Isle of Man confirms first case – report
The coronavirus is paralysing potential political change around the world, with lawmakers in Chile the latest to postpone an upcoming election.
The vote on rewriting the country’s Pinochet-era constitution was originally due to take place on 26 April – a date that the country’s health ministry now predicts will be the height of the virus outbreak in the country.
Chile currently has 324 confirmed cases – the highest number per capita in South America.
The Australian stock market surged 3.8% on Friday to open the last day of trade of one of the most turbulent weeks in the exchange’s history.
Share prices have been up and down – mostly down – all week as traders struggle to understand the lasting economic damage that will be wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic.
New Zealand flag carrier Air New Zealand, which is listed on the Australian exchange, resumes trade today after being suspended earlier this week while it negotiated a $900m bailout from the Kiwi government that could eventually nationalise the airline.
Nationalisation talk also continues to swirl around Australia’s two airlines, national carrier Qantas and challenger Virgin Australia.
On Thursday Qantas stood down 20,000 of its 30,000 strong workforce, prompting outrage from unions, and shut all international routes except for special flights to bring Australians home.
At least seven companies joined with those who have already decided that they can no longer predict the future due to the coronavirus crisis and withdrew profit guidance before the market opened.
The Australian corporate regulator said it will allow companies due to hold annual shareholder meetings during the pandemic to put them off by up to two months.
Children are expected to continue to attend UK schools from Monday if they have one parent classified by the government as a key worker.
Amid the first nationwide school closure in modern British history, Downing Street has said it wants to keep parents in work who are doing vital jobs – from NHS staff to social workers and delivery drivers – to support crucial sectors that ensure the country continues to function amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Eight more deaths in Washington state
G7 meeting to convene remotely
A massive effort is under way to develop a UK vaccine for coronavirus within months and make it available to save lives before the end of the year, the Guardian has learned.
Researchers at Oxford University, led by Prof Sarah Gilbert, are planning a safety trial on humans of what is expected to be the UK’s first coronavirus vaccine next month. Provided that goes smoothly, they will move directly into a larger trial to assess how effective the vaccine is at protecting against the infection.
The same vaccine will start animal trials next week at the Public Health England laboratory at Porton Down near Salisbury. Normally, animal work must be completed before human trials can start, but because similar vaccines have worked safely in trials for other diseases, the work has been accelerated.
Prof Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute at Oxford, said:
We are conscious that a vaccine is needed as soon as possible and certainly by June–July, when we expect a big peak in mortality.
This is not a normal situation. We will follow all standard trial safety requirements, but as soon as we have a vaccine that’s working, we anticipate there will be an accelerated pathway to get it deployed to save lives. The more vaccine we can provide sooner, the better.