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Coronavirus news live: Latest updates as Boris Johnson condemned over delays in testing NHS staff

Coronavirus news live: Latest updates as Boris Johnson condemned over delays in testing NHS staff

Jeremy Corbyn has hit out at a shortfall in both testing and protection for NHS workers at his final PMQs. He also called on Boris Johnson to ensure care workers had sufficient support. It came as more than 170,000 people answered an NHS call for 250,000 volunteers to help it fight coronavirus, and Britain’s death toll reached 422 overnight.

Jeremy Corbyn has hit out at a shortfall in both testing and protection for NHS workers at his final PMQs. He also called on Boris Johnson to ensure care workers had sufficient support. It came as more than 170,000 people answered an NHS call for 250,000 volunteers to help it fight coronavirus, and Britain’s death toll reached 422 overnight.

Elsewhere in Britain, Prince Charles has tested positive for coronavirus, Clarence House said, though the Duchess of Cornwall is not infected. The Prince of Wales last saw the Queen less than two weeks ago.

In the US, Donald Trump has expressed his desire to “re-open” the US by Easter, and Democrats and Republicans in Congress have agreed on a $2tn (£1.7tn) stimulus package which they will vote on later.

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Charles engagements

The Prince of Wales has attended a large number of royal engagements in recent weeks where he may have contracted the coronavirus.

Charles will have met hundreds of members of the public carrying out his official duties, and began the month holding a meeting with Boris Johnson at Clarence House on 3 March, after earlier attending the Royal College of Music’s annual awards ceremony.



UK internet use doubling

The UK’s coronavirus lockdown has roughly doubled the UK’s internet usage during the day, according to Virgin Media.
 



Help for self-employed on the way

The government has updated its plans for announcing economic help for the self-employed. Earlier Boris Johnson had said the move would come “in the next couple of days”.

Now, Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, plans to outline measures to help those workers tomorrow at a Downing Street press conference, No 10 has said.

It came after the Resolution Foundation estimated that 1.7 million people in this sector of the economy could lose out financially due to government-imposed restrictions, and a PMQs grilling from Jeremy Corbyn.



Canal warning

The body overseeing canals has asked people to avoid towpaths during the lockdown. The Canal and River Trust has also suspended fishing all along the waterways it looks after.

 



Industry expects to get green light for ventilator production

British industry expects the government to give the go-ahead to an emergency ventilator production plan on Wednesday that will see a number of firms join forces to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, three sources have told Reuters.

Airbus, Smiths, Ford and Mclaren are among a number of different firms which will be involved in the process, with the idea that some degree of output, whether that is making components or full ventilators, should ideally begin next week, said a source close to the process.

“It will be upscaling, on more of an industrial scale, existing ventilator designs,” one of the sources said.

Companies will provide a range of expertise including 3D printing, manufacturing specific parts, assembly and business planning. The government will make an announcement on Wednesday, the sources said.



Anthony Joshua self-isolating following Prince Charles diagnosis

Heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua is at home in self-isolation after the news that Prince Charles has tested positive for the coronavirus – with the two meeting 16 days ago at Westminster Abbey.

Joshua was in attendance at the Commonwealth Day service on 9 March alongside Prince Charles, 71, as well as The Queen, and a spokesman for the British boxer confirmed that he is “fit and well” while remaining at home following the UK government’s coronavirus lockdown.

Jack de Menezes has more details:



‘Parity of support’

Boris Johnson hopes to achieve “parity of support” for the self-employed, meaning they’ll get the same level of help as offered by the government’s job retention scheme for PAYE workers, he has told the SNP’s Ian Blackford.

He reiterated earlier the government’s message that designing a bailout scheme for these workers is fiendishly complicated, hence the delay.



Amazon workers infected

The US coronavirus outbreak has spread to at least six Amazon warehouses, infecting workers racing to deliver massive volumes of packages for consumers leery of leaving their homes to shop.
 



People leaving New York should quarantine for 14 days

New Yorkers who leave for other parts of the US should self-isolate for 14 days, the White House coronavirus response coordinator has said.

Dr Deborah Birx told reporters at Tuesday’s coronavirus task force briefing that the New York City area was a particular cause for concern.

There are now 25,665 confirmed cases – almost 7 per cent of the world total – in New York State, with 3,000 people hospitalised.



Almost 500,000 people register for universal credit

Nearly half a million people have registered claims to receive universal credit after losing their jobs – with more than 100,000 new claims processed in one day alone.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey told MPs 477,000 claims for the welfare benefit had gone into the system since last Monday, with 105,000 registered on Tuesday alone.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has informed people who are ineligible for statutory sick pay, including the self-employed, they can apply for universal credit or Employment Support Allowance (ESA).

Our home affairs correspondent May Bulman has all the details:



PM under pressure to close construction sites

Boris Johnson is under pressure to order the closure of non-essential construction sites as workers are forced to travel despite a nationwide coronavirus lockdown, writes Andy Gregory.
 



What is an antibody test and when will it be used?

Health secretary Matt Hancock stated at Tuesday’s press conference that the government has now bought 3.5 million antibody tests “that will allow people to see whether they have had the [coronavirus] and are immune to it and then can get back to work”.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said that the antibody test “is now being trialled”, explaining that “this will inevitably take time to consistently reach the NHS frontline”.

The implementation of the proposed antibody test will in turn enable NHS staff to know if they have been in contact with the virus and return to work following self-isolation.

More details here:



Crikey, that’s a good idea

A convenience store owner has come up with a creative way to stop customers from panic buying toilet paper, by ramping up the price for anyone who wants to buy more than one pack of rolls, writes Conrad Duncan.

Hazem Sedda, the owner of the Redfern Convenience Store in Sydney, Australia, has started charging customers 3.50 Australian dollars (£1.77) for their first pack and 99 Australian dollars (£50) for their second.
 



Next asking workers to come in

Next is asking its staff to travel to its shuttered stores and pick clothes for online orders, according to a letter seen by the PA news agency, and is offering them a 20-per-cent bonus for doing so.

“Please let me reassure you that we are in no circumstances going to ask anyone who is unsure about coming to work to do so,” bosses wrote to employees.

“We desperately need your support to keep the company operating and we hugely appreciate your help in this. If there are any reasons why you personally feel that it is not appropriate for you to work we will be understanding. For example if you are caring for a vulnerable person at your home, if you cannot manage your childcare, if you cannot travel safely to work, or any other reason.

“We need to keep the online business functioning to be certain that Next emerges from this short-term crisis. To help us, we are looking for a small number of staff to attend work to pick and process the stock in our stores that customers have purchased online and keep the online business going. We will only look to achieve this on a voluntary basis.”

A string of measures would be put in place to protect workers, the letter said, including limiting the numbe of people in a given shop to one per 1,000 sq ft.



Ukraine clampdown

Ukraine’s leaders have approved a country-wide emergency declaration and a tightening and extension of lockdown conditions, prime minister Denys Shmygal has said.

Previously an emergency had been declared in certain regions and in the capital Kiev. Ukraine has reported 113 cases as of 25 March, including 4 deaths.



Olympics could be held outside of summer

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach wants a new date for Tokyo 2020 agreed “as soon as possible” after taking the decision to move the Games to 2021, writes Jack de Menezes.

Bach confirmed alongside Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and Tokyo 2020 organising committee president Yoshiro Mori that this summer’s Olympics will now take place between the start of 2021 and the end of next summer due to the coronavirus outbreak, although the Games will officially be known at Tokyo 2020 due to copyright and merchandising reasons.
 



PM wants ‘better tube system’

Boris Johnson has called for a more frequent service on the London Underground following criticism carriages remain too crowded to practice social distancing.

The prime minister said: “My own view is that we should be able to run a better tube system at the moment. We should be able to get more tubes on the line. But, we will do whatever we can – I do not wish in any way to cast aspersions on what is going on at TfL at the moment because it is an outstanding organisation.

“What we will do is give the mayor every support and help that we can to help him through what seems to me to be his present logistical difficulties.”

It follows health secretary Mat Hancock’s claim there is “no good reason” why timetables have been cut. However, Sadiq Khan’s spokesman insisted ministers were told “countless times” that Tube frequencies reflect high levels of staff sickness and self-isolation.



Scotland deaths update

Six more people in Scotland have died because of coronavirus, Nicola Sturgeon has announced, bringing the total to 22.

Earlier Wales announced that five more of its coronavirus patients had died, bringing its tally to the same figure.



‘Don’t rule out Covid-19 as a weapon of war’

Members were told to take a sensible safety-first approach: stay away from areas with outbreaks of coronavirus, take precautions like regularly washing hands and covering mouths while sneezing or yawning, and avoid crowded places, writes Kim Sengupta.

The fact that the advice came in an infographic in al-Naba, the newsletter of Isis, was a source of mirth at a grim time. There is, one has to admit, something ghoulishly amusing about a terrorist group warning jihadis of the health risks they face travelling to the “land of epidemic” to blow themselves up.
 



MP risks renters’ wrath

George Freeman, a Conservative MP, has risked the wrath of millions by suggesting that Jeremy Corbyn’s questioning of his boss on protections for private renters does not gibe with “the public mood of unity & patriotic purpose”.



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