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Daily Covid-19 Brief: Tuesday, April 28

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Daily Covid-19 Brief: Tuesday, April 28

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.

Government announces increase in eligibility for testing

  • At today’s Downing Street Briefing, the Health Secretary announced an expansion in eligibility for COVID-19 testing from tomorrow.
  • Matt Hancock announced that anyone who lives or works in a care home will be eligible for testing whether they are symptomatic or not.
  • Hancock also announced that all over 65s with symptoms, alongside their households are will now eligible for testing. Testing is also being made available for all key workers who have to leave their home to go to work, and their households.
  • The Secretary of State said that the increase in eligibility was now possible due to the testing capacity increasing to 73,400.

ONS figures show a third of all COVID-19 deaths are taking place in care homes

  • New figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that there were 3,096 coronavirus care home deaths in the week ending 17 April – more than double the numbers of the previous week.
  • COVID-19 has led to weekly deaths from all causes being at their highest level since records began in 1993. Overall, nearly 25,000 deaths from all causes were recorded in the UK in week of the Easter bank holiday – 108% above the expected number for this time of year.
  • From tomorrow, the Government will be publishing daily data on deaths from COVID-19 in care homes and in the community in addition to hospital figures.
  • The Government has come under fire for its response to COVID-19 in care homes in recent weeks. Mike Padgham, of the Independent Care Group, which represents care homes, said care homes were now the “true front line” in the fight against coronavirus;
  • Padgham has called for the care home sector to receive more testing, protective equipment and money to tackle the outbreak.
  • The Labour Party has written to the Government setting out six key areas to address the issues in social care. The party’s social care spokeswoman, Liz Kendall MP, wants ministers to appoint a ‘Chief Care Officer’ specifically for the sector and give a guarantee of protective kit for carers who assist people in their own homes, as well as for care home staff.

Other UK COVID 19 news 

  • According to reports the Government is starting to look towards setting out the next stage of the country’s response to COVID-19. As the daily levels of deaths and new infection rates continue to fall, the Government is getting ready to release details on the first stage of lifting lockdown restrictions. Press reports say that an announcement of sorts is expected by the end of the week.
  • The UK held a minutes silence today, to remember key workers who have died with COVID-19. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was among those who observed the minute’s silence, which took place at 11.00 BST.
  • The Scottish Government has unveiled new guidance which recommends people should cover their face when outdoors. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that Scottish residents should use a cloth covering when on public transport or in other settings where social distancing is difficult.
  • Sturgeon has also announced that over 70s will now be tested for COVID-19 on admission to hospital.
  • Online proceedings in the House of Lords are now available to watch live on the Parliament website.
  • Over 3,000 fines were issued from the police to members of the public between March 27 and April 13, for breaking social distancing rules.
  • The Government has launched an online learning platform to help workers build their skills during the COVID-19 outbreak. The Government says the ‘Skills Toolkit’ gives people access to free, high-quality digital and numeracy courses to help build up their skills, progress in work and boost their job prospects.
  • Trade body for the airline industry, Airline UK has said that the airline industry and economy will suffer a great deal of damage if Ministers implement plans to quarantine travellers for 14 days after they arrive at British airports. The body has warned that the proposal would “would effectively kill international travel to and from the UK and cause immeasurable damage to the aviation industry and wider UK economy”.
  • Trade association UK Finance has released figures showing that one in every seven UK mortgages are currently on a payment holiday due to COVID-19. As of Friday 24 April, lenders had granted more than 1.6m mortgage payment holidays. The holiday scheme, introduced for some homeowners, was one of the schemes introduced by the UK government to ease the financial burden of the lockdown.

Relevant world COVID 19 news

  • The Spanish death toll has continued to fall. Today, Spain recorded 301 new COVID-19 deaths in 24 hours, down on yesterdays figures. Spain has started to reduce lockdown measures and is set to announce further ways of easing restrictions.
  • France has set out how it will slowly exit from restrictions. French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe has laid out how the lockdown will be eased if the number of new infections in France drops to 3,000 a day by 11 May. It is proposed that schools gradually reopen along with the reopening of shops and markets. The PM has also proposed that the state of emergency be extended further past the 23 July in order to allow Government to continue restriction on movement and businesses.
  • Italy has become the first country to apply for the EU’s Solidarity Fund due to COVID-19. The country has submitted a preliminary application for financial support to address the effects of coronavirus. The European Commission will collect all coronavirus-related applications until 24 June 2020 and then assess them all together.
  • European Ministers have called on the EU to make the tourism sector a property of any future recovery plan. At a meeting of EU member states tourism ministers, it was agreed that a joint solution to the crisis within the sector is required. The tourism industry is vital to many EU member states’ economies.
  • Austria has announced further steps to relax its lockdown. From May 1st events with groups of up to 10 people will be allowed and recommendations to stay at home will be relaxed for the majority of citizens.
  • Data from  Germany’s Robert Koch Institute shows the reproduction figure has risen to around 1.0. Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned German states not to lift restrictions too soon, as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths are continuing to rise. The news comes as German economic institute, Ifo, predicts that the German economy would contract by 6.6% in 2020 due to COVID-19.

Company updates

  • Retailer Marks & Spencer has said it will “never be the same again”. The firm says has axed its dividend next year and it has announced the acceleration of plans to overhaul the businesses. New restructuring measures are set to be announced over the next few weeks.
  • BP has announced that its earnings fell by 66% in the first three months of the year to $800m  down from $2.4bn during the same period last year. The oil giant blamed the losses on falling energy prices, a drop in demand for fuels and weak earnings from its oil trading arm.
  • Fast food chain McDonalds has confirmed that it is starting to look at ways to reopen its UK restaurants. It’s CEO for UK and Ireland has said that it is looking at a potential, limited reopening. A number of internal criteria have been set for reopening.
  • The Chief Executive of Tesco has said that COVID-19 has lead to a revival of the ‘weekly shop’. Dave Lewis has said that social distancing has meant that while the number of transactions in Tesco stores had halved, the size of the average basket has doubled.
  • HSBC has put 35,000 job cuts on hold due to COVID-19. The vast majority of the cuts, which were announced on February, have been paused as the bank says it does not want to leave staff unable to find work elsewhere during the coronavirus outbreak

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