This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Liveblog: Fourth UK doctor dies with coronavirus

All the latest updates on the coronavirus (Covid-19) situation


Wednesday 1 April


17:40 Fitness coach Joe Wicks has raised £80,000 for NHS in a week. He's also been keeping the nation's children entertained whilst they're not at school, by hosting PE classes virtually at 9am every day.

17:30 A kind offer - Victor Buchanan, of Pickering hotel The White Swan, has asked us to promote his message that there are nine hotel rooms in the North Yorkshire town that can be used by NHS or emergency workers who need to self-isolate. Anyone interested can message him here.

17:20 During the Government's daily coronavirus briefing, business secretary Alok Sharma says 390 million items of PPE have been delivered in the past two weeks, but that more would be done to ensure staff are protected. He was asked whether the Government had been too slow to act in its response to the outbreak.

17:15 Dr Alfa Saadu has become the fourth UK doctor to die with coronavirus. The 68-year-old had returned from retirement to help with the outbreak and was working at Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, reports HuffPost UK.

17:00 Another 563 patients have died in UK hospitals as a result of coronavirus since the previous day's report. In total, 2,352 deaths have now been reported.

16:30 From Friday, top London hotel Claridge’s will house up to 40 doctors and other NHS staff who cannot live at home during the coronavirus period. The Evening Standard states that they will receive meals and accommodation free of charge.

16:15 Wimbledon has been cancelled this year. It is the first time the tennis championships have been cancelled since the Second World War.

15:30 In a video released by Clarence House, Prince Charles has spoken for the first time since his coronavirus diagnosis. He recounts the 'strange, frustrating and often distressing experience', 'when the presence of family and friends is no longer possible'. He sends a message of support to those enduring sickness, isolation and loneliness; who have lost loved ones; and are working or volunteering in the health service.

15:00 Some very sad news - a 13-year-old boy has become the youngest person in the UK to have died after testing positive for coronavirus. Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, of Brixton, died in King's College Hospital, London, on Monday, and had no apparent underlying health conditions, the BBC reports. Our thoughts are with his family.

14:45 29,474 people in the UK have now tested positive for Covid-19. 152,979 people have been tested in total.

As of 5pm on 31 March, 2,352 of those hospitalised have sadly died, including 563 since yesterday.

13:00 Hospitals have been urged to use any spare laboratory capacity to test health professionals for coronavirus, reports the BBC. It said the instruction came from health secretary Matt Hancock, who is self-isolating while recovering from coronavirus.

12:00 The Government is celebrating that the first batch of new ventilators resulting from its 'challenge' to industry are about to 'roll off' the production line.

After an 'initial delivery' this weekend, the consortium of manufacturers including Formula 1 teams McLaren and Mercedes, Ford, Siemens and Meggitt, 'hundreds' more could come on stream in the coming weeks.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: 'We are doing everything we can to support our NHS staff fighting this battle on the frontline, and it’s crucial we get even more ventilators there as soon as possible. 

'We have seen a fantastic response from businesses to our call for a national effort - and I’m delighted these companies accepted the challenge to save lives across the country.'

09:30 Companies hoping to help with the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic are offering special discounts and offers to NHS workers.

This includes Addison Lee putting £50k into a pot for free taxi journeys (then crowdfunding for more).

NHS England has also created a resource listing discounts here.

Tuesday 31 March


17:25 In today's press conference, Michael Gove says the number of UK patients hospitalised with coronavirus has surpassed 10,000.

'Green shoots' are referenced, but the public is urged not to become complacent. 

16:20 Swedish furniture giant IKEA is opening up its Wembley store to the NHS to become a drive-through test centre for coronavirus, reports the Evening Standard.

IKEA said this could be the first of several stores converted in this manner.

16:05 Virendra Sharma, Labour MP for Ealing Southall, has announced that he is recovering from coronavirus. He thanked Hillingdon Hospitals for their 'exceptional care' during a time of 'immense pressure'.

Other MPs who have tested positive for the virus include Prime Minister Boris Johnson; health secretary Matt Hancock; health minister Nadine Dorries; and Kate Osborne, who represents Jarrow.

Various others, including Labour's deputy leadership contender Angela Rayner, have entered self-isolation. 

15:50 Today's Government figures show that as of 9am, 25,150 people in the UK have tested positive for Covid-19. In total, 143,186 people have been tested. As of 5pm yesterday, of those hospitalised in the country, 1,789 have sadly died.

15:30 Various London restaurants are continuing to support those working in the NHS.

15:00 The Home Office says that NHS doctors, nurses and paramedics whose UK work visas were due to expire before 1 October will now have them extended for a year, so they can contribute to the efforts against coronavirus.  

12:20 A GP working for a Covid-19 assessment hub in Walsall said he 'could cry' after his surgery car park was covered with fly-tipped rubbish.

Dr Stephen Manning told the Express and Star that his colleagues were already 'past breaking point'.

12:00 A petition by EveryDoctor is urging the Prime Minister that NHS workers need adequate protection. Its has surpassed 21,500 signatures, with 11,000 from healthcare workers, in 36 hours.

Dr Georgina Wood of EveryDoctor told Pulse: ‘Providing adequate PPE to all NHS workers is critical to prevent further deaths of healthcare staff. We need to stop this virus from spreading by following World Health Organisation guidance and properly protecting our healthcare workers, immediately.

‘With the escalating number of coronavirus cases across the nation, including asymptomatic cases, it is essential that the NHS workforce wear the correct, safe PPE to prevent them from catching the virus themselves.

‘Healthcare staff are potent vectors, so if they contract the potentially fatal virus not only are their own lives at risk, but also the lives of all the other patients that they care for.’

09:30 Around a quarter of NHS doctors are currently off work due to self-isolating or being ill, Sky News claims.

Monday 30 March


20:50 Thousands of cabin crew staff from Virgin Atlantic and easyJet have been asked to join medics at the new 'Nightingale' hospitals that are being temporarily set up in London, Birmingham and Manchester, the Evening Standard reports.

19:30 Prince Charles has left self-isolation after seven days. Last week, it was revealed that he had tested positive for coronavirus. The Prime Minister and health secretary, meanwhile, remain in isolation after their own diagnoses, but the PM has been leading meetings on the Government's response remotely.

17:20 Today's press conference is being lead by foreign secretary Dominic Raab, chief scientific officer Patrick Vallance, and PHE's medical director Professor Yvonne Doyle. Mr Raab stresses the importance of staying at home and adhering to the Government's guidelines; describes coronavirus as the biggest global challenge in a generation; and speaks about British nationals who are struggling to return from abroad.

Flights will soon be targeted from specific countries to return these people to the UK, he announces. This is part of a package that airlines including British Airways, Virgin, easyJet and Jet2 have signed up to. 

Mr Vallance presents on how public transport usage, such as on buses and the London Underground, has decreased since the end of February.

Professor Doyle describes testing as a 'crucial part of our stategy'. She states: 'There is one thing worse than no test - and that's a bad test'.

17:00 22,141 people in the UK have now tested positive for coronavirus - an increase of 2,619 since yesterday - and 1,408 have sadly died. NHS chief executive Simon Stevens has said that there are more than 9,000 Covid-19 patients currently in hospitals across England.

15:25 The BBC reports that a GP claims to have been barred from working at a hospital, after accusing it of being 'dangerously lacking' in its coronavirus response.

Dr Catherine Beanland described Ludlow Community Hospital as 'very slow' in protecting staff and patient isolation, and how she was told to stop working after her comments and that her protective clothing was 'frightening patients'.

15:10 The BMA has waived final year medical students' membership fees until October, to ensure they're able to support those entering the workforce earlier than anticipated.  

15:00 Actor James McAvoy has donated £275,000 to a PPE crowdfunding appeal led by NHS medics, bringing the total to £400,000, according to The Guardian. 

14:15 The Scottish Government has paused five cancer screening programmes - breast, cervical, bowel, Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) and diabetic retinopathy eye screening - due to the coronavirus pandemic. Results will still be processed but no further patients will be invited for screenings, according to a BBC report.

Pregnancy and newborn screening programmes, including tests offered during pregnancy and just after or near birth, will continue 'where logistically practical', the report added.

11:00 Specialist Government units are working to combat false and misleading narratives around coronavirus, to ensure the public is equipped with the right information to protect themselves and ultimately save lives.

The Rapid Response Unit is tackling issues including criminals running phishing scams, and up to 70 incidents a week are being identified. 

The 'Don't Feed the Beast' public information campaign relaunches next week. 

10:50 England's first free food boxes containing supplies have been delivered to those at highest risk from coronavirus.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government confirmed that this, as part of the biggest effort to deliver supplies to those in need since World War Two, will benefit the 'clinically vulnerable' - 900,000 of whom received letters of guidance from NHS England last week. 

Boxes will contain essentials such as household items and non-perishable foods like pasta and tinned goods.

10:40 Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister's most senior aide, is now also self-isolating after developing coronavirus symptoms over the weekend, according to reports.

10:20 Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is self-isolating after contracting coronavirus - will be writing to all UK households to urge them to stay at home to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

His letter will say: 'If too many people become seriously unwell at one time, the NHS will be unable to cope. This will cost lives. We must slow the spread of the disease, and reduce the number of people needing hospital treatment in order to save as many lives as possible. That is why we are giving one simple instruction – you must stay at home.'


Friday 27 March


17:20 Simon Stevens also states that coronavirus testing for NHS workers will start next week, starting with GPs and those in A&E, critical care and ambulatory care.

17:15 In today's press conference, NHS chief executive Simon Stevens says that more temporary hospitals are being set up, in Manchester and Birmingham. This follows the 'NHS Nightingale' hospital in London's ExCel centre.

16:50 27 prisoners have tested positive for coronavirus in the UK, says the Ministry of Justice

16:20 Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty may also have caught the virus. An unconfirmed case, he is self-isolating at home.


14:35 The UK death toll is rising further with 759 now dead from the virus. Nearly 15,000 people have now tested positive, with the vast majority recovering.

13:30 Health secretary Matt Hancock has also tested positive for coronavirus. He is now working in isolation at home. 

12:35 Dentists are being redeployed to help the NHS in the fight against coronavirus, including working for the new 'NHS Nightingale hospital', usually known as the London ExCel conference centre.

This comes as the Government has suspended all non-urgent dentistry during as part of emergency measures to tackle the pandemic.

But there seemed to be some controversy as to whether dentists could opt out of their redeployment, including for health reasons, according to the BBC report.

11:19  Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for coronavirus and is self-isolating. He said he would continue to lead the response remotely.

09:00 A GP from Leigh-on-Sea in Essex may have become the first UK healthcare professional to die from the coronavirus. 

Dr Habib Zaidi, 76, died in Southend Hospital 24 hours after becoming ill on Tuesday, reports the BBC.

Test results whether he did have Covid-19 are pending but his daughter Dr Sarah Zaidi, who is also a GP, told the BBC that he had 'textbook symptoms'.

She said: 'He was treated as a definitive case. There is little clinical doubt it is coronavirus, the test result is academic.'


Thursday 26 March


20:10 Much of the country took to their front doors and windows to applaud the NHS tonight (without leaving their homes, of course)...

Really lovely to see so much support for #ClapforNHS / #ClapForOurCarers!

19:45 Just 15 minutes to go until much of the nation takes part in #ClapforNHS - a round of applause from windows and living rooms alike, to show appreciation to those working on the frontline in the efforts against coronavirus.

19:30 Unfortunately, GPs are having to take matters of PPE into their own hands. Surrey GP Dr Dave Triska has shared some creative examples of homemade (or practice-made) 3D masks.

This comes as GPs in Dorset also told Pulse they have been advised by their CCG to source their own PPE. The BMA yesterday warned that doctors will die with proper provision

17:30 The self-employed who cannot work due to the coronavirus emergency measures currently in place will receive 80% of their earnings, the Government has announced. 

15:20  Deliberately coughing on emergency workers during the coronavirus outbreak can now be punished with a two-year jail sentence, reports the Independent.

In a sad state of affairs, the measure is being brought in by the Crown Prosecution Service in response to reports of people trying to intimidate emergency workers by claiming to have coronavirus and coughing in their face.

Deliberately coughing on a member of the public will also be punishable, treated by the CPS as 'common assault'.

15:00  The death toll from coronavirus in the UK has risen to 463, as 9,529 cases have been confirmed.

Previously, the Government has signalled that 20,000 would be an optimistic projection for the final death toll from the virus.

11:30 A #ClapForOurCarers campaign will be implemented tonight, where households across the nation are encouraged to participate in an applause from their windows at 8pm.

This is to thank the NHS for its efforts in tackling coronavirus.

11:15 Nationwide, officials are looking to convert around ten more sites into makeshift hospitals, Sky News reports.

They would follow a similar model to London's ExCel exhibition centre, that's being made into a 2,000-capacity site called NHS Nightingale.

11:00 Tests establishing whether people have had coronavirus and are considered immune will be given to NHS staff as a priority, the chief medical officer has said.

The 15-minute procedures will also be given to other key workers. 


Wednesday 25 March


20:15  As of this evening, the Coronavirus Bill had become an Act of Parliament, having been passed by the House of Commons, the House of Lords and gained Royal Assent in just three days. 

It gives the Government wide-ranging powers for up to two years, in a bid to curb the pandemic. 

19:45 The Government is now be providing free car parking for NHS and social care staff during the coronavirus crisis. 

17:10 Today's press conference is discussing antibody testing, and the need for people to stay at home to allow essential services to continue and to slowen the spread of Covid-19.

17:00 405,000 people have already signed up to volunteer within the NHS to help to combat coronavirus, the health secretary confirms. Thank you, everyone!

15:20 It's being reported that a 21-year-old woman has sadly become the youngest Brit with no pre-existing health conditions to die after contracting Covid-19.

15:15Lawyer Andrea James says that doctors in Ireland have received a letter from the GMS (General Medical Services) pension scheme, advising that if they die in service as a result of coronavirus, the benefit lump sum will not be paid to their families because Covid-19 is "an act of God".

14:15  The Government has launched a coronavirus chatbot that will answer questions from the public via WhatsApp.

To use the free GOV.UK Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp, add 07860 064422 in your phone contacts and then message the word ‘hi’ in a WhatsApp message to get started.

13:10 Public Health England says they will be conducting more than 11,000 daily tests for coronavirus, as of Monday. However, 25,000 daily tests won't be achieved until 25 April, according to The Times.

12:45 In today's PMQs, former health secretary Jeremy Hunt asks the Prime Minister when the country will be returning to routine testing and if NHS staff can be tested weekly to ensure they aren't passing coronavirus onto their patients.

12:10  Some better news from the US, where President Donald Trump rather optimistically hopes that they will shake off the coronavirus pandemic 'by Easter'... (see the BBC for full report)

12:00  Doctors have threatened to quit the NHS due to concerns over PPE, reports the Guardian.

11:00  Prince Charles has tested positive for coronavirus, but has 'mild' symptoms. The Duchess of Cornwall also tested but does not have the virus.

10:00 Piers Morgan has offered to pay the parking tickets of any NHS health worker who gets fined during the coronavirus crisis.

09:30  170,000 people signed up to volunteer to help the NHS overnight, Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director, at NHS England announces. That equates to 189 people every minute.


Tuesday 24 March


16:45 Health secretary Matt Hancock says during the Government's daily press briefing that a temporary hospital is to be set up in London with help from the military.

The hospital will be established in the ExCeL exhibition centre, in east London, serving up to 4,000 patients across two wards.

Mr Hancock also said almost 12,000 retired healthcare workers had applied to return to the NHS. This includes 2,660 doctors and 6,147 nurses  -and more than 18,000 medical students will also join the workforce.

16:15  NHS Boards in Scotland are setting up 'community hubs' for coronavirus advice and investigation.

'Staffed by a mix of nurses and doctors' the hubs 'will handle calls from members of the public who have already contacted NHS 24’s 111 phone line', writes Edinburgh Evening News.

The hub service will also 'facilitate face-to-face scheduled appointments for anyone who may need further clinical assessment, but who do not need emergency care', it added.

15:00  Health Education England's e-Learning for Healthcare has created a free e-learning programme for the UK's health and care workforce.

11:50  London's Excel conference centre could be turned into a giant field hospital to treat coronavirus patients, reports the Evening Standard.

The paper said the plans to use the conference centre - which covers 939,649 square feet - in the fight against Covid-19 were floated at a meeting between military planners and NHS officials on Sunday.

10:10 Everyone in the country will today receive a Government text to their mobile phone, echoing last night's message to stay at home to collectively beat coronavirus. 

The Prime Minister yesterday announced a UK lockdown, in which people are only permitted to leave their homes for a limited number of purposes.

They will still be allowed to visit their GP, if needed. Read all about that here

10:00 The Government, which last week promised to boost coronavirus testing capacity from 5,000 a day to 25,000 a day, is reportedly struggling to fulfil that pledge.

Labour's shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: 'We have repeatedly called for the government to ramp up testing over a number of weeks.

'We need urgent clarification from ministers about what their testing plan is and why action appears to have been taken so late.'


Monday 23 March


15:30  Researchers at the University of East Anglia have launched a project to 3D print ventilator parts, masks and other critical equipment to battle the Covid-19 virus. The team is looking for help from people with software skills, and they also need printers. 

Project lead Dr Aram Saeed, from UEA’s school of pharmacy, said: 'We need shortcuts to speed up the process of designing and developing key ventilator parts, and we hope to connect with other universities and expertise around the globe.

'Right now we need help with software, hardware, medical product design, and product testing. We may also need support from engineering sectors for flow sensors, pneumatic units and data processing monitors.'

14:30 Over the weekend, Bristol GPs Dr Dominique Thompson and Dr Simon Bradley brought their wedding forward by four months. Dr Thompson is also returning to clinical practice to help with the efforts against coronavirus. We at Pulse wish Dr Thompson and Dr Bradley a very happy marriage!

12:30 The BMA has singled out its key issues, ahead of today's Emergency Coronavirus Bill in Parliament. It discusses PPE, priority testing for healthcare workers, indemnity and certifying death.

12:00 The 'Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives' campaign is getting increasing political and public attention. Labour is also calling on the Government to enforce stricter social distancing.

Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth said: 'After another weekend of apparent public confusion and widespread non-compliance with "social distancing", of grave scientific warnings and brave medical professionals talking of being sent to work like 'lambs to the slaughter' with inadequate protective equipment, something has to change.'

10:00 NHS England has booked out 8,000 hospital beds, 1,500 ventilators and 20,000 clinical staff from the private sector as part of the effort to deal with an influx of coronavirus patients needing care.

Private providers will be reimbursed, at cost – meaning no profit will be made for doing so.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: 'We’re dealing with an unprecedented global health threat and are taking immediate and exceptional action to gear up. The NHS is doing everything in its power to expand treatment capacity, and is working with partners right across the country to do so.'

But he added that the NHS effort had to be 'matched by successful and comprehensive adoption of the public measures needed to cut the spread of the virus'.

'We all have to play our part to help offset the enormous pressure that our nurses, doctors and other specialists will otherwise face,' he said.

His comments come as Prime Minister Boris Johnson used Sunday's daily coronavirus briefing to warn the public that stricter measures could be put in place unless people stopped flouting advice on social distancing - after crowds were attracted to beachfronts and parks over the sunny weekend.



Friday 20 March


17:00 The Prime Minister's latest press conference reinforced the message that the next three months are critical.

Boris Johnson discusses new testing and medications, and tells businesses they will be supported. He stressed that the 'economy will bounce back'.

13:00  80 crucial medicines commonly used to treat patients in NHS intensive care units have been banned from parallel export out of the UK. These include adrenaline, insulin, paracetamol and morphine.

12:00 The Government is investigating a particular 'hotspot' of deaths of Covid-19 patients in the West Midlands, the health secretary confirms.

17:25 In today's press conference, the Prime Minister says it would be possible to 'turn the tide' in 12 weeks, but only if people follow the official advice.

He also describes coronavirus as an 'invisible enemy', and refers to future antibody testing.

Boris Johnson again urges people to avoid gatherings. He is 'confident that we can beat coronavirus', but it 'depends on concrete, resolute action'.

Chris Whitty says about testing for NHS staff, and that PPE is a 'major form of work' for the Department of Health. 

Patrick Vallance states that the first clinical trial for coronavirus began today.

11:35 Patrick Vallance says how it's impractical to go to thousands of tests within a day, but acknowledges the need for healthcare workers to be tested.

Professor Whitty talks about deaths as an indirect result of Covid-19, within an overwhelmed health service. He speaks about the issue of 'overshoot' amid pandemics.

Chris Whitty is asked why the UK's death toll appears higher than that of other countries. He believes that this is due to how other nations calculate their data, and emphasises that the UK's current testing is based on people who are in hospital, such as intensive care, at the more severe end of the spectrum.

Patrick Vallance talks about antibody testing, regarding future immunity, and stresses that we're learning about a new virus.

The chief medical officer and chief scientific officer are hosting a press briefing, discussing possible future methods of getting rid of the virus. They add that the pattern of Covid-19 is in line with what would be expected of a pandemic, and acknowledge the social downsides.

11:00 NHS Digital has been asked by the health secretary and NHS England to collect and analyse data, including to help doctors to better understand coronavirus; identify patients with it and those who are vulnerable; and understand more about how the NHS is responding.

10:45 Mobile networks have removed data charges for online NHS advice about coronavirus.

10:30 The EU's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has become the latest politician to test positive for Covid-19.

10:15  Microsoft Teams is now available to the NHS for free to support remote working and 'counter the increased risks associated with Covid-19', NHS Digital has announced.

NHS Digital said it will roll out the secure instant messaging and video conferencing app for free to all NHSmail users between 16-20 March, for 'a limited time period'.

Director of technology at NHS Digital Ian Phoenix said: 'Technology is key to supporting patients who are self-isolating and makes sure they have the information they need and access to medical support and advice. For doctors and NHS staff this means that working remotely becomes much easier and more practical.'



Thursday 19 March


17:50 A three-month ban on landlords evicting renters is to be enforced.

17:20  Schools across the UK will close this week. From tonight in Northern Ireland, from Friday in Scotland and Wales, and from Friday afternoon in England. However, the education secreteray said children of healthcare workers will still be able to go to school. A-Levels and GCSEs have also been cancelled.

16:50  2,626 people in the UK have now tested positive for coronavirus, an increase of 676 since yesterday. 104 people have sadly died.

14:45 The Prime Minister has announced the UK is ramping up testing capacity for coronavirus with NHS staff being given priority.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Boris Johnson told MPs that the NHS was increasing its testing from 5,000 to 10,000 a day with an intention to move to 25,000 tests a day.

'We are prioritising NHS staff for the obvious reason that we want them to be able to look after everybody else with confidence that they are not transmitting the disease,’ he said during PMQs.

12:30 Glastonbury has been cancelled this year. The music festival was due to take place in late June

12:15 RCGP Scotland has welcomed the decision to direct patients who suspect they have coronavirus to contact NHS 24 via the 111 number rather than their own GP - in line with advice already in place in England.

RCGP Scotland chair Dr Carey Lunan said: 'This change in approach will help to ensure that our practices’ phonelines can be kept free for the many patients who require non-coronavirus related care from their GPs.

'It will also hopefully create some capacity within practices to be able to undertake proactive contacting and care planning for our most vulnerable patients with serious underlying health conditions, who are most at risk from Covid-19.'

A ministerial statement from the Scottish Government also pledged PPE would reach the GP frontline and that healthcare workers would have access to coronavirus testing.

11:30 The Medical Protection Society (MPS) has confirmed that retired doctors who were former MPS members and return to work during the coronavirus crisis will receive automatic and free of charge support with any non-claims issues, should they arise as a result of their work during this period.



Wednesday 18 March


13:00 ...And it gave some tips to protect people's mental health. The Government suggested people should:

  • look for ideas of exercises you can do at home on the NHS website
  • spend time doing things you enjoy – this might include reading, cooking, other indoor hobbies or listening to the radio or watching TV programmes
  • try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water, exercise regularly, and try to avoid smoking, alcohol and drugs
  • keep your windows open to let in fresh air, get some natural sunlight if you can, or get outside into the garden.

People can also go for a walk outdoors if they stay more than two metres from others.

12:20 The Government's new advice to the public also finally advises patients to stay away from GP practices unless specifically told to attend.

12:00  The Government has released a list of conditions affected by its advice to go into isolation from this weekend onwards, including anyone normally eligible for a free flu jab.

Read all about it here



Tuesday 17 March


19:20 Public Health England has now updated today's data on cases and deaths related to the coronavirus. Sadly, 55 people have now died in the UK. The number of confirmed cases have gone up to 1,543.  

17:30 Prime Minister Boris Johnson has stepped up measures to tackle the virus, calling for everyone to 'stop non-essential contact' with others regardless of whether they have coronavirus.

During a press conference he warned that 'without drastic action' cases could double every five or six days.

Read the full story here.

16:00 Public Health England has released updated statistics on UK coronavirus cases. It reports that 44,105 people have been tested in the UK, including 42,562 who were confirmed negative and 1,543 confirmed as positive.

15:30  A GP leader in Kent has reported that GPs in the area are still receiving requests for sick notes from patients. 

Kent LMC medical secretary Dr John Allingham tweeted that this will 'overwhelm' and called for the Government to 'push something out' to NHS 111 and employers.

Last week, the Government confirmed it will enable plans for NHS 111 to confirm sickness absence for people self-isolating due to coronavirus 'in the coming weeks'.

13:30 Wales has reported its first death related to Covid-19. The 68-year-old patient had underlying health conditions and was being treated at Wrexham Maelor Hospital.

13:00 NHS Confederation's 2020 conference has been cancelled. It was due to take place on 10th and 11th June in Manchester, and has now been postponed until June 2021.

11:30 The worldwide coronavirus death toll now stands at more than 6,000, with Public Health England confirming as of yesterday that there have now been 35 deaths in the UK. In Britain, 40,279 people have been tested, of whom 38,907 were confirmed negative and 1,372 were confirmed as positive. 

10:30  Free video consultation training is being offered to GPs by digital healthcare service Doctor Care Anywhere, to help doctors consult with their patients remotely during the outbreak.

Dr Bayju Thakar, founder of Doctor Care Anywhere, said: 'As Matt Hancock and Public Health England have astutely identified, technology has a vital role to play in supporting the NHS during this public health emergency.

'Video and phone consultations are an additional resource that the public can use to access the clinical expertise, advice and reassurance they need from the safety of their own homes, eliminating the risk of virus transmission between patients in GP and hospital waiting rooms.

'This is not a one-size-fits-all strategy, but more than half of all GP surgeries around the country are in a position to move to a digital-first triage model.'

10:00  Hundreds of scientists and behavioural experts have signed open letters to the Government, urging it to take tougher social distancing measures against the coronavirus outbreak.

The first letter, signed by more than 200 scientists, said: By putting in place social distancing measures now, the growth can be slowed down dramatically, and thousands of lives can be spared. We consider the social distancing measures taken as of today as insufficient.'

Another letter, signed by behavioural scientists, called for the Government to release more evidence on 'behavioural fatigue', which has influenced its decision not to limit social contact too early due to the belief people will tire of the measures revert and revert to normal social contact when the outbreak is at its worst.

It said: 'While we fully support an evidence-based approach to policy that draws on behavioural science, we are not convinced that enough is known about “behavioural fatigue” or to what extent these insights apply to the current exceptional circumstances. Such evidence is necessary if we are to base a high-risk public health strategy on it.'



Monday 16th March


9:30  Following NHS England guidance just before the weekend for GPs to move to ‘total triage’, the health secretary has confirmed in the past couple of days that doctors will beretrained to operate ventilators, which will be made by car manufacturers.

This comes as it was revealed that the pandemic is set to last until spring 2021 and could see 7.9m hospitalised. 

New guidance for protecting care home patients has been released by the Government. It states people will be isolated in their rooms if they have symptoms of coronavirus, while care staff will use protective equipment to minimise the risk of transmission. 

The guidance adds that GPs are being asked to look at the possibilities of offering digital appointments to provide advice and guidance to patients and potentially their families.

17:30 And finally today, the Welsh Government has suspended all non-urgent operations and outpatient appointments as part of its plan to focus on coronavirus. 

Join us for more updates on the coronavirus on Monday.

17:00 A suggestion from an emergency doctor on Twitter:

16:10 The Government has announced that staff in care homes still continue to care for patients with coronavirus, and GPs should be providing digital appointments and guidance to patients and their family. 

NHS England say: ’People receiving care will be isolated in their rooms if they have symptoms of coronavirus. To ensure they can continue to receive the care they require, care staff will use protective equipment to minimise the risk of transmission.

’Building on existing strong local relationships, the NHS will work with care providers where necessary to make sure people have the best possible care and remain in the community.

’GPs have been asked to look at the possibilities of offering digital appointments to provide advice and guidance to patients and potentially their families.’

15:45 The nationwide local and mayoral elections, which had been due in May, have now been postponed for a year, the Prime Minister has announced 

14:15 An update from Public Health England reads: ’As of 9am on 13 March 2020, 32,771 people have been tested in the UK, of which 31,973 were confirmed negative and 798 were confirmed as positive. 10 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 have died.’

13:15 Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth says: ‘I want the Government to move into the ‘explain’ phase… My big fear is that people are worried about the messages coming out of the Government.

‘Many are asking legitimate questions as to why we appear to be taking a different approach to Ireland, Spain, Denmark… 

‘The Government needs to be clearer with the public in order to maintain public confidence.’


11:20 GPs are expressing particular concern with PPE provision in rural areas, such as in Scotland. A three-site practice covering a large geographical area cannot stock hand sanitiser and its only PPE is 50 masks per site. It has no guidance or additional PPE for the care home it covers. 

Dr Beth Hadden says this is the case with every other practice she has spoken to in the area. 

She also says the the self isolation guidance of being 60 minutes from a hospital is not applicable to rural areas, where there are already few ambulances. 

Glasgow GP Dr Frances Mair has still not received PPE, and is unaware of any plans for primary care staff to be trained in the safe donning and removal of it.

10:50 An incredibly sad story coming out of Italy last night. A GP leader in Italy has died after contracting coronavirus while practising. Tributes have been paid to Dr Roberto Stella on social media. 

9:55 Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, has been speaking to Radio 4 on the Government’s strategy:

9:40 After the Prime Minister’s announcement last night, the former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has broken ranks and criticised the Government’s approach, calling for a stronger social distancing policy. 

Read the full story here.

We will have updates throughout the day on this blog and on the site.

If you have any news to share with the Pulse team, email us at

Readers' comments (3)

Have your say