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Coronavirus live blog, March 25
Last updated: Wednesday, 25 March, 2020, 11:31
- Global cases exceed 400,000 as deaths approach 20,000
- WHO warns that the pandemic is "accelerating", and the US could become the next hotspot
- Parliament expected to adjourn early for Easter once emergency coronavirus legislation has been approved
Parliament expected to adjourn for early Easter recess
Parliament is likely to adjourn from today (25 March) for an early Easter recess after the emergency coronavirus legislation to tackle the crisis has been approved.
Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg has tabled a motion for the House of Commons to rise on Wednesday until 21 April 21.
The Coronavirus Bill is expected to receive Royal Assent and become law before the end of the day after MPs from all sides agreed to let it pass without formal votes.
Construction workers call for clearer guidelines on social distancing
In the wake of Boris Johnson's social distancing lockdown on Monday night, many industries have been seeking clarification as to what it means for them.
One such sector is construction, where workers remain unsure as to whether or not their work is essential, and whether they should still be turning up to their jobs.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has insisted it is "sensible" for construction workers to continue to go to work amid the coronavirus crisis if conditions are safe.
The Cabinet minister told BBC Breakfast: "If you can work from home you must do so. If you can't work from home then you can go into work but you and your employer should follow Public Health England's guidance on social distancing and safety precautions.
"In the construction industry in particular a number of employers have concluded that they can't follow the Public Health England guidance and are choosing to close down their sites - in some cases they are doing so over a short period of time so those sites remain safe and that's the right thing to do.
"But if you or your employer believes you can continue to operate safely within those guidelines then it's sensible for you to do so."
He urged people to remember that some construction roles are essential, such as safety work and efforts to removal the flammable cladding "of the sort we saw on Grenfell Tower".
"So there is work that will need to continue if it is safe to do so throughout this crisis," he said.
London could see increased Tube services
Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, London could see the number of Tube services actually increase.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has insisted there are ways to get more Tube trains running to prevent NHS workers travelling "cheek by jowl" with others.
He told BBC Breakfast: "Clearly they (London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport for London) have their own challenges because members of their staff are unwell or are self-isolating following the correct guidelines.
"So I don't think this is an easy question to answer but I think there are ways they could be laying on more trains because nobody should be going to work, particularly those frontline workers such as in the NHS and social care, and having to travel cheek by jowl with other people on the Underground.
"We think that can be resolved by laying on more trains and we are urging the Mayor of London to do so."
'Astonishing response' to calls for NHS volunteers
Stephen Powis, NHS England medical director, has been speaking on BBC Breakfast.
He said there had been "outbreaks of altruism and people wanting to help", and he was "bowled over" by medics returning to the front line and the response from people signing up to help the vulnerable.
"Overnight 170,000 people have signed up - that's three a minute to help the NHS," he said. "It's an absolutely astonishing response."
He added: "This is a health emergency, we can all play a role in ensuring we get on top of coronavirus and at the same time expand capacity in the NHS."
Brand new hand sanitiser factory to open within 10 days
A brand new factory dedicated to producing hand sanitiser it set to open near Middlesbrough within 10 days.
UK chemical company Ineos says it will produce one million bottles a month from its new plant.
Tom Crotty, the firm’s director, spoke to the BBC’s Today programme: “We already make the fundamental raw material, ethanol, at one of our sites. It was apparent that there just wasn’t enough gel in the market for people to get - certainly not enough for the NHS, but even on the supermarket shelves. So why not make the gel ourselves, bottle it and get it out there?”
He added: “We already have expertise in this area, we have a spare building we can use, we’re installing the new kit as we speak and we’re hoping to have production up and running within those 10 days.
“Normally, we’d spend six months researching a market. But we’ve done none of that - we thought let’s just start and see how it goes.”
Public transport usage in London down
Despite reports of packed Tube carriages, and calls for increased service, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has issued a statement saying public transport use is down.
"I'd like to thank all Londoners who have followed the rules today and stayed at home.
"TfL's (Transport for London) early-morning data suggests that Tube travel is down by an additional third compared to yesterday and bus travel down by an additional 20%.
"Tube ridership was already 88% down yesterday compared to the same day last year, and bus ridership 76%.
"However, we still need more Londoners to do the right thing and stay at home.
"Nearly a third of TfL's staff are now off sick or self-isolating - including train drivers and crucial control centre staff.
"Many of them have years of safety-critical training in order to run specific lines - so it is simply not possible to replace them with others.
"TfL will do everything possible to continue safely running a basic service for key workers, including our amazing NHS staff, but if the number of TfL staff off sick or self-isolating continues to rise - as we sadly expect it will - we will have no choice but to reduce services further."
Forestry England: 'Do not visit the nation's forests'
Forestry England has urged people not to visit the nation's forests in a statement on its website.
The organisation, which manages 1,500 woods and forests, said: "Covid-19: stay at home, please do not visit the nation's forests.
"The Government has told everyone to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.
"This is a very sad day for us, as we ask you not to visit the nation's forests or do anything that would put the emergency services under extra pressure."
Anyone who lives very close to a public forest and walks or cycles in the woods as part of their permitted daily exercise should be extra careful not to have an accident, as emergency services do not need the extra pressure, Forestry England added.
Six-month exemption for MoT testing to be granted
The Department for Transport has announced vehicle owners in Britain will be granted a six-month exemption from MoT testing.
In a statement, they said: "All cars, vans and motorcycles which usually would require an MoT test will be exempted from needing a test from 30 March.
"Vehicles must be kept in a roadworthy condition, and garages will remain open for essential repair work. Drivers can be prosecuted if driving unsafe vehicles."
Calls for clarity on help for self-employed
A Labour MP has repeated calls for clarity from the Government over who should go to work and accused ministers over a delay in providing help for self-employed people.
Shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner told Today: "The Prime Minister, the Government, have repeatedly said 'whatever it takes'. This is not whatever it takes, this is it takes forever because they've been promising they'd sort this problem out and they haven't.
"Five million people, self-employed workers, are not covered by the Government's employee scheme and they want to do the right thing."
He accused the PM of creating "confusion" when he said no-one should go to work unless it is "essential".
"Is it essential because I'm a nurse in an A&E unit caring for people, or is it essential because if I don't go then I don't have any money to pay for food to put on the table?
"So we need clarity and that's what the Government's not providing."
Prince Charles tests positive for coronavirus
Prince Charles has tested positive for coronavirus, according to Clarence House.
A statement from Clarence House said: “The Prince of Wales has tested positive for coronavirus.
"He has been displaying mild symptoms but otherwise remains in good health and has been working from home throughout the last few days as usual.
“The Duchess of Cornwall has also been tested but does not have the virus. In accordance with Government and medical advice, the Prince and the Duchess are now self-isolating at home in Scotland.
“The tests were carried out by the NHS in Aberdeenshire where they met the criteria required for testing.
“It is not possible to ascertain from whom the Prince caught the virus owing to the high number of engagements he carried out in his public role during recent weeks.”