Coronavirus 28 March: the latest news at a glance

Nicola Slawson

Key developments in the global coronavirus outbreak today include:

Ireland put on lockdown

The Irish government has announced sweeping restrictions that will put Ireland in a de facto lockdown to try to slow the spread of coronavirus. The taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, said on Friday evening that people should stay at home for two weeks.

US invokes Defense Production Act to compel General Motors to build ventilators

After many delays, and then a series of tweets earlier today, Donald Trump announced he was invoking the Defense Production Act to compel General Motors to build ventilators for hospitals.

UK’s prime minister and health secretary test positive

Following the news that the prime minister, Boris Johnson, had tested positive for Covid-19, the health secretary, Matt Hancock, confirmed that he too has coronavirus. Both are experiencing mild symptoms and are in self-isolation. The chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, says he is also experiencing symptoms and has gone into isolation.

Frontline NHS staff first to receive new Covid-19 antigen tests

Tests for healthcare workers in the UK will be rolled out next week, allowing them to find out whether they have been infected or are safe to work, the British government has announced.

Social distancing appears to be working in Canada

Social distancing appears to be keeping the coronavirus at bay in British Columbia — a rare moment of positive news as cases around the world continue to surge. The daily rate of growth of coronavirus cases in the Canadian province has been cut from 24% to 12%, far lower than that of China and Italy during their severe outbreaks.

Brazil’s president has sparked outrage

Brazil’s polemicist president Jair Bolsonaro has sparked further outrage by insinuating that the number of coronavirus cases is being inflated for political purposes and declaring: “Some people will die. I’m sorry. That’s life.”

Australians trapped in India after dramatic shutdown

Thousands of Australians caught by India’s dramatic nationwide shutdown say they face running out of food and water or being evicted from accommodation, as 1.3 billion people across the world’s second most populous nation are ordered to stay indoors.

A rugby stadium in Wales is set to be converted into a field hospital

In the UK, the Principality stadium in Wales is to be converted into a temporary hospital providing around 2,000 additional beds to support the NHS.

Virgin Atlantic to seek millions in state aid amid Covid-19 slump

Virgin Atlantic is applying for hundreds of millions of pounds in state aid to keep afloat during the coronavirus crisis, after the chancellor told the stricken aviation sector this week he would consider assisting firms on a case-by-case basis.