Coronavirus in UK live blog: latest as UK ministers expected to back three-week lockdown extension

Follow the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak in our live blog below

Thursday, 16th April 2020, 8:05 am
Updated Thursday, 16th April 2020, 8:06 am

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A sign in a bus shelter shows support for the NHS in Penarth, Wales (Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images)
A sign in a bus shelter shows support for the NHS in Penarth, Wales (Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Coronavirus live blog, April 16

Last updated: Thursday, 16 April, 2020, 11:06

Concerns of missed vaccinations due to coronavirus

Dr Doug Brown, the chief executive of the British Society for Immunology, has said he is "concerned" that lockdown measures are causing a decline in the uptake of childhood vaccinations.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Dr Brown said: "It is absolutely key that we do see vaccinations delivered... vaccinations save between 1-2 million lives globally per year.

"We've seen the last four years those uptake rates decline, we've seen an increase in measles cases and we're well below the recommended uptake that the World Health Organisation suggests of 95% and we really can't afford to see these uptake rates slip any further."

Shadow health secretary: three-week extension of lockdown "supported"

As the Government is due to deliver its verdict on whether lockdown measures should continue, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has said the expected three-week extension would be welcomed.

"We would expect the lockdown to continue," he told BBC Breakfast, "we would support that, I actually called for a lockdown before the Government introduced one."

"But we also want more details from the Government about what happens next.

"Last night the junior health minister Nadine Dorries was complaining on Twitter saying that people shouldn't be asking about an exit strategy because there's no exit strategy.

"Well that could be 18 months away so if the Government are saying we're in lockdown for 18 months they probably need to tell us."

Mr Ashworth added: "I think the Government are talking about three weeks and that seems reasonable to me."

He said that he expects the measures to be "reviewed again" after the further three weeks.

Health Secretary: 'This will take time'

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has defended health minister Nadine Dorries's comments that people should stop asking questions about the exit strategy.

Speaking on Sky News, Hancock said: "I think what Nadine was saying is the idea that we'll immediately... we'll just switch off all of the measures and return to some kind of... to things exactly as they were - that is not likely in the short term."

He added: "It is too early to say now that we should remove the measures."

"People can see that whilst we've may be reaching a peak, the numbers aren't coming down yet, and the point that Nadine was making is that we will not be returning to some... just straight back exactly how things were before. This will take time.

"Whilst we have seen a flattening of the number of cases, and thankfully a flattening of the number of deaths, that hasn't started to come down yet, and as far as I'm concerned is still far too high."

Mr Hancock said he did not want to "waste" the efforts of the public by lifting the lockdown measures too early, because coronavirus would "run rampant once again".

Care sector facing a 'tsunami' of coronavirus cases

The care sector is facing a "tsunami wave" of coronavirus cases, according to Robert Kilgour, who owns Renaissance Care, which runs 15 care homes across Scotland

Kilgour - speaking on BBC Breakfast - said 17 residents in four care homes had now died, and called for increased testing for social care staff, adding that action from the Government was "too little, too late"

"It's warm words that are welcome, but we need concrete action and the Government must deliver on this," he said.

"Because we have had a lot of deaths in care homes to date, in Scotland and the UK, and my fear is if we don't get this right, there could be a lot more.

"And really the testing, it is good to say what he has said, but he did add when capacity allows and that's my biggest concern.

"It is a huge task and the care home sector are facing a tsunami at the moment, a tsunami wave."

Coronavirus in over 50% of Barchester Healthcare care homes

As fears that coronavirus could be even more rampant than thought in care homes, the chief executive of Barchester Healthcare has said the virus is now in more than 50% of its homes.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Peter Calveley called Matt Hancock's presentation late yesterday afternoon "very reassuring", but said, "the real problem will be delivering what he's saying."

"Everyone is facing difficulties of supply, everyone is facing the difficulty of implementing the national guidance in a consistent way."

Mr Calveley added: "It is true that supply has been sporadic and patchy".

"Over 50% of our homes are currently affected by either suspected or positive tested clients."

Health Secretary: Government investigating 'each case' of death amongst NHS staff

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has told BBC Breakfast the Government is investigating "each case" of death amongst NHS staff to find out what happened.

"I think we owe that to our colleagues as well who have given their lives in duty and in service," he said.

"Some of my NHS colleagues will have caught coronavirus from patients in the line of duty, others may have it caught it and not been at work.

"In each case, it's important to investigate exactly what the reasons were."

New 'Care' badges have 'practical consequences' - but may cost workers

Speaking on LBC, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has defend the new badge for care workers unveiled at yesterday afternoon's press conference.

Asked whether he knew a badge to recognise carers had been launched before, Hancock said: "Yes, we were picking up the Care England logo and turning it into a national symbol of support for our care workers.

Mr Hancock added that the badge has "practical consequences as well", including care workers being able to attend priority shopping hours at supermarkets.

Questioned on reports that care home providers will have to buy badges for £1.20, Mr Hancock said: "I'm not aware... I'll look into that."

Professor Neil Ferguson: 'Maintain social distancing... until a vaccine is available'

Professor Neil Ferguson -  the professor whose modelling has informed the UK's coronavirus strategy - has become a well-known name during the current crisis.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he's said that the UK "will have to maintain some form of social distancing, a significant level of social distancing, probably indefinitely until we have a vaccine available."

Discussing whether lockdown measures could be eased after another three weeks, Ferguson said: "That will very much depend on quite how quickly case numbers go down.

"It really requires a single-minded emphasis in Government and the health system on scaling up testing and putting in place the ability to track down cases in the community and contact-trace.

"Without that, our estimates show we have relatively little leeway; if we relax measures too much then we'll see a resurgence of transmission."

Asked whether the Government is moving towards having an exit strategy in place, Prof Ferguson said: "I would like to see action accelerated.

"I'm reminded by the fact we had a Department for Brexit for Government - that was a major national emergency, as it were - and we're faced with something which is, at the moment, even larger than Brexit and yet I don't see quite the same evidence for that level of organisation."

Shadow health secretary: Government must provide 'clarity'

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has said greater clarity is needed from the Government, after Nadine Dorries' comments about not being able to fully exit the lockdown until a vaccine is available.

 "If the Government don't provide clarity then people can read things into misleading or badly phrased tweets by junior health ministers," he told Sky News.

Health minister Nadine Dorries: 'I really did not misspeak'

Health minister Nadine Dorries has come under fire this morning - particularly from those seeking clarity from the Government on its plan to relax lockdown measures - after she made comments saying a "full lockdown" would remain in place until a vaccine is developed.

"There is more than one lockdown," she tweeted. "Full, or the introduction of a relaxation/easement strategy - eventually (leading) to a full exit."

Sky News presenter Kay Burley accused Dorries of misspeaking, and said she should admit that she was wrong, to which Ms Dorries added: "I say it as it is. I speak in politics as I do in life. If I need to apologise, I won't hesitate."

"I really did not misspeak."

Lord Hague: 'International investigation' needed to determine coronavirus origins

Former foreign secretary Lord Hague has said it would be "very good to have an international investigation" to determine the origin of coronavirus.

The Conservative peer told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Above all, of course, we need international agreement for the rigorous enforcement of the closure of wildlife markets, of live wildlife markets - that is generally thought to be the origin of this disease."

He said this is an illustration of how the UK "needs to work with China".

"But denouncing China in a nationalistic sense or withdrawing from the World Health Organisation is absolutely not the way to go about this, we are going to need structures, frameworks and international cooperation to solve problems like this from now on."

Health Secretary 'not proposing' to take a pay cut

After New Zealand's prime minister Jacinda Ardern said she and other lawmakers would have a reduced salary for six months, Matt Hancock has said he is not suggesting a pay cut for Government ministers.

Hancock told Good Morning Britain: "Everybody needs to do their bit, and the way I am doing my bit is working every hour God sends."

Pressed on taking a pay cut, he said: "I'm not proposing to do that, but what I am proposing to do is work every hour that there is."

ITV to broadcast thank you from NHS after Clap For Carers

ITV will broadcast a two-minute tribute from doctors, nurses and care staff on the front line thanking people for supporting them and for staying at home during the lockdown.

The short clip will air at 8.02pm tonight, April 16, straight after the weekly Clap For Carers mass round of applause.

NHS staff say "your clapping echoes through every hospital" in the video, which ends with doctors and nurses clapping and saying "this is for you."

Video of Health Secretary quizzed on pay cut

Government orders 15,000 ventilators off the back of ventilator challenge

The first newly-adapted ventilator design from the Government's Ventilator Challenge has received regulatory approval, the Cabinet Office said.

Penlon's Prima ES202 model has been authorised by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for use in hospitals and the Government has confirmed an order has been made for 15,000 of the devices.

The first 40 will be sent to the military logistics hub MoD Donnington today for distribution to the NHS.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said: "The approval of Penlon's device underlines the significant progress being made in the Ventilator Challenge.

"I pay tribute to the incredible ingenuity and commitment of our manufacturing industry, coming together as part of the national effort to protect the NHS and save lives."

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