Sunderland LIVE news: Updates on coronavirus as schools set to close and Nissan suspends production until weekend

Hello and welcome to our live blog where we will be bringing you the latest updates on coronavirus throughout the day.

Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 5:46 pm

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We will keep you up to date with developments on the situation in the North East and across the country.

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Live updates

Sunderland LIVE news: Coronavirus updates on Wednesday, March 18

Last updated: Wednesday, 18 March, 2020, 21:17

  • Live updates on Wednesday, March 18, as the coronavirus outbreak continues to take hold.
  • Everything you need to know as the situation progresses throughout the day.
  • Any developments from Public Health England on coronavirus.
  • Breaking news from across Sunderland and the wider North East region.

9.15pm: Sunderland Greyhound Stadium closed to public until at least end of March

Sunderland Greyhound Stadium is holding all race meetings behind closed doors until at least the end of March as a response to the coronavirus crisis.

A statement on the stadium website reads: “Following the announcements from the Arena Racing Company (ARC), we can confirm that all greyhound fixtures across the group including Sunderland will take place behind closed doors from Tuesday, 17 March, until at least the end of the month.”

The statement adds: “We would like to apologise for the inconvenience this causes, but no one beyond the minimum essential staff required to operate the race day will be admitted.

“Unfortunately, greyhound owners will not be permitted entry to the site, as will anyone who turns up on the day.

8pm: Three confirmed cases in Sunderland say Public Health England

Three cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Sunderland, according to the latest figures released by Public Health England.

As of 9am on Wednesday, March 18, it said there had been 2,626 confirmed UK cases, an increase of 676 on the previous day.

Public Health England also said there were 65 patients recovered.

7.45pm: Every Parkrun in UK is cancelled for the rest of the month due to coronavirus outbreak

National organisers of Parkrun have announced all 5k events throughout the country will be cancelled until the end of the month at least due to the coronavirus crisis.

Every Parkrun in the North East, and the rest of the country, will be cancelled until the end of March – although it is likely this will be extended.

In a letter to runners, organisers said: “Initially, this closure will be in place until the end of March, however this is largely to bring all parkrun countries into the same time frame and we very much expect closures to continue through April at least.

7.30pm: 12 binge-worthy Netflix series to watch in self-isolation during coronavirus pandemic

With the Government advising us to stay indoors to help stop the spread of coronavirus, more of us than ever will be turning on the television for entertainment.

7pm: Coronavirus will 'test council services to the maximum' - Durham County Council leader on measures to cope with Covid-19

The coronavirus outbreak will ‘test council services to the maximum’, the authority’s leader has said.

Durham County Council is introducing measures to help stem the spread of Covid-19 after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s drastic address to the nation on Monday.

Council leader Simon Henig updated the county’s ruling cabinet on the council’s response to Covid-19 as cases continue to rise across the UK.

6.45pm: North East colleges suspend 'face-to-face learning' and won't be serving hot meals

Sunderland College, Hartlepool Sixth Form and Northumberland College have all suspended face-to-face learning for all university-level courses and adult provision as well as stopping the sale of hot meals.

The suspension, which is due to current Government restrictions on social contact and mobility, begun on Wednesday, March 18.

Education Partnership North East says it will affect Higher National Diplomas, Higher National Certificates, foundation degrees, top-up degrees and courses for adults (aged 19+) such as maths and English, Access to HE, hobby courses and professional qualifications.

The college is aiming to resume its adult and university-level learning after the Easter break on Monday, April 20. The suspension will allow adults to focus on the needs of their family and themselves.

6.20pm: Schools in Sunderland to close on Friday and no exams in May and June

Schools across Sunderland are to close to all pupils except those of key workers, as Boris Johnson urged the public to continue heeding health advice to help slow the spread of Covid-19.

Mr Johnson said schools across England will close their gates on Friday until further notice, but urged parents not to leave children in the care of grandparents or older relatives who are at higher risk of becoming seriously ill with coronavirus.

He said meals and vouchers would be provided for pupils who currently receive free school lunches, but said "exams will not take place as planned in May and June".

To date, 104 people have died after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK.

5.40pm: PM announces school closures across UK

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said "exams will not take place as planned in May and June" after the announcement that schools in England will close from Friday until further notice for most pupils.

5.35pm: Newcastle-Amsterdam ferry route temporarily suspended

Following the introduction of new national measures intended to delay the spread of Covid-19, DFDS is temporarily suspending sailings on its Newcastle to Amsterdam ferry route.

The last sailings on the route before the temporary suspension will be from Amsterdam on Saturday March 21 and from Newcastle on Sunday March 22. 

“Customers with a booking are being informed individually about this, and we have decided to continue sailing for a few days more to give travellers a chance to get home,” says Kasper Moos, Head of DFDS’ short routes and passenger business.

“We had hoped to be able to continue the route on the basis of a reduced operation. However, the situation has developed fast, and the recent national measures to slow down the spread of the virus, including travel restrictions, give us no alternative but to suspend sailings until 13 April 2020 as a minimum.

“Unfortunately, this also means that we will need to send crews and staff in Newcastle and IJmuiden home until the route can be re-opened. Crew members will be on board for some days to get the ships ready to be laid up in IJmuiden. We have informed everyone working at the route about the situation and are currently in talks with union representatives and national authorities in the Netherlands, the UK, Denmark and Germany about this and possible schemes to mitigate the consequences on staff. We will be able to share more information next week.

“That we have been able to sail and service our customers until now is only due to the fantastic efforts of our colleagues on board and ashore. They continued working to provide a service to our customers under extremely difficult conditions, and we owe every one of them our thanks and gratitude. I look forward to welcoming colleagues and customers back on the route, as soon as the Covid-19 crisis is under control.”   

5.30pm: Schools warning about free school meals SCAM email

Schools across Sunderland and County Durham are warning parents about a free school meals scam which has been circulating in the area.

There are a number of reports that parents at schools across Sunderland have received an email scam which attempts to get unsuspecting recipients to send over their bank details.

Seaview Primary, Eppleton Academy Primary School, Hetton School and Ropery Walk Primary School have all posted on social media referencing the scam.

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