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LACA view

03 Apr 2020


“We are set for a warm weekend in some parts of the country, but we cannot afford to relax the social distancing measures that we have in place. If we do, people will die…the advice is not a request, it is an instruction – stay at home, protect lives and you will be doing your part” 

  • The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock.

Matt Hancock, at the daily press conference, emphasised the need to keep up with social distancing. This was echoed by the Chief Nurse and Deputy Chief Medical Officer, following concerns that the warm weather predicted for Sunday will lead to people breaking the restrictions and leaving their homes.

It has been reported that the Queen will address the nation at 8pm on Sunday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he will remain in self-isolation as he is still showing symptoms of coronavirus. In a video on social media, he said: “Although I’m feeling better and I’ve done my seven days of isolation, alas, I still have one of the symptoms, a minor symptom, I still have a temperature. And so, in accordance with government advice, I must continue my self-isolation until that symptom itself goes."

To note, the Labour Party is expected to announce their new leader on Saturday.

Summary of the Press Conference

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

  • Emphasised that people must stay at home
  • The NHS was boosting its capacity to cope
  • Coronavirus continues its “grim march”, 173,784 have been tested 38,168 positive, 3,065 have died. In the last 24 hours two nurses and two healthcare assistants have died, the NHS truly is the frontline.
  • Delivering more critical beds, today he attended the new Nightingale Hospital. He thanked the people who have built it.
  • Thanked people watching at home, who are giving the NHS time to prepare and save lives
  • Announced they will begin the work in Bristol and Harrogate for their own Nightingale Hospital’s today
  • Boosted critical care beds by over 2,500 – before the addition of the Nightingale Hospitals
  • Yesterday 26m PPE products were delivered to 281 organisations, over 5m items will be delivered to Northern Ireland
  • Over 7,000 NHS staff have been tested
  • Established three clinical trials, one of which was put in place within 9 days. They are looking at existing drugs to limit the impact of Coronavirus.
  • They need more patients to volunteer to be part of these trials
  • The only way to protect yourself and your family from this disease is to stay at home
  • He has spoken to his counterparts in the G7 to coordinate their efforts against the disease “we will strain every sinew”
  • We are set for a warm weekend in some parts of the country, but we cannot afford to relax the social distancing measures that we have in place. If we do, people will die. The advice is not a request, it is an instruction – stay at home, protect lives and you will be doing your part
  • On whether April 12, Easter Sunday, would be the peak he said – the truth is that we don’t know, and actually there is a reason we don’t know – it depends on how people act. The key message people must take away is “you have got to stay at home”
  • On the anti-body test – we have provisionally ordered 17.5m tests but they will only be used if they work, it is clear that no G7 country has found a ‘home’ anti-body test that works, but we continue to search for one
  • On whether they risked lives by not testing more widely – we have had a clear ramp up in testing, and have a clear goal of 100,000 by the end of the month

Ruth May – Chief Nurse

  • Named two nurses who lost their lives today
  • She was with the Royal Highness the Prince of Wales as he opened the first Nightingale Hospital in London - it was an “extraordinary feat”
  • As the Secretary of State said we have announced a further two Nightingale Hospitals today.
  • Very grateful to the British public for their patience and helping the NHS, as the Secretary of State said it is going to be very warm this weekend, but please stay home.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam – Deputy Chief Medical Officer

  • Small increase in mobility within residence settings, which is good because it shows that people are staying home
  • There has been a decline in people going to groceries, pharmacies, workplaces and train stations – this must continue
  • There continues to be a decline on the trains, roads and busses
  • However, we do not expect these changes to turn the curve immediately, it will take time. The number of UK cases has increased – this remains a dangerous time and it is vital people stay at home and practice social distancing. Even this weekend as the weather turns warmer
  • Hospital admissions are increasing, reinforcing the advice we give
  • Clinical trials – this is a new disease, we do not have any proven treatments, the UK is determined to find effective treatments. Weeks ago we began to look at clinical trials, they are a gold standard way to discover if treatment works or not. However, the treatment has to be effective, safe and we have to understand the right dosage to use, the right patients to give it too and the right time in the illness to give the treatment. This is complicated stuff. Astonishing how these clinical trials have developed.
  • A malaria drug and a HIV drug are being investigated
  • We are determined in the next round of clinical trials to focus on new medicines – to do this we need a therapeutics taskforce to coordinate this
  • He doesn’t know when they will get results, he thinks it will be a few months – but depends how quickly patients are recruited into trials across the NHS
  • Volunteers for clinical trials – they need the physicians in charge of their care to sign up for the clinical trial, then it is up to the physician to ask their patients. We do need people to take part and they are doing so. For the recovery trial they have over 926 patients
  • Absolutely sees green shoots in how the UK public has responded to the social distancing measures and if they continue for as long as the Government calls for it, they will be big green shoots. However, one needs to be patient.

Government announcements

  • The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak has extended the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme so that all viable small businesses affected by Covid-19, and not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing, will now be eligible should they need finance to keep operating. The government is also stopping lenders from requesting personal guarantees for loans under £250,000 and making operational changes to speed up lending approvals. The government will continue to cover the first twelve months of interest and fees. The latest figures from UK finance show that there has been over 130,000 enquiries from business across the country for the loans.
  • Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport has announced £397m of funding for “vital bus operators”. The package, agreed jointly with the bus industry, will keep key routes running to provide a lifeline for those who cannot work from home, such as NHS staff.
  • Ofqual, have announced how they plan on grading this summer’s GCSES, AS and A Levels - schools and colleges are being asked to provide centre assessment grades for their students. These should be “fair, objective and carefully considered judgements of the grades schools and colleges believe their students would have been most likely to achieve if they had sat their exams, and should take into account the full range of available evidence”.
  • The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced a £3 million fund for food redistribution organisations to help them cut food waste during the coronavirus outbreak.

 Health Updates

  • UK deaths have risen by 684 to 3,605.
  • The new ‘Nightingale’ NHS hospital was opened today by the Prince of Wales, while two other temporary hospitals have also been announced for Bristol and Harrogate. There are concerns that the Nightingale hospital will not have enough trained ambulance crews to bring patients to the site. Speaking via video link, Prince Charles called the hospital “an intensely practical message of hope at this time of national suffering” and has thanked everyone who has made it possible.
  • The UK is focused on increasing the number of swab tests for coronavirus over antibody blood tests, a senior Public Health England (PHE) official has said. "What we need at the moment are the swab tests because they are the ones that allow staff to return [to work], so those are the tests that we are focusing on," Prof John Newton, director of health improvement for Public Health England, said. 
  • The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, has said the coronavirus outbreak could reach its peak on Easter Sunday.
  • The UK is not currently following other countries in suggesting people wear masks outside.
  • In England, more than 26.7 million units of personal protection equipment (PPE) were delivered to 281 NHS trusts and providers on Thursday, Downing Street confirmed. The prime minister’s spokesman said: “That included 7.8 million aprons, 1.7 million masks and 12.4 million gloves.”