What time is the Government's coronavirus press conference today? Daily updates on the briefings

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  • May 18, 2020
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The Government will hold a briefing today to update the nation on the latest measures and developments in the UK’s fight against coronavirus .

The Prime Minister or another member of the Government will address the country via a live broadcast, which can also be viewed on YouTube, the BBC or on other news channels.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma delivered Sunday’s press briefing and said top scientists and manufacturers will work together to speed up the development of a vaccine.

He said that the Vaccine Taskforce is being led by chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and Professor Jonathan Van Tam.

The Government has also green-lighted a further 21 research projects to help fight coronavirus, allocated a further £84 million to support teams at Oxford University and Imperial College London engaged in the global race to find a vaccine.​

Last week Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the coronavirus job retention scheme, which paid furloughed staff 80% of their wages, has been extended to the end of October – but with scaled back support from the taxpayer, while Boris Johnson explain how lockdown measures in the UK would be partially eased this week and into the future on Monday.

The Prime Minister’s comments came as the Government rolled out a new colour-coded alert system, detailing the threat the country faces from Covid-19, with the message from Downing Street changing from “stay at home” to “stay alert” amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Here, we take a look at what time today’s minister is due to speak, and provide daily updates on the press conferences.​

Boris Johnson leading the conference (10 Downing Street/AFP via Getty)

What time is the press conference today?

A government minister will be in front of the nation today to continue the daily press briefings which have been arranged amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Number 10 said.

The time of the daily televised press conference varies but is usually after 5pm.

Updates from the Government and its advisors will be reported in our live blog, here.

May 17 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing ​led by Business Secretary Alok Sharma and NHS Medical Director, Professor Stephen Powis:

  • Mr Sharma revealed a global licensing deal has been signed between AstraZeneca and Oxford University to get 30million doses of the coranavirus vaccine for the UK
  • This means that nearly half of the UK population could get the vaccine by September
  • The Business Secretary also announced a fresh £84million injection of cash for Oxford University and Imperial to scale up production of their ground-breaking potential vaccines
  • Death toll figures from the conference also revealed that today saw the lowest daily rise since lockdown began after 170 more people died from the disease.

May 16 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing ​led by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries:

  • Mr Williamson said both primary and secondary school pupils could return to school in just two weeks’ time, with plans for students in Reception and Years 1, 6, 10 and 12 to return. 
  • The Education Secretary revealed that pupils in Year 10 and Year 12 will be back “on a limited” basis to help them plan for exams next year.
  • He also sought to reassure parents concerned about pupils returning to school, insisting that the government’s decision-making is based on the “best scientific advice with children at the very heart of everything we do”.
  • He warned that there was a “consequence” to schools not opening, saying children would “miss out”. 

May 15 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing led by Health Secretary Matt Hancock:

  • Matt Hancock said elderly care home residents and staff will finally be tested for coronavirus by the start of June.
  • The Health Secretary revealed a £600million fresh package of help for struggling care homes who aren’t able to control the spread of the virus.
  • Matt Hancock said: “We’ll test every resident and every member of staff in our elderly care homes between now and early June.
  • “This £600 million Infection Control Fund will help as we continue to reduce infections in care homes and save lives.”
  • The briefing came after the government published the latest R number – rate of transmission – saying it was between 0.7 and 1.
  • However, the figures do have a two to three week lag, officials admitted.

May 14 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing led by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and Jonathan Van-Tam, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England:

  • Mr Shapps said the Government will spend £2 billion on transport infrastructure, like repairing roads and railways
  • The UK has carried out over 1,000 railway upgrade projects over lockdown, he said
  • The Transport Secretary urged Brits to walk, cycle or use cars as much as possible, to reduce the burden on public transport and help keep to social distancing rules
  • Mr Shapps added that “bureaucratic bindweed” slows down British infrastructure building, but said the Government wants to overcome this
  • In a response to a question about the Premier League, Mr Van-Tam said elite football would be able to return slowly and gradually, like other sectors

May 13 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing led by Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick and Dr Jenny Harries, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England:

  • Mr Jenrick said the government was providing an extra £600m of funding to care homes in order to help them with infection control.
  • Asked about support for the cultural sector, the Communities Secretary said the Government was in conversation with institutions about how theatres and other similar outlets could reopen with social distancing in place.
  • He added that building sites in England will be allowed to operate until 9pm Monday to Saturday in residential areas and beyond that in non-residential areas as part of the Government’s efforts to restart the economy.
  • Dr Harries meanwhile said the best comparison for international Covid-19 death rates would be when “all-cause mortality” figures are available in about a year’s time.
  • She also said there was no “sustained community transmission” of coronavirus before March 13, when the Government’s advice that it was “very unlikely” care home residents would become infected with Covid-19 was withdrawn.

May 12 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing led by Business Secretary Alok Sharma, National Medical Director of NHS England Professor Stephen Powis and Health and Safety Executive Sarah Albon.

  • Mr Sharma said 2 million, 7146 coronavirus tests have now been carried out, including 85,203 tests yesterday. 
  • He detailed the next phase of the fight against the disease, including a new Covid alert level system with five levels, based on the R value and the number of coronavirus cases. This will determine social distancing measures in place. 
  • Mr Sharma said from this week those who cannot work from home, should speak to their employer about going back to work. 
  • “You can now spend time outdoors and exercise as often as you look. You can meet one person outside of your household, outside, providing you stay two metres apart.”
  • The government aims to re-open primary schools on June 1, and non-essential retail will re-open when and where it’s safe to do so. 
  • Updated messaging means people should stay alert, control the virus and save lives. Mr Sharma stressed people should stay at home as much as possible.
  • Face coverings should be worn in enclosed places. 
  • Regarding workplace safety, an extra £40million is now available for the Health and Safety executive
  • Mr Sharma also said the job retention scheme will be extended by four months, with 7.5million jobs currently furloughed. 
  • He addressed workers, saying: “We want you to feel confident that you are financially supported, and returning to a safe workplace. We all need to work together safely as we rebuild our economy.” 

May 11 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson:

  • Mr Johnson went into further detail about the easing of lockdown restrictions in the UK.
  • He said the lower the rate of infection the more freedoms the nation will enjoy and added: “After each step we will closely monitor the impact of that step on the R and the number of infections. We’ll only take the next step when we are satisfied it is safe to do so.”
  • The Prime Minister said only those who cannot work at home should do back to work. He said employees should discuss any safety concerns with their managers.
  • Mr Johnson said the nation is allowed to see people from one other household, but must still abide by social distancing rules. This can only be done outside of the home and in public. 
  • From Wednesday Brits can enjoy unlimited exercise sessions and can travel to another location to partake in activities, although they are not allowed to go on holiday. 
  • They can also play basketball, golf and outdoor sports with members of their household and up to one other as long as the two metre distance is observed. 
  • Mr Johnson said scientists were no nearer to finding a vaccine, although there had been positive comments. He added: “Even after 18 years we still don’t have a vaccine for SARS.”

May 10 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson:

  • Boris Johnson told MPs the reopening of society and the British economy should go ahead with “utmost caution”.
  • He said the R rate has dropped from between 2.6 and 2.8 in April to between 0.5 and 0.9 now.
  • The PM said making sure coronavirus doesn’t spread and reopening the economy will be a “supremely difficult balance to strike”.
  • He added some parts of the UK may need to stay in “full lockdown” longer than others.
  • Mr Johnson said social distancing requirements will limit capacity on public transport.
  • He said new advice to wear face coverings on public transport does not include the wearing of medical face masks.
  • These should be “reserved for people who need them”, he confirmed.
  • The PM also said people will be allowed to drive “as far as you like”.
  • He confirmed the fine for breaking the lockdown rules will be increase from the £60 up to £100.
  • Mr Johnson said: “Every day we shall monitor our progress.
  • “If we stay on the downward slope, then and only then will it become safe to go further and move to the second step.”
  • He said this will include schools reopening and holding sport events behind closed doors.​
  • To wrap up his statement he said: “People should stay alert by working from home if you possibly can, by limiting contact with others, by keeping your distance and by washing your hands.
  • “If everyone stays alert we can keep the infections down.That is how we will be able to save lives and save livelihoods.”

May 9 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing led by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps:

  • He announced a £2billion package to put walking and cycling at the heart of transport policy, and to encourage people to cycle and walk to work extra safety measures will be put in place.
  • Mr Shapps also said the public transport capacity will be severely restricted to just a tenth of what it was before the lockdown and emerging from lockdown will be a “gradual process”.

May 8 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing led by Environment Secretary George Eustice and National Medical Director of NHS England Professor Stephen Powis:

  • The Environment Secretary insisted the government would continue with Brexit, despite the ongoing pandemic.
  • Mr Eustice said: “We’re still going ahead with it. Brexit is in fact something that happened in January.”
  • When asked what Boris Johnson would be discussing in his speech on Sunday, May 10, 2020, Mr Eustice revealed the prime minister would unveil his plans for relaxing lockdown.
  • He said: “He’s going to set out effectively a roadmap of how we can evolve our restrictions at the moment. There isn’t going to be any dramatic overnight change.
  • Regarding fast food restaurants, he explained they’re not essential but could operate “safely” in the current climate.
  • The Environment Secretary urged Brits to stay at home this weekend, despite the predicted warm weather.
  • He said it is “vitally important” the public continues to follow guidelines in spite of the “sunny bank holiday weekend”.

May 7 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing led by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab:

  • Mr Raab confirmed that the UK death toll has hit 30,165 after an increase of 539 fatalities since yesterday
  • He also confirmed that 86,583 tests carried out yesterday, with 5,614 positive new cases
  • Mr Raab said the “virus is not beaten yet” despite a fall in the death rate
  • He said: “The virus is not beaten yet. It remains deadly and infectious… Because we held firm three weeks ago we are in a position where we can start to think about the next steps. To get this right we will have milestones. At each point when we take these decisions they will be based on the five steps and the scientific advice.”
  • Mr Raab thanked the British public and the NHS for a “monumental effort”, as he confirmed the UK has “passed the peak” of the virus.​

May 6 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing led by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab ​, accompanied by medical director of Public Health England Prof Yvonne Doyle, and medical director of NHS England Nikki Kanani:

  • Mr Jenrick said 69,493 tests were carried out yesterday, meaning the the government has missed the target of 100,000 tests a day for the fourth day in a row.
  • He said there have now been 30,076 total confirmed coronavirus deaths, after 649 people died yesterday. 
  • He also said that 67 million PPE items were delivered in England in April.
  • The Housing Secretary said Prime Minister Boris Johnson will set out on Sunday how the government plans to move ahead and level up despite coronavirus.
  • He added that his department will help local communities recover, looking at ways to make public transport safer.
  • Dr Kanani emphasised that NHS primary care services were still there for people to use, although more consultations will be over the phone or online.
  • Prof Doyle said it might take a year to get figures that fairly compare countries’ coronavirus death rates.
  • Mr Jenrick said it was a difficult time for faith groups, but added that it is right to stick to medical advice.
  • He said it was “not right” that some families were not allowed to attend funerals, and added that his department has allowed people to hold small family funerals.
  • The Housing Secretary said he believed the £3.2bn given to councils so far is enough to meet their needs, and they should continue to do essential work.
  • He took questions from local media, adding that the “local press are under significant financial pressure” and urging people to buy newspapers.

May 5 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing led by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and deputy Chief Scientific Adviser Angela McLean:

  • Mr Raab announced that the number of coronavirus-related deaths in the UK in hospitals, care homes and the community has increased by 693 to reach a total of 29,427.. ​
  • He added that the next phase of the coronavirus crisis “won’t be easy”.
  • Mr Raab confirmed that the update on the lockdown measures will come later this week, but added the country will need to adapt to “a new normal”.
  • The Foreign Secretary warned that cyber criminals are exploiting the coronavirus crisis, and targeting organisations who are helping in the fight against the pandemic.
  • Mr Raab said the government are “aware of the cyber threat” and will “take steps to mitigate the harm”.
  • It comes as the UK’s coronavirus death toll passes 29,000 after England recorded another 366 deaths in hospital.

May 4 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing led by Health Secretary Matt Hancock:

  • Mr Hancock said the contract tracing app would go live in the Isle of Wight. It will alert people if they have been in contact with someone diagnosed with coronavirus. ​
  • The Health Secretary said each of the 80,000 households on the Isle of Wight will get a letter on Thursday from the chief nurse with  information about the trial. Islanders will then be able to install the app.
  • Mr Hancock urged Isle of Wight residents: “By downloading the app you are protecting your own health, you are protecting the health of your loved ones and the health of your community.”
  • He added that he would hire more than the 18,000 contact tracers already being recruited if needed.
  • He also said that while the contact tracing scheme would help the government to suppress the coronavirus, lockdown measure could be eased before the national system was put in place.
  • Mr Hancock said that 85,186 coronavirus tests were carried out in the 24 hours to 9am on Monday morning – meaning the government was again under its 100,000 tests a day target.
  • Prof Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer for England, said scientists did not yet know whether people who have had coronavirus develop immunity – but the “overwhelming majority” of people who have had the disease have antibodies, a precursor to immunity.
  • Mr Hancock said that as he had formerly had the virus, he was participating in trials to check his antibody levels. But the Health Minister added that he would not feel confident going into a crowded room, because he could not know for certain that he was immune.​
  • Prof Van-Tam also said the number of cases was still too high. “We have to get the cases lower,” he added.

May 3 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing led by Cabinet Office minister, Michael Gove:

  • Mr Gove said more than 200,000 key workers and their families had been tested for coronavirus. He said criteria for testing had been extended beyond key workers to anyone over 65 displaying symptoms and anyone who has to travel to get to work.
  • The Government said it is increasing “spread of distribution and supply” of personal protective equipment (PPE). Mr Gove added: “From February 25 to May 2 we had delivered over 1.08 billion items of PPE across the health and social care system within England. And tens of millions more have been distributed by our colleagues in the devolved administrations. This overall figure includes 149 million masks, 173 million aprons, two million gowns and 614 million gloves. On May 2 alone we delivered an additional 20 million items of PPE within England.” He added there is “much more to do”.
  • The Cabinet Office minister said the Government had committed £100 million for remote learning for “those who need it most” and 180 video lessons per week were being supplied through the newly launched Oak National Academy.“We’re particularly keen to help vulnerable and disadvantaged children to carry on with their education during the pandemic,” he said.
  • Mr Gove said that 90 per cent of rough sleepers known to councils have been given an offer of accommodation since the end of March,
  • Providing an update on work that was being done to help vulnerable people, he said the Government was nearing delivering its one-millionth parcel of essential food.
  • When asked if he agreed with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps that lives could have been saved if testing had been in place earlier, Mr Gove said the Government will “reflect” on “what we did right and what we did wrong”.“This Government like all governments will have made mistakes, but it will be impossible to determine exactly which were the areas of gravest concern until some time in the future when we have all the information that we need,” he said.
  •  NHS England’s national medical director, Professor Stephen Powis, said the exact date of the peak of coronavirus in the UK “can’t really be precisely answered.”He explained: “There’s been a series of peaks – there’s been peaks in deaths, peaks in hospital admissions and peaks have occurred at different times around the country because different regions of the country have been in different stages.” However, he added: “I think broadly we saw that plateauing of a variety of measures around the middle of April.”
  • Mr Gove said the easing of lockdown restrictions had to be done in a “cautious fashion”. He added: “The transport secretary (Grant Shapps) was right to say that we can begin to see perhaps more people use public transport, but provided they are helped to stagger or to control the times when they use public transport, in the way that people have already adjusted to how they might use supermarkets and food shops and so on.”

May 2 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing led by Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick:

  • Mr Jenrick announced a package of more than £76 million in new funding “to support the most vulnerable in society”, including survivors of domestic and sexual abuse, vulnerable children, and victims of modern slavery.The Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary said: “This additional support will ensure more safe spaces and accommodation for survivors of domestic abuse and their children, and the recruitment of additional counsellors for victims of sexual violence.”
  • Announcing that victims of domestic violence will get priority access to local housing, Mr Jenrick said: “For some in our society these measures involve sacrifices that none of us would wish anyone to bear.For victims of domestic abuse it means being trapped in a nightmare.
  • Mr Jenrick said the Government’s Domestic Abuse Bill, which had its second reading in Parliament last week, would create “the first ever legal definition of domestic abuse”.
  • Mr Jenrick said more than 5,400 rough sleepers known to councils have been offered safe accommodation in the past month, “ensuring that some of the most vulnerable people can stay safe during the pandemic”.He said Dame Louise Casey, who is already spearheading the Government’s response on rough sleeping, has been appointed to oversee the national effort on helping the homeless.Mr Jenrick added: “She will work hand-in-hand with councils and with other groups across the country to plan how we can ensure that as many people as possible can move into the long-term sustainable and safe accommodation that they deserve once the pandemic is over.”
  • Deputy chief medical officer for England Dr Jenny Harries answered a question from Ashley in Yorkshire on whether people can catch Covid-19 twice.Dr Harries said: “The WHO (World Health Organisation) position is very similar to the one we would have, which basically says we actually don’t have enough information yet to be very clear on the immune status.We know that some people will have different status. We would normally expect to see some sign of immunity about 10-12 days after an infection, and then a very consistent pattern about 28 days.”
  • Mr Jenrick said the Government is considering long-term plans to support people who are shielding at home due to underlying medical conditions which could make them particularly vulnerable to the virus.At the start of lockdown, 1.8 million people in England were asked to stay indoors for 12 weeks for medical reasons.Mr Jenrick acknowledged the “huge emotional impact” of lockdown on shielded people, adding the Government has been providing 300,000 food box deliveries a week.
  • Mr Jenrick and Dr Harries were asked if mass gatherings would likely be allowed to resume before pubs are permitted to reopen when the lockdown is eased.Mr Jenrick said it is right to say that the rate of transmission of the virus is “significantly less” outdoors, and when lockdown measures are eased that will be a factor to be considered.Dr Harries agreed that “generally, outdoor environments are safer”, but said it “depends how you go to your outdoor environment and what you do”. She explained: “If you go as a family unit and sit in one place and you’ve got the same exposure there that you would in your house at home, that’s probably quite a safe environment.“If you go with a whole load of friends that you haven’t seen from before the coronavirus lockdown, sit in a pub in a very small environment, lean well over each other on the table and stay there for some hours face-to-face, that’s really not a good thing to do.”

May 1 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing led by Health Secretary Matt Hancock:

  • Mr Hancock confirmed the Government has reached its target of 100,000 tests per day. He said it was an “incredible achievement” and added the milestone will help “unlock the lockdown”.
  • The Health Secretary said the Government was prepared to increase the number of staff needed for the track-and-trace operation that was being rolled out. He told the room: “By mid-May, we will have an initial 18,000 contact tracers in place,” he said. That work is underway as we speak and if it needs to be bigger, we will scale it as required. The combination of contact tracers and new technology, through our new Covid-19 NHS app, will help tell us where the virus is spreading and help everyone to control new infections.”
  • NHS England’s national medical director, Professor Stephen Powis, said new coronavirus cases had increased “a bit” in recent days, but that the increase in testing was “likely” to be behind it. He said: “Overall I think the number is relatively stable and that is a good sign and reflects that the level of infection is falling.”
  • Prof Powis said officials will be studying whether stricter measures will or will not have to continue to apply to the elderly when the lockdown is eased. He said: “The over-70s can be absolutely fit and healthy, it’s not the case that everybody over 70 has a chronic health condition or underlying disease.”
  • Prof Newton said there was evidence of a “small” but “important” discrepancy when it came to the number of people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds (BAME) that had died of coronavirus.“The statistics do show increased rates in some people from ethnic backgrounds,” he said. “The effects are relatively small, although very important, and we do need to also look at other aspects of the virus” NHS staff from BAME backgrounds are being offered specialised assistance, he confirmed. 

April 30 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who led the briefing for the first time since his hospitalisation with coronavirus. He was accompanied by Chief Scientific Officer Sir Patrick Vallance and Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty:

  • Mr Johnson said the UK was “past the peak” of the outbreak of coronavirus, although the number of confirmed cases rose sharply by more than 6,000 and there were an additional 674 Covid-19-related deaths reported in hospitals
  • The Prime Minister also promised a “comprehensive plan” next week on how the lockdown will be lifted, after a Number 10 spokesman said earlier on Thursday that restrictions will be in place for some time
  • He added that the use of face masks in public may be advised when the UK comes out of lockdown, bringing the UK more in line with other European countries like France and Germany, days after Health Secretary Matt Hancock and senior cabinet minister Michael Gove expressed skepticism about masks
  • Sir Patrick said the remdivisir drug, which is used to treat ebola and now being tipped in the US for use on coronavirus patients, is effective on “a particular part” of the virus
  • Mr Whitty acknowledged concerns about deaths from other causes increasing because of the coronavirus outbreak
  • He said: “It’s not just cancers, we are very concerned that there has been a fall away in people coming to accident and emergency… with things like strokes and heart attacks”

April 29 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing led by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, accompanied by director of health protection for Public Health England Yvonne Doyle and deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam:

  • Mr Raab confirmed the total UK coronavirus death toll, which now includes care homes and non-hospital deaths, to be 26,097.
  • He added that deaths in hospitals have fallen.
  • Yvonne  Doyle described the decreasing hospital death rate as “broadly good news”.
  • Mr Raab said the government was now carrying out 73,000 virus tests per day.
  • He said the UK would continue to source PPE and ventilators at home and abroad.
  • The Foreign Secretary also congratulated the Prime Minister on the birth of his son. 

    Hancock announced testing would be expanded to all care home residents and staff and all over-65s with symptoms and their households.​​

April 28 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing led by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, flanked by Angela McLean, chief scientific adviser to the Ministry of Defence.

  • Mr Hancock announced testing would be expanded to all care home residents and staff and all over-65s with symptoms and their households
  • Mr Hancock said the death toll for people who have died with coronavirus in care homes will now be announced daily.​
  • He said that it was “still too early to say” when schools might reopen.​
  • The Health Secretary added an existing drug was on Tuesday entering an early clinical trial phase to treat coronavirus.​
  • He also said the Government was on track to meet the goal of 100,000 tests a day and now had the capacity to carry out more than 70,000 tests a day.​
  • Professor Angela McLean, the deputy chief scientific adviser, said the latest data showed coronavirus hospital admissions and deaths in hospitals were falling.

April 27 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing led by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, alongside Prof Chris Whitty the governments chief medical adviser:

  • Mr Hancock said the NHS will restart some vital services, including cancer care, from tomorrow. 
  • He also said there were 3,190 spare critical care beds.
  • He said that the government has a “lot of work” to do to hit its 100,000 a day testing target, but added that the government would be able to run a contract tracing system using the tests. 
  • Mr Hancock said the government was “broadly where we expected to be” in terms of testing capacity. According to the latest figures , 29,068 tests were carried out in Britain over the 24-hour period between 9am on Friday and Saturday 9am.
  • Families of NHS and social care workers who die while working to combat coronavirus will receive payments worth £60,000, Mr Hancock announced. Mr Hancock yesterday confirmed that 82 NHS workers and 16 social workers have died during the pandemic.
  • Mr Hancock said he was “very worried” by reports that children have needed intensive care treatment for a condition linked to coronavirus.
  • He did not rule out the government introducing quarantine for travellers arriving in Britain in the next stage of the pandemic.
  • Prof Whitty said the pandemic had “a very long way to run”, and implied that the death toll would have further peaks as social distancing measures begin to ease.

April 26 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing led by Environment Secretary George Eustice, alongside Prof Stephen Powis, medical director for NHS England:​

  • Mr Eustice said Brits have stopped panic buying in supermarkets, explaining that “at the beginning of the outbreak of this virus we saw significant problems in panic buying”, but food availability is now “back to normal levels”.
  • He said that half a million food parcels have been delivered to the most vulnerable Brits, adding “so far, 500,000 parcels have been delivered to the shielded group, that is those who cannot leave home at all due to a clinical condition they have.”
  • Mr Eustice said the number of food delivery slots has increased by 500,000 since the pandemic started, with supermarkets looking to increase capacity to 2.9 million in the coming weeks.
  • However, he cautioned that “it will still not be enough to meet all of the demand that is out there.”
  • Mr Powis focused on the increase in car use.
  • He said: “There is maybe a hint of maybe a little bit of an increase in the use of motor vehicles, and, as I said yesterday, we need to ensure that this does not mean that we are not continuing to comply with the government instructions on social distancing.”

April 25 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing led by Home Secretary Priti Patel, Prof Stephen Powis, medical director for NHS England, and Lynne Owens, director general of the National Crime Agency:

  • Ms Patel said despite crime overall being down, “the most sophisticated” criminals are seeking to “exploit and capitalise” on the coronavirus pandemic 
  • The Home Secretary said: “Our world class law enforcement is also adapting and they are on to you.”
  • She referred to a Border Force raid which seized £1m of cocaine concealed in a shipment of face masks as well as websites carrying out phishing scams and selling bogus PPE and test kits.
  • She also said police have received 1,300 reports of child sexual exploitation.
  • Apparently, among the criminals trying to exploit others were two people allegedly trying to sell unregistered coronavirus testing kits.
  • Losses to coronavirus-related fraud currently stand at £2.4m 
  • The Home Secretary criticised the “dangerous driving” of a minority of drivers, who are using quiet roads as their “own personal race track”. She said drivers had been witnessed at 150mph on the M1 and 134mph in a 40mph zone within London.
  • Director general of the National Crime Agency Lynne Owens says “serious and organised criminals are looking to take advantage of these unprecedented time.”
  • Ms Patel also paid tribute to “the selfless front-line workers who have been struck down” and says their sacrifice “will not be forgotten.”
  • Stephen Powis said it is important people continue to adhere to social distancing. He said it would be “foolish” if the UK lost the benefits it has gained in recent weeks.

April 24 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing led by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and Dr Jenny Harries, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England:

  • Mr Shapps urged people to stay at home over what is expected to be another warm and sunny weekend.
  • He confirmed the government would keep airport scanning and temperature checks under review, saying the amount of flights coming into the UK is only “about 4 per cent” from before lockdown. 
  • He referred to the government’s efforts to bring Britons back from overseas, confirming there are “no British holidaymakers stranded on cruise ships anywhere in the world”.
  • As the roads have been busier across the country, the public was urged to only “travel if you need to”. 
  • The public was also urged to only “travel if you need to” as the Deputy chief medical officer for England said roads have been busier across the country.
  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Boris Johnson is “on the mend in a big way” and described the Prime Minister as being in an “ebullient” state while recovering at his Chequers country retreat
  • A decision is yet to be made regarding Mr Johnson’s return to No. 10
  • Around 16,000 coronavirus tests were booked by essential workers via the new online system.

April 23 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing led by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Director of Health Improvement at Public Health England Professor John Newton and Chief Scientific Officer Sir Patrick Vallance:

  • Mr Hancock said that people whose work is critical to the Covid-19 response, and those they live with, will be able to register for a test if they have symptoms 
  • This means that millions of people, including NHS and social care staff, police officers, teachers, social workers, undertakers, journalists and those who work in supermarkets and food production are among those now eligible for a test
  • The Health Secretary added that the Government will hire 18,000 people to carry out contact tracing, to help track the spread of the virus
  • Professor John Newton said that the Government was on track to meet its target of 100,000 tests performed each day by the end of April
  • Sir Patrick Vallance said that hospitalisations from coronavirus were flat or declining in most of the UK
  • Sir Patrick added that deaths would continue to be flat for around two weeks, before starting to drop

April 22 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing led by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, flanked by Chief of Defence Sir Nick Carter and Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty:

  • Dominic Raab said the UK “is not out of the woods yet” in its battle against the virus 
  • Mr Raab also paid tribute to the armed forces, who have helped build the NHS Nightingale field hospitals
  • Chris Whitty warned social distancing measures are likely to be in place for the “next calendar year”, as Mr Raab admitted it will be weeks before ministers “think about” an exit strategy from lockdown 
  • Sir Nick Carter said dozens of military personnel have been bolstering the national effort to deliver PPE to the NHS frontline, adding that their work, “the single greatest logistical challenge” in his career, have seen about 50,000 more locations receive supplies. 

April 21 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing led by Matt Hancock:

  • Mr Hancock said lockdown is working and the spread of coronavirus is slowing down. He reassured the nation that “if you or someone you love needs hospital care with COVID-19, then you will always get that care.”
  • Human coronavirus vaccine trials will begin in the UK on Thursday. Mr Hancock said the country is throwing “everything we’ve got” at developing a vaccine”. He added that tests at Oxford University and Imperial College London were making rapid progress. The government has also given more than £40 million to these projects.
  • The health secretary said there is a “record high” of 2,963 spare critical care beds available across the NHS. He added: “At no point in this crisis has anyone who could benefit from critical care been denied that care because there weren’t enough staff, or beds, or ventilators to treat them”.
  • The health secretary said he looked forward to hearing from the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) after a meeting on whether the public should wear facemasks. Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer for England, said Sage was keeping the evidence under review and would change the advice if they felt the evidence warranted that but added that enough PPE for health and social care workers was of prime importance.
  • Mr Hancock denied the UK’s failure to take part in an EU scheme to procure equipment to tackle coronavirus was a “political decision” as claimed by the Foreign Office’s top civil servant Sir Simon McDonald. He said: “I haven’t seen that exchange but I have spoken to the Foreign Secretary and as far as I’m aware there was no political decision not to participate in that scheme. We did receive an invitation in the Department of Health and it was put up to me to be asked and we joined so we are now members of that scheme. However, as far as I know that scheme hasn’t a single item of PPE (personal protective equipment).”
  • Mr Hancock said he was “determined” to ensure that all staff had the personal protective equipment that they need. He said the Government was working to expand its supply base in the UK and overseas and had entered direct talks with the factories that produce the PPE and the fabric that it is made of. He said 8,331 companies had come forward with offers of PPE – some of which had led to “very large-scale” purchases. He said: “I am very grateful to all of those who have come forward and we are now actively engaged with hundreds of these companies. I can announce that we are working with 159 potential UK manufacturers which are starting to come on stream.”
  • Mr Hancock defended the Government’s approach to dealing with UK companies offering to supply PPE, saying checks were needed on companies offering their services.“We are always trying to improve the processes we have in place to make purchases,” he said before adding “But we have had to make sure we sort out the creditable offers from those that are not.”

April 20 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing led by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, scientist Angela McLean and public health specialist Yvonne Doyle:

  • The Chancellor said PPE shortage were an “international challenge” for all countries, and added the government is working hard to ensure NHS staff get the PPE they need.
  • He added that the government is “working to resolve the Turkish shipment following unexpected delays.”
  • Mr Sunak said today the UK “unloaded 140,000 gowns from Myanmar”, and the government are continuing to pursue “every possible option” for procurement
  • He added that medics “deserve to have the equipment they need to do their job safely”.
  • Moving on to the furlough scheme, the Chancellor said more than 140,000 firms have applied for grants from the UK government’s furlough scheme. These grants will help pay the wages of more than a million people, with the government aiming to keep as many people as possible in their existing jobs. 
  • Dr Yvonne Doyle then confirmed 12 million pieces of PPE were delivered to 141 trusts over the weekend, but added “it is a concern, we want people to have what they need.”
  • She said the situation is challenging due to the “very high burn rate” but authorities are working to secure more items
  • Mr Sunak said the UK has now carried out 501,379 tests for coronavirus, with 19,316 tests carried out yesterday.

April 19 updates:

Here is a summary of the April 19 briefing led by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, flanked by Dr Jenny Harries, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England:

  • The Education Secretary apologised directly to young people for the disruption to their learning, as he admitted “I can’t give you a date” on when schools will reopen.
  • Ahead of the first day of summer term for many state schools, Mr Williamson said they would not reopen until the Government’s five tests had been met.
  • However, Mr Williamson added: “There are currently no plans to have schools open over the summer period.”
  • He also announced a raft of measures to support online learning for pupils, including free 4G routers in homes and IT equipment for disadvantaged children, as the Oak National Academy prepared to deliver its first day of virtual lessons. 
  • Defending the PM against criticism over him missing five emergency Cobra meetings during the pandemic, Mr Williamson said “many Cobra meetings” are led by departmental ministers.
  • He added: “The focus the Prime Minister was putting on this and has continued to put on this has meant that this is the whole Government effort.”
  • Dr Jenny Harries declined to say whether or not Britain had passed the peak but insisted the country’s containment plan had been “very successful”.

April 18 updates:

Here is a summary of the conference from April 17:

April 17 updates:

Here is a summary of the conference from April 17:

  • A task force has been launched to develop a vaccine in the UK. 
  • The importance of a vaccine was detailed by Sir Patrick Vallance. 
  • Mr Sharma said: “I can announce today that the Government has set up a vaccines taskforce to co-ordinate the efforts of Government, academia and industry towards a single goal – to accelerate the development of a coronavirus vaccine.

  • He added: “This taskforce is up and running and aims to ensure that a vaccine is made available to the public as quickly as possible.”

April 16 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing led by Foreign Secretary, and First Secretary of State, Dominic Raab, who is deputising for Prime Minister Boris Johnson:

  • Mr Raab confirmed the lockdown extension.

  • He said: “There are indications the measures put in place have been successful. We still don’t have the infection rate as far down as we need to. Any change to our social distancing measures now, would risk a significant increase in the spread of the virus and could lead to a second peak. The government has decided the current measures must remain in place for the next three weeks.”
  • He continued: “It would not be responsible to prejudge the evidence. I can reassure people we carefully follow what is happening in other countries.Ultimately we’ve got to do what is right for the British people. That’s what we’ve done so far, and that’s what we will continue to do. I appreciate the impact of these measures are considerable. We know it’s rough going at this time. I know that together, united, we must keep up this national effort for a bit longer, especially when we see our efforts are beginning to pay off. We are now at a delicate and dangerous stage in this pandemic.”
  • The lockdown has now been extended until Thursday May 7. 

April 15 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing led by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Prof Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, and Prof Angela McLean, the UK’s deputy chief scientific adviser:

  • Mr Hancock thanked everyone for staying at home, saying: “Together we are slowing the spread of this virus.
  • He also paid tribute to Captain Tom Moore, 99, who ha raised more than £12m for the NHS by completing 100 laps of his garden. 
  • Mr Hancock revealed a four-part plan to address a growing crisis in care homes – 2,000 of which have already seen an outbreak of the virus.​
  • Focusing on social care he said: “Our goal throughout has been to protect residents. We will do whatever it takes.”
  • He announced that now all symptomatic care home residents will be tested, and there’ll be testing for all workers and their households. He also said there will be more PPE for workers, supplied directly by the Royal Mail.
  • Mr Hancock said: “We’re today introducing a single brand for social workers to symbolise the entire care profession.”
  • He then showed a ‘badge of honour’ which will allow social care staff to “proudly and publicly identify themselves”.

April 14 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing led by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, flanked by National Medical Director of NHS England Stephen Powis and Professor Yvonne Doyle, Public Health England medical director:

  • Mr Sunak warned of more “tough times” ahead with the economic fallout from the coronavirus crisis.
  • He insisted the economy will “bounce back” from the unprecedented lockdown, but added: “As I have said before, we cannot protect every business and every household.”
  • Reacting to an OBR report that warned GDP could fall 35 per cent, the Chancellor said: “We won’t stand back and let this happen.”
  • Mr Sunak and Prof Doyle said work was underway to fasten data-recording for deaths in care homes, which are currently collected by the Office for National Statistics but not included in the daily tolls.
  • The Chancellor added: “There’s absolutely no desire not to respect what’s happening in care homes and to provide that data.”

April 13 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing held by First Secretary of State Dominic Raab, Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty:

  • Mr Raab thanked the public for staying at home, saying: “We thank you, we pay tribute to you, and we are immensely proud of all you’re doing”.
  • He added: “The overwhelming majority of people stayed at home and understood the importance of doing so.”
  • Mr Raab continued to ask people to stick to the guidelines, in order to protect the NHS, saying otherwise the virus will spread faster and kill more people. 
  • He stated that the government’s plan is working, and urged the public to adhere to social distancing measures in place. 
  • Regarding lockdown, he doesn’t expect any changes this week. 
  • Later, he added: “We’ve still got a long way to go … We’ve still not passed the peak of this virus”. 
  • The government’s chief scientific advisor Sir Patrick Vallance said measures will only be lifted “when we are firmly the other side” of the peak, with numbers coming down.

April 12 updates:

Here is the summary of the briefing held by Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Public Health England Medical Director Yvonne Doyle:

  • Mr Hancock said: “Today marks a sombre day in the impact of this disease as we join the list of countries who have seen more than 10,000 deaths related to coronavirus.”
  • He added: “The fact that over 10,000 people have now lost their lives to this invisible killer demonstrates just how serious coronavirus is and why the national effort that everyone is engaged in is so important.”
  • He said that more had to be done to curb the spread of the virus – but said there had been a “record” number of PPE had been delivered to frontline workers.
  • Mr Hancock announced the launch of an app for NHS workers who have shown symptoms.
  • He confirmed the UK has 9,775 ventilators and Britain has 2,295 spare critical beds, adding: “There is more capacity now for critical care than before coronavirus”. 
  • Yvonne Doyle claimed Britain is “tracking” France and “close” to Italy in its coronavirus death toll – but said hospital admissions in London were “stabilising”.
  • She added: “But on the other hand for Great Britain we start to see other areas increasing, particularly the North West and Yorkshire. It’s very important that the message about staying home and social distancing is adhered to because we are certainly not past this crisis’ damage yet.”

April 11 updates:

Here is the summary of the briefing held, for the first time, by Home Secretary Priti Patel, alongside Chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council Martin Hewitt, and National Medical Director of Public Health England Stephen Powis:

  • Ms Patel said the government’s priority was to slow the spread of the virus, “so that fewer people are sick at any one time and our brilliant NHS remains able to do cope”.
  • She continued: “as this virus continues to devastate families across the nation my thoughts, prayers and heartfelt condolences are with their family, friends and loved ones.”
  • The Home Secretary also said police would act if rules were broken, adding: “If you don’t follow the guidance you will be endangering the lives of your own friends, family and loved ones. There is just one simple thing we ask you all to do: that is to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”
  • Professor Powis said that patients with non-coronavirus related concerns should still attend hospital.
  • He added: “The NHS is open for business and capable of managing people with a wide range of illness.”
  • He also revealed that a drug treatment could come before a vaccination. 

April 10 updates:

Here is the summary of the briefing held by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, Jonathan Van-Tam and Chief Nursing Officer for England, Ruth May.

  • With the Easter bank holiday approaching, Mr Hancock urged the nation to maintain social-distancing after some Brits flouted the rules, and encouraged “everyone to stay at home”.
  • Regarding NHS workers, he announced there is the capacity to test key social carers and NHS staff for Covid-19.
  • He also used the address to update the public on Mr Johnson’s health and said the Prime Minister’s “condition continues to improve.”
  • He added: “Our amazing NHS staff have given our PM the very best care possible, in the same way they’d give anyone the best care possible. It doesn’t matter who you are, the NHS is there to care for you.”

April 9 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing held by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance:

  • Sir Vallance spoke of how social-distancing is minimising the spread of the virus, and relieving NHS workers.
  • He said: “Social distancing is breaking transmission. It’s preventing more people going into intensive care and it will prevent deaths.”
  • Assuring the nation hospitals can cope, he insisted there were “still room in intensive care” and emergency services across the UK.
  • Mr Raab said people adhering to social distancing rules has meant the UK is “avoiding an even worse situation”.
  • He also praised carers ahead of the Clap for Carers, as well as police officers for their efforts.
  • Mr Raab said carers and front line workers are “doing an amazing job” and added that the police were “doing a great job”.

April 8 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing held by Chancellor Rishi Sunak:

  • Chancellor ​Rishi Sunak revealed 232, 708 people in the UK have now been tested, with 7,097 deaths, an increase of 938.
  • He also promised to pump £750 million into the charity sector, with the government to provide £360 million for small, local charities, supporting vulnerable people and providing essential service.
  • Regarding Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Mr Sunak said: “The PM remains in intensive care where his condition is improving. He has been sitting up in bed and engaging positively with the clinical team.”
  • Professor Angela McLean, the Deputy Chief Scientific Advisor, showed graphs she said showed “good” and “encouraging” signs about the battle to slow the spread of the virus.
  • She said: “The rate at which this is rising is definitely getting slower. It looks as though we’re getting towards a flat curve there.”
  • However, she added that the number of deaths is expected to keep rising even after “the curve has flattened” for other indicators about the outbreak.

April 7 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing held by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab:

  • In his second day standing in for the PM, Dominic Raab told the nation that his condition in critical care was “stable” and that he was receiving the “very best care”.​

  • Mr Raab said: “He is not just the Prime Minister. For all of us in Cabinet, he is not just our boss. He is also a colleague and he is also our friend. So all our thoughts and prayers are with the Prime Minister at this time, with Carrie (Symonds) and his whole family.

  • He added: “And I’m confident he will pull through because if there is one thing that I know about this Prime Minister is he is a fighter and he will be back leading us through this crisis in short order.”

  • He dismissed questions from reporters that there is a gulf at the top of Government with decision making, insisting the Cabinet operates on collective responsibility.

  • He said he had “total confidence” in the arrangements the Prime Minister had put in place to allow the Foreign Secretary to deputise for him.

April 6 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing held by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Professor Chris Whitty, the Government’s chief medical adviser, and Professor Dame Angela McLean, deputy chief scientific adviser:

  • Mr Raab said existing lockdown measures were “beginning to work” in tackling the coronavirus pandemic.
  • He added any shifting of focus could mean “we won’t get through the peak as fast as we need to”.
  • Asked when the current social distancing measures could be lifted, Professor Whitty said the Government must first establish when the peak of the epidemic will come.
  • He warned that to start “having that discussion” before then would be a mistake.
  • Professor McLean said the growth in Covid-19 hospital admissions “is not as bad as it could have been” had the lockdown not been put in place.
  • But she added that authorities need to “know how well the current restrictions are working before we can say anything sensible about what the next stage might be”.

April 5 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing held by Health Secretary Matt Hancock and England’s deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries:

  • Mr Hancock said that two people he “was fond of” have died as a result of the outbreak.
  • He said he “cannot rule out further steps” being introduced in terms of social distancing, but none are imminent.
  • The NHS has more than 9,000 ventilators, but this is being ramped up over the next week to reach a target of 18,000.
  • He said “key goal” was to keep the number of critical care beds above demand.
  • Mr Hancock said there are currently more than 2,336 spare critical care beds for the NHS in England.
  • Dr Harries emphasised the importance of testing in prisons and care homes.
  • She said PPE guidance has been adapted after seeing a “slightly different prevalence of disease”. 
  • Mr Hancock and Dr Harries said there is an adequate supply of oxygen in UK hospitals.

April 4 updates:

Here is a summary of the press conference held by Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove and NHS England medical director Professor Stephen Powis:

  • Mr Gove said there was “no fixed point” at which the Government could say the lockdown will end.
  • He said there were now more than 8,000 ventilators in the NHS – including 300 from China.
  • There were 10,984 tests of NHS staff carried out on Friday, Mr Gove said.
  • He said the Midlands was “a particular area of concern”, after it has seen a 47 per cent increase in hospital admissions.
  • Mr Powis condemned the actions of people acting on a conspiracy theory linking 5G technology to the pandemic​.
  • He said: “It is absolute and utter rubbish and I can’t condemn it stronger terms than that.”
  • He said a reduction in transmissions would be reflected in a reduction in infections, hospitalisations and then in deaths.

April 3 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing held by Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Professor Jonathan Van Tam:

  • Mr Hancock urged the public to maintain social distancing ahead of a weekend of warm weather.
  • He said no G7 country has found a home antibody test for the virus that works yet, but sample tests have been ordered.
  • He said the UK had provisionally ordered 17.5m antigen tests, but he said they will only be used if they work.
  • He said there is a “clear goal” of 100,000 tests a day by the end of April and 7,000 NHS staff have been tested.
  • Professor Jonathan Van Tam said there will be further cases of the virus which have not been counted in the official statistics.  
  • He said he has asked the Government’s advisory committee to look at the symptom of lack of taste.
  • He said there are three treatment trials up and running the UK. 

April 2 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing held by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Professor Stephen Power, NHS England medical director, and Professor John Newton, Public Health England director of health improvement:

  • Mr Hancock said more beds, staff and equipment are being made available and that £13.4bn of NHS trust debts have been written off.
  • He announced that he has made £300m available for funding community pharmacies.
  • He set a goal of 100,000 tests per day by the end of this month, outlining a “five-point” plan.
  • This involves swab testing to check if people already have the virus, using commercial partners such as Amazon and Boots to carry out swab tests, introduce antibody blood tests to check whether people have had the virus, surveillance to determine rate of infection, and building a British diagnostics industry.
  • He said demand for materials had led to a shortage of both swabs and reagents, saying the swabs issue has been fixed but the reagents issue is still being worked on.
  • Mr Hancock also acknowledged that most of the NHS staff who had died from the virus had been migrants to the UK.
  • Mr Powis said there had been a big reduction in the use of public transport, but use of motor vehicles had increased, which he would like to see come down.
  • He said we are still seeing an increase in infections, but the curve is not getting steeper as time goes on and there is some indication that going forward, it might start to flatten – but this will take a week or two.

April 1 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing held by Business Secretary Alok Sharma and Professor Yvonne Doyle, medical director of Public Health England​:​

  • Mr Sharma said Chancellor Rishi Sunak, the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority have written to the chief executives of UK banks, urging them to make sure the benefits of the Covid Business Interruption Loan Scheme are “passed through to businesses and consumers”.
  • He added the Government had bailed the banks out in the wake of the financial crash of 2008 and it was time for them to “repay the favour” to taxpayers.
  • Ms Doyle said that 10,000 Covid-19 tests per day were now being carried out and the aim was to get to 25,000 tests by mid-April.
  • She added the intention was to “get from thousands to hundreds of thousands in the coming weeks”.
  • Ms Doyle also described an uptick in recent motor vehicle traffic as very concerning and urged people to stay at home.

March 31 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing held by Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove and deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries:

  • It was said that thousands of new ventilators will be distributed to hospitals across to UK next week.
  • To help the NHS deal with coronavirus, the Chancellor will waive some taxes on medical equipment.
  • Medics whose visas will expire before October 1 will have them automatically renewed.​
  • Around 25,000 people have been tested for the Covid-19 strain by April​.
  • The UK death toll had its biggest daily increase of 381 fatalities.

March 30 updates:

Here is a summary of the briefing held by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Professor Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England, and Patrick Vallance, the Government’s chief scientific adviser:

  • Mr Raab announced a £75 million package to help Brits stranded abroad get home if there are no commercial flights available. 
  • Charter flights will bring back UK nationals from ‘priority countries’ and travellers in countries where commercial flights are still running will be provided with subsidies for tickets.
  • Partner airlines include British Airways, Virgin, easyJet, Jet2 and Titan and this list will be expanded.
  • He said around 150,000 British nationals had been helped back from Spain, while 8,500 were brought back from Morocco and 5,000 from Cyprus.
  • Mr Raab added he was “feeling terrific” after three fellow Cabinet members were forced to self-isolate, including the Prime Minister, following a positive test for coronavirus or showing symptoms.
  • Mr Vallance said there had been a “dramatic reduction” in social contact since lockdown measures were introduced, but number of people being admitted to hospital with coronavirus is going up “in a constant amount”.
  • Yvonne Doyle said 170 million items of personal protective equipment had been delivered to hospitals and clinics.

March 29 updates:

Here is a summary of the press conference held by housing secretary Robert Jenrick and deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries:

  • Mr Jenrick said that an emergency distribution team would be taking personal protective equipment to people who needed it across the country.
  • The equipment includes 170,000 face masks and ten million items of cleaning equipment, to be taken to “58,000 NHS trusts and healthcare settings”. 
  • Mr Jenrick said the team would be supported by the armed forces and emergency services. 
  • The housing secretary added that the NHS would be providing home deliveries of medicines to the most vulnerable, who can sign up online.
  • Mr Jenrick said that the Government will also deliver food parcels to vulnerable people, with 50,000 to be delivered this week.  
  • Meanwhile Dr Jenny Harries said that the country may not return to “normal” for six months. 
  • She added that while a complete lockdown would not last for six months, social distancing measures should be phased out “gradually” to avoid a second major outbreak.
  • Dr Harries said that the quarantine measures would be reviewed after three weeks and then again after three months.
  • She warned that the Government expects virus-related deaths to increase possibly for the next two weeks. 

March 28 updates:

Here is a summary of the press conference held by Business Secretary Alok Sharma and NHS England’s medical director Professor Stephen Powis:​

  • Mr Powis said that 20,000 deaths related to coronavirus would be a good result for the UK.
  • He added that “now is not the time to be complacent” about social distancing as the number of deaths continued to rise sharply.
  • Mr Sharma said that the Government was changing insolvency rules to give companies more flexibility amid the ongoing economic fallout from coronavirus.
  • He said that “red tape” would be cut to allow companies to produce hand sanitiser within a few days. 

March 27 updates:

Here is a summary of the press conference held by held by Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove and NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens​:​

  • Senior Cabinet minister Michael Gove said that positive tests for Boris Johnson and health secretary Matt Hancock showed that “we are all at risk” from coronavirus. 
  • The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster restated the need for social distancing to slow the spread of the virus.
  • Mr Gove added that people who were key to the Government’s response to coronavirus who showed symptoms are tested.
  • He announced that the Government has brought together universities, businesses and research institutes to boost testing capacity for frontline workers.
  • NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said that testing for frontline NHS workers would begin next week. 
  • Mr Gove added that the Government believed that coronavirus infections has been doubling every three to four days.

March 26 updates:

Here is a summary of the press conference held by Chancellor Rishi Sunak and deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries​:

  • Rishi Sunak announced a “generous and comprehensive” package of support for up to 3.8m self-employed workers.
  • The scheme will pay a cash grant worth 80 per cent of average monthly trading profit over the past three years, capped at £2,500 a month.
  • Mr Sunak said the scheme would be available “no later than June”.
  • The scheme is open to anyone with trading profits of up to £50,000 and will be only available to those who make the majority of their income from self-employment.
  • There is no help available for people who have recently become self-employed.
  • But Mr Sunak said those who are self-employed can now access Universal Credit in full to help them during the pandemic.
  • He hinted that he could ask the self-employed to pay more in national insurance once the outbreak is over.
  • Dr Jenny Harries defended not ordering coronavirus tests earlier, emphasising “every single country is ordering at the same time.”
  • She said the Government may want to test a sample of the population, once an antibody test becomes available, to get a sense of how coronavirus has spread.

March 25 updates:

Here is a summary of the press conference held by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Professor Chris Whitty, the Government’s chief medical adviser, and Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s chief scientific adviser:

  • Mr Johnson revealed that 405,000 people have signed up to be volunteers for the NHS in less than 24 hours.
  • Professor Whitty said the coronavirus peak would “probably be manageable” for the NHS if people kept to the lockdown rules.
  • He also blamed global shortages for the fact that the Government was not carrying out more coronavirus tests.
  • Once the Government is confident antibody tests work, they will initially be used for NHS staff. 
  • Mr Johnson said the Government might introduce wartime-style legislation to outlaw profiteering during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Some of the social distancing measures might be in place for “a reasonably long period of time”.

March 24 updates:

Here is a summary of the press briefing held by Matt Hancock and the first where the PM did not make an address to the nation:

  • Matt Hancock announced that the Government is launching a new scheme to recruit 250,000 volunteers in good health who can help the NHS support the vulnerable. 
  • The Health Secretary also confirmed that a new hospital called the Nightingale Hospital with capacity for 4,000 people will open next week at the Excel Centre in east London after being set up with help from the military.
  • He added that 35,000 extra NHS staff would be joining the fight against the virus and that 11,788 retired NHS staff responded to the call to return to the service. 
  • The Health Secretary said that enforcement actions would be taken on businesses that remained open despite being ordered to close. 
  • Mr Hancock then announced that a new testing facility would open in Milton Keynes that day and the UK has bought 3.5 million antibody testing kits. 
  • He also said 7.5 million pieces of protective equipment, including facemasks, had been shipped out in the last 24 hours. 

March 23 updates:

Here is a break down of what was covered during the Prime Minister’s pre-recorded address to the nation on Monday, March 23:

  • Mr Johnson described the Covid-19 crisis as a “moment of national emergency” and announced sweeping restrictions on public life as part of a nationwide lockdown.
  • The Prime Minister said the extraordinary measures would become effective immediately.
  • He added the Government would review the effect of the restrictions in three weeks and relax them if possible.
  • Mr Johnson confirmed police will have the power to enforce the rules by imposing fines on people who do not abide by them and the right to disperse gatherings.
  • The Prime Minister also said the Government was “accelerating” search for treatments, “pioneering work on a vaccine” and purchasing millions of coronavirus testing kits.
  • He warned that “without a huge national effort to halt the growth of this virus, there will come a moment when no health service in the world could possibly cope”.

March 22 updates:

Here is a break down of what was covered at the press conference on Sunday, March 22:

  • The public were urged to uphold social distancing measures.
  • Further information was given about the 1.5 million vulnerable Britons that will be asked to self-isolate for 12 weeks starting on March 23.
  • Social hubs will be set up to provide supplies for those asked to stay in their homes for the next 12 weeks.

March 21 updates:

Here is a break down of what was covered at the press conference on Saturday, March 21:

  • The public was urged to not panic buy amid the outbreak.
  • NHS England medical director said those who did should be ashamed.
  • The importance of social distancing was reiterated.

Later on:

  • Mr Johnson warned of the NHS being overwhelmed if the public does not heed social distancing advice.
  • He said the UK could be a few weeks away from the situation in Italy if people don’t follow the guidance.
  • The Prime Minister encouraged people to not see their parents on Mother’s Day , as he urged people to limit their activities.
  • He said the situation was “stark” and acknowledge the measures imposed had never been seen before.

March 20 updates:

Here is a break down of what was covered at the press conference on Friday, March 20:

March 19 updates:

Here is a break down of what was covered at the press conference on Thursday, March 19:

  • Mr Johnson said the UK can “turn the tide” in the fight against coronavirus within the next 12 weeks.
  • The Prime Minister said the first British patient had been put in a randomised trial for a treatment for coronavirus.
  • Mr Johnson added that he expected the government would be able to do mass testing to see if people had contracted Covid-19 relatively soon.
  • The Prime Minister ruled out stopping the Tube service in London, saying there was “no prospect” of him doing so.
  • Mr Johnson did, however, warn that compliance with social distancing rules in some parts of London was “very patchy” and refused to rule out bringing in tougher restriction measures for the capital.
  • Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer, said it would be at least a fortnight before the social distancing measures currently in place might lead to the infection rate slowing.
  • The Prime Minister said he was considering ending the holding of press conferences in a room with journalists because that implied they were not taking social distancing advice seriously.
  • Mr Johnson added that he did want to continue speaking to the media daily, and suggested the conferences might take place remotely in the future instead.

March 18 updates:

Here is a break down of what was covered at the press conference on Wednesday, March 18:

  • Schools in England will close from Friday for the majority of pupils.
  • Children who are classed as vulnerable or whose parents are key workers will not be affected.
  • May’s exams – SATs, GCSEs, AS and A Levels – would not be held.
  • Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said it was no longer in best interest to keep schools open.
  • Mr Johnson said the measures are to slow down the spread of the disease.
  • Emergency measures for tenants were announced so they can’t be evicted if struggling during the outbreak.

March 17 updates:

Here is a break down of what was covered at the press conference on Tuesday, March 17:

  • Loans worth £330 billion were backed by the government to help businesses.
  • Another £20bn in grants was said to be made available as cash grants of £25-30,000 for small businesses.
  • Rishi Sunak vowed to do “whatever it takes” to help the economy.
  • Business rates holiday for small businesses.
  • The new business interruption loan scheme announced at the Budget is being extended to small and medium-sized businesses, providing loans of up to £5 million with no interest due for the first six months, up from £1.2 million.
  • Mr Sunak said the impact on the economy would be “temporary” and that the country “will get through it together”.
  • Boris Johnson warned that Covid-19 is so “dangerous” that without drastic action it will “overwhelm the NHS”, as he said that more “extreme measures” may be needed to protect lives in future.

March 16 updates:

Here is a break down of what was covered at the press conference on Monday, March 16:

  • The Prime Minister urged people to avoid pub, clubs and other social venues and those most vulnerable take that advice particularly seriously.
  • Boris Johnson said “drastic action” is needed.
  • Social distancing measures officially introduced with Mr Johnson saying: “Now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact and to stop all non-essential travel.”
  • Anyone living in a household with somebody who has either a persistent cough or temperature must now also isolate themselves for 14 days.
  • London was said to be only a few weeks behind Italy in terms of the extend of the virus spread.
  • Over 70s were told to avoid all social contact for at least 12 weeks.
  • Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer, said the advice was particularly important for people above 70 and those with serious or pre-existing health conditions.