LiveCoronavirus in UK live blog as it happened: clap for NHS staff at 8pm tonight | death toll rises by 569

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Staff wearing PPE of gloves and face masks, as a preactionary measure against COVID-19, disinfect an ambulance after it arrived with a patient at St Thomas' Hospital in north London (Photo: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
(Image: WHO)

We will be providing live updates until 6pm this evening.

Coronavirus live blog, April 2

Last updated: Thursday, 02 April, 2020, 17:30

Motor vehicle usage up

Professor Stephen Powis is speaking now. 

He says that motor vehicle usage went up a few days ago and that it needs to decrease. 

He also adds the number of infections is increasing, but this is in line with their predictions before lockdown. 

He says the higher number of deaths recorded will be seen for a few weeks until the benefit of social distancing "bear fruit". 

100,000 tests per day by end of month

The Health Secretary is now outlining his plans for ramping up testing. 

He says the goal is to make sure testing is available to patients who need it, then to expand testing to NHS staff and their families. Then the plan is to test critical workers. Goal is to test anyone "who needs one".

He now outlines a 5 pillar testing strategy.

  1. the government are committed to carrying out 25,000 antigen tests a day by April at the latest.
  2. The increased capacity of swab testing with the help of commercial partners. This brand new service has just launched and is ramping up rapidly. To begin with this capacity will be used solely for frontline NHS staff. Over 5,000 NHS staff have been tested at these sites. 
  3. Development of blood tests, or antibody tests: the government are working with nine organisations to improve their effectiveness. He underlines that before these are rolled out "they've got to work".
  4. Surveillance: government are now looking into population surveillance programs which would help show the spread of the disease. This would be done with the use of antibody tests. 
  5. UK to scale up its diagnostics industry with the help of pharmaceutical giants such as GSK. 

Matt Hancock says that combined the government aim to test 100,000 per day by the end of this month. 

Hancock defends decision to test patients before NHS staff

Hancock is now discussing testing, something which the government has been criticised for in recent days. 

He says "I'm going to level with you about the challenges that we face and the plan we have to rise to those challenges." 

He says that going into this crisis we didn't have a huge diagnostics industry unlike some countries.  He says his German counterpart could call on 100 test labs ready and waiting when the crisis struck, but we've had to build from a lower basis. 

He says there's been an increase in demand for swabs and reagents and that shortages have become "a global challenge". 

Hancock is being defensive saying that anyone would have taken the decision to test critical patients rather than NHS staff.  He adds he's proud that every patient who's needed a test has had access. 

NHS staff need access to testing too, but says the public must have confiidence in the tests. 

Some tests which haven't been rolled put have  failed to identify coronavirus in Covid-19 positive patients. 

He pays tribute to nurses and doctors who have lost their lives while working during the coronavirus pandemic. 

He "salutes" medical staff who have come over to the UK and lost their lives while on the frontline in the battle against Covid-19.

He now talks about protecting medical staff. 

He says 45m pieces of PPE were distributed yesterday. PPE standards have been upgraded for staff. He says we have listened and we have put the interests of medical staff first. These standards are "amongst the highest in the world".

He announces that £300m has been made available to community pharmacies who "do so much to get vital medicines to people."

He also reveals that he is writing of £13.4bn of historic debt for NHS Trusts. This will ensure that the NHS will have strong foundations for the future. 

Matt Hancock 'delighted' to be back

After a slight delay Matt Hancock is speaking to the public via the daily coronavirus briefing. 

He says he's "delighted to be back" after self-isolating.

He thanks workers who are involved in building temporary hospitals in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow. 

He also pays tribute to council workers and volunteers looking after the vulnerable during the pandemic. 

Italy deaths shows signs of slowing

The number of deaths in Italy of people with Covid-19 has risen by 760 to 13,915.

The number of new cases registered was  2,477  a day-to-day rise of 3%.

Footage of NHS test centre

DUP councillor apologises for saying coronavirus was God's judgement for same sex marriage

A DUP councillor has apologised for any hurt caused by a social media post he wrote apparently linking the coronavirus pandemic with the legalisation of abortion and same sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

John Carson, who represents Ballymena, Co Antrim, the former stronghold of ex-leader and Christian preacher the late Ian Paisley, has been criticised for his Facebook post.

In his original post he wrote: "I said when abortion was legalised that our nation would be judged by God because of its departure from his word and the legalisation of the murder of the unborn child as well as same-sex marriage. 

"I was laughed at and mocked by some but as I said at the time, they laughed at Noah until the rain started. "You reap what you sow and our nation is now reaping the judgment of God because of an immoral and corrupt Government. 

"It is time to repent and turn again to the God of our fathers."

British Airways to furlough 28,000 staff

Britsh Airways have reached an agreement to furlough 28,000 staff.

The airline have confirmed there will be no redundancies. 

This will see the government pay 80% of their pay.

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