The number of beds at West Mendip Hospital in Glastonbury is being increased to cope with the coronavirus crisis. The Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is “consolidating” its community hospitals beds onto fewer sites, including West Mendip, to ensure they can be properly and safely staffed. More Info
The CCG is also working with Somerset County Council and care providers to secure more care beds and bring old care homes back into use. More Info
Known global cases near 900,000. According to data collected by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, 887,067 people around the world have become infected, 44,264 of whom have died. They also count 185,541 people who have recovered. However, it is thought the true scale of the outbreak is significantly greater as concerns are expressed that some countries, including China, have been underreporting their figures.
US intelligence accuses China of playing down crisis. American officials reportedly believe China has been underreporting the total number of cases and deaths. The conclusions of a classified report from the intelligence community to the White House were revealed to Bloomberg by three anonymous officials who declined to detail its contents. They reportedly say the thrust was that China’s concealment was deliberate and that the report was received by the White House last week.
UK death toll passes 2,300. The UK government has confirmedhundreds more deaths in hospitals, taking the total to 2,352; the youngest was aged just 13. However, figures from the Office for National Statistics have already revealed that dozens more people have been dying as a result of the pandemic in care homes and other settings, meaning the true total is likely to be considerably higher. Ministers say 152,979 people in the UK have been tested and 29,474 have tested positive.
Britons warned against complacency as figures continue to rise. People in the UK have been urged to stay at home as a recent acceleration in the number of cases being reported comes alongside data that suggest people are out and about in their cars more. Prof Yvonne Doyle, Public Heath England’s director for health protection and medical director, said the situation in the UK was less severe than in France, Spain or Italy, but stressed the need to avoid complacency.
New York City death toll passes 1,000. Deaths from the coronavirus reached 1,096 in New York City as an emergency field hospital opened in Central Park. Data released by the city’s health department showed the virus was having a disproportionate effect in certain neighbourhoods, mainly Brooklyn and Queens.
Germany extends distancing measures. Physical distancing measures have been extended in Germany until at least 19 April, and will be re-evaluated on the Tuesday after Easter, Angela Merkel has said. The German chancellor spoke after a telephone conference with the premiers of Germany’s 16 states on Wednesday afternoon, in which they agreed a draft resolution urging people “to keep contact with people beyond their own household to an absolute minimum, even during the Easter holidays, in accordance with the applicable rules,” according to German media cited by the broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
Austrian unemployment jumps to highest level since 1946. Unemployment in Austria has jumped by 66% to the highest level since records began in 1946, despite a government bid to avoid mass lay-offs. Official data showed that the unemployment rate in the country rose by 4.8 points from the same period in 2019 to 12.2%, as jobs in sectors including tourism and retail were wiped out.
Growth in Italy’s death toll slows. Another 727 people have died in Italy, taking the total to 13,155. That represents the smallest increase since 26 March. Nevertheless, figures from the Civil Protection Agency show that the number of new cases rose more sharply than a few days earlier, growing by 4,782 compared with 4,053. Lockdown measures in the country are to be extended to 13 April, the health minister, Roberto Speranza, has said. He told the Senate on Wednesday: “We must not confuse the first positive signals with an ‘all clear’ signal. Data shows that we are on the right path and that the drastic decisions are bearing fruit.”
Spain passes 100,000 confirmed cases. Spain has crossed the threshold of 100,000 confirmed cases, health officials have said. According to official figures, it has had more cases than any country except Italy and the US. Spain also reached a record single-day death toll between Tuesday and Wednesday, with a total of 864 deaths. The country has logged 102,136 cases of the virus and 9,053 deaths.