It was an emotional moment for those who took part – not least theNHS staff and care workers being salutedby the nation. The Royal Family and prime minister joined well-wishers who flocked to front doorsteps, balconies and windowson Thursday evening nightto applaud those dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. It came after figures revealed the UK death toll rose from 475 to 578 in one day, with 11,658 confirmed cases.
There will be additional support for the NHS from firefighters, who have agreed to drive ambulances and deliver essential supplies if required. However, unions point out many are off-work in self-isolation. And, with NHS leaders saying staff feel “at risk” of contracting the virus unless they wear protective equipment while dealing with all patients, the BBC is toldguidance is expected to be updatedwithin two days.
Normal life continues to be seriously affected. As vulnerable people continue to report problems getting groceries while in isolation,supermarkets are to use a government databaseof the 1.5 million people deemed most at risk to help prioritise delivery slots. Sharon Cranfield, from Surrey, tells us she’s reliant on deliveries because her daughter Jessica, 19, has cystic fibrosis, adding: “I’m terrified of going to the shops.” There aresigns, too, the housing marketis grinding to a halt, with transactions agreed before the lockdown falling through.
The US now hasmore confirmed cases of coronavirusthan any other country, with more than 85,500 positive tests – overtaking both China and Italy. However, the US death toll remains much lower, at less than 1,300. Some 8,215 people have died in Italy. President Donald Trump predicts the US will get back to work “pretty quickly”, calling the figures “a tribute to the amount of testing that we’re doing”.
Back in China, where the outbreak began, the government istemporarily banning all foreign visitorsto prevent a further rise in the number of imported cases. Meanwhile,South Africahas begun a three-week lockdown. And while recent numbers from Italy’s worst-hit northern region suggest the epidemic might be slowing there,fresh fearshave arisen for poorer communities in the south.
EU leaders meeting on Thursday – by socially-distant video conference – glaringly failed to agree to share the debt they are all racking up fighting Covid-19. From her flat in Berlin, where she is self-isolating after her doctor tested positive for the virus, German Chancellor Angela Merkel openly admitted to the disharmony over financial instruments.
What leaders did agree on was asking Eurogroup finance ministers to explore the subject further, reporting backin two weeks‘ time. The EU is famous for kicking difficult decisions down the road but in coronavirus terms, with spiralling infection and death rates, two weeks feels like an eternity.
TheCoronavirus Newscastteam is joined by Sean Farrington, from Radio 5 live’s Wake Up To Money, to help unpack the government’s new measures to support the self-employed. And musician Charli XCX offers some tips on keeping fit, staying creative and painting rocks in self-isolation. Meanwhile, the World Service’sScience in Actionexamines why China’s strong social distancing policies seem to have been successful in stopping the spread of the virus.
What the papers say
Somefront pages use photographsof staff at the Royal Liverpool Hospital taking in the nation’s gratitude for the work of the NHS during the applause that rang around the UK. Others feature the members of the public – and young royals Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis – saluting the medical staff and carers. “Checkpoint Britain” is the main headline for both the Daily Express and the Metro, as they report police measures to enforce social distancing. The Daily Star describes those driving without good reason as “Checkpoint Charlies”. The effects of the virus on the property market is the big story for the Daily Mail, under the headline: “Don’t move home.” The housing market was “plunged into chaos” after the government called on people to delay moving home, the Times reports. Meanwhile, the Sun looks at the UK’s latest virus statistics to declare: “One Brit dies every 13 minutes.”