Seven Things You Need To Know About Coronavirus Today

The UK announces "draconian" measures to tackle the outbreak, which includes stopping all non-essential contact and travel. Here's the latest.

Concerns over the coronavirus pandemic have led to major changes around the globe as the rate of infection grows.

As of 9am on Monday, there have been 1,543 positive tests for coronavirus in the UK out of a total 44,105, up from 1,372 at the same time on Sunday, the Department of Health said. The department also said 55 people in the UK are known to have died after testing positive for the virus.

UK takes major step on social distancing

The UK stepped up its efforts to tackle the outbreak by urging all people in the country to avoid pubs, clubs and theatres, and stop all non-essential contact and travel, and work from home if they can.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out the need for “drastic action” to tackle the “fast growth” of coronavirus across the UK as increased social distancing measures are introduced for the population.

As part of the “draconian” measures, anyone living in a household with somebody who has either a persistent cough or fever must now also isolate themselves for 14 days.

All people should avoid gatherings and crowded places, while people who are vulnerable – including those are elderly – will need to undertake even more drastic measures.

The prime minister said that according to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) “it looks as though we are now approaching the fast growth part of the upward curve” in the number of cases.

“Without drastic action cases could double every five or six days,” he said.

30-day travel ban for EU proposed

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen has proposed a 30-day ban on all non-essential travel into the European Union – though it wouldn’t affect Britons, who could still come and go as they pleased.

The European Commission president said: “The less travel, the more we can contain the virus.”

The commission chief said she was proposing a “temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the European Union”.

“These travel restrictions should be in place for an initial period of 30 days which can be prolonged as necessary.”

She added that the EU travel ban proposal would not apply to UK citizens, telling a press conference: “The UK citizens are European citizens so of course there are no restrictions for the UK citizens to travel to the continent.”

Call for priority testing for frontline NHS staff

A nurse holds a coronavirus testing kit as she speaks to the media in Wolverhampton
A nurse holds a coronavirus testing kit as she speaks to the media in Wolverhampton
Christopher Furlong via Getty Images

Thousands of people have called for frontline NHS workers to be tested for coronavirus as a matter of priority.

An online petition has earned more than 30,000 signatures calling for health workers to be tested, so they can keep on working instead of going into isolation if they have what simply turns out to be a cold.

Junior doctor Rebecca McCauley, who wrote the petition, said staff wanted to work with “a clear conscience”.

“My cough is minor, and it’s March, so quite common to get a cough… but how do I know it’s not Covid? The truth is I don’t,” she wrote.

BBC delays over 75s licence fee changes

BBC Broadcasting House in London
BBC Broadcasting House in London
Leon Neal via Getty Images

The universal free TV licence for over-75s will end on August 1 instead of June 1 because of the coronavirus outbreak, the BBC has announced.

Chair of the BBC, Sir David Clementi, said: “The BBC board has decided to delay changes to over 75s licence fees.

“We are in exceptional circumstances. Now is not the right time. We are fully focused on delivering our services to the public at this difficult time.”

US bars and restaurants shut down

Empty seats are available at Grand Central Terminal's Oyster Bar during lunch time in New York.
Empty seats are available at Grand Central Terminal's Oyster Bar during lunch time in New York.
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Bars, restaurants, theatres and cinemas across the US have shut down.

Venues in New York, California, Ohio, Illinois, Massachusetts and Washington were ordered to close.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Sunday he was ordering restaurants, bars and cafes to only sell food on a take-out or delivery basis. He also said he would order nightclubs, cinemas, small theatres and concert venues to close.

“These places are part of the heart and soul of our city,” he said. “But our city is facing an unprecedented threat, and we must respond with a wartime mentality.”

New York also joined the nation’s other major state school systems in calling off classes as of Monday.

President Trump addresses panic buying

President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing about the coronavirus.
President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing about the coronavirus.
ASSOCIATED PRESS

President Donald Trump has urged the public to stop hoarding groceries amid the coronavirus outbreak, telling Americans to “take it easy” and “relax”.

Trump’s message came as many supermarket shelves across the country were picked bare, with people stockpiling supplies like canned goods and toilet paper.

Similarly, panic buying continued to sweep the UK as a minister hinted government action to ensure food supplies could include rationing.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said on Sunday he was “confident” shops will not run out of food but appealed for people to think of others and “behave responsibly”.

UK airlines warn pandemic poses aviation threat

Virgin Atlantic heads will write to Boris Johnson on Monday
Virgin Atlantic heads will write to Boris Johnson on Monday
NurPhoto via Getty Images

Airlines have warned that the UK’s aviation industry may not survive the coronavirus outbreak without emergency financial support.

Virgin Atlantic heads will write to Boris Johnson on Monday to ask for financial help for UK airlines.

US travel restrictions will come in effect for all transatlantic routes from Tuesday, further impacting the sector.

The government said it was open to supporting firms, including airlines.

Earlier developments

  • A person in their 60s has become the first in Wales to die of the disease. They had underlying health conditions.
  • The first participant in a clinical trial for a vaccine to protect against the new coronavirus will receive an experimental dose on Monday, according to a US government official. The National Institutes of Health is funding the trial, which is taking place at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle. But it could be 18 months before a vaccine is ready.
  • Nike, Urban Outfitters and Primark have announced they are closing stores (though some branches of Primark will stay open) to help limit the spread of the virus.
  • The owner of luxury fashion brand Louis Vuitton, LVMH, will begin making hand sanitiser and supplying it to the French authorities free of charge, it has announced, to help counter the global shortage of the product.
  • Face-to-face assessments for sickness and disability welfare payments will be suspended for three months to protect vulnerable claimants from coronavirus. The Department of Work and Pensions said the temporary move will come into effect from Tuesday as ministers ramp up efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19.