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Day 61: 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 Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who was joined by Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer for England, and Nikki Kanani, medical director of primary care for NHS England and NHS Improvement. Today's conference comes after news that the official estimate of the pandemic "R" number has risen slightly over the last week, according to a consensus by scientists advising the government.

A further 384 people have died after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK, the latest daily government figures show. It brings the total death toll - including those reported in hospitals and the wider community - to 33,998. The figures also showed that 133,784 tests were carried out or posted on Thursday. It is the fourth time the government has met its 100,000 a day target, according to its criteria.

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

  • The UK's Health Secretary Matt Hancock begins by saying the number of deaths is "falling each day in all settings" and "we are past the peak of this virus".

  • Hancock says there has been a “huge need to protect people in care homes” and he says the government has worked to do this “right from the start”. This is something that the UK government has been criticised for, as the epidemic in care homes continues.

  • He says £600m ($730m) has been made available to care homes this week to help control the infection. This is in addition to the £172m made available to devolved governments, he says.

  • It's important to keep the R reproduction rate below 1, says government as they run through the daily figures (below)

  • A new £600m Infection Control Fund has been introduced to tackle the spread of COVID-19 in care homes in addition to £3.2bn of financial support made available to local authorities to support key public services since the start of the crisis.

  • Matt Hancock: "Nurses deserve decent pay... and there has been a significant pay rise for nurses."

  • Hancock: "Number of new COVID-19 cases in care homes is coming down."

  • Hancock - all care home residents and staff in England are now being tested for coronavirus

  • Hancock - R rate based on data from a couple of weeks ago. It is an important figure for policymakers. A change in the range of R is very important to look at.

  • Hancock: Everybody can play their part in keeping R down by following social distancing rules... and they will help to keep us safe.

  • Hancock: "It's important that people of working age in care homes have access to tests as well as older people." 

  • Hancock: "Risk to children from COVID-19 much lower than people in any other age group. That is why we are going down this route of reopening schools."

  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the "R" rate is an "incredibly important" measure to consider, and emphasises that it is "not likely to be above one"

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