A third of the world’s population is now under some form of lockdown, after India imposed restrictions on its 1.3bn citizens in an attempt to stop the spread of coronavirus.
The latest official figures show:
- 8,077 people in the UK have tested positive for coronavirus
- 422 people had died as of Tuesday. On Wednesday, five further deaths were announced in. Wales, seven in Northern Ireland and six in Scotland, taking the total number in the UK to at least 440.
Here’s what you need to know today:
Will home coronavirus antibody tests be available to order ‘within days’?
There was confusion over whether the public will be able to conduct coronavirus antibody tests at home within a matter of days, rather than weeks and months, as MPs were told.
Professor Sharon Peacock, director of the National Infection Service at Public Health England (PHE) told the Science and Technology Committee on Wednesday that 3.5m tests had been bought and would be available in the “near future”.
She said the tests would also allow key workers – like doctors and nurses – to go back to work if they have developed antibodies.
Peacock explained a small number of tests would be tested in a laboratory before being distributed via Amazon and in places like Boots.
However, at a later Downing Street press conference, England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty dismissed the claims Prof Whitty said members of the public would not be buying these tests via the internet next week.
He stressed that frontline NHS workers would need the tests first so they could get back to work if they have had already had the virus.
Prince Charles tests positive for coronavirus
The Prince of Wales is 71, putting him in one of the high-risk categories, according to government guidance.
The Duchess of Cornwall, 72, has also been tested but does not have the virus, PA Media reports. The couple are currently self-isolating at home in Scotland.
A Clarence House spokesperson said: “He has been displaying mild symptoms but otherwise remains in good health and has been working from home throughout the last few days as usual.”
Charles’s last public engagement was on March 12, but he did have a number of private meetings with Highgrove and Duchy individuals, all of whom have been made aware.
A source said his doctor’s most conservative estimate was that the prince was contagious on March 13, which is after he last visited the Queen.
UK diplomat dies in Hungary
Steven Dick, 37, the deputy head of mission at the British Embassy in Budapest, Hungary, has died after contracting coronavirus, the Foreign Office has said.
In a statement, his parents Steven and Carol Dick said: “Steven was a much-loved son, grandson and nephew. He was kind, funny and generous.
“It was always his dream to work for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and he was very happy representing our country overseas.
“We are devastated by his loss and ask for privacy at this tragic time.”
Deputy British ambassador Steven Dick, 37, died yesterday after contracting coronavirus. He was a really nice bloke and a great diplomat. Last week he told me he had the virus but was feeling fine. Awful. pic.twitter.com/d88iTDIOSF— Shaun Walker (@shaunwalker7) March 25, 2020
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “I am desperately saddened by the news of Steven’s death and my heart goes out to his parents Steven and Carol.
“Steven was a dedicated diplomat and represented his country with great skill and passion. He will be missed by all those who knew him and worked with him.”
Death toll in Spain passes China
The disease’s death toll in Spain has shot up by more than 700, overtaking China as the second worst-hit territory. It is now behind only Italy.
Spain recorded a record daily increase of 738 deaths, pushing it to 3,434 overall and past China’s 3,285, the country’s ministry of health said.
Infections rose by 20% to 47,610. More than 5,000 have recovered.
Spain’s health system is overwhelmed, with hotels being converted into hospitals and a Madrid ice rink being used as a temporary morgue.
The country’s lockdown is expected to be extended for another fortnight to April 12.
400,000 people sign up to be NHS volunteers
More than 400,000 people have signed up to be volunteers for the NHS in a massive public response to the coronavirus crisis.
Boris Johnson thanked the 405,000 who have helped the government exceed its target of 250,000 volunteers in just one day.
GPs, doctors, pharmacists, nurses, midwives, NHS 111 advisers and social care staff will all be able to request help for at-risk patients through a call centre run by the Royal Voluntary Service, which will match people who need help with volunteers who live near them.
I’m so proud of the British public. Within 24 hours, 405,000 people have answered the call to be an NHS volunteer. All part of the national effort to tackle #coronavirus.— Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) March 25, 2020
Thank you - each and every one. pic.twitter.com/Y3eTabfBlx
The PM told a Downing Street press conference: “They will be driving medicines from pharmacies to patients; they will be bringing patients home from hospital; very importantly they will be making regular phone calls to check on and support people who are staying on their own at home.
“And they will be absolutely crucial in the fight against this virus.
“That is already in one day as many volunteers as the population of Coventry.
“And to all of you, and to all the NHS staff who are coming back to the service, I say thank you on behalf of the entire country.”
Anyone who is over the age of 18, fit and healthy and non-symptomatic can offer their time to the scheme.
Read the full report here.
NHS medics fear for their families
As the UK descends into an emergency lockdown, NHS staff say the standard of protective equipment on the frontline of the outbreak is leaving them scared to go to work – and terrified they might infect their families.
“I’m risking my life and the life of my family,” said Joan Pons Laplana, an NHS nurse on the frontline.
“I’m going to work because I love helping other people. But I want the government to equip me properly – it feels like they’re sending soldiers to fight with water pistols. It’s unbelievable.”
According to Public Health England advice, medics should wear a specially fitted respirator mask in areas where “aerosol producing procedures” like tracheotomies and intubations are taking place, as well as a long-sleeved gown and eye protection.
In other instances where medics are coming into contact with patients who have – or are suspected to have – coronavirus, advice states they should wear a surgical mask, apron and disposable gloves.
But like many of the medics HuffPost UK spoke to, Joan said he did not think this kind of equipment was sufficient – and that it felt “inevitable” he would contract Covid-19.
Read the full HuffPost UK report here.
On the breadline in the UK
The prospect of facing weeks, possibly months, with children off school due to the coronavirus outbreak is daunting for most parents. But for those struggling financially, the future looks particularly stark.
With schools across the UK closed to all students except the families of key workers, parents are suddenly having to provide extra food for their youngsters who are now at home all day.
And they face another challenge, too: trying to simply access food and essentials, after stockpiling emptied shelves in supermarkets and shops.
Before the outbreak of Covid-19, figures showed almost one in every three children in the UK to be living in poverty, but the escalating situation is forcing desperate families to choose between feeding their children and paying their bills.
Single mum Hannah Graham revealed to HuffPost UK how she is planning to give herself meal replacements in a bid to have enough money to feed her hungry children.
Read the full HuffPost UK report here.
Some construction sites to close
Housebuilders Bellway and Persimmon are shutting construction sites despite being allowed to stay open amid the lockdown as demand from new buyers plummets.
Newcastle-headquartered Bellway said it was closing its 200 building sites by the end of Friday, with site managers only allowed onto developments to maintain security or to hand over keys to buyers.
This is a construction site in Leicester today. This isn’t social distancing. Why won’t the government tell this firm to send its workers home NOW for their protection #StayAtHomeSaveLives https://t.co/HZEdkpT4Fm— Jonathan Ashworth (@JonAshworth) March 25, 2020
Charles Church builder Persimmon confirmed it is also starting an “orderly shutdown” of its construction sites, following the lead of rivals Taylor Wimpey and Barratt Developments.
Persimmon said it would continue with essential work only, making partly-built homes safe, where otherwise customers could be left in a vulnerable position.
Tube trains still busy on Wednesday morning
For the third day in a row, pictures have circulated on social media of busy tube trains despite the current UK lockdown.
One person saying he was an NHS worker on his way to “look after immune compromised cancer patients” said social distancing was being made impossible and asked Transport for London (TfL) to “get your shit together”.
On my way to look after immune compromised cancer patients to make sure that they get their chemotherapy. The tube is packed with social distancing impossible 😡 get your shit together TFL. We need more people to stay at home and more trains running in morning and evening peak 😡 pic.twitter.com/TJe6TOrFca— Barry Trimble (@noisybaz) March 25, 2020
Five hundred British Transport Police officers patrolled the railway network on Tuesday to remind passengers only essential travel is permitted.
Concerns about overcrowding on the London Underground sparked a row between the government and Sadiq Khan on Tuesday.
The Tube is operating at around 50% of its normal capacity during peak times.
Health secretary Matt Hancock claimed there is “no good reason” why Transport for London (TfL) reduced Tube frequencies, and it should be running in full so passengers are “spaced out”.
But a spokesperson for the London mayor insisted ministers have been told “countless times” that TfL cannot run a full service due to levels of staff sickness and self-isolation.
- Amazon Marketplace and eBay are being urged to clamp down harder on coronavirus profiteering by sellers, after Which? found many everyday household products being offered at inflated prices.
- A very optimistic Donald Trump said on Tuesday during a Fox News virtual town hall that he hopes to “open up” the economy by Easter. The US president, who has pinned most of his hopes of reelection an economy that is currently being mauled by the coronavirus, made the bold claim despite the number of cases and deaths in the US currently surging.
- India began the world’s largest lockdown on Wednesday, warning citizens to stay inside or risk inviting the pandemic into their homes. He pledged £1.7bn to bolster the country’s beleaguered health care system, PA Media reports.
- Extinction Rebellion (XR) has been swift to distance itself from posters claiming coronavirus is “the cure” and humans the “disease” that have been put up in the east Midlands. A tweet from an account purporting to represent “XR East Midlands” was quickly denounced by a number of genuine XR accounts that claimed it was run by “white supremacists” and a “fash loner who is posing as XR”.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.