Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Friday 27 Mar 2020

1. Millions of Britons applaud NHS staff

People across the UK joined in a round of applause from their balconies, front doors or windows at 8pm yesterday to thank the NHS workers dealing with the coronavirus outbreak. High-profile figures including Prince Charles, who has tested positive for the virus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak joined in the mass show of gratitude, which was organised by the online “Clap For Carers” campaign.

2. US overtakes China for most confirmed coronavirus cases

The US now has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world, with 85,612 infections as of this morning. The tally is greater than that in China, with 81,340 confirmed cases, although the deaths tolls in the Asian nation and in Italy remain higher than in the US. President Donald Trump has suggested that China’s infection figures are bogus and said the US would get back to work “pretty quickly”.

3. Self-employed face ‘agonising’ wait for support

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is being urged to speed up his £9bn coronavirus bailout for the self-employed, with freelancers demanding to know how they will pay their bills until the handouts begin in June. Labour MP Rachel Reeves, who chairs the Business Select Committee, warned that the three-month wait will be “an agonising one for many”. Self-employed workers are being advised to apply to receive Universal Credit payments in the meantime.

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4. Chinese president calls on Trump to improve relations

Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged Donald Trump to “take substantive action in improving bilateral relations”, in a phone call aimed at repairing damage caused by weeks of traded barbs about the coronavirus outbreak. According to Chinese state media, Xi told his US counterpart: “Working together brings both sides benefits, fighting hurts both. Cooperation is the only choice.” Trump, who has continued to refer to Covid-19 as “the Chinese virus”, subsequently tweeted that the conversation was “very good”, adding: “Much respect!”

5. Beijing closes borders as second virus wave hits

China has announced a ban on foreign visitors – even those with visas or residence permits – and is stopping most foreign flights into the country, in a bid to curb a second wave of “imported” coronavirus cases. The problem emerged earlier this month, when Chinese expats started returning from Europe, bringing the virus with them.

6. Banks call for full suspension of housing market

The UK government has effectively paused the country’s housing market, by telling property buyers and renters to delay moving during the coronavirus outbreak. However, big mortgage lenders say the measures do not go far enough and want the market frozen outright, says the Financial Times. Bank bosses are reportedly concerned about granting credit while the economy is in freefall.

7. Corbyn: virus response proves I was right

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told the BBC last night that the economic measures taken by the government in response to the coronavirus crisis prove he was “absolutely right” in his pitch to the UK public at the 2019 general election. In the interview with Laura Kuenssberg, Corbyn said that he had been “denounced” for proposing major spending “in order to right the social wrongs of this country”, but that the need now to invest heavily in the state showed that he was correct.

8. Meghan and Harry ‘have moved to California’

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have left Canada “for good” and are self-isolating in California, where they plan to live permanently, according to The Sun. Harry and Meghan are said to have chartered a private jet last week to get them into the US before the border closed and flights were stopped over the coronavirus outbreak.

9. Falklands sailor gets hat back after 38 years

Celebrating the end of Falklands War in 1982, sailor Richard Farrand somehow lost his uniform hat on his return to port in the UK – he admits the day passed “in a bit of a haze”. Almost 40 years later, Farrand, now 60, has been reunited with his headgear after a dealer in military artefacts found it in an attic, with the former sailor’s name inside.

10. Briefing: how coronavirus could devastate Africa

As the coronavirus pandemic threatens to overwhelm the health services of even the world’s richest nations, reports of a growing number of infections in Africa has triggered fears of a new global epicentre.

The continent, where some of the world’s least developed countries have poor healthcare infrastructure, has so far been spared the worst of the pandemic. But as of this week, 2,400 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed across Africa.

How coronavirus could devastate Africa

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