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Day 43: Key points from today's conference

Posted on April 2020 By Aaron Liffen

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Following Prime Minister Boris Johnson's morning statement, today's briefing was led by his Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who was joined by chief medical officer Chris Whitty and the medical director of NHS England, Stephen Powis.

Another 329 people with coronavirus have died in hospitals in England - the lowest daily increase in confirmed deaths in four weeks. A total of 18,749 hospital patients have now died in England after testing positive for Covid-19. This marks the smallest daily increase in COVID-19 deaths announced by NHS England since 30 March when 159 deaths were confirmed.

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

  • ​Matt Hancock says today's briefing will see the government take a question from a member of the public for the first time. He says 15,000 people have already applied to ask questions.

  • Hancock 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. He adds: "Nothing replaces the loss of loved one but we want to do everything we can for their grieving families."

  • Reporters asks whether overseas workers or those who have come back to the NHS after retiring will be entitled.  Matt Hancock says yes, adding: "This is for frontline staff working in the NHS and social care who die and are employees." He repeats the government is looking at other groups of workers who may need a similar scheme.

  • Mr Hancock also announces that, from tomorrow, the NHS will begin restoring other services. This will begin with cancer care and mental health support.

  • 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 of reporting deaths over the weekend.

  • Chris Whitty talks through the five five tests that the government has said must be met to “adjust” the current lockdown when it is reviewed in about 10 days. Most crucially, and this is a point emphasised by Boris Johnson earlier, the government must be confident that any changes won’t risk a second peak of infections.

  • As is customary, Chris Whitty now runs through the latest data on transport use, to illustrate changes in people’s support for social distancing. He says the data remains largely unchanged and the great majority of people are “consistently” continuing to heed the guidance and “honouring the lockdown”.

  • 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.

  • Prof Whitty continues: "This has got a very long way to run." He says the UK has "managed to go through" the first peak of the outbreak but warns there is a "long, long way to go beyond that".

  • 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. However he add's more infomation on changes to UK border controls will be announced in due course.

  • ​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. Signs that even once the lockdown is eased, we may still see social distancing enforced in some form.

  • Hancock 'very worried' about reports of serious coronavirus-related syndorme in children. He is "very worried" about reports of a serious coronavirus-related syndorme developing in a small number of children and is "looking into it closely".

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