Nine Things You Need To Know About Coronavirus Today

US cases pass the 1 million mark and British Airways announces up to 12,000 staff will be made redundant. Here's the latest.

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Britain came to a standstill at 11am for a minute’s silence to remember the key workers who have died during the coronavirus pandemic.

Matt Hancock confirmed yesterday that 82 NHS workers and 16 social care staff had lost their lives to Covid-19 during the outbreak.

Meanwhile, the latest figures show:

  • The number of people who have died in hospitals across England, Scotland and Wales after contracting coronavirus has risen by 659 in 24 hours, taking the reported total to to 21,751.

Here’s the latest information you need to know today:

US cases pass 1 million

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US topped 1 million on Tuesday, representing a third of the global total.

More than 56,500 Americans have died of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus, with an average of about 2,000 a day this month, according to a Reuters tally.

The number of confirmed US coronavirus infections passed 1 million and has doubled in 18 days. The actual number of U.S. infections is believed to be higher than the confirmed number of cases, with state public health officials cautioning that shortages of trained workers and materials have limited testing capacity, leaving many infections unrecorded.

About 30% of the American cases have occurred in New York state, the epicentre of the US outbreak, followed by New Jersey, Massachusetts, California and Pennsylvania.

The virus was first reported late last year in China and has spread worldwide and the earliest-known US deaths were in February.

The grim milestone comes as Donald Trump said he “can’t imagine why” there has been a spike in calls to poison control centres after he suggested using disinfectant to treat coronavirus.

Since the president made the controversial comments last week, multiple states and cities have reported a spike in hotline calls about exposure to disinfectant.

The New York City Poison Control Centre received 30 calls about exposure to household chemicals in the 18 hours after Trump’s remarks, compared to only 13 during the same period last year.

President Donald Trump answers questions during the daily briefing of the coronavirus task force
President Donald Trump answers questions during the daily briefing of the coronavirus task force
Win McNamee via Getty Images
Some of the NHS staff who have died after testing positive for coronavirus
Some of the NHS staff who have died after testing positive for coronavirus

Testing increased in care homes

All care home residents and staff will get a coronavirus test regardless of whether they have symptoms, Matt Hancock has said.

Covid-19 checks will also be rolled out to all those aged 65 and over with symptoms, and to their households.

Speaking at the Downing Street briefing on Tuesday, the health secretary also said all workers who have to leave home to do their jobs, and their households, would be eligible for testing from Wednesday.

He said: “From construction workers to emergency plumbers, from research scientists to those in manufacturing, the expansion of access to testing will protect the most vulnerable and help keep people safe.

“It’s possible because we’ve expanded capacity for testing thus far.”

It comes as the government stretches to reach its 100,000-a-day test target by the end of April.

BA to make one-third of workers redundant

British Airways is set to make up to 12,000 workers redundant, parent company IAG said on Tuesday.

The announcement also revealed that revenues plunged 13% in the first quarter of 2020.

BA has about 42,000 staff, with 12,000 representing about 29%.

In a statement, IAG said: “In light of the impact of Covid-19 on current operations and the expectation that the recovery of passenger demand to 2019 levels will take several years, British Airways is formally notifying its trade unions about a proposed restructuring and redundancy programme.

“The proposals remain subject to consultation but it is likely that they will affect most of British Airways’ employees and may result in the redundancy of up to 12,000 of them.

“As previously announced, British Airways has availed itself of the UK’s Covid-19 job retention scheme and furloughed 22,626 employees in April.”

John Lewis facing closures

John Lewis is “highly unlikely” to re-open all 50 John Lewis stores in the UK once the coronavirus lockdown ends.

Dame Sharon White, the new chair of the John Lewis Partnership (JLP), and her team are set to address analysts in the City on Wednesday, updating them on the company’s performance during the past week, the Press Association has reported.

JLP includes Waitrose, which has fared better during the lockdown by remaining open.

But with a major ramp-up of online operations, discussions are under way on whether it will be financially viable to reopen department stores. Several Waitrose stores have already been closed in recent years.

Retail analyst Richard Hyman said: “Does it make sense for John Lewis to close some stores? Absolutely, yes.

“No one wants to see people losing their jobs, which is what would happen, but the reality is, for the market at large, online has been getting bigger and bigger, with John Lewis at the vanguard.”

Scotland becomes first UK nation to officially recommend face coverings

A document published by the Scottish government on Tuesday officially recommended the use of face coverings in some circumstances.

It said the evidence for their effectiveness was “limited”, but conceded: “There may be some benefit in wearing a facial covering when you leave the house and enter enclosed spaces, especially where physical distancing is more difficult and where there is a risk of close contact with multiple people you do not usually meet. [...]

“We are recommending that you consider using face coverings in the limited circumstances described above as a precautionary measure.”

Other examples include travelling on public transport or entering a food shop where it is not always possible to maintain a two-metre distance from another customer.

Coronavirus linked to 40% more deaths in England and Wales than previously thought

Coronavirus played a role in 40% more deaths in England and Wales than previously thought, the Office for National Statistics has revealed, with thousands dying with the virus in care homes.

Figures from the ONS showed that, of all the deaths in the two countries up to April 17 (and registered to April 25), 22,300 involved Covid-19.

The death toll is 6,375 higher than previously reported by NHS England and Public Health Wales collectively, which only count deaths in hospital.

Meanwhile, it was also revealed on Tuesday that care home providers had notified the ONS of 4,343 deaths between April 10 and April 24.

Minute’s silence for key workers who have died during the coronavirus pandemic

A minute’s silence was held at 11am to remember key workers who have died during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said the tribute at 11am came from “a sombre but grateful nation”.

Boris Johnson, who is only just back at work after he ended up in intensive care with the virus, was among those to pay respects, with government workers also having been asked to join in.

Doctors, nurses, paramedics and healthcare workers were all expected to pay their respects to their colleagues at hospitals and other services around the country while transport workers had also been expected to take part.

On Monday, health secretary Matt Hancock confirmed that 82 NHS workers and 16 social care staff had lost their lives to Covid-19.

Bus drivers are also among those who have died carrying out their work during the pandemic. Tube and bus networks were also asked to pause for the silence so workers could honour their colleagues.

Dame Donna said: “This moment will bring together a sombre but grateful nation. Whether in nursing or driving buses, our heroes kept going to work when many had the luxury of staying at home. Nobody should go out to work and risk their life.”

Donald Trump ‘can’t imagine why’ calls about hotline calls about disinfectant have increased

Key PPE ‘not included in government’s pandemic stockpile when coronavirus hit’

NHS staff carry out coronavirus tests at a testing facility in Bracebridge Heath, Lincoln
NHS staff carry out coronavirus tests at a testing facility in Bracebridge Heath, Lincoln

Key items of personal protective equipment (PPE) were not included in the Government’s pandemic stockpile when coronavirus reached the UK, an investigation has found.

A government spokesman told the programme that the expert committee that advises ministers on new and emerging respiratory virus threats, known as Nervtag, did not recommend stockpiling swabs and body bags.

They said the stockpile was designed for a flu pandemic, and Covid-19 has a higher hospitalisation rate.

However, Panorama reported that Nervtag said gowns, one of the items in shortest supply in the UK, should be purchased last June.

Professor John Ashton, a public health expert who has previously criticised the government’s approach, said the failure to stockpile some items meant NHS staff were working without crucial equipment.

He told the programme: “The consequence of not planning, not ordering kit, not having stockpiles, is that we are sending into the frontline doctors, nurses, other health workers and social care workers without the equipment to keep them safe.”

A Department for Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “This is an unprecedented global pandemic and we have taken the right steps at the right time to combat it, guided at all times by the best scientific advice.

“The government has been working day and night to battle against coronavirus, delivering a strategy designed at all times to protect our NHS and save lives.”

Volunteers in the Oxford coronavirus vaccine trial talk about why they are taking part

HuffPost UK
HuffPost UK
HuffPost UK

The trial in Oxford began last week as scientists battle to fight Covid-19, which has claimed the lives of so many people globally.

Many experts believe finding a successful vaccine is the best way to end the pandemic and prevent cases surging once lockdown ends.

Developing vaccines usually takes years, if not decades, but as speed is a priority, researchers are skipping animal research to test its safety and effectiveness and going straight to trialling it on humans.

Scientists at the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford have begun administering the trial injections which will be given to more than 800 volunteers.

But what kind of person does it take to volunteer for an experimental vaccine trial?

Lydia Guthrie, 47, who lives in Oxford, said it is something she feels is necessary to help control the pandemic crippling the world.

“We desperately need a vaccine to help us survive and come out of this major health crisis,” she said.

“Yes, there is a small risk, but if as a result of the trial, they find a vaccine for coronavirus, the pay off for everyone might be enormous.”

Meanwhile Kevin Lister, 57, a Maths lecturer who lives in Cirencester, applied to take part in the Oxford coronavirus vaccine trial as he felt it was “the least I can do when others are putting their life on the line.”


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