Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Sunday 12 Apr 2020

1. Boris Johnson says he ‘owes life’ to NHS medics

Boris Johnson says he owes his life to the NHS staff treating him for coronavirus. In his first public statement since being moved out of intensive care, the prime minister paid tribute to the medics treating him, saying: “I can't thank them enough. I owe them my life.” The Daily Mail says that Johnson's condition “was so grave” at one point that “cabinet Ministers and aides prayed for him”.

2. UK hospitals facing shortage of gown as death toll nears 1,000

Britain is facing a shortage of the gowns required to protect medical staff against coronavirus. NHS hospitals are now “resorting to flying in their own stocks from China,” says the Sunday Telegraph. The death toll from Covid-19 in the UK is approaching 10,000 as deaths from the virus rose by 917 on Saturday.

3. Spain considers loosening lockdown as Covid-19 ‘peaks’

There are growing hopes that the coronavirus has peaked in Spain after the nation recorded its lowest number of deaths for 19 days. It reported 510 coronavirus fatalities on Saturday, taking the total to 16,353. The number of confirmed infections increased from 157,022 to 161,852. Signalling that the strict lockdown measures will be lifted, the government said it is “preparing new scenarios of de-escalation”.

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4. Party figures unite to demand parliament is recalled

There are cross-party calls for the government to recall parliament in “virtual” form. The leaders of the main opposition parties joined forces with senior Tories after the death toll from Covid-19 in the UK approached 10,000. The Labour leader, Keir Starmer, said there was “no substitute for parliamentary scrutiny” particularly “at this time of national crisis”.

5. Will NHS app allow distancing measures to be lifted?

The government has requested the creation of an NHS mobile phone app it hopes will help end the coronavirus lockdown. Ministers hope they could start lifting social distancing measures from next month with the help of an app that allows mobile phones to trace users who have come into contact with infected people, alerting them to get tested.

6. Pope Francis tells world not to ‘yield to fear’

Pope Francis has urged people not to “yield to fear” over coronavirus during his Easter vigil service. In an almost empty St Peter's Basilica, he called on followers to be “messengers of life in a time of death”. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte praised the Pope for his “gesture of responsibility” in marking Easter without a congregation.

7. Manchester police apologise for pepper spray video

Police in Manchester have apologised after a man who said he was delivering food to vulnerable family members was arrested and threatened with pepper spray. Video footage, filmed by a neighbour, shows an officer repeatedly threatening the man with pepper spray. “The incident wasn’t dealt with in the professional way we would expect and we apologise for that,” said a spokesman.

8. Assange reportedly fathered two sons during embassy stay

Julian Assange “secretly fathered” two sons while holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, claims the Mail on Sunday. Gabriel, aged two, and his one-year-old brother, Max, were conceived with 37-year-old South African-born lawyer Stella Morris while their father was living in the embassy to avoid extradition to America. Assange is currently being held at the high-security Belmarsh Prison.

9. US is already in recession according to new study

The US is already in a recession and will remain so for months, according to a 45 economists. The survey from the National Association for Business Economics says the recession comes as the coronavirus “severely restricts economic activity”. However, they hope the economy will grow at a rate of nearly 6% by the end of 2020.

10. Rebel court in Yemen sentences four journalists to death

Four journalists in Yemen have been sentenced to death for spying. The quartet were among a group of 10 journalists who were detained by Iran-backed rebels and accused of “collaborating with the enemy”. Amnesty International has described the charges as “trumped up,” saying the detained reporters had been beaten and forced to hold cinder blocks.

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