The Kilic Ali Pasa Mosque is Istanbul, Turkey, is disinfected to prevent the spread of Covid-19

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Live Reporting

By Ashitha Nagesh, Matthew Cannon and Mal Siret

All times stated are UK

  1. UK: ‘Evidence here does not support travel ban’

    European ministers have been waking up to the news of the US travel ban, announced by President Donald Trump overnight.

    Travellers from the 26 countries in the Schengen border-free travel area are to be barred from entering the US. Those passing through any Schengen country in the 14 days before their arrival in the US will also be barred.

    The UK – a country not in the Schengen area and where the ban does not apply – has said it does not plan to impose such a ban.

    Reacting to the US travel ban, Chancellor Rishi Sunak told BBC Breakfast: “We haven’t believed that that’s the right thing to do, the evidence here doesn’t support that.

    “What we are trying to do is contain the virus while recognising that it is now likely that it will spread more significantly.”

    Rishi Sunak

    Copyright: BBC

    Image caption: UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced £12bn of funds for coronavirus measures on Wednesday

    The UK is expected to step up its own response later by moving into the delay stage – with the aim of pushing back the peak of the outbreak until the summer.

    The total number of confirmed cases in the UK stands at 460. Eight people have died as a result of the virus in the UK.

  2. Global stocks plunge amid US-Europe travel ban

    Markets are looking increasingly rattled by the global response to the coronavirus outbreak.

    London’s FTSE 100 index sank about 6% in early trading on Thursday. That followed more falls in the US, with the Dow Jones losing nearly 6% on Wednesday.

    It comes after US President Donald Trump restricted travel to the country from most of mainland Europe and the World Health Organization (WHO) labelled the outbreak a pandemic.

    Get the latest here.

    Financial markets image

    Copyright: Getty Images

  3. Which countries have shut all schools?

    Students wearing face masks in Colombia

    Copyright: AFP

    Image caption: Pupils in Bogota, Colombia, where schools have not been closed, have been pictured wearing face masks at their desks

    The UN’s educational, scientific and cultural body, Unesco, says 22 countries now have nationwide school closures in place in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

    Schools have been closed for different lengths of time in different places. For example:

    • Denmark is among the latest countries to shut all schools – and universities – for a fortnight. It took the decision after a sharp rise in cases, with 514 now confirmed
    • Kazakhstan – where there are zero confirmed cases – has also announced schools will be closed from Monday
    • Last week, Italy shut schools for about a month. It came after 2,500 cases were confirmed in the country
    • Late last month, Japan officials asked all schools to close until the end of school year in late March. The move came after 186 cases were confirmed

    Elsewhere, 13 countries have closed some schools in areas which have seen the most outbreaks, Unesco said.

    These areas include Madrid in Spain and two regions in France – Brittany and the Oise region, north of Paris. Local reports also suggest most schools in UKraine will be shut.

    In the UK and Germany, a relatively small number of schools have been closed temporarily to allow for deep cleaning after staff or pupils tested positive or returned from high-risk areas.

  4. China declares virus peak over

    A worker cleans schools ahead of their reopening in Donghai, eastern China

    Copyright: AFP

    Image caption: Schools in China are preparing to reopen

    Officials in China have declared that the peak of the country’s outbreak is officially over.

    Mi Feng, a spokesman for China’s National Health Commission, said “the increase of new cases is falling”.

    There were just 15 new cases logged across the whole of China on Thursday, and Hubei province – the epicentre of the virus – logged just eight new infections. This is the first time the province has recorded a daily tally of fewer than 10 new cases.

    Over the last seven days, the progress of coronavirus in the country has slowed markedly. China has been enforcing strict measures on traffic and the movement of people in an attempt to stem the spread, including effectively putting Wuhan on lockdown.

    As the virus has slowed, authorities have cautiously started easing restrictions and businesses have been reopening. Earlier on Thursday, Hubei officials announced that travel restrictions would be further loosened.

  5. European Council President responds to US ban

  6. First coronavirus death in Greece

    The Greek health ministry has confirmed the country’s first death of coronavirus.

    The patient was a 66-year-old man, who contracted the virus while on a religious bus tour of Israel and Egypt last month.

    He died in hospital in Patras, about 204km (127 miles) west of Athens.

    Several others who were on the tour with him are now in hospital or quarantined.

  7. That’s it for the live Q&A – but keep your questions coming

    That’s it for the special question and answer session for today’s live page.

    We will continue posting your questions here throughout the day so please do keep them coming.

    If you have a question you would like the BBC to answer at a later stage, you can contact us in the following ways:

    BBC Your Questions Answered logo

    Copyright: BBC

  8. Help for UK self-employed?

    Question from Mark Gribby, Nottingham

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    Simon Gompertz

    Personal finance correspondent

    UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak has encouraged the self-employed who have symptoms or have been told
    to self-isolate to apply for benefits, namely Universal Credit or Employment
    and Support Allowance.

    However, charities are worried that there is still a five-week delay before Universal Credit is paid. You can get an advance payment but
    this will be taken off your future entitlement. Unfortunately, you cannot get
    statutory sick pay because that is paid by an employer.

  9. Why are UK airports not screening people?

    Question from Jacky Webb, London

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    Tom Burridge

    Transport correspondent

    Given that this is happening in many airports
    abroad, lots of people have been asking this question and we’ve been asking
    Public Health England. Their line is still that this is not deemed a necessary

    There is a protocol in place at UK airports for flights arriving from
    countries like Italy and China. The crew on the flight are supposed to ask
    passengers if they’re feeling unwell and communicate any possible cases to
    health officials, based at the airport of arrival, before the plane lands.

    colleague arrived on a flight from Hong Kong on Monday and a passenger was
    displaying symptoms so officials in protective gear boarded the plane on
    arrival at Heathrow. We don’t know if it was a confirmed case of coronavirus.

  10. Why are people not wearing masks?

    Question from Hazel, UK

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    Fergus Walsh

    Medical correspondent

    The sort of thin, paper masks
    you see people wearing are not very effective at preventing you getting
    infected. They get moist very quickly and so need frequent changing. They
    may encourage people not to touch their face, but of course they don’t protect
    your eyes.

    They are good at preventing people from passing on infection
    if they are coughing and sneezing, but anyone with symptoms should now be
    thinking about staying at home and not spreading germs.

    There are more
    effective face masks with finer mesh filtration, but they tend to be
    uncomfortable to wear. The British Lung Foundation
    says it does not recommend using a face mask “as there isn’t enough
    evidence to show how effective they are.

    The key measure to prevent yourself
    getting infected is good hand hygiene – it may sound simple but regular
    hand-washing with soap and water for 20 seconds is key.

  11. Financial assistance if UK nurseries close?

    Question from Genevieve Lowings, Croydon, UK

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    Emma Simpson

    Business correspondent

    UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced in
    the budget that thousands of small retailers, hospitality and leisure firms
    won’t have to pay any business rates in the coming year as part of an emergency
    package of measures.

    Nurseries aren’t included. Some have already been in touch
    with us to say how unhappy they are about this.

    The most useful financial help
    may well be statutory sick pay (SSP). Mr Sunak says anyone who needs to
    self-isolate because of the virus, even if they don’t have any symptoms, will
    be paid SSP from the first day they are off work.

    If you are a UK employer with
    fewer than 250 staff, the government will refund the cost for workers who need
    to take up to 14 days off. There’s also a new “temporary coronavirus
    business interruption loan scheme” for banks to offer loans to support small
    and medium sized businesses.

    Check the government website for details.

  12. Should Americans cancel plans to fly to Europe?

    Question from Karen Gale, Kansas, US

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    Tom Burridge

    Transport correspondent

    This is a personal call.

    As things stand you can travel freely
    between the US and Ireland as Ireland is not a Schengen country.

    If you do
    cancel any flights now you wouldn’t be covered by travel insurance and your
    airline wouldn’t pay out.

    If travel restrictions kick-in between Ireland and
    the US then your airline should refund you.

    It’s a tricky one. The official
    advice as things stand is that you’re ok to travel but no-one knows where we’ll
    be in even a few days’ time.

  13. How long are you ill for?

    Question from Nita, Maidstone, UK

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    Fergus Walsh

    Medical correspondent

    For four out of five people, Covid-19 will be a mild disease, a bit like flu. Symptoms include a
    fever and dry cough. You may feel grotty for a few days but you
    should be back to normal within a week or so of symptoms

    Lots of people may not even know that they are infected –
    we are unsure about this but it would be very positive news if that is the case
    because it would build up the level of so-called herd immunity in

    If the virus gets well established in the lungs it can
    cause breathing difficulties and pneumonia. About one in seven
    people may need hospital treatment, and about one in twenty critical care – such
    things as a ventilator and oxygen.

    In China, those who got most
    sick were in hospital for around three weeks. While many died, the
    vast majority of those who fall ill will recover, even if they are elderly or
    have underlying health conditions.

  14. Could London underground be closed?

    Question from Lou Doret, Exeter, UK

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    Tom Burridge

    Transport correspondent

    You asked when the government might advise people not to travel in confined spaces like the London Underground.

    The short answer is, when its health experts advise it to do so. It might never happen.

    I spoke to a senior rail industry figure yesterday
    and they are thinking all scenarios through. However, the sense is that we’re
    not close to a ban on public transport at the moment.

    It’s worth noting that
    public transport is still running in Italy, although services have been

    For now, transport bosses in the UK say they’re reviewing cleaning
    procedures. Transport for London says it is using a more powerful disinfectant.

    But irrespective of government advice, passenger numbers on trains have fallen
    as more people work at home.

  15. How long does virus last on surfaces?

    Question from Martin, Manchester, UK

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    Fergus Walsh

    Medical correspondent

    It varies a lot on the type of

    On hard surfaces – like door handles, lift buttons or kitchen
    worktops, it is probably around 48 hours. Although some previous research on
    coronaviruses has found they can survive for perhaps a week in the right

    On soft surfaces like clothes it survives for much less time, so if you have a coat that has the virus on and you don’t wear it for a day
    or two, the virus shouldn’t be active anymore.

    Remember, simply
    touching an infected surface will not give you Covid-19. You have to
    then pass the virus to your mouth, nose or eyes, so that’s why we need to stop
    touching our faces when out and about.

  16. In recent developments…

    There have been a lot of dramatic events over the last 12 hours or so. Here are some of the main headlines:

    • US President Donald Trump has suspended travel from Europe to the US. The restrictions don’t apply to the UK and some other European countries outside the Schengen free movement zone. US citizens are also exempt
    • Trump also later clarified that the restrictions apply only to people, and not cargo
    • US actor Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson have been diagnosed with the virus in Australia
    • The National Basketball Association (NBA) has suspended the season. Earlier, a player for the Utah Jazz team was confirmed to have the virus
    • The number of new cases in the Chinese province of Hubei, where the outbreak emerged, fell to the lowest rate since the outbreak began
  17. Could US travel ban be extended to UK?

    Question from June Josey

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    Tom Burridge

    Transport correspondent

    That is crystal ball territory. We’re not there yet, but after the US announcement overnight it certainly feels more possible.

    As things stand, coronavirus is less prevalent in the UK than some Schengen
    countries (Italy, France, Spain) but broadly similar to some other countries.

    We’ll just have to see how things progress.

  18. Why did it take so long to call it a pandemic?

    Question from Ivan Thein Aung

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    Fergus Walsh

    Medical correspondent

    I think the World Health Organization (WHO) was worried about the signal that this would

    It’s been obvious that we have a pandemic, which simply means
    a global outbreak of a new disease.

    In the past two weeks the number
    of cases of Covid-19 outside China has risen 13-fold and the number of affected
    countries has tripled.

    The WHO said the very word “pandemic” – if
    misused – can cause “unreasonable fear or acceptance that the fight is
    over”. It wants countries to take urgent and aggressive action to
    control the outbreak.

  19. How will UK economy be affected?

    Question from Thomas, Wales

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    Emma Simpson

    Business correspondent

    We could get a large economic
    shock from coronavirus but it should be temporary. You also asked if panic buying could reduce supermarket stock – we’ve
    all seen the pictures and stories of empty shelves.

    For retailers, panic
    buying is the worst thing that can happen because it puts supply chains under a
    lot of pressure. If you take loo roll as an example, there’s actually no
    shortage of it. We filmed this week at the UK’s biggest toilet roll
    manufacturer and they currently have 84 million toilet rolls in their
    warehouse! They always have 2-3 weeks supply, with spare capacity to store

    The issue has been getting the stock onto the supermarket shelves quick
    enough to fill the gaps as shoppers strip the shelves bare of certain
    products. There has been a specific problem with hand sanitisers where
    demand has outstripped supply. But overall, the key message is that we’re not
    going to run out of food.

    Shoppers should buy what they need. If things take a
    serious turn for the worse, all our supermarkets have contingency plans to keep
    us fed. The big challenge will be doing this with potentially far fewer

  20. Can passengers transit through the UK to the USA?

    Question from Claire Tuck

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    Tom Burridge

    Transport correspondent

    US border officials will be able to ask people for
    their original point of travel and if you’re connecting via the UK from a
    Schengen country then your airline ticket will show that.

    However, if someone has travelled on the Eurostar from France or with an airline from any Schengen country and then days later catches a flight to the US from Britain, then it’s possible that might not be picked up by US officials as passports are not stamped.

    But I certainly wouldn’t do it. Anyone who has travelled past US border officials will know that would be a risk and US officials could ask to see your bank records for details of your previous travel.