France has suggested extending a two-week lockdown to try to stem the spread of the coronavirus as the interior minister blasted “idiots” who flout home confinement rules and put others at risk, AFP reports.
President Emmanuel Macron has ordered French residents to stay at home except for essential excursions such as going to the doctor, walking the dog, or going for a solitary run, and banned any gatherings.
For a two-week period that began Tuesday, people can go to work only if their employer cannot make tele-commuting possible.
But news reports have shown groups of friends and families strolling in parks despite the clampdown, prompting calls from some officials for even stricter limits.
Many have been observed ignoring the one-metre (three feet) safe inter-personal distance in queues at the essential businesses that were allowed to stay open.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said people ignoring the measures were “idiots”.
“There are people who underestimate the risk… There are people who think they are modern-day heroes by breaking the rules while they are in fact idiots,” he told Europe 1 radio.
Macron on Thursday urged companies and workers to continue their activities “in compliance with the health safety rules”.
Genevieve Chene, who heads France’s public health agency, said between two and four weeks are needed for the outbreak to be adequately contained.
“Within two to three weeks we should be able to observe a slightly different dynamic” to the outbreak’s momentum, she told Franceinfo radio, and “a significant braking” within two to four weeks.
“It is likely that it is indeed necessary to extend (the containment measures) in order for the braking to be sufficient,” Chene said.
Meanwhile, the French government has started requisitioning hotel rooms for homeless people to occupy during the confinement period, Housing Minister Julien Denormandie announced.
More than 170 rooms will be made available in Paris by the end of the week, and the government has identified 80 sites elsewhere across the country to accomodate the country’s estimated 250,000 homeless people.
Cabinet received an update from the health secretary and the prime minister on the coronavirus outbreak. The PM wished Nadine Dorries a speedy recovery, noting that she was following official advice to self-isolate.
The chancellor set out the measures being taken to manage the impact of coronavirus, laying out details of his economic action plan that will be announced at budget.
He outlined how this plan – combined with the measures announced by the governor of the Bank of England this morning – will make the UK one of the best placed economies in the world to manage the potential impact of the virus. The chancellor added the budget will ensure businesses, the public and those in public services working on the front line against the virus get the support they need.
He said despite the impacts of the outbreak being uncertain, we have the economic tools to overcome the disruption caused by the virus and move the country forwards.
The chancellor also said that despite coronavirus being “front and centre in our minds”, the budget will implement the manifesto on which the government had been elected. He said it was vital that people know this is a budget that delivers on the promises made to the British people – investing in public services and cutting taxes for millions of hardworking people – and that there could be no delay in laying the foundations for a decade of growth where opportunity was spread equally across the UK.
The PM said that this budget starts to tackle head on the challenges facing our economy and country – addressing productivity and regional imbalances – and showing that the government is responding to the public’s desire for change. It will set the path for further action through the year.
Reporting for journalism is not an excuse for breaking laws, lawyers acting for the US government have said on the first day of a legal battle over whether the Wikileaks founder can be extradited from the UK.
The US case was opened on Monday at Woolwich crown court in south-east London by James Lewis QC, who said that by disseminating material in an unredacted form he knowingly put human rights activists, dissidents, journalists and their families at risk of serious harm in states operated by oppressive regimes.
“The defence seek to suggest that the risk to these individuals who, by having the individuals revealed as informants, is somehow overstated. I would remind the court that these were individuals who were passing on information on regimes such as Iran and organisations such as al-Qaida.”
Assange, 48, is wanted in the US to face 18 charges of attempted hacking and breaches of the Espionage Act. They relate to the publication a decade ago of hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and files covering areas including US activities in Afghanistan and Iraq. He could face a 175-year prison sentence if found guilty
The Australian is accused of working with the former US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to leak classified documents.
Assange’s case has drawn widespread support , including from the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights, who said last week that he should not be extradited because of the potential impact on press freedom and concerns about “the real risk of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment”.
His father, John Shipton, has said Assange would face what was effectively a “death sentence” if sent to the US.
The first week of the extradition trial is expected to focus on legal argument before the case is adjourned until 18 May.
Assange’s lawyers will open the defence case on Tuesday, which is expected to expand on claims that emerged last week that Donald Trump had offered Assange a pardon if he would say Russia was not involved in Wikileaks’ publication of US Democratic party emails that had an impact on the Hilary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
The defence will outline a number of “abuse of power” arguments and is expected to argue that Assange’s extradition should not take place on the the basis of a clause in the 2003 UK-US extradition treaty, which prohibits extraditions for political offences.
Hearings at the end of this week will focus on whether a number of witnesses can be allowed to give evidence anonymously.
Assange has been held on remand in Belmarsh prison since last September after serving a 50-week jail sentence for breaching bail conditions. Assange sought refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden where he was accused of sexual offences.
However, Swedish prosecutors said last November they were discontinuing an investigation into a rape allegation, explaining that although the complainant’s evidence was deemed credible and reliable, witnesses’ memories had faded over the decade since the allegations were first made. Assange has always denied the allegations.
He was removed from the embassy last April and was arrested for failing to surrender to the court.
A high-profile housing scheme offering first-time buyers discounted homes will be unaffordable to the vast majority of workers on average or low incomes, it has emerged.
The First Homes scheme has been described by ministers as “genuinely life-changing for people all over the country”. However, new analysis suggests it will be out of the reach of average earners in 96% of England. The fresh concerns follow claims that the scheme will exacerbate the housing crisis by cutting the amount of scarce, more affordable social housing.
The scheme, which would see successful applicants given 30% off new-build homes, is aimed at military veterans and key workers such as nurses, police officers and firefighters, who will be given priority access to the properties.
But research by the charity Shelter found that, in almost all parts of England, someone on an average salary or lower could not afford to buy one of these new-build homes. It also shows that almost two-thirds (63%) of private renters in England have no savings at all for a deposit. New-build properties in England cost £314,000 on average. A 30% discount would offer a saving of £94,000, but would still require a significant deposit.
Writing for the Observer online, Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, warned the scheme was “a comfort blanket only, providing nothing for the people at the sharp end of the national emergency our housing crisis has become.
“At a time when we desperately need properly affordable housing, policymakers are looking to give a lucky few a 30% discount on what are still going to be incredibly expensive homes. And let’s be clear about who the lucky few are. Not those facing a monthly struggle to afford their rent.
She adds: “For those earning above the average, or with a helpful inheritance – people already on the cusp of home ownership in other words – this may get them over the line. There is nothing wrong with that, but it becomes a massive problem if it comes at the expense of social homes.”
The outline of the scheme was first announced during the election campaign. The Conservatives pledged that the discount would apply to about 19,000 homes by the mid-2020s. About 240,000 new homes are currently being built each year. However, a recent consultation on the programme did not contain any targets for the scheme.
Charities and unions have already raised concerns that it will end up reducing the amount of more affordable types of housing. The programme will be paid for through “Section 106” agreements, which require developers to build certain types of affordable housing as part of their building plans. Building more new-build homes for sale through this method could cut the amount of affordable homes for rent.
The supply of social housing, which is more secure than private rented accommodation and has rents on average 50% of the market rate linked to local wages, is already very low. Just 6,287 were delivered last year, with Section 106 agreements accounting for 57% of them. More than 1.15 million households are currently waiting for a social home in England.
A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “First Homes will give tens of thousands of people the opportunity to buy a home in their local area with a saving of up to £100,000, turning the dial on affordability. The government has invested £9bn in affordable housing through our Affordable Homes Programme, which we are committed to renewing, and since 2010 has delivered over 464,000 new affordable homes.”
Coronavirus has been declared notifiable disease in Queensland, Australia
We’re just hearing a news conference in Queensland that as of Thursday, coronavirus has been declared notifiable disease.
“That means on clinical suspicion, any doctor or hospital that sees a patient that they think might have this novel coronavirus is obliged to let me know. They let my staff know,” says Queensland’s chief medical officer, Dr Jeanette Young.
As I wrote in the blog a short time ago, Queensland authorities have been trying to track down passengers on a plane that flew from Melbourne to the Gold Coast on 27 January, as there was a tourist from Wuhan onboard who was later diagnoses with coronavirus. He was travelling with a party of eight other people.
“We are contact tracing of course the people immediately adjacent to these people on the plane, on that Tiger flight and then we’re giving information to everyone else who was on the plane and the Tiger people have been extremely supportive and cooperative, so that we could do that, plus we need to go through in detail everyone who’s been at the hotel these people were staying at,” Young said.
I’d like to say a big thanks to everyone who sent in information, it’s been extremely helpful.
Here’s a summary of some key updates before I hand over to the Australia team, who’ll continue the coverage from Sydney:
The virus has spread to at least 9,320 people around the world, surpassing that of the SARS epidemic over a year long period (2002-2003).
212 people have died, all in China.
There are 98 confirmed cases of infection outside mainland China in at least 18 countries.
The United States reported its first case of person-to-person transmission, joining Germany, Vietnam and Japan in recording similar incidents.
BA has suspended all flights to and from mainstream China until the end of February. Other countries have also implemented a flight ban, most recently Italy.
Almost 200 US citizens have been evacuated and have arrived at a military base in California. They will be isolated for a minimum of 72 hours. The US is said to be planning another airlift in the coming days.
France have evacuated 200 citizens who are currently flying back to southern France where there’ll be quarantined for 14 days. The European Commission has said it is planning a flight to evacuate more European nationals.
The Chinese Football Association has postponed its domestic games in 2020, and the World Athletics Indoors Championships, due to take place in the Chinese city of Nanjing in March, have been moved to 2021.
Google and IKEA became the latest franchises to shut their Chinese shops and offices.
In Australia, confirmed cases of the virus have climbed to 9, but two people have been released and are “post-viral” according to the country’s health minister, Greg Hunt.
Authorities have been tracking down passengers that were on a plane with a Chinese tourist who flew from Melbourne to the Gold Coast on 27 January.
The 44-year-old man, from Wuhan, was diagnosed with coronavirus and was being treated in isolation in hospital on the Gold Coast.
The Guardian understands that at least one passenger who was on that plane to the Gold Coast has been asked to stay home from work. The passenger is not believed to be at high risk but as a precaution has been asked to remain at home for the time being.
A close ally of the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, Long-Bailey has been groomed as a potential leftwing contender for the top job, who launched a slick video about her backstory during the campaign. The Salford MP and shadow business secretary performed well as a stand-in for Corbyn in leadership debates.
During the election campaign, Long-Bailey spearheaded promotion of the party’s plan for a green jobs revolution and was forced to tackle tough questions over its decision to soften its stance on hitting net-zero carbon emissions.
Her father was a Salford docker and trade union representative, and she worked in several service industry jobs before qualifying as a solicitor. But given her close alliance with Corbyn and the left, and the rejection delivered by the electorate on Thursday, members may be nervous.
The shadow foreign secretary had a quiet election campaign, which was viewed in some quarters as a sign she would run for leader if Labour lost the election. Others believed she was being kept quiet due to her remain position. She has been faultlessly loyal to Corbyn, despite not always having been on his leftwing side of the party. As a “girly swot” she believes she is good at taking on Boris Johnson. In her acceptance speech in Islington South and Finsbury, she said: “The real fight has to begin now.”
Thornberry will have to fight allegations of being part of the “metropolitan elite”. The image has plagued her ever since she tweeted a picture in 2014 of a house in the Rochester and Strood constituency adorned with three flags of St George and the owner’s white van parked outside, provoking accusations of snobbery. She resigned her shadow cabinet position shortly afterwards.
Thornberry’s formative years may have informed her politics. Her parents divorced when she was seven years old and she moved into a council house with her mother. She and her siblings took free school meals. But her politics remain elusive. She voted against her own government under Blair and Brown but backed Yvette Cooper in the 2015 leadership campaign. As shadow foreign secretary, she has always trodden a careful line that does not stray too far from the leadership on issues such as Russia, Israel and Trident.
The ambitious former director of public prosecutions has led the charge for remain in the shadow cabinet. He has held his Holborn and St Pancras seat since 2015 and been instrumental in shifting Labour’s position towards backing a second Brexit referendum. The party’s stance on Brexit has been blamed by some for the staggering defeat suffered by Labour on Friday. This means Starmer’s ownership of the direction taken could prove problematic if he tries to convince the membership to appoint him as their leader.
Away from Brexit, his politics are less clear. Prior to taking the role of DPP, he worked as a defence lawyer specialising in human rights issues. The Human Rights Act and the broader aspects of the constitution in the UK are in the sights of the Conservative government so his expertise in this area could be a strong sell.
Starmer is the only male runner on this list. There have long been calls for the next Labour leader to be a woman, including most recently from John McDonnell, the party’s shadow chancellor. McDonnell himself, once considered to be a potential candidate, has ruled himself out, as has Richard Burgon, the shadow justice secretary. The Conservatives frequently dig Labour over the fact the party have never had a woman as leader and the Tories have had two female PMs.
The shadow education secretary, a close friend of Long-Bailey’s, said in recent days she would like to support a Labour Brexit deal. She is regarded as a powerful public speaker and was praised for her interventions during the campaign. Some senior Conservatives said they would fear her as an adversary.
On her policy brief, her most controversial moments focused on private schools, which she believes should no longer be subsidised through charitable status.
Rayner’s life is often described as inspirational. She grew up on a council estate in Stockport; had a mother who couldn’t read or write; left school without any qualifications; got pregnant at 16 and left home to bring the child up alone. She qualified as a social care worker and became Unison’s most senior official in the North West region. She describes herself as “soft left” and backed Andy Burnham in the 2015 leadership election.
The MP for Birmingham Yardley is a strong media performer who has built up a significant public profile from the backbenches. Her fiery speeches and witty barbs aimed at the Conservatives, including the prime minister, frequently go viral online. She is also considered a passionate advocate for her constituency and issues on the ground therein.
Corbyn-supporting Labour members are likely to be deeply suspicious of her, as she has frequently been critical of his leadership and the party’s approach to antisemitism.
She has not formally announced her candidacy but wrote a piece for the Observer after the election, which many have viewed as the start of her bid for leadership. The piece discusses the issues of trust with Labour on the doorstep and the challenge of bringing back working-class voters.
The Wigan MP has said she is seriously thinking about running for the leadership. In a piece for the Guardian, Nandy said she believed that, taken individually, many of the policies in Labour’s manifesto were popular with the public and that the election was not won due to any real affection for Boris Johnson and what he stands for.
Nandy has built a reputation as a campaigner for her constituency and others like it, many of which have fallen to the Tories. She helped to create the Centre For Towns thinktank and called for compromise over Brexit.
A soft-left candidate, she resigned from the shadow cabinet in 2016 over Corbyn’s leadership and handling of the EU referendum. Like Phillips, she may be viewed with suspicion from Corbyn supporters.
Yvette Cooper ran against Corbyn for the leadership in 2015 and is viewed as a centrist. Therefore, she would be likely to face an uphill battle to convince the party membership she is the right person for the job.
After losing the leadership election, Cooper focused on becoming a prominent figure on the backbenches, delivering scathing blows to the government in the Commons and has mastered the policy detail on Brexit and home affairs, the latter of which she scrutinises in her role as chair of the home affairs select committee.
She has been an MP since 1997 and held positions including chief secretary to the Treasury and secretary of state for work and pensions when Labour was in government.
One woman has been seriously injured in a double stabbing in Greater Manchester, while another has sustained minor injuries.
Emergency services were called to the incident in Hindley at about 10.30am on Saturday.
A North West ambulance spokeswoman confirmed that two air ambulances were sent to the scene and the women, both believed to be in their 20s, were taken to hospital. One of the women had since been discharged with minor injuries while the other was still receiving treatment, police said.
Greater Manchester police said they were not looking for anyone else in connection to the attack, which it added was not being treated as terror related.
Photos circulating on social media showed a police cordon in place while emergency services worked at the scene.
Atherton Road, where the attack occurred, was closed for a few hours, but had since reopened.