Coronavirus in UK live blog: latest as PM said to be 'cautious' about easing lockdown for fear of second infection wave

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Monday, 20th April 2020, 7:43 am
Updated Monday, 20th April 2020, 7:44 am

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A piece of coronavirus COVID-19 themed street art graffiti is pictured in East London during the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic (Photo: GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

Coronavirus live blog, April 20

Last updated: Monday, 20 April, 2020, 16:26

Coronavirus job retention scheme 'won't help everyone who might need help'

"I'm afraid it is the case that this scheme won't help everyone who might possibly need help," Jim Harra, chief executive of HM Revenue & Customs said when asked about people who would miss out from benefiting under the coronavirus job retention scheme.

"The scheme is the way it is," he said. "It's been designed and it's launched today. But there is help available as well as this. So for example, universal credit and tax credits have been made more generous.

"We want to help as many people as we possibly can."

NHS staff getting through approximately 150,000 gowns a day

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, has been speaking further on the widely reported delayed shipment of gowns expected from Turkey.

"We can only guarantee that gowns are going to reach the front line when they actually landed on UK soil," he told BBC Breakfast, "the boxes have actually been opened and checked and they have then been safety tested."

He added that while the 400,000 gowns would be welcome, NHS staff were getting through approximately 150,000 gowns a day.

Mr Hopson emphasised the global shortage of PPE, adding "every single nation on the earth is currently chasing these gowns".

When asked about anxieties over PPE shortages, Mr Hopson said it was "understandable" for staff to be worried and trust leaders will "move heaven and earth" to provide equipment.

Culture Secretary in GMB clash with Piers Morgan

Oliver Dowden has clashed with presents Piers Morgan, as Morgan accused the Government of "grotesquely" underplaying the number of people who have died in the NHS and care homes as a result of coronavirus on Good Morning Britain.

Dowden said Government records showed 43 people had died while working in the NHS and care homes.

Morgan responded by saying Morgan that "it is not, is it?" while showing a double-page Daily Mail spread with the faces of 80 people who are said to have died while treating patients with Covid-19.

Mr Morgan said the figure was "believed to be 7,500", and asked Mr Dowden: "Why are you so grotesquely underestimating the scale of what is going on on the front line?"

Mr Dowden said: "I'm using the most up-to-date figures I have been given, and the figure I was given this morning is the one I quoted to you. Of course there is a time lag with non-hospital figures."

Sir Richard Branson pleads for government help

Sir Richard Branson has said that the survival of Virgin Atlantic is dependent on government intervention.

The Virgin Group boss wrote in a blog post: "Together with the team at Virgin Atlantic, we will do everything we can to keep the airline going - but we will need Government support to achieve that in the face of the severe uncertainty surrounding travel today and not knowing how long the planes will be grounded for.

"This would be in the form of a commercial loan - it wouldn't be free money and the airline would pay it back (as easyJet will do for the £600 million loan the Government recently gave them).

"The reality of this unprecedented crisis is that many airlines around the world need government support and many have already received it.

"Without it there won't be any competition left and hundreds of thousands more jobs will be lost, along with critical connectivity and huge economic value."

Some simple tips on saving money during lockdown

Piers Morgan clashes with Oliver Dowden

Sir Patrick Vallance says there are reasons to be optimistic

Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has said there are reasons to be optimistic about a coronavirus vaccine. 

He urges patience though, saying that this will take time. 

In the Guardian, he wrote: "All new vaccines that come into development are long shots; only some end up being successful, and the whole process requires experimentation. Coronavirus will be no different and presents new challenges for vaccine development. This will take time, and we should be clear it is not a certainty.  

"But there is cause for optimism. With more than 80 vaccine projects across the world, there is an effort the like of which has never been seen before. A vaccine has to work, but it also has to be safe. If a vaccine is to be given to billions of people, many of whom may be at a low risk from Covid-19, it must have a good safety profile."

PM fears second peak

Boris Johnson has told colleagues that he fears a second peak of coronavirus, according to the BBC.

The Prime Minister reportedly spoke to Dominic Raab on Friday to discuss the crisis. 

It is claimed that he said that stopping a second peak was a priority.

Novak Djokovic "opposed" to coronavirus vaccination

Tennis player Novak Djokovic has said he is "opposed" to a coronavirus vaccination. 

Speaking on Facebook live he said: “Personally I am opposed to vaccination and I wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel." 

“But if it becomes compulsory, what will happen? I will have to make a decision.

“I have my own thoughts about the matter and whether those thoughts will change at some point, I don’t know.

“Hypothetically, if the season was to resume in July, August or September, though unlikely, I understand that a vaccine will become a requirement straight after we are out of strict quarantine and there is no vaccine yet.”

Prince Philip praises those tackling the pandemic

The Duke of Edinburgh has made a rare public statement, praising those tackling the coronavirus pandemic across the UK and keeping essential services running.

Philip, 98, who retired from public duties in 2017, said he wanted to recognise the "vital and urgent" medical and scientific work taking place.

In his message, the duke also gave thanks to key workers including those involved in food production and distribution, refuge collection and postal and delivery services.

Philip, in his message published on the royal family's social media channels, said: "As we approach World Immunisation Week, I wanted to recognise the vital and urgent work being done by so many to tackle the pandemic; by those in the medical and scientific professions, at universities and research institutions, all united in working to protect us from Covid-19.

"On behalf of those of us who remain safe and at home, I also wanted to thank all key workers who ensure the infrastructure of our life continues; the staff and volunteers working in food production and distribution, those keeping postal and delivery services going, and those ensuring the rubbish continues to be collected."

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