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Live Reporting

Joshua Cheetham, Francesca Gillett, Shamaan Freeman-Powell, Suzanne Leigh, Kelly-Leigh Cooper, Yaroslav Lukov, Max Matza, George Bowden, Kevin Ponniah, Sean Fanning and Hugo Bachega

All times stated are UK

  1. Singapore deaths - big blow for country with sophisticated operation

    Anna Jones

    BBC News, Singapore

    People wearing wearing masks walk past shops in Singapore. Photo: 21 March 2020

    The confirmation that Singapore has had its first two deaths is a huge blow to this country. Singapore prides itself on its excellent healthcare system - 131 of its 385 cases have been discharged already.

    But it ultimately wasn’t enough to save the lives of these two - a 75-year-old Singaporean woman and a 64-year-old Indonesian man, both with underlying health conditions.

    The first diagnosed case in Singapore was on 23 January, but a sophisticated operation kicked into gear to test any suspected cases quickly then forensically trace their last seven days of movements to identify anyone they had come into close contact with.

    Those people were then ordered to stay at home for 14 days - and if they fell ill, the cycle started again. That has really helped keep the numbers down, and provided a lot of public reassurance.

    But domestically transmitted cases have in recent days started to be surpassed by cases brought in by people returning home from abroad.

    It’s getting harder to keep up the contact tracing. We’ve all been asked to download an app which helps keep track of our as yet relatively unrestricted movements around the island.

    Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong warned today that cases would keep coming and more people will need intensive medical care.

    "We must brace ourselves for more losses," he said in a statement on Facebook.

  2. US vice-president to be tested

    US Vice-President Mike Pence, who heads the White House coronavirus taskforce, says he and his wife will take coronavirus tests later on Saturday after it was discovered that a member of this team tested positive.

    Mr Pence said the man, who he did not name, is doing well and has not been to the White House since Monday.

  3. BreakingNHS confirms 53 more deaths in England

    Another 53 people with coronavirus have died in England, bringing the total of deaths in the country to 220.

    The patients who died in England were aged between 41 and 94 years old and all had underlying health conditions.

    Earlier, two more deaths were recorded in Wales, bringing its total to five, and another death in Scotland, taking the number to seven

    Northern Ireland has recorded one death.

  4. In pictures: UK on first day of pubs, cafes and restaurants shutdown

    Across the UK, Britons are spending their weekends away from most public spaces after the PM ordered cafes, pubs and restaurants to close (except for takeaway food).

    Nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres are also shut.

    Piccadilly Circus
    Image caption: Piccadilly Circus in London - usually heaving on a Saturday - was quiet
    A virtually empty Bullring Shopping Centre in Birmingham in central England is pictured on the morning of March 21, 2020
    Image caption: And Birmingham's Bullring shopping centre was similarly nearly empty
    John Lewis store in London
    Image caption: John Lewis' flagship store in Oxford Street, London, was deserted - ahead of the chain closing its stores from Monday
    There was a large queue of shoppers trying to get into the Costco store in Glasgow on Saturday
    Image caption: In Glasgow, large queues formed outside Costco as people arrived to shop
    Graffiti is seen on the beach telling people to stop panic buying food in Brighton, on the south coast of England on March 21, 2020, a day after the British government said it would help cover the wages of people hit by the coronavirus outbreak as it tightened restrictions to curb the spread of the disease.
    Image caption: Graffiti on Brighton beach urged shoppers to stop panic buying
    Workers put up beer menus at the Beartown Brewery drive thru in Congleton as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues
    Image caption: Workers at a brewery in Congleton put up menus for a new drive-thru service
    Tape marks the floor where customers should stand to practice social distancing to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus at a McDonald"s restaurant in London, Britain, 21 March 2020. Britain"s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged UK citizens to avoid unnecessary social contacts, to work from home where possible, and to close schools, pubs and restaurants. Several European countries have closed borders, schools as well as public facilities, and have cancelled most major sports and entertainment events in order to prevent the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus causing the Covid-19 disease.
    Image caption: And in a fast food chain, tape marked the floor where customers should stand
    People are seen relaxing along the waterfront beside the River Thames, as the number of coronavirus disease cases (COVID-19) grow around the world, Richmond, south west London
    Image caption: But some outdoor spaces were busy such as the banks of the River Thames in south-west London
  5. This is a medical not financial situation, says Trump

    US President Donald Trump is briefing reporters at the White House on the government's response to the coronavirus crisis.

    "This is a medical situation not a financial situation," Mr Trump says, updating the public on the "war against the virus".

    US President Trump
  6. BreakingAlmost 800 more dead in Italy

    Deaths continue to spiral in Italy. Official figures show 793 have died of Covid-19 in the last 24 hours - another daily record.

    In total 4,825 people have now died across the country.

    More than 53,500 have been diagnosed with the virus nationally, up more than 6,500 since yesterday.

  7. Rainbows spread positivity across the UK

    Two children paint rainbows on paper
    Image caption: Gabe and Hattie, both four, have been preparing rainbows for their home in Bristol

    An online trend is inspiring children across the UK to paint and display rainbows in windows.

    Many hope the activity will help spread hope and joy as tougher social distancing measures - including school closures - roll out across the country.

    We've spoken to parents and teachers about the trend and the message it is spreading.

  8. France chides 'irresponsible' citizens

    Olivier Véran, 21 March

    France's health minister echoed recent remarks by the head of the World Health Organization and New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo about people who flout directives on social distancing.

    "In these circumstances," Olivier Véran told a news conference, "a casual attitude is unfortunately not just irresponsible. It is dangerous - for oneself and for other people."

  9. The latest from Europe

    Here's an update from some European countries:

    • The number of confirmed cases in the Netherlands has risen by 637 to a total of 3,631, health officials say, while the death toll has risen by 30 to 136
    • Bosnia has recorded its first coronavirus death - the manager of a hospital in the northwestern town of Bihac, according to Reuters news agency
    • In Switzerland, health authorities say 6,100 infections have been confirmed - a 25% increase on the previous day - with 56 deaths
    • Portugal says the death toll has doubled overnight to 12, with 1,280 infected
  10. NHS England to get extra 8,000 hospital beds

    A patient is taken to the operating theatre in Birmingham's hospital. File photo

    The National Health Service (NHS) England has said it struck a major deal with independent hospitals to boost the organisation's capacities in tackling the coronavirus outbreak.

    "Nearly 20,000 fully qualified staff will be joining the NHS response to the pandemic, helping manage the expected surge in cases," it said in a statement.

    "The extra resources now secured by the health service will not only be available to treat coronavirus patients, but will also help the NHS deliver other urgent operations and cancer treatments.

    "The deal - the first of its kind ever - includes the provision of 8,000 hospital beds across England, nearly 1,200 more ventilators, more than 10,000 nurses, over 700 doctors and over 8,000 other clinical staff."

    It said that in London, the deal includes over 2,000 hospital beds, and over 250 operating theatres and critical beds.

    Reacting to the announcement, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "This is great news for the hospitals and staff doing everything they can to combat coronavirus."

  11. US stimulus plan to top $2 trillion

    The US coronavirus economic stabilisation bill will be worth over $2 trillion (£1.7 tn), White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow says.

    "The package is coming in at about 10% of GDP. It’s a very large package," Mr Kudlow said about the stimulus bill, which is still being worked out by Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

    That’s twice the sum that the White House requested days ago.

    US lawmakers have been frantically negotiating an agreement to be voted on as early as Monday. A sticking point appears to be over how to distribute funds directly to Americans and how to bolster social safety net programmes such as unemployment assistance.

    The White House coronavirus taskforce is due to brief the media in the coming hour.

  12. New prime minister appointed in a face mask

    Prime Minister Igor Matovic and President Zuzana Caputova wearing protective face masks shake hands as they attend the cabinet"s inauguration at Presidential Palace in Bratislava

    OK, they aren't quite two metres away from each other but you can't say they aren't being cautious.

    This is a picture of Slovakia's new prime minister, Igor Matovic, shaking hands with the country's president, Zuzana Caputova, at the inauguration of his cabinet.

    Matovic, an anti-corruption activist with the reputation of being a maverick, won a surprise victory in February's elections, the first since the murder of journalist Jan Kuciak two years ago which shook Slovakia.

    He and his cabinet colleagues all wore face masks and white gloves for the ceremony at the presidential palace in Bratislava, our correspondent Rob Cameron has written in to tell us.

    Slovakia has so far registered 137 cases of Coronavirus and no deaths.

  13. Defiant Russians still shaking hands...

    Sarah Rainsford

    BBC Moscow Correspondent

    Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) shakes hands with a Moscow-appointed official in the Russia-annexed Crimea. Photo: 19 March 2020
    Image caption: Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) shakes hands with a Moscow-appointed official in the Russia-annexed Crimea. Photo: 19 March 2020

    In Moscow, I get the sense that some feel the coronavirus threat is overblown and Russia won’t get the worst of it.

    That’s partly because their leaders, whilst closing borders and limiting public gatherings, still talk of a "foreign threat". They also contrast Europe’s "chaos" with their own "timely" prevention methods.

    Many Russians are still shaking hands, perhaps taking their signal from the top: state TV keeps showing President Vladimir Putin doing the same, only the Kremlin has everyone tested for coronavirus first.

    But crowds on the streets are thinning as galleries and other venues are shut. On Saturday, gyms, pools and sports clubs finally joined the list.

    Meanwhile, it’s emerged that an infectious diseases doctor down in Stavropol who failed to self-isolate after a trip to Spain is being treated for coronavirus.

    Local reports say hundreds of people she came into contact with on returning to work are now being tested.

  14. NY governor: Young people ignoring orders

    New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says there has been "a significant amount of non-compliance" regarding the state’s social-distancing directives.

    At a news conference on Saturday he said that young people in particular have been ignoring orders not to gather in groups, and that it tends to be happening in the city’s parks.

    Mr Cuomo said that he planned to visit a park "to see what the situation is myself".

    "I don’t care frankly. This is a public health issue and you cannot be endangering other peoples’ health," he said. "You shouldn’t be endangering your own."

    New York state has confirmed more than 10,000 cases - 6,211 of them are in New York City.

    New York is now the US state most affected by coronavirus, with more than one person dying per hour on Friday.

  15. Hotels to house the homeless in London

    A homeless man holds up a sign outside Westminster underground station as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in London

    Hotels in central London will open their doors to rough sleepers to help protect them against the coronavirus, according to London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

    The mayor's office is in talks with Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) about block booking rooms at a discounted rate for the next 12 weeks.

    It comes as rough sleepers are deemed more at risk, as they are considered significantly more likely to have underlying health conditions - including respiratory problems - than the wider population.

    Mr Khan said rooms would provide "vital protection" for rough sleepers, who are less likely to be able to follow Public Health England advice on self-isolation, social distancing and hand-washing.

  16. Singapore, Finland and Mauritius report first deaths

    Singapore, Finland and Mauritius have all reported their first coronavirus-linked deaths.

    In Singapore, health officials said there were two fatalities on Saturday:

    • A 75-year-old Singaporean woman who had been treated for pneumonia since late February. She passed away after developing serious complications
    • And a 64-year-old man from Indonesia, who had been in a critical condition after arriving in Singapore from his home country eight days ago

    In Finland, the first fatality was announced on Saturday by the country's National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

    The victim was an elderly resident of the capital Helsinki, the THL was quoted as saying by the Yle news website.

    The institute provided no further details, citing patient confidentiality.

    In Mauritius, the authorities also confirmed the country's first fatality. They said the person had recently travelled from Belgium via Dubai.

    No further details were given.

  17. French health minister condemns face mask thefts

    French Health Minister Olivier Véran is holding a new conference focusing on ways to alleviate the country's shortage of face masks. He condemns the theft of protective equipment by people who break into emergency vehicles.

    French Health Minister Olivier Veran
  18. Coronavirus: What do I need to know?

    Advice on handwashing

    What are the coronavirus symptoms?

    The symptoms start with a fever followed by a dry cough, which can lead to breathing problems.

    This is a new, continuous cough and means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or having three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual).

    For more on coronavirus symptoms click here.

    What can I do to stop the spreading?

    Central to the advice amid the outbreak is for us all to make sure we’re frequently and thoroughly washing our hands.

    Video content

    Video caption: How to wash your hands - in 20 seconds

    Why should I be social distancing?

    Social distancing is important because coronavirus spreads when an infected person coughs small droplets - packed with the virus - into the air.

    Everyone is now being told to follow self-distancing measures, especially the over-70s, pregnant women and adults normally eligible for a flu jab.

    How do I start socially distancing?

    Work from home whenever possible, avoid all unnecessary travel and stay away from crowded places like clubs, theatres and other such social venues.

  19. US Track and Field wants Olympics postponed

    A Tokyo 2020 Olympics banner is displayed on a building

    USA Track and Field (USATF) has just published a letter calling for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo to be postponed.

    "Unfortunately, while our athletes are willing to push themselves to the athletic limit in pursuit of Olympic success," the letter states, the chances that they will be able to train and compete as normal "does not appear likely in the midst of this global crisis".

    "We certainly understand the ramifications of this request," the USATF letter continues, adding, "but this position at least provides our athletes with the comfort of knowing that they will have adequate time to properly prepare themselves physically, mentally and emotionally to be able to participate in a safe and successful Olympic Games".

    USA Swimming has already asked for a postponement.

    On Friday, Norway’s Olympic committee became the first country to ask for a delay and, on Saturday, Brazil’s Olympic committee proposed holding the games in 2021.

    So far the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has resisted calls to push back the summer games, which are due to begin in late July.

    The Sport and Rights Alliance (SRA) and the World Players Association (WPA) - two organisations that together represent over 100,000 athletes - have also called for the IOC to review their plans.

  20. Should we still be having sex?

    With new recommendations about social distancing and self-isolation coming in around the world, some may be asking what the coronavirus pandemic means for intimacy.

    Experts say there is no evidence yet that Covid-19 can be spread sexually but we already know the respiratory illness can transmit through close or direct contact with those who have it.

    Prof Paul Hunter, an expert in medicine at the University of East Anglia, has tried to interpret what the latest UK government advice means for intimacy.

    He says that if you and your partner have no symptoms there appears to be no reason to avoid sex, but it is probably best to abstain from it and other forms of close contact if anyone feels poorly - especially if one of you is particularly high risk.

    Stock image of a couple holding hands

    Prof Hunter and other experts agree that, right now, everyone should be avoiding having sex with anyone who is not a regular partner in their immediate household.

    In fact, Public Health officials in New York have issued new specific advice for what sexual activity they deem safe and unsafe (this page contains details that may not be suitable for younger readers).

    We all should be distancing ourselves from unnecessary contact with others, to help stop the spread, and we know kissing can easily spread the virus.

    So if you're single, it's best you avoid dating for a while - unless it's done at a safe distance. Cilla Hope, a 25-year-old from London, got social media attention when she shared her experience of an online date on Thursday.