Coronavirus in Leeds: New '100% accurate' antibody test could be Covid-19 breakthrough

A new test to determine whether people have ever been infected with coronavirus is 100% accurate, public health leaders have said.

Thursday, 14th May 2020, 7:15 am

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously called antibody testing a "game-changer" as it may reveal how many people have had Covid-19 without any symptoms and so may be immune. Follow our daily live blog for the latest.

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Pictured is NHS staff outside Leeds General Infirmary during the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus in Leeds: Friday, May 15

Last updated: Wednesday, 13 May, 2020, 06:21

  • Critics are looking to drive ministers back on their plans to ease parts of the lockdown as the Government faces fresh pressure from council leaders and Labour over its steps to return the country back to a sense of normality.
  • There has been 280 deaths in Leeds

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab suggested people will not be allowed to play football under the relaxed lockdown rules.

He told BBC Breakfast: "No I don't think so because you can't stay two metres apart. "So, we do want people to play more sport and let me give you one example of something you can do. 

"Two people from the same home could go and play tennis, because that's something where they could stay two metres apart from everyone else. "What you couldn't then do, and this is why we say you've got to stay alert, you couldn't then go into the clubhouse and mill around where you will be within two metres of other people. 

"So, football would be one of those where I think would be very difficult to stay two metres apart if you're playing, you know, 11-a-side or even five-a-side."

When will hospitality reopen?

 Asked when pubs and restaurants could reopen, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Sky News: "I just don't think we are ready yet, given where we are with the virus. "There are three steps, there's the modest changes we are announcing which will take effect from Wednesday.

"There's the other changes for things like non-essential retail, and people going back to school, particularly primary school, which won't start until the earliest on June 1 - subject to conditions. 

"And then, starting from July 4 at the very earliest, those are the sectors where - they are just inherently more difficult because people are mixing together and it's difficult to maintain the social distancing - we wouldn't be able to say, based on the advice we get, and the monitoring we do, that we would start them at least until July 4."

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Leeds Abbey Dash cancelled

 Laurie Boult, Fundraising Director at Age UK, said: “We are sorry to announce that due to the current coronavirus pandemic, Age UK has made the tough but necessary decision to cancel the 2020 Leeds Abbey Dash.

“We understand how disappointing this news will be to many of our Dash runners and we have every hope of bringing Leeds Abbey Dash back in 2021. We are so grateful to everyone who has already signed up to run in 2020 for their support of Age UK and older people. All runners who have already signed up will receive an email from Age UK confirming that they are entitled to a refund and we ask for their patience as in the current situation this may take slightly longer than normal to process. 

“This unprecedented health emergency is having a significant impact on older people and demand for Age UK’s vital services has increased rapidly. The Charity is determined to rise to the challenge and be there to provide comfort, hope and essential help and support to those who need it during this crisis. “

Age UK has launched an Emergency Coronavirus £10 million Appeal and is calling on the country to come together to help raise urgent funds so it can be there for older people who desperately need its support during this time. Runners and their supporters can help Age UK keep their Information & Advice and friendship services running and help local Age UKs provide practical essential support in their communities by donating to the Appeal at www.ageuk.org.uk/coronaappeal.”

What represents your lockdown?

Only one further death confirmed in Leeds hospitals on Monday

Matt Hanock confirms that people can meet more than one person a day outside

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News the reproduction rate of the virus was "broadly in the middle of the range" of 0.5 to 0.9 but was definitely below one.

He also confirmed people could meet more than one person per day outside as long as the two-metre distance was maintained.

Commenting on new workplace guidance, Mr Hancock said cleaners coming to people's homes should exercise social distancing and follow other good practices such as washing hands regularly.

Asked why grandparents could not see their grandchildren but children could see there carers, Mr Hancock said it was a "scientific fact" that older people were more vulnerable to Covid-19.

He added: "The principles are really clear and the public has been sensible so far. The Great British public have really understood what social distancing means, why we need to do it... the principles are outside is better than inside, stay two metres away, wash your hands and clean the surfaces, and see as few people as you can, outside of your household because that virus spreads but we do also at the same time need to get people back to work."

Furlough expected to be extended

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to announce an extension to the furlough scheme under which the Government subsidises the wages of workers temporarily laid off due to the coronavirus.

At least 6.3 million people are currently having up to 80% of their salaries paid by the taxpayer under the furlough system at a cost of some £8 billion.

Mr Sunak has previously said he was preparing to "wean" workers and businesses off the programme - which currently runs until the end of June - but calls have been made for it to be prolonged.

It has been reported the programme will continue to September, although the rate of support will be cut from a maximum of 80% of salary to 60%.

Meanwhile, ministers are to set out guidance on how people can travel safely on public transport as the coronavirus lockdown begins to ease.

The death toll from coronavirus in the UK stood at more than 32,000 as the Prime Minister said he wants those who cannot work from home to start returning to their workplaces from Wednesday.

Mr Sunak last week warned the furlough scheme was not "sustainable" at its current rate although he promised there would be no "cliff edge" cut-off.

Torsten Bell, chief executive of the Resolution Foundation think tank and an early advocate of the scheme, said it should be phased out gradually.

"Moving too quickly could spark a huge second surge in job losses at a time when unemployment already looks set to be at the highest level for a quarter of a century," he said.

"This policy has made a huge difference in this crisis. It now needs careful and gradual change to ensure the benefits it has provided are secured rather than squandered."

Meanwhile, the managing director of leisure operator GLL Mark Sesnan has suggested any tapering should be looked at on a sector-by-sector basis.

He said: "Industries such as leisure and hospitality (should be) protected.

"This is because, in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines, we will have to operate at a significantly reduced capacity.

"In turn, this will have a major impact on the number of staff able to return to work fully."

Mr Johnson has said he does not expect a sudden "flood" of people heading back to work following Monday's publication of the Government's "road map" for lifting the restrictions.

But this prompted a barrage of questions as to how it could be achieved amid warnings the Government is watering down its clear "stay home" message.

Speaking at the daily No 10 press briefing on Monday, Mr Johnson said the measures - including allowing unlimited outdoor exercise - were mere "baby steps".

He warned the Government stood ready to reimpose controls if there was any sign of the transmission rate of the virus picking up again.

The TUC, meanwhile, has welcomed the publication of Government guidance on how workplaces can be made "Covid-secure" as they re-open.

Employers - including factories and construction sites - will be required to carry out a risk assessment before they can resume.

This followed criticism by unions that Mr Johnson had issued his return-to-work call in his broadcast on Sunday without explaining how it could be safely achieved.

Furloughed extended until October

Tributes have been paid to former nurse Norman Hunter who died from coronavirus

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