4th April 2020

Science Coronavirus briefing: Retired medics and wage protection

Science Coronavirus briefing: Retired medics and wage protection


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Science Call to retired medics

It was mooted some time ago and now there’s confirmation: retired doctors and nurses will be asked to return to the NHS to help the service cope with the coronavirus outbreak. “Lend us your expertise… you can help to save lives,” is the pitch from Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England. The Nursing and Midwifery Council is writing to 50,000 nurses across the UK whose registration lapsed in the last three years, while the General Medical Council will contact 15,500 recently retired doctors. It comes as the government reveals which key workers will be allowed to send their children to school, after the education system closes today.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock says protective personal equipment is being rushed to frontline NHS staff and social care providers, following concern workers were being put at risk by shortages. He’s also pledged to ensure all hospitals have enough ventilators, revealing 1,400 companies – including Formula 1 racing teams – have pledged to switch operations to supply them.

Science Jobs and unity

After talks with unions and business groups, the chancellor is set to announce an employment and wage subsidy package to try to protect millions of jobs. It comes as the Queen urges unity in a message to the nation. “At times such as these, I am reminded that our nation’s history has been forged by people and communities coming together to work as one, concentrating our combined efforts with a focus on the common goal,” her statement says.

Wondering how long this effort might have to last? While the prime minister suggests the UK might “turn the tide” on the virus within 12 weeks, our health correspondent James Gallagher finds no clear answer – or definite exit strategy – from the science community.

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Science Keep up to date

You can get an idea of the global picture via our visual guide and stay in touch with the latest developments at home and abroad via our live page.

Science This weekend…

Families might not be able to spend Mothering Sunday in mum’s favourite restaurant but plenty are thinking up different ways to mark the occasion, as Kirstie Brewer reports. If you’re wondering how to get the R and R – and fun – you need while observing social distancing, you might be inspired by our feature on the ways friends, pub quiz teams and even Brownies are spending time together online. And for those pining for the football, Newsbeat has details of an online charity FIFA 20 tournament – with stars from top clubs due to pick up video game controllers on Sunday.

Still not clear on what social distancing involves? Watch this video explainer to find out. It’s one of many on our dedicated coronavirus index, where you can also remind yourself of the symptoms and how to stay safe.

Science Robots use light beams to zap hospital viruses

By Adrienne Murray, technology of business reporter, BBC News

“Please leave the room, close the door and start a disinfection,” says a voice from the robot. “It says it in Chinese as well now,” Simon Ellison, vice president of UVD Robots, tells me as he demonstrates the machine.

Through a glass window we watch as the self-driving machine navigates a mock-hospital room, where it kills microbes with a zap of ultraviolet light. “We had been growing the business at quite a high pace – but the coronavirus has kind of rocketed the demand,” says chief executive, Per Juul Nielsen.

Read the full article

Science One thing not to miss today…

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Lessons from Italy’s ‘red zone’

Science Listen up

The latest edition of the Coronavirus Newscast dissects the latest government advice on social distancing, namely: “Stop going to the pub!” Meanwhile, with all sorts of businesses – bars included – facing up to losing their customers, HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur asks Laurence Boone, chief economist at the global economic forum, the OECD, if enough is being done to prevent a recession.

Science What the papers say

Two statements dominate the front pages. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s suggestion the UK can “turn the tide” on coronavirus within 12 weeks is widely quoted in headlines. Most papers also feature what the Daily Mail calls the Queen’s “Blitz spirit” message of unity to the nation. Meanwhile, the Financial Times and Daily Telegraph lead on the expected announcement from Chancellor Rishi Sunak of a plan to help British companies keep paying staff during the outbreak. Meanwhile, the prime minister comes under scrutiny in the Daily Star. It pictures a “lorry-load” of luxury loo roll being dropped off at Downing Street.

Science From elsewhere

A message from Italy: it’s going to get worse. Much worse. (Slate)

‘Everything is on hold’: how coronavirus turned our lives upside down (HuffPost UK)

Daily chart: How long can the novel coronavirus survive on surfaces and in the air? (Economist)

Mother’s Day: what people can and can’t do to celebrate with their mums during coronavirus (Telegraph)

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Science Need a little light relief?

There’s not been a lot of cheer in the news lately. If you need a diversion, watch this fascinating glimpse of the way children’s TV looks in North Korea. Or hear Dr Radha Modgil – of Radio 1’s Life Hacks fame – explain why it’s so hard to stick to new habits. It’s Friday, which means it’s time to test your current affairs knowledge in our quiz of the week’s news. Or, if you just want to do something really silly, see if you can tell a “clong, bong, doying” from a “wallop, clang, jangle” in a BBC Archive quiz based on its stock of 16,000 sound effects.


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