In a letter to leaders across the House of Commons, the Prime Minister said “we have a duty to work together at this moment of national emergency”. Mr Johnson said the meeting will take place alongside the chief medical officer and chief scientific adviser to discuss the current lockdown measures, how to increase coronavirus testing and provide further economic support to businesses and individuals.
The Prime Minister said: “As party leaders, we have a duty to work together at this moment of national emergency.
“Therefore, I would like to invite all leaders of opposition parties in Parliament to a briefing with myself, the chief medical officer and chief scientific adviser next week.
“I want to listen to your views and update you on the measures we have taken so far, such as rapidly expanding testing and providing economic support to businesses and individuals across the country.
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Coronavirus UK: Boris Johnson is understood to be facing a revolt in the Tory party
“The Government I lead will act in the national interest at all times and be guided by the best scientific evidence, and of course we will continue to engage constructively with all political parties on the national effort to defeat this pandemic.
“I have no doubt that – as we have so many times in the past – the people of the United Kingdom will rise to this current challenge, and we will beat coronavirus together.”
The scheduled meeting comes after the Health Secretary Matt Hancock insisted the UK would stop at nothing to save lives following suggestions Britain could follow the lead of France by deploying officers to railway stations and motorway checkpoints.
Coronavirus UK: Matt Hancock has warned the UK could impose tougher restrictions
He said: “We rule nothing out in terms of further social distancing, if that is needed, or further enforcement of social distancing.”
The threat of tougher measures comes as the Department for Health confirmed 684 more people died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus – the highest daily increase since the outbreak began.
The total number of COVID-19 fatalities in the UK now stands at 3,605.
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11.20am update: Death toll in Spain increases by 809
The number of people who have died from coronavirus in Spain has increased by 809 in the past 24 hours.
The number of fatalities from COVID-19 rose from 10,935 to 11,744.
11.00am update: 4,000 UK prisoners to be released to control coronavirus
Up to 4,000 prisoners in England and Wales are to be temporarily released from jail in an effort to try and control the spread of coronavirus.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said the selected low-risk offenders will be electronically tagged and temporarily released on licence in stages, although they can be recalled at the first sign of concern.
It is seen as a way to avoid thousands of prisoners, many of whom share cells, from becoming infected.
The move comes as 88 prisoners and 15 staff have tested positive for Covid-19.
10.10am update: Boris invites rival leaders to urgent briefing
Boris Johnson has invited opposition leaders to an urgent coronavirus briefing next week in order tackle the “national emergency”.
The letter read: “Coronavirus is the biggest threat this county has faced in decades – and we are not alone. All over the world we are seeing the devastating impact of this invisible killer.
“We are working to a scientifically-led, step-by-step action plan – taking the right measures at the right time. We know this will not be a short battle – beating coronavirus will take months, not weeks. But the Government is keeping all the current restrictions, and any further action that might be required, under constant review and they will be relaxed if and when the evidence shows we are able to.
“Our message to the British public is clear: stay at home, in order to protect the NHS and save lives.
“As party leaders, we have a duty to work together at this moment of national emergency. Therefore, I would like to invite all leaders of opposition parties in Parliament to a briefing with myself, the chief medical officer and chief scientific adviser next week. I want to listen to your views and update you on the measures we have taken so far, such as rapidly expanding testing and providing economic support to businesses and individuals across the country.
“The Government I lead will act in the national interest at all times and be guided by the best scientific evidence, and of course we will continue to engage constructively with all political parties on the national effort to defeat this pandemic. I have no doubt that – as we have so many times in the past – the people of the United Kingdom will rise to this current challenge, and we will beat coronavirus together.”
9.45am update: Hunt says increasing testing is the key to ending lockdown
Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said increasing the number of coronavirus tests is the key to ending the UK-wide lockdown.
Mr Hunt said: “It’s not the test in itself, it’s what the test then allows you to do: to quarantine the person who has virus and to track down the people that they’ve been in touch with, to test them, to see who they’ve been in touch with, to quarantine them if necessary.
“That approach, we can now see, is by far the most effective at suppressing the virus.
“If we can ramp up the testing in line with the ambitions laid out by the Health Secretary, then that is the key for our exit route.”
9.05am update: Professor says lockdown could last until May
Professor Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London, has said the UK-wide lockdown may not be lifted until the end of May.
He told the BBC “We want to move to a situation where at least by the end of May that we’re able to substitute some less intensive measures, more based on technology and testing, for the complete lockdown we have now.”
8.50am update: Expert warns of ‘pessimistic scenario’ if Britons ignore rules this weekend
Professor Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London and author of a report which warned of mass deaths if the UK did not introduce strict controls, warned the number of cases will increase if Britons ignore restrictions this weekend.
Asked what would happen if people flout the social distancing rules this weekend, he told the BBC: “That moves us to a slightly more pessimistic scenario.
“We still think things will plateau but we’ll be at quite high levels of infection for weeks and weeks rather than seeing quite a rapid decline as the type seen in China.”
8.35am update: Pop star Pink recovering from COVID-19
American pop singer Pink s recovering after testing positive for coronavirus.
The Grammy Award-winner said she and her three-year-old son Jameson had shown symptoms of Covid-19 and that she tested positive.
Posting on Twitter, she said they had since been re-tested and were “thankfully negative”.
The 40-year-old said she is donating £815,000 ($ 1million) to emergency funds.
8.20am update: First case announced on remote British territory
The Falkland Islands has recorded its first case of COVID-19, with an inpatient in the British overseas territory’s only hospital currently in isolation.
The patient, who has not been named, was admitted to King Edward Memorial Hospital from the Mount Pleasant Complex on March 31 after becoming unwell, with medical staff subsequently observing a range of COVID-19 like symptoms.
Dr Rebecca Edwards, the remote archipelago’s Chief Medical Officer said: “We knew the day would come when we would have our first confirmed case, and in some respects we are fortunate that we have been COVID-19 free until now, as we have taken this time to plan our approach within the hospital and also from a wider perspective.”
READ MORE: Falklands coronavirus CONFIRMED: First case announced on remote British territory
8.00am update: Dolly the Sheep researchers working on COVID-19 cure
Scientists responsible for cloning Dolly the Sheep more than two decades ago are reportedly working on a potential treatment for Covid-19 using immune cells from young and healthy volunteers.
Researchers from TC Biopharm, who successfully cloned Dolly the Sheep in Edinburgh in 1996, have used the new therapy – which uses immunity-building cell transfusions – to successfully treat cancer.
Dr Brian Kelly, senior strategic medical adviser to TC Biopharm, told The Daily Telegraph: “One of the key challenges of fighting viral infection is to develop something that is going to attack the infected cells and not the normal cells.
“So the solution that we came up with was to look at the body’s natural defences to viral infection.
“In patients who have successfully fought a viral infection, they have expanded their own immune system and that persists after that to stop them becoming infected again.”