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Daily Covid-19 Brief: Weekend Update, April 25-26

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Daily Covid-19 Brief: Weekend Update, April 25-26

Each day, our Public Policy team will be reporting on the latest news in the evolving situation. To view the previous day’s summary, please click here.

“Careful steps” are needed when easing the lockdown so social distancing will be with us for “some time”, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said.

  • Speaking to Andrew Marr, Mr Raab described the more than 20,000 deaths as “heartbreaking”, but stated the number could have been far higher without the strict measures that were introduced.
  • Reiterating that social distancing would remain with us for some time, Mr Raab did offer some hope that schools, businesses and sports could begin to return to “a new normal”.
  • However, the Foreign Secretary did stress that it would be very difficult for sport to be played outside the summer; although this would differ between sports because of the scale of testing that could be introduced.
  • On the lack of testing at airports, he said the scientific advice was that “it wouldn’t make much difference” due to the low numbers travelling. Raab added he asked about it every week.
  • On businesses reopening, he said it would be important they followed the same practices put in place by firms in essential sectors when it came to social-distancing and cleaning.
  • Raab also denied reports that the UK has ordered 30million antibody tests, stating that it was being closely looked at but there were concerns the test could not be adequately scaled up at this stage.
  • In relation to the media storm over Dominic Cummings’ attendance at Sage meetings, Raab stated that the Government had no plans to publish the list of participants in the Sage committee.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that Scotland could ease lockdown measures at a different pace to other parts of the UK.

  • Also appearing on the Andrew Marr Show, Nicola Sturgeon stated the such a decision would not be political and would be taken to best protect the people of Scotland.
  • Sturgeon also said that pupils could return to school on different days to allow for social distancing measures to remain in place.

Other UK COVID 19 news 

  • The Prime Minister is due to resume full-time duties in Downing Street on Monday after spending a week in hospital – including three nights in intensive care.
  • The military is to begin testing essential workers around the UK for coronavirus in mobile units operating in “hard-to-reach” areas. At least 96 new pop-up facilities, which will travel to care homes, police and fire stations, prisons and benefits centres, are due to be running by May.
  • Crime in Scotland has fallen by a quarter since lockdown measures were imposed.
  • The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has taken part in a clinical trial to help establish whether plasma from the blood of recovered coronavirus patients can help treat others.

Relevant world COVID 19 news

  • The World Health Organisation has said that Governments should not issue “immunity passports” as a way of easing lockdowns, as there is no evidence that individuals who have recovered from the virus are protected from a second infection.
  • The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus was first reported, has no remaining cases in its hospitals, according to officials.
  • President Trump has not held his daily coronavirus briefing at the White House, tweeting that it was not worth it
  • The state of New York, the epicentre of the Covid-19 outbreak in the US, is planning to allow pharmacies to carry out tests for the virus.
  • About 40 people may have become infected in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, when they voted in the state’s election on 7 April.
  • President Trump is drawing criticism over his plan to deliver a commencement speech at the West Point military academy in New York. Critics argue it will create unsafe conditions for the 1,000 cadets returning to campus.
  • Saudi Arabia eased some of its restrictions on Sunday. A 24-hour curfew has been lifted and people will be able to move freely from 0900 to 1700 local time. From Wednesday, shops will be allowed to open and some factories will resume operations.
  • Religious groups in South Korea have resumed services after the government relaxed restrictions on such gatherings.
  • Italy’s manufacturing industry will start reopening on May 4 but schools will remain closed until September, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has said.
  • Spain will allow family walks and individual physical activity from May 2, the country’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has said. Additionally, children under 14 will finally be allowed outside for the first time in six weeks from today.
  • Two mink farms in the Netherlands have confirmed cases of coronavirus among its animals.
  • Israel has allowed some businesses to reopen and said it would consider reopening schools

Company update

  • A survey by the Association of Practising Accountants has found that around half of SMEs in the UK will run out of cash in 12 weeks.
  • Low-cost airline Wizz Air is set to become the first carrier to resume flights from London amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The budget European firm announced plans to restart selected journeys on Friday 1 May from London Luton Airport.
  • John Lewis is reopening its textiles factory in Lancashire, which usually makes curtains, pillows and duvets, to make 8,000 clinical gowns for the NHS to help medical staff caring for coronavirus patients.
  • Tata Steel, the owner of Port Talbot’s vast steelworks, has asked the government to provide a £500m emergency loan package following a collapse in its cashflows triggered by the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Sir Richard Branson is seeking urgent offers for his stricken airline Virgin Atlantic. The billionaire Virgin Group boss has asked the UK government for a commercial loan, believed to be around £500m and said his Necker Island home in the Caribbean could be used as collateral.
  • Amazon has lost its appeal in French court over virus protection for staff. Company faces €100,000 fine for every non-essential delivery until it completes a full safety assessment

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