Get the latest on coronavirus. Sign up to the Daily Brief for news, explainers, how-tos, opinion and more.
A trial on a new contact-tracing app begins on the Isle of Wight today, which could be rolled out nationwide if successful.
So far 28,734 people have died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK, the latest figures show.
Meanwhile, a top US official has rubbished claims by Donald Trump that Covid-19 originated in a Chinese lab, and Stephen Fry has suggested UK theatres may not re-open until next year.
Here are the main stories you need to know about coronavirus today:
Download virus app to save lives and end lockdown, Hancock urges as trial begins
Trials are beginning on a new coronavirus contact-tracing app which ministers say will save lives and help lift Britain out of lockdown.
NHS and council staff on the Isle of Wight are being urged to download the Covid-19 smartphone app from Tuesday with the rest of the island’s population invited to follow from Thursday.
If the tests are successful it could be rolled out across the country within weeks as ministers seek to shape a strategy to allow some economic activity to resume, with the long-awaited “roadmap” for easing lockdown being published on Sunday.
The Sun reported that industry has been warned some social distancing measures will be required for between six months to a year, with growing fears among the Government’s medical advisers that the coronavirus is seasonal.
An industry source told the newspaper: “If it survives the winter, these measures will have to be in place longer.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said spending £8bn on the furlough scheme to support workers through the pandemic was not “sustainable” which was why “as soon as the time is right, we want to get people back to work and the economy fired up again”.
Top Trump advisor dismisses president’s claims that coronavirus was created in Chinese lab
A top US health official has poured cold water on President Trump’s claims that coronavirus was created in a lab in China.
Last week Trump speculated that China could have unleashed Covid-19 on the world due to some kind of horrible “mistake”, and even put forward the idea the release was intentional.
But in an interview with National Geographic, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr Anthony Fauci, said there was no evidence this was true.
He said: “If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now, [the scientific evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated.
“Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species.”
Earlier this week it emerged the White House had blocked Fauci from testifying to a congressional committee examining the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
France finds first case of coronavirus from December, a month earlier than previously thought
A French hospital which has retested old samples from pneumonia patients discovered that it treated a man who had COVID-19 as early as Dec. 27, nearly a month before the French government confirmed its first cases, Reuters reports.
Yves Cohen, head of resuscitation at the Avicenne and Jean Verdier hospitals in the northern suburbs of Paris, told BFM TV that scientists had retested samples from 24 patients treated in December and January who tested negative for the flu.
“Of the 24, we had one who was positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 27,” he told the news channel on Sunday.
The samples had all initially been collected to detect flu using PCR tests, the same genetic screening process that can also be used to detect the presence of the novel coronavirus in patients infected at the time the sample is collected.
Each sample was retested several times to ensure there were no errors, he added. Neither Cohen nor his team were immediately available for comment on Monday.
France, which has seen almost 25,000 people die from the virus since March 1, confirmed its first three COVID-19 cases on Jan. 24, including two patients in Paris and another in the southwestern city of Bordeaux.
Cohen said it was too early to know if the patient whose Dec. 27 test was COVID-19 positive is France’s “patient zero”. Knowing who was the first is critical to understanding how the virus spread.
Supermarket delivery slots for vulnerable people still ‘like gold dust’
Urgent action is still needed to make it easier for vulnerable people to access supermarket delivery slots and other sources of supplies, according to Which?
The consumer group argued the current system is not working for those who need it the most, leaving vulnerable people at risk of going hungry.
It said it is continuing to hear from people who are struggling to book supermarket delivery slots, unable to find the help they need locally, and in some cases find themselves forced to risk their health to get supplies.
Some vulnerable customers have told Which? that they are staying up into the early hours of the morning in an attempt to book supermarket delivery slots, while others are relying on the kindness of neighbours.
Which? has gathered over 1,000 reports of people who have struggled to access food and supplies amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Sue Davies, head of consumer protection and food policy at Which?, said: “Based on the huge number of reports we’re seeing from vulnerable people struggling to get access to basic food and supplies, it’s clear that the current system is not working for those who need it the most.”
One vulnerable couple, who are relying on a neighbour, described supermarket delivery slots to Which? as “gold dust”.
And a disabled and housebound woman told Which? she had been “trapped with no deliveries for three of the past four weeks”.
Stephen Fry’s fears for performing arts amid ‘dark times’
Stephen Fry has said he cannot foresee any theatres opening to live audiences until 2021, adding that these are “dark times indeed” for the performing arts.
Theatres and concert halls around the country were closed following Government advice against visiting leisure venues in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus.
Writing in the Eastern Daily Press about the impact of Covid-19 on the arts, he said: “I cannot see any theatres opening to live audiences before next year, I’m afraid.
“Perhaps March or April, a full year after the first lockdown.
“The very quality that makes theatre so thrilling and compelling – the united presence of an audience clustered together to experience live performance – is what makes the enterprise so unsuited in a period of social distancing.”
Fry added that people in theatre are, like Winston Churchill, “hoping for the best but preparing for the worst”.
“We must do what we can to make sure that there is a world of live drama and entertainment for us as a nation when the all-clear has sounded”, he added.