British officials took part in four meetings where EU projects to bulk-buy medical kit were discussed – the earliest in January, according to official minutes that heap doubt on government claims of missing an email. Last week Downing Street claimed that it failed to take part in an EU scheme to source life-saving ventilators and other kit to treat coronavirus because it accidentally missed the deadline. No 10 initially said it did not take part because the UK was no longer a member of the EU and was “making our own efforts”. After critics accused Boris Johnson of putting “Brexit over breathing”, Downing Street clarified that missing out was an error and it would consider participating in future. It is understood the UK claimed not to have received an email from the EU asking it to participate.
The UK’s coronavirus death toll is higher than official figures show as the current statistics only include those who have died in hospital. Today, the true numbers will be revealed after the Government admitted that the 1,415 fatalities so far recorded in Britain are not the actual number. Daily figures recording the pandemic’s death toll have shown a growing time lag approaching up to three weeks. The Office for National Statistics will reveal data for England and Wales on Tuesday giving a clearer picture of those that Covid-19 has killed. The new figures will show any death that is linked by medics to the virus, no matter where the patient died. With 1,408 deaths so far recorded in the UK, officials are expecting an increase and a sharp hike in the next few weeks.
CORONAVIRUS deaths in the United Kingdom have now risen to 1,408 after 180 more were announced today. The figure marks a drop in the rate of increase from yesterday, when 209 died as a result of Covid-19. Department of Health has so far recorded 22,141 positive Covid-19 cases in Britain. Today’s figure marks the first time the daily increase in deaths has fallen for two consecutive days and has dropped from 260 on Saturday, the worst day in the crisis so far. At least four of those who died had no pre-existing medical conditions, the Department of Health said. England has now seen 1284 deaths from the coronavirus, Wales 62, Scotland 41 and Northern Ireland 21.
Questions have been raised over whether the official coronavirus death toll accurately reflects the number of fatalities seen in hospitals. A tally of NHS data updated on Sunday says 11 people have died in hospitals run by King’s College Hospital trust after testing positive for COVID-19. But the trust’s own website, which was updated on Friday, says 33 patients who have tested positive have died. Asked about such disparities, Dr Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer for England, said there was a “time lag” in the number of deaths tallied up as officials firm up the numbers and speak to families.
The week-long lockdown in Britain has saved 370 lives, a study by Imperial College London suggests. At least 59,000 lives have already been saved in 11 European countries due to the strict new social distancing measures introduced to stem the spread of Covid-19, the modelling says, including 38,000 lives in Italy. But the study also shows that the Continent remains a long way from developing “herd immunity”, whereby the vast majority of people have caught, recovered from and become immune to coronavirus.
Britain may be starting gradually to bring the coronavirus outbreak under control because residents are doing a “good job” of social distancing, the government’s chief scientific adviser said yesterday. Sir Patrick Vallance said that hospital admissions were increasing by a stable amount each day, with the NHS coping as numbers stopped accelerating. He warned that deaths would continue to rise and that it was vital for Britain to stay in lockdown until it was clear that intensive care would not be overwhelmed.
The UK coronavirus spread is showing ‘early signs of slowing,’ an expert has said in a fresh glimmer of hope for the country. Government adviser Professor Neil Ferguson said strict social distancing measures appear to be paying off – but as previously reported such rules may be in place for up to six months. It comes as the death toll hit 1,408 on Monday and the number of confirmed positive cases reached more than 20,000. A total of 134,946 people have been tested, of which 112,805 were confirmed negative.
People are heeding the advice to stay at home to keep pressure off the NHS, and there are early signs that it is working, the UK’s chief scientific adviser has said. Sir Patrick Vallance told a news conference that social distancing measures are “making a difference”. Transmission of coronavirus in the community is thought to be decreasing which could mean fewer infections. Hospital admissions data suggests cases are not rising as fast as feared. There are currently 9,000 people in hospitals in England with coronavirus, up from 6,000 on Friday. This amounts to about one in ten of all hospital beds in the country.
The UK’s coronavirus outbreak appears to be slowing down, a top scientist advising the Government has said. Professor Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College London, said the slowing of the spread of Covid-19 was the result of strict social distancing measures brought in by the Government. “In the UK we can see some early signs of slowing in some indicators – less so deaths because deaths are lagged by a long time from when measures come in force,” he told the BBC. “But if we look at the numbers of new hospital admissions, that does appear to be slowing down a bit now.
Social distancing measures aimed at tackling the outbreak of coronavirus are “making a difference”, according the government’s chief scientific adviser. Sharing slides from the government’s emergency committee Cobra, Patrick Vallance said the restrictions were “successful” in changing behaviours across the UK, including drastic decreases in use of buses, national rail and the London Underground transport system. “The measures are in place, they are making a difference, they are decreasing the contact which is so important to the spread the disease and we’re doing a good job at cutting that down,” he said at a Downing Street press conference.
Boris Johnson has been warned by Brexiteers not to revisit “old battles” and give way to demands to extend the UK’s transition period in the light of the coronavirus pandemic. Yesterday the European People’s Party, the largest group in the European parliament, said that the UK would face an economic “double whammy” if the prime minister ends Britain’s membership of the EU single market and customs union on December 31.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been urged by a group of MEPs to delay his Brexit deadline as countries around the world battle the coronavirus. The European Parliament’s largest group of MEPs said the pandemic puts pressure on the chance of securing a trade deal by the planned date. The PM’s spokesman insisted there were no plans to change the timetable. It comes as EU and UK representatives met to discuss implementing the Brexit withdrawal agreement over video link.
Boris Johnson is facing fresh pressure to delay the end of the Brexit transition period as countries focus on battling the coronavirus epidemic. MEPs from the largest grouping in the European Parliament warned that the British economy would face the “double whammy” of coronavirus disruption and a possible no-deal Brexit if the prime minister presses ahead with the 31 December deadline. Extending the transition period is “the only responsible thing to do”, as the timetable to hammer out a trade deal between the UK and the bloc is too tight, warned the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP).
Boris Johnson is adamant that he won’t extend the Brexit transition period, despite MEPs calling for more time in the wake of coronavirus. The European People’s Party (EPP), the largest bloc in the EU Parliament, warned the UK will face a “double whammy” if the PM insists on sticking to the timetable of leaving at the end of the year. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The transition period ends on December 31 2020. This is enshrined in UK law.”
The largest group in the European parliament has urged the UK government to do the “responsible thing” and extend the Brexit transition period, as coronavirus plays havoc with the timetable for an EU-UK deal. The centre-right European People’s party (EPP), which unites the parties of 11 EU leaders, including Angela Merkel and Leo Varadkar, issued a statement on Monday calling on the government to extend the Brexit transition beyond the end of the year.
Britain’s attempt to ramp up mass coronavirus testing has been dealt a blow after key components ordered from overseas were discovered to be contaminated with coronavirus, the Telegraph can disclose. Laboratories across the country were on Monday warned to expect a delay after traces of the virus were detected in parts due for delivery in the coming days. It comes as ministers and public health chiefs face growing questions over why Britain’s testing capacity appears to be lagging far behind other major nations including the US and South Korea.
Testing for coronavirus remains below the target of 10,000 a day, despite ministers’ claims over the weekend that the milestone had been passed. Public Health England announced on Monday morning that the latest daily figure for antigen tests – which identify people currently infected – was 9,114, while health minister Helen Whately said that around 7,000 a day were carried out over the weekend. Meanwhile, a Whitehall source said it was “premature” to suggest that 17.5 million antibody tests to identify people who have had the virus and recovered could soon get under way.
The Government is now able to test 10,000 people a day to see if they are infected with the coronavirus. Health Secretary Matt Hancock took to Twitter to confirm the news. He tweeted: “Good news that we’ve reached 10,000 #coronavirus tests a day – ahead of schedule. We’re on track to 25,000. #StayHomeSaveLives “Cabinet Office Minster Michael Gove also praised the announcement. It comes amid fierce criticism about slow progress gearing up the response.
A shortage of key chemicals is hampering Britain’s efforts to expand testing for Covid-19 and forcing officials to work on finding alternative components. Testing for the virus involves amplifying sections of DNA on a device known as a PCR machine, and requires chemicals known as reagents to kickstart the process. Reagent shortages have emerged as a key constraint on increasing the rate of testing and the government is looking at whether other chemicals can be used. Some NHS hospitals are resorting to “home brew” reagents to speed up testing with bosses elsewhere saying that they are struggling to get hold of vital chemicals.
Boris Johnson is poised to allow pregnant inmates to leave jail but is refusing to sanction the release of thousands of low-risk offenders as coronavirus spreads through prisons. About 50 expectant mothers will be allowed to leave state-run and private prisons within days, as they are classed as “vulnerable”. However, the government is refusing to countenance the widespread release of prisoners approaching the end of their terms amid concerns it will undermine confidence in the justice system.
Dozens of flights a day are still landing in the UK from coronavirus hotspots such as New York despite a collapse in the aviation industry. An analysis shows that the overall number of flights in and out of British airports has plummeted by 85 per cent because of travel restrictions. Figures from Nats, the air traffic control service, show that 602 flights landed at or departed from UK airports on Sunday. Another 356 aircraft flew through UK airspace without landing. The total, which includes military and air ambulance operations, was down on the 6,447 on the last Sunday in March 2019, underlining the unprecedented decline in demand. However, flights from New York and New Jersey continued to arrive yesterday.
FLIGHTS from Coronavirus hot spots were still landing in Britain on Monday with thousands of passengers not being checked for symptoms. Planes from Italy, America and Spain all touched down at Heathrow yesterday morning with passengers simply walking through arrivals and onto public transport. Although many had masks there were queues at arrivals and departures and there appeared to be barely any social distancing between travellers.
A leading British doctor says a coronavirus vaccine could be available as early as January 2021, for the most vulnerable people. Dr Melanie Saville, director of Vaccine Development at the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), says the vaccine could be available next year and would be prioritised for healthcare workers and the vulnerable. She said: “What we are trying to do is reduce that to a 12-18 month time frame.” The firm, CEPI, is based in Oslo, Norway and is funding eight COVID-19 vaccine trials globally, reports Daily Express.
Draconian police crackdowns on drivers and walkers during the Covid-19 outbreak are “disgraceful,” a former Supreme Court judge said yesterday. Lord Sumption said that the UK was in danger of becoming a “police state” if other chiefs mirrored the recent approach taken in Derbyshire as he warned of forces becoming a “disciplined hierarchy” operating at the command of ministers. Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, defended the police. “I back the police doing a difficult job in unprecedented circumstances,” he said, before adding that “there needs to be common sense in the way the [government] guidance is interpreted.”
Britain has embarked on its biggest peacetime repatriation operation, with plans to bring home up to 300,000 people left stranded abroad by the coronavirus lockdown. The government will spend £75 million chartering hundreds of aircraft from countries where there are no longer any commercial flights, Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, announced. Passengers will be charged between £250 and £500 for tickets. They will be given emergency loans by the government if they cannot afford the cost.
Tens of thousands of Britons stranded abroad by the coronavirus pandemic will be flown home under a new arrangement between the government and airlines. BA, Virgin and Easyjet are among airlines working with the government to fly Britons back to the UK. The government has also pledged £75m to charter special flights to bring home UK nationals from countries where commercial flights are unavailable. The number of people who have died with the virus in the UK has reached 1,408. Speaking at the government’s daily coronavirus briefing, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said an “unprecedented” number of UK travellers were trying to get home “from young backpackers to retired couples on cruises”.
Dominic Raab today unveiled a massive £75 million repatriation plan to bring home ‘tens of thousands’ of Britons stranded abroad because of the coronavirus crisis. The Foreign Secretary said the UK government will now step in to provide ‘special charter flights’ from parts of the world where commercial flights are no longer in operation. The government has struck a partnership deal with British Airways, Easyjet, Jet2 and other airlines to provide the planes for the effort.
Heathrow Airport will become a vital hub for medical supplies flying into the UK as part of plans to refocus its operations in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Cargo flights bringing in almost half of the country’s healthcare equipment and pharmaceutical products, including respirators and testing kits, will be prioritised as the CEO of the airport said that they have additional space “for the first time in a decade”.
Strict limits on the number of students that each university in England can recruit are set to be imposed by the government in an effort to avoid a free-for-all on admissions, with institutions plunged into financial turmoil as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the Guardian has learned. A government source said each university would face limits on the number of UK and EU undergraduates it could admit for the academic year starting in September, in a move backed by higher education leaders. It will be the first such limit since the university admission cap was lifted in 2015.
The Premier League are working on an ambitious plan to restart the season behind closed doors on the first weekend of May with a scheduled finish date of Sunday July 12. The proposals, which will be discussed in detail on a conference call of the 20 clubs on Friday, would need to be endorsed by the Government, public health bodies and the PFA. But they are seen as the best way to mitigate the financial losses and potential legal threats caused by the coronavirus shutdown. The Premier League’s best-case scenario of a May resumption stems largely from their obligations to and financial reliance on broadcasters, who have a watertight £3billion-a-year deal which expires on July 31, with next season’s deal kicking in the following day.
The frequency of bin collections could be reduced due to coronavirus, councils have revealed, as they say that the vital service is under constant review. Councils that are desperately trying to keep household waste collections going amid staffing shortages have admitted that if the coronavirus outbreak continues to take its toll they will have to reduce the frequency of collections. Both Leicester City Council and North East Lincolnshire Council have admitted that their general rubbish collections may run at a reduced service as councils continue to manage staff becoming ill or having to self isolate. The reduction in collections has led to fears that the public will see an increase in rodents, as people stockpile perishable goods and rubbish begins to pile up.
Bins were today seen overflowing as councils scaled back collections as up to a third of refuse workers went off sick due to coronavirus. Many local authorities have stopped collecting bins containing food and garden waste, instead telling residents to put everything in black bags. It came as bin men spoke of their fears they would catch the virus because they lack even basic protective gear amid a global shortage, and revealed they were being put under extra pressure by an increase in waste caused by panic buying.