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Daily Covid-19 Brief: Saturday, March 28

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Daily Covid-19 Brief: Saturday, March 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.

NHS staff to begin being tested for COVID 19 from today

  • Workers with symptoms and those who live with people who have symptoms will be checked – starting with hundreds of critical care doctors and nurses.
    • Tests for A&E staff, paramedics and GPs are expected to follow, and later social care staff will be tested.
    • The government has been facing criticism over a lack of testing for health workers. Until now only seriously ill patients in hospital with flu-like symptoms were being routinely tested for COVID 19.
    • In Wales, frontline NHS staff are already being screened for the virus.
    • In comes as the government continues to ramp us measures to prepare for what they expect to be a rapid increase in COVID 19 cases in the coming weeks.
    • The government has announced its setting up two more new temporary hospitals in addition to NHS Nightingale being set up in London’s ExCeL centre.
    • One of the new hospitals will be at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, with a capacity for 5,000 beds, and the other will be an 1,000-bed facility at the Manchester Central Conference Centre. Both will open in mid-April.

Other UK COVID 19 news 

  • The government will change elements of the insolvency system to help UK companies keep trading. There will be a temporary suspension of wrongful trading provisions for company directors to remove the threat of personal liability during the pandemic. Companies required to hold annual general meetings will also get help – either being able to postpone or hold the AGM online.
  • Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack, has developed mild symptoms associated with coronavirus and is self-isolating. He has not been tested but he has developed a mild temperature and a cough.
  • The Home Office has paused evictions and terminations of asylum support for the next three months. This applies even if an asylum seekers claim has been rejected. It is reported that this will remove the threat of possible homelessness for an estimated 50,000 people.
  • The ratings agency Fitch has cut the UK’s sovereign debt rating to AA-, saying debt levels will jump as the government increases its spending to offset the near shutdown of the economy.
  • The government has now clarified that people should only use open spaces near to their home, where possible – although the new advice does not explicitly define what counts as “local”, and whether or not people can use cars.
  • Prisoners in Scotland who are approaching the end of their sentences could be released from the week beginning 30 March, as the Scottish government moves to prevent an “increasingly alarming” coronavirus crisis in the country’s prisons.
  • The Welsh education minister, Kirsty Williams, has called on school staff to try and keep schools open for NHS staff and carers during the two weeks that would have been the Easter holidays. The minister also confirmed that the current provision of assistance to families of children in receipt of free school meals would include the Easter school holiday period.

Relevant world COVID 19 news 

  • Further restrictions have been announced to public life in the Republic of Ireland. For a two-week period until Easter Sunday, everyone must stay at home unless they are an essential worker, are going out to buy food or have a medical reason. Non-essential workers are banned from public transport and exercise is to be limited to within 2km of your home.
  • Donald Trump has invoked the Defence Production Act to force General Motors to make ventilators after he accused the company of “time-wasting” over their commitment to make ventilators voluntarily. Trump stated he wants to see 100,000 ventilators in 100 days.

Company updates

  • Boots has opened two drive-through testing sites for NHS workers with coronavirus symptoms. Testing will initially be for NHS staff by invitation only and will be free of charge.
  • NatWest has said it will match customer donations to the National Emergencies Trust coronavirus appeal up to a total of £5m. The appeal has raised £11m in its first week, with the money set to benefit grassroots organisations and small charities to provide vital support to those who need it most.
  • Lidl has announced it will be donating thousands of its fresh fruit and vegetable bags to NHS staff across the country in an effort to help provide frontline health workers with fresh produce.
  • Burberry will leverage its global supply chain to fast-track the delivery of more than 100,000 surgical masks to the NHS for its medical staff.

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