Covid-19 Daily Bulletin

Key announcements

  • In the latter half of yesterday afternoon, Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, announced the Government’s plans to help UK travellers abroad come home. The Foreign Secretary had been engaged in conversations with over 20 foreign ministers to keep open ports and airports; and to assist with keeping open commercial flights.
  • Raab announced a new arrangement between the Government and airlines, including British Airways, Virgin, Easyjey, Jet2 and Titan to bring back British travellers.
  1. Where possible, these airlines would continue running commercial flights to bring home travellers. Airlines would offer alternative routes if necessary, allow passengers to change tickets, and keep them informed.
  2. The Government pledged £75m to charter special flights where there were no commercial flights. Countries would be prioritised according to how many travellers were stranded; a nd their vulnerability.
  • The Foreign Office had tripled its call centre capacity to help assist travellers.
  • The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, has temporarily approved of home use for both stages of early medical abortion. This comes after a week in which the Government faced rally-cries from Royal Colleges and campaign groups, due to the temporary measure being approved and removed over the course of 24 hours.
  • In Scotland, it was announced that a number of cancer screening programmes would temporarily be paused. This would help medical staff be redeployed to support other essential services.
  • In Northern Ireland, Justice Minister, Naomi Long, announced she would be approving the temporary early release of prisoners for some prisoners.
  • The Government announced that a Rapid Response Unit would be working against false narratives surrounding the coronavirus, which would be operating across Whitehall.
  • The Home Office published guidance relating to coronavirus and domestic abuse, in which help and support was pointed to.

International News

  • In India, there has been public outrage in response to a video of migrants being sprayed witha disinfectant, or a “chemical solution”, by officials.
  • The World Bank has said that a significant and negative economic impact would be unavoidable in the Asia Pacific region.
  • In Italy, the lockdown has been extended to Easter. This comes aside cautiously optimistic news that infection rates are declining.
  • In America, coronavirus guidelines which had been set to expire yesterday were actually extended to 30 April 2020. Trump displayed self-testing kits in a press conference and said that 1 million tests had been conducted so far in the States
  • Social distancing has officially began in Vietnam as of this morning.
  • In Hungary, Viktor Orban has passed emergency coronavirus powers which means he will be free to “rule by decree.” The legislation has been widely condemned, for example by the Council of Europe and Human Rights Groups.

Stakeholder Reactions

  • Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, said that Government plans to return travellers were just “more of the same” and said that a “fresh, comprehensive and fully-funded strategy” was required to bring back British nationals.
  • Ministers were called by the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody to begin a programme of planned prisoner releases, saying “it is not fair or proportionate to commit prisoners, and staff responsible for them” to survive in overcrowded institutions during this public health crisis.

Unconfirmed Reports

  • Boris Johnson is reportedly facing pressure to extend the Brexit transition period due to Coronavirus, according to the Sun. 
  • The Times has reported that pupils might be denied their choice of university due to a “funding black hole of up to £7 billion”.