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Coronavirus news live: Latest update today as schools to close

Auntie gears up for isolation

The BBC has laid out plans to provide education, updates and entertainment for the UK in “unprecedented times” amid the coronavirus outbreak, writes Roisin O’Connor.

Outgoing director-general Tony Hall said in a statement: “We all know these are challenging times for each and every one of us. As the national broadcaster, the BBC has a special role to play at this time of national need.

“We need to pull together to get through this. That’s why the BBC will be using all of its resources – channels, stations and output – to help keep the nation informed, educated and entertained. We are making a series of changes to our output to achieve that.”

A range of special programming has been announced to support the most vulnerable, including exercise classes for the elderly, religious services, recipes and tips for people in low-income households, and a child-friendly iPlayer experience.

“Clearly there will be disruption to our output along the way, but we will do our very best,” Mr Hall said.

“It will take time to emerge from the challenges we all face, but the BBC will be there for the public all the way through this.”

Among the new services announced are:

– A weekly prime-time coronavirus special on Wednesdays on BBC One. Question Time will be moved to 8pm on Thursdays, with call-in audiences and remote guests

– A daily edition of the BBC’s coronavirus podcast, filming it where possible for news channel use in the UK and abroad

– Collaborations between local radio and local volunteer groups to help co-ordinate support for the elderly, housebound or otherwise at-risk

– During the day on BBC One, Health Check UK Live will directly address the concerns of viewers who are in isolation, offering tips on how to keep healthy and happy at home

– A virtual church service will be launched on Sunday mornings across local radio in England, led initially by the Archbishop of Canterbury

– Bitesize content for children’s education will be expanded and popular TV programmes and boxsets will be brought back to iPlayer. Classic editions of Sorry! I Haven’t a Clue and Just a Minute will also be replayed

Culture in Quarantine will run across Radio 3, Radio 4, BBC Two, BBC Four, Sounds, iPlayer and the BBC’s digital platforms. It will include guides to shuttered exhibitions, performances from musicians and comedians and new plays created especially for broadcast, plus poetry and book readings

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