French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe used a live TV address to the nation to publicly reprimand Mr Johnson over his response to the Covid-19 crisis, which has killed 71 Britons and infected 1,950. France’s slapdown is the latest in a series of embarrassing episodes for the Prime Minister, who has drawn widespread criticism for his handling of the epidemic.
Last week the government was slammed by a group of UK scientists who argued the containment measures implemented were “insufficient” in the fight against the disease and their lax approach was “risking lives”.
On Tuesday evening, hours after France’s nationwide lockdown came into effect, Mr Philippe delivered an update on the fast changing situation to his fellow countrymen and women with a warning for Britain.
He said: “Everyone within the European Union must adopt coherent methods and processes to fight the epidemic, as in Italy, France and Spain.
“‘It goes without saying that if neighbouring states such as the United Kingdom spend too long continuing to avoid these containment measures, then we would have difficulty accepting British nationals who would move freely in their own country and then come to our country.”
His tough words come as the UK is perceived to be behind the crowd of European nations when it comes to cracking the whip on social gatherings in the desperate fight to stop the spread of the virus.
Nations across the continent, many whom are not as badly affected as Britain, have closed schools, pubs, restaurants and banned mass gatherings.
Mr Johnson has resisted calls to send pupils and teachers home, arguing the strategy may not have a great impact on the rising number of cases, but has said such measures are on the table for future consideration.
French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday pledged to pump €300billion (£273billion) into “the war against coronavirus”.
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8.15am update: Public transport in West Midlands to be scaled back
The leader of Birmingham City Council, Ian Ward, has said public transport in the West Midlands will be rolled back as the coronavirus crisis worsens.
He warned the “extraordinary times” warranted special measures to ensure trains and busses are clean for passengers to safely travel on during the epidemic.
“It is clear that the West Midlands’ public transport network will not be able to operate at full capacity during the coronavirus outbreak – and nor is there demand for it to as the numbers using public transport are already beginning to fall,” he said.
“However, there are significant numbers of people across the region who continue to rely on public transport through this challenging period.
“These are extraordinary times, but I would like to thank all staff at TfWM (Transport for West Midlands), and of course those at operators such as West Midlands Trains and National Express, who are working round-the-clock to make sure safe, clean, and functioning public transport is available for those who need it the most.”
8.08am update: Poland to receive protective gear, tests from China to fight coronavirus
Poland will receive more than 10,000 test kits and tens of thousands of other protective items such as masks, goggles and shoe covers from China to help tackle the coronavirus outbreak, Poland’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement late on Wednesday.
“Even though the fight with coronavirus is ongoing in China, they decided to show solidarity with Poland and help our country by providing tests to uncover COVID-19, as well as protective medical gear,” the statement said.
China will send 20,000 masks, 5,000 protective suits, 5,000 medical goggles, 10,000 single-use medical gloves and 10,000 shoe covers to Poland, the statement says.
China has already promised to export medical gear, such as masks and respirators, to countries like Italy and South Korea.
A number of European countries, such as Germany and France, said they would limit exports of certain medical products such as masks to avoid shortages at home as the coronavirus outbreak worsened this month.
China has reported nearly 81,000 infections and 3,237 deaths in the mainland from the coronavirus epidemic, which emerged late last year in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
Published at Wed, 18 Mar 2020 07:46:00 +0000