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Morning briefing: PPE blunders laid bare

Good morning. Here is the latest Covid-19 news from around the world today.

UK: A BBC Panorama investigation has revealed the government failed to buy vital items of personal protective equipment despite being warned to do so by advisers. A PPE stockpile set up in 2009 contained no protective gowns, visors, swabs or body bags when Covid-19 reached the UK, the investigation found.

Meanwhile, ministers have drawn up plans for commuters to wear face coverings on public transport and for masks to be worn in shops, with unions concerned millions of workers are afraid of returning to work.

Germany: The coronavirus infection rate is beginning to rise again, officials warned, following the easing of some lockdown measures last week. Small shops were allowed to reopen and some students returned to class. The “R” value – the number of people someone who catches the virus goes on to infect – has crept up to one after initially falling, they said.

US: President Donald Trump has again attacked China over its handling of the crisis, claiming the coronavirus “could have been stopped at the source”. “We’re doing very serious investigations,” he said, and suggested he would seek damages for the US.

France: Prime Minister Edouard Philippe will today put his plans for leaving lockdown before parliament. He is expected to specify which businesses can reopen first, and to announce that facial coverings will be compulsory on public transport.

New Zealand: The country has partially lifted lockdown measures, and officials say 75% of the economy is now operational. One million people have returned to work, and restaurants are now open for takeaway meals.

Austria: Gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed from the end of April, Health Minister Rudolf Anschober said this morning.

Argentina: The country’s lockdown has been extended until 10 May, but one-hour outings within a five-block radius of homes will be allowed, except in Buenos Aires, the Greater Buenos Aires, Córdoba and Santa Fe. Buenos Aires officials say current lockdown measures will likely last until at least the end of May in the city.

Read more on the New Statesman

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