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Government / Local politics

Morning briefing: UK building a stockpile of face masks

UK: Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has confirmed the UK is accumulating a stockpile of non-medical face masks that would “limit the droplets that each of us might be responsible for”. The “domestic effort” comes despite the government continuing to hold off on advising people to use face masks in public. The Scottish government yesterday recommended people wear face coverings – such as a scarf – when on public transport and in shops where social distancing is difficult. Whitehall sources told the Telegraph that the UK government wanted to wait until it had a sufficient stockpile before it changed its advice on wearing masks.

US: The number of US coronavirus cases has passed one million, meaning the country now accounts for around a third of all cases, and deaths have passed 58,000 – more than the number of US soldiers that died in the Vietnam War. President Donald Trump said the country would conduct five million coronavirus tests a day, and ordered meat processing factories to stay open, designating them as “critical infrastructure”.

Russia: President Vladimir Putin extended Russia’s lockdown until May 11, warning that the country had not yet reached its peak of infections and that there was a “long and difficult path ahead”.

Germany: The viral reproduction rate in Germany – the number of people an infected person goes on to infect – has jumped back up to 1. If it continues to rise, the country may have to reinstate lockdown measures that have been lifted.

China: Officials warned the country’s relationship with Australia may be damaged “beyond repair” after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison defended calls for an investigation into the origins of coronavirus.

Japan: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said the Tokyo Olympic Games, which were due to be held this year but have been suspended until 2021, may have to be pushed back again unless the pandemic is contained.

Read more from the New Statesman:

Society might forget coronavirus sooner than you think

Opposition parties fear lack of scrutiny in digital parliament

Can the NHS stop the rise in non-coronavirus deaths?
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