Coronavirus 1) Johnson considers wartime powers after leap in death toll

“Boris Johnson ordered fresh action against the coronavirus last night amid fears that the pandemic is spreading faster than anticipated. As the death toll in Britain hit 21 yesterday, after doubling in four hours, the prime minister ordered the government to accelerate plans to make the elderly and vulnerable stay at home possibly for several months and force whole families to self-isolate where one member has symptoms of the disease. Johnson will chair a meeting today that is expected to impose the new rules this week — two weeks earlier than medics and scientists had expected last week. Health service bosses have been given permission to buy up beds in private hospitals. The Department of Health is in talks about using hotel rooms as hospitals. The plans come as a new poll revealed that the public are prepared to see the prime minister seize draconian powers last seen in wartime to tackle the pandemic.” – Sunday Times


Coronavirus 2) PM plans diplomatic blitz

“After criticism that there has been no international response to match the one that followed the 2008 financial crash, Johnson now plans to launch a diplomatic blitz in the coming days, speaking to Donald Trump, the US president, and other G7 and G20 leaders to agree a medium-term economic package to boost the world economy. Johnson’s initiative appears to be an effort to emulate Gordon Brown, the prime minister who was credited with leading the international response to the last global financial crisis.” – Sunday Times

Coronavirus 3) Over-70s told to stay at home

“Britain’s over-70s will be told to stay at home for four months while the government goes on a war footing to firefight the coronavirus crisis, it was revealed last night. Mass isolating of the elderly – even if they are not ill – will begin within the next 20 days as Boris Johnson ratchets up efforts to tackle the UK’s ballooning outbreak. Although the drastic measures have been drawn up to protect those most vulnerable to the killer COVID-19 infection, it brings serious concerns about the wellbeing of pensioners cooped-up for such a long time. Regular social outings will have to be scrapped and pangs of loneliness could compound an already stressful isolation experience, psychologists have warned. Instructing the over-70s to remain indoors forms part of a wider package of emergency powers due to be officially rolled out by Downing Street this week.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Queen quits Buckingham Palace over coronavirus fears – Mail on Sunday
  • And Queen and Prince Philip could be quarantined at Sandringham – Sunday Express

Coronavirus 4) Families may have to self-isolate if just one has virus

“Entire families could soon be told to self-isolate together if just one of them has coronavirus. The move is likely to come in the next two weeks and would mean parents in affected households would have to keep their children off school. It comes as Britain’s over-70s will be told to stay at home for four months while the government goes on a war footing to firefight the coronavirus crisis. Mass isolating of the elderly – even if they are not ill – will begin within the next 20 days as Boris Johnson ratchets up efforts to tackle the UK’s ballooning outbreak.” – Mail on Sunday

Coronavirus 5) Rolls Royce and JCB could build ventilators

“The Prime Minister is putting companies on a war footing to transform their production lines as part of a national effort to beat the bug. This comes amid a rush to buy ventilators across Europe following warnings that stocks will fall short of the number required. On Saturday, Matt Hancock met with the Prime Minister and other senior figures including Chief Medical Adviser Professor Chris Witty where it was agreed that Mr Johnson will ask Brit manufacturers for their help in the fight against COVID-19. Rolls Royce, JCB and Unipart are all expected to speak to the PM on a conference call later this morning.” – Sun on Sunday

Coronavirus 6) Spain declares 15-day lockdown

“Over 47 million people in Spain will be put into partial lockdown on a 15-day state of emergency to fight the spread of coronavirus. In a televised announcement to the public, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said that the people of Spain are not to leave their homes unless absolutely necessary. Spaniards will only be allowed to leave to buy food, medicines, go to hospital or work – with limits on freedom of movement starting from midnight tonight. The death toll in the country has hit 191, the fifth highest number of deaths behind China, Italy, Iran and South Korea. Spanish authorities said the number of infections climbed past 6,046, half of them in the capital, Madrid. That represents a national increase of over 1,500 in 24 hours.” – Sun on Sunday

Coronavirus 7) US extends travel ban to UK and Ireland

“Donald Trump is extending a ban on travel between the US and European countries to include the UK and Ireland as part of the ramped up efforts to curtail the spread of the coronavirus. Mr Trump, who the White House revealed had tested negative for the virus, also said he was considering domestic travel restrictions “specifically from certain areas”. “If you don’t have to travel, I wouldn’t do it,” the president told reporters. Mike Pence, the US vice-president, said the ban on travel from the UK and Ireland to the US would go into place from midnight Monday night eastern standard time.” – FT

  • Airlines beg for taxpayer bailout as Trump bans UK and Ireland flights – Sunday Times
  • And airline companies face meltdown – Observer

Coronavirus 8) Trump tests negative for virus

“President Donald Trump has tested negative for coronavirus, his doctor revealed on Saturday, hours after the White House began temperature checks on staff and reporters who may come into contact with the president. Trump said that had been tested on Friday night, after fielding questions about it during a press conference due to contact with at least three people who later tested positive for the virus. On Saturday evening, the president’s physician Sean Conley released a letter in which he confirmed the results of Trump’s test had returned negative and that he remains ‘symptom free’. Conley claimed in a letter on Friday evening that the president, 73, is low-risk despite his age and his previous contact with people who tested positive. Yet before a press briefing with the president on Saturday, journalists were screened for a high temperature with one being turned away.” – Mail on Sunday

Coronavirus 9) Hancock: We must protect lives

“The coronavirus outbreak is the biggest public health emergency in a generation. It calls for dramatic action, at home and abroad, of the kind not normally seen in peacetime. Our goal is clear. The over-riding objective is to protect life. Sadly 21 people have already died in the UK, and the fact that most had underlying health conditions does not make the grief of their families any lesser, nor our compassion for their family and friends any weaker. We must all do everything in our power to tackle this virus. We have a plan, based on the expertise of world-leading scientists. Herd immunity is not a part of it. That is a scientific concept, not a goal or a strategy. Our goal is to protect life from this virus, our strategy is to protect the most vulnerable and protect the NHS through contain, delay, research and mitigate.” – Sunday Telegraph

Coronavirus 10) Dorries: The doctor broke the news — I had the coronavirus. And I gave it to Mum

“I will always remember how I felt the moment I was told that I had tested positive for the coronavirus — not least because it was the very last thing I was expecting to hear. But I will never know how I became infected with Covid-19, only that I am one of the first people in the country to have been identified who has not recently been abroad or been in close contact with someone who had returned from abroad. I had not really wanted to take the test. I had been at home since Friday, March 6, feeling slightly unwell and self-isolating, just in case. There is no treatment, other than to isolate yourself and rest. A diagnosis would make no difference to how I behaved or dealt with my symptoms. But I had my 84-year-old mother staying with me for a few weeks and, despite the fact that she has survived polio, rheumatic fever, major heart surgery and a world war, she is not in the best of health.” – Sunday Times

Senior civil servant accused of withholding information about HS2

“A senior civil servant is being accused of withholding information from MPs after it emerged that she told MPs that HS2 was operating within its budget a month after being informed that costs had spiralled. Bernadette Kelly, the permanent secretary at the Department for Transport, told a hearing of the public accounts committee that the Government was “determined” that the rail line would meet its then £55.7 billion price tag – just weeks after being notified that the main construction costs were 83 per cent over budget, in 2018. The civil service code requires officials to “set out the facts and relevant issues truthfully, and correct any errors as soon as possible”. It warns that civil servants must not “deceive or knowingly mislead” Parliament. Last night Meg Hillier, the chairman of the public accounts committee, warned that Ms Kelly, who is the department’s formal accounting officer, had “sailed close to the wind”. – Sunday Telegraph

  • Leeds section of HS2 could be forced into sidings, say northern leaders – Sunday Times

Labour in leadership ballot paper ‘farce’

“Labour is being urged to send ballot papers to all members who have not yet voted in its leadership election, after continuing complaints that some are still waiting for their chance to take part. MPs were contacting the party last week with concerns, with some members complaining of a “farcical” situation in which they were having to provide high levels of proof of their identity before being granted a vote. Others said they simply had not received their email entitling them to vote in the online poll. Labour First, a group on the right of the party, surveyed its members earlier this month and found that 10% who responded had not received their electronic ballot paper. Another survey last week asked activists who had not received a ballot for details, and hundreds replied saying that they had had problems.” – Observer

  • Homeless charity accuses McCluskey of putting lives at risk with strike – Sunday Telegraph