News Daily: Virus hits stocks and doubts over road-building plans

News Daily: Virus hits stocks and doubts over road-building plans

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Virus effects

The many and varied effects of the coronavirus outbreak continue to be felt across the globe. Stock markets are taking a hit – Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 3% in early trading and Australia’s ASX 200 by more than 3.5%, in the wake of the US Dow Jones index’s biggest points fall in history. New Zealand, Belarus and Lithuania confirm their first cases, while the first case in sub-Saharan Africa was reported in Lagos, Nigeria. And, in Hong Kong, the pet dog of a coronavirus patient is in quarantine after giving a “weak positive” test results.

As 256 new cases in South Korea take the total there past 2,000, K-pop megastars BTS cancel four concerts in Seoul and the country’s largest cinema chain says it will temporarily shut cinemas in the Daegu area. Cycling’s UAE Tour is cancelled with two stages remaining, after two Italian “staff members” tested positive. Riders including Britain’s Chris Froome and Adam Yates are being tested for the virus.

Sporting and cultural events in the UK could suffer too, England’s chief medical officer has suggested. The number of confirmed cases here rose to 16 on Thursday, including the first case in Northern Ireland. But Prof Chris Whitty says, if the outbreak intensifies, it may be necessary to close schools and stop mass gatherings of people for “probably more than two months”. Meanwhile, Britons confined to a hotel in Tenerife have been told by airline Jet2 they will not be flown home until 10 March, unless they have tested negative.

Want to know how best to avoid a virus and stop germs spreading? Watch our video. You can find out where efforts to develop a vaccine have got to. And read about how restrictions in China have forced TV companies to ditch studio audiences in favour of talent show contestants filming performances at home.

Roads and emissions

The court ruling that ministers’ backing for a third runway at Heathrow Airport was unlawful could have knock-on effects for the government’s £28.8bn road-building plans. As with the airport expansion, the BBC understands the proposals – due to be published next month – don’t take into account the latest commitment to cut carbon emissions by almost 100% by 2050. Guidelines used by officials have also yet to be updated to take into account the climate pledge, meaning some road schemes may get approved – when under the new climate laws they should be rejected. This could leave them vulnerable to legal challenges from environmentalists. “The whole system desperately needs reviewing,” says Becca Lush, of the Transport Action Network pressure group.

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Criminal detection

For the vast majority, metal detecting might be a harmless hobby that occasionally turns up something fascinating or valuable. But are the actions of some enthusiasts “robbing us of our past”? That’s the view of English Heritage chief executive Kate Mavor, who says: “Once items are spirited away they can never be replaced, and the evidence of those who went before us is lost forever.” The charity, which looks after historic buildings and monuments, recorded 12 incidents of “nighthawking” at its sites last year, with up to 75 holes dug at each. Four sites were targeted in December alone. Ancient locations such as the site of the Battle of Hastings and Old Sarum in Wiltshire – the site of Salisbury’s original cathedral – were among those targeted.

Afghans dare to hope for peace

By Secunder Kermani, BBC News, Kunduz

A week-long “reduction in violence” is coming to an end in Afghanistan… and the US and Taliban look set to sign an agreement on Saturday in Qatar. It will establish a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops in exchange for guarantees from the Taliban not to allow groups such as al-Qaeda to operate in their territory. It’s a key development in the peace process.

Salahuddin Safai, 32, says his young children have grown accustomed to the sounds of gunfire. He is hopeful that peace will come, but cautious at the same time. “If we look at our past, similar things have happened,” he says. “When the Soviet Union pulled out from Afghanistan, there were peace negotiations, but they failed. A civil war started and the country became what it is now.”

Read the full article

What the papers say

Headlines about the coronavirus once again dominate. Major events such as theatre shows, the London Marathon, and football and rugby games are at risk of cancellation, warn the Times and the Daily Telegraph. The Guardian suggests the impact of the virus could be as damaging to the world’s economy as the 2008 financial crisis, while the Daily Mirror reports panic-buying. And the Metro describes the “farce” of a patient given a hospital appointment by an NHS 111 call-handler, instead of being told to self-isolate.

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10:00 The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett of Maldon, holds his annual press conference at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

20:00 Bottom-placed Norwich City host Leicester City at Carrow Road in English football’s Premier League.

On this day

1991 US President George HW Bush announces a ceasefire in the Gulf War. See how BBC News reported a spectacular operation to return the British ambassador to the embassy in Kuwait City.

From elsewhere

Markets wake up with a jolt to the implications of Covid-19 (Economist)

The Bible that oozed oil (Slate)

When Chevy Chase’s charm vanished: the making of Memoirs of an Invisible Man (Telegraph)

Tears at bedtime: are children’s books on environment causing climate anxiety? (Guardian)

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