Coronavirus news – live: Rush to get antibody tests into NHS and shops, as UK emergency law passed and US deaths hit 1,000

    Coronavirus news – live: Rush to get antibody tests into NHS and shops, as UK emergency law passed and US deaths hit 1,000

    Related video: Police disperse sunbathers in London

    Ministers are rushing to get antibody tests for coronavirus to the NHS front line, following sustained criticism of the lack of assessments available for medics. The kits are also to be made available to the wider public.

    On Thursday Britain awoke for the first time under new, draconian powers designed to limit the spread of Covid-19, after the Queen granted royal assent to the emergency law. 

    And in the US deaths from coronavirus have topped 1,000, with Donald Trump forced to step back at least partially from his insistence that the country would “re-open” by Easter.

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    Tube ridership down but Londoners still raging

    Sadiq Khan has said that early-morning Tube use on Thursday was down 13 per cent on the previous day, while bus use was down 8 per cent over the same period.

    “Thank you to all Londoners who are following the rules and staying home,” the mayor tweeted. “The more we stay at home the more lives we can save.”

    But commuters have still hit out at TfL because of overcrowding.

    Patricia Pereira tweeted: “Jubilee line service packed, Waterloo station escalators out of use forcing people to use the ones that are working and be extremely near.

    “Three TfL staff by gate line talking, no one manage the crowd (or) helping on social distancing!”


    Migrant workers at risk

    More must be done to protect the health of “vulnerable” migrant workers in the UK and overseas who are disproportionately at risk of catching Covid-19, a number of human rights groups and construction associations have warned, writes Samuel Lovett.


    Hospitals facing ‘tsunami’ of demand

    London hospitals are facing a “wicked combination” of exploding demand and “unprecedented” staff sickness rates, a senior health service figure has warned.

    Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers – which represents care trusts – said that, while critical care capacity had been expanded by between five and seven times, hospital bosses were still seeing a “continuous tsunami” of demand. 


    Indonesia figures

    Indonesia has confirmed 103 new coronavirus cases, bringing its total to 893, a health ministry official has said.

    The number of new deaths due to coronavirus rose by 20, taking the total number of fatalities to 78. A total of 35 people have recovered from the virus. 


    Kids to miss free school meals

    Children who need free school meals could miss out on food parcels amid stricter coronavirus lockdown measures and delays to the government’s voucher scheme, heads have warned, writes Eleanor Busby.

    Ensuring that food is collected or delivered to all families in need is becoming more difficult amid the pandemic, prompting fears that children at home during closures could go hungry.


    ‘Show some restraint,’ shoppers told

    Ocado chairman Stuart Rose has told shoppers to show restraint.

    “There is a billion pounds more food in people’s larders than there was a couple of weeks ago – what are they doing with it? How much food do you need to eat? How much do you need to store away? Please show some restraint,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.


    Vietnam curbs

    Vietnam is limiting public gatherings to a maximum of 20 people, its prime minister has announced.


    Could Wimbledon be cancelled?

    The All England Lawn Tennis Club will decide whether to go ahead with this summer’s Wimbledon championships during an emergency board meeting next week, writes Ben Burrows.

    Pressure has been growing on organisers to make a decision, with the SW19 tournament one of the biggest sporting events still remaining on the calendar for June and July.


    ‘No one will starve’

    The chairman of British online supermarket Ocado said on Thursday there was no shortage of food in the country. “Nobody will starve,” Stuart Rose told BBC radio.


    Minister challenged on vague ‘coming weeks’ timescale

    Asked why he could only say new ventilators and tests would be available “in the coming weeks”, Edward Argar said: “I think everyone would appreciate we are moving heaven and earth to get this done as quickly as we can.

    “But this is a huge logistical exercise. We moved fast when we knew, and we got the scientific modelling of what was happening with this virus, that it was moving towards the UK and how it’s growing in the UK, and we moved fast to place the orders and get the processes in place to do this.

    “But that is a big logistical task.”


    Ventilator update

    The NHS began this crisis with about 5,000 ventilators, Mr Argar says, and now has about 8,000.

    “There are, as I speak, and this number is going up all the time because we are purchasing more, there are another 8,000 on top of that that we have ordered,” he said.

    “There is then, of course, the second strand which is the prime minister’s ventilators challenge, encouraging innovators, entrepreneurs, they’ve seen the spec, we’ve put it online, a whole range of people who are working flat-out.”


    Morning briefing

    The coronavirus pandemic continues to cause chaos across the UK and around the world, writes Chiara GiordanoHere’s your morning briefing of everything you may have missed overnight about the fight against Covid-19.


    ‘Moving heaven and earth’

    Ministers will “move heaven and earth” to get PPE to medics who say they need it, Mr Argar has said.

    He told Today that the British Army had helped deliver “millions and millions” of gloves, masks and pairs of goggles in recent days, and that replenishment stocks were also on the way because medics were “understandably” using up their deliveries very quickly.


    Employers ‘still forcing workers to attend’

    MPs are being flooded with reports of employees being forced to continue working, Labour has said.

    John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said bosses were “putting all our lives at risk by their greed”.


    Health minister unable to give clarity on testing

    Edward Argar, the junior health minister, has been unable to give a date for when the UK will reach the 25,000-tests-per-day milestone.

    He could only say that it would happen “in the coming weeks”, in an interview with Today. He insisted, however, that the government was increasing the daily figure “at pace”. There was a global demand for testing kits, he added.


    PPE ‘on the way’

    A health minister has insisted that personal protective equipment (PPE) deliveries are being increased.

    “We entirely understand how important it is that you (frontline staff) get the kit that you need and feel safe and are safe in doing this amazing work that you are doing,” Edward Argar told BBC Breakfast.

    Mr Argar said the government was “ramping up” deliveries of PPE, and had in the last few days delivered 24 million pairs of protective gloves, along with 13 million protective face masks.

    On ventilators, he said an additional 8,000 were being ordered and manufactured – which should be available in the next week or two.


    US death toll passes 1,000

    The US death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has topped 1,000, writes Samuel Osborne.

    The number of dead in the US rose to 1,041 on Wednesday, with nearly 70,000 people infected with Covid-19.


    Moscow shutdown

    Moscow will close all shops except for pharmacies and grocery stores, its mayor said on Thursday.

    The lockdown, which also includes the closure of restaurants, cafes and bars, will last from 28 March until 5 April, said Sergei Sobyanin.


    First UK prisoner death

    An pensioner has become the first prisoner in the UK to die of coronavirus.

    The 84-year-old inmate at HMP Littlehey, a category C male sex offenders’ prison in Cambridgeshire, died in hospital on Sunday. He reportedly had underlying health issues.

    A Prison Service spokesperson said the death would be investigated by the prisons and probation ombudsman.

    As of Wednesday, 19 inmates had tested positive for Covid-19 across 10 jails and four prison staff had tested positive for the disease across four jails.


    Doctors ‘still lack PPE’

    Labour believes some front-line NHS staff still don’t have enough protective gear.

    Jon Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We’re still concerned that, even today, we’ve got doctors and nurses complaining that they don’t have access to the protective equipment.

    “Some of them are going to DIY stores to make their own makeshift visors.”

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