Coronavirus live blog as it happened: Government discourages mass gatherings and encourages over 70s to avoid social contact

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Coronavirus live blog, March 16

Last updated: Monday, 16 March, 2020, 12:49

Prime Minister to hold emergency Cobra meeting

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to hold an emergency Cobra meeting this afternoon.

Following the meeting Johnson will address the nation amid wide criticism of the government's tactics to defeat the coronavirus and its lack of communication. 

It is expected that the government will aim to deliver ministerial press briefings on a daily basis from now on. 

The last time Johnson addressed the nation he said that many "loved ones will die".

British death toll currently stands at 35

Yesterday the Department of Health and Social Care revealed that the number of positive cases of coronavirus in the UK stands at 1372.

The number of deaths relating to Covid-19 rose from 21 to 35. 

Among the victims was 59-year-old retired police officer Nick Matthews. In a Facebook post, his partner wrote: "Today at 3am I lost my life partner and soul mate but most of all my best friend. Charlotte, Ben and I are beyond proud to have had such a big character in our lives. As a family we are still currently in isolation until the coronavirus test results come back.”

Labour MP tests positive for virus

Labour MP for Jarrow Kate Osborne has tested positive for coronavirus. 

Following the positive diagnosis of health minister Nadine Dorries last week, Osborne entered self-isolation and subsequently underwent testing. 

FTSE 100 hits 8 year low

The London Stock Exchange has opened and the markets have promptly carried on their downward trajectory following a weekend off. 

The footsie hit 4965 earlier today, its lowest since October 2011. 

The travel sector continues to take the biggest hit with TUI and Easyjet both losing 30% of their value in the opening stages of the day. 

A month ago today the Index stood just shy of 7,500.

Transport secretary: train travel drops by 20%

Transport secretary Grant Shapps appeared on BBC4's Today Programme this morning. 

He revealed that train travel had seen a significant drop in the previous week. 

"The railways have definitely seen a big drop off ... last week by about 18-20% in the number of passengers and we're working with them closely."

Shapps also said that it was "quite likely" that the elderly would be required to self-isolate for months. 

Seeking to reassure listeners, he said: "It is the case that people will be able to go out and walk the dog. It's about being sensible but not mixing in crowds."

Tesco makes changes to online delivery service

Supermarket giant Tesco has introduced new guidelines for online deliveries to ensure the safety of drivers and customers. 

Customers now must state in the delivery instruction box whether or not they are self-isolating so deliveries can be made as safe as possible.

New guidelines also state the company, which normally operates a ‘bagless policy’, will now leave items packed in plastic bags at customers doors.

Ryanair to reduce seat capacity by 80%

 Ryanair have released a statement revealing that the majority of their fleet will be grounded for the coming weeks. 

The statement reads: "Ryanair expects the result of these restrictions will be the grounding of the majority of its aircraft fleet across Europe over the next seven to 10 days.

"In those countries where the fleet is not grounded, social distancing restrictions may make flying to all intents and purposes impractical, if not impossible.

"For April and May, Ryanair now expects to reduce its seat capacity by up to 80%, and a full grounding of the fleet cannot be ruled out.

"Ryanair is taking immediate action to reduce operating expenses, and improve cash flows. This will involve grounding surplus aircraft, deferring all capex and share buybacks, freezing recruitment and discretionary spending, and implementing a series of voluntary leave options, temporarily suspending employment contracts, and significant reductions to working hours and payments."

Coronavirus cases outside of China exceed those in the country for the first time

Global cases of coronavirus have exceeded the number in China for the first time. 

Over 87,000 people clobally have been infected with the disease, according to Johns Hopkins University. This is compared to the Chinese figure of 80,860. 

Deaths globally have risen to 3,241, compared to 3,208 in China. 

Eight million could be hospitalised

The Guardian claim to have seen a secret Public England health briefing for senior health officials which speculates that as many as 7.9m people could be hospitalised as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

The supposed document also reportedly claims that the fight against the virus could last until spring 2021. 

Read the Guardian's story here

Region of Germany declared a "disaster zone"

The affluent German state of Bavaria has been declared a disaster zone for the first time in modern history. Measures including the closure of schools and nurseries have been introduced as a result. 

The measures come after the state saw a steep climb in positive coronavirus cases. 

Several Scottish schools close

A number of Scottish schools have been forced to close as cases in the country continue to rise. 

Dunblane High School was forced to close after a pupil tested positive for Covid-19. 

Knockbreck Primary School, and Craighill Primary School in Tain have also been closed, as has Perth High School which is currently undergoing a deep clean. 

Hazlehead Academy and Glashieburn School in Aberdeenshire have also been forced to close for an undisclosed amount of time, along with Willowbank School in East Ayrshire. 

Several schools in Shetland, which has 11 reported cases, are also set ot close. 

BBC to delay over-75 license fee changes

The BBC have just announced that they will delay the introduction of changes to the license fee for over-75s in light of the coronavirus situation. 

A joint statement by the BBC and government read: "The BBC and the Government have been discussing the national coronavirus situation. Changes to the TV licence for people aged over 75 had been due to come into effect on June 1. 

"But during this time we do not want anyone to be worried about any potential change. 

"The BBC's priority over the coming period will be to do everything we can to serve the nation at this uniquely challenging time. As the national broadcaster, the BBC has a vital role to play in supplying information to the public in the weeks and months ahead. 

"Recognising the exceptional circumstances, the BBC Board has therefore decided to change the start date of the new policy. Our current plan is to now bring it into place on August 1. We will of course keep the issue under review as the situation continues to evolve."

David Lammy on decision to hold daily press briefings

Reports: France set for five-week lockdown

British man seriously ill in Vietnam

A 69-year-old British man is reportedly in a serious condition in Vietnam, according to Vietnamese outlet vnexpress.net

The man who travelled from London to Hanoi on March 2 is said to be living with serious health conditions including diabetes and hypertension

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