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PM says 20,000 former NHS staff return to fight virus


Some 20,000 former NHS staff have returned to work to help the fight against coronavirus, Boris Johnson has revealed in a video posted online.

Boris Johnson
PA Media

The prime minister, who is self-isolating after testing positive for the virus, said the country would get through the crisis "together".

It comes after England's deputy chief medical officer said it could be six months before life returns to "normal".

The number of people who have died with the virus in the UK has reached 1,228.

Manchester launches website to stream live music

Rumeana Jahangir

BBC North West News

Following the closure of bars and music venues, the Greater Manchester local authority is launching a website showing live performances every night.

Singer Phoebe Green performing for BBC Introducing at the Manchester International Festival in 2019.

The region’s night-time economy adviser, Sacha Lord, has helped set up the free United We Stream website, where from Monday users can watch free performances and donate to help affected businesses and local charities.

Manchester Central to open as temporary hospital

The Manchester Central Conference Centre (formerly the GMEX Centre) will be set up as a temporary hospital able to deal with a thousand patients during the coronoavirus pandemic.

It will be run by the armed forces and will open in mid April.

Manchester Central

Supermarket shoppers 'keep calm' and queue

The supermarket shop suddenly looks a little different. So how are people managing under the new restrictions?

Shoppers at Heaton Park in Manchester
Shoppers at Heaton Park in Manchester showing how it's done

Social media has been full of people sharing their experience of shopping while keeping 2m (6ft 6in) apart.

People queuing outside Tesco in Stretford, Manchester
The scene at Tesco in Stretford, Manchester, on Friday as shoppers prepare for the weekend

Adrian Barrowdale said he had felt nervous before a shopping trip in Manchester but was relieved by how well the supermarket managed shoppers.

He said:

I've just been to Aldi in Sharston and have to say I was really impressed.

It was queuing out the door, which gave me the fear, but it turns out they are just doing one in, one out, and keeping no more than approx 30 people in the store at any one time.

It was very quiet, very peaceful and well-stocked.

Parklife festival cancelled

Manchester's Parklife festival has been cancelled amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The two-day event was due to take place in June in Heaton Park.

Organisers said they were "really disappointed" but had to make the "unavoidable decision".

Parklife announcement

In a tweet, organiser Sacha Lord said: "The safety of our customers, staff and artists come first."

People who have already bought tickets will be contacted about a refund or the option of keeping their tickets for the 2021 festival.

Region's coronavirus deaths rise by 21

A further 21 people have died from the virus in the North West in the last seven days, bringing the total number of deaths in the region to 68, including Cumbria.

Coronavirus graphic

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the region currently stands at 930.

The region's NHS trusts released the following lists of deaths at their hospitals:

  • Countess of Chester of Chester: 1
  • Lancashire Teaching Hospitals: 2
  • Manchester University Hospitals Trust: 2
  • Pennine Acute Hospitals: 1
  • Salford Royal: 3
  • Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care: 4
  • University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay: 7
  • Wirral University Teaching Hospital: 1

Children's hospital appeals for donations to help staff

Royal Manchester Children's Hospital is appealing for businesses to donate food, drink and toiletries to support their staff.

But the hospital is asking that donations are not taken directly to the hospital.

Here is a full list of items the hospital needs.

Royal Manchester Children's Hospital

To enable deliveries to be made safely and in line with current social distancing rules, businesses are asked to contact the charity team on 0161 276 4522 or email charity.office@mft.nhs.uk

Fire boss 'astonished' at moorland barbecues

A fire service boss said he is "astonished" by large groups gathering for barbecues on the moors amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Saddleworth fire
Anthony Devlin/Getty Images

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said people were meeting to cook food despite a ban on moorland barbecues after huge fires in 2018.

It also flouts the government's instructions on social distancing.

Fire station manager Dave Swallow said their actions were "dangerous" and urged people to stick to the rules, adding:

It's just amazing how many people don't seem to be getting the importance of the social distancing guidelines.

It's astonishing when you to throw in the fact that people are taking disposable barbecues out there and cooking.

Police get new powers to enforce protection


Anyone continuing to break coronavirus lockdown rules will be breaking the law and faces arrest.


People ignoring tougher restrictions on movement could be hit with a £60 fine initially and another for £120 for a second offence.

New powers given to police mean no-one will be allowed to leave their home "without reasonable excuse".

The measures come into force on Thursday and will last six months, with a review every three weeks.

To ensure people stay at home and avoid non-essential travel, police will be able to order people to go home, leave an area or disperse.

The new powers mean officers can:

  • ensure parents are doing all they can to stop their children breaking the rules
  • issue a £60 fixed penalty, lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days
  • issue a £120 fixed penalty for second-time offenders, doubling on each further repeat offence

Coping with coronavirus anxiety

BBC News Health

Anxiety UK have experienced a big rise in callers since the Covid-19 outbreak.

Here are some tips on how to cope.

Northern closes waiting rooms and opens station barriers

Rail operator Northern has closed all waiting rooms at its stations, opened all gates and barriers and suspended issuing penalty fares until further notice.

Manchester Victoria

The firm, which manages dozens of stations across the north of England, said the closure of waiting rooms was in line with government advice, adding that in the event of bad weather, it would "review the situation and may look to re-open areas if appropriate".

A spokesman added that the opening of gates would mean "passengers do not have to pass paper or season tickets through the barriers or present them to staff", though customers still required a ticket to travel.

Commercial and customer director Mark Powles said:

Our trains and stations remain open for business to help key workers get where they need to be across the north of England.

For those who have to make essential journeys – and for our staff who continue to work across the network – we want to make the railway as safe as possible [and] the measure we have introduced today further limit person-to-person contact.

Our ticket offices remain open to provide help and advice to passengers [but] we will only accept payment via card. Customers who want to pay by cash will be asked to use ticket machines if they are available.

The firm is currently running an amended timetable for key workers and essential travel across all its services.

Greater Manchester '10 days to two weeks behind London'

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Greater Manchester is between 10 days and two weeks behind London in its trajectory of coronavirus cases, the region's mayor has said.

Andy Burnham

The total number of people who have died in Greater Manchester after testing positive for COVID-19 now stands at 27 and Andy Burnham said there had been an increase in cases in the region "over the last couple of days", adding that the area's hospital capacity had also "dropped" in the same period.

However, he said he was "very confident in colleagues working to plan the capacity across the system".

We have to keep a very close eye on this day by day, but I’m confident that the NHS system is as prepared as it could be.

We are looking at every possible contingency. It’s not just a question of beds and buildings. This is a question of people.

It’s hard to say at this moment in time that everything is sorted because it’s a fast-moving situation. But what I can say is we are doing everything we possibly can.

He said "no decisions have been made yet" about the use of any non-medical buildings as temporary hospitals, as is being done in London.

He also said he expected "in the next 24 hours... [for] every police officer to be issued with a kit which will include a mask, gloves and wipes".

However, he added that for most officers, "a surgical mask is not required as standard".

'Is losing sense of taste and smell a coronavirus symptom?'


BBC News has been trying to answer some of the questions that have been sent in about coronavirus and the new rules set out by the government to try and stop it spreading.

Liz Clarke in Manchester asked:

I lost my sense of taste and smell over seven days ago. Is this a symptom?

Ear, nose and throat specialists in the UK have also noticed rising reports of anosmia - the term for loss of smell.

And increasing numbers of people on social media have been reporting a lost sense of smell and taste. Some have tested positive for coronavirus.

However, the evidence so far is only anecdotal and viruses behind the common cold often lead to lost senses of smell and/or taste.

Mr Motivator to offer fitness advice on new BBC One show

Manchester-based fitness expert Mr Motivator is joining the team for a new daily BBC One show, HealthCheck UK Live, which will start on Monday at 10:00.

He says that "now more than ever it is important to keep our bodies and minds healthy", adding: "Everybody say yeah, let’s get happy and be wicked at home.”

View more on twitter

The worry of working in supermarkets and pharmacies

BBC Newsbeat

There are many people around the country who have been following the government's advice around social distancing - that's avoiding going out for non-essential reasons due to the coronavirus pandemic.

For quite a few of us, that means having to work from home, but that's not an option everyone can take.

Mehfuz Dasu Patel

Mehfuz Dasu Patel helps run a group of community pharmacies in north west England, which serve 250 care homes and deliver medicines to around 20,000 patients.

And those patients are the reason he's still going to work.

If Mehfuz decides to stop working, "vulnerable people will go without medicines", he says, adding:

It's not the sort of business that can just disappear or you can work from home. We have to keep delivering to them, despite what's happening in the world.

Read more about the workers who have go out to work here.

The firms hiring thousands of new staff

BBC Business News

Tens of thousands of people have lost their jobs because of the coronavirus crisis as restaurants, bars, hotels and gyms have been forced to close.

But many companies still in business are urgently seeking more staff to meet orders, help with deliveries and just to keep things moving.

Man puts hiring sign in a window
Getty Images

The major supermarkets are searching for 35,000 additional workers, but many other firms supplying essential goods or services are also looking for extra help so they can cope with the increased demand.

Home care company Cera has just created 10,000 new jobs for people to work as part of the home carer community.

Meanwhile, chemist chain Lloyds Pharmacy is seeking 1,500 workers across the country in the next few days. And Virgin Media says it needs 500 new people at Birmingham, Sheffield, Manchester and Teesside.

'Hotels for homeless' plan unveiled by Greater Manchester mayor

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Up to 1,000 homeless people across Greater Manchester will be put up in hotels to try and stop more people getting coronavirus, the region's mayor has said.

Andy Burnham
PA Media

Andy Burnham said a £5m fund will help those most at risk of developing and spreading the disease – rough sleepers and people in shared accommodation.

Currently, 625 rooms have already been allocated in hotels across the region, with the combined authority hoping to secure a further 375 by Friday.

Food, sanitary products and dental supplies will also be provided, with mobile phones allowing those staying to contact support workers and access "extra emotional support".

Mr Burnham said:

We have identified 720 people in shared accommodation and 280 people sleeping rough on the streets who will need our support.

They have been identified as the highest risk group with regard to coronavirus infection, but also contributing to wider spread.

It’s absolutely crucial from a humanitarian point of view that urgent action was taken to put in place proper support for them.

However, the mayor criticised Britannia Hotels for removing people housed under the scheme from one of their hotels yesterday, leaving them with "nowhere to go".

He added:

While it’s right for me to praise those organisations stepping forward and doing the right, I think it’s equally important to say that we don’t accept that kind of response once an agreement has been reached to accommodate people.

[It was] a pretty major incident where people were put out with nowhere to go.

That was unfair on them and it was unfair on council staff who had to deal with a very challenging situation.

We’ve considered that to be an extremely disappointing approach from that particular organisation, and it’s only right that it’s brought to the public’s attention because we don’t think it is the way that things should be done.

Britannia Hotels has been contacted for comment.

Greater Manchester special constables 'doing a brilliant job'

Jobless struggle to claim benefits


Significant problems are being reported after an "incredible" number of benefit claims in recent days due to the economic fall-out of the coronavirus.

People queue at job centre

At one point on Tuesday, more than 100,000 people were trying to verify online applications and others spent hours trying to phone welfare staff.

Many gave up after long phone queues and then being rejected by the system.

The Department for Work and Pensions said it was redeploying existing staff and hiring others to cope with demand.

Lancashire coach gives tips on social distancing cricket practice

One of Lancashire Cricket Foundation's coaches has been giving some ideas about how fielding skills can be sharpened while observing social distancing.

View more on twitter

Police thank those staying at home as pictures show deserted streets in Manchester

Greater Manchester mayor says non-essential construction work 'must stop'

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has called for all non-essential construction work to stop to halt spread of coronavius.

Andy Burnham

Speaking on BBC Two's Newsnight, he said the decision to allow non-essential work appeared to have been made for "economic reasons".

"When you're in the middle of a global pandemic, health reasons alone really should be guiding all decision-making," he said.

A growing number of construction companies said they will stop all essential work to help fight the coronavirus, but others continue to operate amid confusion over the government's advice.

There is concern the virus will spread easily on busy construction sites.

The government has said work can continue so long as people are 2m (6.5ft) apart, but critics say this is impossible to enforce, and that public health should come first.

Read more: Construction firms split as shutdown calls grow

Thousands sign up to help NHS with vulnerable


More than 250,000 people volunteer in a single day, exceeding the government's target.

Man leaving pharmacy with bag
Getty Images

The helpers are needed for delivering food and medicines, driving patients to appointments and phoning the isolated.

The scheme is one of a number aimed at relieving pressure on the NHS.

About 11,000 former medics have also agreed to return to the health service and more than 24,000 final year student nurses and medics will join them.

App offers 'lifeline' to Manchester businesses

BBC Radio 5 Live

Fury says 'listen to Boris, stay indoors'

BBC Sport

Manchester's world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury tells the public to "stay inside" as the country fights the coronavirus pandemic.

Manchester United deliver food packages

Manchester United Foundation, the club's charity, has been out and about delivering food parcels to local schools and the local NHS's Manchester Foundation Trust Charity.

View more on twitter

Former police chief says public must accept 'absolutely vital' coronavirus rules

The former chief constable of Greater Manchester Police says there is "a huge amount of clarification needed" about the tougher rules on the movement of people during the coronavirus crisis.

Sir Peter Fahy

Speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning, Sir Peter Fahy said "clear outlines are needed" on a range of issues, such as the definition of a vulnerable person and what counts as exercise.

There is no way really that the police can enforce this using powers.

It has got to be because the public hugely support it, that there is peer pressure and there is continuing clarification from government about the message and going through all the individual scenarios and questions that people will have about what happens in this situation.

It feels like in the next few days, we will need an implementation period, but the key thing is that the public accept that this is absolutely vital if lives are to be saved.

'It's important to reach out to people living alone'

Coronation Street star Dan Brocklebank has been talking about living alone and how important it is to reach out to people during the coronavirus pandemic.

The actor, who plays Billy Mayhew in the ITV soap, said he is seeing "lovely community spirit".

View more on twitter
Coronavirus: Inside a community pharmacy under pressure
Pharmacists are asking people not to stockpile drugs as many report a threefold increase in footfall.

Greater Manchester venues offer 'amazing educational resources'

National Pensioners Convention cancelled

The annual National Pensioners Convention, due to be held in Southport in June, has been cancelled.

Southport Theatre and Convention Centre

General Secretary Jan Shortt said it "will not surprise" anyone that the two-day event, due to start on 2 June at the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre, will now not go ahead.

The NPC represents about one million members and promotes "the welfare and interests of all pensioners".

People who have already bought tickets will be refunded and the event is expected to be rescheduled for next year.

Ms Shortt added:

Please be patient with our staff – they are working flat out and under very difficult circumstances.

It is frustrating that we lose our unique event this year, but we can get through this together by being vigilant, looking after ourselves and others and making sure we stay up to date, safe and well.

Nationwide clap to say thanks to the NHS planned

People have been asked to take part in a huge round of applause on Thursday to say thank you to the NHS staff working tirelessly during the coronavirus pandemic.

Organisers of Clap for our Carers are asking everyone that can to clap at 20:00 on Thursday - whether it's in your garden or local park - and at a safe distance from others, of course.

Health officials applauded in return to Spanish police who paid respect to health workers fighting coronavirus pandemic by applauding.
Getty Images

Similar displays of appreciation have been taking place in Spain, France and the Netherlands, with Spanish police and health workers applauding each other.

To find out more, visit the Clap For Our Carers website.

Ex Man Utd stars' hotels filling up with NHS staff

BBC Sport

Former Manchester United footballers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs "expect" their two hotels "to be full soon" of NHS staff isolating from their families.

Ryan Giggs

The pair closed the Stock Exchange Hotel in Manchester city centre and Hotel Football at Old Trafford at the weekend and are letting health workers helping with the coronavirus crisis stay there free of charge.

Giggs said the two hotels which have more than 170 rooms already have 35 NHS workers staying there and he said he believes it will be full in 10 days.