Spain eases curbs on children as daily toll drops

    1. Italy records lowest daily death toll for over a month

      Italy has seen its lowest daily death toll since 14 March, with the Civil Protection Agency recording another 260 deaths. It brings the total number of fatalities to 26,644, second only to the USA.

      Today’s figures marked the third successive daily fall in deaths and were sharply down from 415 yesterday.

    2. Are we going outside less?

      Reality Check

      Prof Stephen Powis, the national medical director for NHS England, has said there is a “hint” of a small increase in people driving during the lockdown.

      The government statistics show that the use of transport has plummeted since the end of February. For instance, London bus usage has dropped by around 85%, while the use of the Tube and National Rail is down by 95%.

      However, motor vehicle usage has been creeping up slowly – in the first week of the lockdown this was down 64% but is now only down 59%.

      Similarly, visits to parks and grocery stores have also seen small upticks, according to the latest analysis from Google.

      However, the Google data also shows a significant further decline in visits to workplaces.

      Graph showing decline in travel in the UK
  1. Children enjoy the outdoors again in Spain

    Children in Spain have been enjoying the outdoors on Sunday after being allowed out of their homes for the first time in six weeks.

    Spain has relaxed lockdown rules to allow under-14s to leave their homes each day for a total of one hour between 9am and 9pm.

    They had been banned from leaving their homes completely from 14 March.

    Some restrictions remain, however, preventing the children visiting public parks or venturing more than 1km.

    Children play with parents
    Boy plays with kite
    Child plays at beach
    Family read books outdoors
  2. Could the UK really see another 100,000 deaths?

    Science editor, BBC News

    A new estimate that more than 100,000 people could die of Covid-19 in the UK later this year has made headlines.

    It comes from a modelling study by scientists at Imperial College London and it assesses the risk of one particular scenario.

    The researchers assessed what might happen if everyone was released from lockdown apart from the most vulnerable. Only the elderly and people with underlying health conditions would remain shielded.

    According to Prof Neil Ferguson from Imperial, in an interview with the UnHerd website, these people were most at risk and were also those who most need support, therefore needing to have some interactions with their carers.

    Even if there could be an 80% reduction in the infection risk for that group, his study suggests that would still mean more than 100,000 dying.

    It’s worth pointing out that at the moment, the UK government is giving no indication of how or when any lockdown restrictions might be relaxed. And the study itself has yet to be released – that may happen in the coming days.

    Whatever its conclusions – and these will be hotly debated – the work provides another reminder of the threat from the virus and the extreme difficulty of judging how best to ease the measures to tackle it.

  3. Experts mull options to ease UK lockdown

    Victoria Gill

    Science reporter, BBC News

    Woman walks past a sign thanking NHS staff in London
    Image caption: The UK went into lockdown to prevent the NHS becoming overloaded

    Lockdown was an emergency stop – the only immediately available measure to put the brakes on a virus that outpaced our ability to contain it.

    And it has worked. The best estimates are that the rate of infection in the UK is now at a point where the number of new infections is decreasing. To keep it there, though, the next step has to be a very careful one.

    Prof Neil Ferguson, one of the government’s key scientific advisers, explained in a podcast called UnHerd how taking the brakes off too abruptly would drive that infection rate back up and cost thousands more lives.

    Closed school in Nottingham

    What he and other scientists will do now is create models of different scenarios as we enter a new lockdown phase.

    With the best data they have on this very new disease, they will calculate the impact – on that all-important infection rate – of reopening schools, of easing travel restrictions and of opening up certain types of businesses.

    The post-lockdown restrictions on our lives – and there will be many – will be guided by those careful calculations.

    But it will be down to the government to weigh the risks and the benefits and to tell us what the next phase in our “new normality” will look like.

  4. Paris police seize 140,000 face masks destined for black market

    Two people take a picture while wearing a mask

    Police in France say they have seized 140,000 face masks that were destined for sale on the black market.

    Officers say they discovered the haul when they spotted a businessman unloading the masks from a lorry into a house in St Denis, north of Paris.

    France requisitioned all stocks and production of face masks to equip health workers.

    There have been several seizures of masks in the Paris region since the pandemic began.

  5. What exactly is the UK 100,000 testing target?

    Reality Check

    As the UK government struggles to reach its target to carry out 100,000 coronavirus tests a day by the end of April, it has started to emphasise the capacity to do tests.

    At today’s news conference, Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “We have been ramping up our capacity to do those tests – it currently stands at over 50,000 a day.”

    But the latest daily number of tests actually done is just 29,058 – a minuscule increase on the figure given yesterday.

    In a previous briefing, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he was confident that the government’s coronavirus testing target of 100,000 by the end of the April “will be met in terms of capacity”.

    But when the target was first announced by the Health Secretary Matt Hancock on 2 April it was clearly intended to mean 100,000 tests actually being done a day.

    Graph showing daily number of tests carried out in UK
  6. Analysis: UK lockdown talks going on behind the scenes

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson could possibly lead the daily news conference on Monday but, if not then, it will be pretty soon afterwards.

    As far as I understand, he will be getting briefed by his Downing St team early tomorrow morning and then he will be chairing the Covid-19 meeting, which is a smaller group of cabinet ministers. That is what he used to do before he was off sick.

    Chairing Monday’s meeting is a measure of him saying, “I’m back in charge”.

    From what I’ve been told, and the conversations I’ve had with people in Whitehall and Downing St, the prime minister will proceed with caution when it comes to dealing with the lockdown.

    We would expect an announcement on 7 May, when all this is being reviewed again, and I do think at that stage he will take his foot off the brake ever so slightly.

    But he will move cautiously because he will not want to fuel a second wave of infections.

    Although they haven’t yet set a clear route map out of lockdown, not in the same way as the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales, those discussions are most certainly going on behind the scenes. Talks involving the prime minister have taken place from his country residence Chequers with senior Cabinet ministers.

  7. Woman gang-raped while in unofficial quarantine

    Police in India have arrested three men who are accused of gang-raping a woman who had been unofficially quarantined.

    The woman, a low wage worker, was trying to walk more than 100km (62 miles) to her home in Jaipur, Rajasthan, when she got lost.

    Police spotted her and told her to spend the night in a deserted school building, away from other people just in case she had the virus.

    But she was gang-raped there after dark.

    India’s lockdown was imposed last month leaving tens of thousands of people without jobs. Some have walked for days in desperation to reach their homes.

    Read more about the situation in India.

  8. How sport might look under eased restrictions

    With most of the world’s sport currently on hold, many fans are wondering what their favourite competitions will look like when they are allowed to safely resume.

    Perhaps these pictures from Nicaragua provide a clue.

    Authorities in the Central American country have allowed sporting events to continue during the coronavirus pandemic – but a boxing event held on Saturday looked very different.

    The boxers wore masks during the ring walk and at a pre-bout face off, although they were allowed to remove them in the ring. Referees, judges, the media, fans and ring girls also wore masks.

    Fans had to sit two seats apart and had their temperature checked before entering the arena in the capital Managua.

    Boxers in Nicaragua wear face masks as they prepare for their bout
    Spectators at a Nicaraguan boxing event sat apart to stay socially distant
  9. What we learned from the UK briefing

    • More staff are back at UK supermarkets as absence from illness and self-isolation has more than halved. But there are only a third of the usual number of migrant workers available to pick fresh fruit and vegetables – prompting the government to encourage furloughed workers to help with harvests
    • UK test capacity has reached 50,000 a day – but much of that capacity is still going unused, with only 29,058 tests conducted in the last 24-hour period
    • The environment secretary said “no decisions” had been taken about increasing restrictions on international travellers arriving in the UK, adding that at this stage of the pandemic they are “only a tiny proportion” of the infections
  10. Brad Pitt plays Dr Fauci on Saturday Night Live

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    Long-running US comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live (SNL) tapped Hollywood heartthrob Brad Pitt to play top disease expert Anthony Fauci – a mainstay of many White House coronavirus briefings.

    In the opening sketch, Pitt fact-checks Trump’s claims about the virus.

    “Yes, the president has taken some liberties with our guidelines,” Pitt said. “So tonight, I would like to explain what the president was trying to say.”

    The episode was the second recorded from the comedians’ homes rather than live from New York City’s Rockefeller Center.

    Earlier this month the 79-year-old director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told CNN that he would want Pitt to portray him if he was ever lampooned by SNL.

    At the end of the routine, Pitt removes his silver wig and personally thanks Fauci for his “calm and clarity in this unnerving time”.

  11. US social distancing ‘to continue through the summer’

    Dr Birx listens to Trump speak on Thursday at a coronavirus briefing
    Image caption: Dr Birx listens to Trump speak on Thursday at a coronavirus briefing

    Dr Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus taskforce co-ordinator, has said in a series of US media interviews that social distancing will remain the norm for the next several months.

    “Social distancing will be with us through the summer to really ensure that we protect one another as we move through these phases,” Birx told NBC on Sunday, referring to the three stages of reopening that the federal government has outlined.

    Her comments come after Vice-President Mike Pence said the virus would be largely “behind us” by the 25 May Memorial Day holiday, which signals the unofficial start of summertime in the US.

    On Saturday, Birx told Fox News that new cases and deaths “will be dramatically decreased by the end of May”.

    Video content

    Video caption: Coronavirus: Doctors dismantle Trump’s treatment comments

    Birx on Sunday also criticised the media for its coverage of Trump’s suggestion on Thursday that disinfectants or UV light could be injected to fight off the virus – a comment that he later claimed was “sarcastic”.

    She told CNN that it “bothers” her that “this is still in the news cycle”.

    “I think I’ve made it clear that this was a musing, as you described. But I want us to move on to be able to give information to American people that can help them protect each other,” she added.

  12. Refugees still stranded at sea

    A boat carrying hundreds of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar has been turned away from Malaysia, with the government citing fears over coronavirus.

    One survivor estimated between 20 and 50 refugees died before Bangladeshi coastguards rescued the boat, with witnesses saying they saw bodies “thrown into the sea”.

    It is believed hundreds of refugees are still stranded at sea, while it is unclear if Bangladesh will accept them.

    The refugees, who originally fled persecution in Myanmar, left camps in Bangladesh, according to some accounts.

    Video content

    Video caption: Rohingya crisis: Hundreds of refugees stranded in boats at sea
  13. Daily UK government briefing ends

    Environment Secretary George Eustice has ended the daily briefing which he presented with Prof Stephen Powis, National Medical Director of NHS England.

  14. ‘Conscious decision’ by UK not to close borders

    Asked about reports that the government might introduce quarantine for international travellers arriving in the UK, Mr Eustice says “no decisions” have been made.

    He says that as the UK moves to a new phase, at some point in the future “international travel could become a more significant risk to manage”.

    So far there have been few additional measures at airports because international travel represents “only a tiny proportion” of cases, Mr Eustice says.

    The government had “taken a conscious decision not to close our borders” to “keep trade flowing”.

  15. Furloughed workers asked to help farmers

    Environment Secretary George Eustice says there is no serious disruption to the international flow of food.

    But he says only about a third of the usual number of migrant workers is in the UK to pick fresh fruit and vegetables. He says the government is working with industry to encourage furloughed workers to help with harvests in June.

  16. Delighted’ PM is back but ‘too early’ to review lockdown

    Mr Eustice is asked if when the prime minister is back at work he will follow the first ministers of Scotland and Wales in publishing a lockdown exit plan.

    He says Mr Johnson “has been in all of our thoughts as he faced a very difficult encounter with the virus” and they are “delighted he is back at the helm”.

    But he said it is “too early” to review social distancing, saying the evidence will be examined at the regular three-week review.

    Prof Powis says it is “a continually evolving approach based on emerging science”.

  17. Contact tracing ‘easier with fewer infections’

    On contact tracing, Prof Powis says it will be at its most effective when the infection rate is as low as possible. He says contact tracing is a “tried and tested” way of managing outbreaks but the lower the number of cases, the easier it is to do.

  18. UK test capacity is at 50,000 a day – Eustice

    Mr Eustice is asked about concerns from care homes, which say they still have difficulty obtaining tests – even for residents who have Covid-19 symptoms.

    But the environment secretary says the capacity for testing has now risen to 50,000 a day. He says that “significant numbers” of people in care homes are obtaining tests.