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Day 35: Key points from today's conference

Posted on April 2020 By Aaron Liffen

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Todays conference was led by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, while Prime Minister Boris Johnson continues to recover from coronavirus. He was joined by deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries.

T​he number of covid-19 patients who died in UK hospitals has risen to 16,060 as of 17:00 BST on Saturday, the Department of Health and Social Care say. That is an increase of 596 in 24 hours - down from the previous daily death toll of 888.

As of 09:00 BST on Sunday, 482,063 tests have been conducted, with 21,626 tests carried out on Saturday. A total of 372,967 people have been tested of which 120,067 tested positive.

Key points to take away from today's speech are:

  • Williamson says the government is "enormously grateful" to the teachers and staff in nurseries who have continued working to care for vulnerable children and look after the children of key workers.

  • Williamson says he "knows hard it must be" for children who have had their education disrupted. He adds: "You're such an important part of this fight too and I cannot thank you enough for what you're doing."

  • The education secretary says: "I know you are anxious to know when we are going to relax restrictions. "Of course I want nothing more than to see schools back, to get them back to normal, to make sure children are sat around learning and experiencing the joy of learning at school. "But I cant give you a date,"

  • Williamson praises parents for dealing with home-schooling children during the lockdown. He says: "I recognise all the challenges that families will be facing at the moment. "We are determined to support parents who are helping their children learn from home.

  • Asked about concerns surrounding shortage of personal protective equipment, Gavin Williamson says the government has been engaged in an "enormous effort" to secure supplies from "right around the globe" from an early stage.

  • Asked again about shortages of protective equipment, Gavin Williamson says the government "recognises the enormous strain being placed on the system".

    He adds that the RAF is on standby to deliver PPE from Turkey that has been delayed.

  • Dr Harries says some PPE is single use "but not all". Detailed guidance is available for clinicians, she says. She calls the situation "complex" and acknowledges the shortage globally. The deputy chief medical officer says each group requiring PPE is being prioritised according to their need but it is not always possible to predict accurately who will need what when.

  • Deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries said we should congratulate ourselves on maintaining social distancing measures by not using public transport. Tube travel is down by 95%

  • Deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries praised the downward trend in Covid-19 hospital cases, particularly in London.

  • Gavin Williamson says a further £1.6m has been given to Childline and NSPCC to help children and adults who are seeking advice. He adds: "We're also working with major telecommunications providers to exempt certain educational resources from data charges, so that this does not add to household expenses that might be very stretched at this moment."

  • Speaking about the five tests that need to be met before schools can re-open, Gavin Williamson says: "First we must protect the NHS's ability to cope, and be sure that it can continue to provide critical care and specialist treatment right across the whole of the United Kingdom.

    "Second, we need to see daily death rates from coronavirus coming down.

    "Third, we need to have reliable data that shows the rate of infection is decreasing to manageable levels.

    "Four, we need to be confident that testing capacity and PPE is being managed, with supply able to meet, not just today's demand, but future demand.

    "And fifth, and perhaps most crucially, we need to be confident that any changes we do make will not risk a second peak of infections.

  • Asked about today's Sunday Times report which alleges failings in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak, Gavin Williamson says "many COBRA meetings take place where it's actually led by the departmental minister". He adds that ministers have been "making sure that we do everything that is required to protect the NHS" and Boris Johnson has been "driving" that "right from the start".

To read a brief summary of last night's points and important measures click here.