Coronavirus: Foreign Office advice over Italy confuses British holidaymakers

FCO still says travel to Lombardy is largely safe despite quarantine of 16m inhabitants

The Foreign Office is facing a backlash over its lack of clear advice for British people with holidays booked in northern Italy and those currently in areas locked down due to its escalating coronavirus crisis.

The department is still advising it is safe to travel to anywhere in Italy, apart from 10 towns where the outbreak originated, meaning flights are still scheduled to depart to Milan and others areas in Lombardy where 16 million Italians are in mandatory quarantine.

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Sports bodies and TV bosses summoned for coronavirus crisis talks

DCMS officials to discuss plans for staging sporting events without fans if crisis worsens

Sports bodies and broadcasters have been summoned by the government to discuss plans for staging sporting events without fans if the coronavirus crisis worsens.

Officials at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will host the meeting on Monday to look at how to handle events if mass gatherings are banned.

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How to boost your immune system to avoid colds and coronavirus

You’re washing your hands 10 times a day and have stopped touching your face. What else can you do to improve your health and avoid bugs?

It’s been a long, wet winter. Everybody has got colds, and now we are braced for a coronavirus epidemic. Boosting our immune system has rarely felt more urgent, but, beyond eating more tangerines and hoping for the best, what else can we do?

Sheena Cruickshank, a professor of immunology at the University of Manchester, has a “shocking cold” when we speak at a safe distance, over the phone. To know how to take care of your immune system, she says, first you need to understand the weapons in your armoury – a cheeringly impressive collection, it turns out.

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Can a face mask stop it spreading? Coronavirus facts checked

The truth about how easy it is to catch Covid-19, who is vulnerable and what you can do to avoid infection

Wearing a face mask is certainly not an iron-clad guarantee that you won’t get sick – viruses can also transmit through the eyes and tiny viral particles, known as aerosols, can penetrate masks. However, masks are effective at capturing droplets, which is a main transmission route of coronavirus, and some studies have estimated a roughly fivefold protection versus no barrier alone (although others have found lower levels of effectiveness).

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Rishi Sunak: NHS will get whatever it needs to deal with coronavirus

Chancellor indicates he is willing to write blank cheque to cope with a pandemic

The Treasury will give the NHS “whatever it needs” to tackle the Coronavirus crisis, the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has said.

Before this week’s budget, Sunak did not say how much in additional resources the NHS would get, but indicated the government was potentially willing to write a blank cheque to help the health service cope with a pandemic.

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The experts who have guided the British public through coronavirus outbreak

Advisers such as chief medical officer Chris Whitty have restored the public’s faith in officialdom

The public has relied on a number of key individuals to keep them informed of developments in the spread of the coronavirus, including doctors, epidemiologists, researchers and health officials. Here are five of the main players who have helped to restore British faith in the value of experts.

• Chris Whitty. England’s chief medical officer, took up his post only a few months ago but has acted with calm authority throughout his public appearances since coronavirus emerged as a global health threat. A former epidemiologist, Whitty was appointed professor of public and international health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), the post he held before becoming chief medical officer. He has warned the country that it should prepare to face disruption to many normal activities “for quite a long period”.

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Coronavirus won’t end globalisation, but change it hugely for the better | Will Hutton

An unregulated world can be blamed for its spread, but collective action based on evidence could be the best way to stop it

In 2008, the world successfully pulled together – with Britain playing a catalytic role – when faced with the threat of financial collapse. In 2020, confronted with the threat of a global pandemic, it is every country for itself. There has been no international health summit of national leaders supported by the World Health Organization – although the World Bank has announced a $12bn package of assistance. There are frantic national efforts to create a vaccine and no effort to ensure that, when found and produced in sufficient scale, it will go to the places of need – in all our interests. Britain, with no vaccine production capacity of its own, is especially vulnerable.

Instead there are national bans on exports of key products such as medical supplies, with countries falling back on their own analysis of the crisis amid localised shortages and haphazard, primitive approaches to containment. The standards on isolation, quarantine and contact tracing – medieval approaches to disease control in any case, according to Prof Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine – vary hugely between countries.

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Fears of virus risk to grandparents offering emergency childcare

School closures could force parents to call on older relatives for help – perhaps exposing them to infection

Grandparents are expected to come under pressure to step in to provide childcare if schools shut as a result of the coronavirus, but this could increase their already heightened risk of contracting the illness.

Boris Johnson last week played down the prospect of widespread school closures, saying they should stay open “if possible”. But Prof Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, has warned that in the event of a major epidemic, schools may have to shut – and if they do it will be “for quite a long period of time, probably more than two months”.

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Coronavirus: the outbreak in numbers

We review the grim statistics from the week that infections passed the 100,000 mark

The coronavirus outbreak continued its remorseless spread around the globe with authorities reporting major variations in the disease’s impact in different countries. The figures revealed by doctors included:

105,820 The total number of people infected by the coronavirus passed a grim milestone last week when it reached six figures. From these there have been 3,558 deaths.

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