Budget: chancellor hints at looser purse strings for NHS and broadband

Rishi Sunak’s first budget on Wednesday is expected to offer measures to counter effects of coronavirus

Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, is expected to ease constraints on spending and borrowing in this week’s budget, as he sets out plans to help the economy withstand the impact of coronavirus.

Presenting his first budget on Wednesday, the new chancellor will make announcements including the confirmation of £5bn investment in faster broadband across the country — a policy from the Conservative manifesto.

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Coronavirus: Supermarkets ration toilet paper to prevent stockpiling

Other items include dried pasta, tinned vegetables, medications and hand gel

Supermarkets trying to prevent shoppers from stockpiling have put purchase limits on items including pasta, anti-bacterial wipes, hand soap, toilet paper and children’s medications.

Shelves across the country have been stripped of such goods after Public Health England urged members of the public to “plan ahead” in case they had to self-isolate for a couple of weeks.

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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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Glastonbury and Hay festival organisers press on despite coronavirus fears

Most UK events, theatres and museums yet to be affected by outbreak

Those in charge of theatres, galleries, concert halls, arts centres and festivals in the UK are all busy with contingency planning, but most have not yet been significantly affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

The London book fair, which was scheduled to run from 10-12 March, has been one of the highest-profile cancellations but organisers of other mass participation events taking place in the spring and early summer are ploughing on with their plans.

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Hancock tries to reassure UK public as GPs warn of coronavirus crisis

Health secretary says the government will do ‘everything in its power’ to delay and mitigate threat

The health secretary has insisted the government will do “everything in its power” to delay and mitigate the coronavirus threat, as GPs have warned hospitals will have to cut back on work not related to coronavirus in order to tackle an outbreak.

Matt Hancock said ministers would do “all we can” to contain the Covid-19 outbreak as he set out plans contained in emergency legislation to deal with the impact of the virus.

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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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‘It’s absolutely dead’: business takes a hit as tourists shun the UK

Saturday is usually a sell-out at the country’s top visitor attractions, but this weekend the queues vanished as the streets fell eerily silent

As profitable pitches go, they don’t come much better than the one Abdul Daner has bagged for his ice-cream van. Parked opposite the London Eye, business is usually roaring, whatever the unpredictable British weather.

On an average day excitable tourists thronging to one of the country’s most popular visitor attractions snap up around 600 cones, 500 lollies and 100 hot dogs. Lately, however, Daner has had little to smile about at the end of an exhausting 12-hour shift, counting his bad luck rather than his cash with his thoughts dominated by the c-word: coronavirus.

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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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