US extends travel ban to UK and Ireland – as it happened

That’s it from me for now. My colleague Helen Sullivan will be taking over our live coverage now on a new blog, which you will find here.

Summary

  • Donald Trump given coronavirus all clear. Donald Trump’s physician, Sean Conley, has confirmed the US president does not have Covid-19. Earlier on Saturday, vice-president Mike Pence announced that the country’s European travel ban would be extended to the UK and Ireland from midnight on Monday (eastern standard time).
  • NHS and private hospitals join forces to fight coronavirus. The NHS is to form an unprecedented partnership with the private health sector this week in an emergency plan to combat the Covid-19 crisis, amid fears the UK’s publicly-funded hospitals will be unable to cope with the number of coronavirus patients.
  • A group of more than 240 UK scientists have denounced the government’s plan to achieve “herd immunity” by delaying measures to prevent the virus spreading. The group said that enforcing social distancing now could save “thousands of lives”.
  • The Spanish government has formally declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus, placing the country in lockdown and ordering people to stay at home for the next two weeks unless they have to buy food or medicine or go to work or hospital. The measures are set to come into effect on Monday morning and follows in the example set by France hours earlier, which announced the closure all public places “non-essential” from midnight on Saturday.
  • Spanish PM’s wife tests positive for coronavirus. The Spanish government announced that the prime minister’s wife, Begoña Gómez, has tested positive for the coronavirus. Both Gomez and her husband, Pedro Sánchez, are doing well and remain at their official residence in Madrid, the Moncloa palace, the government said in a statement.
  • Israel proposes uses anti-terrorism tracking tech. Israel has – like France and Spain – announced a partial closure of the country, shutting down hotels, cafes, restaurants, cinemas, theatres and malls. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu added that he hopes to deploy anti-terrorism tracking technology to locate people who have been in contact with those carrying the virus. He said he had requested Justice Ministry approval because such measures could infringe patients’ privacy.“The enemy is invisible, but we must locate it,” Netanyahu said.
  • Colombia closes border with Venezuela and Ecuador bans foreigners. Colombia overnight closed its border with Venezuela in order to stem the spread of Covid-19 in the South American nation. The move to shut the border came overnight, after Venezuela confirmed its first two cases of Covid-19 on Friday morning. Colombia currently has 22 confirmed cases of Covid-19, but its government appears to view Venezuela – with fewer cases – as a possible centre of an outbreak in Latin America. Meanwhile, Ecuador announced it would ban foreigners from entering the country by land, sea or air. Citizens and residents will be able to enter until Monday, after which they will also face restrictions. Gatherings larger than 30 people have also been banned.
  • Libya’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord has declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus and will close all air and sea ports from Monday, prime minister Fayez al-Serraj said on Saturday. Libya, split for years between rival governments that have been fighting a war for nearly a year, lacks adequate isolation and other facilities to combat the virus, the head of its disease control centre told Reuters on Thursday.
  • Rwanda, Seychelles and Central African Republic confirmed their first coronavirus cases on Saturday – bringing the total number of African countries that have reported positive tests for the virus to 23. Sudan has ordered the closure of schools and universities for one month from Saturday to stop the spread of coronavirus, a statement from the prime minister’s office said. While Morocco has banned flight to and from as many as 25 countries.
  • Global number of confirmed cases stands at 156,098, with 5,819 deaths. As of today 72,621 people have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University. The institution runs a live tracker of coronavirus cases, based on official figures, meaning that the true figures may be somewhat higher.

That is from me in London this evening. One of my colleagues will soon get going on a new liveblog to bring you all the latest developments in the coronavirus outbreak.

Donald Trump tests negative for coronavirus

A White House physician has issued a statement confirming that Donald Trump does not have Covid-19.

It comes after the US president confirmed he had been tested for the virus at a press briefing earlier on Saturday.

Spanish PM’s wife tests positive for coronavirus

Sam Jones

The Spanish government has just announced that the prime minister’s wife, Begoña Gómez, has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Both Gomez and her husband, Pedro Sánchez, are doing well and remain at their official residence in Madrid, the Moncloa palace, the government said in a statement.

Earlier this week, two of Sánchez’s ministers also tested positive for the virus.

Here is more heartening footage of a neighbourhood in Madrid spontaneously breaking into a round of applause in support of Spain’s healthcare workers.

It comes shortly after the Spanish government announced a nationwide lockdown would come into effect on Monday morning.

The video is filmed by student Sam Llewellyn Smith, who is set to fly back to the UK tomorrow before the lockdown comes into effect.

For more on the latest in Spain, read this report:

Scientists warn against UK government’s ‘herd immunity’ strategy

More than 245 scientists and mathematicians have denounced the government’s plan to achieve “herd immunity” by delaying measures to prevent the virus spreading, saying acting now would save “thousands of lives”.

It comes as the NHS announced an unprecedented partnership with the private health sector in an emergency plan to combat the coronavirus crisis, as fears grow that publicly funded hospitals will soon be unable to cope with the number of patients suffering from the virus.

My colleagues Denis Campbell, Toby Helm, Robin McKie and James Tapper have the full report:

More details on the scientists’ letter to the government, urging it to immediately enforce social distancing, can be found here:

Details continue to emerge of Israel’s plans to use anti-terrorism tracking technology to minimise the risk of coronavirus transmission.

Cyber tech monitoring would be deployed to locate people who have been in contact with those carrying the virus, subject to cabinet approval, Netanyahu told a news conference in Jerusalem.

“We will very soon begin using technology … digital means that we have been using in order to fight terrorism,” Netanyahu said.

He said he had requested Justice Ministry approval because such measures could infringe patients’ privacy.

The Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, confirmed that it was examining the use of its technological capabilities to fight coronavirus, at the request of Netanyahu and the Health Ministry.

Avner Pinchuk, a privacy expert with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, said such capabilities could include real-time tracking of infected persons’ mobile phones to spot quarantine breaches and backtracking through meta-data to figure out where they had been and who they had contacted.

“I am troubled by this announcement. I understand that we are in unique circumstances, but this seems potentially like over-reach. Much will depend on how intrusive the new measures are,” Pinchuk told Reuters news agency.

The governor of Louisiana has confirmed the states’ first coronavirus-related death – a 58-year-old with underlying health conditions.

Twitter has created a new emoji to encourage handwashing during the coronavirus outbreak.

Here is what they look like:

Among the manufacturing firms taking part in Johnson’s call will be Unipart Group, which makes precision parts and also manages large parts of the NHS warehousing and logistics chain.

Unipart chairman John Neill said: “This is a critical initiative – there are a lot of talented people already working at a great speed on this, it has my and others’ full-hearted support.”

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