Boris Johnson expressed sympathy on Thursday for the first person to die after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK

The World Health Organisation has warned the coronavirus outbreak is “not a drill” as the UK prepared to enter a new phase of its public health response following its first death from the virus yesterday.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was concerned about countries who have not shown “the level of political commitment” needed to match the threat posed by the outbreak and argued now was the time for “pulling out all the stops” to prevent further spreading.

His warning came as Matt Hancock, the UK health secretary, admitted last night that the government has called on supermarkets to ensure food supplies for people who self-isolate.



Germany reports more than 100 new coronavirus cases

More than 100 new confirmed cases of coronavirus have been reported in Germany, the country’s disease control institute has said.

The Robert Koch Institute has reported 134 new cases from the outbreak, bringing the number of cases in total to 534.

More than half of the cases, 281, are in the western region of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state.


Vaccine unlikely for outbreak but death rate may be lower than reported, UK chief scientific adviser says

The UK’s chief scientific adviser has said he does not believe there will be a vaccine for coronavirus in time for the current outbreak.

Sir Patrick Vallance told BBC Radio 4’s Today it was unlikely scientists would be able to develop a vaccine on the scale required to treat people soon, but added treatment would be available eventually.

“It is not unreasonable to assume that we will end up with a vaccine and we may do so in a year or 18 months, which is remarkable when you consider just a few years ago it would have taken 20 years to do that,” Sir Vallance said.

The adviser also said UK medical experts believed the death rate from the virus was much lower than the 3.4 per cent figure currently reported by the World Health Organisation, as the number of cases could be much higher than the numbers that have been confirmed.

“We’ve been looking at this right from the outset with very sophisticated mathematical modelling and we’re confident of refining the mortality rate down, and we really think one per cent is probably the most accurate figure at the moment,” he told the BBC.

“It may be lower.”

Source: PA


Olympic torch ceremony to be held without schoolchildren

The Olympic torch ceremony for the Tokyo 2020 Games will go ahead this month without schoolchildren in attendance, the head of the event’s organising committee has said.

Yoshiro Mori, Japan’s former prime minister, said the handover ceremony in Greece on 19 March would be held without children due to the coronavirus outbreak, as would the arrival ceremony in Japan.

The country has rejected calls to postpone the Olympics Games, which is due to open in July this year, over the outbreak.

Source: AFP


UK government ‘working with supermarkets’ to ensure isolation food supplies

Matt Hancock, the UK health secretary, admitted yesterday that the government has called on supermarkets to help provide food supplies for people who are self-isolating over coronavirus.

Mr Hancock told the BBC’s Question Time there was “absolutely no need” for panic buying over the outbreak and he was confident people would not run out of food.

“The government has supplies of the key things that are needed. And within the food supply, we are absolutely confident that there won’t be a problem there,” he said.

“Crucially, we are working with the supermarkets to make sure that, if people are self-isolating, then we will be able to get the food and supplies that they need.”


‘This is not a drill’: WHO calls on countries to step up outbreak response

The head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned some countries have not grasped the threat posed by coronavirus and called on governments to “pull out all the stops” to prevent further spreading.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s warning came as the number of confirmed cases of the virus, formally known as COVID-19, neared 100,000 on Thursday.

Our reporter, Vincent Wood, has the full story below:


Hello and welcome to The Independent‘s rolling coverage of the coronavirus outbreak.