Covid-19 Daily Bulletin
A series of daily updates for CHO members regarding relevant updates pertaining to Coronavirus from home and abroad.
- The Government’s furlough scheme for businesses will open today, with employers now able to apply for a cash grant to cover up to 80 percent of their staff’s wages. The concern for business will be another repeat of the coronavirus emergency loan scheme, which so far has struggled to get money swiftly out the door.
- The Government has issued a rebuttal to the Sunday Times’ scathing investigation into Boris Johnson’s handling of the coronavirus. The Times suggested that the Government failed to move quickly enough, singling Johnson for not taking the threat of the virus seriously enough. In the Government’s response, a spokesman said that the article contained “a series of falsehoods and errors and actively misrepresents the enormous amount of work which was going on in government at the earliest stages of the Coronavirus outbreak.”
- Last night, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries told Sky News that the WHO guidance to ‘test, test, test” was “not appropriate” for Britain. She added that this guidance had been aimed at “countries around the world [that] did not know they had a problem” and so did not apply to the U.K.
- Both The Guardian and the Daily Mail splash the story of PPE shortages, with a delayed package of personal protective equipment due to finally arrive today from Turkey.
- Justice Secretary Robert Buckland will today appear before the human rights committee at 2.30pm to discuss the impact of the coronavirus
- Over 5,000 patients have lost their lives due to coronavirus in Belgium. With the country’s population standing at only 11 million, it now has the worst death rate per capita in Europe.
- In the US, Congress and the Trump administration are close to finally agreeing a deal worth $400 billion in emergency funding for small businesses. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is said to have ticked off the “four to five outstanding items” needed to agree the deal in a separate call with her team yesterday.
- New Zealand will remain in total lockdown for only one further week, prime minister Jacinda Ardern has said, assuming that the country’s progress in eliminating the disease is maintained.
- Death rates have slowed in both Spain and Italy, with Italy’s infection curve appearing to finally begin to decline. European fatalities as a result of the coronavirus have now passed 100,000.
- Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has called for further clarity regarding the Government’s lockdown exit strategy plan. He pointed to the Sunday Times’ piece on the handling of the virus, and said that the public deserved and explanation.
- Preet Kaur Gill, Labour’s shadow secretary for international development, has called on the G20 health ministers to ensure that the, “world’s most vulnerable are front and centre in coronavirus response”.
- Trade Union GMB said over that trust in Health Secretary Matt Hancock was, “draining away”, after Public Health England downgraded the Government’s advice on personal protective equipment.
- Director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, Adam Marshall, said that research indicated that two-thirds of UK firms had furloughed some portion of their workforce. He added that with April’s payday approaching, it was, “essential that the application process is smooth and that payments are made as soon as possible.”
- The Times is reporting that Boris Johnson has told colleagues that he is very cautious about easing lockdown restrictions and that his “overriding concern” is avoiding a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Consequently, the relaxing of any lockdown measures for the foreseeable future is looking doubtful. The same article suggests that the “earliest date for schools to open was likely to be after half-term at the end of May,”.
- The FT reports that tonight’s press conference will be led by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who will be looking to publicize a new government scheme launched this morning to help tech startups hit by the outbreak, with a £500 million investment fund for high-growth firms and a £750 million pot in grants and loans for businesses focused on research and development.
- The Spanish Government is said to be set to propose a €1.5tn EU fund to fight coronavirus, financed by perpetual debt raised by the 27-country EU. Sources say that Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez will make a formal proposal to EU leaders during a summit on Thursday.