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And according to official figures released on Wednesday:
- An estimated 7,090 people have died in UK hospitals after testing positive for coronavirus – an increase of 938 in 24 hours
- As of 9am on Wednesday, 232,708 people have been tested, of which 60,733 tested positive
- A total of 129 inmates have tested positive for coronavirus in 47 prisons as of 5pm on Tuesday, the Ministry of Justice said.
Global cases of the virus have now surpassed 1.5m and more than 88,000 people have died worldwide.
Here’s the latest on Covid-19:
Lockdown expected to be extended
Ministers have raised the prospect of Britain’s coronavirus lockdown extending beyond three weeks, as Boris Johnson spent a third night in intensive care.
Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, has said it is unlikely that the lockdown measures will change now they are beginning to have a positive impact on coronavirus.
Dowden said no decision will be made at the Cobra meeting today, with the announcement instead coming next week.
He told BBC News: “The Welsh government announced their decision yesterday, we will announce the outcome of considering these measures next week but the measures are in place in England just as they are in Wales.
“I don’t think it’s very likely these measures are going to be changed given they’re just starting to have an effect but, as we said, we would review them. It’s only prudent that on an ongoing basis we review them after three weeks.”
Outcry after conspiracy theorist given airtime
The culture secretary said he will be contacting Ofcom to see what action the regulator is taking after conspiracy theorist David Icke was given prominence on London Live.
Oliver Dowden told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “You are absolutely right these are lunatic conspiracy theories and no sensible person would give them a moment’s thought.
“Clearly that station is regulated by Ofcom and I would be expecting Ofcom to take appropriate action.
“Clearly they’re independent (Ofcom), but I will be in touch with them to understand what action they are taking with respects to that.”
New claims for Universal Credit hit 1.2m in three weeks
Around 1.2 million people have now made claims for Universal Credit (UC) in the last three weeks amid the coronavirus outbreak which surged immediately after the national lockdown was implemented.
Work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey added the number of new claims had fallen to just under 40,000 in a day, although this compared to an average daily figure of between 10,000 to 12,000.
She confirmed the numbers after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) revealed calls to the UC helpline soared beyond two million on March 30 and totalled 5.8 million over a seven-day period.
The DWP also earlier said it received more than one million claims for UC between March 16 and April 3.
This compares to approximately 55,000 claims “in a normal week”, according to the department’s permanent secretary Peter Schofield.
He went on to say calls to the UC helpline are “extremely high” and noted approximately 1.8 million calls were made between March 23 and 27.
Renters being left more exposed to economic fallout of pandemic
Families living in rented accommodation are more exposed to the current economic shock than home-owners despite government support, a think-tank has claimed.
The Resolution Foundation said home-owners are “relatively well protected” compared with previous downturns.
They can request a three-month mortgage payment holiday, for example, and are already benefiting from record low interest rates which keep borrowing costs down.
Home-owners may also be less likely to find themselves in negative equity – where their home is worth less than their outstanding mortgage – than in previous crises.
But newer home-owners with low amounts of equity in their property could still find themselves in big trouble should they lose their jobs, the Foundation said.
It argued that private renters are far more exposed to housing stress if their incomes fall.
George and Amal Clooney donate $1m to coronavirus fight
George and Amal Clooney have donated more than one million dollars (£807,000) to the coronavirus relief effort, including money for the NHS.
The couple, who have a home in Berkshire, are understood to have donated money to six causes.
That includes a total of 300,000 dollars (£242,000) to the NHS, the relief effort in the Lombardy region of Italy and the Lebanese Food Bank.
Meanwhile the Co-op has pulled its Easter TV advertising campaign and has donated the airtime to help fight hunger during the current crisis.
The original plan was to advertise its chocolate eggs, but £2.5m worth of advertising will now promote the work of charity FareShare.
And speaking of donations, rock band U2 has donated 10m euros to support health care workers battling coronavirus in Ireland.
The money will be used to source and buy personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline staff.
John Lewis has also teamed up with the British Medical Association (BMA) to deliver care packages to NHS staff at the UK’s busiest hospitals.
The retail giant is also creating a wellbeing area for medics and volunteers at the new NHS Nightingale hospital in east London.
Pandemic could force half a billion people into poverty
The global coronavirus crisis could lead to 580 million people ― 8% of humanity ― being forced into poverty and see an increase in worldwide poverty for the first time since 1990.
New research by at King’s College London and the Australian National University assessed the impact of declines in household consumption.
It was found that developing countries face a heightened risk of falling below the breadline.
“The effects could be absolutely incredible,” researcher Andy Sumner, a King’s College professor of international development who works with the United Nations University-WIDER, which helped publish the report, told HuffPost.
“There’s very likely to be a substantial increase in poverty, mainly because there’s so many people living not that far above the poverty line.”