GOVERNMENT DAILY BRIEFING
Highlights from the UK government’s daily press briefing
17th July 2020
- Today, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced the ‘next chapter’ of the COVID-19 recovery strategy
- From 1 August, if the prevalence of the virus remains around or below current levels, the government will take the listed steps:
- Employers and the workforce:
- Employers will be given more discretion on how they ensure employees can work safely – this could mean continuing to work from home or returning to COVID-19 workplaces
- Employers should be encouraging people to get back to work where it is right for that employee
- Government advice is now to use public transport while encouraging the public to consider alternative means of transport where possible
- Local Government:
- Government published the CONTAIN framework which is a guide for local decision-makers
- From tomorrow, local authorities will have new powers to enable them to react to outbreaks more quickly
- Councils will be able to intervene to shut down outdoor spaces and premises at short notice
- Stay at home orders could also be imposed
- Reopen most remaining leisure settings such as bowling, skating rinks and casinos, subject to COVID-19 Secure guidelines
- High-risk activities and settings such as nightclubs will not reopen and will be kept under review
- Restart indoor performances to a live audience, in line with COVID-19 Secure guidelines, subject to the success of pilots that are taking place as soon as possible
- Enable wedding receptions; sit-down meals for no more than 30 people, subject to COVID-19 Secure guidelines
- Schools, nurseries and colleges to reopen from September 2020
- The number of daily deaths is continuing to fall
- The R is between 0.7 and 0.9
- Johnson said that the “blanket national lockdown” imposed between the middle of March and the end of May was the right thing to do, but now the UK is focused on localised lockdowns.
- NHS will be granted additional funding of £3 billion to help it prepare for a potential second wave of infections as well as to cope with its usual winter pressure
- Johnson also declared that the government would increase its testing capacity to 500,000 a day by the end of October 2020
- DCMS Secretary, Oliver Dowden, announced that outdoor pools and performances can resume from Saturday with social distancing in place.
- Dowden stated that beauticians, nail salons, and tattooists will also be able to open on Monday.
- Dowden added that indoor gyms, sports facilities, and pools will be able to reopen from 25 July and that guidance will be published for team sports to return from Saturday.
- Dowden explained that scientific studies were being conducted to assess the specific risks in the culture industry.
- In the UK, 287,621 people (642 new cases) tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 44,602 people have died, an increase of 85 fatalities.
3rd July 2020
- The Prime Minister confirmed that there will be a timetable announced next week for the reopening of other businesses which remained closed this weekend.
- Johnson announced that the number of new COVID-19 infections was reducing, with the R rate between 0.7-0.9 across the country.
- Johnson added that areas such as Leicester saw greater coronavirus prevalence, resulting in local ‘lockdowns’.
- The Prime Minister acknowledged the “devastating impact” that quarantine measures had on society and the economy.
- Johnson stated that “good progress” was being made by workstreams looking into further easing for the fitness and hospitality sectors and highlighted how, generally, there would be a move away from sectoral restrictions and towards geographical measures.
- On Saturday, Johnson said there will be a “moment of remembrance” to mark those who have lost their lives and that there will be a clap to mark the NHS’s birthday on Sunday.
- In the UK, 284,276 people (544 new cases) tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 44,131 have died, an increase of 137 fatalities.
23rd June 2020
- Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said that the ‘five tests’ continue to be met, in relation to sustained and consistent fall in deaths and infections, increased PPE supply, resulting in the continued loosening of lockdown measures.
- From 4th July 2020 (in England only):
- Johnson confirmed that the two-metre social distancing rule would be modified, moving to “one metre plus”. He added that with extra measures such as installing screens, making sure people way from each other, and washing hands, this could be done safely.
- Johnson announced that hotels, B&Bs, self-contained accommodation, campsites, caravan sites, bars, pubs, social clubs, hair salons, outdoor playgrounds, and outdoor gyms, among other premises, could open providing that they are 'COVID-19 secure'.
- Households can meet with one other household at a time and could stay overnight.
- Johnson stated that if there were local outbreaks or if the virus was to run out of control, the government would “not hesitate” to reverse some of the changes that have been made at either a local or national level.
- Today’s briefing was the last daily COVID press conference. Here on, there will only be a COVID-related press conference when there is a significant announcement to be made regarding COVID-19.
- The information that is usually presented in the slides during the daily briefings will be available on the government's website.
- In the UK, 306,210 people (874 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 42,927 have died, an increase of 171 fatalities.
22nd June 2020
- The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, began the briefing by thanking all those who have adhered to the shielding rules and stated that those affected have helped to save lives.
- Hancock added that the shielding guidance was only supposed to remain in force “as long as clinically necessary”.
- Dr. Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer for England, stated that now community transmission of the virus is down, the shielding measures can begin to be relaxed.
- From 6 July, those who have been shielding can meet groups of up to six people outdoors or form a support bubble.
- From 1 August England will “pause shielding”, meaning people can go out to places and see others – and go to shops and individuals can also return to work as long as their business is COVID safe.
- Hancock added that he will write to all those in the shielded group to update them and mentioned that online guidance will also be updated.
- In the UK, 305,289 people (958 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 42,647 have died, an increase of 15 fatalities.
19th June 2020
- Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson began the briefing by stating that the government now has a “hugely ambitious catch-up plan” to get children “back to where they should be”.
- Williamson confirmed plans for a £1bn fund to help England’s children with catch-up lessons and to get tutoring.
- Williamson added that school is “vital” and that “all children, in all year groups, will go back to school in September”.
- In the UK, 301,815 people (1,346 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings 42,461 have died, an increase of 173 fatalities.
18th June 2020
- The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, began the briefing by recognising the “sad loss” of Dame Vera Lynn and said that “We will all remember her warmly”.
- Hancock urged parents to ensure that their children are getting their regular vaccinations including the MMR jab.
- Hancock added that AstraZeneca has struck a deal to produce the Oxford vaccine so that it can be manufactured should “the science come off”.
- Adults over 50 and those with heart and kidney disease will be prioritised if and when a vaccine is ready.
- Hancock stated that the government will continue to take into account those who are most vulnerable including those from BAME backgrounds.
- On the test and trace app, Hancock says that while the UK’s app worked well on Android, Apple software “prevents iPhones from effectively using contact tracing”. Hancock stated how the government will be joining forces with Apple and Google to bring the “best bits of both systems together”.
- Concerning the NHS test and trace system, Hancock added that it is “working well”.
- In the UK 300,469 people (1,218 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 42,288 have died, an increase of 135 fatalities.
17th June 2020
- DMCS Secretary, Oliver Dowden announced that Premier League matches are resuming tonight and stated that this is an important moment.
- Dowden, however, urged fans to do their part – by watching from home and said that football fans should not congregate outside stadiums.
- Dowden added that he wants to get community sport back up and running and that this will begin from the start of July at the earliest.
- On live arts venues, Dowden said that he has been looking hard at how they can start to operate again and said the taskforce he set up to examine this will take evidence from experts on what might be done.
- In the UK, 299,251 people (1,015 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 42,153 have died, an increase of 184 fatalities.
16th June 2020
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson began the briefing by saying that he hears the calls to reduce the 2m social distancing recommendation and said that he will do “everything in my power to get us back to normal as soon as possible.”
- Johnson added that he is hopeful that the government will be able to announce a further easing of restrictions by July 4.
- Sir Patrick Vallance, chief scientific adviser, spoke about the drug dexamethasone – a steroid – and thanked those who have helped during the global trials.
- Johnson highlighted how dexamethasone can now be “made available across the NHS”. The Prime Minister also stated that “we have taken steps to ensure we have enough supplies, even in the event of a second peak.”
- Peter Horby, professor of emerging infectious diseases and global health at the University of Oxford, said that 75% of patients in hospital will receive a benefit from dexamethasone.
- Horby added that a study of the drug found “remarkable results” – and added that it could reduce the chance of death by about 35% for patients on ventilators, for those who require oxygen it was about 20%.
- Horby emphasised that the dexamethasone is “not a drug that you would use in the community” at large.
- Horby added that further trials of the drug are continuing and Vallance pointed out that this is the first drug that’s proven to reduce the risk of death from COVID-19.
- In the UK, 298,136 people (1,279 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 41,969 have died, an increase of 233 fatalities.
15th June 2020
- Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab stated that the government is closely watching the impact of all the changes to the UK’s coronavirus lockdown.
- Raab mentioned the easing of restrictions on private prayer at places of worship and the new “support bubbles” for single adults in England.
- Raab highlighted that the experience other countries face in fighting COVID-19 shows that there is a risk of a second spike in infections and emphasised the need for a cautious approach.
- On hospital admissions, Raab stated that there has been a 19% reduction in the number of patients with COVID-19 compared with a week previously.
- In the UK, 296,857 people (1,056 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 41,736 have died, an increase of 38 fatalities.
12th June 2020
- Transport Secretary Grant Shapps stated that the government is determined to promote green economic growth after the COVID-19 crisis.
- Shapps highlighted how ministers are launching a new “jet zero” council to promote net-zero flights and he also added that the council hopes to demonstrate a net-zero flight across the Atlantic “within a generation”.
- Transport use presents a challenge when it comes to keeping virus infections down and Shapps added that people should be “vigilant”.
- Shapps reiterated that the wearing of face coverings will be compulsory on public transport in England from Monday.
- Shapps stated that people should continue to work from home where possible and that employers should do “everything in your power” to stop people from going into work.
- In the UK, 292,950 (1,541 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 41,481 have died, an increase of 202 fatalities.
11th June 2020
- The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, began the briefing by stating that today’s figures on the test and trace system “paint a positive picture” of the system in operation so far.
- Hancock added that ministers are confident that the test and trace system will be “world-class”.
- Baroness Dido Harding, who runs the government’s test and trace scheme in England, began by going through the system’s first statistics:
- In the first week of the programme, 8,117 people testing positive for coronavirus had their case transferred to the contact tracing system.
- Of those, 5,407 people (67%) provided their recent contacts, and most offered their information within 24 hours.
- 31,794 recent contacts were identified through the Test and Trace Service and of these 26,985 (85%) were reached and agreed to self-isolate.
- Baroness Harding reiterated that those with COVID-19 symptoms should book a test and that if the NHS test and trace contacts you then you should go online or call the NHS and provide the service with accurate information about close contacts.
- In the UK, 291,409 people (1,266 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 41,279 have died, an increase of 151 fatalities.
10th June 2020
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson began the daily briefing by outlining the government’s five tests and stated that they are designed to ensure any changes to lockdown are “careful, proportionate and safe”.
- The Prime Minister added that the death rate and the number of positive cases are both continuing to fall.
- Johnson added that the UK has met all the government’s five tests.
- The Prime Minister announced that from this weekend, the government will allow single adult households to form one “support bubble” with one other household of any size.
- Johnson confirmed that “single adult households” refers to “adults living alone or single parents with children under 18”.
- The “support bubble allows” people to act as if they live in the same household, with those in the bubble being able to go to each other’s houses, stay the night and not have to maintain social distancing measures.
- The Prime Minister highlighted that those who are shielding cannot take part in “support bubbles”.
- Johnson also confirmed that zoos will be allowed to open from Monday and that places of worship will be allowed to open for prayer from this weekend.
- In Parliament today Johnson announced a further £63 million of local welfare assistance to be used by local authorities at their discretion to help the most vulnerable families.
- In the UK, 290,143 people have (1,003 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 41,128 have died, an increase of 245 fatalities since yesterday.
9th June 2020
- Business Secretary Alok Sharma announced that the government is opening parts of the economy carefully and stated that non-essential shops will be allowed to open from Monday 15 June.
- Sharma said that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has provided guidance that will allow shops to open safely.
- Shops will have to follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines and complete a coronavirus risk assessment before opening.
- Sharma stated that shops should display a notice stating that they have completed a risk assessment and if shops open without taking these measures they could be subjected to enforcement measures.
- Sharma added that pubs, restaurants, barbers, and hairdressers will get further guidance on when they can open in due course.
- Sharma announced that the government is still meeting its five tests and that the reproduction number is below 1.
- After the COVID-19 crisis the government aims to build an economy that is “greener, fairer and more dynamic”. Sharma stated that he will chair five roundtables that will look at this project.
- As of 9 am 9 June, there have been 5,870,506 tests, with 102,930 tests on 8 June. 289,140 people have tested positive. As of 5 pm on 8 June, of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 40,883 have sadly died, an increase of 286 fatalities.
8th June 2020
- Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, announced today that all adult care homes can now order COVID-19 testing. He insisted that it is safe for people to send their loved ones into care homes as it is “clear the epidemic in care homes is coming under control”.
- Hancock also announced a new National COVID-19 Social Care Support Taskforce that will be chaired by David Pearson. He said that this task force would align the actions of central and local government with care providers. The task force will also focus on stopping infection while ensuring the well-being of all those who receive care and support.
- On being asked if there was a required mortality rate for the government to reopen the economy, Hancock said that though it was “simplistic” to say that there was “trade-off” between the economy and health, it wasn’t the case. He added that if the spread of the virus wasn’t controlled, the economy would further suffer.
- Hancock stated that looking at all the models, though the “scientists’ conclusion is that the R rate is below one in all parts of the country”, it is kept under “constant review”.
- In the UK, 287,399 people (1,205 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 40,597 died, an increase of 55 fatalities.
5th June 2020
- Health Secretary Matt Hancock stated that as the NHS reopens across the country, it’s critical to stop the spread among staff, patients, and visitors.
- Hancock announced that all hospital visitors and outpatients will need to wear face coverings from 15 June.
- The Health Secretary stated that all hospital staff will be required to wear Type 1 or 2 surgical masks at all times, except in areas of hospitals designated as covid-secure.
- Hancock urged people to avoid large gatherings, including demonstrations, of more than six people this weekend.
- As of 9 am on 5 June, there have been 5,214,277 tests, with 207,231 tests on 4 June. 283,311 people have tested positive. As of 5 PM on 4 June, of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 40,261 have sadly died, an increase of 357 fatalities.
4th June 2020
- Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced that as of Monday 15 June face coverings will become mandatory on public transport in England.
- Shapps confirmed that the next easing of restrictions will occur in England on Monday 15 June.
- The Transport Secretary gave more details on plans to make non-medical face coverings on public transport mandatory, stating that there will be exemptions for young children and that those who do not comply can be stopped from travelling and passengers can be fined.
- Shapps confirmed that the next easing of restrictions will occur in England on Monday 15 June.
- On cycling, Shapps said that the government has seen an 100% increase in weekday cycling and outlined the £50 “fix your bike” voucher that will be introduced later this month.
- As of 9 AM on 4 June, there have been 5,005,565 tests, with 220,057 tests as of 4 June. 281,161 have tested positive. As of 5PM on 4 June of those tested positive for coronavirus in the UK, across all settings, 39,904 have now died, an increase of 176 fatalities.
3rd June 2020
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke about the test and trace system adding that it is “vital” to efforts to control the virus now that the pandemic is past its peak.
- Johnson spoke of the plans to ask anyone arriving in the UK to self-isolate for 14 days, saying that the measures are tough and necessary and will be reviewed.
- The Prime Minister added that “air bridges” will be considered with countries that have low transmission rates, but stressed that this would only be done when it is safe to do so.
- Johnson spoke of global efforts to find a vaccine for COVID-19 and highlighted that he is chairing a summit of the Gavi international vaccine alliance on Thursday, alongside Bill Gates.
- Sir Patrick Vallance, chief scientific adviser, said that there is a steady downward detection of new cases.
- As of 9 AM on 3 June, there have been 4,786,219 tests, with 171,829 tests on 2 June. 279,856 people have tested positive. As of 5 PM on 2 June, of those tested positive for coronavirus in the UK, across all settings, 39,728 people have now died, an increase of 359 fatalities.
2nd June 2020
- Health Secretary Matt Hancock spoke about today’s report on coronavirus risk factors, which confirmed that those from the black, asian and minority ethnic communities have been hit harder.
- Hancock made reference to the current situation in the US and stated that “Black lives matter” before paying tribute to health workers that are from ethnic minorities.
- The Health Secretary said that the government is determined to find out why some groups are more at risk from coronavirus and stated that Kemi Badenoch, the junior equalities minister will be in charge of the review into this specific issue.
- On coronavirus cases, Hancock stated that “The trend is broadly down but there is still some way to go.”
- As of 9am on 2 June, there have been 4,615,146 tests, with 135,643 tests on 1 June. 277,985 people have tested positive for coronavirus. As of 5pm on 1 June, of those tested positive for coronavirus in the UK, 39,369 have died. This new figure includes deaths in all settings, not just in hospitals.
1st June 2020
- Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said that the government can now carry out 206,444 COVID-19 tests per day. Since the start of the pandemic, 4,484,340 tests have been carried out in the UK.
- Since the beginning of the test-and-trace programme last week, Hancock said that a “high number” of those who tested positive had been contacted. Prof. John Newton, the national coordinator of the testing effort, said that the programme has been working well and the figures will be available soon. He added that some people do not need contact tracing, e.g., they might be in a care home.
- Hancock announced that dentistry services would resume next week.
- Hancock said that the joint Biosecurity Centre is being set up at the moment.
- On being asked on the likeliness of the government imposing blanket lockdown measures if the R (reproduction rate) goes up, Hancock said that the government is moving to a targeted approach. However, if needed, they will impose blanket measures.
- On being asked about the possibility of a local lockdown, Hancock said that local action is “an incredibly important part of the tool kit” to try and prevent a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. He added that local public health officials would be working closely with the government, Public Health England and the Joint Biosecurity Centre to decide on further measures.
- In the UK, 276,332 people (1,570 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 39,045 died, an increase of 111 fatalities since yesterday.
31st May 2020
- Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary, Robert Jenrick, gave an update today on the clinically vulnerable and clinically extremely vulnerable and on rough sleeping.
- Update on the clinically vulnerable:
- At the start of the pandemic, clinically vulnerable people were asked to shield until 30 June. These people are not only older people; half of these are under 70, including 90,000 children.
- The government has delivered 2.5 million free food (including medicine) boxes.
- Over 350,000 who are shielding have registered for some support from the government
- The next review of shielding measures in England will be in the week commencing 15 June; Officials will be considering the next steps “more generally” on 30 June
- NHS will be writing to those shielding with further updates
- Those shielding in England could take “initial steps to safely spend time outdoors.”
- Rough sleeping:
- 90% of the rough sleepers were offered accommodation during COVID-19; Councils in England were provided funding by the government to provide this accommodation
- The government will make 6,000 new homes available for rough sleepers, and 3,300 of these will be available in the next 12 months.
- The government has also allocated £433million to fast track this accommodation and £160million of this will be spent this year
- Dr Jenny Harries, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, said that car use is “picking up” and reminded people to travel in cars only with those from their household. She added that the number of COVID-19 cases is coming down and that only 9% of ventilator beds are currently being occupied across the UK.
- On being asked about how does one know if a track and trace call is genuine, Dr Harries said that there is a lot of confidentiality and so, it will be unlikely that someone will ulterior motives will contact individuals. She added that as the callers are professionally trained individuals, it will be apparent that they are genuine.
- Jenrick said that though we are still at level 4, we are transitioning to level 3 and the eased lockdown measures are “modest” and “entirely consistent” with the guidance
- In the UK, 274,762 people (1,936 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 38,489 died, an increase of 113 fatalities since yesterday.
30th May 2020
- DCMS Secretary, Oliver Dowden announced that the government has published guidance allowing competitive sport to resume behind closed doors from 1 June at the earliest.
- Dowden added that Football, tennis, horse racing, Formula One, cricket, golf, rugby, snooker and others are all set to return to TV screens in the near future. Dowden confirmed that live Premier League football will be on the BBC for the first time in its history.
- Dowden stated that the guidance outlines measures that need to be in place for a sporting event to go ahead safely.
- In regard to exercise, Dowden announced that from Monday, people will be able to exercise with up to five others from different households, so long as they remain two metres apart.
- Prof Jonathan Van Tam, the deputy chief medical officer for England, stated that despite the increase in positive cases in the last few days, the seven-day rolling average still displays a clear downward trend.
- Prof Van Tam added that there is a continued decline in deaths following a COVID-19 positive test.
- In the 24-hour period up to 9 am on Saturday, 127,722 tests were carried out or dispatched with 2,445 positive results. Of those tested positive, across all settings, 38,376 people have now died, an increase of 215 fatalities since yesterday. Overall, a total of 4,171,408 tests have been carried out and 272,826 cases have been confirmed positive.
29th May 2020
- Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the listed changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furloughing scheme) from August to October 2020 and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS. More information available here.
- Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furloughing scheme):
- 1 million businesses have availed the scheme, and 8 million jobs were supported by it
- June and July: No changes to the scheme, i.e. the government will pay 80% of the wages up to £2,500 with no employer contribution
- July: Starting 1 July, Flexible Furlough commences, i.e. employers will be able to bring furloughed employees back part-time. Employers will have maximum flexibility with no central definition of part-time hours
- August: The government would still pay 80% of the wages up to £2,500, but employers will have to pay the National Insurance and Pension contributions
- September: Of the 80% of the employee wages up to £2,500, the government would pay 70% (up to £2,187.50) and employers 10% along with NI and pension contributions
- October: Of the 80% of the employee wages up to £2,500, the government would pay 60% (up to £1,875) and employers 20% along with NI and pension contributions.
- The scheme will end on 31 October 2020
- The scheme will close to new entrants by 30 June and employers wanting to place new employees on the scheme will need to do so by 10 June
- Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS):
- This scheme will be extended with applications opening in August for a second and final grant
- It will be paid in a one-off instalment covering the average of three months of trading profits
- The second final grant would be 70% up to £6,570
- 2.6 million people have availed this scheme, and £6.8billion has been paid out in claims
- Further guidance on the second grant will be published on 12 June 2020
- Prof Stephen Powis, NHS England’s medical director, said that according to an Office for National Statistics survey, 39% of working adults are working from home. The survey further stated that 98% of adults said they have tried to stay at least two metres away from others while outside and 29% of adults are using a face covering when outside their home.
- In the UK, 271,222 people (2,095 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 38,161 died, an increase of 324 fatalities since yesterday.
28th May 2020
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that as the five tests laid out by the government have been met, the lockdown measures will be eased further in England. These include:
- From 1 June, reopening nurseries, early years, reception, year 1 and year 6
- From 15 June, year 10 and 12 will get some face time with teachers
- From 1 June, outdoor retail and car showrooms will reopen
- From 15 June, reopening of other non-essential retail only if the five tests are being continued to be met and shops have been made ‘COVID-19 secure’
- Social contact:
- From 1 June, up to six people from different households can meet outside and in private outdoor settings/gardens subject to following social distancing rules, i.e., staying 2-metres apart.
- People should not be inside the homes of their friends and families unless it is to access the garden.
- People should also not stay overnight at any other household.
- Johnson said that different parts of the UK at moving at different speeds. Due to these “local outbreaks”, “where necessary” in the future, the government could impose local lockdowns.
- Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, said that the R (reproduction rate) is now between 0.7 and 0.9. He added that the number of new infections is estimated to be roughly 1 in 1,000 per week and that there is still a significant burden of infection. This means that things still need to be “done cautiously and monitored, and the test and trace system needs to be effective to manage it.” He added that an estimated 6.78% of people had COVID-19 in the country.
- Sir Vallance said that the number of new cases appears to be closer to 8,000 per day, but that’s not the full number. The NHS app and test-and-track programme would help close this gap and get people to isolate faster.
- On being asked about the reason for the UK listing only three symptoms instead of others, Prof Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer, said that there are several symptoms of COVID-19 but these three symptoms – “fever, new cough and a loss of smell / taste” – are the most specific and almost 95% of people with symptoms mentioned that they experienced at least one of these three.
- In the UK, 269,127 people (1,887 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 37,837 died, an increase of 377 fatalities since yesterday.
27th May 2020
- Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, launched the NHS test-and-trace system. It will start tomorrow at 9 AM in England. He further announced that “we have passed the peak and the curve has flattened”.
NHS test-and-track programme:
- The first people to be contacted will be those who tested positive today
- If one receive a call from a contact tracer saying that they need to isolate, whether they have symptoms or not, they need to do so.
- If one is a contact of somebody who’s tested positive and they are instructed to isolate, their household members do not have to isolate – they can carry on under the normal guidelines. The contacted individual can isolate at home.
- It is voluntary for now but will be made mandatory if needed.
- Baroness Harding, Executive Chair of NHS Test and Trace outlined the programme further:
- If you have any COVID-19 symptoms, then you must self-isolate immediately for 14 days
- You should then book a test on nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119 and in the meanwhile, not leave home for any reason
- If you test positive, the test-and-trace team will contact you within 24 hours
- NHS test-and-trace would help you establish who you might have infected and gather their contact details,. This could be someone you’ve been in contact with for more than 15 minutes or in your own household.
- If you’ve been in contact with an infected person, NHS test-and-trace will instruct you to self-isolate, even if you don’t show any symptoms.
- Hancock announced the government will focus on local action to tackle flare-ups as the country gradually moves away from a blanket lockdown. On being asked about the authorities that will identify areas that need to be locked down locally, Baroness Harding said that local authorities will be responsible for local flare-ups. She added that these efforts need to be “locally led and nationally supported”.
- Hancock announced that the testing eligibility has been extended to under-fives from tomorrow.
- In the UK, 267,240 people (2,013 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 37,460 died, an increase of 412 fatalities since yesterday.
26th May 2020
- Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, announced today that the government had signed contracts with domestic suppliers to manufacture 2 billion of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The government has also signed global contracts with 100 new suppliers to procure 3.7 billion gloves.
- Hancock announced a new trial, for select NHS patients, of Remdesivir, a drug that is known to shorten recovery from COVID-19 by four days.
- Hancock announced that the government would review penalty fines imposed on families travelling for childcare purposes.
- Prof John Newton, the coordinator of the national testing effort, said that the Office of National Statistics reported that up to 15 May, a total of 45,231 deaths registered in the UK mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate (includes suspected cases and those without a positive test). Until 15 May, according to the Department of Health and Social Care, the number of COVID-19 deaths stood at 33,998 (albeit confirmed with a positive test).
- On being asked about a fear of a second wave of COVID-19 deaths as tourists start visiting areas such as the Lake District, Hancock confirmed that in the future, the government would impose “local lockdowns where there are flare-ups”. Prof Newton said that “different areas will have different considerations”.
- On being asked about the importance of obeying contact tracers, Hancock said the test-and-trace programme is “incredibly important”, and those with symptoms have a “civil duty” to self-isolate. Prof Newton added that the test-and-trace programme would “allow us to control the virus”, but it needs to be followed along with social distancing measures and basic hygiene.
- The government continued to defend Dominic Cummings’ travel from London to Durham during the lockdown.
- In the UK, 265, 227 people (2,004 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 37,048 died, an increase of 134 (lowest since six weeks) fatalities since yesterday. Yesterday, in Northern Ireland, there were no deaths from COVID-19.
25th May 2020
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson begun this evening’s briefing by stating that he is giving people notice of the changes he plans to make as we move into the next phase of lifting the lockdown.
- From 1 June the government intends for outdoor markets and car showrooms to open.
- From 15 June the government intends to allow all other non-essential retail to open.
- Johnson added that this will only be permitted for premises that are “COVID-secure.”
- Alongside this announcement, Johnson stated that the government is today publishing new guidance for the retail sector detailing measures they should take regarding social distancing and hygiene standards.
- Prof Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director of Public Health England, said that the R value is between 0.7 and 1.
- Prof Doyle added that daily hospital admissions are now down considerably and the number of people on ventilators in ICUs is also in decline.
- Earlier today, in a statement, the Prime Minister’s chief aide, Dominic Cummings gave a statement in response to accusations that he broke the lockdown.
- Cummings defended his journey to stay at his family’s property near Durham.
- Cummings said that he took the journey with his wife, who was showing COVID-19 symptoms and his son to allow his wider family to help with childcare.
- During the conference, Cummings admitted that he had not consulted with Johnson on his decision to make the journey and said it was “up to the prime minister” whether he should stay in his job.
- As of 9 AM on 25 May, there have been 3,532,634 tests, with 73,726 tests on 24 May. 261,184 people have tested positive. As of 5 PM on 24 May, of those tested positive 36,914 have died in all settings, an increase of 121 fatalities.
24th May 2020
- Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced that schools (early years, reception, year 1 and year 6) would open on 1 June. From 15 June, years 10 and 12 will also reopen. He added that the government acknowledged that “full social distancing” might not be possible at all times, especially when teaching young kids. The government’s guidelines for schools include staggered breaks, reducing class sizes, increasing the frequency of cleaning and reducing the use of shared items. Testing will be available for all with symptoms and above the age of five.
- The government will set out guidelines later this week for moving to Step 2 for other areas of the economy, such as non-essential retail.
- Prof Stephen Powis, National Medical Director for NHS England, said that the number of COVID-19 related deaths saw “a steady but sustained decline” and this suggested that the transmission of the virus is successfully reducing in the community.
- Johnson said that his chief aide, Dominic Cummings, followed the “instincts of every father and every parent and that he does not “mark him down for that”. Johnson added that Cummings acted “responsibly, legally and with integrity” by travelling from London to Durham to ensure that his child got the right childcare as “both he and his wife were about to be incapacitated”. He stated that and that “some” of the accusations made against Cummings were “palpably false”.
- In the UK, 259,559 people (2,409 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 36,793 died, an increase of 118 fatalities since yesterday.
23rd May 2020
- Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, announced new funding of £283million to get public transport “moving back to a full timetable”.
- Shapps announced that plans to reverse the Beeching cuts are underway.
- England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jenny Harries said that the number of COVID-19-related deaths across the UK is falling.
- On being asked by the media about Dominic Cummings’ 260-mile trip to Durham, Shapps said that the important thing is that “everyone remains in the same place while they are in lockdown”. However, as the welfare of Cummings’ four-year-old child was the “important thing”, Shapps added that Cummings “went to where the family was” and “didn’t move around”. Dr Harries said that the “key public health message is if you have symptoms, self-isolate immediately and stay in your homes”. She added that it was important those who are unwell “take themselves out of society immediately”.
- On being asked about the steps taken by the government to protect front line transport workers especially from the BAME communities, Shapps said that he has written to transport operators to ensure they are aware of the correct equipment and procedures required for the next phase of response to COVID-19. Shapps also confirmed that 53 transport workers died due to COVID-19.
- In the UK, 257, 154 people (2,959 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 36,675 died, an increase of 282 fatalities since yesterday.
22nd May 2020
- Home Secretary, Priti Patel, announced that new measures will be introduced at the UK border to guard against a second wave of infections.
- Patel highlighted that anyone entering the UK, from 8th June, will have to self-isolate for 14 days, stating that with the infection rate in the UK falling, imported cases could pose a “larger threat” going forward.
- Arrivals from the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man will be exempt from the above measures. Medical professionals helping to treat the virus are also excluded.
- Patel stated that anyone breaching the rules will be liable for a £1,000 fine or face potential prosecution.
- Public health authorities will conduct random checks to ensure compliance with the rules, with individuals potentially being contacted on a regular basis.
- Paul Lincoln, director general of the Border Force highlighted his organisations efforts to tackle criminal activity during COVID-19.
- Lincoln highlighted how Border Force officers have intercepted counterfeit face masks and COVID-19 tests, as well as seizing drug shipments.
- Sir Patrick Vallance, chief scientific adviser, stated how the R rate is currently between 0.7 and 1. Vallance added that the epidemic is either “flat or declining”.
- Vallance added that the number of new infections is about 61,000 per week, roughly one in 1,000 people.
- As of 9 AM on 22nd May, there have been 3,231,921 tests, with 140,497 tests on 21 May. 2,144,626 people have been tested of which 254,195 tested positive. As of 5 PM on 21 May, of those tested positive for coronavirus across all settings, 36,393 have sadly died an increase of 351 new fatalities since yesterday.
21st May 2020
- Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, announced additional funding of £4.2 million for mental health charities.
- Hancock announced two new COVID-19-related tests:
- Swab tests: New swab tests which inform an individual if they have COVID-19 are being trialled on a smaller scale. Hancock said that the scale of the trial will help “monitor its effectiveness” and if it works, the government will roll it out as soon as they can. This test will give results in as quickly as 20 minutes, rather than 24 to 48 hours.
- Anti-body tests: The UK Government has signed contracts with Roche and Abbott to procure 10 million tests that will be available gradually starting next week and extending in the coming months. These tests inform an individual if they have had coronavirus. Hancock cautioned that the government is “not yet” in a position to confirm that those who test positive in these tests are “immune from coronavirus”. He added that a sample survey result suggests that around 17% of people in London and 5% or higher across the rest of the country may have had COVID-19.
- Prof. Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer, said that an Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey monitoring people that have had COVID-19 estimated that around 137,000 people (0.25% of the population) in the community had COVID-19 between 4-17 May. He added that deaths in the UK are “steadily decreasing”.
- On being asked if, between August and October, the government could consider the extension of fully paying for the furlough scheme as social distancing rules will impact businesses, especially those in the hospitality industry, Hancock said that this scheme was “one of the most generous in the world”, but he understands the concern and would talk to the Chancellor about it.
- In the UK, 250,908 people (2,615 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 36,042 died, an increase of 338 fatalities since yesterday.
20th May 2020
- DCMS Secretary, Oliver Dowden, announced that he is setting up a new taskforce to help sports, arts and tech “bounce back”. He said that television units are safely returning to work.
- Dowden said that through the government’s commitment to match the funds raised from the BBC’s Big Night In, £70million would be distributed by Comic Relief, Children in Need and the National Emergencies Trust to front line charities. He added that the applications for financial support for small-and-medium-sized charities would open this week.
- He also announced that £150million from dormant bank accounts would be used to support social enterprises affected by the pandemic.
- Dowden announced that Her Majesty’s birthday honours list would be delayed to autumn to recognise pandemic heroes. He also congratulated Capt. Tom Moore on being awarded a knighthood.
- Prof. Stephen Powis, medical director of NHS England, said that for the “first time since March” fewer than 10,000 people were in hospitals with coronavirus.
- Dowden said that the UK is “standing by our commitments” by spending 0.7% of the country’s income on aid to developing countries through the pandemic.
- The DCMS Secretary said the BBC’s decision to extend free TV licenses to over-75s until August was the right one. He added that he hopes that the BBC will rethink of extending it further if we were in the same situation post-August.
- Prof. Powis said SAGE has always kept the 2-metre social distancing rule under review, and would continue to do so.
- On being asked if the government will be asking the 3 PM Saturday football matches to be available free-to-air for all channels, Dowden said that the existing rights of broadcasters would have to be respected. He added that there could be “flexibility” as these are not broadcast on Saturday afternoons when people, in normal circumstances, would be watching it in the stadium. So there could be an “opportunity” for some Premier League matches to be “free-to-air”.
- In the UK, 248,293 people (2,472 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 35,704 died, an increase of 363 fatalities since yesterday.
19th May 2020
- Environment Secretary, George Eustice, announced a new ‘Pick for Britain’ campaign. He encouraged Britons, especially those who have been furloughed, to register their interest in picking jobs via the campaign’s website. He said that only a third of migrant workers could be here for the picking season.
- Prof Dame Angela McLean, Deputy Chief Scientific Adviser, said that the UK would like to emulate South Korea’s use of contract tracing to bring down the numbers and also learn from Germany’s record on testing.
- On being asked if the government will extend the payment holidays on mortgages and loans for people who lose work, especially from the aviation and hospitality industries, Eustice said that the government has laid out “unprecedented” measures for businesses including grants and the furlough scheme. He added that the Chancellor is “thinking very carefully” about how these schemes could evolve.
- On being asked if in the Brexit talks, what would the government prioritise higher – the financial sector or the fishing industry – Eustice said that the government’s priority is to become an “independent, self-governing country again with our own laws, control of our waters, setting our own fishing policies” and that best serve the economic interests by “taking back control”. He highlights that the “sticking points” in the negotiations – EU seem to be insisting that the UK abide by its law despite having left the union and that the UK should give the EU unlimited access to its waters – are both wrong. As a result, the UK has had to take its current stance.
- On being asked if the government will cover the costs for councils due to loss of earnings, Eustice said that the government recognises the “new burdens” on local authorities due to the pandemic and has pledged £3.2billion to help them cope along with £600million specifically to support care homes. He added that councils should have emergency funds set aside for “events of this sort”.
- In the UK, 248, 818 people (2,412 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19, and of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 35,341 died, an increase of 545 fatalities since yesterday.
18th May 2020
- Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, confirmed that the alert level remains at four and the government wants to push it down to three.
- On being asked for the government’s timeline to publish a plan to restore the economic “wellbeing” of the country “beyond the pandemic”, Raab said that a “conditional roadmap” has already been published. He added that this “conditional roadmap” includes reopening of schools on 1 June and some shops from 4 July but it will only happen “based on the scientific advice”.
- Prof Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer for England, said that there is a “definite and sustained decline in new confirmed cases”. He added that according to data from Apple Maps direction requests, there had been a “gradual upward trend in searches” for walking and driving directions, but public transport search levels are “flat”.
- Prof Van-Tam said that health officials thought very carefully about adding anosmia (the loss of smell) to the official list of coronavirus symptoms. He said that it does not often occur early in the illness, and it “very rarely” the sole symptom. Public Health England found that 0.44% of people reported anosmia, on its own, as a symptom. The updated list of coronavirus-related symptoms is here.
- On being asked if China was being “let off the hook” from the WHO’s review (it does not mention any country specifically) into the International Committee’s response to the pandemic and if the UK, like Australia, wanted an independent inquiry, Raab said that he wants this review to “command the strongest support” and for it to be “credible, impartial and independent”. He added that he wanted this review to get to the “bottom of how the outbreak happened and spread” and to learn lessons for future pandemics.
- Raab asked people travelling between the four UK nations to be 'very mindful' of different rules.
- As of 9 AM on 18 May, in the UK, 246, 406 people (2,684 new cases) tested positive for COVID-19. As of 5 PM on 17 May, of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 34, 796 died, an increase of 160 fatalities. The number of people in hospitals has fallen 13% from last week to 9,408.
- Earlier today in Parliament, Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, announced that anyone over the age of five with COVID-19 symptoms is now eligible to be tested.
17th May 2020
- 91,206 tests for coronavirus were carried out yesterday. 243,303 have tested positive, an increase of 3,142 since yesterday. 34,636 have died after contracting COVID-19, an increase of 170 fatalities since yesterday. 10,035 people are in hospital with COVID-19, down 15% from 11,817 from this time last week. Due to technical issues today’s numbers do not include Northern Ireland cases.
- Business Secretary Alok Sharma started the press conference by going through the alert system, as set out by the Prime Minister last Sunday.
- Sharma provided an update on the vaccine task force that was announced last month, stating that the first clinical trial of the Oxford vaccine is progressing well with all phase one participants receiving their vaccine dose on schedule earlier this week.
- The government has already invested £47m in the Oxford University and Imperial College London vaccine trials, but today Sharma announced a further £84m of funding to help accelerate their work. This money would be used to mass-produce the Oxford vaccine if the trials are successful so that it can be distributed to the UK population straight away.
- Sharma added how the £84m of funding will also help Imperial College London to launch phase three of its vaccine trial later in the year.
- Sharma added that Oxford University has confirmed a global licensing agreement with AstraZeneca, which will make 30 million vaccine doses available to the UK by September if the trials are successful.
- A further £93m will be invested in the Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre at Harwell in Oxfordshire.
- Prof Stephen Powis, national medical director for England, stated that the number of daily confirmed cases is stable, showing that the rate of infection is slowing, but this is reliant on people continuing to abide by the social distancing measures.
- Prof Powis added that the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals throughout all parts of the UK continues to fall. The reduction has been the greatest in London, but the fall is also occurring nationwide.
16th May 2020
- Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said that a lower R (reproduction rate) is a ‘green light’ for some pupils to return to school on 1 June 2020. Though the government will start planning for this return, he added that schools would reopen only when the five tests are met.
- He added that those in Reception, year 1 and year 6 would be allowed to return with smaller class sizes, along with students in years 10 and 12 on a limited basis.
- When schools reopen, he added that strict measures, such as reduced class sizes, keeping children in small groups and ensuring that they stay together in them, ensuring highest levels of hygiene, cleaning and handwashing, will be put in place.
- Williamson said that school staff could already be tested for coronavirus, but from 1 June, testing will be extended to cover school children and their families if any of them develop symptoms. He added that ‘track and trace methods’ would then be used to prevent further spread.
- Dr Jenny Harries, Deputy Chief Medical Officer said that transport use is “consistently low” though there is a slight rise in care use and light goods vehicles use as people begin to go back to work. She added that there is a “slow and steady” downward trend in hospital admissions with COVID-19 across the UK and that the seven-day rolling average for daily deaths is also coming down.
- Though the latest estimated R-value has risen from between 0.5 and 0.9 to between 0.7 and 1.0, Dr Harries said that it might not hinder reopening schools as the R is derived across various settings. She added that “we know now that children rarely get as ill as the older population with COVID-19. Evidence is still growing, but there is some to show that there they’re less likely to pass it on”.
- Williamson said that “a key element” to reopening schools is “minimising contact” – therefore the maximum class size of 15. He cited the success of schools reopening in Denmark. Dr Harries said that the aim is to increase the level of interaction but have it contained. She added that desks could be distanced apart instead of being placed ‘face-to-face’ and that it was unlikely that a child would catch coronavirus off another just by running past them.
- In the UK, 78, 537 tested positive for COVID-19 and 34, 466 died, an increase of 468 fatalities since yesterday across all settings.
15th May 2020
- As of 9 AM on 15th May, there have been 2,353,078 tests, with 133,784 tests on 14 May. 1,663,492 people have been tested, of which 236,711 tested positive. As of 5 PM on 14 May, of those tested positive for coronavirus in the UK, 33,998 have died, an increase of 384.
- The Health Secretary Matt Hancock began the conference by recapping the government’s new COVID-19 alert system, as set out by the Prime Minister on Sunday.
- Hancock says there has been a “huge need to protect people in care homes” and that all residents and staff, with and without symptoms, will have been tested in England by early June.
- Hancock added that £600m has been made available this week to care homes to help control the infection. The Health Secretary added that as a result of the effort on helping care homes, two-thirds of care homes in England now have no outbreak at all.
- The Health Secretary added that we have now passed the peak of the virus.
- Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer for primary care in England, said that the current R rate is between 0.7 and 1.0. If R is above 1.0 the number of people infected will grow. However, Harries added that a reduction in the number of cases is important adding that “That is our focus, not R”.
- Harries stated that 10,731 people are in hospital with COVID-19, down from 12,298 this time last week.