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Daily Covid-19 Brief: Wednesday, April 29

Daily Covid-19 Brief: Wednesday, April 29

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.

The Government is targeting 250,000 daily tests in the second phase of its Covid-19 response

  • Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told MPs the 250,000 tests target is an “aspiration”, a day before the deadline for the existing 100,000 daily test target.
  • Downing Street’s latest figures show that the UK now has the capacity to carry out 73,400 tests a day​.
  • Testing for Covid-19 is now available for millions more people in England after the Government loosened rules on who can apply, with care home residents and staff with or without symptoms now able to request testing.
  • This means that an estimated 25 million people can now book through the Government’s test-booking website.

Standing in for the Prime Minister in Parliament, Dominic Raab refused to give further detail about the exit strategy for the lockdown

  • Starmer said that Labour would support the Government on its exit strategy, and called on the Government to work “constructively and openly” on the next stage.
  • Asked by Labour leader Keir Starmer about the need for the Government to be transparent and to announce details of when the exit strategy would be published, Raab said he could not provide information ahead of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) review on May 7.
  • However, Dominic Raab said that the data availability continued to suggest a flattening in the rate of infection.
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson today held what he called a “constructive” phone call with Keir Starmer.

The latest figures show that a third of all Covid-19 deaths in England and Wales are happening in care homes

  • Data from the Office for National Statistics shows 2,000 coronavirus care home deaths in the week ending 17 April, double the previous week’s tally. This took the total number of deaths in care homes linked to the virus to 3,096.
  • As with hospital deaths, the statistics do not differentiate between those who died with Covid-19 and those who died of it.
  • In total there have now been 26,097 deaths, a 765 increase on yesterday.
  • The Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that the Government would now begin including the number of deaths in care homes and the community in its daily figures from Wednesday, saying it would bring “as much transparency as possible” to the data.
  • Dominic Raab said that there was a particular challenge over transmission of the virus in care homes, and that the Government did not have as much control over the flow of people in and out of care homes.

Other UK COVID 19 news 

  • Home Secretary Priti Patel said the UK will consider quarantine and thermal screening at borders, adding that “everything is under review”.
  • Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said that schools in the UK would reopen in phases, but did not give any hints on dates saying that it depended on scientific advice. Geoff Barton, leader of the head teachers’ union, suggested that Years 6, 10 and 12 may be the first to go back, with 1 June the earliest potential date.
  • Foreign Office Minister Nigel Adams has told MPs that the Government is working with the private sector and using charter flights to bring British nationals back to the UK.
  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that contact tracing to control the spread of Covid-19 will be ready within three weeks.

World COVID 19 news

  • The US economy fell by 4.8% in Q1 2020, the biggest drop since the last recession in 2008, and exceeding economists’ forecasts.
  • China has warned Australia that the countries relationship could be damaged ‘beyond repair’ after the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison defended calls for an investigation into the origins of coronavirus.
  • Spain has ruled out an any early reopening of its tourism sector, saying that visitors would only be encouraged to return when it is safe to do so.
  • The German Government is expected to extend a travel warning for all leisure trips abroad until mid-June.

Company updates

  • Nando’s and Burger King are reopening some UK branches for deliveries, with Wagamama also set to resume deliveries in some areas.
  • British Airways have announced they plan to make up to 12,000 staff redundant, warning that up to one in four jobs could go as the sector slumps.
  • The CBI say that the UK retail sector is experiencing a collapse in consumer spending which has seen two-third of firms say the lockdown has led to the worst month for sales since the 2008 crisis.
  • Barclays Chief Exec Jes Staley has said that having thousands of bank workers in city offices “may be a thing of the past”, saying that lockdown has led to the firm rethinking its “location strategy”.

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