Happy St George’s Day!

Sun
The nation is being advised to mark St George’s Day today by flying a flag at home instead of going out to celebrate. Brits are also asked to use a flag they already have, rather than visiting shops to buy one. It comes as England’s biggest St George’s Day parade, normally attended by 20,000 in Nottingham, bit the dust. A council spokesman said: “Unfortunately social distancing applies to St George too! “The St George’s Day celebrations are popular in Nottingham so I know people will be disappointed, hopefully we will have something bigger and better to look forward to next year.”

Lockdown

Mirror
England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty braced the country for months more of social distancing. He warned that without either a vaccine, or drugs that can treat coronavirus, the UK is likely to have to have to keep many of the restrictions in place. While First Secretary of State Dominic Raab warned that the country is “not out of the woods yet” and that any loosening of the measures could put people at risk. Professor Whitty explained: “In the long run the exit from this is going to be one of two things, ideally – a vaccine, and there are a variety of ways they can be deployed… and/or highly-effective drugs so that people stop dying of this disease even if they catch it, or which can prevent this disease in vulnerable people.

Sun
SOCIAL distancing measures could be in place for up to a year until a coronavirus vaccine is found, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty has warned. In the Downing Street press briefing, Chris Whitty said: “Until we have a vaccine, and the probability of having those any time in the next calendar year are incredibly small and I think we should be realistic about that.

Times
Britain will face “very socially disruptive” lockdown measures for the rest of the year, the chief medical adviser has warned. Chris Whitty said that social distancing would have to remain until a vaccine or effective drugs were in place. He said the chances of that happening this year were “incredibly small” and that until then restrictions would have to remain to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Independent
Social distancing measures could remain in place until the end of the year without a vaccine for coronavirus, England’s chief medical officer has said. Professor Chris Whitty told the daily Downing Street press conference that some restrictions would need to remain as the probability of having a vaccine or effective drugs to treat the virus within the next calendar year was “incredibly small”. A sudden easing of restrictions would be a “wholly unreasonable” expectation, Prof Whitty warned, saying the path out of the lockdown must be carefully plotted to prevent the virus from spreading again and overwhelming the NHS.

Mail
Disruptive social distancing measures will have to remain in place for the rest of this year, the country’s Chief Medical Officer has warned. Professor Chris Whitty said the measures cannot be lifted until either a vaccine for Covid-19 or ‘highly effective’ drugs to treat the virus become available.  He told the daily Downing Street press conference that it was ‘wholly unrealistic’ to expect lockdown measures to be lifted soon. His daunting warning came as Dominic Raab delivered a tough message to Britons wearying of the lockdown warning that the UK is still ‘going through the peak’ of coronavirus.

Telegraph
Britain has been told to prepare for another year of “disruptive” social distancing measures as the Chief Medical Officer said it was time to be “realistic” with the public. Prof Chris Whitty said the lockdown would not come to a quick end and that ministers would have to consider “trade-offs” to avoid a second wave of coronavirus, which a key government scientific adviser warned was likely. In the most detailed explanation to date of how the restrictions will be eased, Prof Whitty said ministers would ultimately have to decide the “optimal combination” of social distancing measures to control the virus until a vaccine became available.

Peak

Guardian
The UK has reached the peak of the coronavirus epidemic, cabinet ministers have confirmed, despite warnings that the disease may still be rampant in care homes. Dominic Raab, who is deputising for the prime minister, and Matt Hancock, the health secretary, both said the UK was now “at the peak” of the outbreak. While updating MPs in the Commons on the government’s strategy for testing the disease, Hancock said social distancing was working, adding: “It is making a difference. We are at the peak.”

Sky News
The UK is “at the peak” of the coronavirus outbreak, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has told MPs – on the same day the number of UK hospital deaths rose above 18,000. Delivering an update on the government’s COVID-19 response in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Mr Hancock thanked the British public for their “steadfast commitment” in following lockdown rules. “It is making a difference, we are at the peak,” he said.

Breitbart
The United Kingdom has reached the peak of coronavirus cases, health secretary Matt Hancock said Wednesday, his comments later bolstered by first secretary Dominic Raab. Addressing the now near-empty, socially distanced House of Commons on Wednesday afternoon, UK health minister Matt Hancock was outlining government measures the nation was being instructed to take as the nation reached the peak of the outbreak. But Mr Hancock quickly corrected himself, stating Britons “have reached the peak” and that new actions would be taken “as we bring the number of cases down”.

Mirror
The coronavirus crisis has peaked and there is “light at the end of the tunnel”, stand-in PM Dominic Raab insisted today. But Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty warned we may still have to socially distance for the rest of the year. It came as Labour  leader Keir Starmer took the Government apart for its failure to provide enough PPE and Covid-19 testing. In an upbeat address from No10, Mr Raab said: “There’s certainly light at the end of the tunnel, there is a glimmer, but we’re not there yet.

Masks

Sun
THE Government is prepared to urge Brits to wear masks to avoid spreading coronavirus. It will recommend covering the face with something as simple as a scarf when at work, in shops or on public transport.  The Government’s top scientists met on Tuesday to decide on the face-covering move to help stop the coronavirus spread, amid fears that social distancing will roll into 2021 and chances of a vaccine within a year are slim. Masking the mouth and nose limits asymptomatic people — who are infected but showing no symptoms — from passing on the disease by coughing or sneezing.

PPE

Sun
THE Department of Health warned Downing Street not to publicise a PPE shipment in case there were problems, it was reported. An RAF plane sent to pick up the 84-tonne consignment of personal protective equipment from Turkey arrived back in the UK on Wednesday morning. The Government has faced intense criticism over shortages of PPE for medical staff battling the coronavirus pandemic.

Guardian
Downing Street ignored a firm warning from Matt Hancock’s Department of Health that ministers should not publicise the expected shipment of protective kit for NHS staff from Turkey in case it backfired, a senior departmental source has told the Guardian. In a sign of deepening tensions between the Department of Health and Downing Street, the source said that Hancock’s Cabinet colleague Robert Jenrick was “strongly advised” not to mention the consignment at the government’s coronavirus media briefing last Saturday. Instead, the housing, communities and local government secretary – with No 10’s approval – went ahead and promised that it would arrive the next day and contain 83 tonnes of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Express
POLLING guru Sir John Curtice has questioned a “deliberate ploy” by Number 10 to distract the electorate from the lack of personal protection equipment. Sir John, Professor of Politics at the University of Strathclyde, suggested broadly speaking ministers were split into two camps – doves, such as health secretary Matt Hancock, who were reluctant to see any relaxation in restrictions for fear of triggering a second wave of infections, and hawks, such as Mr Sunak and Mr Gove, who fear the collateral damage to the economy.

Breitbart
British companies are shipping millions of pieces of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to nations in the European Union, despite reports of widespread shortages in the UK. The companies claim that the British government has ignored their offers to help supply the government with medical equipment, forcing them to sell their goods to hospitals in Germany, Spain, and Italy. The chief executive of the British Healthcare Trades Association, Dr Simon Festing, said that “a number of our members” have no alternative but to sell their PPE abroad as a result of the government’s inaction.

Care homes

Telegraph
At least 400 people a day are dying from coronavirus in care homes, new figures suggest, amid warnings that care home  deaths could overtake those in hospitals within a week.  Health officials say the number of deaths in just five days around the Easter weekend is likely to be twice that shown by weekly figures published earlier this week.  The new figures show around 2,000 deaths in care homes in England linked to coronavirus between April 11 and April 15, compared with 975 in the week before that.

ITV News
The number of coronavirus deaths in English care homes could have doubled in the five days over the Easter bank holiday weekend, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Department of Health (DoH) has said. Official figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) say there were 975 coronavirus deaths in care homes in England by April 10. However figures compiled by care regulator – the CQC – for the period up to April 15 said the number of coronavirus care home deaths between April 11 and April 15 “could be double the number of care home deaths reported” by the ONS.

Sun
CARE home coronavirus deaths hit 400 a day over the Easter weekend, officials have admitted. Around 2,000 vulnerable care home residents in England were killed in just five days between April 11 and 15 — double the entire previous total of 975. The grim toll, from the Office for National Statistics, is on top of the large number of people who have died in hospital with the virus. Yesterday that official total rose by another 763 to reach 18,100 deaths.

Deaths

Mail
Coronavirus may kill 70 times fewer patients than official UK death figures suggest, studies have shown. Britain has one of the worst COVID-19 testing records, meaning a frightening 13 per cent of diagnosed patients in the UK die from the disease.  But this is considerably higher than the real death rate because it does not take into account the thousands of infected people who had mild symptoms.  Scientists say the only way to work out the actual rate is to test blood samples of the population for antibodies, which the immune system makes once infected.

Independent
The real death toll from coronavirus in the UK is already more than 40,000, a new analysis suggests – twice the total once described as “a good result”. Ministers announced on Tuesday that there have been 17,337 fatalities, but this counts only those who have died in hospitals after testing positive for the virus. Meanwhile, the office for national statistics (ONS) has found the number of registered deaths in the week ending 10 April was 75 per cent above normal in England and Wales, at 18,516.

Testing

Mail
A new study is being launched by the Government to track the spread of coronavirus in the population and get a full picture of the number of infections. As many as 300,000 people are expected to take part within the first year and receive kits to self-administer a test. It is hoped the research will help scientists understand the current rate of infection in the UK and how many people have developed antibodies to the virus.  Some 20,000 households in England are being contacted to take part in the first-wave of the research, with initial findings expected in early May.

Reuters
Britain’s government plans to test a sample of 20,000 English households for COVID-19 in the coming weeks to try to establish how far the disease has spread across the country. Health minister Matt Hancock – who has faced criticism over limited testing facilities for some health and social care workers – said on Thursday the research would help the government understand the trajectory of the disease better. More than 18,000 British people have died in hospital of the disease so far, and the country is now in its fifth week of a lockdown that stops most people from leaving home other than to buy food, exercise, or undertake essential work.

Sun
TRUCKS will ferry mobile testing units nationwide to screen NHS and care workers after thousands could not get to drive-through centres. A military-backed initiative will see lorries take teams to hospitals and care homes in towns and cities to take swab samples in a bid to hit the 100,000 tests a day target this month. General Sir Nick Carter, chief of the defence staff, said: “We think the innovative idea of pop-ups, rather like mobile libraries, would be a very useful way of going.”

ITV News
The government is “very confident” it will hit the target of 100,000 coronavirus tests a day by the end of April, according to its testing co-ordinator. Speaking on ITV’s Peston show, the government’s Covid-19 testing co-ordinator, Professor John Newton, said the UK “certainly has the capacity” to hit the target. “We will make access as easy as possible for everybody who needs a test to come and get it, and if there are enough people who need testing then we will hit our target, we’re very confident of that,” Prof Newton added.

Times
Logistical failings are hampering the government’s pledge to carry out 100,000 coronavirus tests a day, Dominic Raab said yesterday. The foreign secretary’s admission came as health officials announced a nationwide “Covid-19 census” to track the spread of the disease. Twenty-five thousand people in England are to be invited to take part in the first wave of the scheme in the coming days with the first results due in early May. Eventually up to 300,000 people will be expected to take part in the next year.

Independent
The care minister has admitted the low number of coronavirus tests being carried out is “really troubling” and hinted at mistakes in the strategy. After weeks of the government defending its record – despite fewer than 20,000 daily tests, way short of the pledge of 100,000 next week – Helen Whately acknowledged it had failed to deliver as hoped. She admitted that care workers were unable to reach the drive-through centres set up, which meant mobile tests were now being offered, with some home testing available very soon.

Mirror
Fewer than half of coronavirus tests are being used, No10 has revealed. In the 24 hours to 9am Tuesday, only 18,206 out of possible 41,398 tests were carried out. That means only 44% of available capacity was used. In the 24 hours to 9am Tuesday, just 18,206 out of possible 41,398 tests were carried out. That means only 44% of available capacity was used. The first of four mobile test units was expected to operational by tomorrow.

Contact tracing

Times
An army of thousands of coronavirus contact tracers is to be trained within weeks to help Britain to exit lockdown. Council staff and civil servants are among those who will be drafted in as part of a three-tier system to ensure that every infected person is isolated before they pass the virus on to others. Public Health England aims to have a system running within three weeks so that it can be used if the government wants to ease restrictions.

Mail
An army of thousands of contact tracers will be trained in just a few weeks to help Britain ease out of lockdown, it was claimed today. Contact tracing for  coronavirus patients was abandoned a month ago as cases spiralled and ministers focused on testing instead. But council staff and civil servants will soon be drafted in to reintroduce tracing, which the Government hopes will mean social distancing measures can slowly be lifted, reports The Times.

Second wave

Telegraph
In a press conference beamed across the nation on March 12, a bullish Boris Johnson announced that the government’s coronavirus strategy was to ‘flatten the peak’ of cases, or in the prime minister’s more flamboyant words, to ‘squash the sombrero.’ The goal, Mr Johnson explained, was not to suppress the virus entirely, but to keep infections at a lowish level to avoid overwhelming health services and prevent a deadly second wave. At that point, just eight people had died in Britain from the virus out of the 590 who had tested positive.

Illegal immigration

Mail
Freddie Lucas is just 16, but he is already a seasoned fisherman on the Latney Star, a two-man boat he crews with his ‘skipper’, and one of about 25 berthed on the shingle on Hastings seafront. The weather-worn hull of his little vessel sits in the shadow of the tall, tarred, wooden net huts that line the foreshore in front of the Old Town, an area beloved by the trendy middle classes who have grown sick of London.

EU

Telegraph
Europe faces the most poisonous North-South showdown  since the creation of monetary union. The raw emotions of Covid-19 have brought matters to a head. “Social cohesion between European countries is being stretched to the point where the resiliency of the EU and the euro can no longer be taken for granted. The risk is greater now than at any previous time,” says Arnaud Marès from Citigroup. These are strong words from a crisis veteran who once served as Mario Draghi’s right-hand man at the European Central Bank.

Motoring

Times
Car insurers are facing growing pressure to refund drivers because of the coronavirus crisis amid estimates that firms are set to make an extra £1 billion in profit from a slump in claims. Admiral this week became the first big British insurance company to refund all customers after the Covid-19 lockdown led to a drop in the number of drivers on the roads. Other groups now face mounting calls to follow suit.

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