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Jose Mouriho

Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho says he "accepts actions were not in line with government protocol" after being pictured flouting coronavirus social-distancing guidelines.

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Scientists question school closures impact

Classroom
Getty Images

Countries like the UK that have closed schools to help stop the spread of coronavirus should ask hard questions about whether this is now the right policy, says one team of scientists.

The University College London team says keeping pupils off has little impact, even with other lockdown measures.

But a scientist whose work has informed the UK strategy insists school closures play an important role.

The government has said it will review its coronavirus policies after Easter.

While children can catch coronavirus, they rarely get severe symptoms.

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New teams respond to Covid-19 deaths in the community

LAS
PA

New specialist teams are being trained to respond to suspected Covid-19 deaths in the community across London.

The teams – made up of police officers, fire and health services staff – will confirm the deceased’s identity and establish there are no suspicious circumstances.

They will also prepare the deceased to be collected by an undertaker to take them to a funeral home or mortuary, until arrangements can be made for burial or cremation.

The aim of the new units, called Pandemic Multiagency Response Teams (PMART), is to ensure a safe response to Covid-19 deaths that may occur in the community at home, in a care home or hospice and to help reduce demand on the London Ambulance Service (LAS), enabling them to prioritise emergency cases.

These new teams will play a key role in helping ease pressure on the London Ambulance Service to allow them to concentrate on treating new emergency cases. At the same time, they will be helping provide families and loved ones with advice and assistance in the most exceptionally distressing circumstances. London’s emergency services, local authorities and other critical public and private sector partners are working resolutely to tackle the impact of the virus in the capital. We need Londoners to continue to play their part by staying at home, helping us to protect frontline services and save lives."

Eleanor KellyDeputy Chair of London’s Strategic Coordination Group

New law brings in virtual council meetings

Local Democracy Reporting Service

City Hall
BBC

City Hall could be heading for a new virtual reality, as a law passed gives local government the power to hold remote sessions for the first time.

The London Assembly cancelled its meetings last month after the Government brought in new social distancing rules to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Local council meetings and parliamentary committees have also been postponed – raising concerns about how democratic scrutiny will continue during the outbreak.

Many MPs are calling for Parliament to hold virtual sessions when it returns from recess later this month – and now it seems City Hall will do the same.

Under the new law – which comes into force today – the London Assembly will be able to hold online sessions rather than meeting in person.

The legislation also scraps the requirement for People’s Question Time events during the pandemic. The annual State of London debate – a public meeting held at the O2 to discuss the key issues in the capital – could also be cancelled.

Watch: How do you care for someone at home?

Coronavirus: How do you care for someone at home?

Patients with mild coronavirus symptoms - such as a new continuous cough or a high temperature above 37.8C - should self-isolate at home for at least seven days, according to the latest advice issued by Public Health England.

If symptoms worsen or don't go away after a week, then people should contact their local health service - in the UK, that's the NHS 111 coronavirus service.

So how should you look after someone in your home who gets coronavirus?

The BBC's Laura Foster explains measures you should take when caring for someone who has it.

Nightingale Hospital supplies saved from blaze

Mariam Issimdar

BBC News

Firefighters have saved NHS supplies and fuel which were destined for the Nightingale Hospital at London's ExCel Centre after a blaze at an industrial estate in Barking.

A range of shipping containers were badly damaged by the fire and two vans were destroyed, London Fire Brigade said.

Five people were helped from the building on Friday but there were no injuries.

Fire at storage depot in Barking, London
London Fire Brigade

Group commander Dan Kipling said: “Firefighters worked to prioritise removing two pallets of NHS equipment and 72,000 litres of diesel so they didn’t become involved in the fire.

“Crews worked very hard and did a really good job in difficult circumstances to prioritise saving the stock and fuel, which has now left the site for the Nightingale Hospital.”

How NHS Nightingale was built in just nine days

The UK's newest, and largest, hospital facility is preparing to open its doors to take in coronavirus patients needing intensive care treatment.

East London's ExCeL exhibition centre, which normally plays host to lifestyle shows, expos and conferences, has been converted into the temporary NHS Nightingale hospital, with space for 4,000 beds.

Find out how this amazing feat was achieved.

Inside NHS Nightingale
Getty Images

London streets eerily quiet during pandemic

Claire Timms

BBC London News

BBC London senior journalist Rebecca Williams took these photos while out for a brief spot of exercise during her lunch break today in central London.

Hard to believe it was lunchtime on a Thursday in the capital but since the government ordered workers to work from home, for shops to shut and for people to socially isolate this is our new reality.

Regent Street
Rebecca Williams
London Street W1A
Rebecca Williams
Alley off Bond Street
Rebecca Williams
Bond Street
Rebecca Williams
Coronavirus death: NHS worker 'just had gloves and flimsy apron'
The family of Thomas Harvey, who died after getting coronavirus, believe his death could have been prevented.

Secret artist 'painting streets' during coronavirus outbreak

BBC London

Firefighters to drive ambulances to help virus response

London ambulance
Getty Images

Some 300 London Fire Brigade (LFB) staff are to join up with London's ambulance crews to boost emergency responses during the coronavirus pandemic, it has been announced.

Under the agreement between the Brigade and London Ambulance Service (LAS), firefighters will assist paramedics through tasks such as driving ambulances to emergency situations.

LAS's Chief Executive Garrett Emmerson said the service were "already dealing with unprecedented levels of demand as a result of Covid-19 – more than 11,000 people are calling 999 for an ambulance every day – and we know the peak of the pandemic is still to come.

"As part of our preparations we must reach out to all our partners to help boost our response so we can continue to treat every patient who needs us during this difficult time.”

Andy Roe, LFB's commissioner, said "hundreds of firefighters" had already "stepped forward to volunteer" to support ambulance crews.

Met police find Gin-ventive hand sanitiser suppliers

Met officers
Getty Images

Gin distilleries and breweries are to begin supplying the Met police with hand sanitiser.

Portobello Road Gin in Notting Hill, 58 Gin Ltd in Haggerston and Copper Rivet Distillery in Chatham have all agreed contracts to ensure the Met's supply of hand sanitiser doesn't dry up.

Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I, has also agreed to donate 6,000 litres to the country's largest police force.

The outbreak of COVID-19 in the UK has led to an increased demand across the country for hygiene products such as hand sanitiser.

Hand sanitiser is a crucial item for officers and staff in the Met especially those on the frontline who are patrolling the streets of London, dealing with prisoners in custody and attending crime scenes.

All potential suppliers are producing and selling the hand sanitisers using the formulation provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO), allowing the product to be made in a timely manner.

The Met Police's Director of Commercial Services, Mark Roberts, said: “I am extremely grateful to all of the suppliers who have agreed to work with us and provide us with this vital commodity, which will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and ultimately save lives."

London MP denies racism accusations over coronavirus comment

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Bob Stewart's Facebook post
LDRS

A south-east London MP has been accused of racism after he referred to coronavirus as a "foul Chinese illness".

MP for Beckenham Bob Stewart rejected the accusation and said he had not wanted to "score points".

In a post published on his Facebook page this weekend, Mr Stewart wrote: "In truth most people who contract this foul Chinese illness seem to brush it off with a bit of a cough, a higher temperature and a headache.”

The comments drew criticism from residents and political figures in the borough.

Angela Wilkins, the opposition leader at Bromley Council, commented: "I think I can safely speak for all Labour for Bromley members in absolute condemnation of these ignorant and racist comments from Bob Stewart."

Mr Stewart said: "It was not a rascist comment.

"My grandfather died of Spanish Flu in 1919 and I used the words Chinese Flu in respect of where the virus originated, not denigrating the Chinese people.

"As a constituent e-mailed me and thought I was being rude about the Chinese I deleted the word ‘Chinese’ because that was not my intention.

"I was not trying to score points; simply to say where the illness seems to have originated."

Sign appreciating NHS appears in Romford

Sign
Facebook/Sarah Gregory

The sign has appeared on a fence outside Queen's Hospital in Romford town centre, according to Sarah Gregory who posted it in an open Facebook group.

It is likely to be the latest example of messages put up across the country in support of medics tackling the coronavirus crisis.

Coronavirus: Suspect Tasered after coughing at officers

A man has been Tasered after deliberately coughing over police officers as they sat in a car and claiming he had Covid-19.

The Metropolitan Police firearms command said on Twitter that the suspect had walked up to officers in a car in Haringey, north London, and “shouted that he had coronavirus before deliberately coughing saliva all over them”.

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He then began to physically attack them, officers said, before he was Tasered and arrested.

The suspect was later tested for the virus and found not to have it.

Last week director of public prosecutions Max Hill warned the public that using Covid-19 as a threat against emergency workers would be treated as a crime that could lead to up to two years in prison.

Deliberately coughing at other key workers such as supermarket staff could be prosecuted as a common assault, which could mean up to six months in prison.

Met Comissioner: Coronavirus police powers should be 'last resort'

Cressida Dick and Met Officers
Getty Images

New powers to enforce coronavirus lockdown rules should only be used as "a last resort", the head of the Met Police has told officers.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Dame Cressida Dick, said her approach is to "help educate and encourage" the public to comply with the tightest restrictions seen in peacetime in the UK.

Dame Cressida told LBC: "We are all getting used to the new restrictions and I've been very clear that in the first instance I want my officers to be engaging with people, talking to people, encouraging them to comply.

"Explaining, of course, if they don't understand - already we have had examples of people who simply hadn't quite heard all the messages - and, only as a very last resort with the current restrictions, using firm direction or even enforcement."

Her comments came after a number of forces were accused of being overzealous in their approach to the new rules.

South Wales Police hit out at MP Stephen Kinnock for visiting his father, former Labour leader Neil Kinnock, on his birthday.

London firefighters to deliver food and drive ambulances

London firefighters
Met Police

London's firefighters have agreed to deliver food and medicine, drive ambulances and retrieve bodies during the Covid-19 pandemic, as former ambulance staff and police officers were urged to come back to the front line.

Under a new crisis agreement, firefighters will be able to deliver essential items such as food to vulnerable people, drive ambulances and assist ambulance staff, and collect bodies in the event of mass casualties.

The national plan, agreed by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), fire chiefs and employers, will see firefighters maintain core services such as attending fires and road traffic accidents, but also providing extra services as coronavirus continues to spread.

It will run for two months but can be extended if necessary and could affect the London Fire Brigade's 5,000 firefighters and emergency control staff.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU, said: "We face a public health crisis unparalleled in our lifetimes.

"Firefighters are fantastic at teamwork, are experienced in driving emergency vehicles and, as a service rooted in the community, may be best placed to deliver essential items to the most vulnerable.

"Many fear the loss of life in this outbreak could be overwhelming - and firefighters, who often handle terrible situations and incidents, are ready to step in to assist with body retrieval."

Mr Wrack told BBC Radio 4's Today programme it would be "quite a serious challenge" for firefighters to take on more work.

London university provides corona testing equipment

The University of Westminster’s School of Life Sciences has transferred some of its equipment to the Government’s new COVID-19 testing unit in Milton Keynes.

Head of the School of Life Sciences, Professor Brendon Noble, said: "Testing individuals is absolutely crucial to our ability to slow the spread.

"When we don’t know if we have the virus, we don’t know how to change our behaviour, and this is so important.

"Healthcare and key workers are currently being sent home if they show any symptoms at all but could possibly continue working if they tested negative.”

Dr Mohammed Gulrez Zariwala, Assistant Head of the School of Life Sciences, added: "The School plans to expand its contribution to the fight through donations of critical protective equipment to hospitals and a volunteering scheme for some of our expert colleagues.

We are pleased to have been contacted by the Prime Minister‘s Office with this request."

Restaurant praised for donating food to charity

An Indian restaurant in Hounslow, west London, has been praised for donating pre-packed food to humanitarian charity Khalsa Aid International.

Langar Aid which supports the homeless, vulnerable and those struggling with poverty in the UK, said on Twitter that it distributed the food to hostels.

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NHS staff urged to move to conference centre hospital

ExCeL site
PA Media

Health bosses are urging staff to move quickly to work at the new 4,000-bed field hospital being set to manage a surge in seriously ill coronavirus patients, it has been reported.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced earlier this week that the ExCeL site in London will become a temporary hospital equipped with two wards of 2,000 beds to cope with any patient surge in the capital.

The Health Service Journal (HSJ) reported on Wednesday that leaders were "urgently" identifying staff who could be redeployed quickly at the new Nightingale Hospital.

An email from a London trust chief executive to staff, seen by the HSJ, said a response was needed within hours and accommodation could be provided if necessary.

It added: "Along with other NHS trusts, we have been asked to identify a range of our people to help staff the new Nightingale Hospital at the ExCeL centre in east London.

"This is a key element of the NHS national response to coronavirus and will provide the first major wave of 'surge' capacity.

"The urgency in identifying staff is to allow time for training to take place before opening to patients.

"We have asked divisional clinical leads to identify and approach staff who may be able to be redeployed quickly to the ExCeL and, in the interests of time, we are also asking staff directly to come forward to be considered for redeployment.

"Accommodation will be provided if required."

The email said the new hospital should take some pressure off London hospitals by absorbing demand, giving the trusts more time to increase their own capacity.

The required staff range from consultants, GPs, critical care nurses and pharmacists to non-clinical staff, such as porters and administrators, it added.