Coronavirus briefing: Government hits 100k testing target

Monday, April 13, 2020

The government are giving daily briefings on the measures being taken in the UK in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Keep this page updated for all of the latest information.


May 1 - Government hits 100k testing target

The government has met its target to carry out 100,000 coronavirus tests per day by the end of April, Matt Hancock has said.

The Health Secretary paid tribute to those involved in executing the “unprecedented expansion” of testing capacity, as the government recorded 122,347 tests being carried out in the 24 hours up to 9am on Friday.

He said “I knew that it was an audacious goal but we needed an audacious goal, because testing is so important for getting Britain back on our feet.

“This unprecedented expansion in British testing capability is an incredible achievement, but it is not my achievement - it is a national achievement achieved by a huge team of people working together.”

A total of 27,510 died with coronavirus (across all settings), an increase of 739 since yesterday.


April 30 - Lockdown exit plan to be set out next week

Boris Johnson has said that next week he will set out plans for how the UK will come out of coronavirus lockdown.

The Prime Minister returned to the podium at the Downing Street briefing today after recovering from Covid-19.

He said Britain is “past the peak” of the pandemic and that it was now “on the downward slope”.

“I will be setting out a comprehensive plan next week to explain how we can get our economy moving, how we can get our children back to school, back into childcare and how we can travel to work and how we can make life in the workplace safer.

“In short, how we can continue to suppress the disease and at the same time restart the economy."

He described the plan as a "road map" and said dates and times will depend on where the country stands in the epidemic.

A total of 26,711 have died with coronavirus across all settings in the UK, up by 674 since yesterday.


April 29 - Care home deaths bring UK toll to 26,000

More than 26,000 people have died after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK, according to new figures.

It is the first time the government’s total has included figures from care homes and the community, as well as those who have lost their lives to Covid-19 in hospital.

The new method of reporting includes an additional 3,811 deaths since the start of the outbreak, bringing the UK total to 26,097.

It includes 765 deaths reported in the 24 hours to 5pm on Tuesday.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “We must never lose sight of the fact that behind every statistic, there are many human lives that have been tragically lost before their time.”


April 28 - All care home residents and staff to access tests

Matt Hancock has insisted that the government is “on track” to meet its target of 100,00 daily coronavirus tests by the end of the month.

The Health Sceretary said that the UK currently has the capacity to carry out 73,400 test per day.

He said this means the access to tests will now be expanded to:

- All residents and staff of care homes, even if they do not have symptoms

- All over 65s WITH symptoms and their households

- All workers WITH symptoms who are required to leave their home to go to work and their households.

Mr Hancock said that 21,678 people have died with Covid-19 in hospital, while 4,343 coronavirus-related deaths have been recorded in care homes since Easter.


April 27 - £60k for families of health workers who have died

The families of health and social care workers who have died from coronavirus in the course of “essential frontline work” will receive a government payment of £60,000, Matt Hancock has said.

It comes after the Health Secretary confirmed that 82 NHS workers and 16 social care workers were among the 21,092 people to have died with Covid-19.

The Health Secretary said: “They dedicated their lives to caring for others and I feel a deep personal sense of duty that we must care for their loved ones.

“Of course nothing replace the loss of a loved one but we want to do everything we can to support families dealing with this grief.”

Mr Hancock the Life Assurance Scheme also look at how such grants may be made available for the families of victims in other frontline professions who do not currently have access.


April 24 - Drone deliveries to be trialled for medical supplies

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has given the green light to trial drones in delivering medical supplies during the coronavirus crisis.

He said that earlier this year £8 million was earmarked for testing drones and how they might be used for delivering goods in the “years and decades ahead”.

“Now we have an urgent need, so we’re making use of that testing programme as part of our response to Covid-19,” he told the press conference.

Mr Shapps said he has fast tracked trials to begin next week to carry supplies and equipment to the Isle of Wight.

A total of 19,506 have died in hospital with coronavirus, up 768 since the day before.


April 23 - Essential workers to be able to book test online

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced that essential workers will be able to book coronavirus testing online from this Friday.

Companies will be able to book them for employees from Thursday.

The new service on the government website also applies to those who share a household with an essential worker.

Mr Hancock told today’s press briefing that capacity for daily testing now stands at 51,000, with 23,560 test being carried out yesterday.

The government has just one week left to reach its target of 100,000 tests per day by the end of April.

Mr Hancock said it was a “challenging” target but that capacity was now “ahead of our plans”.

A total of 18,738 people have died in hospital with Covid-19, an increase of 616 since the day before.


April 22 - Dominic Raab pays tribute to armed forces

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has paid tribute to the “fantastic” armed forces for their contribution in the fight against coronavirus.

He said the military had “been there every step of the way” in supporting the government’s measures and had provided the public with “calm reassurance”.

“There’s no hiding the scale of this tragedy. But even in our darkest moments, the crisis has also shone a light on the best amongst us.

“I think it’s only fitting to pay tribute to the amazing work of our fantastic armed forces and the whole MoD led by defence secretary Ben Wallace,” Mr Raab said.

The First Secretary of State said the country was “making progress” through the peak of the outbreak but that it was “not out of the woods yet”.

A total of 18,100 patients have died in hospital with coronavirus, up by 763 from the day before.


April 21 - Vaccine trials to begin this week

Matt Hancock has said a potential coronavirus vaccine being developed at Oxford University will begin to be tested in humans from this Thursday.

The Health Secretary said reaching this stage in normal times would take "years".

He announced more than £42 million available for vaccine development projects, with £22.5 million going to Imperial College London and £20 million for the Oxford team.

Mr Hancock added that the governemnt will invest in manufacturing cpacity so if the projects come up with a working vaccine, it will be made available to British people "as soon as humanly possible".

Today's figures show that 17,366 people have died in UK hospitals after testing positive for coronavirus, an increase of 852.


April 20 - ‘Encouraging’ signs of progress

The UK has seen “encouraging signs that we are making progress” in the fight against coronavirus, according to the Chancellor.

But Rishi Sunak maintained that the government’s five tests would still have to be met before it could consider easing lockdown measures as the death toll continued to rise.

A total of 16,509 patients have died in hospital with Covid-19, up by 449 from the day before.

Dame Angela McLean, the deputy chief scientific adviser, said the numbers of people testing positive for Covid-19 had stabilised.

Mr Sunak also hailed the new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which came into force today, with 140,000 businesses applying since 8am this morning.

The Chancellor said the furloughing programme will help pay the wages of more than one million people and that firms should receive their cash within six working days.


April 17 - Task force set up in bid to create vaccine

The Business Secretary has announced a task force in a bid to speed up the development of a coronavirus vaccine.

Alok Sharma said the scheme will “coordinate the efforts of government, academia and industry towards a single goal”.

While the aim is to develop a vaccine “as quickly as possible”, Mr Sharma also warned that it was a “colossal undertaking” that could take “many months”.

The project will be led by Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Patrick Valance and Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van Tam.

Mr Sharma said the government has also “green lighted” a further 21 coronavirus research projects.

Some 14,576 have died with Covid-19 in the UK.


April 16 - ‘At least’ three more weeks of UK lockdown

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has announced that the UK will remain in lockdown for “at least” three more weeks.

Deputising for Boris Johnson, the First Secretary of State said: “Any change to our social distancing measures now would risk a significant increase in the spread of the virus.”

He added relaxing rules could cause a “second peak” which would risk increasing deaths “substantially”, as well as cause further damage to the economy.

Mr Raab said that in order for restrictions to the loosened, the government will need to be satisfied of five things:

- That the NHS is able to cope and provide sufficient critical care

- That there is a sustained and consistent fall in the daily death rate so it is confident that the UK is past the peak of the outbreak

- That the rate of infection decreasing to manageable levels

- That the capacity for testing and PPE can meet future demand

- That any adjustments will not risk second peak that will overwhelm the NHS

The UK death toll currently 13,729.


April 15 - ‘Badge of honour’ for care workers

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has promised social care workers a “badge of honour” along with other measures to tackle the pressure on the sector amid the coronavirus crisis.

Amid accusations that care homes had been forgotten in the government’s battle plan, Mr Hancock announced measures to increase testing and improve access to protective equipment.

He said the government would also strengthen recruitment efforts to get tens of thousands of more staff into the profession by paying for initial induction training.

Mr Hancock also revealed the green badge emblazoned with white letters spelling out “CARE”, saying it will allow social care staff to “proudly and publicly to identify themselves, just like NHS staff do with that famous blue and white logo”.

“I know that many businesses will want to offer the same recognition and benefits as they do wonderfully to the NHS,” he added.


April 14 - Economic impact ‘significant but temporary’

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has warned that coronavirus will have “serious implications” on the UK economy but said the country’s finances are expected to “bounce back”.

It comes as the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) released a report today that said the Covid-19 lockdown could lead to a 35 per cent shrink in the economy and a two million increase in unemployment.

Mr Sunak thanked the fiscal watchdog for its work, but stressed that the findings showed “one possible scenario” rather than a “forecast or prediction”.

But the Chancellor did accept that the government will not be able to protect every UK business and every household during the pandemic, adding: “These are tough times and there will be more to come.”

He said: “We came into this crisis with a fundamentally sound economy, powered by the hard work and ingenuity of the British people and British businesses.

“So while those economic impacts are significant, the OBR also expects them to be temporary, with a bounceback in growth.”

Mr Sunak defended the government’s action so far and said without it, the situation would be “a lot worse”.

A total of 12,107 patients have died in hospital after contracting the virus as of 5pm on Monday.


April 13 - No lockdown changes expected this week

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said he does not expect the government to make changes to the social distancing measure as it reviews lockdown later this week.

Leading the daily Downing Street press conference, Mr Raab said there are some “positive signs” from the coronavirus data that show “we are starting to win this struggle” but warned: “We are still not past the peak.”

He urged people to continue to stay at home and thanked the “overwhelming majority” that did so over the Easter weekend.

On social distancing rules, which will be reviewed this week, he said: “We don't expect to make any changes to the measures currently in place at that point and we won't until we're confident, as confident as we realistically can be, that any such changes can be safely made.”

Mr Raab added: “Our plan is working. Please stick with it and we’ll get through this crisis together.”

The UK coronavirus death toll now stands at 11,329.


Earlier government updates can be found here.

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