Coronavirus briefing: Help for self-employed and surge in US cases

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Help for self-employed

It seems self-employed people are about to get some of the help they have been demanding since the government agreed to pay 80% of the salary of staff kept on by employers during the coronavirus outbreak. Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to reveal what’s in the package at a press conference later. It comes as MPs criticise banks for asking business owners to put up personal assets such as property – other than their family home – to secure loans. This is despite government promises to cover 80% of losses if the money is not repaid, up to £5m.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has offered a “special thank you” to those who have volunteered to help the NHS during the outbreak. More than half a million – including 11,000 former medics and 24,000 final-year students – have answered the call. That’s more than double the government’s recruitment target. Meanwhile, the Royal College of General Practitioners has written to Health Secretary Matt Hancock to ask whether family doctors should wear protective equipment to examine all patients, rather than just those showing coronavirus symptoms.

We look at how well prepared the health service is for the anticipated surge in cases. That includes a race to acquire ventilators, with the government ordering 10,000 from Dyson. Insiders at the firm, best known for vacuum cleaners and hand dryers, says it has a prototype “ready to go”, provided it passes stringent medical tests. Find out which companies are desperately seeking staff as they ramp up their roles in helping the country cope.

Surge in US cases

You can keep up with all the global developments via our live page, which has been reporting how the number of deaths in the US has topped 1,000.