Ministers have been told to abandon talk of a coronavirus “exit strategy” as they try to ease public fears about an eventual end to the lockdown by moving towards a gradual “unwinding” of social distancing rules. The Government has been so successful in convincing people of the need to stay at home that there are concerns it could prove difficult to persuade them it is safe to return to work once the decision is taken to ease current restrictions. Dominic Raab, the acting prime minister, made clear on Monday that the lockdown will stay in place beyond a legally required review of it this Thursday, but said there were “positive signs” that Britain was “starting to win this struggle”.
The public will give up on social distancing measures unless there is a clear end in sight, a leading expert on public health interventions has warned. Professor Linda Bauld, of the University of Edinburgh, said the public’s strong support for lockdown measures “won’t last” unless the Government finds a way to explain to the public how Britain will be released from the restrictions. She said: “The social, economic and health effects of lock down are accumulating.
The vast majority of Britons back the lockdown rules being used to tackle the coronavirus but have mounting fears it will cripple the economy, a poll has found. The country supports Boris Johnson‘s decision to shut down the country on March 23, but are scared about what it may cost. It is understood Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will announce on Thursday that the restrictions will last until at least May 7. The devastating virus has ripped across Britain, having killed 11,329 and infected 88,621.
BRITAIN’s coronavirus lockdown will continue for at least three more weeks with the pandemic peak still days away. Stand-in PM Dominic Raab is set to announce on Thursday that the country’s restrictions will stay in place until at least May 7. Mr Raab said the UK was “still not past the peak of this virus” as he warned of a “long way to go” in the battle against Covid-19. Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Valance also braced the nation for a “difficult” week of death figures ahead before they expect the fatality rate to begin to slow.
Britain will remain in lockdown for another three weeks as the cabinet debates whether to encourage some people to return to work. Dominic Raab, who is deputising for Boris Johnson, will announce on Thursday that the lockdown will stay in place until at least May 7. He is expected to ask Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, and the other leaders of the devolved administrations to attend a Cobra meeting to ensure a UK-wide approach in setting the deadline, the maximum allowed under emergency legislation that mandates reviews every three weeks.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is set to tell the country on Thursday the coronavirus lockdown will last until at least May 7. The First Secretary of State, who is deputising for Boris Johnson while the PM recovers from the deadly bug, will tell Britons they face at least three more weeks of restrictions, it was reported. Mr Raab is expected to liaise with the leaders of the devolved countries at a Cobra meeting on Thursday, where he will ask for a UK-wide approach in setting a deadline, The Times said.
Families of the half a million people living in care homes face a “ticking time bomb”, as providers admit they cannot cope with the extra pressures and costs that coronavirus is heaping on them. Many are concerned their loved ones – the vast majority of whom are considered particularly at risk from the pandemic – are not getting adequate protection, despite shelling out tens of thousands of pounds a year in fees. Some may find themselves paying even more soon, as a number of care providers have said they will have to raise their fees to recoup costs, or risk going bust.
The scale of the coronavirus catastrophe unfolding in Britain’s care homes was dramatically laid bare last night. The Chief Medical Officer revealed that almost 100 more homes had reported outbreaks in the past 24 hours. He said more than 13 per cent had now been hit nationally by the deadly disease, the equivalent of a staggering 2,200 homes. The Daily Mail has been told that the figures are even worse in London, where almost a quarter of the 1,300 residential and nursing homes have been affected.
There have been 92 new coronavirus outbreaks in care homes across Britain in the last 24 hours, the government has warned. Speaking at a regular news conference on Monday Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK’s chief scientific adviser, said around 13 per cent of such homes had been affected in total so far. The news is particularly worrying because medical advice suggests that people over 70 years of age and with certain pre-existing health conditions are particularly vulnerable to developing serious Covid-19 symptoms. Labour called for daily figures to be published of people dying in care homes so that the “true scale” of the problem could become clear.
About half of all Covid-19 deaths appear to be happening in care homes in some European countries, according to early figures gathered by UK-based academics who are warning that the same effort must be put into fighting the virus in care homes as in the NHS. Snapshot data from varying official sources shows that in Italy, Spain, France, Ireland and Belgium between 42% and 57% of deaths from the virus have been happening in homes, according to the report by academics based at the London School of Economics (LSE). Published official data for care homes in England and Wales are believed to significantly underestimate deaths in the sector, with the Office for National Statistics only recording 20 coronavirus-related deaths in all care homes in the week ending 27 March.
VULNERABLE care home residents have been “abandoned like lambs to the slaughter”, claimed an ex minister after 92 new coronavirus outbreaks in a day. Former pensions minister Baroness Altmann, who has long campaigned for dignity for the elderly, said the crisis showed how some of society’s most vulnerable were being unfairly treated. It comes after care home bosses claimed yesterday that health chiefs are playing Russian roulette with old people’s lives because of a lack of testing. The warning came as it emerged 13 residents had died in a home in Stanley, Co Durham — and the national care home death toll might already have topped 1,000.
A resident at a care home in Co Durham died from suspected Covid-19 yesterday, taking the death toll there to 13. The elderly person was showing symptoms of the disease but no test had been done, said a spokesman for Stanley Park care home in Stanley, near Washington. In Bristol a number of residents at a care home died yesterday as fatalities among the elderly and infirm continued to rise across the country.
CHEAP gout pills could reduce Covid-19 deaths, say experts. Two major trials have been launched of the 10p-a-day tablets colchicine, amid hopes it may halt the “inflammatory storm” in the lungs which is a killer. Some 6,000 coronavirus victims will be given the drug — first used 1,500 years ago — in Canada, and there is another trial in Greece. In gout sufferers, colchicine eases toe inflammation and pain. It may do the same in the lungs, doctors believe.
CORONAVIRUS super-survivors are at the forefront of medical efforts to tackle the disease as experts believe their blood might hold the key to effective treatments. Americans who fell ill in February in March have volunteered to give blood and plasma as doctors turn to century-old therapies to help seriously ill victims. Tiffany Pinckney, from worst-hit New York City, became one of the country’s first survivors to donate her blood for new trials.
Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) is to trial anti-malaria drugs dubbed “Trump pills” by some supporters of the U.S. President after he touted them as a possible “gamechanger” in the fight against coronavirus. President Trump tweeted that “HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & AZITHROMYCIN, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine” after anecdotal information suggested they may improve coronavirus patients’ prospects. This drew the ire of much of the mainstream media and sections of the medical establishment, as the drugs’ efficacy has not been definitively proven in clinical trials, with the evidence for its usefulness, such as it is, coming largely from China, controversial French studies, and individual clinicians such as Dr Anthony Cardillo of Los Angeles and Dr Vladimir Zelenko of New York — who had claimed a 100 per cent success rate using hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin in combination with zinc sulfate.
People could soon be advised to wear masks in public after the country’s chief scientist said the current policy was under review. Sir Patrick Vallance signalled a possible U-turn yesterday after disclosing the advice on the need for facial protection was being looked at again. The Government has previously insisted that there is no scientific evidence that supports the wearing of masks by the public to combat the spread of coronavirus.
People must get used to wearing masks in public to try to disrupt the transmission of coronavirus, a senior figure at the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said. David Nabarro, the organisation’s special envoy for coronavirus, said a global shortage meant that medics, patients and workers unable to physically distance should be prioritised, but suggested that mask-wearing would become universal. “This virus isn’t going to go away and we don’t know if people who have had the virus stay immune afterwards. We don’t know when we will have a vaccine,” he told the BBC yesterday.
Thousands of volunteers have stepped in to help produce clothing and protective equipment for doctors and nurses on the front line. A cottage industry of home sewers are turning their hands to making scrubs. Others are producing cloth bags for medics to put their scrubs in so they can put them in the washing machine as soon as they get home. Many more are making fabric headbands after nurses and doctors complained their face masks cut into their skin during long shifts. Largely co-ordinated on social media, the home sewers are sharing patterns online before teaming up to fulfil orders for their local hospitals and care homes.
Clinical frailty scale
A controversial ‘scoring system’ used by the NHS to decide who receives critical care has been slammed over fears disabled people will be denied life-saving treatment. The ‘Clinical Frailty Scale’ (CFS) ranks patients’ frailty from one to nine and is designed to prioritise those most likely to recover from the killer virus. It has been implemented as NHS hospitals desperately scramble to free up beds and ventilators, which Britain is desperately short of, to fight the COVID-19 crisis. But it discriminates against people with learning disabilities who may need round-the-clock care, according to University of London professor Irene Tuffrey-Wijne.
CORONAVIRUS cases in China have rocketed by 108 – the highest number in five weeks as experts fear a second wave of the killer virus. The increases were reported on Sunday, up from 99 a day earlier with 98 of the cases said to have entered from abroad. More than 90 per cent of those infected entered the country from abroad after China recently lifted travel restrictions last week. The National Health Commission said in a statement on Monday that the mainland reported 98 new imported cases, a record high and up from 97 a day earlier, with another 61 new asymptomatic patients.
MPs are expected to be asked to approve plans for a “hybrid parliament” when the Easter recess is over next week, but not a move to full “digital democracy”. The new procedures are likely to involve many MPs submitting questions to ministers via video conference during departmental questions, statements and urgent questions. But MPs who have been involved in talks on how parliament can adapt its proceedings to the need for social distancing do not think the Commons could become fully virtual, and they have found it harder to imagine how legislation could be debated and voted on without MPs attending the chamber. The details of the plans are still being worked on this week.
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.
The eurozone’s beleaguered banks face “lasting damage” from the coronavirus crisis triggering a resurgence in bad loans, economists have warned. Analysts have predicted the region’s recovery from a record-breaking plunge in output will be held back if its lenders are unable to provide much-needed support to the economy. Jack Allen-Reynolds, Capital Economics economist, warned that banks will make “significant losses on their loans” with the proportion deemed non-performing set to surge. This will cause “lasting damage” to the lenders, setting back the economic recovery, he said.
French economist Jean-Paul Fitoussi is the latest financial expert to sound the alarm that a lack of solidarity in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic could spell the end of the European Union (EU). Professor Fitoussi said the EU must act to aid countries affected by coronavirus and create a Europe-wide investment plan. Otherwise, the bloc itself could face “a destiny of underdevelopment”, he warned. In an interview with Italian news website Quotidiano that was released on Friday, he advised the EU to create “an investment plan in public goods, which are those from whose use, by definition, nobody can be excluded and which bring added value to all citizens”.
The spread of coronavirus appears to be slowing in parts of Europe, with Spain and Italy beginning to ease lockdown restrictions and France announcing that it will do as well. Spain, the third worst coronavirus-hit country in the world, is continuing to see a slow in deaths and cases with the lowest number of new infections reported in more than three weeks. Some 517 new virus-related deaths were recorded overnight in the country, while the number of confirmed cases logged was nearly 3,500. The latest figures come as some of Spain’s lockdown measures were eased, though the government is keeping most of the country at home for the fifth week in a row.
Europe took its first tentative steps towards a return to normality on Monday as some countries re-opened businesses. And several other nations have announced they are preparing to ease their lockdown restrictions in the coming days. Spain and Italy – the two European countries worst-hit by the coronavirus outbreak – have re-started some industries while Germany is considering opening schools from Monday. Millions of Spanish workers returned to their jobs on Monday after Madrid lifted the curbs on non-essential industries. Builders, cleaners, construction, factory and shipyard employees were allowed back to work, as police handed out millions of masks on the country’s metro, train and bus networks.
Burglaries have fallen by more than 30 per cent in areas of Britain as many obey the coronavirus lockdown rules and stay at home. West Midlands police said it had seen a drop in burglaries by 34 per cent at the start of April, compared to the same seven-day period last year, while forces in Kent and Durham have also reported a drop in overall crime. There has also been a surge in domestic violence, as people are told to remain at home, with the National Domestic Abuse helpline saying it has seen a 25 per cent increase in calls and online requests.
Businesses and the Government should brace for a wave of fraud as the combination of a recession, widespread working from home and large Government support packages combine to create a “fraudster’s paradise”, according to experts. Insurers are concerned claims management companies will push financially stretched consumers to make bogus or exaggerated claims. Geoff Carter, chief executive of Sabre Insurance said: “I think you’ll have financially stressed individuals potentially being pursued by people seeking out exaggerated or fraudulent claims.” Such behaviour could lead to a significant increase in the cost of claims faced by car insurers, he said.
Arsenal’s senior players have rejected the terms of a 12.5 per cent pay cut over 12 months in response to the coronavirus crisis, despite the club throwing in some fresh incentives on new contracts in a bid to get them to agree. Under the proposed terms that were put to the vote on Monday afternoon, the club said that any player who was offered and signed a new deal in the future would – as a matter of course – be awarded the deducted balance in addition to his new salary. There was also another clause that any player subject to the cut and later sold for a fee would also receive all of his deduction back in full. That did not prove enough to convince the squad with the players only too aware that the transfer market is likely to be slow in the extreme this summer, and the value of any future contract in doubt, there were too few takers.
Tottenham Hotspur have joined Liverpool in reversing their decision to furlough non-playing staff following weeks of sustained criticism from their own supporters and objections from senior players. In a move that will put further pressure on other clubs who have chosen to furlough their staff, chairman Daniel Levy expressed his regret at the original decision and said only board members would now take pay cuts. It is understood that first-team players at Tottenham had made it clear that they were unhappy with the move. Those players are also standing firm in discussions over wage deferrals and no agreement has yet been reached with the club.