MOSCOW — Russia has sent a planeload of medical aid to the United States amid the growing coronavirus pandemic.
A military aircraft loaded with medical equipment and masks took off from Moscow early Wednesday morning, according to the Defense Ministry.
Footage from the Russian Defense Ministry showed boxes of equipment inside an Antonov An-124 Ruslan aircraft at Moscow's Chkalovsky Airbase.
The delivery follows a phone call between President Vladimir Putin and President Trump on Monday, when they discussed cooperation in the fight against the new coronavirus. A Kremlin statement said the call took place at Washington's initiative.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday that Trump accepted Russia's aid "with gratitude."
"Offering aid to the American colleagues, the president (Vladimir Putin) is assuming that when American production of medical equipment and materials picks up speed, they will be able to reciprocate if necessary," Peskov told the Interfax news agency.
LONDON (AP) — The British government is under fire for failing to keep its promise to increase the number of tests performed for Covid-19.
The U.K. has restricted testing to hospitalized patients, leaving many people with milder symptoms unsure whether they have had the new coronavirus. Many scientists have urged wider testing to allow medics who are negative to remain at work, and to better understand how the virus spreads.
That has happened in Germany, which has the capacity to do 500,000 tests a week.
The U.K. initially performed about 5,000 tests a day, but the government promised to increase that number to 10,000 by the end of last week. The target has not been met, with just over 8,000 tests performed Monday, the last day for which figures were available.
Officials blamed a shortage of the chemicals needed to perform the tests.
Communities secretary Robert Jenrick said Wednesday that the number of tests should hit 15,000 a day "within a couple of days" and rise to 25,000 a day by mid-April. He conceded, "We do need to go further and we need to do that faster."
He told ITV that "it isn't easy to procure the tests in a global pandemic because there is a great deal of demand."
LONDON — Britain's largest banks are scrapping dividend payments amid pressure to secure cash for businesses struggling with the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Bank of England's Prudential Regulation Authority requested the suspension of all plans to return money to shareholders. All outstanding dividend payments from last year will also be canceled.
Barclays, Lloyds and NatWest are among the banks accepting the move.
The PRA says the decisions "are a sensible precautionary step given the unique role that banks need to play in supporting the wider economy through a period of economic disruption, alongside the extraordinary measures being taken by the authorities.''
The authority also expects bonuses to be canceled for senior staff members.
The move may offer a moment of redemption for the big banks, many of whom suffered reputational damage during the 2008 financial crisis.
Royal Bank of Scotland CEO Alison Rose said the institution is "focused on ensuring we support our customers and help them to navigate the immediate and longer-term challenges they are facing as a result of Covid-19."
LONDON — The Scottish government has dropped controversial plans to temporarily bring an end to trial by jury during the coronavirus lockdown.
Constitution Secretary Mike Russell told Scottish lawmakers that the government was withdrawing the proposals from emergency legislation, and that "intensive and wide-ranging" discussions with interested parties, including victims, about alternatives will take place. Other measures within the emergency legislation include the early release of prisoners and a ban on evictions.
Russell said new proposals on the justice system will be brought forward this month.