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Day 99: Key points from today's conference

Posted on June 2020 By Aaron Liffen

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Today's daily government coronavirus conference was led by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who was joined by Dr Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer for England. Today we saw further speculation raised over the relaxation of the 2m rule and the announcement of shielding coming to an end on 1st August for those across England.

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

  • Under 1,000 new cases confirmed for first time since peak, health sec says

  • Numbers going into hospital with virus and in most serious condition both coming down - Hancock

  • 'Fewer than 5,000 people in hospital with virus for first time since peak'

  • Hancock says each death is "one death too many - nevertheless the fact we have a figure of reported deaths that is 15... is good news".  He cautions it's a "weekend figure" so could be artificially low.

  • Hancock says there is still "much to do" to fight the virus but the government is "clearly making progress" and its plan "is working". He says it used to be that around 1 in 400 people had the virus - now it is more like 1 in 1700.

  • Millions of people "shielding" during the coronavirus outbreak will be able to meet six others from outside their home from July 6. As from August 1st the government announced they will no longer need to sheild - but the government says support from the NHS volunteers and local councils will remain in place.

  • Dr Harries says so far only 36 children have been admitted to intensive care with COVID-19, so it is "very likely... very few children will need to shield" into the future.

  • Dr Harries says some people are "nervous and frightened, understandably" about leaving home.  "We can never be 100% sure - we all have a small residual risk," she adds but all of the guidance for businesses in terms of mitigating risks comes across her desk individually.

  • Asked about concerns on statutory sick pay, Hancock says when the shielding programme is paused the government will be prepared to bring the programme back in if it needs to be. 

  • Hancock says it's "so important" the institutions that govern economic policy have "worked together in the way they have" and the Bank of England has done a "terrific job". 

  • Hancock, asked if shielding could be reintroduced on a local basis if there were pockets of outbreaks, says: "We will have the ability to do that and we consider that as part of a local lockdown if that's what was clinically advised."

  • When asked if relaxations being made for economic reasons rather than health Hancock says "we've been guided by the science throughout this" but today's data shows the number of new cases and hospitalisations is coming "right down".  "Science always has competing voices but we try to listen to all of the scientific advice rather than just one individual."

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