Coronavirus latest: EU agrees aid package for member states

A mural in east London shows appreciation for NHS workers
A mural in east London shows appreciation for NHS workers Copyright AP
By Euronews with AP, AFP
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EU agrees massive aid package of immediate support for member states

The European Union has agreed an aid package of more than half a trillion euros to provide immediate support for member states, whose economies have been ravaged by the outbreak.
“We endorsed the agreements on three important safety nets for workers, businesses and sovereigns, amounting to 540 billion euros,” said President of the European Council Charles Michel. 
“We call for the package to be operational by 1 June 2020. We also agreed to work toward a recovery fund which is needed and urgent.”
A longer term recovery plan has also been discussed, but the EU is struggling to come to an agreement over debt distribution, with northern European countries, like the Netherlands and Germany, reluctant to share too much debt out of fear of having to foot the bill for others.

Macron calls for EU to go "further, stronger" towards European sovereignty - AFP

Emmanuel Macron called on EU countries to go "further, stronger" towards European sovereignty as leaders held their summit by videoconference, AFP reports.

The French President said a "consensus" was coming together among leaders to strengthen the autonomy of European strategy.

They have been trying to come up with solutions over the bloc’s response to the coronavirus crisis and how to finance an economic recovery fund.


EU Presidents von der Leyen and Michel: news conference

The Presidents of the European Commission and Council have been giving a news conference on the day EU leaders try to reach consensus on a common strategy for the coronavirus aftermath. You can watch it here:


Yanis Varoufakis: Coronavirus economic fallout could heap more misery onto Greece

Greece has done a good job containing coronavirus but it’s likely to be the hardest hit by the pandemic's economic fallout, the country’s former finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, has told Euronews.

Varoufakis: COVID-19 economic fallout could heap more misery on Greece

"I very much fear that Greece will have the largest number of people who go hungry as a result of the economic dimension of this pandemic," Varoufakis says


Vaccine trials begin in UK and get green light in Germany

Germany has announced that researchers in the country are starting clinical trials to develop a vaccine, after regulators gave the green light.

Meanwhile two separate trials have begun in the UK, in London and Oxford.

Here's the story:


 Italy records a further 464 deaths

Italy's total death toll attributed to COVID-19 reached 25,549 today after 464 more deaths in the last 24 hour period. 
With the second highest number of dead in the world after the US, Italy has now reported a total of 189,973 infections. The number of current patients has fallen for a second day by 851, and the number of those admitted to intensive care units each day is continuing to fall.

Hancock refuses to say how lockdown will be relaxed

Asked how the lockdown might actually be relaxed, Hancock didn’t give an answer. 
“Monitoring and making sure we act at the right time is critical. The message remains the same, people need to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.”
Many other countries, such as Scotland, have set out how they plan to relax measures when the time is right.

UK plans to “test, track and trace”

At the daily UK government update, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced the UK would be launching a “test, track and trace” programme to help the UK get out of its lockdown. 
The government has set a goal of 100,000 tests per day by the end of April. Today it’s capacity for testing increased to 51,000, but just over 23,000 people were actually tested. 
Hancock said there was a network of regional test centers at just 30 locations across the country.
He also said from today employers of essential workers will be able to get a test for their staff, while from tomorrow essential workers will be able to book a test directly. An app will be launched to help book tests.
Watch live below. 

Scotland sets out framework for emerging from lockdown

The Scottish government has published a framework for adjusting to the “new normal” of post-lockdown life.
It sets out its strategy in a six point plan.
  • “Suppress the virus through compliance with physical distancing and hygiene measures, ensuring that the reproduction number remains below 1 and that our NHS remains within capacity”
  • “Care for those who need it, whether infected by the virus or not”
  • “Support people, business and organisations affected by the crisis”
  • “Recover to a new normal, carefully easing restrictions when safe to do so while maintaining necessary measures and ensuring that transmission remains controlled, supported by developments in medicine and technology”
  • “Protect against this and future pandemics, including through effective testing, contact tracing and isolation”
  • “Renew our country, building a fairer and more sustainable economy and society”
The UK government has not as yet shed any light on plans for easing the lockdown.

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