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Coronavirus: Queen to address country on Sunday as deaths rise


The Queen will speak to the nation on Sunday about the coronavirus outbreak – as the number of people who died with the virus rose by 684 in 24 hours.
Buckingham Palace said the message, recorded at Windsor Castle, will be broadcast on TV and radio at 20:00 BST.
The Queen, 93, records annual Christmas messages but other addresses are rare.
The Department of Health said that as of 17:00 BST on 2 April, the number of deaths was 3,605, up from 2,921. There are 38,168 confirmed cases.
In Scotland, the number of deaths has risen by 46, while in Wales a further 24 people died. In NI, the number of people who died with coronavirus has risen by 12.
New cases have been slowing down recently: dipping slightly at the weekend and growing more slowly this week (doubling roughly every five days). Even that trend would have predicted over 5,000 new cases today, and so this looks like further evidence that the case numbers could be slowing down (as long as every patient who needs testing is getting tested).
Today’s figures on deaths follow the recent trends closely (doubling roughly every 3.5 days).
Remember that doubling every few days means that we should expect to see record new highs regularly.
It takes more than three weeks from infection to death to being reported in these figures.
So while we can hope to see the effects of pre-lockdown social distancing soon, it will take longer for the effect of the lockdown, announced on 23 March, to become apparent.
The Queen’s address will be broadcast on TV, radio and social media, Buckingham Palace said. She has been staying at Windsor Castle since mid-March as a precaution.
It is only her fourth special address at a time of national crisis during her 68-year reign. The other occasions were after the Queen Mother’s death in 2002, ahead of Diana, Princess of Wales’s funeral in 1997, and during the First Gulf War in 1991.
The Queen also made a televised address to mark her Diamond Jubilee in 2012.
The monarch, 93, released a statement about the outbreak last month, when the number of UK deaths stood at 144.
She said the UK was “entering a period of great concern and uncertainty” and praised the work of scientists, medics and emergency staff, saying everyone has a “vitally important part to play”.
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BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell said Sunday’s speech had been decided “in close consultation with Downing Street” as “they have had it in their minds for some days now”.
“It is clearly a measure of the seriousness of the situation in which this country and indeed the wider world finds itself,” he said.
He suggested the speech might include thanks for NHS staff and key workers, as well as an emphasis on the important role individuals can play – while also aiming to reassure and rally people.
The heir to the throne, Prince Charles, was seen in public for the first time on Friday after being diagnosed with coronavirus and spending seven days in self-isolation.
He opened the first of the National Health Service’s emergency field hospitals to treat coronavirus patients in east London’s ExCel centre, via a video-link from his home on the Queen’s Balmoral estate.
In a speech to mark the opening, the prince hailed the hospital as a “practical message of hope” for coronavirus patients during a “time of national suffering”.
He added: “Let us also pray, ladies and gentlemen, that it will be required for as short a time, and for as few people as possible.”
The exhibition space – usually used for large events such as Crufts and Comic Con – was transformed into a hospital in just nine days.
The temporary NHS Nightingale Hospital is able to care for as many as 4,000 patients and is the first of several such facilities planned across the UK, including Glasgow, Belfast, Cardiff, Manchester and Birmingham.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who announced he had contracted the virus last Friday, says he will carry on self-isolating after continuing to display mild symptoms of the virus including a high temperature.
In other developments:
Downing Street says more than 26.7 million units of PPE were delivered to 281 trusts and providers on Thursday – including 7.8 million aprons, 1.7 million masks and 12.4 million gloves
Teachers in England will be asked to assess the grades they think pupils would have achieved in cancelled GCSE and A-level exams. This will be used by exam boards to decide results – along with a ranking by ability of pupils in each subject in a school, also judged by teachers
560 new ventilators have been manufactured following a call for help from industry
The BBC has announced it will offer the biggest education push in its history to help parents and children in virus lockdown
A 36-year-old NHS nurse has died after spending weeks in intensive care with coronavirus
Heathrow will close one of its runways next week as air traffic continues to fall.