Coronavirus LIVE: UK deaths at 29,427 as lockdown prof Neil Ferguson resigns and furlough scheme wind down planned – The Sun

CORONAVIRUS scientist Prof Neil Ferguson resigned after 'breaking lockdown rules to meet his married lover'.

Meanwhile, the Chancellor  Rishi Sunak is considering cutting the 80 per cent wage subsidy to 60 per cent, which would cut income by up to £625 a month. 

The UK now officially has the most coronavirus fatalities in Europe – but fears remain that the latest figures may be even higher.

Over  6,000 people have died in care homes across England and Wales – meaning that almost a third of all deaths from Covid-19 have been in care homes.

12 different strains of the deadly virus have now been found in Britain, with one unique to the UK.

The latest death toll as of Tuesday stands at 29,427 people with UK now having the second highest death toll in the world behind the US.

Brits were given hope that an end to lockdown was near after it emerged that two of the Government's five tests for easing restrictions have been passed.

The nation is now waiting with baited breath for an announcement on lockdown restrictions, which are set to be reviewed on May 7.

Follow our coronavirus live blog for all the latest news and updates.

  • ITV FURLOUGHS 800 STAFF

    ITV has announced that it will furlough 800 staff members – around 15% of its workforce – in a bid to save £60 million during the coronavirus crisis.

    Carolyn McCall, ITV chief executive, said: “ITV has taken swift and decisive action to manage and mitigate the impact of Covid-19 by focusing on our people and their safety, and by continuing to reduce costs and tightly manage our cashflow and liquidity.”

    She added: “We are now very focused on emerging from this crisis in a strong position, continuing to offer advertisers effective marketing opportunities and making preparations to restart productions safely.”

  • FERGUSON MADE 'RIGHT DECISION' TO RESIGN, MINISTER SAYS

    Security minister James Brokenshire said Professor Neil Ferguson has “made the right decision” in resigning from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies.

    He told Sky News: “Professor Ferguson I think has obviously made his statement underlying that there's no excuse for not following the social distancing rules and I think he's made the right decision here.

    “The work of Sage continues and obviously we will continue to be informed by that group and the experts that provide that support to the Government.”

    He continued: “He (Prof Ferguson) acknowledged that he was wrong to take the action that he did, he very clearly said in his statement.

  • ALL NHS STAFF TO BE TESTED

    ALL NHS staff will be regularly screened for Covid even if they do not show symptoms, Matt Hancock announced yesterday.

    The Health Secretary said regular tests are being rolled out nationally to part of the effort to muzzle the disease and protect frontline staff.

    It comes after a study by Imperial College London said health staff should be screened weekly for coronavirus to slash transmission rates by around a third.

  • ASHHWORTH: DID UK LOCKDOWN TOO LATE?

    The Labour Health Secretary also questioned why the UK has possibly the highest Covid-19 death rate in Europe.

    Mr Ashworth queried whether the UK failed to lockdown early enough at the start of the outbreak, citing a Liverpool Champions League match against Atletico Madrid on March 11 that could have helped spread the deadly bug.

    Mr Ashworth told GMB: “People expect answers, people want to know if we went into lockdown too late.

    “Why we weren't testing more earlier on. Why we didn't stop flights coming in.

    “For example yesterday the Chief Scientific adviser said in early March we imported a lot of cases from Spain and Italy.

    “That was the same time the Liverpool Atletico Madrid game was on.”

  • ASHWORTH DEMANDS HANCOCK APOLOGY

    SHADOW Health Secretary Jon Ashworth has urged Matt Hancock to apologise to Labour health minister Rosena Allin-Khan for telling the Labour MP to “watch her tone”.

    Mr Hancock made the remark to Ms Allin-Khan, who is working as an A&E doctor on the coronavirus frontline, after she asked whether a lack of testing had cost lives in the Commons yesterday.

    Speaking on GMB this morning, Mr Ashworth said: “The politician who got the tone wrong was Matt Hancock.

    “He should graciously apologise to Rosena.Because Rosena is not only a brilliant politician…she is a A&E doctor on the frontline.

    “What she was bringing to the House of Commons yesterday was her direct experience of NHS staff on the frontline as they are dealing with this horrific disease that is Covid-19.”

  • UP TO 7.9M BRITS 'MAT BE INFECTED'

    A GERMAN study of the country's death rate could mean that as many as 7.9million Brits have been infected with the coronavirus.

    The research paper by the University of Bonn suggests that the true infection total may be more than 40 times the official figures in the UK, and ten times higher in Germany.

    The researchers studied the town Gangelt – one of the worst impacted in Germany –  to calculate that coronavirus infections have a death rate of 0.37 per cent.

  • UK 'SHOULD AVOID SECOND WAVE'

    BRITAIN is set to avoid a second deadly wave of coronavirus after lockdown, says the nation’s top scientist.

    Though the UK has now passed Italy to record the highest death toll in Europe, Sir Patrick Vallance told MPs he was “optimistic”.

    The chief scientific adviser explained: “I think if we do test, track and tracing well, and we keep the social distancing measures at the right level, we should be able to avoid a second wave.”

  • FURLOUGH 'TO WIND DOWN'

    ONLY the most financially desperate workers would be kept on the Government’s wage support scheme under draft plans to wind it down after June, The Sun can reveal.

    Rishi Sunak is looking at targeting the furlough scheme at certain age groups and the worst-hit sectors as part of plans to gradually wean workers off the state-subsidised wage support.

    The Chancellor is also considering cutting the 80 per cent wage subsidy to 60 per cent, which would cut income by up to £625 a month. The scheme could then be reduced even further over coming months – encouraging people to look for new jobs.

    The changes being considered are focused on “incentivising work,” a source said.

    Mr Sunak is expected to announce how the job retention scheme will change after June next week.

  • SKY HIGH

    AIRLINE tickets could rise by a whopping 50 per cent when flights resume, an industry body warned.

    The International Air Transport Association (Iata) said only four of 122 airlines would break even if they kept their middle seats empty to follow social distancing measures.

    It said a hike in air fares is “inevitable”.

    Meanwhile, the airline industry is in a “death spiral” and needs government support to protect jobs, the British Airline Pilots' Association (Balpa) has said.

  • CORONATION STREET TO BE HIT BY COVID-19

    CORONATIONS Street characters will be hit by the coronavirus crisis when filming starts again, its producer said.

    Iain MacLeod said the Covid-19 pandemic wouldn't “dominate every single story”.

    He didn't say if any characters will catch the virus, but they are expected to be seen taking precautions like washing their hands.

    Filming of the long-running ITV soap opera was suspended during Britain's lockdown.

  • CORONAVIRUS: THE LATEST UPDATES

    • Boris adviser resigns after breaking rules to meet married lover: The scientist whose advice led to Boris Johnson putting Britain in lockdown has resigned from his advisory position after he broke social distancing rules to meet his married lover. Neil Ferguson allowed the woman to visit him at home during the lockdown while lecturing the public on the need for strict social distancing.
    • UK may allow picnics with 'bubble' of family and friends: Brits could be allowed to enjoy picnics in the park with their close family and pals under proposals to ease the lockdown. Ministers are looking at letting people meet up with a small “bubble” of their friends and relatives.
    • Researcher 'on the verge' of COVID-19 breakthrough murdered: A coronavirus researcher who was "on the verge" of making a breakthrough in the pandemic fight has been killed in a suspected murder-suicide. Dr. Bing Liu, 37, was found dead in his Pennsylvania home on Saturday from multiple gunshot wounds, including one to the head, according to cops.
    • US task force winding down, Trump says: President Trump has confirmed he will be winding down the coronavirus task force in the coming week despite the US death toll topping 70,000. Led by Mike Pence, the team has helped guide Americans through the pandemic for more than three months.
    • Philippine TV network shut down: Philippine church and business leaders expressed alarm Wednesday over a government agency’s shutdown of the country’s largest TV and radio network, which has been a major provider of news on the coronavirus pandemic.
    • US speedway graduation: Speedway High School will hold this year’s graduation ceremony at the nearby Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Superintendent Kyle Trebley made the announcement on the town’s Facebook page after speedway officials agreed to host the event.

    GEORGIA HOSPITAL RISKING PATIENTS' LIVES: WHISTLEBLOWER

    A Georgia hospital suffering a shortage of personal protective equipment is placing patients and doctors at risk of coronavirus by resuming elective surgeries, a whistleblower has warned.

    A letter signed by doctors was sent to the heads of Grady Hospital in Atlanta warning that surgeries without PPE risks medics infecting their own patients with the deadly bug.

    The document, sent late last month, was signed by doctors at the trauma hospital, which mostly serves uninsured, low-income patients of color.

    COVID-19 SURVIVOR: I HAD FEVER FOR 50 STRAIGHT DAYS

    Some coronavirus survivors are suffering for weeks – and are still sick even after they test negative for the virus.

    Kate Porter, 35, said that despite no longer having the virus, her “fever and sinus tachycardia tell a different story.”

    She’s been tweeting about her experience, and last week wrote: “Helplessly sad isn’t even the right description at this point.”

    Porter told NBC News she’s had a fever nearly every single day for the past 50 days, and is questioning if her situation is “permanent.”

    RESEARCHER 'ON THE VERGE' OF COVID-19 BREAKTHROUGH MURDERED

    A Chinese coronavirus researcher “on the verge” of making a breakthrough in the pandemic fight has been killed in a suspected murder-suicide.

    Dr. Bing Liu, 37, was found dead in his Pennsylvania home on Saturday from multiple gunshot wounds, including one to the head, according to cops.

    The body of a second man, Hao Gu, 46, was found in a nearby car in Ross Township.

    Cops believe Gu died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

    DOCTOR SUSPENDED AFTER FAILING TO SOCIAL DISTANCE

    A doctor caught defying COVID-19 social distancing guidelines during an anti-lockdown rally will not be allowed to see patients for the “foreseeable future.”

    Cardiologist David Murdock was slapped with the punishment after he was called out on social media for his behavior at a recent Open Wisconsin Now protest.

    Kevin Rusch saw the photo on Facebook and shared it, cautioning people to go to the hospital where Murdock worked “at your own risk.”

    Dr Murdock was blasted on social media, and was placed on leave for one week by the Aspirus medical group.

    ICONIC US SPEEDWAY TO HOST GRADUATION CEREMONY

    Speedway High School will hold this year’s graduation ceremony at the nearby Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

    Superintendent Kyle Trebley made the announcement on the town’s Facebook page after speedway officials agreed to host the event.

    The historic 2.5-mile oval just a short stroll from the high school has an estimated 235,000 permanent seats — and more than enough space to safely social distance.

    Trebley says other details are still being worked out for the May 30 event.

    TRUMP DECLINES TO WEAR COVID-19 MASK AT MASK FACTORY

    President Trump declined to wear a coronavirus mask during his visit to a mask making factory in Arizona.

    Despite CDC guidelines recommending masks are worn in public, and indicating prior to the tour he might don a face covering, President Trump appeared barefaced.

    Honeywell CEO Darius Adamczyk did not wear a mask either, and nor did those guiding Trump around the facility.

    A sign nearby explicitly stated face masks were required.

    CORONA HITS CORONATION STREET

    Coronavirus will feature in future episodes of Coronation Street, but will not “dominate” the soap's storylines, its producer has confirmed.

    The long-running programme will reflect the real world by showing its characters following hand-washing protocol, while Weatherfield's restaurants will shift to offering food deliveries.

    ITV has halted production on Coronation Street and Emmerdale and reduced its transmission of both soaps to make the episodes which have already been recorded last longer.

    Iain MacLeod said that, when filming restarted, ignoring the pandemic on-screen would turn Coronation Street into “a parallel fantasy land”.

    “While the virus will exist in Coronation Street, we were also keen that it wouldn't dominate every single story and every single scene,” he added.

    FORGOTTEN VICTIMS

    The UK government promised to protect the elderly and vulnerable from the coronavirus, yet its policies put them and their carers at risk, according to a Reuters investigation.

    The news agency found that care homes were neglected – with deadly consequences.

    It also uncovered a dangerous lag between promises made by PM Boris Johnson’s government and the reality on the ground.

    The elderly were also put at potentially greater risk by measures to admit only the sickest for hospital treatment and to clear out as many non-acute patients as possible from wards.

    Local councils say they didn’t have the tools to carry out the government's plan, and were often given just hours to implement new government instructions.

    Policies designed to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed pushed a greater burden onto care homes.

    With hospitals given priority by the government, care homes struggled to get access to tests and protective equipment.

    So far, at least 32,300 people have died in Britain from the coronavirus, the highest toll in Europe.

    Out of those deaths, more than 5,890 were registered as occurring in care homes in England and Wales by April 24, the latest date available.

    These figures don’t include care home residents who were taken to hospital and died there.

    According to Reuters calculations, the pandemic has resulted in at least 12,700 excess deaths in care homes.

    JOB FEARS FOR 'CORONA CLASS OF 2020'

    Youth unemployment could soar by 600,000 this year because of the coronavirus crisis, a report warns.

    Young people's prospects could be “scarred” for years, causing long-term damage to their pay and job prospects, said the Resolution Foundation.

    The think tank said “major new support” was needed to help 18 to 24-year-olds through the economic crisis.

    Policymakers have been called upon to help young people spend an extra six months in education.

    The employment rates of graduates entering the labour market during this crisis are projected to be 13% lower in three years' time than they would have been.

    And rates for mid- and low-skilled workers risk falling even further, by 27% and 37% respectively, said the report.

    BOJO UNDER PRESSURE

    PM Boris Johnson will come under fresh criticism over his handling of the coronavirus crisis when he faces Sir Keir Starmer for the first time during Prime Minister's Questions.

    Johnson will return to the Commons on Wednesday, a day after the UK's official death toll became the highest in Europe.

    More than 32,000 have died in the UK during the pandemic, but the rate has been slowing and the PM is expected to unveil his “road map” of future steps later this week.

    It will be the first time Johnson has taken questions in Parliament since returning to Downing Street following his discharge from hospital after overcoming Covid-19.

    Sir Keir, who took over as Labour leader last month, has called for Johnson to form a “national consensus” on easing restrictions while protecting public health.

    OZ AND NZ ‘TRAVEL BUBBLE'

    The Oceana region, made up of Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island nations, accounts for less than 1% of global coronavirus cases.

    Australia has recorded about 6,800 infections and 96 deaths, while New Zealand has had 1,137 cases and 20 fatalities.

    The Southern Hemisphere neighbours began talks on Tuesday about creating a trans-Tasman “travel bubble”.

    The plan is to encourage quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand.

    But, wider international travel remained banned.

    The two countries have closed their borders to all non-citizens for more than a month and imposed mandatory quarantines on any residents returning home from overseas.

    Tourism researchers told The Conversation that the 'bubble' was a great opportunity to kick-start their post-Covid-19 economic recovery, while also focusing on more sustainable tourism.

    Not only are they geographically isolated, both have so far had success containing – perhaps even eliminating – coronavirus cases within their borders, the experts added.

    ASIA'S CORONA CASES HIT 250K

    Coronavirus cases in Asia rose to a quarter of a million on Tuesday.

    At 250,650, Asia now accounts for just 7% of global cases, compared with 40% for Europe and 34% for North America.

    However experts worry that unreported infections are masking the true extent of the pandemic.

    Asia's death toll has also slowed significantly in most countries and is now nearing 10,000 for the region as a whole, representing just 4% of global deaths.

    Europe accounts for 57% and North America for 29% of the coronavirus fatalities.

    By comparison, Spain, Italy, the UK and France have each recorded more than 25,000 deaths.

    The US leads the grim tally with 70,000 deaths.

    'MORE WILL DIE'

    Donald Trump issued a stark warning that more coronavirus deaths lay ahead for the US as states prepare to reopen.

    The president reiterated his desire to jumpstart the economy on Tuesday but acknowledged that lifting the Covid-19 lockdown may come at a price.

    “Take a look at what's going on,” Trump told ABC News during his trip to Arizona today. “People are losing their jobs. We have to bring [the economy] back, and that's what we're doing.

    “We can’t sit in the house for the next three years,” he added.

    His comments come after Dr Anthony Fauci said there was “no way” the deadly bug – which has killed well over 60,000 Americans – would miraculously disappear.

    “It's going to be around, and if given the opportunity, it will resurge,” the disease expert told National Geographic this week.

    President Trump predicts more coronavirus deaths could occur because of the lockdown being lifted

    BRAZIL: 6.4% RISE

    There have been 6,935 new cases of the coronavirus diagnosed in Brazil since Monday evening and 600 new deaths, the health ministry said on Tuesday.

    The nation has now recorded 114,715 confirmed cases of the virus and 7,921 deaths, authorities added.

    New cases rose 6.4% from Monday evening, while deaths increased by 8.2%.

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