Matt Hancock is leading today’s daily coronavirus press conference, he is joined by Professor Chris Witty and Professor Stephen Powis
Hancock begins toay’s briefing by saying that today will be the first time that we will see the government take a question from a member of the public for the first time during the press conference.
He says 15,000 questions have already been submitted.
£60,000 payout for NHS and social care staff
The health secretary announces the family of each NHS and social care staff who die on the frontline of the coronavirus crisis will receive a £60,000 payout.
Mr Hancock also announces that, from tomorrow, the NHS will begin restoring other services, this will begin with cancer care and mental health support.
“The NHS is open, help us help you”
“the NHS will always be there for you when you need it”
A further rise in death figures is expected
Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, says the number of hospital deaths might have been less the last two days, but he expects a small rise from tomorrow due to the usual lag in reporting deaths over a weekend.
He adds the pandemic needs to be viewed over the “long run” and says it could go “a lot of different ways” over the coming months, dependent on the development of a vaccine or other drugs.
UK has surpassed South Korea testing level
Mr Hancock is asked about the current testing level, with the government having promised 100,000 tests a day by the end of this month.
He says the UK has passed the daily figure conducted by South Korea and is approaching the level carried out by Germany.
He says more than 37,000 tests were carried out in the last 24 hours and there has been a huge demand for home testing kits ordered online, with more than 5,000 despatched.Article share tools
Mr Hancock is asked about reports tighter broder restrictions could be introduced, with people arriving in the UK potentially being asked to quarantine for 14 days.
He replies: “Given the current level of infections in the UK … and the very low amounts of international travel… it is clear that the impact on the epidemic as a whole on the number of people coming through the borders is very low.
“As we bring the number of new cases down in the UK, that proportion coming from people travelling internationally will rise.
“And that means the judgement on the measures you need at the border changes.”
He adds: “We will have more to say about it in due course.”
‘No perfect solution’ to easing lockdown
Speaking about the easing of the lockdown, Prof Whitty says: “There is no perfect solution where we can do all the things people want and keep the ‘R’ below one.”
The “R value is the reproductive value of coronavirus.
If it is one, it means each infected person will infect one other person.
NHS services will be locally driven
Asked again what services will be available at hospitals, Matt Hancock says it will be a “locally driven approach”.
The health secretary says: “Of course the principle is the most urgent treatment should be brought back first and that it needs to be according to local demands on the system.
“So I can’t give you a concrete, single number answer, but it will be gradually, over weeks, and starting from tomorrow.”
They are also asked about warnings around a small number of children become seriously ill – may this be a new feature of the virus?
The minister and government advisors all say they have been made aware of the reports, and that they are looking into it as “a matter of urgency”.
Stephen Powis adds: “Our advice to parents is… if you are worried about a child becoming sick and not recovering, contact 111 or in an emergency call 999.
“The NHS emergency services are there for sick children.”Article share tools
More to come soon…