Coronavirus live blog as it happened: latest as 405,000 volunteers sign up to help NHS
Follow the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak in our live blog below
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We will be providing live updates until 7pm this evening.
Coronavirus live blog, March 25
Last updated: Wednesday, 25 March, 2020, 19:05
- Global cases exceed 400,000 as deaths approach 20,000
- WHO warns that the pandemic is "accelerating", and the US could become the next hotspot
- Parliament expected to adjourn early for Easter once emergency coronavirus legislation has been approved
Snowdonia to close access to mountains
Snowdonia National Park will close the area's busiest mountains following unprecedented visitor numbers last weekend.
The Snowdonia National Park Authority said it was working with Gwynedd Council, with the help of emergency Welsh Government legislation, to bring in the measures, which will mean no parking or access to popular sites including Snowdon, Ogwen and Cadair Idris.
Emyr Williams, chief executive of Snowdonia National Park said: "We encourage local people who live within and close to the boundaries of the national park to continue to exercise from their doorstep.
"We ask those people to visit our website or email for more information.
"For those who do not live within walking distance our message is clear - do not visit the national park until the Government's guidelines to avoid unnecessary travel has been lifted.
"There will be no parking and the mountains will be closed - respect the Government guidance - stay at home to stay safe."
PM speaking now
The Prime Minister is speaking to the public now. He is joined by Professo Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance.
405,000 volunteers for the NHS
The PM begins by saying: "Our NHS has only limited number of doctors nurses and specialist equipment.
"It’s vital to delay the spread of the virus." he says, before underlining "People must stay at home."
"With your help we will slow the spread of the disease. "
He finishes by offering a thank you to everyone following the rules, the NHS and other public services.
He also states that 405,000 volunteers have come forward offering help to the NHS a day after Matt Hancock announced a volunteer scheme.
Chief Medical Officer: 'Worse thing than no test is a bad test'
Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance are now discussing testing.
Chris Whitty says that the country have a good supply of antigen testing used on people being treated in hospital are in good supply.
He says next we want to test NHS professionals and those self-isolating saying that everbody wants this but there is a global shortage.
Sir Patrick Vallance underlines "Testing is crucial." and says the antibody test will allow us to know who has had the disease asymptomaticaly.
Chris Whitty says delays in testing are partly because the only "worse thing than no test is a bad test".
He says: "The delay is worth it" as telling someone they don't have it when they do have it is problematic.
Italy death toll has slight fall in cases
Italy has recorded another 683 deaths in the past 24 hours, plus an increase of 5,210 cases.
The country's death toll now stands at 7,503
Sir Patrick: 'We don't know infection rate yet'
Sir Patrick Vallance is asked by the PM about an Oxford University study which said as many a 50% of the public had been exposed to the virus.
The chief scientific adviser said he doesn't yet know which is why testing is vital.
PM: Country is coping very well in challenging circumstances
The Prime Minister said the country is coping "very well" in the face of the "most challenging circumstances".
Replying to a question about how well the country was coping, Mr Johnson said that "never in our history has the Goverment put its arms around people in the way we are doing now to help them get through this time".
He added that a tailored package of support would be announced on Thursday to help self-employed people.
The PM said: "I do think when you look at the sheer scale of what the Government is doing to get this country through, we will cope and are coping very well indeed under the most challenging possible circumstances.
"To come out of it well together as I know we can, we all need to follow the instructions the Government have given and to stay at home, protect the NHS and that's the way to save lives."
250,000 tests a day 'soon'
The PM said the Government was "massively ramping up our testing programmes" and hoped to be conducting 250,000 tests a day "very soon".
Prof Whitty said there were shortages along many supply chains in the production of tests because "every country in the world is simultaneously wanting this new thing".
He added: "It's not that there is no testing going on, what we need, clearly, is to be able to scale it up."
UK has tested more countries than most other European countries
Mr Johnson said the UK had tested more people than most other European countries.
Prof Whitty also said he did not think people would be able to order tests on the internet next week.
Punishment for those who profiteer
Mr Johnson said the Government would look at legal ways of rallying against those profiteering by hiking up online prices while the country is in lockdown.
He said: "I dislike it very much and I do not want to see people profiteering, exploiting people's need at a critical time, in a national emergency.
"We are indeed looking very carefully at what is going on.
"The Competition and Markets Authority already has various powers that it may use but are looking at the legislative framework to see what it may be necessary to do to prevent profiteering just as happened in war time many years ago."
PM pressured on help for self-employed
The PM says that he government has “moved with extraordinary speed to support and prop up the whole of the economy of this country, putting our arms around workers of all kinds to the best extent we possibly can”.
He says it was "easy" to help employees of companies, but setting up a package for the self-employed was rather more "tricky".
He reminds that the Chancellor will announce measures tomorrow.
Press conference finished
The Prime Minister has finished his daily press briefing.
Sorry for delays in relaying those responses. Technical issues are rather more prominent when working from home!
NHS ability to cope with coronavirus will be a ‘close-run-thing’
The ability of the NHS to cope with the ongoing coronavirus crisis will be a “close-run-thing”, England’s chief medical officer has said.
Professor Chris Whitty has urged the public to follow the strict lockdown measures from the government that have been designed to slow the spread of the virus.
Following the issued guidelines will help to give the NHS the best possible chance of coping with the number of cases, without overwhelming critical care capacity.
Professor Whitty said: “Because of the actions that people are taking, and provided everybody continues to keep the social distancing measures - which are very difficult, in terms of staying within households, only doing absolutely essential things apart from exercise - that will help to pull down the demand a very long way.
"That is how the general public are helping to protect the NHS."
Government will defend anyone who refuses to go to work having been told to shield
The government will defend anyone who refuses to go to work having been told to shield, communities Minister Simon Clarke has said.
Speaking in the Commons, Mr Clarke said: “I can confirm that none of those individuals ought to be going to work at this time and I think the Government would stand with anybody who refused to go to work owing to the fact that they need to be shielded - and we will stand up for them if any employer is frankly so foolish as to try and press that point."
Mr Clarke also confirmed that the £1.8 billion grant for business rates relief measures will be with every local authority this week.
He added: "We know that immediate pressures require immediate cash and so we can now confirm that this funding will be with every local authority in their bank account by Friday."
WHO urges countries on lockdown to ‘find, isolate, test, treat and trace’ cases
Coronavirus has been described as “public enemy number one” by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The global health body has urged countries that are currently on lockdown to take measures to “find, isolate, test, treat and trace” cases, after 16,000 deaths have been recorded so far.
WHO’s director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said if countries do not take such measures, there could be a resurgence of the virus once lockdowns are lifted.
Dr Ghebreyesus said: "Aggressive measures to find, isolate, test, treat and trace are not only the best and fastest way out of extreme social and economic restrictions - they're also the best way to prevent them."