pandemic. The US Federal Reserve cut its base interest rate by one percentage point in only its second emergency reduction since 2008 and said that it would pump $700 billion into the economy in the coming weeks. The Fed also said that it had agreed a combined action with the Bank of England and four other central banks”. – The Times

  • Spain and France impose coronavirus lockdowns – FT
  • Nearly 170 million people in Europe living under lockdown – The Times
  • Thousands stranded in Spain after country enters two-week lockdown – Daily Mail

Coronavirus 5) UK “desperately short” of ventilators

“Health Secretary Matt Hancock insisted the UK Government desperately needs more ventilators in hospitals as the coronavirus issue is set to worsen over the next few weeks. While speaking to Sophy Ridge, Mr Hancock claimed ‘no number is too high” and the Government will buy as many ventilators as possible. He also insisted Prime Minister Boris Johnson would be speaking to manufacturers across the nation to reaffirm the importance of producing ventilators at this time.” – Daily Express

  • NHS does not have enough ventilators, admits Hancock – Daily Mail
  • “Overwhelmed” NHS could run out of drugs, beds and oxygen – Daily Telegraph
  • Johnson to ask manufacturers, including JCB, to make ventilators – The Sun
  • Hotels to be made into makeshift hospitals – Daily Mail
  • Perfume giant to make hand sanitiser for French hospitals – The Guardian
  • UK medical schools asked to fast-track final year medical students – The Guardian

Coronavirus 6) Over 70s face lockdown

“All people aged over 70 will be advised in the coming weeks to stay at home for an extended period as Britain boosts measures to combat coronavirus, the health secretary confirmed yesterday. Matt Hancock said that older people would be asked to self-isolate for “a very long time”, thought to be up to four months, to protect themselves.” – The Times

  • Confusion over whether Hancock meant “looser sense” of self-isolation – The Guardian
  • BBC urged not to charge over-75s as they face self-isolation – The Sun
  • We haven’t ruled out shutting down pubs and bars, says Hancock – Daily Mail
  • Over 1,000 troops pulled off future international exercises – The Times

Coronavirus 7) Food rationing may be introduced to stop panic buying

“Manic hoarders laid siege to shops today after ignoring pleas to keep calm and buy only what they need. The Government and food bosses had called for an end to panic buying — and ministers signalled they may now ration certain products if the mob mentality in stores continues. Health Secretary Matt Hancock implored selfish shoppers to “behave responsibly” and “consider the impact that their stocking up might have on others”. He spoke after video emerged of customers lining up with trolleys for up to 40 minutes before supermarkets opened. A Costco in Manchester was swamped while queues outside the branch in Watford were hundreds of yards long. Footage taken inside that store later recorded warnings there were “only a few left” of its 40-roll toilet paper packs.” – The Sun

Coronavirus 8) Williamson faces increased demands to shut down classrooms

“School chiefs and teaching unions are to hold crisis talks with Education Secretary Gavin Williamson today as pressure mounts for a month-long classroom closure to slow the spread of coronavirus. Ministers have so far resisted calls to follow France, Italy and Ireland, which have sent children home for an extended Easter break.British officials say crucial staff such as NHS workers would have to take time off work for childcare if schools were closed. But amid calls for greater clarity from the Government, Mr Williamson will today meet school leaders to discuss the next move.” – Daily Mail

  • School exams could be pushed back “as far as September” – Daily Telegraph

Coronavirus 9) Evans-Pritchard: NHS staff are “in despair”

“Like many other Telegraph journalists, I have received a number of emails from well-informed doctors and medical staff working at the front of the NHS. They are in despair. They are alarmed by the failure of the Government to take more drastic action to fight Covid-19. They are stunned that this country seems to have opted for capitulation at a time when best practice leaders in East Asia – and I don’t mean China – have managed to contain the virus through use of technology, and to do so without massive economic and social disruption”, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard – Daily Telegraph


Ministers 1) Braverman to be given powers to overturn military prosecutions

“Boris Johnson may give his Attorney General the final say over prosecutions of UK troops to end the witch-hunt of veterans who served in Northern Ireland. It would extend the chief legal adviser’s powers after former soldiers, now in their seventies, were dragged to court over deaths during the Troubles half a century ago. The Government is committed to announcing a system for historic military cases by Wednesday, 100 days after the general election. Handing the say on prosecution to Attorney General Suella Braverman will let the Government end prosecutions that aren’t in the public interest, ministers believe.” – Daily Mail

Ministers 2) “We are on the cusp of a transport revolution”, says Shapps

“The government has today launched a consultation on the UK’s transport laws in an attempt to make the country’s journeys “greener, easier and smarter” through new technology. The review will be accompanied by £90m in funding for three new “Future Transport Zones” where new modes of transport will be trialled.” – City A.M.

Johnson urged to explain £1m government contract with Tory chairman’s firm

“Boris Johnson should disclose how the “super-rich” are being pampered under a £1 million government contract awarded to the Conservative Party chairman, a former minister has said. Hundreds of publicly funded events have been organised by Quintessentially, the luxury lifestyle business founded by Ben Elliot, with the stated intention of attracting investment into Britain, parliament has been told.” – The Times

Bercow “outraged” after toothpaste was confiscated

“John Bercow allegedly erupted in rage at a female employee after his toothpaste was confiscated at airport security, according to a new book. He was apparently angered over incidents involving his toiletries on two official foreign trips when he was Speaker of the Commons, it was claimed. When his toothpaste was taken, he declined to talk to Kate Emms, then his private secretary, for the duration of the flight, it was alleged.” – The Times

More women aged 60 to 64 in work than not

“For the first time in the UK, there are more women aged 60 to 64 in work than not, according to an analysis of data from the Office for National Statistics. The number of older women in work has increased by 51% since changes to the state pension age were introduced in 2010, the data reveals. This contrasts with an increase of 13% in the number of working men aged between 60 and 64 over the same period.” – The Guardian

News in brief: