Coronavirus live blog as it happened: latest as Chancellor unveils support package for self-employed

Follow the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak in our live blog below

Thursday, 26th March 2020, 7:58 am
Updated Thursday, 26th March 2020, 7:19 pm

Scroll down and read our coronavirus live blog as it happens.

Before you do that here are some articles offering practical advice:

Police Office and National Rail Staff are seen at an empty Waterloo Station in London (Photo: Alex Davidson/Getty Images)
Police Office and National Rail Staff are seen at an empty Waterloo Station in London (Photo: Alex Davidson/Getty Images)
(Image: WHO)

We will be providing live updates until 7pm this evening.

Coronavirus live blog, March 25

Last updated: Thursday, 26 March, 2020, 12:46

  • Financial support for the self-employed set to be unveiled
  • Number of UK deaths rises to 578 from 9,500 confirmed cases
  • Cases in the US jump once again, but New York state says hospital admissions are 'slowing'

NHS volunteering scheme exceeds target

Health Secretary Matt Hancock says a total of 560,000 members of the public have now answered the Government's call for volunteers to aid the NHS.

Mr Hancock tweeted: "NEWS: Fantastic that 560,000 people have now responded to our call to volunteer to support our NHS to defeat #Coronavirus."

The government had initially hoped to secure 250,000 volunteers.

Sales of electrical goods up by more than a third

Electrical sales have soared by more than a third in recent weeks as Britons raced to buy laptops and televisions to prepare for the coronavirus lockdown.

Retailer DixonsCarphone said overall UK and Ireland like-for-like electrical sales lifted 10% in the 11 weeks to March 21, including a 35% jump in the most recent three weeks.

While all its stores have been closed since March 24, it has seen "very strong" online trading, with UK and Ireland internet sales leaping 72% in the three weeks to March 21.

This is helping offset some of the £400 million in lost store sales expected for the rest of the year due to shop closures, according to Dixons, although it warned profits will still miss forecasts.

Price of orange juice set to rise

As demand for healthier products rises during the coronavirus outbreak, products like orange juice have seen their future prices rise.

'Future' prices indicate the delivery costs of products in the coming months.

The rise in demand, coupled with transportation uncertainties, has pushed the future price up more than 20%; orange juice futures are now the best performing assets of the year thus far.

Media should be 'naming and shaming' open businesses

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has tweeted: "Reports pouring in to MPs of businesses ignoring lockdown & forcing workers to work, putting them at risk of Covid 19 & spreading it.

"They are putting all our lives at risk by their greed.The Gvt must act to shut them down & the media should be naming & shaming."

Sadiq Khan: 'We cannot run more services'

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has faced criticism over a reduction in Transport for London services, which has resulted in overcrowding on the Underground in recent days.

In response, Khan has tweeted: "One in three @TfL staff are off sick or self-isolating: we cannot run more services."

He added: "Employers: staff must work from home wherever possible to help protect our key workers who need to travel.

"If you have to go to work, please don't travel at rush hour."

Ocado chairman: 'Nobody will starve'

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Ocado chairman Lord Rose has said shoppers now need to show restraint.

"There is a billion pounds more food in people's larders than there was a couple of weeks ago - what are they doing with it? How much food do you need to eat? How much do you need to store away? Please show some restraint," he said.

"There is no shortage of food ... Nobody will starve."

But he said it is important to ensure vulnerable people are given priority.

80% of people could contract Covid-19 "at some point"

Wales' chief medical officer Dr Atherton said an estimated 80% of people will contract Covid-19 "at some point".

"What we've been doing, the strategy in the UK as a whole, has been to suppress that, to delay the onset of that so that the NHS can cope, so that we have time for the NHS to get ready," he said

"At some point, once the interventions that we've put in place here in Wales and in the UK are lifted, there is a risk that people will then start to become infected again.

"And so the way in which we release those measures will be very critical.

"What we're doing at the moment is watching other countries which have put these quite repressive measures in place, to see what happens when they lift, how quickly can we lift those measures?

"These are all unanswered questions but everybody is vulnerable because nobody has experienced this virus before - it's a new virus to humanity."

No update on Prince Charles' health

Clarence House has declined to give an update on the Prince of Wales' health status after announcing on Wednesday he had tested positive for coronavirus.

But a spokesman said the heir to the throne, who is at his Scottish home Birkhall, was working at his desk as usual.

He added Charles had received hundreds of "get well soon" wishes sent to Clarence House - a mixture of cards but mostly digital messages.

Further funding for coronavirus vaccine

Boris Johnson is expected to announce further funding on Thursday for research to accelerate the development of a coronavirus vaccine, Downing Street has said.

The Prime Minister should make the announcement after taking part in a virtual summit of G20 leaders from midday.

He chaired a Covid-19 meeting this morning.

Deaths in Spain pass 4,000

The death toll in Spain has risen by 655 to 4,089. 

Call for help in battle against misinformation

MPs are calling for social media users to pass on examples of coronavirus misinformation they discover online.

Social media firms will be called in to Parliament after the extended Easter recess to explain what they are doing to combat the spread of false information.

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee chairman Julian Knight said: "The deliberate spreading of false information about Covid-19 could have serious consequences.

"Much of this is happening on social media through private channels, putting the onus on friends and family to identify whether the information they are seeing is misleading.

"There have been some shocking examples in recent weeks and we want people to send us what they've come across.

"We will call in social media companies as soon as the House returns to explain what they're doing to deal with harmful content like this to help give people the reassurances they need at this difficult time.

"Tech giants who allow this to proliferate on their platforms are morally responsible for tackling disinformation and should face penalties if they don't."

Checkpoints to be setup in Yorkshire to prevent non-essential travel

North Yorkshire Police said it will use checkpoints to stop vehicles and ask drivers if their journey is essential.

Officers will ask motorists where they are going, why they are going there, and reminding them of the message to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.

Assistant Chief Constable Mike Walker, said: "The new and significant restrictions announced by the Prime Minister on Monday evening spell out very clearly what each and every one of us must do to save lives. The message is clear and the warning stark. Stay at home, save lives.

"These are the lives of the people we know and love. Our partners, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, grandparents.

"You may never be in such a position again where your simple actions will lead directly to saving lives."

The force said the checkpoints will be unannounced and could appear anywhere any time.

Public encouraged to clap for the NHS tonight

The Bank of England have decided to keep interest rates steady at a scheduled meeting, after twice slashing its rate down to an eventual 0.1% in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, the Bank cut its rate to 0.25% from 0.75%, just days before a second reduction to 0.1%, as the coronavirus crisis gripped the economy.

Simple tips on protecting your mental health

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