Boris Johnson said on Sunday there were “48 hours when things could have gone either way”, as he paid tribute to NHS staff who “saved my life, no question”. In his first comments since recovering from coronavirus, the Prime Minister revealed how close he came to death and said nurses spent two days at his bedside. He was discharged from hospital on Sunday and travelled to Chequers with Carrie Symonds, his fiancée, whom he has not seen for a fortnight. Before travelling to his grace and favour residence, where he will recuperate after a week in hospital, Mr Johnson released a video address revealing the seriousness of his condition and praising the medical staff who cared for him.
Britain’s coronavirus death toll has passed 10,000 as a government adviser warned that the UK could become the worst affected nation in Europe. The number of people who died from Covid-19 rose by 737 to 10,612 yesterday and nearly 20,000 people have been admitted to hospital with the illness. Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, who sits on the government’s scientific advisory committee, said that the UK could learn lessons from Germany, which introduced mass testing at an early stage.
Britain’s coronavirus death toll surged past 10,000 today, marking a grim milestone in the country’s epidemic. A further 737 people have lost their lives, bringing the total number of fatalities to 10,612 as of Easter Sunday. Cases also hit 84,279 after an additional 5,288 were diagnosed with the infection following 18,000 new tests, down slightly from yesterday. Only the United States, France, Italy and Spain have officially broken the 10,000-death threshold, making the UK among the worst-hit places on the planet. A top scientist today warned that more people could lose their lives in Britain than any other country in Europe, as the public was braced for further deaths.
A former public health director has accused the government of “coming very close to lies” over the UK’s coronavirus death figures. Professor John Ashton, former regional director of Public Health England, said the number of people dying with COVID-19 could be double what the public is being told. This is because officials counts are not including deaths outside hospitals, such as those in the community or in care homes, he said. All deaths are registered by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which is published data.
The government has been warned that Britain risks having the highest death toll from coronavirus in Europe as the total number of fatalities from the disease in UK hospitals rose above 10,000. As Boris Johnson left hospital on Sunday, criticism of the government’s response to the pandemic was mounting from senior medics and politicians, particularly over its failure to get enough personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing to NHS and care home workers. Prof Sir Jeremy Farrar, an adviser to the government and director of the Wellcome Trust, said the figures of almost 1,000 daily hospital deaths showed the UK was in a similar situation to other European countries that had been badly affected. “
The UK is likely to be among the European countries worst affected by coronavirus, one of the government’s senior scientific advisers has said. The warning from Sir Jeremy Farrar comes as UK hospital deaths are set to pass 10,000 on Sunday. In response, Business Secretary Alok Sharma said countries were on “different trajectories”. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been discharged from hospital after being treated for coronavirus. On the advice of his medical team, Mr Johnson will not immediately return to work and will continue his recovery at his country residence, Chequers, a No 10 spokesman said.
The government must be honest with the public that lifting of the coronavirus lockdown will be a process of “trial and error”, a former governor of the Bank of England has said. Mervyn King, who oversaw the bank during the 2008 financial crisis, said the “best weapon” in the government’s arsenal was to be “honest and open” with the public over the way forward. He said it was impossible to say how long the current lockdown should last and suggested that “some element” of social distancing would need to remain in place. It comes amid reports of deep splits in the cabinet over when to ease lockdown measures, with some ministers pushing for the restrictions to last until the end of May.
THE NHS has “more critical care beds available now than before coronavirus hit our shores”, Matt Hancock has revealed. Speaking at today’s Downing Street press conference, the Health Secretary suggested the NHS had smashed concerns it would not be able to cope. Despite the death toll today passing 10,000, Mr Hancock insisted the NHS was managing to meet the demand for beds. He said: “The latest figures show that in Great Britain we have 2,295 spare critical care beds, up 150 from yesterday. “Throughout this crisis with all the challenges that we’ve been dealing with, all the operational difficulties and all the logistics, we have always been able to provide the very best of care to everybody who needs it through the NHS. “At the start of this crisis, people said that the NHS would be overwhelmed, and we’ve seen that and we’ve seen the risk of that elsewhere but not here.
Britain’s National Health Service has not been overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic and now has 2,295 spare critical care beds, Health Minister Matt Hancock said on Sunday. “Today marks a sombre day in the impact of this disease as we join the list of countries who have seen more than 10,000 deaths related to coronavirus,” he told a news briefing. “At the start of this crisis people said that the NHS would be overwhelmed. And we’ve seen the risk of that elsewhere but not here.”
Older coronavirus patients will be given “scores” to determine whether they are suitable for critical care under new guidelines. Doctors and other health professionals have been issued with a “clinical frailty scale” to identify “who may not benefit from critical care interventions”, the NHS has confirmed. Infected people aged 65 or over will be given a points tally based on their age, frailty and underlying conditions. According to the system, if someone scores above eight points they should probably not be admitted to intensive care, according to the Financial Times. Instead, they should be given “ward-based care” and a trial of non-invasive ventilation, the newspaper said.
MPs may be able to criticise ministers through a video link if plans for a “virtual” parliament go ahead next week. With parliament due to return from recess on April 21 while lockdown measures are still unlikely to be lifted, concerns have been raised about how certain parliamentary processes such as Prime Minister’s Questions will be able to work. Last week Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle wrote a letter to Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg, urging him to implement a way in which MPs would be able to carry out their duty of holding government officials to account. Now, as confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths in the UK continue to rise, cross-party calls for the recall of parliament in a virtual form are becoming louder.
Parliament is still on course to return on 21 April to debate coronavirus measures and authorise spending on the UK’s pandemic response. It will not be business as usual for MPs, with social distancing measures still likely to be in place. The government needs to pass its Finance Bill, enacting measures in the Budget, which is due to get its second reading on 22 April. Efforts are under way to allow MPs to work remotely. The hospital death toll has climbed to 10,612 since Parliament shut down for an extended Easter recess on 25 March. Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said that when MPs return, Parliament will fulfil its “essential constitutional functions of conducting scrutiny, authorising spending and making laws”.
A new NHS phone app has been created that could eventually allow ministers to lift the stringent lock-down that has brought Britain to a halt. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the ‘contract tracing’ software would allow people who become unwell to warn those they had been in touch with ‘over the past few days’ so they can ‘act accordingly’. NHSX, the health service’s technological arm, is believed to have been working on software which uses bluetooth technology, alongside Google and Apple, who run the two main smartphone operating systems. Speaking at today’s daily news conference Mr Hancock said: ‘If you become unwell with the symptoms of coronavirus you can securely tell this new NHS app and the app will then send an alert anonymously to other app users that you’ve been in significant contact with over the past few days, even before (they) have symptoms so that they know and can act accordingly.
Tech companies are developing an NHS app for mobile phones that will warn people if they have been in close proximity to someone suspected to have the coronavirus, the government has announced. One expert said the app could be used as an early route out of lockdown, allowing users in the clear to have fewer restrictions. Revealing that the app was being tested, health secretary Matt Hancock said: “If you become unwell with the symptoms of coronavirus, you can securely tell this new NHS app, and the app will then send an alert anonymously to other app users that you’ve been in significant contact with [them] over the past few days, even before you have symptoms so that they know and can act accordingly.”
Government plans to launch a mobile app that will track the spread of coronavirus infections have sparked warnings over privacy breaches. The NHS is preparing a contact tracking app that will alert users if they have come too close to someone who has tested positive for the virus. Ministers hope the technology will make it possible to start lifting the most stringent social distancing measures from late next month. Lord Evans, former head of MI5, said the app would be key to combatting the pandemic, but warned it was a “severe intrusion into personal privacy”.
The UK public will soon be able to find out if they may have been in the vicinity of people unwell with coronavirus via a new contact-tracing app, Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has said. At No 10’s daily press conference on Sunday, Hancock said the NHS app would allow people to report their symptoms, and then the app would anonymously alert other app users that had been in contact with that person in recent days. The Guardian reported last week that the app, developed by NHSX – the health service’s digital transformation arm – with academic and industry partners, is in the advanced stages of evaluation and is weeks away from being ready to be deployed. About 60% of the adult population would need to sign up and engage with the app by registering their symptoms or positive test results for it to be effective.
The Church of England has transported millions of pounds worth of valuables to the Tower of London to prevent them being looted. The goods, known as ‘church plate’, were reportedly moved to the Tower over the last few weeks. Though all places of worship have been closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Church officials feared the valuables could be stolen from the empty buildings. They confirmed that valuables, which included rare silver, paintings and artefacts from London’s 400 churches, had been moved ‘to a number of secure locations’, according to the Telegraph. The Tower of London has historically been a store of precious objects over the past few centuries, with the Crown Jewels finding a home there since 1661.
EU citizens have been told to put summer holiday plans on hold as France urged European countries to keep their borders closed until September. The elderly and people with underlying medical conditions may have to remain in isolation until the end of the year, Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, warned. “I’d advise everyone to wait before making holiday plans,” Ms von der Leyen said in an interview with the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag published on Sunday. “At the moment, no one can make reliable forecasts for July and August.” She said older people should brace for many more months of isolation until a vaccine is developed. “I know that it is difficult and that isolation is a burden, but this is a question of life and death.
Coronavirus poses a risk so great that it could mark the end of the EU if mishandled, the Pope warned yesterday in his Easter address. Europe was “facing an epochal challenge, on which will depend not only its future but that of the whole world”, the Pope, 83, said in his blessing. The message was delivered at St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican to a dozen invited members of the congregation, in keeping with lockdown regulations. Normally the message would be read from a balcony overlooking St Peter’s Square at the end of an open air mass attended by tens of thousands of people.
Nearly 200 members of the armed forces are being loaned to NHS ambulance services to support their work during the coronavirus pandemic, the Ministry of Defence has said. The new duties will include driving ambulances and taking calls from the public, although their responsibilities will vary depending on the area. Military personnel from all three strands of the armed forces will be sent to work at five ambulance trusts. A total of 80 service personnel will be sent to the South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust where they will drive emergency response vehicles, larger ambulances and work at the response centre which covers five counties around London.
Nurses can refuse to treat patients if they are not given the right protective equipment, their trade union said yesterday. In a document sent to members the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said that leaving patients without care would go against everything nurses had been trained to do but that their own safety must not be compromised. The government has been criticised over the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) to healthcare staff. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, angered doctors and nurses by implying that they were using it too readily.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is urging its members to refuse to treat patients as a “last resort” if adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) could not be provided. The advice came as the UK coronavirus death toll topped 10,000 and NHS trusts confirmed the deaths of more health workers, after Health Secretary Matt Hancock paid tribute to 19 NHS staff who died after contracting Covid-19. Among the latest health workers to die during the outbreak were Sara Trollope, a matron for older adult mental health services in Hillingdon, west London, who died after testing positive for the virus and Julie Omar, 52, a trauma and orthopaedics nurse at Redditch’s Alexandra Hospital, in Worcestershire, who died at home while self-isolating with symptoms. In a bid to prevent further frontline deaths, the RCN issued new guidance which says if sufficient PPE cannot be supplied and treatment cannot be delayed or carried out in another format, nurses should decline to work.
A NURSING home has lost 13 residents to coronavirus – with the disease so contagious that relatives are banned from retrieving jewellery from the dead. A grieving relative shared the cruel horror after her father perished to Covid-19. Staff had to zip his body inside a special bag because the bug was so contagious in the Essex home. Washing bodies to prepare for a funeral is outlawed – with brief memorial services being conducted online. And in a hammer blow to devastated families, they were not allowed to take jewellery keepsakes from the bodies of the dead.
If there is one message I have taken away from meeting care home owners, nurses and support staff this week it is that they are desperate for coronavirus tests. Everyone is. Without tests, nursing homes have no idea who has coronavirus and who has not. And this unknown is proving deadly. The virus is now spreading through nursing homes like wild fire and killing the most frail in its wake. Earlier this weekend, I spent 12 hours in a care home where COVID-19 is rife. In just two weeks, upwards of 40 residents have caught the virus. Eight have sadly died. One nurse said this was just the beginning. Staff had flimsy plastic aprons and unsuitable masks. They were worried.
For almost three weeks John Arnold has not seen his wife. She used to come every other day to his care home, where they would have lunch, but since the lockdown all visits have stopped. Mr Arnold, 83, who has Parkinson’s disease, tries to speak to Yvonne, 82, on the telephone twice a day but struggles with the handset. “She has found it very hard. I feel for her. She is living in the house on her own,” he said. He moved into Brockington House in Hereford four months ago and is one of many older people living on the hidden front line in Britain’s battle to stop the spread of coronavirus.
A private school has threatened to withhold predicted grades unless parents pay the summer term’s fees, The Telegraph has learnt. The school has been accused of “holding children’s future to ransom” by refusing to submit GCSE or A-level grades to the exam boards until they have received payment of fees for the final term. The school claimed that other private schools are taking a similar approach. Students were told last month that all GCSEs and A-level exams will be cancelled this summer, with predicted grades awarded instead. Teachers must submit each pupil’s predicted grades to the relevant exam boards, which then go through a moderation process before being awarded formally to students later on this summer.