Coronavirus (COVID-19) has quickly spread to 127 countries and has already infected nearly 135,000 people. Several countries stepped up plans in a desperate attempt to limit the spread of the deadly disease, with the UK moving to “delay phase” after a total of 10 deaths and 590 infections were confirmed on Thursday. A number of high-profile figures are now testing positive for coronavirus, including Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, with the couple now in self-isolation.
In China, where the epidemic originated, officials said the disease had peaked and suggested the global spread could be over by June if other nations followed its lead in applying aggressive containment measures.
But there are now huge fears of a huge global recession after stock markets plummeted to record lows on Thursday as the panic around coronavirus intensified and blew gaping holes in world economies.
On Wall Street, stocks slumped around 10 percent in their worst day since the 1987 “Black Monday” crash.
Several sporting events throughout the world have also been cancelled or postponed over the last 24 hours, with the Olympics in Tokyo and the European Football Champions across the continent this summer also at serious risk.
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Coronavirus deaths have surged to 5,000 as 127 countries battle the deadly disease
12.35pm update: EU to set up €37bn investment initiative for bloc’s countries
The European Union will set up a €37billion investment initiative as part of a package of measures to cushion the bloc’s economies from the impact of coronavirus.
Brussels will also give member states flexibility on budget deficits and state aid.
The EU will also guarantee €8billion in loans to 100,000 firms to support the corporate sector.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “I am convinced that the European Union can withstand this shock.
“But each member state needs to live up to its full responsibility and the European Union as a whole needs to be determined, coordinated and united.”
Coronavirus UK: Panic is spreading throughout the world
11.35am update: Downing Street lashes out at criticism from Hunt
Boris Johnson has been briefed on the latest developments surrounding the coronavirus outbreak by the chief medical officer and the chief scientific adviser.
the Prime Minister’s official spokesman also responded to criticism from Jeremy Hunt over the Government’s response.
He said: “We are very clear where we take our advice from. That is from the chief scientific adviser and the chief medical officer.
“Our aim is to reduce the peak of the outbreak so the NHS will be in stronger state as the weather improves.”
11.31am update: China sends coronavirus medical supplies to Italy
Italy has received a planeload of medical supplies, including masks and respirators, from China.
A team of nine Chinese medical staff arrived late on Thursday with some 30 tonnes of equipment on a flight organised by the Chinese Red Cross.
Francesco Rocca, head of the Italian Red Cross, said: “In this moment of great stress, of great difficulty, we are relieved to have this arrival of supplies.
“It is true that it will help only temporarily, but it is still important.
We have a desperate need for these masks right now. We need respirators that the Red Cross will donate to the government.
“This is for sure a really important donation for our country.”
11.27am update: Global coronavirus deaths surpass 5,000
More than 5,000 people around the world have now died from coronavirus, as the number of new deaths surges.
Iran has reported 85 new deaths from the killer virus, with 1,289 new cases.
Total deaths now stand at 514 in the country, with a total of 11,364 cases.
Currently, there have been 106 new deaths and 3,118 new cases reported on Friday, bringing the totals to 3,118 and 137,674 respectively.
11.20am update: Premier League suspended until April 4
All top-flight football matches in England, including the Premier League, have been suspended until April 4.
The Premier League, FA, EFL and WSL said in a joint statement: “Following a meeting of shareholders today, it was unanimously decided to suspend the Premier League with the intention of returning on April 4.”
11.12am update: Tory MP self-quarantines following meeting with Australian Interior Minister
Conservative MP James Brokenshire has placed himself into self-quarantine following the news that Australian Interior Minister Peter Dutton has tested positive for coronavirus.
He posted a statement in Twitter which read: “I am very sorry to hear that Australian Interior Minister Peter Dutton has tested positive for coronavirus & hope he makes a speedy recovery.
“I had a breakfast meeting with Peter in Washington last week as well as joining him for a 90 minute round table event at the white House on online child safety and a subsequent press conference.
“Although I am feeling fit and well and have no obvious symptoms, from a precautionary principle I have decided to work from home for the next week.”
11.03am update: England cricket test series in Sri Lanka postponed
England’s two-match test series in Sri Lanka starting next week has been postponed.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said in a statement: “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic worsening globally, and after discussions with Sri Lanka Cricket, we have made the decision to return our players to the UK and postpone the forthcoming test series between Sri Lanka and England.
“At this time, the physical and mental wellbeing of our players and support teams is paramount. We will now look to bring them home to their families as soon as possible.
“These are completely unprecedented times, and decisions like this go beyond cricket.”
11.01am update: Trump says coronavirus testing ‘will soon happen on a very large scale basis
US President Donald Trump has said coronavirus testing in the US will soon happen on a large scale, but added no further detail.
He wrote in a tweet: “The changes have been made and testing will soon happen on a very large scale basis.
“All Red Tape has been cut, ready to go!”
Boris Johnson’s official spokesman hit back at criticism from Jeremy Hunt
10.50am update: France suspends rugby and football competitions
The French rugby federation has suspended all of its competitions.
The country’s Six Nations clash against Ireland that was initially scheduled to take place in Paris this weekend but was postponed earlier this week.
French Rugby President Bernard Laporte said in a statement: “All championships, of all categories without exception, are suspended, as well as all activities of the Rugby Schools in order to effectively combat the spread of COVID-19.
“We ask our entire network to scrupulously respect these instructions.”
France’s top flight football leagues – Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 – have also been suspended until further notice.
10.40am update: UEFA postpones next week’s Champions League and European League matches
UEFA has postponed all Champions League and Europa League matches due to take place next week.
The football governing body said in a statement: “In the light of developments due to the spread of COVID-19 in Europe and related decisions made by different governments, all UEFA club competitions matches scheduled next week are postponed.”
10.15am update: Everton football squad self-isolate as player reports coronavirus symptoms
Everton Football Club’s first team squad and coaching staff are self-isolating after a player reported symptoms of coronavirus.
The club said in a statement: “Everton Football Club can confirm that, as a precautionary measure, its entire first-team squad and coaching staff are undertaking a period of self-isolation following medical advice.
The step has been taken after a first-team player reported symptoms consistent with coronavirus. The club is in regular contact with the player in question and is monitoring the wellbeing of all players and staff.”
The Premier League are under pressure to suspend the season, and are holding an emergency meeting on Friday for further talks.
Donald Trump said coronavirus testing in the US will soon happen on a large scale
9.56am update: London Underground driver tests positive for coronavirus
The man, who works on the Jubilee line, has been off work this week after returning from holiday in Vietnam, sources told the PA news agency.
An internal message to staff said the driver, based at the North Greenwich depot, had been self-isolating but had tested positive for Covid-19.
A memo said: “The operator is receiving support from health services and is continuing to follow Public Health England (PHE) advice to self-isolate.
“The train operator has recently returned from a trip abroad, where it is thought the illness may have been contracted.
A Transport for London spokesman said: “The safety of our staff and customers is our top priority and we are taking all necessary precautions.
“The areas where the driver worked are being cleaned, including the depot and the trains, in line with guidance from Public Health England with whom we are working closely.”
9.32am update: Schools boss warns it would be ‘unthinkable’ for GSCEs not to go ahead this year
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School & College Leaders (ASCL) said his 19,000 members are doing “everything (they) can” to keep schools open.
Asked about the possibility of cancelling GCSEs, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think if you’re a Year 11 student and you’ve got your GCSEs coming up and they are important to you because they are going to decide whether you go into sixth form or whether you go to college, it would be unthinkable to do that unless it was a situation we were forced into.
“What we are really saying today is let us in schools control what we can.
“Let’s focus on learning, let’s focus on revision, start thinking about whether there are some revision resources needed if students have to continue that at home.
“And what we are saying is the regulator, which has an important role in co-ordinating exams, could help us to cut through some of the swirling rumours about whether exams are going to be brought forward or pushed back into September.
“What we know is they are scenario-planning on this and (they can) give some reassurance to youngsters that we are doing everything we can to make sure those A-levels and those GCSEs one way or another will go ahead.”
A London Underground driver for the Jubilee line has tested positive for coronavirus
9.24am update: International Development Secretary does not have coronavirus
Anne-Marie Trevelyan has tested negative for coronavirus, a spokesman for the Cabinet minister has confirmed.
The spokesman told the PA news agency: “I can confirm she was tested for coronavirus and that it came back negative.
“On the advice of doctor, she is self-isolating for a further seven days as a precaution.”
9.21am update: UK prison boss warns inmates will die as coronavirus outbreak worsens
Andrea Albutt, President of the Prison Governors Association, said governors would “attempt to keep (family) visits going for as long as they can”.
She said they would continue to look at the public health risk to prisoners and managing staff shortages due to employees self-isolating or being ill.
Ms Albutt told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We have approximately 85,000 people in our prisons and prisons are overcrowded, so when you have a lot of people in a small area, transmission of disease will obviously be easier.
“Coupled with that, we have a significant ageing population – the vulnerable groups, the people the Government keeps telling us will be more susceptible and more ill with this virus.
“Listening to the Government’s specialists yesterday, they are saying the mortality rate is below 1% but in the vulnerable groups it is higher.
“Well, in prisons we don’t completely mirror society with our demographic of prisoners so we do have a higher number of people in the vulnerable groups, so they will be ill and there will be deaths.”
9.18am update: Australian Home Affairs Minister tests positive for coronavirus
Peter Dutton has tested positive for coronavirus.
He said in a statement issued by his office: “This morning I woke up with a temperature and sore throat.
“I immediately contacted the Queensland Department of Health and was subsequently tested for COVID-19. I was advised by Queensland Health this afternoon that the test had returned positive.
“I feel fine and will provide an update in due course.”
Coronavirus UK: Jeremy Hunt has lashed out at the lack of urgency from the Government
9.15am update: German state of Bavaria to close schools
The German state of Bavaria will close all schools and nurseries from Monday until the start pot the Easter break on April 6, dpa news agency reported, citing state government sources.
Germany has been urged to follow the majority of European countries in shutting schools to help contain the spread of coronavirus, but only regional governments can make that decision.
The western state of Saarland also said on Friday that it would close its schools.
9.11am update: Mainland China confirms fall in new cases
Mainland China confirmed eight new cases of coronavirus infections on Thursday – down from 15 cases a day earlier.
This brings the total accumulated number of confirmed cases in mainland China so far to 80,813.
The death toll from the outbreak in mainland China had reached 3,176 as of the end of Thursday.
9.08am update: Disney World Florida and Disneyland Paris CLOSE amid coronavirus in major tourism blow
Disney is closing its flagship theme park resort Walt Disney World Florida and Disneyland Paris due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
The news comes after Disney closed its Disneyland resort in California earlier on Thursday.
This is in order to protect both the employees and guests at the park.
Disney said that there have been no reported cases of coronavirus at Disneyland Resort.
However, the parks were being shut down in accordance with an executive order from California Governor Gavin Newsom banning large public gatherings.
A Disney spokesperson said: “In an abundance of caution and in the best interest of our guests and employees, we are proceeding with the closure of our theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Disneyland Paris Resort.”
9.05am update: South Korea coronavirus cases near 8,000
South Korea reported 110 new coronavirus cases on Friday, taking the country’s total infections to 7,979.
The number of new cases is slightly down from the 114 recorded on Thursday.
9am update: Coronavirus outbreak hits motor racing and cricket in Australia
The Australian Formula One Grand Prix has been cancelled and a cricket series between Australia and New Zealand will be played behind closed doors.
Australia has recorded 126 infections and three deaths from coronavirus but authorities expect this to increase significantly in the coming weeks.
8.57am update: Olympic Games organisers dig heels in over holding event
Tokyo 2020 organisers have sid they are moving ahead with preparations to hold “safe and secure” Olympic Games on schedule.
US President Donald Trump had said officials should consider delaying the event for one year amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Japan is attempting to put to bed speculation the event, which has cost at least $ 12 billion in preparations and attracted more than $ 3 billion in domestic sponsorships, could be cancelled or postponed.
The organisers told Japan’s public broadcaster NHK: “The Tokyo 2020 organising committee wants to move ahead with preparations for a safe and secure Games this July.”
Coronavirus UK: There have been nearly 600 confirmed cases throughout the country
8.46am update: Kim Jong-Un makes second public appearance in week despite coronavirus fears
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has made his second public appearance this week to oversee military drills, despite concerns about the possible spread of the coronavirus.
He was pictured watching the artillery drills without any protective gear, unlike all the aides accompanying him, who were wearing protective masks.
The country, which is sandwiched between China and South Korea, has not confirmed any coronavirus cases, but has stepped up border checks and imposed quarantine measures.
8.31am update: Jeremy Hunt launches attack on Boris Johnson’s ‘concerning’ handling of coronavirus
Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has condemned the Government’s procedures to protect the country from coronavirus.
Boris Johnson advised that anyone with coronavirus symptoms must stay at home for seven continuous days.
The Prime Minister also advised that people over 70 with underlying medical conditions should avoid going on cruises, as well as school trips abroad should cease.
He issued the urgent advice after more than 590 people have now been diagnosed with the deadly disease in the UK.
While some experts agree with the government’s approach, others do not think they go far enough. Mr Hunt voiced his concerns during an interview on BBC Newsnight.
When asked about the Government’s plans not to cancel large gatherings yet, Mr Hunt said: “I think it is surprising and concerning that we’re not doing any of it at all when we have just four weeks before we get to the stage that Italy is at.
“You would have thought that every single thing we do in that four weeks would be designed to slow the spread of people catching the virus.”
The former Health Secretary added that he was “personally surprised that we’re still allowing external visits to care homes”.
Coronavirus UK: Sir Patrick Vallance has issued a new warning
8.24am update: St Patrick’s Day parade in London cancelled
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “London’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations are an annual highlight for so many people.
“So I am incredibly disappointed that this year’s even has had to be cancelled as key performers and parade participants are no longer able to take part due to the ongoing threat of coronavirus.
“London’s Irish community makes a huge contribution to our great city. I recognise that the unavailability of key performers and parade participants leaves no choice but to cancel.
“I know this will be extremely disappointing news for so many Londoners and visitors to our capital.”
8.20am update: COVID-19 to become ‘yearly virus’ 60% Britons must build ‘immunity’
Coronavirus is likely to become a “yearly” occurrence and Britons will only develop “herd immunity” if 60 percent of the population contracts COVID-19, Sir Patrick Vallance warned.
Asked how many Britons will need to get coronavirus before herd immunity comes into play, Sir Patrick said: “Probably about 60 percent or so.
“60 percent is the sort of figure you need to get herd immunity.
“We think this virus is likely to be one that comes back year on year, become like a seasonal virus.”
Sir Patrick added: “Communities will become immune to it and that’s going to be an important part of controlling this longer term.
“One aim of the Government strategy is to reduce transmission, make sure we end up with a broader epidemic, not a very sharp one that overloads the system.”