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Coronavirus Kent: Live updates on the impact of Covid-19 pandemic across the county


Around 13,000 staff who work for EasyJet and Virgin Atlantic are being asked to help the NHS care for people with coronavirus - as cases rise by almost 1,600 in 24 hours.

The airlines will continue to pay their work force but have written to ask if they would be willing to help at Nightingale hospitals.

Coronavirus (31332558)
Coronavirus (31332558)

The news comes as Boris Johnson reveals 20,000 former NHS staff have offered to come back.

The government's deputy chief medical officer has said it could be 'some time' before the country returns to normal.

Dr Jenny Harries, said that people should not expect to get back to 'normal life' for six months or even longer.

She also said it would not be clear if the 'social distancing' lockdown is working for another two or three weeks - after Easter - with deaths set to rise further.

Dr Harries said people had taken 'quite some time' to get used to social distancing, but there was now evidence people are obeying the rules. She said: "The issue of the three weeks is for us to review where we are and see if we've had an impact jointly on the slope of that curve.

"But I think to make it clear to the public if we are successful we will have squashed the top of that curve, which is brilliant, but we must not then suddenly revert to our normal way of living that would be quite dangerous. If we stop then all of our efforts will be wasted and we could potentially see a second peak."

The official UK coronavirus death toll has risen by 209 in 24-hours from 1,019 to 1,228.

Follow our live blog for today's coronavirus updates:

6pm - Sport

Herne Bay are one of 60 non-league clubs to sign a letter calling on the FA to reverse it's decision to wipe the season for hundreds of clubs.

Meanwhile if you needed a smile - and who doesn't? - then the Marsh family have got you sorted and if that didn't work, try this.

5.15pm - Press conference

Dominic Raab heads up today's press briefing in the absence of Boris Johnson who is in his fourth day of his week-long self-isolation.

He's the foreign secretary and is talking about getting hundreds of thousands of Brits who are abroad back home.

He says the government and several airlines will "target flights from priority countries" from this week, airlines will be responsible for getting their passengers back home if "comercial routes are still operating" from countries.

The government will chart special flights if commercial routes are closed. Passengers will have to pay and the most vulnerable will be prioritised.

Patrick Vallance the government's chief scientific advisor says behaviour is changing thanks to social distancing measures, with London Underground traffic dramatically dropping.

There are currently more than 9,000 people in hospital going up by "pretty much the same amount each day".

Cases are being recorded everywhere in the UK, he says.

"We expect this to get worse over the next couple of weeks, at least two or three, then a stabilisation and a gradual decrease in cases," he adds.

5pm - Bus changes

Meanwhile Arriva is continuing to adapt its timetable and this scout pack are adapting to life in lockdown.

4.49pm - Death toll rises

The death toll for the UK now stands at 1,408, 180 more than yesterday's figure.

A total of 22.141 cases have now been recorded, up by just under 1,600. Nearly 135,000 people have been tested meaning only around 16% have tested positive.

3.30pm - Business

Staff at a school catering firm have been laid off and been told they will receive just £29 a day for five days because of a "lack of clarity" around the government's promise to pay 80% of workers' wages to save jobs.

Carluccio's and BrightHouse have both filed for administration with the current lockdown proving cataclysmic for an already troubled sector. As a result 4,500 jobs hang in the balance.

In lighter news McDonald's have provided this young lad with Happy Meal boxes to help him overcome the sudden closure of the chain's branches. He has autism occasional fast food treats are part of his routine.

2.30pm - Cricket from your sofa

Kent Cricket are gearing up for some much-needed action from the comfort of their own homes.

Following on from football’s QuaranTeam FIFA 20 video game tournament - which saw Gillingham eliminated at the first round stage by Newcastle United - our county cricket side are set to get involved in some virtual play too. Read more here.

1.05pm - company in Hythe helps with ventilators

HV Wooding are helping produce ventilators
HV Wooding are helping produce ventilators

A company in Kent has been asked to play an integral part in the fight against Covid-19.

Hythe-based engineering business HV Wooding has joined a group including, Ford, Rolls Royce and the Mercedes F1 team in producing crucial ventilators to be used by those who develop pneumonia and other breathing complications. Read more here.

12.15pm - eviction threat

A disabled man is being evicted after a neighbour mistook isolation deliveries for drug deals.

Nicholas Gibson received an email from his landlord yesterday to say he was going to be kicked out of his home on Gravelly Field, Ashford. Read more here.

11.50am - foodbank crisis

Demand has quadrupled at a Kent food bank in the past week as more and more families seek help during the coronavirus crisis.

With a number of businesses forced to close as a result of the pandemic, some experts fear unemployment in Britain could double in the coming months. Read more here.

11.15am - mental health tips

As we enter the second week of nationwide lockdown, many are realising that this unique moment requires a focus on mental health as well as physical.

People across Kent are now staying at home for long periods without the contact with friends, family and colleagues which would normally be part of everyday life. Some people may find the change easy to adapt to, but for others this will be a very difficult adjustment to make. Read more here.

10.29am - Downing Street adviser is self-isolating

Dominic Cummings, who was seen running from number 10 last week shortly after Boris Johnson was diagnosed, has had some Covid-19 symptoms and is self-isolating.

10.23am - Morrisons support foodbanks

The supermarket giant is giving £10 million worth of good to food banks across the country.

They have struggled since the beginning of the outbreak as volunteer numbers have dropped and fewer donations are being made.

9.51am - Kent MP launches fake news online service

Damian Collins, MP for Folkestone and Hythe, has called for knowingly spreading fake news about coronavirus an offence. He has partnered with a website called Infotagion which allows people to send screenshots of coronavirus news which will be checked against official sources.

9.40am - global number of cases revealed

As of the end of yesterday more than 700,000 cases of coronavirus had been confirmed. Across the world 33,854 people had died.

8.13am - Folkestone 10k update

Coastal 10k race director Ray Johnson with winners last year (32649715)
Coastal 10k race director Ray Johnson with winners last year (32649715)

A new date has been agreed for the Folkestone Coastal 10k race.

The popular event was due to take place on Sunday, May 31 but was postponed due to the coronavirus crisis. Read more here.

7.55am - learn a new language

Being in lockdown doesn't mean you can let your brain take a rest. Whatever your age, if you're looking to try something new while you're at home, why not learn a language? Click here to find out how.

7.35am - footage of the coastline

If you're in desperate need of a stunning view of Kent's coastlines, click here.

7.15am - EasyJet grounds all flights

Last week the budge airline said it would ground most of its fleet but today bosses have confirmed all flights will be grounded.

In a statement the airline said: "As a result of the unprecedented travel restrictions imposed by governments in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the implementation of national lockdowns across many European countries, easyJet has, today, fully grounded its entire fleet of aircraft."

6.32am - 20,000 nurses have returned to help fight coronavirus

Boris Johnson announced this morning that 20,000 former NHS staff have returned to work to help cope with the pressure coronavirus has put on the frontline.

6am - headlines from overnight

Virgin Atlantic and EasyJet are asking their 13,000 members of staff to help care for patients at the new Nightingale hospitals.

They'll be given specialists training to help the NHS but will continue to be paid by the airlines.

And across the Atlantic, Donald Trump has said he is extending social distancing to April30.

Speaking at the White House, he said the 'peak' of deaths isn't expected for another two weeks.

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, click here

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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