Nine Things You Need To Know About Coronavirus Today

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Updated: See the latest stories on the coronavirus outbreak.

The UK has now been in lockdown for almost a week to tackle the coronavirus.

As the country moves into its seventh day under the new rules, official figures show that so far:

  • At least 19,522 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the UK.

  • An estimated 1,415 people have now died across the UK as of 3pm on Monday – an increase of 180 on the previous 24 hours. Here are the latest updates on Covid-19:

Huge Navy hospital ship arrives in New York City

The USNS Comfort – a massive converted oil tanker used by the US Navy as a hospital ship – arrived in New York City on Monday, in an attempt to relieve some of the pressure on healthcare services dealing with coronavirus crisis.

The 1,000-bed vessel had been undergoing planned maintenance but was rushed back into service to aid the city.

<strong>The USNS Comfort passes Manhattan as it enters New York Harbour on Monday.</strong> (Photo: Brendan McDermid / Reuters)
The USNS Comfort passes Manhattan as it enters New York Harbour on Monday. (Photo: Brendan McDermid / Reuters)

It’s understood the ship will deal with non-coronavirus cases, freeing up capacity in overstretched hospitals.

The state is fast becoming the global epicentre of the outbreak and accounts for almost half of the US’s 141,883 cases and more than a third of its 2,477 deaths, according to a Reuters tally.

Large sections of New York City’s iconic Central Park have also been converted to a new field hospital.

<strong>A Samaritan's Purse crew works on building an emergency field hospital equipped with a respiratory unit in New York's Central Park across from the Mount Sinai Hospital on Sunday.</strong> (Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
A Samaritan's Purse crew works on building an emergency field hospital equipped with a respiratory unit in New York's Central Park across from the Mount Sinai Hospital on Sunday. (Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The USNS Comfort arrived at a Manhattan pier a week after its sister ship, the USNS Mercy, arrived in Los Angeles to perform a similar duty on the West Coast.

The ship has 12 operating rooms as well as radiology suites and a CT scanner. It also has ICU beds, a lab and a pharmacy. The 1,100 or so medical staff on board are mostly active duty service members from the US Navy, and some reservists.

Abortion rules relaxed after another health department U-turn

Abortion rules have been changed for the second time in just over a week to allow women to take pills at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Last Monday, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it would allow women and girls to take abortion pills at home, and for doctors to prescribe from their homes.

Just hours later, the statement was removed from the department’s website, with officials saying it was “published in error”.

Health secretary Matt Hancock later told MPs that abortion rules would not be changed as part of the response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

But now, in another U-turn, the department has said women needing an abortion up to 10 weeks can use abortion pills at home after a consultation with a medical practitioner over the phone or via the internet.

In a letter to various health bodies, the DHSC said Hancock has also approved measures to allow doctors to prescribe the medicines – Mifepristone and Misoprostol – from their homes.

The measures will last for up to two years. It is understood the updated guidance has not yet been made public.

Carluccio’s and BrightHouse fall into administration

Carluccio’s and BrightHouse have collapsed into administration, casting a shadow over the future the 4,500 the two companies employ.

The former, a dining chain founded by Antonio Carluccio in 1991, confirmed it has hired advisory firm FRP to oversee its administration.

The business’s Ireland operation and its franchise business in the Middle East are unaffected by the administration, it said.

Geoff Rowley, joint administrator and partner at FRP, said: “We are operating in unprecedented times and the issues currently facing the hospitality sector following the onset of Covid-19 are well documented.”

Controversial rent-to-own retailer BrightHouse also sank into administration on Monday, just days after it closed all its stores due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Julie Palmer, a partner at restructuring expert Bebgies Traynor, said: “Coronavirus was the final nail in the coffin for BrightHouse.

“It was already wrapped up and squeezed by payment claims against it and new regulations were having a detrimental effect to its business model.

“As soon as its stores closed due to the pandemic it looked inevitable that this business would break.”

Cabin crew will staff new coronavirus hospitals

Ambulances at the ExCel centre in London, which is being made into a temporary hospital (Photo: PA)
Ambulances at the ExCel centre in London, which is being made into a temporary hospital (Photo: PA)

Cabin crew will help staff the new Nightingale hospitals built to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, the NHS said.

Staff at Virgin Atlantic and EasyJet have been invited to volunteer at the new 4,000-bed clinic being built at the Excel centre in east London, and those planned in Birmingham and Manchester.

Volunteers will perform support roles such as changing beds after receiving expert training.

The news came as EasyJet announced it was grounding its entire fleet due to “unprecedented travel restrictions” caused by the Covid-19 outbreak, with bosses saying “there can be no certainty of the date for restarting commercial flights”.

EasyJet has already written to its 9,000 UK-based staff – including 4,000 cabin crew trained in CPR – to invite them to give their time to the NHS, with Virgin Atlantic set to ask 4,000 of its employees on Monday.

Any crew who sign up to volunteer will have their salaries paid by their airline.

St John’s Ambulance have already said that hundreds of people will give their time at the first Nightingale hospital in London.

Prince Charles is out of self-isolation

The Prince of Wales, who tested positive for coronavirus last week after developing mild symptoms, is now out of self-isolation at his Birkhall home in Scotland.

Charles, 71, had developed mild symptoms of Covid-19 and self-isolated for seven days after receiving the positive test result last Tuesday.

The Duchess of Cornwall, 72, who is also at Birkhall, in Aberdeenshire, tested negative for the virus and remains in self-isolation until the end of the week, observing the advice to do so for 14 days.

A spokesperson said: “Clarence House has confirmed today that, having consulted with his doctor, the Prince of Wales is now out of self-isolation.”

Mercedes F1 team helps to develop breathing aid

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(Photo: sturti via Getty Images)
(Photo: sturti via Getty Images)

A breathing aid that could help keep coronavirus patients out of intensive care has been developed by a group of researchers.

The continuous positive airway pressure machine (CPAP), which delivers oxygen to the lungs without the need for a ventilator or for the patient to be sedated, was developed by a group including researchers from the Mercedes Formula One team and University College London.

The device was developed in under 100 hours from an initial meeting to production of the first CPAP.

Pending successful trials this week, it is hoped the machine could be distributed through the NHS, with the BBC reporting that the device already has regulatory approval.

Mercedes has said it could produce up to 1,000 of the new CPAP machines a day.

The device has reportedly been designed within a week by modifying and improving an existing model.

Professor Rebecca Shipley, director of the UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering, said 50% to 60% of patients who were treated with the CPAP devices did not progress to mechanical ventilation.

“We already have 100 from Mercedes and UCL and UCLH which we are currently testing in our first patient trials,” she told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

“Mercedes can make 1,000 a day within a week and if the tests go well they can be in the NHS by the end of this week.”

20,000 former NHS staff have volunteered to go back to work

Tens of thousands of ex-NHS workers have volunteered to return to the frontlines to fight coronavirus, Boris Johnson has said.

The prime minister, who tested positive coronavirus on Friday, revealed the latest figure in a video message.

“Thank you to everybody who is now coming back into the NHS in such huge numbers,” Johnson said. “Just this evening I can tell you, we have 20,000 NHS staff coming back to the colours – doctors and nurses.

“It’s a most amazing thing.”

Meanwhile, the PM said that more than 750,000 people had signed up for the NHS volunteer scheme.

Donald Trump extends US coronavirus guidelines by a month

President Donald Trump speaks during a coronavirus task force briefing (Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
President Donald Trump speaks during a coronavirus task force briefing (Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Donald Trump has said that US guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus will be extended to April 30 as deaths from the pandemic in the country continue to rise.

The president had previously said rules calling for social-distancing could be relaxed as early as Easter, with the initial 15-day period set to expire on Monday.

However, Trump’s impulse to restore normality met a sober reality check on Sunday from Dr Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, who said the US could experience more than 100,000 deaths and millions of infections from the pandemic.

The federal guidelines recommend against large group gatherings and urge older people and anyone with existing health problems to stay at home.

People are urged to work at home when possible and avoid restaurants, bars, non-essential travel and shopping trips.

Many states and local governments already have stiffer controls in place on movement and gatherings.

The US had more than 137,000 Covid-19 cases reported by late Sunday afternoon, with more than 2,400 deaths.

Coronavirus fake news unit ‘dealing with 10 stories a day’

A health care worker prepares to collect a sample to test for COVID-19 at a drive-thru testing site  (Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
A health care worker prepares to collect a sample to test for COVID-19 at a drive-thru testing site  (Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The government’s unit to tackle fake news about coronavirus is dealing with as many as 10 articles a day.

The Rapid Response Unit – which operates from within the Cabinet Office and No.10 – coordinates with departments across Whitehall to deploy the appropriate response when misinformation is identified online.

Up to 70 incidents a week, often false narratives containing multiple misleading claims, are being identified and resolved, the government said.

In Kent, the local branch of Age UK warned about people being sent a text falsely accusing them of breaking lockdown rules and being fined £35.

Digital secretary Oliver Dowden said: “We need people to follow the advice of our medical experts so we can protect the NHS and save lives.

“But false or misleading information about coronavirus shared online could undermine our efforts.”

Meanwhile, Tory MP Damian Collins – who led the government’s investigation into disinformation and fake news – said sharing fake news about coronavirus should be an offence.

Launching his own online service to combat false stories about Covid-19, Collins said: “In some ways, this is the first public health crisis in the age of social media disinformation, and therefore it requires a different response.”

Infographic supplied by Statista.

Correction: an earlier version of this article stated that deaths in Northern Ireland had increased by 22 in a day. In fact, 22 is the total number of deaths in Northern Ireland, an increase of one.


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This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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