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Day 45 Key points from today's briefing

Posted on April 2020 By Aaron Liffen

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Straight from deputising at Prime Minister’s Questions earlier, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab led today’s UK government press conference alongside Prof Jonathan Van Tam, the deputy chief medical officer for England, and Prof Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England.

A total of 26,097 patients had died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Tuesday, Public Health England says.

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

  • The Department of Health has said 765 new COVID-19 deaths have been recorded in the last 24 hours.

  • Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says 52,429 tests took place yesterday - ministers have a target to hit 100,000 by Thursday. He says there is evidence the peak of the virus is "flattening" due to the lockdown and measures to increase capacity.

  • Dominic Raab gives some more details of British nationals who have been repatriated - earlier it was confirmed 1.3 million have come home.

  • Dominic Raab says the lockdown will not be eased until ministers know a "second peak" can be avoided.  He says this is a "real risk", which could result in "many more deaths" and further "economic pain" with a second lockdown. He adds the government are working on plans for a "second phase" but urges patience.

  • Yvonne Doyle, the medical director of Public Health England, says car use has reached its highest level since 23 March, when the UK's lockdown was announced. She says this is "worrying".

  • Commenting on the new death figures, Dr Doyle says: "Every death from COVID-19 is a tragedy. Tracking the daily death count is vital to help us understand the impact of the disease.

  • Mr Raab is asked about claims hospices are being excluded from NHS supplies of PPE and are instead relying on donations or having to buy it themselves. He highlights how the government in flying in new supplies of PPE from abroad, as well as striving to ramp up UK supplies. Dr Doyle says PPE guidance covers "all places" where people are at risk.

  • ​Jonathan Van-Tam, England's deputy chief medical officer, says there is a "definite truism" that ventilation is a most critical part of reducing transmission from respiratory viruses. He says being outside is a "less problematic environment" for catching viruses.

  • On a question about whether today's latest figures show deaths in care homes are increasing. Prof Yvonne Doyle says we "don't think we can say that quite yet", although the number of deaths so far may go up due to reporting lags.

  • When asked how many of the government's five tests for easing the lockdown are being met right now. The foreign secretary says he does not know and will not know until the government's committee of scientific advisers, known as Sage, have reviewed the latest evidence in early May.

  • Mr Van-Tam says the government needs to be "very careful indeed" about relaxing lockdown measures, including the reopening of schools. He says the scientific thinking "is not yet complete", but says reopening schools is "in the mix" as experts discuss how to ease the lockdown.

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