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Day 58: Key points from today's conference

Posted on May 2020 By Aaron Liffen

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Today’s daily coronavirus conference was led by Business Secretary Alok Sharma, who was joined by Sarah Albon, chief executive of the Health and Safety Executive, and Prof Stephen Powis, the medical director for NHS England.

The UK government confirmed the latest number of deaths. It says in the 24 hours up to 5pm on 11 May 627 more people have now died with COVID-19 - taking the total to 32,692.

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

  • Sharma confirms there were 85,293 COVID-19 tests carried out yesterday - short of the 100,000 target the government has been trying to hit since the start of May. 

  • Sharma runs through the new rules coming into effect in England on Wednesday - including that people who cannot work from home should start going into work, so long as it is safe to do so. And that people can meet one other person from outside their household outside.

  • From the start of June some children may start being able to go back to school and businesses might be able to re-open. From 4 July, some hospitality companies may be able to restart. 

  • Sharma confirms the HSE is cutting an increased budget of 10% - that will go to pay for extra call centre staff, inspectors and equipment if needed.

  • Prof Powis says it's "critical" people continue following social distancing rules.  "The benefits of doing that have been clear," he says. 

  • Turning to the slides that show daily data tracked by the government, he says public transport use continues to be lower than normal. The number of daily confirmed cases is "static" and that is "good news" for making sure the NHS has enough capacity, he adds. 

  • Prof Powis adds the shielded group - such as people with cancer, organ transplants, severe lung conditions - it's been "really important" that during the first peak they have been protected. 

  • He adds "We will need to continue doing that as we get through the next few weeks. Clearly that will need to be kept under review. We are not through this yet - the virus is still circulating... While it is in the community, those at highest risk are still vulnerable."

  • Sharma is asked what happens if companies can't contribute to fund the furlough scheme after July, as they've been told to to make up the 80% of wages today? Sharma says the scheme has been "really welcomed" and "given people reassurance".  He adds the chancellor will "set out more details later in the month on this issue".

  • Sharma insists "we are providing that support" but he is constantly talking to firms about what they need. Pressed on care homes particularly, which can hardly furlough staff who are needed now more than ever, Sharma says the government is getting personal protective equipment to them and COVID-19 tests.

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