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What the newspapers are saying?

Here's how local newspapers in Beds, Herts and Bucks are reporting the coronavirus pandemic:

  • Struggling residents should be exempt from paying council tax for at least three months, a councillor said, the Bucks Free Press reports.
  • Luton Today reports that the crisis could blow a £35m hole in Luton Council's finances for 2020-21.
  • The founder of Stevenage’s People for People community group appeals for help to keep going, the Comet reports.

A hundred hot meals delivered to paramedics

Alex Pope

BBC News Online

They say an army marches on its stomach, so a community group in Bedford has come forward to help feed staff working for the NHS.

Food being prepared
SGRS Bedford

The Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha in Bedford delievered 100 hot meals to members of the East of England Ambulance Service at its sites in Bedford and Kempston.

Food delivered to paramedic
SGRSBedford

The religious group has said it will continue "every day throughout this difficult period, in order to help support those who are tirelessly working in our NHS".

"This is a small token of our appreciation", it said.

Food being delievered to paramedics
SGRSBedford

COVID-19 deaths rise in the east

Matt Precey

BBC Look East

There were 63 more COVID-19 deaths announced by NHS England on Thursday for the east of England region.

Cases are listed by NHS Trust/Hospital.

  • Luton and Dunstable: 12 more deaths - (total 23)
  • Bedford: 11 (11)
  • Milton Keynes Hospital: 9 (22)
  • Princess Alexandra, Harlow: 5 (27)
  • Lister, Stevenage: 4 (16)
  • Essex Partnership Trust: 2 (4)
  • Kettering: 4 (9)
  • Southend: 3 (11)
  • Norfolk & Norwich: 3 (13)
  • Northampton: (11)
  • Basildon: 2 (25)
  • Queen Elizabeth, King’s Lynn: 2 (12)
  • Peterborough/Hinchingbrooke, Huntingdon: 1 (10)
  • Addenbrooke’s, Cambridge: 1 (6)
  • James Paget, Gorleston: 1 (6)
  • West Suffolk, Bury St Edmunds: 1 (5)

It's important to note these are the updated figures announced on a particular date and do not reflect when the death took place.

It brings the total number of deaths in the region to 227.

Total number of deaths across the UK stood at 2,921 according to Public Health England.

Good morning

Katy Lewis

BBC News Online

Welcome to Friday’s resumption of regular updates where we'll bring you regional news and information about the coronavirus pandemic. Thank you for joining us.

We'll bring you the latest until 18:00.

Find BBC News: East of England on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you have a story suggestion email eastofenglandnews@bbc.co.uk.

Have a good evening and we are back on Friday morning

Patrick Byrne

BBC News

Thank you for joining us today for our regular updates on the coronavirus pandemic in the East of England.

The team will be back on Friday morning at 08:00 to share more news with you from across the region.

See you then.

Police chief thanks school for personal protective equipment

Sarah Jenkins

BBC News

The assistant chief constable of Bedfordshire Police has thanked a Luton school for its donation of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Challney High School for Boys said it was a "privilege" to send a supply of goggles, face masks, gloves, hand wash and paper towels to the force.

Jackie Sebire said on Twitter the donation was a "fantastic gesture" that would "be put to good use".

View more on twitter

Paint the whole world with a rainbow

BBC Radio Suffolk

Rainbows beautifully drawn by key workers' children are set to be placed in the windows of police and ambulance drivers' vehicles.

The works of art were made by pupils at Place Farm Primary Academy in Haverhill, Suffolk.

Crews working for the East of England Ambulance Service said they were "grateful for the kind messages".

Photo of children with a rainbow
Haverhill Police

Coronavirus cases continue to rise in East

Nikki Fox

BBC Look East

The number of people infected by the coronavirus continues to rise.

Public Health England released the latest figures last night, but they are only from hospital tests and are a few days behind.

They are as follows:

  • Hertfordshire - 480
  • Buckinghamshire - 195
  • Norfolk - 180
  • Northamptonshire - 187
  • Cambridgeshire - 141
  • Peterborough - 36
  • Suffolk - 125
  • Milton Keynes - 117
  • Central Bedfordshire - 81
  • Luton - 91
  • Bedford Borough Council - 60
  • Essex - 420
  • Southend-on-Sea - 44
  • Thurrock - 62

Coronavirus deaths rise in the East

Matt Precey

BBC Look East

The number of people who have died from coronavirus in the East of England continues to rise.

Last night, Public Health England released its latest figures for the past 24 hours.

Below is a list of hospitals where the deaths occurred.

  • Luton and Dunstable - 1 (total - 11)
  • Milton Keynes Hospital - 2 (total - 13)
  • Peterborough and Hinchingbrooke - 2 (total - 9)
  • Addenbrooke's - 2 (total - 5)
  • Princess Alexandra - 8 (total - 22)
  • Colchester - 2 (total - 11)
  • Basildon - 6 (total - 23)
  • Southend - 1 (total - 8)
  • East and North Herts - 3 (total - 12)
  • West Herts Hospitals - 2 (total - 15)
  • Norfolk and Norwich - 2 (total - 10)
  • James Paget - 2 (total - 5)
  • Queen Elizabeth - 3 (total - 10)
  • Northampton - 2 (total - 9)
  • Kettering - 4 (total - 5)
  • West Suffolk - 2 (total - 4)

The total number of confirmed (tested) regional cases now stands at 2,219, compared to 29,474 in the UK as a whole.

Across the UK, the death toll stands at 2,352.

Good morning

Alex Pope

BBC News Online

Thank you for joining us this morning as we continue our regular updates about the coronavirus pandemic.

The team will be here sharing news from the East of England until 18:00.

What the papers are saying in Beds, Herts and Bucks

Here's how the local papers are reporting the coronavirus pandemic:

  • The MK Citizen says bin lorries are struggling to get down streets in the town because so many cars are parked up outside houses due to the lockdown
  • Buckinghamshire Health NHS Trust says it is well prepared to deal with an 'anticipated' increase in coronavirus patients, the Bucks Herald reports
  • Herts Live has a round-up of the "Herts heroes" that pulling us through the first fortnight of lockdown
  • A man who claimed to have Covid-19 allegedly coughed in a Co-op customer's face in Hatfield, the Welwyn Hatfield Times reports

Coronavirus deaths rise in the East

Nikki Fox

BBC Look East

The number of people who have died from coronavirus continues to rise in the East of England.

Last night, Public Health England announced the statistics for 31 March at the region's hospital trusts:

  • Basildon - 10 more deaths
  • Luton & Dunstable - 1
  • East & North Herts - 5
  • Norfolk & Norwich - 2
  • Northampton - 2
  • Southend - 3
  • Queen Elizabeth, King's Lynn - 3
  • James Paget, Gorleston - 2
  • Addenbrooke's, Cambridge - 2
  • Essex partnership (mental health inpatient) - 1
  • West Herts Hospitals - 4
  • Stoke Mandeville, Aylesbury - 2
  • Wycombe Hospital - 3

If a hospital trust is not listed it means no deaths were recorded there on Tuesday.

The total number of confirmed (tested) regional cases now stands at 1,945.

Across the UK, the death toll stands at 1,789.

Mall sends 'appreciation package' to ambulance crew

Sarah Jenkins

BBC News

The Mall in Luton has sent an "appreciation package" to ambulance workers in the town.

The shopping centre tweeted that it wanted to thank crews for "all their hard work" so sent a package "full of tasty treats".

View more on twitter

Good morning

Katy Lewis

BBC Local Live

Welcome to our live page where we'll bring you regular regional updates about the coronavirus pandemic. Thank you for joining us.

We'll bring you the latest news from the East of England until 18:00.

Food parcels delivered to more vulnerable

A number of food parcels are being delivered to the most vulnerable people in Bedfordshire.

The county's fire and police services are handing out the packages, which include tea, tinned goods and milk.

Food parcels
Beds Fire and Rescue

It's all hands to the pump, as Paul Fuller, the county's chief fire officer, has turned delivery driver to help out.

Food
Beds Fire and Rescue

Police force dealing with domestic abuse cases

Simon Oxley

BBC Three Counties Radio

Two women
Bedfordshire Police

Bedfordshire Police is warning about domestic abuse as people are urged to stay at home during the coronavirus crisis.

The force said it received 49 reports of domestic abuse over the weekend, including threats to kill, ABH and common assault.

Det Insp Lorraine Coombes said: "Staying home, or working from home, will bring many challenges.

"We all need to be aware how this will impact existing victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse, and those who may now find themselves in such a situation, due to the exceptional circumstances.

“You are our eyes and ears, please don’t keep your concerns to yourself.

“Chances are if something doesn’t feel right it isn’t, and we will continue to investigate and support throughout this pandemic situation.”

'I miss my friends' home school report

Alex Pope

BBC News Online

In these unprecedented times parents across the country are juggling home life with working from home.

For many it means trying to home-school, which from a personal perspective is far from easy.

As part of my nine-year-old daughter's homework she has been asked to write a news story.

So to kill two birds with one stone, here is her report, written from my makeshift office:

Child working
BBC

My school Castle Newnham in Bedford closed on Friday, 20 March.

We could not go to the theatre or play area at the weekend because you have to keep a distance and avoid big crowds.

When it comes to school time, it is really boring for me because I have no brothers and sisters and I have no-one to talk to.

All the online things such as Move Squad and PE Joe have kept me active and happy.

I am missing my friends quite a lot because when I see them I have to keep a two-metre distance.

Cornavirus deaths rise in the East

Nikki Fox

BBC Look East

The number of people who have died from the coronavirus continues to rise the East.

Last night, Public Health England announced the statistics for the previous 24 hours at regional hospitals.

They are from Sunday evening to Monday evening.

  • Colchester 3 more deaths
  • Herts Community Trust 1
  • Luton and Dunstable 4
  • Mid Essex 3
  • Norfolk and Norwich 1
  • Northampton 3
  • Princess Alexandra, Harlow 9

It brings the total number of deaths in the East region since the outbreak began to 100.

Colchester Hospital
East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust

Nick Hulme, chief executive of East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust which runs Colchester and Ipswich hospitals, said: "We can confirm that sadly, three patients, one in their 90s and one in their 70s, both of whom had underlying health conditions, together with another patient in their early 80s who did not have underlying health conditions, have passed away at Colchester Hospital.

"They had tested positive for COVID-19.

"Our thoughts and condolences remain with the patients family and loved ones at this difficult time."

Coronavirus cases continue to rise

The number of coronavirus cases for the east of England were released by Public Health England on Monday evening.

Here is latest breakdown confirmed from hospital tests:.

  • Bedford Borough 34
  • Cambridgeshire 109
  • Central Bedfordshire 60
  • Essex 301
  • Hertfordshire 339
  • Luton 69
  • Milton Keynes 94
  • Norfolk 133
  • Northamptonshire 153
  • Peterborough 24
  • Suffolk 100
  • Southend 31
  • Thurrock 41

English Heritage open up sites online

Katy Lewis

BBC Local Live

If you're missing being able to get out and about to some of the region's interesting historic sites, then English Heritage can bring some of them to you - online.

It has highlighted 30 of its buildings, monuments and sites across the country available to visit online - including a few in the East of England.

Audley End
English Heritage

The sites, including Audley End House and Gardens in Essex, Wrest Park and its Collections Store in Bedfordshire and Grime’s Graves in Norfolk, use digital technology, to bring their stories to life via the Google Arts & Culture platform.

Last week, the organisation took the decision to close all its staffed historic sites and cancel all public events.

Curatorial director Anna Eavis said: "We look forward to welcoming visitors back to those sites as soon as it is safe to do so, but until then we hope these online experiences will allow people an escape, and the chance to learn something new."

Cancellations and further reductions on the trains

Train at Gatwick Airport
Govia Thameslink

Govia Thameslink says there will be short-notice cancellations on its services and it also needs to make further reductions during the coronavirus pandemic from Monday.

The operator, which runs Great Northern, Southern and Thameslink trains, said it is having to cancel services at short notice owing to staff having to stay at home during the current guidance issued by Public Health England.

The Gatwick Express service will also be temporarily suspended until further notice, in response to a significant fall in passenger numbers at the airport, but Southern and Thameslink trains will continue to serve the airport in Sussex.

The operators say they are doing everything to keep trains running for key workers, and are advising passengers to check before travelling as there may be further timetable changes.

View more on twitter

Stop home and you will not be 'locked up'

A police officer is warning people to stay at home.

Sgt Ed Finn, who is based at Bedfordshire Police headquarters in Kempston shared the following message on Twitter.

"Top tip - if you #StayHome and respect the #lockdown then you're far less likely to spend time #lockedup in one of my cells".

Sgt Ed Finn in protective face wear
Sgt Ed Finn

It comes as new measures have been brought in by police that if anyone breaks the coronavirus lockdown rules, they will now be breaking the law and could face arrest.

You could also be issued with fines of up to £120.

Cheers all round as the East says thanks to NHS

Coronavirus: Cheers all round as the East says thanks to NHS
There was clapping, cheering, pots clanging and car horns honking as people across the East of England gave their thanks to the NHS.

Many people took part in the social media campaign on Thursday night, where people across the UK applauded the work of the health service treating coronavirus patients.

'Thank you NHS'

Oscar's been using his time off to create a masterpiece thanking the NHS for all their hard work.

The ambulance service were definitely impressed by his artistic talent.

View more on twitter

Community lifeline aims to help good neighbours become good friends

Euan Duncan

Local Democracy Reporting Service

A community lifeline has been set up for isolated residents in two Bedfordshire villages.

Ampthill and Flitwick Good Neighbours, churches, town council staff, a mental health forum and Central Bedfordshire councillor Gareth Mackey have united to help anyone stranded indoors.

Vicar of Flitwick Church, Rev Lucy Davis, said there was "a huge amount of goodwill" with people helping neighbours and keeping in touch with friends.

Richard Luscombe, co-founder of The Forum – Busy Getting Stronger, said social isolation can cause anxiety and a simple "conversation on the phone, an opportunity to be listened to, can help hugely".

The Flitwick community lifeline number is 07833 314903, but organisers say offers of help should be made via the Flitwick Community Lifeline Facebook page.

Three more deaths at Princess Alexandra Hospital

Three more patients have died at Harlow's Princess Alexandra Hospital, it has been announced.

Chief executive Lance McCarthy confirmed two patients in their 70s and one in the 90s had passed away after testing positive for COVID-19.

All three patients had underlying conditions.

"Our thoughts and condolences remain with the patient’s family and loved ones at this difficult time," Mr McCarthy said.

The hospital announced on Monday that a patient in their 80s - also with underlying health conditions - had died after testing positive for COVID-19.

Princess Alexandria Hospital
Google

Coronavirus updates - the latest

Katy Lewis

BBC Local Live

Welcome to our live updates page where you can keep up with all the regional news on the coronavirus pandemic. Thank you for joining us.

We'll bring you all the latest developments and news from the East of England until 18:00 GMT.

Clap for our Carers

Set your alarms for 20:00 this evening when a big round of applause is planned to thank all the NHS staff working tirelessly to keep us safe.

If you want to take part all you need do is put your hands together from your windows and doors.

View more on twitter

A close shave for air ambulance clinicians

Shaving products have been donated to a team of volunteer clinicians working for the Magpas Air Ambulance.

The team needed a close shave every eight hours, to make sure their surgical masks were "airtight", it said.

View more on twitter

'You could kill a relative', son warns public

Doreen Hunt with her family
Hunt family

The family of a grandmother who died after contracting Covid-19 have warned people to follow government advice and stay home.

Doreen Hunt, 72, who died at Luton and Dunstable Hospital, had underlying health issues.

Her son Stephen Hunt warned: "You might catch it. You might give it to somebody else. You might touch something somebody else touches and you could kill a relative, you just don't know."

Doreen Hunt
Hunt family

Ambulance trust 'could not be prouder' of staff and volunteers

East of England Ambulance NHS Trust has praised on Twitter the "incredible" work its staff and volunteers are doing across Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk.

The trust said it wanted to "dedicate #ThankYouThursday" to all those "working incredibly hard around the clock to make sure that our patients remain safe and get help when they need it the most. We couldn't be prouder to call you #TeamEEAST."

Ambulance staff
East of England Ambulance Service

Stay safe, whatever language you speak

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

Bedfordshire Police wants the message to "stay inside, stay safe and wash your hands" to be spread far and wide so it's sent a special message in different languages.

View more on twitter

Five more coronavirus deaths reported in the East

Orla Moore

BBC News

Five more deaths from coronavirus were recorded in the East of England on Wednesday evening.

Four people died in hospitals run by the North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust, and a fifth was reported at the West Suffolk Hospital.

They were among 28 people nationally whose deaths after testing positive for coronavirus were announced on Wednesday.

Here are the latest numbers of positive cases recorded in our region:

  • Norfolk 45
  • Suffolk 35
  • Peterborough 9
  • Cambridgeshire 41
  • Northamptonshire 43
  • Bedford 7
  • Central Bedfordshire 24
  • Milton Keynes 29
  • Buckinghamshire 59
  • Luton 29
  • Hertfordshire 147
  • Essex 88
  • Southend 9
  • Thurrock 15

Further figures can be found at Public Health England.

Leighton Buzzard English teacher is online hit

Katy Lewis

BBC Local Live

An English teacher from Leighton Buzzard has become an online hit by providing daily lessons live on Facebook.

Holly King-Mand had been trying to build up a local client base for tutoring following her maternity leave and said last week she had been “very proud” of her 74 followers.

After setting up English Live on Monday, she is now nearing 18,000 and has had children tuning in from all over the world including Dubai, South Africa, Australia and across Europe.

"It’s quite overwhelming,” she said, "I feel really privileged to be able to help other people."

Holly King-Mand
BBC

Holly, who is currently at home with her two daughters, aged two and eight months, hosts a 30 minute lesson every day covering subjects from synonyms and spellings to Shakespeare and provides task sheets for children to do after each session. By putting the sessions on Facebook Live her "students" can also interact with her and ask for shout-outs.

"It’s been wonderful, it’s nice to have something to focus on at the moment," she said.

"I’m just an exhausted mum who is terrified of what’s going on out there and it is blissful distraction to hear how much children are enjoying and benefiting from my lessons.

"But I'm not getting any washing done and my phone is melting!"

Bedford multi-storey car parks close

Multi-storey car parks in Bedford, except Queen Street, will be closed until further notice.

Bedford Borough Council said it would allow it to "prioritise staff on essential duties at this extraordinary time".

Lurke St car park
Google

Lurke Street, River Street and Allhallows car parks will be shut, but Queen Street will remain open all the time for key workers who commute, need to park in town for work or anyone getting essential shopping.

Councillor Charles Royden said: "With increased pressure on council staff and resources this decision ensures that our reduced workforce can keep people safe."

Public told to stay away from Chiltern Hills

Visitors have been urged to stay away from the Chiltern Hills, after an "exceptionally high" number of people travelled to its beauty spots over the weekend.

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, and new government restrictions introduced on Monday, the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Beauty (AONB) posted on Facebook: "Please STAY AT HOME. The sooner we all do this the sooner we can enjoy our green spaces again."

View more on facebook

The Chilterns AONB covers 324 miles from the River Thames in south Oxfordshire, through Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire to Hitchin in Hertfordshire.

Tom Grennan delivers 'essentials' to food bank

Katy Lewis

BBC Local Live

Bedford musician Tom Grennan has been putting his daily exercise allowance to good use.

The government's strict new curbs on life in the UK to tackle the spread of coronavirus include only leaving home to exercise once a day.

Grennan, whose hits include Found What I’ve Been Looking For and Something In The Water, said he used his "one bit of exercise" on Tuesday to "deliver essentials to Bedford food bank".

View more on twitter

Yarl's Wood detainee tests positive for coronavirus

A woman being held at Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre in Bedfordshire has tested positive for coronavirus, the Home Office has said.

Yarl's Wood immigration removal centre
South Beds News Agency

It confirmed the diagnosis on Sunday and said the woman had been placed in isolation at the facility after showing symptoms.

No other staff or detainees have tested positive for Covid-19, the department added.