Covid-19 Daily Bulletin
A series of daily updates for CHO members regarding relevant updates pertaining to Coronavirus from home and abroad.
- In the UK, the daily number of tests dropped to 69,436, as the total remained below the government’s 100,000 target. Undeterred, Prime Minister Boris Johnson set a new target of 200,000 testing capacity by the end of the month.
- Johnson also revealed in PMQ’s that some lockdown measures could be lifted as soon as Monday, and reports in a number of this morning’s newspapers indicate that the first step will be to relax guidance on outdoor activities like exercise and sunbathing, whilst maintaining social distancing.
- “Playgrounds and gyms and outdoor gyms will be the sort of things that will come in at a later point because there’s an increased risk of infection according to the Telegraph .The Sun concurs, with a source telling them that “Gyms won’t be open any sooner than autumn.”
- Also in the Telegraph there are claims that those hoping for a big “back to work” movement may be disappointed. “The prime minister will encourage more people to go back to work if they can do so safely,” a source says. “However, he will tell garden centres and other ‘non-essential’ retailers they will have to wait a little longer.”
- The Bank of England has warned that the coronavirus pandemic will push the UK economy towards its deepest recession on record. It said the economy was on course to shrink 14% this year, based on the lockdown being relaxed in June. Scenarios drawn up by the Bank to illustrate the economic impact said Covid-19 was “dramatically reducing jobs and incomes in the UK. Policymakers voted unanimously to keep interest rates at a record low of 0.1%, although the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) that sets interest rates was split on whether to inject more stimulus into the economy. Two of its nine members voted to increase the latest round of quantitative easing by £100bn to £300bn.
- In yesterday’s daily press conference, Robert Jenrick did not rule out tightening restrictions on daily life in specific local areas. Jenrick said that that the Government will “consider” making “interventions in smaller, micro communities where you’re seeing the virus take hold again
- The European Commission issued a forecast of an “historic” recession, with the EU economy facing an unprecedented annual decline of 7.4 percent. Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni warned that without effective actions “the consequences will not be for the frugal, or the Southern, or the Eastern, or, the Western,…they will be very, very bad for all Europeans.”
- The United Nations has warned that the coronavirus pandemic could cause “multiple famines”. The comments came as the UN appealed for a further $4.7bn (£3.8bn) in funding for its global humanitarian response plan. Under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, Mark Lowcock, said the worst effects of the crisis would be felt in the world’s poorest countries. “Unless we take action now, we should be prepared for a significant rise in conflict, hunger and poverty. The spectre of multiple famines looms,” he said.
- Poland’s governing coalition parties have postponed Sunday’s presidential election amid the coronavirus outbreak. Although the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party wanted the vote to go ahead, its coalition partner Agreement and the opposition said it was prioritising political gain over public health. The election – which will be a postal-only ballot – will now to be rescheduled to a date “as soon as possible”. However, the deputy prime minister said the earliest it could take place would be in June.
- A gas leak at a chemical factory in southern India has killed at least nine people and led to hundreds being taken to hospital, amid fears that the death toll could climb higher. Styrene leaked from the Korean-owned LG Polymers plant during the early hours of Thursday morning when families in the surrounding villages were asleep, a local official in Andra Pradesh state said.
- The Daily Mirror claim to have sight of a 50-page government blueprint “to relax the lockdown in staggered steps.” It claims to expect the return to school of Year 6 and then other primary school pupils across England from the end of May. Secondary schools will return at the end of June, when outdoor activities may also be extended further to include small-team sports, outdoor seating at cafés and outdoor gatherings of fewer than 30 people. Pubs, bars and restaurants could follow in September — albeit with strict social distancing rules.