Coronavirus live blog: latest as Chancellor announces loans worth £330 billion to support businesses
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Coronavirus live blog, March 17
Last updated: Tuesday, 17 March, 2020, 18:22
PM advises to "avoid" pubs, clubs, the office, and all unnecessary social contact and travel
Idris Elba becomes the latest celebrity to test positive for the virus, as Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson leave hospital
France imposes 15-day lockdown and deploys 100,000 police to enforce it
Foreign Secretary: Brits who travel abroad may be unable to return home
More from Dominic Raab - the foreign secretary has warned that Brit travellers who do continue to travel abroad may be unable to return home.
He said: "FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) teams around the world are working urgently to ensure that governments have sensible plans to enable the return of British and other travellers, and crucially, to keep borders open for a sufficient period to enable returns to take place on commercial flights wherever that's possible.
"Following today's change in travel advice, British nationals who decide that they still need to travel abroad should do so fully aware of the increased risks of doing so and that obviously includes the risk that they may not be able to get home if travel restrictions are subsequently put in place that they hadn't anticipated."
Prime Minister: 'we are at war with the disease'
At today's cabinet briefing the rime Minister said "We are engaged in a war against the disease which we have to win."
A Downing Street statement said: "He added that Government must rise to the challenge of supporting businesses through what will be hugely challenging times, and further details will be set out shortly."
Prime Minister: 'government will engage with businesses'
The Prime Minister will "actively engage with business to understand the challenges faced by firms across the economy in order to shape the Government's response to the crisis", say 10 Downing Street.
The Cabinet meeting came after the first meeting of the economic and business response committee, chaired by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
Archbishops of Canterbury and York: churches remain open for prayer 'where practical'
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Justin Welby and John Sentamu respectively, have today said it was "necessary to put public services on hold".
They added church buildings may remain open for prayer "where practical" and as long as worshippers observe social distancing recommendations.
They wrote: "This is a defining moment for the Church of England. Are we truly a church for all, or just the church for ourselves?
"We urge you sisters and brothers to become a different sort of church in these coming months: hopeful and rooted in the offering of prayer and praise and overflowing in service to the world."
Sir Patrick Vallance: 'potentially already 55,000 cases of coronavirus in the UK'
Sir Patrick Vallance, the government's chief scientific adviser ahs suggested there could be as many as 55,000 coronavirus cases already in the UK.
Health Select Committee chairman Jeremy Hunt asked whether the expected death rate was one fatality for every 1,000 cases, which would mean that there is "potentially 55,000 cases".
Asked if that felt right, Sir Patrick said: "We've tried to get a handle on that in Sage (the scientific advisory group for emergencies) and if you put all the modelling information together, that's a reasonable ballpark way of looking at it.
"It's not more accurate than that."
Number of positives cases just shy of 2,000
The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the UK has risen to 1,950, says the Department of Health and Social Care
Vallance: School closures still on the table
The government's chief scientific adviser has said that the widespread closure of schools is still on the table as a measure to tackle the spread of coronavirus.
He said: "It's absolutely on the table, as the whole suite of measures are, the evidence base is there to suggest where it might work and where it doesn't work, and decisions will, I'm sure, be made at the time they need to be made around school closures, which is one of the levers to pull to try to get on top of this at the right time.
"But it's not without quite complex consequences."
Non-urgent operations in England postponed
NHS England has suspended non-urgent elective surgery in order to to free up beds for coronavirus patients, chief executive Sir Simon Stevens has said.
Sir Simon told the Commons Health and Social Care Committee operations would be suspended from April 15 at the latest for at least three months.
"In readiness for the likely influx of more coronavirus patients, we are going to be taking concerted action across the NHS ... up to a third of the general and acute beds - perhaps 30,000 of those general and acute beds - for coronavirus patients," he said.
He said they were also working intensively with community health services and social care to "unblock" some of the discharge processes and with community and independent hospitals to bring back capacity for coronavirus patients.
Avoid ibuprofen, says chief scientific adviser
Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance suggested people should avoid taking Ibuprofen and instead take paracetamol
Sir Patrick told MPs: "The ibuprofen example - it may or may not be right, I don't know, but the sensible thing to do would be to say don't take it at the moment, take something else - paracetamol or something."
Death toll reaches 67
A further 14 people in the UK have died as a result of the coronavirus.
A statement from NHS England said: "A further 14 people, who tested positive for the Coronavirus (Covid-19) have died, bringing the total number of confirmed reported deaths in England to 67.
"Patients were aged between 93 and 45 years old and had underlying health conditions.
"Their families have been informed."