Coronavirus: 5 updates from weekend as Italy goes into lockdown and Tesco rations food

·4-min read
People wearing protective masks are seen at Malpensa airport near Milan, Italy, March 9, 2020. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo
Passengers wearing protective masks at Malpensa airport near Milan in Italy, where much of the country is in lockdown because of coronavirus (Reuters)

The fight to combat the coronavirus continued at the weekend, as Italy went into lockdown and Tesco supermarkets began rationing food items.

The world’s governments and health authorities are locked in a daily battle to manage the spread of Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

According to John Hopkins University, there have been 110,148 confirmed global cases of Covid-19, and 3,826 deaths worldwide. The number of confirmed recoveries is 62,057.

In the UK, the third death from the coronavirus was announced on Sunday, and the number of cases reached 279.

Here is a round-up of the major developments from the weekend in the battle against the coronavirus.

Italy goes into lockdown and Foreign Office advises against travel

Up to 16 million people were placed under quarantine in northern Italy on Sunday.

Those living in Lombardy and 14 other provinces can only travel with special permission, in a move that affects both Milan and Venice.

The Foreign Office advised against all but essential travel to the areas of Italy affected.

More than a quarter of Italy’s population is affected by the quarantine.

The number of deaths from coronavirus in Italy jumped by 133 in one day to a total of 366.

Read more: Foreign Office advises against travel to northern Italy

Tesco and other supermarkets start rationing amid panic-buying

Supermarkets have placed restrictions on items including pasta, antibacterial wipes and hand soap in a bid to prevent shoppers from stockpiling.

Tesco has almost entirely sold out of dried pasta online and has now introduced a five item limit on several products, including long-life milk and antibacterial wipes and gels.

A general view of an empty shelve with toilet tissues is seen  in Waitrose, Sheffield, UK as shoppers due to panic buying of essential goods during the coronavirus outbreak , in Sheffield , on 8th of March 2020.  (Photo by Giannis Alexopoulos/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Empty shelves have become a common sight in UK supermarkets as coronavirus cases rise (Getty Images)

No other supermarket has resorted to rationing food, but the majority are now limiting antibacterial gels to two per customer or have sold out entirely.

But the government's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said there is "absolutely no reason" for the British public to panic-buy.

Read more: Tesco rations food amid coronavirus panic-buying

Third patient dies in the UK as number of cases rises to 279

A third patient has died in the UK after testing positive for Covid-19.

The man, who had underlying health problems and was in his 60s, died at North Manchester General Hospital having recently returned from Italy.

A spokesman for the hospital said: “We can confirm that sadly a patient being treated for Covid-19 has died at our specialist regional Infectious Diseases unit at North Manchester General Hospital.”

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 07: People wear medical masks as a precaution against coronavirus in central London, England on March 07, 2020. The number of coronavirus cases in the UK has reached 206 today. (Photo by Ilyas Tayfun Salci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
People wearing medical masks as a precaution against coronavirus in central London on Saturday (Getty Images)

Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said: “I am very sorry to report that a third patient in England who tested positive for Covid-19 has sadly died.

The total number of confirmed cases in the UK rose to 279, including five new cases in Northern Ireland.

Read more: Third patient dies in UK after testing positive for coronavirus

Spring temperatures could help in fight against coronavirus

There are hopes that a warmer-than-usual spring in the UK could help health services struggling to deal with the spread of the coronavirus.

Forecasters are predicting higher temperatures this spring, which could help slow the spread of the virus and also free up beds taken by those suffering from flu and other bugs associated with winter.

The Met Office’s three-month forecast said: “For March-April-May as a whole, above-average temperatures are more likely than below-average temperatures.”

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty has previously said that dealing with an outbreak would be helped by “putting it back in time” into summer.

Read more: Warm spring could help in fight against coronavirus

British volunteers to be infected with coronavirus to help develop vaccine

Volunteers from the UK are set to be deliberately infected with coronavirus in the race to develop a vaccine.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the Mologic Laboratory in the Bedford Technology Park near Bedford, Britain March 6, 2020. Jack Hill/Pool via REUTERS
Prime minister Boris Johnson has pledged a further £46 million into research to fight the coronavirus (Reuters)

Up to 24 volunteers will be paid £3,500 to take part in the trial, which will see them infected with the coronavirus and banned from physical contact with the outside world for two weeks.

Those taking part will be held in a special quarantine lab in east London owned by medical testing company Hvivo, according to The Times.

Read more: Volunteers to be injected with coronavirus