Top story: UK economy ‘could shrink by 15%’
Morning everyone. I’m Martin Farrer and these are the top stories this morning.
Pressure is mounting on ministers to speed up the provision of protective equipment amid fears among NHS staff that they risk catching coronavirus and spreading it to the public at large. As two surgeons became the first doctors to die from the disease in Britain, staff lobby groups attacked continuing shortages of gear such as masks and gowns and there were more calls for increased testing of workers. The UK’s death toll rose to 1,228 over the weekend and Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer, said restrictions on everyday life could last for six months. Cabin crew staff laid off by airlines could be retrained to work in emergency hospitals to help ease personnel shortages.
The coronavirus emergency is expected to reduce UK economic output by a whopping 15%, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research. The unprecedented fall would dwarf the 2.2% reduction seen during the 2008-09 financial crisis. Among the worst-hit sectors will be pubs, shops and restaurants, where thousands of businesses could collapse because of the lockdown rules.
Donald Trump has extended the US lockdown to the end of April after bowing to pressure from medical experts not to try to open up parts of the economy by Easter. He also said that keeping US deaths at 100,000 would be a “very good job” hours after administration expert Anthony Fauci said 200,000 Americans could die. Meanwhile New York passed the grim milestone of 1,000 deaths.
Around the world, almost 34,000 people have died from Covid-19 and 720,000 have been infected. Here is our latest at-a-glance summary and we will have all the developments throughout the day on our coronavirus live blog.
There’s more in our Coronavirus Extra section further down … and here’s where you can find all our coverage of the outbreak – from breaking news to factchecks and advice.
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Student cap – University admissions will be capped this year in order to avoid a free-for-all which could leave some institutions without enough students as the coronavirus wreaks chaos in the higher education sector. It will be the first time numbers have been capped since 2015. The move is designed to offset the expected fall in overseas students, which it is feared could lead to certain universities taking more domestic candidates and leaving other, less prestigious ones with empty lecture theatres.
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Sussex security – The United States will not pay for security for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex after they reportedly moved to California, Donald Trump said on Sunday night. Harry and Meghan are believed to have left Vancouver in Canada for US before the border closed between the two countries last week. Trump tweeted that he was “a great friend and admirer of the Queen and the UK” but his government would not pay for the security costs. The couple denied they had asked the US for help and said they would be footing their own bill.
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Toads saved – The cancellation of fell running races in Yorkshire will likely save hundreds of migrating toads from being squashed underfoot. A toad protection group said hundreds of the creatures have been trampled by fell runners in previous years because the popular “bunny runs” hosted by the Wharfedale Harriers every April take place close to a pond where the toads mate.
Japan and South Korea are extending their entry bans amid a continued spread of the virus. Vietnam has told its biggest cities to prepare for lockdown. Worshippers ignored social distancing advice on Sunday to attend church services from Moscow to Rio on Sunday. In Ireland, the vast majority of people appeared to be obeying the lockdown laws, turning the country’s cities into ghost towns. A growing number of doctors and medical staff in India are being forced to sleep in hospitals after being ostracised by their communities for fear they are carrying the disease.
John Prine, the celebrated American singer-songwriter, is critically ill with coronavirus-like symptoms, his family said. Prine, who has suffered poor health in recent years, was hospitalised on Thursday in Nashville and is now on a ventilator.
And, on a lighter note, an astrophysicist in Australia had to be admitted to hospital fater getting two magnets stuck up his nose while trying to invent a device to warn people to stop touching their face.
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Sir Keir Starmer began his career as a barrister before rising to become the director of public prosecutions. But since his entry into parliament in 2015, he has risen quickly up the ranks to the shadow cabinet’s frontbench. He tells Anushka Asthana why he wants to become Labour leader this week.
Lunchtime read: a virtual guide to the world’s top 10 sights
We could all be forgiven for thinking that we’re never going to be able to go on holiday again. So while we’re in lockdown, check out this virtual guide to some of the world’s most popular destinations. You can visit places from Angkor Wat in Cambodia to Petra in Jordan for that perfect vicarious travel experience.
Sebastian Coe has said the postponement of the Olympics was necessary in order to safeguard the psychological wellbeing of athletes because many were in “mental turmoil” not knowing if the Tokyo Games were to proceed as scheduled. Harry Kane has revealed he will not simply stay at Tottenham “for the sake of it” and would consider his Spurs future if the north London club stopped progressing. An investigation has been launched after pictures of the Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish surfaced online following an incident in which a Range Rover crashed into parked cars. The England and Wales Cricket Board is preparing to unveil an emergency financial package to support the game during the costly delay to the season but pay cuts for centrally contracted players are not being discussed. And Henrik Stenson, the former Open champion whose coach has tested positive for coronavirus, says it may be some time before he is back on the golf course.
Morrisons, the UK’s largest fresh food producer, will ramp up production and donate £10m worth of provisions to food banks across the country. The supermarket chain will increase output of its bakery, egg and fruit and vegetable packing site by an extra hour every day. Asian markets were mostly down again overnight but the FTSE100 is set to open up slightly. The pound is on $1.237 and €1.117.
The mounting threat to NHS staff is the lead for many today with the Guardian headline reading “Pressure to provide equipment grows after two UK doctors die” over a picture of Amged El-Hawrani, one of the doctors to die from Covid-19 this weekend. The Mirror says “NHS hero’s death on the front line”, the i has “New NHS field hospital ready within days” and the Metro compares El-Harwani’s death to the party closed down by police in Derbyshire: “He gave his life … they had a party”.
The Times has the same picture but focuses on “Britain faces 6 months of curbs”, as does the Telegraph – “Return to ‘normal life’ may be six months away” – and the Express – “6 months for Britain to get back to normal”. The FT splash is “Top health official warns of more than 100,000 virus deaths in US”. The Sun’s front page reads “Covidiot” with a story of how Aston Villa footballer Jack Grealish allegedly crashed his car after a late-night party. The Mail has a non-corona story: “Trump: we won’t pay for Megxit”.
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