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Day 60: Key points from today's conference

Posted on May 2020 By Aaron Liffen

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Today's government coronavirus conference was led by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who was joined by one of England's deputy chief medical officer Prof Jonathan Van-Tam.​ It comes on a day where transport hit the headlines with London Mayor Sadiq Khan stating Transport for London (TfL) will be forced to reduce services unless it receives a government grant by the end of the day.

Grant Shapps begins by announcing that in the last day 126,064 tests have been "carried out" - well above the 100,000 target the government set itself by the end of April but that it has only a few times hit. That's a new record. He says there are 3,446 more people who've tests positive for the virus in the last 24 hours.

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

  • Shapps reiterates the UK is currently on level four on the virus alert scale devised by the government last week.


  • To help reduce crowding on roads to encourage cycling and walking, £2bn worth of funding has been pledged. 

  • Shapps says the government and transport bodies have used the incredibly reduced roads and trains to their advantage to complete lots of projects early.  419 separate Network Rail projects were done over Easter, he says, and 1,000 more were done over the May bank holiday. 

  • Moving over to Prof Jonathan Van Tam to talk through the data, he says an opinions and lifestyle survey carried out between the end of April and start of March shows 80% of adults in Great Britain only left their homes for permitted reasons - if at all. 

  • Pro Van-Tam says there was a "new record" of tests delivered today - taking the total during the crisis to more than 2.2 million.

  • He points to new findings from the survey that show just less than 0.3% of people in England had this virus.

  • Prof Van-Tam says he understands the NHS isn't a "COVID-treatment service" but it's "had to focus on that" and everyone in health is conscious as soon as possible "services must be returned to normal" but that takes time. Shapps adds "at no time" has the NHS been overwhelmed.

  • Shapps says care homes are "specialists" in infection control - sometimes more so than hospitals. "In the vast majority of care homes COVID-19 hasn't been reported at all," he insists but only around 25% have reported outbreaks.

  • Prof Van-Tam says "we will have to see" how social distancing goes at training sessions before we can "even think about" the return of competitive football matches. "We have to be slow, we have to be measured." 

  • Shapps says it's "very, very exciting" the new 100% reliable antibody test has been approved for us - particularly if it means people would be immune to the virus again. 

  • Pro Van-Tam says "we have been waiting for a really good antibody test to be ready" and there are now two available - including the one that has now been validated by PHE. 

  • Shapps announces that 72,300 people - over half the residents on the Isle of Wight, where the test, track and trace trial is going ahead - have now downloaded the app. 

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