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Chancellor set to unveil fresh emergency package to help workers through coronavirus outbreak

Rishi Sunak has been under pressure from Labour, unions and even senior Tory MPs. Credit: PA

The Chancellor is to unveil an emergency package aimed at protecting workers' jobs and wages as they face hardship amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Rishi Sunak has been under pressure from Labour, unions and even senior Tory MPs to do more to help workers and the stalling economy survive in the current climate.

The new Chancellor will reveal fresh measures on Friday at the Government's daily Covid-19 press conference in Downing Street - where he is expected to be joined by Boris Johnson.

The pair addressed the daily coronavirus update on Tuesday. Credit: PA

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell urged Mr Sunak to go further to ensure job security for Britons throughout the coronavirus crisis, saying the Government should pay up to 90 per cent of workers wages. He said: "I'm saying we need protection for workers salaries and wages. That means saying to companies, we will the state, fund 90 per cent of people's wages. "That way we give a jobs guarantee to people. We keep them in work and we keep them earning because if people are out of work and they aren't earning, demand in the economy will collapse and we'll have a wave of recession that will hit us hard and last longer."

The Prime Minister said he expects the UK can "turn the tide" in the fight against the pandemic within 12 weeks, but urged the public to follow social distancing advice and for businesses to "stand by your employees".

Health Secretary Matt Hancock later admitted he could not live on statutory sick pay, but suggested an improvement could come with fresh measures to tackle the coronavirus crisis.

The Cabinet minister bluntly dismissed the prospect with a "no" when he was asked on BBC's Question Time if he could get by on the sum of £94.25 per week.

But Mr Hancock suggested more on the subject could come in the Chancellor's latest emergency package, which will follow another emergency interest rate cut delivered by the Bank of England on Thursday.

The UK now has a total of 144 deaths in coronavirus patients. Credit: PA Graphics

Mr Sunak’s £350 billion support package two days earlier was focused on businesses, with little help for staff facing the prospect of being laid off and unable to pay the bills.

The fresh measures could also aid in the fight to stem the spread of the disease itself, with fears workers may not self-isolate with Covid-19 symptoms over fears of a financial blow.

Nearly £150 billion was wiped off London's top index earlier in the outbreak. Credit: PA

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted US President Donald Trump to call off the June meeting of G7 leaders at Camp David - leaders are instead due to talk by video conferencing.

Meanwhile, the Queen issued a message to the nation which said the UK is entering a period of great concern and uncertainty". She said "our nation's history has been forged by people and communities coming together to work as one".

It comes as the UK death toll rose to 144 on Thursday, with around four in 10 of all deaths so far in London where the outbreak is said to be at a "more advanced stage" than the rest of the UK.

Elsewhere the death toll in Italy rose to 3,405 - overtaking the total number of deaths so far registered in China, the epicentre of the virus.

Back in the UK, the toll reached 144 as of 1pm on Thursday, with around four in 10 of all deaths so far in London.