Coronavirus live blog as it happened: pubs and restaurants to close from this evening and as UK death toll rises to 177

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Coronavirus live blog, March 20

Last updated: Friday, 20 March, 2020, 17:40

  • Pandemic's death toll passes 10,000
  • Retired medics in the UK are being asked to return to work to help
  • The Queen urges the country to 'work as one'

Lidl to recruit 2,500

Supermarket Lidl has announced plans to recruit 2,500 workers on four-week contracts to help keep up with high demand in stores as customers continue clearing shelves over the coronavirus outbreak.

The grocer said recruits can start immediately and will be paid at least £9.30 an hour, adding "the new hires will be responsible for working together to keep the store clean, tidy and the shelves well stocked so that customers can get the products they need".

Scottish cases up by 56

The number of Scots who have been diagnosed with Covid-19 has jumped to 322.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed the new total, up by 56 from Thursday, as she gave a briefing on coronavirus.

TV presenter comes under fire for encouraging public to 'carry on as normal'

Ant Middleton has come under fire for telling people to "carry on as normal" and not "be a sheep" amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The Prime Minister has urged the public to socially distance themselves in a bid to "turn the tide" against the spread of the disease.

However, the SAS: Who Dares Wins presenter, who was in the British Special Forces, told fans on Instagram that he does not think the advice applies to him because he is "strong and able".

The comments were criticised by a number of social media users.

Middleton said: "If you are fit and healthy don't be a sheep and lock yourself away."

'Vaccines won't be available until next year at earliest'

Professor Robin Shattock has told the BBC's World at One programme that vaccines against coronavirus will not be made widely available until "at the earliest" next year.

He said: "The first part of that testing is to check that it's safe in humans in small numbers, and again induces the right sort of immune response.

"That will take, even if we do things very quickly, two to three months. The next stage would be to ramp it up and start looking whether the vaccine actually can prevent infection in the wider community.

"You need to produce the data to show that a vaccine works and how well it works before you can then get a licence to then sell that as a product.

"So, globally, vaccines are not going to be made widely available, at the earliest, until next year and it may be later if its a global solution requiring manufacturing."

Aldi and Asda announce recruitment drives

Following in the footsteps of Co-op and Lidl Aldi and Asda have announced recruitment drives. 

Aldi is looking to hire 9,000 new workers, including 4,000 permanent jobs, to help keep shelves filled during the coronavirus outbreak.

The supermarket added that all nappies and paper products, including toilet and kitchen roll, will now be restricted to two items per customer. All other products will remain restricted to four items per customer, with a few exceptions.

Asda, meanwhile, has announced plans to hire more than 5,000 temporary employees laid off due to Covid-19, working with 20 national companies to bring staff from industries including food and travel at risk of losing their jobs.

Guidance on how exam results will be decided

The Government has published more information on the cancellation of GCSEs and A-levels.

New guidance says that exam boards will be asking teachers to submit judgments about the grades they think their students would have received if exams had gone ahead.

Teachers will have to take into account "a range of evidence and data", such as mock exam results and other school work.

This will be combined with information from "other relevant data", such as pupils' previous attainment, to calculate their grades.

England death toll rises by 39

A statement from NHS England said: "A further 39 people, who tested positive for the coronavirus (Covid-19) have died, bringing the total number of confirmed reported deaths in England to 167.

"Patients were aged between 50 and 99 years old and had underlying health conditions.

"Their families have been informed."

London hospital declares 'critical incident'

Northwick Park hospital in London has declared a "critical incident' as it struggles with a surge of patients. 

In an announcement to staff the hospital revealed that it had no critical care capacity left and was transferring patients to neighbouring hospitals. 

Four in 10 coronavirus-related deaths in the UK have been recorded in London.

Manchester Airport to work from a single terminal

Manchester Airport will work from a single terminal following a fall in passenger numbers due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A spokesman said from Wednesday the airport, which has three terminals, will only operate Terminal One.

The spokesman added: "Like all airports across the world, Manchester Airport has experienced a significant fall in passenger volumes as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Given this reduction in departing and arriving flights, and the likelihood traffic will decline further, we have taken the decision to work towards operating from a single terminal."

Prime Minister due to speak at 5pm

The Prime Minister is due to hold his daily press briefing at 5pm. 

He will be joined by Rishi Sunak who will outline emergency measures for workers affected by the coronavirus crisis

Stay tuned 

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