Friday morning news briefing: Where virus strategy went wrong

Danny Boyle
·5-min read
Boris Johnson, still in isolation while recovering from coronavirus, adds his applause to the national 'clap for carers' tribute to NHS workers - PIPPA FOWLES
Boris Johnson, still in isolation while recovering from coronavirus, adds his applause to the national 'clap for carers' tribute to NHS workers - PIPPA FOWLES

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Systematic failures in pandemic strategy laid bare

It was one of the missed chances. Public health officials in charge of defending Britain from a major pandemic never drew up plans for mass community testing - despite warnings from the World Health Organisation. As ministers face mounting questions over their response to coronavirus, a senior Government adviser has now admitted that "may have been a mistake". Bill Gardner has our full, exclusive report. It comes after Matt Hancock pledged to reach 100,000 coronavirus tests per day by the end of this month as he tries to get a grip on the crisis. Political Editor Gordon Rayner explains Mr Hancock's gamble and Science Editor Sarah Knapton has an analysis of the five-point testing plan. Chief Reporter Robert Mendick reveals that the Government has bought no Covid-19 home testing kits despite Mr Hancock's claims. And Matt finds comedy in the testing blame game for today's cartoon.

As the total number of coronavirus cases worldwide rose to more than one million, the UK death toll stands at 2,921. Government planners now believe British deaths from the pandemic could peak on Easter Sunday - with a target of keeping them below 20,000. Our Coronavirus Live Tracker has the latest confirmed numbers. And… some good news. On the day the huge new medical facility at London's ExCel opens, the NHS has announced where two more Nightingale Hospitals will be created.

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Police told to fine parents if children ignore lockdown

With the Easter holidays starting later today, police are set to step up their approach to children during lockdown. Officers have been told to fine parents who let their offspring out, as it emerges that teenagers are among those leaving home the most. Amid signs strict social distancing measures are beginning to meet resistance, authorities have warned that they will remain in place until June in parts of the country. Here is a reminder of what that means with our ultimate lockdown Q&A. Planning a drive to ease the boredom? A leading motoring lawyer dubbed Mr Loophole has warned motorists who use their cars to make non-essential journeys during the lockdown could be voiding their insurance.

Classic sport moments to replace cancelled events

The BBC is to replay classic moments from British sporting history as it attempts to fill up its schedules in the absence of Wimbledon, the European Football Championships and the Tokyo Olympic Games. One of the most anticipated dramas of the year, the third series of Killing Eve, has also been brought forward in a bid to keep the nation entertained. Arts and Entertainment Editor Anita Singh explains what the BBC is pulling from the archives as it seeks to find "the feelgood factor".

At a glance: More coronavirus headlines

Comment and analysis

You Are Not Alone: Surviving coronavirus lockdown

  1. Excited for Easter | How to make the most of the next two weeks

  2. Taking the bins out in a ballgown | Lockdown turned me into a Crazy Frock Lady

  3. Learning from elders | Grandfather's wartime experiences help me deal with anxiety

Business and money briefing

Job losses | Unemployment in the US is on track to rise to its highest rate since the Great Depression of the Thirties. The number applying for benefits in the week ending March 28 doubled to almost seven million, with warnings up to 20m jobs could be lost. As Tom Rees reports, the jump suggests the rate has already surpassed the financial crisis peak.  

Gallery: Virus fightback around the world

A volunteer from the Spanish Red Cross, wearing personal protective equipment, ready to transfer Covid-19 patients to hospital. Read James Badcock's report from Madrid and view our gallery of world images.

The La Albubilla nursing home in Huesca, Spain. CREDIT: ALVARO CALVO/GETTY IMAGE - ALVARO CALVO/GETTY
The La Albubilla nursing home in Huesca, Spain. CREDIT: ALVARO CALVO/GETTY IMAGE - ALVARO CALVO/GETTY

Also in the news today

When Jezza met Chopper | Labour should not enter a national government with the Conservatives to get the UK through the coronavirus crisis, Jeremy Corbyn has said in one of his final interviews as leader. Mr Corbyn also hinted that he would not be going quietly when he stands down after four and a half years in charge of the Labour party tomorrow. Listen to the full interview by Chief Political Correspondent Christopher Hope in Chopper's Politics Podcast.  

And finally...

Doting notes | Vincent Van Gogh shared a tender relationship with his London landlady, it has emerged. A partial collection of handwritten poems and hymns he penned for her have been pieced together for the first time. Read more from Craig Simpson.