UK PM Boris Johnson has coronavirus


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he will keep calm and carry on running the UK government despite testing positive for coronavirus.

Just days after Prince Charles came down with the illness, Mr Johnson has also become a victim.

The World Health Organisation now says global coronavirus cases have surpassed 500,000.

Mr Johnson has insisted he has "mild symptoms" and that he would still be able to continue his work with the "wizardry of modern technology".


The diagnosis has thrown a cloud over the whole UK government, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak likely to be forced to self isolate because he was out early on Friday Australian time applauding medical workers alongside Mr Johnson.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock also revealed he had tested positive and is now self-isolating.

Downing Street must work out all the people they have had contact with who could now be at risk.

Multiple No10 staff and the Chancellor could also have to self-isolate if they have spread it to them.

There are also questions about whether Mr Johnson's pregnant girlfriend Carrie Symonds, 31, has contracted the illness.

Mr Johnson, 55, posted a video message about his illness, where at that moment he appeared relatively well.

"I've developed mild symptoms of the coronavirus, that is to say a temperature and a persistent cough and on the advice of the chief medical officer I have taken a test, that has come back positive," he said.

"I am working from home, I am self isolating and that's entirely the right thing to do but be in no doubt that I can continue thanks to the wizardry of modern technology to communicate with all my top team to lead the national fightback against coronavirus."


Mr Johnson was likely to have been infectious in the past few days, but he had reverted to phone briefings with the Queen.

The decision to stop the weekly private face-to-face meetings with the Quen took on greater importance after Mr Johnson came down with the illness.

The last time that Mr Johnson met the Queen was on March 11, the day before she came into contact with Prince Charles.

Buckingham Palace told News Corp Australia tonight that it would not give a "daily update" on the Queen's health.

Earlier this week, Her Majesty, who is staying at Windsor Castle with Prince Philip, 98, had been in good health after Prince Charles returned a positive coronavirus test.

Mr Johnson also thanked the National Health Service for all their work and encouraged Brits to stay at home and wash their hands.

Britain was likely to hit its peak of the outbreak within the next seven to 10 days, with London preparing for a tidal wave of new cases.

Mr Johnson had been in contact with health minister Nadine Dorries who had recovered from the illness.

It was reported on Friday night that Ms Symonds was not living with Mr Johnson at No. 10 Downing Street, where he was running the government.

Pregnant women had been told to stay indoors for 12 weeks under UK guidelines, because they may have a higher risk of complications from the illness.

Over 70s were also ordered to stay home for three months, with an army of more than 500,000 volunteers to deliver them food and medicine.

The UK has recorded 578 deaths so far, with a jump of 113 in a day on the latest figures as the illness starts to spike.

The Excel Exhibition Centre in London has been turned into a 1km long, 4000-bed hospital, named after the famous nurse Florence Nightingale, who revolutionised hospital hygiene.

The hospital will open next week, with the army enlisted to help support its operation.




Meanwhile, nearly 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week - more than quadruple the previous record set in 1982 - amid a widespread economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus.

The surge in weekly applications was a stunning reflection of the damage the viral outbreak is doing to the economy. Filings for unemployment aid generally reflect the pace of lay-offs.


The pace of lay-offs is sure to accelerate as the US economy sinks into a recession. Revenue has collapsed at restaurants, hotels, movie theatres, gyms, and airlines. Auto sales are plummeting, and car makers have close factories. Most such employers face loan payments and other fixed costs, so they're cutting jobs to save money.

As job losses mount, some economists say America's unemployment rate could approach 13 per cent by May. By comparison, the highest jobless rate during the Great Recession, which ended in 2009, was 10 per cent.


An FDNY medical worker wears personal protective equipment at a New York hospital. Picture: AP
An FDNY medical worker wears personal protective equipment at a New York hospital. Picture: AP


The economic deterioration has been swift. As recently as February, the unemployment rate was at a 50-year low of 3.5 per cent. And the economy was growing steadily if modestly. Yet by the April-June quarter of the year, some economists think the economy will shrink at its steepest annual pace ever - a contraction that could reach 30 per cent.

Many people who have lost jobs in recent days have been unable to file for unemployment aid because state websites and phone systems have been overwhelmed by a crush of applicants and have frozen up. That logjam suggests that Thursday's report on filings for unemployment benefits actually understates the magnitude of job cuts last week.

With layoffs surging, a significant expansion of unemployment benefits for the millions who will lose jobs as a result of the coronavirus outbreak was included in an economic relief bill which passed through Congress and goes to the House for final approval.

One provision in the bill would provide an extra US$600 ($A1000) a week on top of the unemployment aid that states provide. Another would extend 13 additional weeks of benefits beyond the six months of jobless aid that most states offer.

Separate legislation passed last week provides up to US$1 billion ($A1.65 billion) to states to enhance their ability to process claims. But that money will take time to be disbursed.

The bill, expected to top $2 trillion ($A3.3 trillion), also bails out businesses, hospitals and local governments.

The package authorises US$1200 ($A2000) cheques for all adults who earn up to $US75,000 ($A125,000) and creates enormous loan programs for businesses.

A generous boost of US$600 ($A1000) per week in unemployment pay led to a final road bump when a group of Republicans sought unsuccessfully to change the bill so the unemployed could not get more than 100 percent of their prior pay.

The package creates a $500 billion loan program run by the Treasury Department to assist businesses struggling to stay afloat. Loans to President Trump's businesses and those of members of Congress, other officials and their families are banned.


Iconic Italian fashion brand Armani said on Thursday it would start making single use medical overalls for hospital workers at all its Italian factories.

The group - whose brands include Giorgio Armani and Emporio Armani - said they would be used for "the individual protection of healthcare workers engaged in the fight against the Coronavirus disease." Founder Giorgio Armani has donated 2 million euros ($A3.65 million) in recent weeks to hospitals around Italy, including Bergamo and Piacenza in the hard-hit north, the company said.

It was not immediately clear how many factories the company operates in Italy. Like many other fashion brands, Armani has in recent years moved much of its production out of Italy to other countries where labour costs are lower.


World leaders on Thursday promised $US5 trillion ($A9 trillion) to stave off global economic collapse from the coronavirus pandemic that has killed 21,000 people and shut down huge swathes of the globe.

From New York to Paris to New Delhi life has ground to standstill with some three billion people confined to their homes as governments scramble to halt the disease's deadly march across the world.

The death toll spiralled upward again in Europe, as fatalities in the United Stated shot past 1000 and cases in Africa continued to multiply, and already-stretched healthcare systems readied for the worst.

Fears are mounting the virus could cause an even greater shock than the Great Depression, with the latest unemployment figures out of the US breaking records as businesses across the world's biggest economy are pinched by the pandemic.

Leaders from the G20 most industrialised nations held crisis talks by video link on Thursday (local time), pledging a "united front" to fight the outbreak -- along with an enormous financial injection to prop up the economy.

"The virus respects no borders," the leaders said in a statement. "We are injecting over $5 trillion into the global economy, as part of targeted fiscal policy, economic measures, and guarantee schemes to counteract the social, economic and financial impacts of the pandemic." They also pledged "robust" support for developing nations, where it is feared coronavirus could next take hold after ravaging China and then Europe.

But the unity pledged by the G20 has been in short supply with China and the United States trading barbs over their handling of the coronavirus crisis.

The outbreak first emerged in China late last year but has spread relentlessly. Globally, infections are nearing half a million worldwide.

Europe is now the hardest hit continent, clocking over 250,000 infections and more than 15,000 deaths.


By Thursday next week Australia's hospital system could be unable to cope with the COVID-19 outbreak and the death rate from the virus will soar, Macquarie University modelling shows.

It comes as a cruise ship passenger in his 70s died of COVID-19 in Western Australia, taking the national coronavirus toll to 13 on Thursday afternoon.

Two researchers Hamish Meares and Michael Jones modelled what would happen in a standard Australian hospital that saw an increase of 20 COVID-19 patients a day with just one of those patients requiring admission to an intensive care bed.

Each patient that required an intensive care bed would be in hospital for at least 10 days.

"Australia's ICU capacity will be exceeded at around 22,000 COVID-19 cases sometime around the 5 April, 2020," the authors say in a paper published online in the Medical Journal of Australia.

A mobile, drive through coronavirus testing clinic in Townsville. Picture: Matt Taylor
A mobile, drive through coronavirus testing clinic in Townsville. Picture: Matt Taylor

"Other sources have suggested that Australia could cope with up to 44,580 COVID-19 cases, but even if this is true it only grants a three-day extension to the 8 April, 2020," the paper said.

Under the scenario a single hospital requires 31 ICU beds on Day 7, and almost 200 on Day 14.

When there are not enough intensive care beds to deal with demand the death rate from the virus will soar.

"We found the mortality rate among hospitalised averaged 8.8 per cent from Day 1 to Day 14 and was essentially steady but from Day 15, the mortality rate dramatically rises with an average mortality of 22.7 per cent from Day 15 onwards," the study said.

"These data imply that the eventual mortality rate of COVID-19 may be much higher than currently estimated because once the system reaches breaking point and there are insufficient ICU beds, mortality rises dramatically," the authors say.


The researchers say while the inputs into their model can be debated, "it does appear to represent a realistic clinical scenario, is consistent with international data and suggests the conclusion that the impending demand for ICU beds could overwhelm capacity in even the largest Australian hospitals in the near future".

"Australia must immediately take all available measures to rapidly decrease the rate of new cases and radically increase the number of ICU beds otherwise we may face the same fate as Italy, or worse," they said.




Production on The Bachelor Australia has been suspended due to COVID-19.

Channel 10 and production company Warner Bros made the decision "after considering all available options".

"Although we have been employing extra precautions on set for some time, it is no longer practical to continue with production," a statement read.

"The health and safety of our participants and crew members is our number one priority. These are extremely difficult times for all Australians and for our industry, and the full extent of those difficulties will not be known for some time to come."

Production will resume as soon as it is safe to do so.

"While this decision is disappointing, we remain committed to keeping our audiences entertained and connected in these challenging times," the statement continued.

"We are also committed to ensuring the television industry remains in as strong a shape as possible so we can continue to bring Australian viewers local content."







A 'pandemic drone' invented by University of South Australia researchers could be employed to scan crowds and workplaces and detect people infected with COVID-19.

The University of South Australia team, led by Defence Chair of Sensor Systems Professor Javaan Chahl have previously invented drones that uses a computer vision system which can distinguish survivors from deceased bodies on battlefields in Afghanistan from four to eight metres away.

As long as the upper torso of a human body is visible, the cameras can pick up the tiny movements in the chest cavity, that indicate a heartbeat and breathing rate.

Now they have fitted drones with a specialised sensor and computer vision system that can monitor temperature, heart and respiratory rates, as well as detect people sneezing and coughing in crowds, offices, airports, cruise ships, aged care homes and other places where groups congregate.

The University of South Australia team will work with North American drone technology company Draganfly Inc to immediately start integrating commercial, medical and government customers.

A sanitary worker disinfects a bus at the end of the day in Warsaw, Poland. Picture: AP
A sanitary worker disinfects a bus at the end of the day in Warsaw, Poland. Picture: AP

Algorithms for measuring temperature and detecting coughing and sneezing movements are still being optimised at their lab in Adelaide, South Australia.

"There's a lot of engineering going on right now but the aspiration is to have this in some sort of initial capability within six months," Professor Chahl said.

"It's one thing to have it work in a science experiment type scenario but getting it to run in the field on a real piece of hardware is quite a challenge."

Professor Chahl has demonstrated that heart rate and breathing rate can be measured with high accuracy within five to 10 metres of people, using drones and at distances of up to 50 metres with fixed cameras.

They have also developed algorithms that can interpret human actions such as sneezing and coughing.

The research has previously looked at using the drones to monitor and react to elderly falls, look for signs of life in war zones or following a natural disaster and monitoring the heart rates babies in neonatal incubators.






Sir James Dyson has announced plans for his firm to produce and supply battery-powered respirators specifically designed to treat patients with COVID-19, after a plea from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The veteran tech innovator said he had instructed his engineers to work with The Technology Partnership after a government request 10 days ago and had already designed a respirator called CoVent to meet growing needs for the lifesaving devices.

The medical device will feature the Dyson Digital motor better known for its use in vacuum cleaners and is designed to be portable, bed-mounted, battery-powered and used without a fixed air supply.

"This new device can be manufactured quickly, efficiently and at volume," he said.

"It is designed to address the specific clinical needs of COVID-19 patients and it is suited to a variety of clinical settings.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the telephone to Queen Elizabeth II for her Weekly Audience during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Picture: Andrew Parsons-WPA Pool/Getty Images
Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the telephone to Queen Elizabeth II for her Weekly Audience during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Picture: Andrew Parsons-WPA Pool/Getty Images


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"The core challenge was how to design and deliver a new, sophisticated medical product in volume and in an extremely short space of time. The race is now on to get it into production."

Dyson and TTP are now seeking urgent approval for the respirator to be used in clinical settings by the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and will require similar approvals overseas.

Sir James said the company had received an order for 10,000 units from the UK Government but was "also looking at ways of making it available internationally".

He pledged to donate 5000 of the CoVent respirators, including 1000 to the UK.










Originally published as US deaths spike as jobless claims soar

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