Brexit

Express
BRITONS have reacted with fury to David Liddington’s suggestion that a delay to the Brexit transition period is “inevitable” because of the coronavirus pandemic. The former Tory MP who served as Theresa May’s de facto deputy prime minister, told the Dutch NRC Handelsblad newspaper “Covid-19 makes extension inevitable” causing concern for many Brexiteers. He added: “There is not enough bandwidth to pay attention to Brexit in Whitehall or the European Commission and the major capitals.” Voters were quick to give their take on his comments, with many urging Boris Johnson to walk away from the trade negotiating table if the EU edges towards an extension.

Lockdown

Mail
Boris Johnson
 today moved to snuff out Cabinet pressure for an early easing of lockdown, making clear that a second peak in the coronavirus outbreak is the biggest threat to the country. The PM has intervened from his recuperation at Chequers to warn there must not be any let-up in the draconian curbs until scientists are sure the disease will not flare up again.  Mr Johnson has told First Secretary Dominic Raab and senior aides that ‘moving too quickly’ would be the worst outcome for both the economy and public health.

Times
Hopes of a swift exit from national lockdowns were dealt a blow in Europe, America and Asia yesterday as studies indicated that even in hard-hit regions vast numbers of people remained susceptible to the virus. Studies from France, California and Wuhan, where the pandemic originated, suggested that only a fraction of the population in each region had contracted the virus. Relatively few appeared to have developed the antibodies that would be expected to prevent infection and a second wave.

Testing

Telegraph
Coronavirus tests given to thousands of NHS staff so they could return to work have been found to be flawed and should no longer be relied on, a leaked document reveals. The memo from Public Health England (PHE), sent earlier this month, warns of “degraded” performance, meaning the results are less reliable than first thought.  Almost 100,000 NHS and social care workers and their relatives have now undergone tests in an effort to get as many staff back to the frontline as possible. But the memo, dated April 11, reveals that “discordant results” have been identified in the tests, run by PHE and NHS laboratories, requiring ambiguous samples to be re-checked.

ITV News
A potential coronavirus vaccine is due to be “trialled in people” from Thursday, the health secretary has said, claiming the government will “throw everything” at efforts to stop the virus. “In normal times, reaching this stage would take years,” Matt Hancock said, adding how he is “very proud” the University of Oxford was able to make such progress. Mr Hancock, who is under fire over his 100,000-per-day testing target and a lack of protective equipment for health and care staff, said it was clear that the “best way to defeat coronavirus is through a vaccine”.

Sun
CORONAVIRUS tests given to thousands of NHS staff to get them back to work were unreliable, a leaked document has revealed. Public Health England (PHE) sent a memo warning the tests are not as accurate as first thought – raising the possibility of those thinking they were coronavirus-free were actually still contagious. Almost 100,000 NHS and social care workers along with their relatives have undergone coronavirus  tests to get staff back on the frontline, reports The Telegraph. The memo – dated April 11 – reveals there had been “discordant results” in the tests leading to them having to be re-checked in a lab.

Times
Mass testing of NHS workers without Covid-19 symptoms will begin next week after studies in care homes found staff who were infected without knowing it. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said that checks on asymptomatic staff were part of the plan to hit a target of 100,000 tests a day, which is coming under increasing scrutiny as the amount of wasted laboratory time grows. Downing Street has insisted that it has confidence in Mr Hancock and has backed the target. More than half the country’s testing capacity is still going unused despite tens of thousands of NHS staff being forced to self-isolate.

Mail
A call has been made for volunteers to take part in the first human trials of a new coronavirus vaccine in Britain. Imperial College London and University Hospital Southampton asked for people to take part in the study to test if a potential inoculation is effective in tackling the disease. One COVID-19 vaccine developed at the University of Oxford will be trialled on humans in the UK from Thursday this week.  Imperial College London is calling for volunteers to trial its separate vaccine in the weeks ahead. Anyone who is healthy and aged between 18 and 55 can take part at Imperial College London, University Hospital Southampton plus Bristol Children’s Vaccine Centre.

Telegraph
NHS volunteers could be used to deliver coronavirus tests to the general public as part of a last-ditch attempt to fulfil Matt Hancock’s promise of carrying out 100,000 tests per day, it has emerged. The Health Secretary disclosed on Tuesday that “mobile delivery” of swabs is being piloted, with home testing kits now expected to be a key part of driving up the numbers. Mr Hancock is desperate to meet his target of taking daily tests into six figures by the end of April, leaving ministers having to consider all options as they continue to fall way short of the mark.

PPE

Mail
The military has blasted the NHS for the ‘appalling’ handling of distributing PPE. The armed forces are currently helping get vital equipment to frontline staff. It came as ministers were accused of ignoring offers of equipment and letting hundreds of thousands of items go abroad despite the urgent need for PPE in the UK. The government is facing an onslaught of questions over the shortage of the vital equipment desperately needed by frontline healthcare workers.  Last night a senior army source told The Times that vital items of PPE equipment were being assigned to hospitals without recognition of differing levels of need.

Sun
A NATIONWIDE army of amateur stitchers is working flat out to provide frontline medics with the washable protective clothing they desperately need. They have sewn almost 25,000 sets of home-made scrubs — and churn out thousands more each day. There are now 100 “Scrub Hubs” across Britain. Katie Stalker, 31, who runs one in Cumbria, said: “It’s amazing to be able to help. “It’s quite emotional when you get orders from doctors who are desperately in need. They’re so grateful. “The Scrub Hubs have people who wanted to help together and there’s a real community spirit about it.”

Masks

Times
Homemade face coverings are likely to slow the spread of the coronavirus and ministers must choose whether to recommend wearing them, scientists say. Experts believe there is some evidence that using masks in confined spaces such as workplaces, buses, trains and shops could reduce the risk of passing on the virus. But there is concern about the risk of jeopardising NHS mask supplies. Rebranding them as “face-coverings” to distinguish bandanas from medical masks is being considered in making recommendations, which would be vital during the easing of the lockdown.

Mail
Experts are calling on Britons to wear DIY facemasks whenever they go outside in a move they claim could ‘wipe out coronavirus‘ nationwide.  Homemade masks have been the focus of intense debate, but one Oxford University professor yesterday said Britain could eradicate the virus if ’80 to 90 per cent’ of the population wore them in public.  Experts say that any face covering made of multiple layers of tightly woven fabric can stop deadly particles becoming airborne. This means DIY masks don’t protect people from getting the virus, but can stop them passing it on to others.

BBC News
NHS supplies of face masks could be put at risk if the government starts advising the public to wear them, hospital bosses have warned. The government’s scientific advisers are meeting on Tuesday to discuss whether people should be urged to wear masks in a bid to combat coronavirus. But Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, warned there should be “clear evidence” to justify their use. It comes as the UK recorded another 823 coronavirus deaths in UK hospitals. That takes the total number to 17,337. Official figures show record numbers of deaths in England and Wales in the week up to 10 April, driven by 6,200 fatalities attributed to coronavirus.

Vaccine

Telegraph
Human trials for a coronavirus vaccine will begin on Thursday as Matt Hancock gambles on a £43 million plan to make the UK the first country to develop one. The Imperial College NHS Trust is recruiting 1,112 “healthy” volunteers to participate in the six-month trial. Participants will be divided into two groups, one of which will receive a control drug. Volunteers will be paid £190 to £625 for their time and for travel. The Health Secretary said he is “throwing everything” at efforts to create a vaccine because the “upside” of the UK being first would be “huge”.

Times
The first British human trials of a coronavirus vaccine will start tomorrow, with the country “throwing everything” at being the first to develop a successful inoculation, the health secretary has said. Matt Hancock said that scientists in Oxford would begin to test the safety of their drug. He also announced £20 million in funding to speed it through larger-scale human trials over the summer, as well as £22.5 million for a parallel vaccine project at Imperial College London.

Independent
Human trials of a potential coronavirus vaccine developed at the University of Oxford are to begin on Thursday, health secretary Matt Hancock has announced. And one member of the Oxford team said that if trials are successful, millions of doses of vaccine could be available for use by the autumn of this year, in a breakthrough which would potentially signal the start of the world’s slow emergence from an outbreak which has already claimed 175,000 lives and caused devastating economic damage. Speaking at the daily Downing Street press conference, Mr Hancock said the government was “throwing everything” at the search for a vaccine and announced he was providing £20m to the Oxford team to help fund its clinical trials, with a further £22.5m going to researchers at Imperial College London.

BBC News
The government is “throwing everything” at developing a coronavirus vaccine, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said. He told the daily Downing Street briefing that human trials for a vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford, would begin on Thursday. He also addressed the shortage of protective gear for the NHS, saying the government was talking to thousands of suppliers, but not all could deliver. Labour said there was a “gap” between government words and reality.

Care homes

Times
The number of people dying in care homes has almost doubled in four weeks, with coronavirus to blame for more than 1,000 deaths, new statistics show. Experts warned that the peak, which appears to have been around April 8 across the country, may not yet have passed in residential homes. The Office for National Statistics said there had been 1,043 deaths linked to the virus in care homes. It also said there were 4,927 deaths from all causes in care homes in the week ending April 10. In the week ending March 13, when the first Covid-19 deaths were registered, there were 2,471. The weekly average in 2018, the only year for which it is available, was 2,183.

Sky News
The number of coronavirus-related deaths in care homes more than quadrupled from 217 to 1,043 in the space of a week, new figures show. In total, there were 18,516 deaths provisionally registered in England and Wales in the week ending April 10 – 7,996 deaths more than the five-year average and the highest weekly total since 2000. Of these 6,123 mentioned “novel coronavirus (COVID-19)” – around a third of all deaths, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics. The week’s figures show the proportion of deaths outside hospitals rose to 16%, with 83.9% (8,673 deaths) occurring in hospitals.

Ventilators

Guardian
The health secretary, Matt Hancock, has been forced to deny explosive claims by a civil servant at the top of government that ministers made a ‘political decision’ to opt out of an EU scheme to bulk-buy ventilators and protective equipment for NHS workers. Following comments to a select committee by the Foreign Office’s permanent secretary, Sir Simon McDonald, Hancock used Downing Street’s daily press briefing to rebut the damaging claims which risk accusations that ministers have put Brexit ideology ahead of people’s lives.

Times
The greatest reward at the McLaren base, near Woking, is usually when one of their cars wins a Formula 1 Grand Prix. Last week, though, the team experienced an altogether greater satisfaction when the first ventilator that they had helped to make came off the production line en route to save lives in the battle against Covid-19. McLaren’s futuristic buildings have been completely transformed in the past five weeks of the crisis. Now, in the machine room where they normally build parts for the suspension of F1 cars, they are making manifolds and hose nipples for ventilators.

Reuters
A group of firms, including Airbus and Ford, could build more than the current government order of 20,000 ventilators and continue once normal operations begin to resume, the head of the project told Reuters on Tuesday. Several engineering, aerospace, automotive and Formula One companies have clubbed together to produce the equipment with the aim of building over 1,500 per week. Governments around the world are trying to boost the number of available mechanical breathing devices that can supply air and oxygen, crucial for the care of people who suffer lung failure, which can be a complication of COVID-19.

Nightingale hospital

Telegraph
The Nightingale hospital in London is “turning away more coronavirus patients than it is treating”, a leaked document has suggested. Dozens of Covid-19 sufferers have been refused transfer to the overflow facility because there are not enough nurses to treat them, according to NHS documents seen by The Guardian. A total of 50 people needing urgent care have not been granted admission, 30 due to “staffing issues” and 20 on medical grounds because they were “too unwell to transfer” or did not meet the hospital’s strict clinical admission criteria, it is claimed.

Sun
LIFE or death coronavirus patients have reportedly been turned away from the NHS Nightingale hospital in London because it did not have enough staff to look after them. Leaked NHS documents reportedly show that the field hospital – which was built in just nine days at the ExCel Centre – has turned away more patients than it has treated. NHS Nightingale in the capital’s docklands has reportedly been unable to admit 50 people suffering from Covid-19 who were in need of “life or death” care, according to the doc seen by The Guardian.

Yahoo News
Dozens of patients with Covid-19 have been turned away from the NHS Nightingale hospital in London because it has too few nurses to treat them, the Guardian can reveal. Epidemics of infectious diseases behave in different ways but the 1918 influenza pandemic that killed more than 50 million people is regarded as a key example of a pandemic that occurred in multiple waves, with the latter more severe than the first. It has been replicated – albeit more mildly – in subsequent flu pandemics. How and why multiple-wave outbreaks occur, and how subsequent waves of infection can be prevented, has become a staple of epidemiological modelling studies and pandemic preparation.

Star
Coronavirus patients are being turned away from the new NHS Nightingale hospital, despite 4,000 empty beds because of a lack of nurses, it has been claimed. The new hospital at ExCel Centre has turned away patients from packed London hospitals, reports Mail Online. NHS documents reveal only 40 patients have been treated so far, after the hospital had to turn away 50 “life or death” patients since it opened its doors on April 7. The documents, seen by The Guardian reveal the facility had to turn away 30 of the patients as there were too few nurses to accommodate them.

Contact tracing

Telegraph
Britain’s small Islands are calling for their lockdowns to be ended earlier arguing that they would make ‘ideal’ testing beds for contact-tracing technology. Shetland, Orkney and Isle of Wight are among those now asking the Government to trial easing coronavirus restrictions on a regional basis. Their calls have been backed by a leading bacteriologist, Prof. Hugh Pennington, who said the islands’ small rates of infection and ability to control who comes and goes made them suited locations to road-test post-lockdown measures.

Education

Mirror
Pupils set to take GCSE and A Level exams next year may have to repeat this year, a former head of Ofsted has said. Sir Michael Wilshaw told the BBC schools should be re-opened “as soon as it is safe to do so.” But he said some children will are “losing out” so much that they won’t be able to catch up. It comes after a survey revealed two thirds of children had not logged into online lessons. Asked if some children should repeat the year, he said: “Yes. …I think there is some argument for that.

Travel refunds

ITV News
The UK’s biggest travel firms and airlines are breaking the law by delaying refunds for trips cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a consumer group. An investigation by Which? found that some companies are refusing to provide refunds in a breach of their legal obligations, while others are providing vouchers or credit notes “which may prove to be worthless” if holiday firms collapse. It cited industry estimates that up to £7 billion in payments made by UK customers are affected.

Labour Party

Guido
On a Zoom call to Labour members last week, as well as Angela Rayner erasing Labour herstory, Sir Keir Starmer boasted that if he were in Government, the lockdown would have come earlier, with stricter controls. “I think if you look back, what you would have seen from a Labour government is a willingness to act more clearly and more decisively. So we were saying weeks ago that there should be strict controls, that it was clear that the infection was getting out of control, and that the government need to act more quickly and more decisively. And we would have done that.”

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