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Daily Covid-19 Brief: Tuesday, May 5

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Daily Covid-19 Brief: Tuesday, May 5

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.

Trade unions and business leaders have expressed concerns over safety and legal risk of returning to work

  • Trade unions and business leaders were at loggerheads over the Prime Minister’s back to work strategy, following claims that employee’s lives could be put at risk by attempts to restart the economy.
  • Labour leader Keir Starmer has joined in demands from unions that businesses should be required to publish risk assessment with tough enforcement action against reckless employers.
    • Businesses responded that risk assessments were overly bureaucratic and would add another cost to small businesses who are already suffering the hardest.

The Government is in talks with Roche for a large-scale rollout of a coronavirus antibody test with near-100% accuracy rate

  • However members of the Government’s scientific advisory body, Sage, have raised concerns about the accuracy of the test.
  • Documents released today highlighted several key concerns from the group:
  • Some people may go back to work thinking they have immunity when they do not (due to false positives)
  • People may stop washing their hands as much (“There is some evidence from previous public health crises that misunderstanding test results can affect adherence to risk-reducing behaviours,” the body said)
  • Those who’s test showed were not immune might try to hide away and perhaps “seek to avoid attendance at work entirely”
  • The potential for discrimination by employers on the basis of antibody status, for example only taking on new staff if they had confirmed antibodies
  • This might prompt some people to try to seek out infection in order to fully integrate back into the workplace

 

Other UK COVID 19 news 

  • The UK’s chief scientific adviser has told MPs it would have been “beneficial” to have ramped up Covid-19 testing sooner.
  • London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said he is “really worried” about the impact that easing lockdown restrictions will have on public transport in the capital. Stating that “any increase whatsoever of people out and about would lead to us not being able to have passengers safely keeping their social distance.”
  • The Government has announced a £5.4m fund to support the legal advice sector.
  • The government is open to allowing top-flight football to resume in June, Matt Hancock has said.

 

Relevant world COVID 19 news

  • A patient diagnosed with pneumonia near Paris on 27 December actually had the coronavirus, his doctor has said. This means the virus may have arrived in Europe almost a month earlier than previously thought and four days before the WHO was informed of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause being detected in Wuhan.
  • World leaders have pledged nearly $7.4bn to research COVID-19 vaccines and treatment therapies.
  • Chinese state media have accused US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of lying, after he said there was “enormous evidence” the coronavirus emanated from a laboratory in Wuhan.
  • New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the country will not have open borders with the rest of the world for “a long time to come”. However, Australia and New Zealand have held tentative talks about resuming cross-border travel between the two nations, due to the very low infection rates in both countries.
  • The US Treasury has said it wants to borrow a record $3trillion between April and June to prop up the economy during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • A BBC investigation has found that an Iranian airline may have fuelled the spread of the virus in the Middle East. Mahan Air flew infected passengers from Iran to Lebanon and Iraq – leading to the first official cases in both countries.
  • Hong Kong’s government said on Tuesday it would relax restrictions on public gatherings and allow gyms, cinemas and beauty parlours to re-open later this week.
  • Saudi Arabia has given private businesses a green light to cut salaries by 40% and terminate employment contracts, citing economic hardships caused by the pandemic.

 

Company updates

  • The UK car industry suffered its biggest ever fall in sales in April, with new registrations down by 97.3% in April compared to a year ago. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders says the figures demonstrate the need for car showrooms to be allowed to reopen.
  • Virgin Atlantic has announced they will cut more than 3,000 jobs in the UK and end their operation from Gatwick airport.
  • British Airways have been criticised by MPs for not taking part in a Transport Select Committee heating this week following reports that the firm plans to make 12,000 staff redundant.
  • Online supermarket sales are expected to soar by more than a quarter this year due to the lockdown, with Tesco doubling the number of its delivery slots, and Sainsbury’s seeing the number rise by 75% this week.
  • Cinema chain Vue hopes to reopen some cinemas in mid-July, as the firm’s Chief Executive said he was talking to the Government about how they could operate using social distancing measures.
  • KLM has today resumed operations to a number of its European destinations, and is now running a daily flight from Amsterdam to Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, Milan, Budapest, Prague, Warsaw and Helsinki

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