Coronavirus live blog as it happened: PM says 12 weeks to turn tide against virus as vaccine trials due for mid-April
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Coronavirus live blog, March 19
Last updated: Thursday, 19 March, 2020, 17:15
- China is reporting no new domestic cases in the country
- UK schools will be shut down from Friday, with many major exams cancelled
- The number of cases worldwide has surpassed 200,000
First patient in Northern Ireland dies
A patient who tested positive for Covid-19 has died in a hospital in Northern Ireland.
The department of health described the patient as "elderly" and said they had an "underlying medical condition".
Army to provide support
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said that the armed forces will be ready to provide support during the Covid-19 outbreak.
According to gov.uk the following measures will be put in place
- up to 10,000 personnel will be placed at a higher readiness, so they are able to assist with supporting public services. This is on top of the 10,000 already held at higher readiness.
- 150 military personnel will be trained to drive oxygen tankers in order to support the NHS if required. They will begin training on Monday.
- measures have been taken to enable the call out of Reservists, should they be required to join the response effort
- scientists from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) are supporting Public Health England’s effort to understand the virus and tackle the spread.
Children eligible for free school dinners will be given food vouchers
Children who are eligible for free school dinners will be given vouchers or meals, the government has said.
New guidance says schools will have the flexibility to offer meals or shop vouchers to youngsters who are entitled to free school meals, but are not at school due to closures or self-isolation.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: "No child who would ordinarily receive a free school meal should go without this while their school is closed or while they are having to self-isolate at home.
"By giving headteachers flexibility on how they can get meals or shop vouchers to these children, they can make the most appropriate decisions for families in their communities and provide immediate reassurance that this important support will continue."
CMO: Health and social downside to distancing measures
Chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Whitty has said that there are "significant health and social downsides" to the social distancing measures.
Speaking at a briefing on Thursday, he said: "If you do them too early you get all the negatives but almost an immeasurable impact on the epidemic."
Sir Patrick Vallance, the government's chief scientific adviser, added that it was "not possible" to put absolute timelines on the pandemic
Scottish death toll doubles
The number of coronavirus patients who have died in Scotland has doubled from three to six.
Nicola Sturgeon also confirmed the number of Scots who had tested positive for Covid-19 had increased to 266 - a rise of 39 from Wednesday's total.
Queen and Duke of Edinburgh relocate to Windsor Castle
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh have travelled to Windsor Castle amid the coronavirus epidemic.
The pair travelled separately, the Queen driving accompanied by one of her pet corgis and the Duke via helicopter.
How about some good news?
The last couple weeks have been on the bleak side - so here are a couple feel good stories:
The National Trust have opened their gardens and parklands to the public for free during the outbreak.
Find your nearest garden here.
Elsewhere, a man in Masham, North Yorkshire has offered his chalets to the homeless and needy for the duration of the coronavirus outbreak.
Maps detailing the coronavirus outbreak
The data team at JPIMedia have been tirelessly updating their series of intereactive maps detailing the spread of coronavirus.
You can take a closer look at them here.
CMO: 'People can die directly and indirectly during an epidemic'
Chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Whitty said people can die directly and indirectly during an epidemic.
He said: "People die in these epidemics... for two reasons. They die directly of the infection, unavoidably, best medical care, sadly this is still going to happen for some people.
"But also they can die because the health service they are in is overwhelmed and therefore there's an indirect death because there's a difference between what could happen with health and what we were able to provide in this situation."
On reducing the peak of the infection, he added: "It has an additional advantage, if you let an epidemic run its full course you get what's called overshoot where more people get infected than you would need if it were to run at a lower peak.
"Actually by lowering the peak you reduce the overall number of people who will get the infection."
English football suspension extended
The suspension of all English football has been supended until April 30.
Premier League, EFL and WSL fixtures had originally been posponed until April 3.
The FA also said that this season can be extended indefinitely.