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Day 44: Key points from today's conference

Posted on April 2020 By Aaron Liffen

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On a day where the country held a minute’s silence in tribute to those front-line workers who lost their lives, the daily coronavirus briefing was again led by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.He was joined by Professor Dame Angela McLean, who is the chief scientific adviser to the Ministry of Defence, and the UK’s testing coordinator, Professor John Newton.

NHS England has announced 546 new deaths of people who tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of confirmed reported deaths in hospitals in England to 19,295. A further 17 people have died after testing positive for coronavirus in Wales, taking the total number of deaths there to 813, Public Health Wales has said.

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

  • Mr Hancock announces that, from tomorrow, the government will be publishing not just the number of daily deaths in hospitals, but also those in care homes and in the community.

  • Mr Hancock says 43,453 coronavirus tests were conducted yesterday - with the health secretary having promised that number will be at 100,000, however he adds the government is "on track" to meets its target of 100,000 tests per day by the end of this month.

  • Mr Hancock announces he is expanding access to coronavirus tests. This will now include asymptomatic residents and staff in care home, as well as symptomatic patients and staff in NHS hospitals. Testing will now also be available to all over-65s and people in their households with symptoms, and those workers with symptoms who need to travel outside their home for work.

  • Prof Angela McLean says overall the number of people in hospital has falled by 14% over the last week. She says the fall was "particularly dramatic" in London where the virus peaked earlier. However she warned a few regions were still stable.

  • Mr Hancock says he understands why many parents have a "yearning to know" when schools will return but he says it was too early to make such a big call given that the daily death toll is still too high.

  • A member of the public to asks a question, which she does via a pre-recorded message. She asks if there is an alternative to shielding that will let her son, with cystic fibrosis, return to society. Mr Hancock says vulnerable children will be able to go back to school but for now must remain shielded. 

  • Mr Hancock is asked about face masks, with him stressing the UK government's position hasn't changed. This is despite the Scottish government having today issued new advice that people should wear face coverings in some situations. Mr Hancock says the most important thing people can do is to keep social distancing. Dame Angela McLean says SAGE, the body which advises the government, found "weak evidence of small effect" when they looked at face masks.

  • ​Asked if some areas might have lockdown measures eased in some areas of the country ahead of others, Mr Hancock suggests they will not. He says: "There was a big benefit when we brought in the lockdown measures of the whole country moving together."

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