Hay fever hell as spring pollen levels are among worst for 69 years

Millions face hay fever hell as spring pollen levels are among worst for 69 years triggered by 73F temperatures

  • Spring pollen levels are set to be the highest since records began as temperatures soar to 73F (23C) this week
  • Sufferers could mistake hay fever symptoms such as sneezing and congestion for coronavirus, warn experts
  • Colder weather from last week will lead to a ‘shorter and sharper’ tree pollen season, according to doctors
  • The NHS advised sufferers to wear wraparound sunglasses, change clothes and shower after being outdoors

Millions of Britons face hay fever hell as spring pollen levels are among the worst for 69 years – triggered by scorching 73F (23C) temperatures this week.

And experts warned of coronavirus confusion as hay fever sufferers mix up symptoms such as sneezes and congestion with the infection’s dry cough and fever.

Doctors said cold weather last week delayed trees’ pollen release, meaning a sharper and more condensed pollen season.

People enjoying the sun in Regent’s Park, London, while dressed in exercise clothes amid the coronavirus lockdown on Sunday. Experts have warned hay fever sufferers could confuse their congestion symptoms with that of the infection

A swan on a misty River Nene after sunrise in Peterborough, eastern England, this morning. Dr Beverley Adams-Groom said cold weather last week will mean a ‘shorter tree pollen season for sure’, with climate change causing a ‘sharper’ season

It means pollen levels are set to reach some of the highest in spring since records began in 1951, said the team producing the UK’s hay fever forecast for the Met Office.

Tree pollen levels will be high this week for all of Britain except Scotland and the far north of England, with the worst to come after Easter.

And grass pollen will ‘really kick off’ in May and climax in June, industry leaders said. 

Three in 10 Brits suffer from hay fever.

95 per cent of hay fever sufferers are allergic to grass pollen. One in four is allergic to birch and one in five allergic to oak. Some are allergic to all.

The NHS advised sufferers to wear wraparound sunglasses, change clothes and shower after being outdoors and stay indoors when pollen counts are high.

Three in 10 Brits suffer from hay fever, with 95 per cent of sufferers being allergic to grass pollen. The NHS advised sufferers to stay indoors when the pollen count is high (pictured: file photo of a man with hay fever sneezing into a tissue)

UK surfers catch the waves at Constantine Bay on the north coast of Cornwall shortly after the sunrise this morning. The weather in the south-west is forecast to be another warm, clear day, following colder conditions last week

A tree blossoms in Regent’s Park, London, yesterday as an exerciser jogs down the path. A warm and sunny weekend gave way to cooler and cloudier conditions on Sunday, though temperatures are set to climb throughout this week

A lady and her dog out for an early morning walk in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, this morning. The country is on lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic, with people not allowed to leave home apart from exercise and essential food shopping

Dr Beverley Adams-Groom, chief pollen forecaster at the National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit at the University of Worcester, which produces the Met Office’s UK hay fever forecast, said: ‘We expect to see tree pollen reaching a high level in the context of our records going back as far as 1951.

‘Cold weather last week will mean a shorter tree pollen season for sure, and climate change is also causing a shorter and sharper pollen season.

‘The highest pollen levels in spring will be caused by birch trees later in April, with grass pollen really kicking off from mid-May, and reaching peak levels in June.

‘Hayfever is miserable and very debilitating. Symptoms include sneezing, a runny nose, itchy and running eyes, congestion and sore throat.

‘Coronavirus’ most common symptoms of a cough and fever are not typical for hay fever. If in any doubt about symptoms, check on the NHS coronavirus webpage.’ 

In its five-day weather forecast, the Met Office said most areas will remain ‘fine and dry’ today and tomorrow, with ‘warm sunny spells’ on Thursday.

The sun rises over the Oxfordshire countryside in Dunsden Green this morning. Tree pollen levels will be high this week for all of Britain except Scotland and the far north of England, with the worst to come after Easter, forecast experts

People out for an early morning walk on a misty start to the day in Peterborough. In its five-day weather forecast, the Met Office said most areas will remain ‘fine and dry’ today and tomorrow, with ‘warm sunny spells’ on Thursday

A bright but misty start to the day on the River Nene in Petersborough this morning. Pollen levels are set to reach some of the highest in spring since records began in 1951, said the team producing the UK’s hay fever forecast for the Met Office

For conditions towards the end of the week, the weather service said: ‘Mostly fine with warm sunny spells on Thursday, although cloudier and cooler in parts of the north. 

‘During Friday turning more widely cloudy and cooler with rain and showers.’

For Easter weekend and into next week, the Met Office forecast: ‘It will be driest in the south, with the greatest chance of rain and stronger winds in the far north and northwest of the UK. 

‘Temperatures above normal, and warmest in the south, but with overnight frosts further north. 

‘Beyond the Easter weekend, this weather pattern is expected to continue with dry weather dominating.’

Netweather said: ‘Pollen levels are reaching high for the first time this season.’

Met Office meteorologist Marco Petagna said: ‘Tree pollen levels will be high for some.’

The UK pollen forecast said: ‘Birch tree pollen will rise to high in the coming week in all areas apart from the far north of England and Scotland, where high is likely from mid-April.’

Sunbathing IS banned: Government warns people they risk fines for lying down in the sun ahead of 75F Easter weekend – because ‘it is NOT essential movement’ 

By David Wilcock and Rory Tingle for MailOnline

Britons have been told not to sunbathe just as temperatures begin to soar after covidiots continued to flout lockdown rules on the weekend with activities including windsurfing, beach barbecues and even an adult baptism.  

There was anger yesterday after one London authority closed a park after reporting thousands of visitors flocking there to lounge around in the warm weather after a wet and miserable winter.

Asked the clarify the rules today, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman confirmed that anyone caught sunbathing would be asked to move on by police, saying: ‘People should not be going to parks or beaches to sunbathe. It goes against our rules on essential movement.’ 

A policeman with a megaphone was seen ordering sunbathers to leave a park in south London over the weekend, while on Brighton beach officers doused a barbecue with seawater scooped up in their helmets. 

Police now face their biggest enforcement challenge yet with temperatures set to soar to 75F leading up to the Bank Holiday weekend, although No10 today ruled out a ban on exercise, as previously hinted by Health Secretary Matt Hancock. 

It came as England, Scotland and Wales declared 434 more deaths caused by the coronavirus, taking the UK’s total to 5,368. The statistics are a ray of hope as the daily death count has fallen for the second day in a row.

Police try to move on a sunbather yesterday on Primrose Hill, London, where some people flouted lockdown orders 

Thousands of Britons went to open spaces yesterday to enjoy the sun, including in Southwark Park in London 

Officers went onto Brighton beach yesterday to ask sunbathers to go back home and self-isolate  

The Prime Minister’s spokesman today confirmed that public sunbathing was not allowed. Pictured are police asking two men to leave Greenwich Park yesterday  

Lambeth Council in south London decided to shut Brockwell Park near Brixton yesterday after 3,000 people descended on it to enjoy the warm weather.

Police moved people on in north-west London’s Primrose Hill and rules were breached on the south coast too, but the consensus in Government is that the public are largely cooperating. 

Britain is set for a sizzling weekend as hot air blows in from Africa 

Britain could reach a sizzling 24C (75F) this weekend thanks to an 800 mile-wide wave of heat coming in from Africa.  

After today’s mild conditions, temperatures should climb throughout the week before a sizzling weekend. 

Met Office forecaster Marco Petagna said: ‘Spring is in the air, with heat coming from as far south as Africa and further warm temperatures in the next week.

‘Sunday’s 21C eases after overnight showers to 18C on Monday, but temperatures rise again with 20C on Tuesday, then 22C or 23C – with a slim chance of 24C – on Wednesday and Thursday. 

‘Even the North is forecast 19C. Good Friday could see 23C, with 20C highs through the Easter weekend, with the South and East best placed to hold onto fine weather, but the North and West most at risk of rain and clouds at times.

‘Easter is usually a busy travelling time but it is important people follow instructions and stay home and save lives. Enjoy the weather from your window or garden, if you have one.’ 

There had been public confusion over whether it is acceptable to sit down and enjoy the sunshine when once-daily exercise is condoned under the official guidelines.  

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said that the were no plans to ban outdoor exercise – as hinted at by Health Secretary Matt Hancock at the weekend.

But he added: ‘People should not be going to parks or beaches to sunbathe. It goes against our rules on essential movement. 

‘We did set out very clearly the reasons why people should leave their houses and sunbathing was not one of them.

‘We gave the police powers to implement those guidelines and it’s up to them to exercise discretion over how they do so.’  

Sunny, warmer-than-average conditions are set to continue this week, with a peak of around 75.2F (24C) forecast for Wednesday and Thursday in southern England, the Met Office said. 

Simon Kempton, Operational Lead for conronavirus at Police Federation of England and Wales, said officers faced a ‘monumental’ problem over the weekend with parks packed with sunbathers.

He said that ‘one or two’ officers were having to disperse ‘hundreds’ of people at a time – with many trying argue with them.

Mr Kempton told the Home Affairs Committee: ‘The vast majority of the public get it, they understand why this is so important and it’s inconvenient and would rather it wasn’t the case, but they get it and they want to comply, they want to help, they want to do their bit. 

A police officer uses a megaphone at Southwark Park to announce sunbathing is not allowed, but exercise is

Passers-by saw an adult baptism taking place yesterday in a lake in Solihull, West Midlands, despite police demands to stay inside 

‘But there are still a minority of members of the public who simply do not wish to comply with the restrictions.

‘And we saw over the weekend with the nice weather, some of my colleagues having a monumental task, one or two officers to empty a park with hundreds of people in it.

Britons ‘maliciously’ try to get their own back on their neighbours by calling police to suggest they are flouting rules 

Some Britons are ‘maliciously’ trying to get their own back on their neighbours by calling police to suggest they are flouting coronavirus lockdown rules.

Peter Goodman, the chief constable of Derbyshire Constabulary, said 11 per cent of the calls his force had received over the weekend had related to the pandemic.

Peter Goodman, chief constable of Derbyshire Constabulary, on a videolink for the Home Affairs Select Committee today

Mr Goodman told the Home Affairs Select Committee this afternoon: ‘Some of it about things taking place in public spaces, some of it also about people entertaining at their home addresses as well.

‘We do believe some of that is a little misguided. A bit of it may be malicious – getting your own back on your neighbours.

‘But the vast majority of it has been concerned members of the public doing the responsible thing.’

He added that the force had given out 30 fines so far in relation to breaches of the rules, half of which were over the past weekend.

Chief Constable John Robins, from West Yorkshire Police, said since the lockdown powers came into force, his officers had spoken to 1,200 people and issued 20 fines.

Chief Constable Garry Forsyth, from Bedfordshire Police, where the power to issue fines came into force at 7am on Friday, said they have issued one, while North Yorkshire has issued 11 since Thursday.

‘And most of those individuals wanted to argue their case as to why they were doing something within the guidelines.

‘What would help perhaps is engaging the public on an emotional level so more of them wanted to comply, not just that they felt they had to comply, but they wanted to comply.’ 

Elsewhere this weekend, police extinguished a beach barbecue with a helmet in Brighton while windsurfers were fined for driving 125 miles from the West Midlands to North wales to enjoy the waves. 

Footage showed two Sussex Police officers pouring water on the flames at Brighton beach on Saturday.

Twitter user Dave Strauss filmed the officers’ confrontation with two people sat at the seaside.

Uploading the video, he wrote: ‘The ceremonial extinguishing of the bbq using a beach patrol guys helmet. Then tried to eat his wet sausage.’ 

Social media users commented underneath branding them ‘morons’ and ‘bloody idiots’. 

Police say the couple became abusive towards Police Community Support Officers when asked to leave.

They have been summonsed to court and will be charged under the new Coronavirus Act, The Argus reports. A 31-year-old man and a 48-year-old woman were told to return home. 

It came after two windsurfers were fined after driving 125 miles from the West Midlands to North Wales to enjoy the waves as police blasted their non-essential trip.

The pair travelled to Gwynedd from Birmingham despite the nationwide lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

North Wales Police said they went to Black Rock Sands in Porthmadog to head out into the sea despite people being told to only travel for essential reasons.

The force said that if they had got into difficulty in the water, they could have tied up valuable resources.

A spokesman said: ‘Today two males from the West Mids area were reported by concerned members of the public who spotted them wind surfing at Black Rock Sands, Porthmadog.’ 

A biker was spotted taunting a police officer in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, who was trying to approach him on a bicycle.

The motorbike rider mocked him in footage in which he could be heard saying: ‘Come on, nearly, f****** hell.’  

Police in Brighton confronted two people who were having a barbecue on Brighton beach on Saturday amid the coronavirus lockdown  

A video filmed on the weekend showed a biker (left) mocking a policeman trying to enforce the lockdown  

Two young men ignored the coronavirus lockdown and leapt into the River Irwell (pictured) in Manchester yesterday 

A woman is told to go home yesterday by a police officer in London’s Primrose Hill to stop the spread of coronavirus

People in Roath park in Cardiff are spoken to by police yesterday after flouting the coronavirus lockdown 

In another breach of the lockdown, one family travelled 122 miles for a day at the beach. 

The group flouted strict rules to make the two hour and 20 minute round trip from Bromley, south east London, to Folkestone in Kent.

They were let off with a warning as the council reminded residents ‘this is not a public holiday’.

Meanwhile, Scotland’s  chief medical officer resigned after she admitted to ignoring her own lockdown advice.

Dr Catherine Calderwood had earlier apologised live on TV after being given a police warning for twice visiting her family’s coastal retreat in Earlsferry, Fife, more than 40 miles from her main home. 

It came after Scotland’s chief medical officer, Dr Catherine Calderwood, (pictured) resigned after she admitted to ignoring her own lockdown advice

Last week Dr Calderwood, 51, tweeted a photo of her family from their main residence in Edinburgh as they clapped for the front-line NHS staff working to stop the spread of Covid-1

Dr Calderwood’s second home in Earlsferry, Fife, is 44 miles away from Edinburgh – a drive of around an hour

In a press conference beside Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today, Dr Calderwood said her actions were ‘a mistake and human error’ and that were ‘no excuses’.

Dr Calderwood issued an apology and was initially backed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to remain in the role.

Photographs, published in The Scottish Sun on Saturday, showed Dr Calderwood and her family near their coastal retreat in Earlsferry, Fife, over the weekend.

In the press conference, Dr Calderwood also admitted to visiting the cottage with her husband the previous weekend.

Social distancing ‘heat map’ reveals people in Middlesbrough are most likely to flout the new ‘stay at home’ rules designed to curb the spread of coronavirus 

A new coronavirus heat map shows that Middlesbrough has the worst offenders when it comes to flouting the ‘stay at home’ rules during the coronavirus crisis. 

The ‘COVID-19 heat map’ from NHS-backed health record app Evergreen Life shows people in the North Yorkshire town have been going outdoors the most. 

Liverpool and Wandsworth in southwest London, meanwhile, are some of the regions where people have heeded the stay at home advice best. 

Residents of Hull, East Cambridgeshire and Babergh in Suffolk are reporting the lowest level of symptoms per household, as of this weekend. 

While parts of Wales including Swansea are reporting the highest percentage of households with symptoms, the app also reveals. 

The COVID-19 heat map, which claims to help stop the spread of the illness, takes daily symptom and social distancing updates from users, excluding key workers. 

Heat maps for regions where people reported not staying at home (pink, excluding key workers) and staying at home (blue). The deeper shades indicate higher percentages. 25 per cent of survey respondents from Middlesbrough said they are not staying indoors – the highest in this particular data set for Saturday. Arun, West Sussex (98.4), Ryedale (98.3) and Wandsworth (97.9) residents are heeding the stay at home advice the most

No symptoms in households (green) and symptoms in households (yellow). The deeper shades indicate higher percentages. Swansea had the highest level of symptoms reported for Saturday (25 per cent), while Hull had the highest ‘no symptoms’ reported (97.5 per cent)

Each set of data is visualised in both colour-coded graphs as well as a map for the app and website for each set of data. The app is being updated daily, with Sunday’s data set to be revealed Monday afternoon

Evergreen Life is encouraging Brits, whether or not they have symptoms, to download their free app, submit their symptom and social distancing status and contribute to the map. 

After downloading the app for iOS or Android, users need to tap the ‘Records’ section on the home screen and take the ‘Healthy at Home Check’. 

‘You can help track the spread of COVID-19 by joining the thousands of people across the UK,’ said Evergreen CEO Stephen Critchlow. 

‘This will show the benefit of self-isolation and staying at home. Please download Evergreen Life and ask your friends and family to do the same.’

The Evergreen Life website said the map builds an accurate national picture that can help track the outbreak.  

‍The app is already sending notifications to users to take the COVID Check regularly and encouraging anyone who has already answered to do so again, to track the change in symptoms over time.

More than 26,700 Evergreen Life users so far have responded to the survey on their behaviour to help build the map, which can also be viewed on a desktop.

It shows data in four categories – households with reported symptoms, households with no symptoms, respondents staying at home and respondents not staying home (excluding key workers).  

As of April 4, the trackers shows that 25 per cent of survey respondents from Middlesbrough said they are not staying indoors, followed by 20.7 in Enfield, Greater London. 

Also among the worst offenders for leaving the house were East and North Hertfordshire, which both had 17.6 per cent of respondents not staying at home. 

The best at staying at home were the people of Ryedale, North Yorkshire, at 98.3 per cent; Wandsworth in southwest London, at 97.9; Arun in West Sussex, at 98.4 per cent; Liverpool, 97.5 per cent; and Adur, also in West Sussex, 97.5 per cent.  


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No10 power vacuum fears as Boris Johnson faces 'weeks' out of action

Who has their finger on the nuclear button? Fears of No10 power vacuum as Boris Johnson faces ‘weeks’ out of action with ministers ‘squabbling over coronanvirus strategy’

  • The Prime Minister was transferred to intensive care at St Thomas’ Hospital in London at 7pm last night  
  • Boris Johnson has asked the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to deputise for him ‘where necessary’  
  • Concerns over a power vacuum at the heart of government as the PM faces weeks out of action at least
  • Questions over who has control of the nuclear deterrent and whether Mr Raab can hire and fire ministers 

Dominic Raab arrives at Downing Street this morning

Fears were raised over a power vacuum at the heart of government today after Boris Johnson was admitted to intensive care battling coronavirus.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has been officially ‘deputised’ by the PM to fill in while he tries to recover from the potentially deadly disease. 

However, there are questions about how long Whitehall can function without an active PM, especially with claims of tensions between ministers. 

Mr Johnson has not resigned and so continues to be the formal leader of the government, but doctors have warned he faces a long recovery process. 

Cabinet minister Michael Gove played down concerns about paralysis this morning, saying Mr Raab was ‘in charge’, while adding: ‘The Cabinet is the supreme decision making body.’ 

But within hours it had emerged that he too has gone into self-isolation after a family member started showing symptoms.

Mr Gove also dodged saying explicitly whether Mr Raab had been given control of the nuclear deterrent, or if he would have the power to hire and fire other ministers. 

New Prime Ministers usually write ‘letters of last resort’ to nuclear submarine captains, setting out instructions if government is wiped out by an enemy strike. However, it is not clear whether Mr Johnson’s letters will still apply, or Mr Raab will pen new versions.

MPs have raised alarm that hostile states such as Russia – which has already been accused of spreading disinformation about Mr Johnson’s condition – could try to exploit Britain’s ‘weakness’. 

General Sir Nick Carter, chief of the defence staff, said the armed forces ‘work straight through to the Prime Minister’, although he suggested the National Security Council (NSC) will now fill the gap. 

The Queen is being kept informed about Mr Johnson’s condition. The monarch appoints the PM, choosing the individual who is best placed to carry a majority in the Commons.

The UK does not have a written constitution and the chain of command is largely based on convention. 

Since the end of the Tory-Lib Dem Coalition in 2015 there has not been a deputy PM.   

Instead Mr Cameron, Theresa May and now Mr Johnson appointed First Secretaries of State to denote who was second in line.  

Downing Street is said to have drawn up plans to ensure the continuation of government in all circumstances but details have not been divulged publicly.  

The Prime Minister (pictured on Thursday evening), who was admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital in London last night, was taken to intensive care at 7pm this evening

New Prime Ministers usually write ‘letters of last resort’ to nuclear submarine captains, setting out instructions if government is wiped out by an enemy strike. However, it is not clear whether Mr Johnson’s letters will still apply, or Mr Raab will pen new versions. Pictured is HMS Vanguard, one of the submarines that carry the UK deterrent

Mr Raab raised concerns as he was seen coughing leaving the Foreign Office to go to Downing Street this morning

Mr Gove revealed today that he has gone into self-isolation after a family member started showing coronavirus symptoms

Downing Street infection timeline 

March 10: Health minister Nadine Dorries became the first MP to test positive for coronavirus, shortly after attending a Downing Street reception.

March 27: Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock both release Twitter videos saying they have coronavirus and are self-isolating.

Hours later, chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty revealed he was self-isolating with symptoms.

March 30: The PM’s top adviser Dominic Cummings was revealed to be self-isolating with coronavirus symptoms.

April 2: Matt Hancock returns to work after seven dies in isolation and making a recovery.

April 3: Boris Johnson releases a video from his Number 11 flat saying he is continuing to self-isolate as he is still suffering a temperature.

April 4: Carrie Symonds, the PM’s pregnant fiancée reveals she has been self-isolating at her Camberwell flat.

April 5: The PM is taken to St Thomas’ Hospital as a precaution. 

April 6: The PM is moved to intensive care after his condition spiralled.

It is not immediately clear what would happen if Mr Raab also became incapacitated, with the UK not having a formal system of succession like other countries, for example the US. 

There is a formal ranking of ministers by seniority, but the arrangements have not been tested in practice for decades. 

Mr Raab’s status as the person waiting in the wings reportedly sparked furious rows within the government a fortnight ago, with other ministers adamant Mr Gove should be the one to take over.   

Number 10 is likely to face intense pressure in the coming days to set out exactly what would happen if Mr Johnson and other senior ministers can no longer work.

If Mr Johnson is forced to resign, the Cabinet would in the first instance choose a successor.

They would need to carry the support of the Conservative MPs and potentially the party members – although it seems unlikely anyone would force a full leadership contest at a time of massive national crisis. 

Asked about Mr Raab’s authority and whether he would have the same power as the PM to hire and fire people in Cabinet, Mr Gove replied: ‘The Prime Minister always remains the Prime Minister but I don’t think there’s any suggestion of anything other than a great team spirit in government as we all work together at this time.’

Mr Gove said he could not comment about national security matters when asked if responsibilities connected to nuclear attack had been passed on to Foreign Secretary Mr Raab. 

‘Dominic is in charge. I won’t go into the details of the different national security decisions and protocols that there are but there are appropriate ways in which decisions can be taken in order to keep this country safe,’ he said,

‘The ultimate decisions are always taken by politicians and in this case the PM has asked Dominic to deputise for him, so it’s Dominic as Foreign Secretary who’s in charge.’

He also said any decisions about the lockdown would be ‘taken collectively following appropriate advice’, dismissing the idea there would be a delay. 

He told Good Morning Britain: ‘No it won’t be delayed. It will be the case that we will take that decision collectively as a Cabinet.

‘The person who will chair that Cabinet, the person who will make the final decision of course is, as I mentioned earlier, the Foreign Secretary.’  

On the issue of a national government he added: ‘I don’t think anyone is talking in those terms, no.’

Conservative MP and defence committee chairman Tobias Ellwood underlined the concerns about the nuclear deterrent.

‘It is important to have 100% clarity as to where responsibility for UK national security decisions now lies. We must anticipate adversaries attempting to exploit any perceived weakness,’ he tweeted. 

General Sir Nick said all the thoughts and prayers of the armed forces are with the Prime Minister.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘We wish him well for a very, very speedy recovery.’

Asked if there is a clear chain of command for the armed forces in such a situation, Sir Nick replied: ‘Yes, it’s very clear I think. We work straight through to the Prime Minister but of course there’s the National Security Council (NSC) that’s wrapped around him and formed of many of the Cabinet ministers and supported by the National Security Adviser.

‘I think on that basis we’re pretty confident it’s business as usual as far as the operations are concerned.’

Sir Nick said he believed Mr Raab would chair the NSC and be supported by others. 

But former Cabinet minister Lord Heseltine said there ‘isn’t a clarity’ about what Mr Raab can do as deputy, noting: ‘I was deputy prime minister but I was never prime minister, if you know what I mean.

‘In other words, John Major was always in good health and in touch so the questions never really arose.

‘There must come a time when a deputy is effectively prime minister, I don’t think we’ve probably quite got to that now but the present urgency of the situation and the potential decisions that may need to be taken quickly does mean that Dominic Raab will have to use his discretion and know when to act.

How are ministers ranked? 

 1. Boris Johnson, Prime Minister

2. Dominic Raab, Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State

3. Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer

4. Priti Patel, Home Secretary

5. Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

6. Robert Buckland, Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary

7. Ben Wallace, Defence Secretary

8. Matt Hancock, Health Secretary

9. Alok Sharma, Business Secretary

10. Liz Truss, International Trade Secretary

11. Therese Coffey, Work and Pensions Secretary

12. Gavin Williamson, Education Secretary

13. George Eustice, Environment Secretary

14. Robert Jenrick, Communities Secretary

15. Brandon Lewis, Northern Ireland Secretary

16. Alister Jack, Scotland Secretary

17. Simon Hart, Wales Secretary

18. Baroness Evans, Leader of the House of Lords

19. Oliver Dowden, Culture Secretary

20. Anne-Marie Trevelyan, International Development Secretary

21. Amanda Milling, Minister without Portfolio (Conservative Party chairwoman)

‘This is a very difficult thing to do because he will be surrounded by lots of people who know what Boris Johnson said, believe Boris will be quickly back and have their own personal agendas anyway, so it’s a very difficult personal position and the man will be tested by the loneliness of the job.’

At the weekend it was revealed that two of the most senior Ministers leading the Government response to the coronavirus crisis are locked in battle over when to lift the economically devastating lockdown.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has made ‘robust’ representations to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, arguing that unless a path is mapped now for a swift return to normal economic activity it could cause lasting damage to the country.

Government critics of Mr Hancock argue his ‘careerist’ fear of being personally blamed for a collapse in the NHS is blinding him to the dangers of a protracted lockdown.

Mr Johnson was moved to ICU at St Thomas’ Hospital in central London and given oxygen after his health deteriorated sharply over just two hours, leaving doctors fearing he will need a ventilator.

The 55-year-old was transferred to intensive care at 7pm because of breathing difficulties – forcing him to ‘deputise’ Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to take the reins of government.

In a round of broadcast interviews this morning, Cabinet minister Michael Gove said Mr Johnson was getting the ‘best care’.

‘As we speak the PM is in intensive care being looked after by his medical team receiving the very, very best care from the team in St Thomas’s and our hopes and prayers are with him and with his family,’ he told BBC Breakfast. 

Meanwhile, Donald Trump revealed he has offered to send Mr Johnson experimental drugs to treat his coronavirus.

‘I’ve asked two of the leading companies … They’ve come with the solutions and just have done incredible jobs – and I’ve asked him to contact London immediately,’ Mr Trump said. ‘The London office has whatever they need. We’ll see if we can be of help. We’ve contacted all of Boris’s doctors, and we’ll see what is going to take place, but they are ready to go.’ 

The PM’s sharp downturn came 11 days after he first suffered coronavirus symptoms and went into isolation. He looked increasingly unwell when glimpsed in public and in ‘selfie’ videos posted on on social media, and ministers were then shocked by his grim appearance at a Zoom conference on Sunday.

Downing Street sources confirmed Mr Johnson is not yet on a ventilator – but was moved to intensive care to be near one if needed. Some medical experts forecasting this course of action is now ‘very likely’.

Two thirds of patients in intensive care with coronavirus are sedated and put on a ventilator within 24 hours of arriving as the illness attacks their lungs.

But last night one doctor told The Times Mr Johnson was conscious and had not been intubated – the process of putting a tube in the windpipe to aid breathing. He was said to have required around four litres of oxygen rather than the 15 litres used by an average Covid-19 ICU patient.

Only two hours before his move to intensive care, No10 was insisting Mr Johnson was still spearheading the government’s coronavirus response, despite de facto deputy Mr Raab chairing the morning crisis meeting.

Dominic Raab, a karate black belt, is married without any children to Erika (together), a Brazilian-born marketing executive

Self-styled ‘tough guy’ with just one year’s Cabinet experience: Ex-Foreign Office lawyer Dominic Raab is a relative new kid on the block – but is no stranger to controversy 

Dominic Raab is now the UK’s de facto prime minister after Boris Johnson was hospitalised, with the running of the country placed in the hands of a man who has just one year of Cabinet experience. 

Mr Johnson has asked the Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State to deputise for him while he fights coronavirus in a London intensive care unit. 

The elevation of Mr Raab to the top political job in the country completes what has been a meteoric rise for the former Foreign Office lawyer, karate black belt and Oxford University boxing blue who is no stranger to controversy.      

Dominic Raab, pictured in Westminster today, is now the de facto prime minister after Boris Johnson was hospitalised with coronavirus

Mr Raab’s bulging muscles and athletic frame leap out of a photo taken during his days as an Oxford University boxing blue in 1995

Westminster was stunned last July when Mr Johnson became Prime Minister and chose to select Mr Raab, a self-styled Tory ‘tough guy’, as his future stand-in. 

Many were expecting the 46-year-old to be rewarded with a big job after he backed the PM in the Tory leadership contest having seen his own bid fall flat. 

But few had anticipated Mr Raab being awarded one of the four great offices of state while even fewer predicted he would be designated Mr Johnson’s deputy. 

However, the appointment made political sense for the new premier given Mr Raab’s hardline Brexit credentials.

Mr Raab was one of the most vocal supporters of the UK leaving the EU and his appointment to the highest echelons of government reassured Eurosceptic Tory MPs that the PM was not going to go soft on Brussels after winning power. 

Becoming Foreign Secretary represented a massive step up for Mr Raab in terms of government responsibility having only held one Cabinet role prior to his major promotion. 

Mr Raab, first elected as the Conservative MP for Esher and Walton in 2010, had to wait five years before getting a proper ministerial job. 

And after slowly climbing the Whitehall ladder he finally broke into the Cabinet in July 2018 after receiving the call from Theresa May to be her new Brexit Secretary following the resignation of David Davis. 

However, he would only last until November of the same year as he also quit in protest at the then-PM’s Brexit plans – just like his predecessor.  

Having entered the Tory leadership contest in late May 2019, he was quickly eliminated but swiftly announced he was supporting Mr Johnson’s candidacy. 

He was then subsequently appointed Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State on July 24, 2019. 

That means that as of today, Mr Raab has just over one year of Cabinet experience under his belt – eight months in Mr Johnson’s administration and five in Mrs May’s. 

The designation of Mr Raab as Mr Johnson’s deputy has not been without controversy with some ministers unhappy at the prospect of the Foreign Office chief being put in charge. 

Some members of the government had recently been pushing for Michael Gove, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, to be given the responsibility.     

Mr Raab, pictured with his wife Erika in June 2019 during his Tory leadership run, was first elected as an MP in 2010 

Mr Raab, pictured alongside Mr Johnson in the House of Commons in December last year, will now be tasked with overseeing the UK’s coronavirus response

One minister said a few weeks ago that ‘a lot of people think that Michael should be running the show’ if Mr Johnson became incapacitated and that ‘one of these people is Michael, of course’. 

But Downing Street has been clear for weeks that Mr Raab would take over if the situation demanded it.

Mr Raab has dealt with a number of political controversies since becoming an MP and later a Cabinet minister.  

Upon being appointed Foreign Secretary, Mr Raab was soon thrust into handling the Transatlantic fall-out over the death of British teenager Harry Dunn, who was killed when his motorbike crashed into a car outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire on August 27 last year.

The fact Mr Dunn’s parents tried to heckle Mr Raab at a constituency hustings event was indicative of how well the family felt he dealt with obtaining justice for their son as the government tried and failed to persuade the US to extradite the teenager’s alleged killer.

Mr Raab also had to manage the thorny issue of repatriating children of British jihadis.   

Early on in his parliamentary career Mr Raab sparked a furious row after he wrote an article in which he argued ‘feminists are now amongst the most obnoxious bigots’.

He refused to apologise and stuck by his comments, defending them last year when he was challenged on them during the Tory leadership battle. 

He said he stood by what he had said because he believed it is ‘really important that in the debate on equality we have a consistency and not double standards and hypocrisy’.

Mr Raab, who is married to a Brazilian called Erika who he has two children with, has also said he is ‘probably not’ a feminist. 

He found himself again at the centre of a storm of controversy in May 2017 after claiming that people who use food banks are not typically in poverty but have an occasional ‘cashflow problem’.

The Foreign Secretary first made it to the Cabinet in 2018 when he was appointed Brexit Secretary. He is pictured with Michel Barnier in Brussels in August of that year

Critics labelled the remarks ‘stupid and deeply offensive’. 

He also got into hot water last year after he said he would keep open the option of suspending Parliament in order to prevent MPs blocking Brexit.

His past comments, and his hardline stance on Brexit, have not endeared Mr Raab to his political opponents. 

At the 2019 general election he was relentlessly targeted by the Liberal Democrats in his Surrey constituency and came relatively close to being ousted. 

He had previously held the seat with majorities of more than 20,000 votes but in December he held on with a majority of just under 3,000 as the Lib Dems surged, capitalising on the pro-Remain vote. 

Mr Raab has sought to create something of a ‘hard man’ image in Westminster, with his website boasting that he ‘holds a black belt 3rd dan in karate and is a former UK Southern Regions champion and British squad member’. 

He captained the karate club at Oxford University where he studied law and was also a boxing blue. 

Mr Raab is clearly proud of his time as a university boxer, having previously handed a picture of him in his shorts and vest to a TV company to use for their profile of him. 

He still trains at a boxing club in Thames Ditton and has a poster of Muhammad Ali in his Commons office.

In 2006, he was appointed chief of staff to fellow Tory Mr Davis. The former Special Forces reservist said Mr Raab’s karate black belt impressed him more than his two Oxbridge degrees –  the second came in a form of a Masters from Cambridge.   

Mr Raab said karate helped him cope with the premature death of his father, who had fled to the UK from Czechoslovakia at the age of six in 1938 to escape the Nazis. 

Mr Raab was just 12 when his father died. ‘Sport helped restore my confidence, and that hugely benefited my attitude to school and life,’ he said in May last year.

‘There were strong role models, camaraderie and an ethos of respect. I take the discipline and focus I learnt from sport into my professional life – and I believe that approach is vital to making a success of the Brexit negotiations and delivering a fairer deal from Brussels.’

Despite his karate black belt, Mr Raab is known for his courtesy and was upset when civil servants who worked for him as Brexit Secretary anonymously described him as a bully.

Mr Raab, who previously worked at the Foreign Office as a lawyer, denied claims, made by his former diary secretary, that he insisted on the same Pret a Manger lunch every day.

The ‘Dom Raab special’ apparently consists of a chicken Caesar and bacon baguette, superfruit pot and a vitamin volcano smoothie.    


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Race to stop coronavirus in Asia's 'biggest slum' in Mumbai

Race to stop coronavirus rampaging through Asia’s ‘biggest slum’ in Mumbai after two deaths from the bug in squalid shantytown where 500,000 live in area the size of Hyde Park as authorities turn India’s trains into hospitals

  • Two deaths and third infection recorded in huge Dharavi slum in Mumbai, India
  • Police barricaded parts of slum after two men in their 50s died with coronavirus
  • Third case is a doctor who lived and worked in the neighbourhood of 500,000
  • Up to 20,000 old train carriages converted into isolation wards for patients 
  • So far India has recorded 4,288 infections and 117 deaths, official figures state

Authorities in India are battling to stop coronavirus ripping though a vast slum in Mumbai with a population of more than half a million people after two fatalities from the virus were recorded.

Indian police barricaded parts of the area, which is one of Asia’s biggest slums, after two coronavirus deaths, including a 56-year-old man who passed away on Wednesday and a 51-year-old 24 hours later.

India so far has largely escaped the pandemic with 4,288 infections and 117 deaths, according to official figures, but the two deaths and a third infection in the Dharavi neighbourhood of Mumbai have set alarm bells ringing.

Authorities set up eight ‘containment zones’ in the area, home to as many as a million people living and working in cramped tin-roofed shanties, flats and small factories – made famous by the Oscar-winning 2008 film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’.

The Dharavi slum in Mumbai today during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the spread of the coronavirus

Residents sitting on a road adjacent to an open drain inside the Dharavi slum today. The neighbourhood has a population of more than 500,000

In response under-pressure Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought to dispel ‘darkness and uncertainty’ with a national light show that saw many light candles and stand on their balconies last night.

As part of the country’s response to the crisis, Modi took the unprecedented move of suspending passenger trains across the country until April 14.

The suspension was designed to halt the spread of the virus, but now authorities have converted as many as 20,000 old train carriages into isolation wards for patients.

It was the first time in 167 years that Asia’s oldest rail network had been suspended.

The network, which is the world’s fourth-largest rail operator and India’s biggest employer, already operates 125 hospitals across the nation, so has the expertise to expand into mobile beds. 

Dharavi has a population larger than Manchester living in an area smaller than Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.

Police on Friday were not letting anyone in or out of the cordoned areas.

Authorities in India turned trains into temporary coronavirus hospitals (left and right) as suspended the country’s rail network for the first time in 167 years 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted an image of him in New Delhi lighting an oil lamp to mark the country’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic

The first death from coronavirus in Dharavi, on Wednesday, was a 56-year-old man with no travel history or contact with anyone known to be infected, although he previously had a renal complaint, officials said.

The second fatality – a 51-year-old sanitation worker living in a different area of Mumbai, but who worked in Dharavi – died in hospital on Thursday.

The third case is a doctor who lived and worked in the neighbourhood, who on Friday was receiving treatment.

Experts say the coronavirus could spread like wildfire in slums where social distancing and self-isolation are all but impossible. 

Today Modi and other top government figures announced they will take a 30 per cent salary cut this year.  

Modi has imposed a three-week lockdown to halt the spread of the virus, but it has left millions without jobs and many of the more vulnerable sections of society struggling for food and shelter. 

People standing on their balconies and lighting candles after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to Indians to turn out their lights for nine minutes at 9pm last night

To mark the coronavirus fight, many residents lit candles and lamps on their balconies as a show of unity, seen (above) in Noida, on the outskirts of New Delhi

The federal cabinet has approved a decree under which Modi, along with President Ram Nath Kovind, state governors and members of parliament, will take the salary cut as part of their social responsibility, cabinet minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters.  

The nationwide lockdown on India’s 1.3 billion people has been far from smooth.

Tens of millions of migrant workers were suddenly left jobless when the economy ground to a halt. 

Around half a million are thought to have attempted to travel back to their home villages, many on foot.

Some have been crammed onto government buses and relief camps with little regard to infection risks.

Police have been criticised for using heavy-handed tactics to enforce the lockdown, including by the UN rights office.

Residents queuing up to collect milk in the Dharavi slum in Mumbai today during the government-imposed nationwide lockdown

Footage shared online of a group of migrants being hosed down with chemicals provoked outrage.

Dharavi’s population density is thought to be 270,000 per square kilometre, according to the World Economic Forum.

The slum’s population density is 60 times greater than London. 

Resident Mobinuddin Shaikh, 51, whose home is opposite from where one of the patients lived, said people had been largely ignoring India’s 21-day lockdown imposed on March 25, but they were now panicking.

He said: ‘We are a family of five. We use communal toilets or have to get water from public taps. Only God can save us.’

Millions responded to Modi’s cal for unity by lighting up the night sky with candles and lamps.

Modi tweeted at the time of the vigil: ‘Salute to the light of the lamp which brings auspiciousness, health and prosperity, which destroys negative feelings.’

Critics have dismissed the event as a stunt, arguing it distracted from the health and economic crisis caused by the pandemic. 

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Hope for UK as Italy unveils plan to end one-month lockdown after daily deaths fall to lowest in two weeks – The Sun

ITALY has unveiled a plan to end its month-long lockdown after daily deaths fell to their lowest in two weeks.

The country has been the hardest hit by coronavirus in Europe, with nearly 129,000 confirmed cases and 15,887 deaths.

⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates

But yesterday saw Italy report its lowest daily Covid-19 death toll since March 19, at 525, after dipping below Britain’s for the first time the day before.

The number of patients in badly stretched intensive care units also fell for a second day running, while new cases saw their smallest rise in five days, increasing by 4,316.

And in a sign of hope for the UK, Italian health chiefs are now discussing how to go about lifting lockdown restrictions under “phase two” of the country’s coronavirus strategy.

Silvio Brusaferro, head of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Italy’s top health institute, said: “The curve has reached a plateau and begun to descend.

“It is a result that we have to achieve day after day.

“If this is confirmed, we need to start thinking about the second phase and keep down the spread of this disease.”

There are difficult months ahead. Our task is to create the conditions to live with the virus.”

Health Minister Roberto Speranza outlined a series of measures, including more testing and a beefed up local health system, intended to allow a gradual easing of restrictions.

“There are difficult months ahead. Our task is to create the conditions to live with the virus,” at least until a vaccine is developed, he told La Repubblica.

The national lockdown, strictly limiting people’s movements and freezing all non-essential economic activity, will officially last until at least April 13.

But it is widely expected to be extended, and Speranza said it was too early to say when it could be lifted.

The minister said he had issued a note outlining five principles around which the government planned to manage the so-called “phase two” of the emergency – when lockdown restrictions begin to be eased but before a full return to normal conditions.

He said social distancing would have to remain, with wider use of individual protection devices such as face masks.

And local health systems would be strengthened, to allow a faster and more efficient treatment of suspected Covid-19 cases, he added.

Testing and “contact tracing” would also be extended, including with the use of smartphone apps and other technology, while a network of hospitals dedicated solely to treating corona patients would be set up, he said.

But despite the light at the end of the tunnel, officials were keen for Italians not to get complacent.


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Angelo Borelli, head of the Civil Protection department, told a daily briefing yesterday: “Don’t lower our guard, stay at home.”

There were also positive signs elsewhere in Europe over the weekend.

France reported a slowing daily death toll over the last 24 hours, and Germany its fourth straight day with a drop in new confirmed cases.

Give now to The Sun's NHS appeal

BRITAIN’s four million NHS staff are on the frontline in the battle against coronavirus.

But while they are helping save lives, who is there to help them?

The Sun has launched an appeal to raise £1MILLION for NHS workers.

The Who Cares Wins Appeal aims to get vital support to staff in their hour of need.

We have teamed up with NHS Charities Together in their urgent Covid-19 Appeal to ensure the money gets to exactly who needs it.

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Fury as football players’ union claims cutting Premier League star’s wages would be ‘detrimental’ to NHS – The Sun

THE PFA last night sparked fury by refusing to back a 30 per cent pay cut for Premier League players as it would be “detrimental” to the NHS.

The players’ union statement came after a conference call with the Premier League and the League Managers’ Association to discuss the plans.

⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates

No agreement was reached but it was proposed the Premier League would advance £125m to the English Football League and National League, and give £20m towards the NHS. The PFA said: “£20m is welcome, but we believe it could be far bigger.

"The players are mindful that as PAYE employees, the combined tax on their salaries is a significant contribution to funding essential public services — which are especially critical at this time.”

Give now to The Sun's NHS appeal

BRITAIN’s four million NHS staff are on the frontline in the battle against coronavirus.

But while they are helping save lives, who is there to help them?

The Sun has launched an appeal to raise £1MILLION for NHS workers.

The Who Cares Wins Appeal aims to get vital support to staff in their hour of need.

We have teamed up with NHS Charities Together in their urgent Covid-19 Appeal to ensure the money gets to exactly who needs it.

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PFA chief Gordon Taylor is facing anger from politicians and ex-players over his handling of the crisis, and faces calls to take a cut from his own £2million deal.

Ex-Defence Minister John Spellar said: “Gordon Taylor should lead by example, wake up and smell the coffee.

"This is a national crisis.”

England goalie legend Peter Shilton warned of the “damage” the row could cause to the football industry.


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Stacey Solomon is shocked as Michelle Obama shares tribute to her on Instagram from NHS nurse – The Sun

STACEY Solomon has been left shocked after Michelle Obama shared a tribute to her on Instagram from an NHS nurse.

She shared the message with fans, writing: "So many of you are tagging me in this… Me and Joe can't stop laughing that I'm on Michelle Obama's grid.

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"I'm 100 per cent sure the queen has no idea who I am but it's made my day none the less."

The letter – written by an exhausted nurse's child – was shared by former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama.

The child wrote: "Dear mum, This coronavirus has everyone going crazy.

"However, we wouldn't be getting through it without nurses like you on the NHS.

"Well done for being so strong. Tomorrow is a new day. Get some sleep, relax and let Stacey Solomon get you giggling.

"We love you."

Stacey added: "Does anyone know who wrote this? It's so beautiful and warmed my heart and I'd love to say thank you."

Michelle shared the sweet handwritten message and others on her Instagram, writing: "If you’re feeling as grateful for our first responders as I am, now’s the time to let them know.

"From our medical providers and hospital staff to our grocery, transit, and delivery workers, so many extraordinary people are putting their lives on the line to get us all through this moment.
"Let’s take the opportunity to tell them and their families that we see their sacrifices and we’re behind them.

"A handwritten letter, an Instagram post, or a simple 'thank you' text can go a long way in letting someone know just how incredible they are and how much you appreciate what they’re doing."

Michelle's sweet tribute to medics saving lives amid the coronavirus pandemic comes ahead of Brits proudly thanking our NHS workers by applauding them every Thursday night at 8pm.

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Chaos in India as hundreds of thousands try to get home

Chaos in India as hundreds of thousands try to get home in the wake of coronavirus shutdown: People are squashed together as they flee cities, sparking mass infection fears

  • Prime Minister Modi’s 21-day shutdown sparked a mass migration of migrant workers wanting to return home
  • Millions flocked to city bus stations and other transport hubs causing huge crowds despite lockdown
  • Videos and images show giant crowds of people desperately cramming or climbing onto buses
  • To slow the spread of the virus, social distancing is vital but very difficult in densely populated India
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

The announcement of a country-wide shutdown in India last week has caused millions of migrant workers to flee major cities, resulting in huge crowds risking coronavirus infection.

The unprecedented 21-day lockdown, which in terms of people is larger than the one seen in China earlier in the year, gave the 1.3 billion citizens less than four hours to prepare, throwing the country into chaos.

With no way to make money, migrant workers who moved to India’s bigger cities from villages to make a living are now desperately trying to return home. This scramble caused huge crowds to form at bus stations, captured in these videos and photographs.

Prime Minister Modi’s 21-day shutdown sparked a mass migration of migrant workers wanting to return home after they would no longer be able to work and pay for food and bills

Countless migrant workers flocked to city bus stations in order to find a way home. People crammed themselves onto buses where they could, and when they couldn’t they climbed on top or hung on to the sides

People were seen desperately trying to fit into what space was left on the buses before they left. A number of bus and train services have stopped as a result of the shutdown, limiting people’s options

In his address to the nation, Modi said: ‘Forget about leaving home for the next 21 days. If you cross the threshold of your house, you will invite the virus home.’ He reassured his citizens that essential services would continue, but was not clear about how people could buy food and other essential goods. 

According to international labour organisations 90 percent of India’s workforce work hand-to-mouth and is employed in the informal sector. Most do not have access to pensions, sick leave, paid leave or any kind of insurance. 

This lack of assurance and security caused a rush on the shops with people seen lining the streets late into the night to get food. Others were desperate to get out of the cities and back to their rural homes where they can be with their family and away from the larger population hubs which have incredibly high population densities.

The queues for the buses extended for as long as the eye could see down the side of roads as people desperately tried to make their way home and out of the city

Social distancing, which is vital in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus, became impossible as people were left standing in the isles on buses. The measure has left people with no other choice but to return home where life is cheaper

People scramble up the back of a bus to sit on its roof, while others hang off the back of it after not being able to find space inside

Unable to fit inside the buses, some passengers opted to sit on top of the buses over being stuck in the city where they will be jobless for the next three weeks

Footage and images coming out of Ghaziabad, on the outskirts New Delhi, show huge crowds of people waiting for transport to get out of the cities. One video shows hundreds of thousands of people crowding at a bus station, trying to cram themselves onto the buses taking people out of the city, or even climbing on top of them.

Another video shows people still waiting late into the night outside of a station. People are seen desperately climbing over barriers to get ahead of the queues. Lost children are seen walking around looking for their parents while people sit of the ground, distraught after missing their bus home.

Speaking to The Guardian, a daily wage worker Rama who has lost his job polishing office floors described the violent scenes he experienced at a bus station as he attempted to get home. He saw desperate people trying to get home being hit with wooden rods wielded by the police.

‘My work has totally stopped so I have no money to survive and I have not eaten since yesterday, so that is why I needed to go back,’ he said. ‘But I was not the only one. The bus station was full of people like me, desperate to get out, and it was like hell.

‘There were crowds and everyone was being crushed and pulling each other out of the way, there was so much violence and police were charging at us with lathis.’

‘For buses that had seats [for] 100 people, 200 people would be trying to cram in, people were sitting on top of the bus and hanging out of the windows. We were all desperate to leave because we cannot survive in Delhi under this lockdown,’ Rama said.

Witnesses have described how police were enforcing lockdown measure with lathis (wooden sticks) to try and keep crowds under control

People queued for miles in order to get on a bus home, but many found they were unable to do so. Some people have been left to walk home which is often hundreds of miles outside of the cities they work in

A woman sits among a crowd waiting for a bus home. Fears are rising that crowds such as these will have caused the coronavirus to spread rapidly among the population, which is now dispersing across the country

Making the situation worse, some bus and train services have ceased with the lockdown, causing even more overcrowding. In some cases, people were left with no other option but to begin walking home, often living hundreds of miles outside the cities.

The roads leading away from the cities quickly became lined with people carrying their belongings down dusty sidewalks. Even for them it has been nearly impossible to escape the crowds in which the chances of coronavirus infection are greatly increased.

A mother desperately reaches for her child as she is passed over a wall by a man outside a bus station as other people queue to climb over too as they wait for a bus back to their villages

People can be seen walking down a road towards home with their belongings on their heads after being unable to get on a bus to take them back to their villages

A mother and her three young children take shelter in a pipe along the side of a motorway as they wait for a bus to return home to their village

Another family sits with their luggage on the side of the motorway waiting for a bus home. While workers attempt to go home, there is a chance they will not be welcome as other villagers will be worried about them carrying the coronavirus

The crammed crowds at Delhi’s bus stations is the opposite of what Modi intended with the lockdown that was announced last week, with people in the country horrified at the events being played out at India’s transport hubs.

Not only has the lockdown put some of India’s most impoverished vulnerable people in a situation where they will struggle to pay for rent and food, it is also increasing the likelihood of the coronavirus spreading both among those in the city and across the country.

Anyone travelling who has caught the virus by being in close contact with others will now likely spread it to the more remote parts of India. In reaction to this, a number of villages are attempting to stop migrant workers from returning home out of fear they are braining the virus back with them.

Others have converted schoolhouses and government buildings into quarantine centres to house the countless working migrants that will be returning home, to help manage the influx of people and monitor for symptoms.

Public spaces such as this sports centre in Sarusojai have been converted into temporary quarantine centres to manage the influx of people returning from India’s largest cities and to care and isolate anyone with symptoms

Prime Minister Modi has announced a $22.5 (£18.2) billion relief package to help the country’s poorest people get the essential items they need to live off. The government intends to use existing welfare schemes to roll out relief measures which include free food and money transfers to low-income earners.

However, low-wage earners will receive 500 rupees each (£5.30) a month, just a fraction of what they would have been earning in the cities.

Strong measures are being taken by Indian authorities against those who break the coronavirus lockdown measure put in place last Tuesday.

One example given by an Indian Police Chief in Chandigarh, in the North of India, is that a cricket stadium has been converted into a ‘temporary jail’ to inprison those who have violated the country’s lockdown conditions.

‘We round up people we find loitering on the street who are violating the lockdown conditions and bring them to the jail to brief them about social distancing, we provide them with food and tell them about proper sanitisation, and they are let go by evening,’ Chandrajit Singh, Chandigarh Police’s public relations officer said to CNN.

India’s confirmed coronavirus cases is low compared to other countries, particularly considering it’s population, with just 1,251 confirmed and 31 deaths according the latest figures from the Johns Hopkins University. However, the rate of testing is also low and the number is likely much higher.

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Phil stabbed as Sharon attacks with a knife in EastEnders?

It’s a dark day in EastEnders for grieving mum Sharon Mitchell (Letitia Dean) – it’s hard enough that she is burying her beloved teenage son Dennis Rickman but when she comes face to face with her ex Phil (Steve McFadden), she finally snaps and lashes out with a knife.

Sharon blames Phil for Dennis’ death as his attack on Keanu Taylor was technically the catalyst for the boat of doom going off course and crashing. But she still remains unaware that Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt) actually locked Dennis below deck.

Although Ian eventually got him out, it was too late and while Ian made it, Dennis was not so lucky.

Phil disappeared after the accident although he was aware of the devastating outcome for Dennis, who he classed as a son.

It is because of this that he can’t stay away from the funeral and watches from afar, even though he probably has an idea about how welcome he will be. Fart and elevator come to mind.

When he braces himself and turns up at the wake, an already emotional Sharon can’t hold back and screams at him, grabbing at a knife and lunging at him.

Ian and Kathy (Gillian Taylforth) rush to try and stop her but Sharon’s emotions explode. Will she break free and take a violent revenge on Phil?

And what does Phil have to say to Sharon if she can ever become calm enough to listen to him?

Meanwhile, a weasel-ish Ian will continue to squirm as blame flies to everywhere but him.

But as Dotty Cotton (Milly Zero) ups the pressure, will he take matters into his own hands?


As things reach new heights, Ben Mitchell’s (Max Bowden) own situation – and Callum Highway’s (Tony Clay) unwavering support puts everything into perspective – leading to a declaration of love as the much loved couple find strength among the recent pain and realise they might be able to survive anything together.

EastEnders airs Moday 30 and Tuesday 31 March at 8pm then 7:30pm on BBC One.

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Fans go wild as ALL episodes of Tracey Beaker are now on BBC iPlayer

Fans go wild as ALL episodes of Tracy Beaker are now on BBC iPlayer and say ‘it’s better than Christmas’ as they settle in to watch ‘every single one’ during lock-down

  • Tracy Beaker is available on BBC iPlayer and fans of the 90s hit are very excited
  • Programme is based on a series of books by British author Jacqueline Wilson
  • Children’s series ran for five series and started in 2002, with it last airing in 2005 
  • One delighted fan commented: ‘This is probably better than Christmas’ 

Iconic children’s TV show Tracy Beaker is now available on BBC iPlayer – to the delight of British ’90s kids.

The programme, based on a series of books by British author Jacqueline Wilson, followed 10-year-old Tracy (played by Dani Harmer) as she stayed at a residential care home nicknamed the Dumping Ground.

It ran for five series and started in 2002, and was so popular that a film version was released in 2004 before it’s last episode aired in 2005. 

Fans went wild online after a Facebook post revealed all of the 26-minute long episodes are now available on BBC iplayer. 

Iconic children’s TV show Tracy Beaker (pictured) is now available on BBC iPlayer – to the delight of British 90s kids 

One person said: ‘This is probably better than Christmas lol’, as another joked: ‘I might be uncontactable for the next couple of days.’ 

A third impressed fan wrote: ‘Not going to lie, at this point, I’m tempted to watch every single one.’

The post was liked nearly 4,000 times and had more than 12,000 comments, with parents seemingly more excited than their kids.

‘Every episode ever from the iconic CBBC Tracy Beaker in one place,’ the BBC said.


The post was liked nearly 4,000 times and had more than 12,000 comments, with parents seemingly more excited than their kids (above)

It comes as the star of the classic show, Dani Harmer, who is now 31, announced that she is self-isolating after experiencing symptoms of the Covid-19 virus on March 12.

The actress, who now runs acting school The Dani Harmer Academy, shared her disappointment that she couldn’t go back to work because of the coronavirus symptoms. 

Dani, who lives in Bracknell, tweeted: ‘Absolutely gutted to not be going to the Dani Harmer Academy this morning but unfortunately after showing symptoms I have been in self isolation since Thursday evening!

‘Started to feel slightly better but I will never risk the health of others! So for the next 5 days I’ll be in my bedroom.’ 

The programme, based on a series of books by British author Jacqueline Wilson, followed 10-year-old Tracy (pictured with friends and played by Dani Harmer) as she stayed at a residential care home nicknamed the Dumping Ground

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Googlebox viewers in uproar as stars 'break' self-isolation rules to film show

Googlebox viewers weren’t happy after Friday night’s installment as the cast appeared to break the self-isolation rules despite the coronavirus outbreak that is sweeping the UK.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has since tested positive for coronavirus, urged Brits not to leave the house unless it’s to go to the supermarket or to exercise once a day.

The government also advised people not to visit other family members or friends’ households.

Jenny and Lee, siblings Sophie and Pete, and Ellie and Izzi were among the stars that featured in last night’s programme.

Following the episode, baffled viewers took to social media after friends and family appeared on the sofas together just like they normally would, even if they don’t live in the same homes.

Taking to Twitter, one viewer asked: ‘When was this weeks #gogglebox recorded? Not all these people live together do they?! #socialdistancing’

Another commented: ‘#Gogglebox love the program, but why aren’t they self isolating? They can’t all live together?!’

In order to keep cast and crew apart, cameras were put in the families homes to avoid any further contact.

Channel 4’s Director of Programming, told Digital Spy: ‘The coronavirus outbreak is an enormous creative challenge for all broadcasters and though it is having a profound impact on getting some of our productions onto screen.

‘It’s also a time when public service broadcasters like Channel 4 can step up and help people navigate through the extraordinary challenges we all now face.’

Metro.co.uk has reached out to Channel 4 for comment.

Gogglebox returns Friday at 9pm on Channel 4.

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