Coronavirus, Brexit, Australian Open: Your Monday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering the continuing spread of the new coronavirus, the countdown to the Iowa caucus, and accusations of sexual harassment at Victoria’s Secret.

The death toll from the new coronavirus has risen to more than 300 people, with more than 14,000 known infections worldwide. In the Philippines, a man who had recently arrived from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, became the first recorded fatality outside of China. Some of the world’s leading experts now believe a pandemic — an ongoing epidemic on two or more continents — is nearly inevitable.

The yearslong exit from the European Union happened at midnight Friday in Brussels, 11 p.m. in Britain itself. (Because of course they’re in different time zones.)

Our London correspondent Ben Mueller was on duty. “It felt a little anticlimactic,” he said. “There had been such fireworks, and then the legislation passed without contention.”

Alcohol was banned in Parliament Square for the big celebration, but vendors brought in beer. “They couldn’t do without it,” Ben said.

The immediate difference? “Britain no longer has representation or say in the machinery of the European Union.”

Many other aspects of the departure remain, to be resolved (or not) during a transition period that will end when 2020 does. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has already signaled a tough stand for trade talks that will begin in March.

Ben noted that even hopes to have the moment marked by a bong from Big Ben (no relation) were dashed. Westminster’s famed four-faced clock is under renovation, and speeding the process up to allow the bell to sound would have cost 500,000 pounds. Efforts to raise the money fell short and parliamentary authorities nixed the plan.


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