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Daily Covid-19 Brief: Tuesday, April 14

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Daily Covid-19 Brief: Tuesday, April 14

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.

Office for Budget Responsibility predicted that the UK economy could shrink by 35% in the second quarter of 2020

  • The OBR has predicted the UK economy will likely contract by 35% between April and July if a lockdown remains in place for three months, with a three month period of a partial lifting.
  • The UK economy grew 0.2% in the first three months of this year but it could contract by 12.8% overall in 2020 if the lockdown lasts for three months.
  • In the scenario the OBR believe that unemployment would rise from 3.8% to 10% meaning an additional 2.1 million people will be out of work, however they expect unemployment to fall sharply by the end of the year.
  • Public sector net borrowing is forecast to reach an estimated £273bn this financial year or 14% of GDP making it the largest single-year deficit since the Second World War.
  • However, the OBR expects the economy recover quickly with GDP expected to jump 25% in the third quarter and a further 20% in the final three months of 2020.
  • The OBR also predicted that there will be no long-lasting economic damage from a three month lockdown.
  • Separately the IMF said it expects the UK economy to shrink by 6.5% in 2020, while the global economy will contract by 3% which would mark the steepest global downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Government comes under pressure to publish daily figures of deaths in care homes as new ONS figure reveal a steep increase in overall deaths 

  • The Labour Party have increased pressure on the government to act on the news that several care homes across the country are facing COVID 19 outbreaks.
  • They want ministers to publish daily figures of deaths in care homes and ensure that these settings get the resources they need.
  • The current daily coronavirus death tolls released by the government are hospital deaths only – they do not include deaths at people’s houses or in care homes.
  • It comes as the government has confirmed that there are 2,099 care homes in England with cases of COVID 19.
  • It comes as new figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) provided more information on deaths in care homes, but they are about two weeks out of date. That’s because they rely on death certificates, which take a while to process.
  • The ONS figures cover the week ending 3 April. The report suggests that 90% of coronavirus deaths during this period were taking place inside hospitals (3,716 deaths). The remainder occurred in hospices (33 deaths), care homes (217 deaths) and private homes (136 deaths).
  • The ONS figures also found that COVID 19 had pushed the overall death toll in England to its highest level since official weekly statistics began in 2005, with fatalities running at almost 40% above the average.
  • The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has said it will work with the ONS and Public Health England to find ways to provide more up-to-date information from care homes.
  • The CQC has said that from later this week, deaths that are suspected or confirmed to involve COVID 19 will be recorded daily.
  • The CQC said these new figures should provide a “clearer picture of deaths” and highlight worst-hit regions. It is currently unclear whether these figures will be released publicly.

Other UK COVID 19 news 

  • The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has confirmed that more than £14bn from the Coronavirus emergency response fund will go towards public services, including the NHS and local authorities. The share for the devolved administrations now stands at almost £2bn through the Barnett formula.
  • More than 1,000 people who were rough sleeping in London have been found accommodation in hotels or other locations to allow them to self-isolate. The accommodation is being paid for a £10m fund provided by City Hall and central government.
  • The police and crime commissioner in the UK county of Bedfordshire has set up a £60,000 fund to provide emergency shelter for those fleeing domestic violence during the COVID 19 pandemic.
  • The government has cancelled an order for thousands of ventilators that have been developed by a group including two Formula One teams due to fears the device is not suitable for treating the coronavirus illness.
  • £8 million has been made available by the government to pay for different types of therapeutic support for families whose adopted children may have suffered trauma or anxiety about coronavirus. The funding can be used by local authorities and regional adoption agencies.
  • The Welsh government and NHS Wales are appealing to the Welsh public to download a new COVID Symptom Tracker app to help the NHS response to COVID 19 in Wales.
  • The government has updated its guidance to allow people with learning disabilities or autism to leave their house for exercise more than once a day and to travel outside of their local area under current lockdown measures.
  • Dominic Cummings, the PM’s chief adviser who had been self-isolating with coronavirus symptoms, is now back at work in No 10.

Relevant world COVID 19 news

  • The European Council has approved a €3.57 billion increase to the bloc’s annual budget commitments, primarily to free up funding for the fight against coronavirus.
  • €2.7 billion is committed for supporting health systems, including stockpiling and distribution of resources, cross-border transportation of coronavirus patients and the creation of temporary hospitals.
  • A further €300 million will be used to increase the capacity of the rescEU medical stockpiling program, while €115 million is committed for co-financing measures such as obtaining personal protective equipment.
  • €3.6 million will go toward strengthening the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
  • The Post Office has made its “Payout Now” voucher product and “Fast PACE” (a pre-authorised cheque encashment service) available to all UK’s banks, building societies and credit unions to support these organisation aid customers who are struggling with access to cash.

Company updates

  • Toyota plans to resume production at its plant in France from 22 April. Every large European and North American plant has been closed after carmakers shuttered sites from mid-March to protect workers and respond to falling demand. The earliest start date for reopening plants in the UK, Turkey and the Czech Republic is 4 May.
  • The UK Space Agency is making £2.6m of funding available to the space sector for solutions that can help the NHS respond to coronavirus. In partnership with the European Space Agency, this will fund a number of projects that could include using drones to deliver test kits and PPE, or using satellite communications to carry out some appointments online rather than face-to-face.
  • Online retail giant Amazon is now on another recruitment drive for 75,000 more. The tech giant needs more workers to cope with a massive surge in demand as more people stay at home and order online amid global lockdowns.
  • Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has revealed plans to launch a global clinical trial to look at using one of its drugs to help treat the immune response triggered by Covid-19 in severely ill patients.

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