Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Tuesday 5 May 2020

1. Nearly one in four UK workers furloughed in a fortnight

Nearly 25% of employees in Britain have been furloughed in the past two weeks, newly released figures from HMRC show. A total of 6.3 million workers have now been temporarily laid off by 800,000 companies, with claims amounting to £8bn by 3 May. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has sounded a cautionary note, warning that the steep cost of the coronavirus job retention scheme (CJRS) is “not sustainable”.

What does furloughing mean and who is eligible?

2. First workers to trial coronavirus tracing app

An app built by the NHS to track the spread of Covid-19 will be rolled out for the first time today, with council and healthcare workers on the Isle of Wight invited to put it to the test. If the trial is successful, the app could be available nationwide within weeks. However, there are widespread concerns about privacy and civil liberties.

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Coronavirus: the UK’s contact tracing plan explained

3. US and China snub global vaccine meeting

The US rebuffed a virtual summit of world leaders on coronavirus yesterday, while China was only represented by its ambassador to the European Union. Dozens of countries including the UK, Canada, Japan and Saudi Arabia joined EU nations in pledging a total of $8bn to develop and distribute a vaccine, but the snubs by the US and China prompted fears that the two superpowers’ rivalry could jeopardise efforts to tackle the pandemic.

4. French patient ‘had Covid-19 as far back as December’

Repeat tests on samples from a patient diagnosed with pneumonia at a Paris hospital in December show that he actually had the Covid-19 coronavirus, a doctor has said. Dr Yves Cohen’s revelation suggests that the virus arrived in Europe almost a month earlier than previously thought. The patient - a man in his 50s who has since fully recovered - said he had not been to China or any other infected areas.

Did coronavirus reach Europe last year?

5. Labour warns of lockdown-easing plan dangers

Draft government proposals to ease the UK lockdown are vague, inadequate and may leave workers at risk, say the Labour Party and trade unions. After unions warned that workers may stage walk-outs over safety concerns, Labour leader Keir Starmer said: “People rightly need confidence that it’s safe before they go back out to work, travel or use public services.”

Coronavirus: could ‘social bubbles’ ease the UK lockdown?

6. Three doctors fall from windows in Russia

Three front-line healthcare workers have mysteriously fallen out of hospital windows in Russia over the past fortnight. At least one had criticised hospital administrators on social media over protective gear shortages. The incidents have prompted questions and speculation in the Russian press over the working conditions for medical professionals amid the coronavirus pandemic. Two of the doctors who fell are dead, while the third remains in hospital.

7. US wants to borrow record $3tn in second quarter

The US says it wants to borrow a record $3tn (£2.4tn) in the second quarter, as the cost of coronavirus-related rescue packages mounts. The figure is more than five times the previous quarterly record, set at the height of the 2008 financial crisis. Meanwhile, CNN has warned that the cost of reopening the economy would be tens of thousands of American lives.

8. Trade minister quits over ‘veiled threats’ in letter

Conor Burns has stepped down as international trade minister after an investigation found that he had abused his position by trying to intimidate a member of the public involved in a financial dispute with his father. The Commons standards committee said Burns had used his status as an MP to “further his family’s interests” in a row over a loan.

9. Company plans to resume cruises despite warnings

Carnival Cruise Line says it will resume operations at the beginning of August, despite dozens of deaths on cruise ships during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Health authorities have repeatedly warned that cruise travel has helped spread the coronavirus around the world. The US Congress has announced an investigation over why Carnival’s parent company did not act sooner to protect passengers and staff.

First British coronavirus death was passenger on Diamond Princess

10. Fan joy as new Star Wars film announced

A new Star Wars film has been announced - the 12th instalment in the long-running franchise. The movie will be written and directed by Taika Waititi, who won an Oscar earlier this year for Jojo Rabbit. Waititi will co-write the as-yet-untitled film with Krysty Wilson-Cairns, who co-penned 1917. Meanwhile, Twilight fans are celebrating after author Stephenie Meyer announced she will finally publish a new novel in the vampire series.

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