Six Things You Need To Know About Coronavirus Today

The PM is set to unveil a new coronavirus alert system, as the global total of confirmed cases surpasses four million. Here's the latest.

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Boris Johnson is set to unveil a new coronavirus alert system, and it has emerged that 50,000 UK tests were sent to the UK after “operational issues” in the laboratory network.

According to the latest figures:

  • 31,792 people have now died in the UK after contracting coronavirus, with 205 new deaths reported by devolved authorities on Sunday afternoon. Updated figures including care home deaths are expected to be announced later.
  • More than 1.2m people have now been tested, with a total of 215,260 testing positive.

Here’s the latest:

Nicola Sturgeon asks UK government not to deploy new coronavirus slogan in Scotland

Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon
Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon
WPA Pool via Getty Images

Nicola Sturgeon has asked the UK government not deploy its new “stay alert” message north of the border.

The Scottish first minister said the advice from her government remains to “stay at home” other than for buying food, getting medicine or exercising.

But Scots will be able to leave the house for exercise more than once a day from Monday, she said, while still adhering to two-metre social distancing guidelines.

Sturgeon said updated guidelines from the UK government urging people to “stay alert” and “control the virus” were “vague and imprecise”.

“I don’t know what ‘stay alert’ means,” she said.

The first minister said it would be “catastrophic” to drop the “stay at home” advice and that the current messaging was “clear”.

“We are giving these messages now for very good reasons, because we think it is the best way to control the virus,” she added.

PM to unveil new coronavirus alert system

Boris Johnson is set to unveil a new alert system designed to track the virus.
Boris Johnson is set to unveil a new alert system designed to track the virus.
WPA Pool via Getty Images

Boris Johnson is expected to unveil a coronavirus warning system on Sunday afternoon, when he outlines his plans to gradually ease the lockdown while dropping the “stay home” slogan.

The PM will instead tell the country to “stay alert, control the virus and save lives” when he outlines his “road map” to a new normality during an address to the nation on Sunday.

Johnson is planning to urge workers who cannot do their jobs from home to begin returning to their workplaces while following social-distancing rules.

“This is the dangerous bit,” he warned ahead of the announcement.

It is understood that a warning system administered by a new “joint biosecurity centre” will detect local increases in infection rates, with the view to locally alter restrictions in England.

With the alerts ranging from green in level one to red in level five, Johnson is expected to say the nation is close to moving down from four to three.

The PM will chair a meeting of the emergency Cobra committee with cabinet ministers, leaders of the devolved nations and London mayor Sadiq Khan before his 7pm pre-recorded address.

On Monday, the government will publish a 50-page document outlining the full plan to cautiously re-start the economy to MPs after figures suggested the overall death toll for the UK has passed 36,500.

The shift in messaging will come amid concerns that workers may not feel comfortable resuming their roles after the weeks of firm instructions to “stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives”.

That could be a test for ministers, with unions warning that they might not recommend their millions-strong membership to resume their roles if safety is not assured.

UK flies 50,000 test samples to US after ‘operational issues’ in lab network

A temporary Covid-19 testing site run by the armed services in Aylesbury.
A temporary Covid-19 testing site run by the armed services in Aylesbury.
Catherine Ivill via Getty Images

Around 50,000 coronavirus test samples had to be sent from the UK to the US after “operational issues” in the lab network led to delays in the system.

The news came as the number of daily coronavirus tests fell below health secretary Matt Hancock’s 100,000 target for a seventh day in a row.

Following a report in the Sunday Telegraph, the Department of Health said sending swabs abroad is one of the contingencies to deal with so-called teething problems in a rapidly-expanded testing system.

It is understood the test results will be validated back in the UK and communicated to patients “as quickly as possible”.

The department said work has been undertaken to resolve the issues and capacity is quickly being restored.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “The expansion of the UK’s coronavirus testing network has involved setting up an entirely new ‘Lighthouse’ lab network to process test swabs.

“When problems arise, we have contingencies in place which include creating extra temporary capacity for our labs or sending swabs abroad to partner labs for completion.

“Of course, our partner labs must match our high standards.”

The Sunday Telegraph reported the samples were airlifted to the US in chartered flights from Stansted airport.

Three members of White House coronavirus task force enter quarantine

Top US health official Dr Anthony Fauci has self-isolated after coming into contact with confirmed cases of the virus.
Top US health official Dr Anthony Fauci has self-isolated after coming into contact with confirmed cases of the virus.
Drew Angerer via Getty Images

Three members of the White House coronavirus task force, including Dr Anthony Fauci, have placed themselves in quarantine after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19.

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a leading member of the task force, has become nationally known for his simple and direct explanations to the public about the coronavirus.

His institute said that he has tested negative for Covid-19 and will continue to be tested regularly.

It added that he is considered at “relatively low risk” based on the degree of his exposure, and that he would be “taking appropriate precautions” to mitigate the risk to personal contacts while still carrying out his duties.

Dr Robert Redfield, director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Stephen Hahn are also self-isolating after being exposed to a positive case of the virus.

Both men were scheduled to give evidence before a Senate committee on Tuesday, along with Fauci, but will now testify via video-conference.

Vice president Mike Pence’s press secretary tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday, making her the second person who works at the White House known to test positive for the virus this week.

White House officials had confirmed on Thursday that a member of the military serving as one of Donald Trump’s valets had tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday.

The president, who publicly identified the affected aide as spokeswoman Katie Miller, said he was “not worried” about the virus spreading in the White House.

Nonetheless, officials said they were stepping up safety protocols for the complex.

Pence told reporters on Thursday that both he and Trump would now be tested daily for the virus.

Number of global confirmed cases surpasses 4m

The number of cases worldwide has now passed 4m.
The number of cases worldwide has now passed 4m.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases recorded worldwide has now passed 4m, according to a tally maintained by the John Hopkins university.

More than 1.3m of those were recorded in the US, the worst-affected country in the world with almost 80,000 deaths.

The global death toll now stands at more than 279,00 worldwide.

Spain, Italy, and the UK each have more than 200,000 cases. With almost 31,600 deaths, the UK still has the highest death toll in Europe.

Police group criticises government’s ‘wishy washy’ pandemic response

Police drive through Battersea Park on Saturday.
Police drive through Battersea Park on Saturday.
Kirsty O'Connor - PA Images via Getty Images

A body representing police officers in London has criticised the government’s pandemic response as “wishy-washy” amid concerns that the public has begun ignoring lockdown restrictions.

The Metropolitan Police Federation (MPF) said that, despite its assertions to the contrary, the government is sending out mixed messages.

MPF’s Ken Marsh told BBC Radio 4 that authorities “needed to be firmer right from the beginning”.

He said: “It’s been quite wishy-washy how we’ve gone about it.

“Had we been very stringent from the off – it is painful, but it’s not overly painful in terms of what you’re actually being asked to do – then I think we would have a better result now.”

Health officials have said they fear Britons are starting to get complacent about the Covid-19 lockdown after traffic and mobile phone data revealed more people are on the roads and looking for directions.

Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director of NHS England, said on Saturday that “there was a little bit of concern” after the unseasonably warm weather drew big crowds to public spaces.

Scotland Yard sent officers on bikes to keep an eye on London’s Hyde Park, while North Yorkshire Police revealed that 50% of shutdown fines issued so far have gone to tourists visiting beauty spots in the area.


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