Coronavirus news – live: Boris Johnson in intensive care as Dominic Raab takes over PM duties, while China reports no new deaths for first time since January

    Coronavirus news – live: Boris Johnson in intensive care as Dominic Raab takes over PM duties, while China reports no new deaths for first time since January

    China has reported no new coronavirus deaths in the last 24 hours, the first time since January, as the disease has killed nearly 75,000 people worldwide.

    Meanwhile, more than 160 current and former global leaders are urging the world’s 20 major industrialised nations to approve $8bn (£6.5bn) in emergency global health funding to hasten the search for a vaccine, cure and treatment for Covid-19 and prevent a second wave of the pandemic.

    It comes after Boris Johnson was moved to intensive care as his Covid-19 symptoms worsened and Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, took over the government’s response to the crisis. His first job will be to lead the government’s emergency daily coronavirus “war Cabinet” meeting with senior colleagues and the UK’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, and chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance.

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    Too early to talk about easing of new cases in Germany

    It is too early to talk about an easing of new cases of coronavirus in Germany, the head of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases said.

    “We need to wait a few days to see if there is a trend in the reports,” Lothar Wieler, president of the RKI, told reporters.

    The RKI said earlier on Tuesday that Germany’s confirmed coronavirus infections rose by 3,834 in the past 24 hours to 99,225 on Tuesday, rising again after four consecutive days of drops.


    The World Health Organisation has no blanket recommendation for countries and regions for easing measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, but urged them not to lift them too early, a spokesman has said.

    “One of the most important parts is not to let go of the measures too early in order not to have a fall back again,” said WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier in a virtual briefing.

    “It’s similar to being sick yourself if you get out of bed too early and get running too early you risk falling back and having complications,” he added.


    Spanish coronavirus deaths increase for first time in five days

    The pace of coronavirus deaths in Spain ticked up slightly for the first time in five days, with 743 people succumbing overnight to reach a total of 13,798.

    That compared to 637 people who died during the previous 24 hours in the nation with the second highest toll of fatalities in the world from the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Total cases rose to 140,510 today from 135,032 yesterday, the health ministry said.


    Taxpayer faces £4.5bn bill if law on holiday refunds stays the same, travel trade association warns

    Change the law on refunds for cancelled holidays, or half-a-million jobs are at risk: that is the warning from Abta, the travel trade association.

    The coronavirus pandemic has brought almost all domestic and international tourism to a standstill.

    With the Foreign Office now warning against travel abroad indefinitely, Abta calculates holiday firms face paying customers back an estimated £4.5bn, Simon Calder reports.


    Children In Need and Comic Relief join forces for special live charity event

    BBC Children In Need and Comic Relief will come together for the first time in a special televised event, The Big Night In, to raise money for those affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

    Charlotte Moore, director BBC Content, said: “BBC One will bring the nation together for this special one-off live charity event.

    “I would like to thank both BBC Children In Need and Comic Relief for joining forces in these unprecedented times to provide their support to local charities, projects and programmes across the whole UK; and to all of the stars taking part in this unmissable night of entertainment when the country needs it most.”

    Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said: “The Big Night In is a fantastic way to channel the amazing outpouring of generosity we are seeing from the British people.

    “It’s brilliant to see BBC Children In Need and Comic Relief coming together for the first time to ensure help gets to those that need it most, and to celebrate those who are going above and beyond in their communities.

    “We’re working with the BBC and others to ensure this event is a huge success.

    “As government develops further measures, we will work together to coordinate our efforts in the battle against coronavirus and remind everyone to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”


    What the papers are saying about the prime minister’s health

    News of Boris Johnson’s worsening health in his personal battle against coronavirus has dominated UK front pages and provoked concern from media around the world, Conrad Ducan reports.

    The decision to move the prime minister to an intensive care unit (ICU) on advice of his medical team came as a shock to many and was an alarming escalation after Mr Johnson had previously described his symptoms as “mild” and tweeted earlier on Monday that he was in “in good spirits”.


    ​India to allow exports of anti-malaria drug requested by Donald Trump

    India will allow some exports of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, the foreign ministry has said, after the US president, Donald Trump, urged New Delhi to release supplies of the drug seen as a possible treatment for Covid-19.

    The Indian government had earlier put a hold on exports of hydroxychloroquine as well as on the pain reliever, paracetamol, saying it had to meet its internal demand.

    But Mr Trump spoke to India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi over the weekend seeking supplies and later hinted that India may face retaliation.

    “It has been decided that India would licence paracetamol and HCQ in appropriate quantities to all our neighbouring countries who are dependent on our capabilities,” said Indian foreign ministry spokesman, Anurag Srivastava.

    “We will also be supplying these essential drugs to some nations who have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic,” he said.


    Six-month timescale for armed forces involvement ‘reasonable assumption a month ago’

    General Sir Nick Carter, asked if he still believed six months was a reasonable timescale for the armed forces involvement in the coronavirus operation, replied: “I think that was a reasonable assumption a month ago and I think we’re all playing each day as it comes at the moment.”

    Pressed on what the armed forces would do if there was civil unrest in the country, Sir Nick replied: “I think it’s most unlikely that we would get involved in public order at all.

    “Generally speaking our role in this is to back-fill the police in those roles that don’t face the public so the police force are able to manage public order on the country’s behalf.”

    He added, if needed, they could help in the “non-prisoner facing” roles in prisons.


    Miss England 2019 returns to work as NHS doctor

    Miss England 2019 has decided to hang up her crown and return to work as an NHS doctor during the coronavirus pandemic, Sarah Young reports.

    Bhasha Mukherjee was a junior doctor specialising in respiratory medicine before competing in the Miss World pageant on behalf of England in December 2019.

    After winning the crown, the 24-year-old planned to put her medical career on hold so that she could travel the world for various humanitarian efforts.

    However, four weeks into her ambassadorship in India on behalf of Coventry Mercia Lions Club, where she donated stationery to schools and gave money to a home for abandoned girls, news broke that the coronavirus situation was worsening back home in the UK.


    Unemployment will rise in Switzerland, government official warns

    Switzerland’s jobless figures will rise in the coming months as the strict measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic could force even successful companies to shut down, a government official said.

    “I believe unemployment will clearly increase,” said Boris Zuercher, the head of the labour department at the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco).

    “The longer this situation lasts, the harder it is to get out. If it continues like this for another three or four months, it will also affect solvent companies.”


    ​Government measures ‘simply don’t work’ for small and medium-sized firms

    Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, said the government’s measures “simply don’t work” for small and medium-sized firms affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

    He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “An average haulier will make probably 2 per cent margin, they will have about two to three weeks worth of cash flow within their business.”

    Mr Burnett added he is hopeful the government will provide further support as the industry is “keeping the nation fed”, noting: “It’s so marginal, that 2 per cent margin, the lack of payment from debtors at the moment is creating a cash flow problem, you can’t service a loan if you haven’t got any money coming in.

    “So we need cash, we need grants, we need injections to balance and normalise this cash flow problem, and the loans system simply doesn’t work at this point in time.”


    ​Nurse demonstrates how wearing gloves can cause cross-contamination of germs

    A nurse has shared a video explaining how wearing gloves when you go out to do your grocery shopping can cause cross-contamination of germs, Sabrina Barr reports.

    Molly Lixey, a registered nurse from Michigan, shared a video on Facebook in which she demonstrates how easily you can spread germs when wearing gloves.


    Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has sent a tweet saying his thoughts and prayers are with Mr Johnson.

    He said: “To my dear friend Boris Johnson , my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family, as you fight for a swift recovery.

    “The people of Japan stand with the British people at this difficult time.”


    German cases rise again after four consecutive days of falling

    Germany’s confirmed coronavirus infections rose by 3,834 in the past 24 hours to 99,225, rising again after four consecutive days of drops, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed.

    The reported death toll rose by 173 to 1,607.

    Today’s number of new cases was higher than the 3,677 new infections reported yesterday. Deaths had risen by 92 yesterday.


    Passengers departing from Hong Kong airport could fit on one plane

    Passengers departing from Hong Kong are so sparse that on some days, they could fit on the same plane, Simon Calder writes.

    That is the claim from the South China Morning Post, which reports that on 2 April only 349 people boarded a flight to leave the airport. The biggest plane flown by the city’s de facto flag carrier, Cathay Pacific, seats 438. 

    Last Thursday’s figure represents less than half of one per cent of the normal level.

    The Independent calculates that on the average day in 2019, 196,000 passengers a day used the airport – half of whom were departing.


    China reports no new deaths for first time since pandemic began

    China has reported no new deaths from coronavirus for the first time since it began issuing daily briefings on the outbreak more than two months ago.

    In its latest update, the country’s health ministry said there were 32 confirmed cases and 12 suspected cases recorded over the last 24 hours.

    All were listed as “imported” in people who had returned to China from overseas. None were reported in Hubei province, the original epicentre of the pandemic which has so far caused nearly 75,000 deaths worldwide.

    Peter Stubley has the full report:


    ‘The Boris I know is a fighter,’ Iain Duncan Smith says

    Former Tory party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith told BBC Breakfast: “The Boris I know is a fighter. He never gives up. His whole life has been about that, so I’m with him all the way as many of my friends and colleagues are.”

    Commenting on Mr Johnson’s determination to carry on working over recent days, Sir Iain said: “The truth is, he’s prime minister. He was elected to run this country, and no prime minister is going to suddenly say ‘look, I’m not well, I’m just gonna let somebody else do it’.

    “He does it up until the point, quite rightly, where he feels he can no longer contribute, because of the circumstances surrounding his illness. And I think he’s done that. Now that may have taken its toll.

    “But that, notwithstanding, is pretty much the way I would have expected and thought he would have behaved, and therefore I think right now we need to focus absolutely on how we get through this.

    “Let’s pray that Boris comes through. I’m sure he will. I believe strongly in his capability and his determination and the work of the doctors and the nurses in this wonderful NHS that we’ve got.”

    Sir Iain Duncan Smith said the situation Mr Johnson finds himself in “brings home” the reality of the virus.

    He told BBC Breakfast: “So many families have not been able to attend their loved ones in hospital, so many families even have not been able to help or support them once the medical teams surround them.

    “And this is the same for Boris Johnson, arguably the most powerful man in Britain, the prime minister of the United Kingdom.

    “He is in exactly the same position, in many senses, as just every other person in Britain.”

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