UK & Global Coronavirus News Update

Given the scale of the coronavirus outbreak, News Daily will from now on focus on the latest developments each day in the pandemic. We’ll suggest some other stories you might like at the end.

Image copyrightGETTY IMAGESRishi Sunak

Huge UK aid package 

“We must act like any wartime government and do whatever it takes to support our economy.” The words of the prime minister on Tuesday as he announced a raft of measures worth £350bn to mitigate the financial impact of coronavirus. It includes mortgage and business rates “holidays”, £330bn in loans and £20bn in other aid to protect firms. Pubs and retailers will be offered grants to help them survive. 

Companies and trade bodies broadly welcomed the measures, but some experts warn paying staff will still remain very difficult. Others feel there are significant gaps. Where is the help for renters? For the self-employed? For those already made redundant or off sick? The chancellor said more measures would be announced in the coming days, but the pressure on him to go even further will grow.

Nevertheless, the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg says the government had to act fast and act credibly in the face of mounting criticism and there’s no doubt this is a huge move – a massive state intervention which will have enormous implications for the taxpayer for years and years to come.

All of that economic news came as the UK death toll hit 71. The government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said it would be a “good outcome” if that could ultimately be kept below 20,000. Britons have been told to avoid all non-essential foreign travel for at least 30 days, while all non-urgent operations and many new Crown Court cases have been delayed. 

Beyond Britain

The virus has now infected more than 185,000 people worldwide with 7,500 deaths. All 50 US states have now reported cases and restrictions on public life continue to spread with the virus. Las Vegas is closing all non-essential businesses, including casinos, San Francisco has ordered 6.7 million residents to stay home for all but the most crucial outings until 7 April and New York is considering a similar lockdown. Like the UK, the US has announced a huge stimulus package , but the race to be the man who takes on Donald Trump for the presidency this year has been thrown into uncertainty. 

Elsewhere, the EU is shutting its borders and Australia has banned non-essential gatherings of more than 100 people. Scientists in Australia – part of a global effort to find treatment for the disease – say they have identified how the body’s immune system fights the Covid-19 virus. More big sporting events continue to be postponed, including Euro 2020, but organisers of the Tokyo Olympics continue to insist, even in the face of criticism, that it will go ahead.

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