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Independents' Day

Liveblog: NHS to get world's largest birthday card

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

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Wednesday 17 June

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10:00 Good morning, and also goodbye. The time has come today to say goodbye to the coronavirus liveblog, which we launched in the midst of an onslaught of Covid-19-related news at the start of the pandemic. As things have slowed down somewhat, we hope that you continue to follow all the Covid-19 news that continue to dominate the headlines on the main Pulse page.

We will leave you with the news that the NHS will be getting the world's largest thank-you card on its birthday on 5 July.

The 18-metre-tall card will be created by Card Factory and carry the signatures of 1,000 people who have pledged to donate to NHS charities. So far they have raised £13,000.

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Tuesday 16 June

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20:15 A GP shares that 10,000 face coverings have been donated by her Covid Crisis Rescue scheme. Great work!

17:55  The female prison with the most coronavirus cases is Drake Hall in Staffordshire, with 66, according to BBC journalist Danny Shaw.

However, six other prisons had over 40 cases each, including in Humber, Preston, Cardiff and Durham.

17:05 The Prime Minister is leading today's briefing, alongside Professor Peter Horby and Sir Patrick Vallance.

He appeals directly to parents whose children are due to return to school, urging them that it's safe and there's no need for children to miss out on their education. He hopes they will attend school.

He's 'all too aware' that the two-metre rule has big implications currently.

He expresses gratefulness to those who took part in the Dexamethasone trial, in light of today's promising news about the steroid. The PM says steps have been taken to ensure there's enough of the drug even in the event of a second spike. CSA Vallance reiterates that it doesn't stop people getting the virus.

Questions from the media include about footballer Marcus Rashford's campaign to ensure free school lunches for those in need during the summer holidays; communication with all four UK nations; and the importance of post-mortems for research into the disease.

16:45 Recruitment onto Covid-19 hydroxychloroquine trials has been suspended, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has announced.

No new participants will be recruited to these trials until further data which justifies their continuation have been provided, and any additional safety measures have been implemented.

The PRINCIPLE trial, led by the University of Oxford and involving nearly 800 practices, has been among those investigating this drug.

Recruitment onto hydroxychloroquine trials has already been halted, last month. However, it was allowed to resume earlier this month.

16:30 A further 233 people have died with coronavirus in the UK, bringing the total to 41,969.

298,136 people in the UK have tested positive for it.

Again, the numbers of people tested remains unavailable. 

BBC Rome journalist Mark Lowen makes this observation about today's stats: 

15:45 In the latest of updates from the Chancellor, he reveals that during the course of the pandemic, more than 9.1 million jobs were protected via the job retention scheme. 49.5,000 interruption loans have been approved, with over £26 billion for small businesses through bounceback loans.

10:45 A concerning development from China, according to the Associated Press - the country is reporting more than 40 new cases, whilst ramping up testing and lockdown measures.

The capital, Beijing, has counted more than 100 incidences since Friday, with many linked to the largest wholesale market.

10:40 Overseas, New Zealand's 24-day streak of no new coronavirus cases has sadly come to an end, after two British women travelled there from the UK, reports the BBC.

09:10  Good morning. Today we finally have the answer we've been looking for regarding the GP practice face mask advice, and it is... drum roll... nothing has changed.

Read all here

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Monday 15 June

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17:35  People with long-term conditions were largely still able to access their GP during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, a survey has found, but many found their outpatient appointments cancelled. As Pulse sister title Management in Practice reports.

17:05 Foreign secretary Dominic Raab is leading today's briefing, stressing incremental steps in factors such as retail, and bringing children back to school. From today, secondary school pupils in Years 10 and 12 will have some face to face discussions with teachers. 

The next phrase of the roadmap will be no earlier than 4 July, he reiterates. He states the nation is making good progress every week.

1,056 people in the UK have tested positive for the virus since yesterday.

15:15 Face coverings have become mandatory in English settings such as public transport and hospitals. More on that here...

15:10 Non-essential shops across England have reopened today. Outside this branch of Selfridges in Manchester, this singer is performing 'You give me fever' to those in the queues...

13:40  Frontline staff and volunteers can access an online course, developed by PHE, on how to respond to mental health emergencies during Covid-19. 

Yvonne Doyle, PHE medical director, said: 'The current pandemic has had a profound impact on all of our daily lives and none more so than our frontline workers who are seeing the effects of the outbreak first hand.

'Our training course aims to provide frontline staff and volunteers with additional resources on how to take care of their own mental health and wellbeing, how to provide support to those who need it most and advice on how to cope with difficult situations.'

10:00  Good morning and welcome to a new week. Scientists at Imperial College London have begun a trial of a new drug which it hopes will prevent Covid-19 patients from developing deadly blood clots. They believe that a virus-induced hormone imbalance causes blood clots, with the symptom observed in a third of hospitalised Covid-19 patients, as the BBC reports.

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Friday 12 June

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17:00 Grant Shapps, transport secretary; Prof Stephen Powis, medical director of NHS England; and Peter Hendy, chair of Network Rail, are leading tonight's briefing.

Between 25 May and 7 June, 33,000 people were estimated to have Covid within the community, as an average.

5,607 people are in UK hospitals with Covid at present. 202 deaths have been recorded since yesterday.

The R rate has not changed since last week.

Shapps reiterates how from Monday, face coverings are mandatory on public transport, including planes.

He urges employers to do everything they can to allow employees to travel on public transport at quieter times of day, if they must travel this way. 

13:10 The first reunions of care home residents and their loved ones are taking place since the start of lockdown, reports ITV News.

They'll be taking place within 'pods', which are being rolled out across the country.

13:05 Today is the deadline for submitting a nomination for this year's GP Awards. The coronavirus period has been a challenging time for primary care, but we know teams and individuals across the UK have been doing a fantastic job as ever.

Details on categories and submissions here, and we hope to see you at the awards ceremony on 4 December!

10:50 The UK's GDP fell by 20.4% during April, shows new ONS data. This is the most the economy has shrunk since records began.

In total, it's contracted by 25% since February. There are concerns of the most severe recession in 300 years.

09:10  Good morning. It has emerged that the Government received a 69-page report with recommendations for how to better protect BAME people Covid-19 almost two weeks ago. At the time, PHE published a lengthy statistical analysis that confirmed ethnic minority groups had higher Covid mortality rates, but notably the report had no recommendations. The Government has now said the recommendations will be published next week.

Criticism had been mounting over the Government review, with primary care and racism experts labelling it a ‘whitewash’.

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Thursday 11 June

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17:20 Today's briefing is being delivered by health secretary Matt Hancock and test and trace lead Baroness Dido Harding.

Hancock describes participation in the test and trace system as the public's 'civic duty'.

His comments come as data revealed today that Government tracers were unable to reach a third of patients who tested positive in the first week of the programme.

Another 151 people have died with the virus in the UK, where more than 41,000 people have now died with it.

16:15 The PRINCIPLE trial, taking place via GP practices and led by the University of Oxford, has now recruited more than 500 participants.

14:20  Tory backbenchers are calling on the Government to scrap the rule of keeping 2m between people, as some countries say 1m is enough, reports the BBC.

09:15 Good morning. NHS England is asking GPs to tell them what 'innovations' they have come up with during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A bulletin from primary care medical director Dr Nikki Kanani and primary care strategy director Ed Waller said: 'As we move into the next phase of our response to Covid-19, we want to ensure the beneficial changes are captured and, where possible and appropriate, sustained as the NHS continues to evolve in the coming months and years.

'We hope to be able to take promising examples of innovation and test them further, to fully understand the benefits.'

GPs can take part via this link until Thursday 25 June.

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Wednesday 10 June

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17:50 Tonight's briefing is being led by the Prime Minister; chief medical officer Whitty and chief scientific advisor Vallance.

The PM announces that 'social bubbles' will be allowed from the weekend, in which two households can meet indoors and stay overnight.

However, one of the two households in the bubble must be of a single person living alone, or a single parent with children.

It's stresses that if anyone in the bubble develops symptoms, they must no longer meet, and shielded people are not included in the bubble arrangements.

From Monday, safari parks, zoos and drive-through cinemas are reopening. Visitor numbers should be managed and zoos' indoor areas such as reptile areas will remain closed.

Places of worship can open for individual prayer this weekend too.

Step Three of the roadmap - the next aspect of changes - will not begin until 4th July at the earliest, 'as the evidence allows'.

Over 150 new deals for PPE have been signed around the world.

17:00  The number of official Covid-19 deaths in the UK has reached 41,128, following 245 new deaths in the last recorded 24-hour period.

16:50 Coronavirus entered the UK on at least 1,350 separate occasions, reports the BBC. Most cases came in from Italy, Spain and France respectively.

16:05 Profesor Neil Ferguson has told the House of Commons' Science Committee that introducing lockdown measures a week earlier would have 'reduced the final death toll by at least a half'.

The nation entered lockdown on 23 March, and remains in it, although restrictions are easing.

14:40 As we report this afternoon that GPs are not obliged to offer patients Covid-19 antibody tests unless they think it's clinically appropriate, a senior primary care researcher and GP has raised concern about patients' understanding of the tests.

09:30 Good morning, today we report about the data breach on the Babylon Health mobile GP consultation app, which meant some patients were able to view recordings of other patients' video consultations.

Read all here.

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Tuesday 9 June

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17:20 Business secretary Alok Sharma is leading today's Government briefing. Topics like how many metres should be advised for social distancing and the report into how BAME people are affected by coronavirus are among those discussed.

There have been no new deaths for three days running in Northern Ireland.

09:20 Health secretary Matt Hancock was not so pleased at being snubbed by Larry the Cat when arriving to 10 Downing Street...

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Monday 8 June

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17:05 Leading this evening's coronavirus briefing, health secretary Matt Hancock highlighted the lowest daily death numbers since lockdown began. In England, there were 55 deaths in the last recorded 24-hour period, while there were none recorded in Scotland, Northern Ireland or London hospitals. But Mr Hancock admitted these will rise again due to delayed reporting on weekends. 

He also said 516 people across the UK are currently on mechanical ventilators with Covid.

12:30  A survey by the Royal College of Physicians has shown that fewer than half (45%) of hospital doctors want their working pattern to return to what it was before the pandemic, with 49% saying their jobs have been informally altered due to Covid-19.

However, over a third (39%) of consultants who have taken up phone consultations with their patients reported it having a negative impact on their care, and 77% of doctors are more worried about their patients who do not have Covid than those who do.

Worryingly, just one in four (24%) have had a risk assessment regarding their own vulnerability to Covid-19, the RCP added.

10:50  Health secretary Matt Hancock has said he is 'sure' that the Government made the right decisions at the right time, as the UK's Covid-19 death toll - measured by excess deaths - is starting to look appalling by international comparisons.

09:10 Hospitals cancelled care for 'life-threatening' conditions over the past few months while focused on Covid-19, reports the Guardian. The paper has been told the findings in advance of publication of a study by researchers from Essex University. Medical conditions that were downgraded included cancer, breating difficulties, diabetes and high blood pressures, according to the researchers.

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Friday 5 June

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18:40 The health secretary has shared an image of him donating plasma to help others who've tested positive for coronavirus.

17:00 The UK has sadly surpassed 40,000 coronavirus deaths. Chief scientific advisor Patrick Vallance said in March that half of this figure - 20,000 - deaths, or lower, would be a 'good outcome'. Health secretary Matt Hancock is leading tonight's briefing. It's the first time a briefing has been hosted by just one person.

Hancock announces that face coverings are also to be mandatory in hospitals, 'as the NHS reopens right across the country'. This is for all hospital visitors and outpatients. He says: 'One of the things we've learned is that those in hospitals, working in hospitals, are more likely to contract coronavirus, whether they're working in clinical settings or not'.

All hospital staff, of all types, will be required to wear coverings, in all areas, except those designated as Covid-secure places.

15:00 A new University of Cambridge/PHE study shows that the R rate may be above 1 in the North West. The regional breakdown also describes the median as 1.00 for the South West.

14:55 Table service in pubs and restaurants is reopening in Ireland on 29 June. The same applies for all retail (with staggered opening times), and domestic travel.

14:50 The UK's infection rate is the second-highest in Europe, reports Sky News. It's beaten only by Sweden, which didn't impose a lockdown.

09:05 Good morning.  Business minister Nadhim Zahawi has said the Covid-19 contact tracing app will be up and running by the end of the month, when it is 'robust'. But the Guardian quotes a senior NHS source as saying the app will be 'clunky' when rolled out and not 'world class' until the autumn.

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Thursday 4 June

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17:00 Transport secretary Grant Shapps is leading today's briefing, alongside Peter Hendy, chair of Network Rail.

604 people are currently on mechanical ventilators, and 505 were admitted to hospital on 2nd June, significantly down from the thousands two months prior during the peak on 2nd April.

7,312 people are currently in hospital with the virus.

On 15 June, face coverings will become mandatory on public transport. There are exemptions for children, disabled people and those with certain breathing difficulties.

These aren't the clinical types reserved for health staff, and can be made by people at home or be scarves.

This currently only applies to England, but work is undergoing in the devolved nations.

It's acknowledged that social distancing may not be possible on public transport.

09:05  Good morning, and hope that you slept well? A survey of over 2,200 British adults found that half have experienced more disturbed sleep during lockdown while over a third have been having more vivid dreams. Kings College London researchers said young people and those whose finances have been hit are the worst affected, as ITV and others report.

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Wednesday 3 June

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17:30 A lovely story about a 99-year-old grandmother who's overcome coronavirus. Edna Murray, of Cardiff, tested positive in April, Wales Online reports.

17:05 The Prime Minister is leading tonight's briefing, joined by CMO Chris Whitty and CSA Patrick Vallance. He and other MPs such as Labour leader Keir Starmer and home secretary Priti Patel also discussed issues related to coronavirus in today's PMQs, such as on returning travellers isolating - a point he reiterates now. This policy will be reviewed after three weeks.

Johnson urges anyone with symptoms to get a test, now there's capacity.

Tomorrow, he will open the Global Vaccine Summit, hosted by the UK, with leading figures including Bill Gates.

He discusses childhood immunisation against other diseases like polio in the world's poorest countries.

He urges the public not to break rules, such as congregating inside friends' houses now the weather is worsening. 

Vallance reiterates that the rate of cases isn't coming down fast, with the R often close to 1. He cites yesterday's PHE report.

He says: 'Entering the winter with the lowest numbers we can get would be ideal.'

Amy of Brighton asks about concern over a second wave, and how the UK Government is liasing with the Spanish Government.

Vallance responds that some nations are seeing outbreaks as measures are being relaxed, such as in South Korea and Germany. He says the first peak has been supressed, and there's a risk of that coming back. He stresses that we're not out of it yet.

Toni of Manchester asks about provision for parents with no childcare options, whose children aren't in the age groups to return to school.

Johnson acknowledges her concern and hopes to get more school-children back. Years 10 and 12 will be getting contact with their teachers, and he refers to the furlough scheme.

Media questions include about foreign holidays this summer; confusion about the alert level being between levels 4 and 3; social distancing with regards to the crowds as part of the Black Lives Matter movement in London today; and the Government's relationship with China in the future.

Whitty stresses the need for a 'multi-layered defence' against the virus, as we will probably be living with it for 'many months'. 

Johnson says it's sadly 'inevitable' that there will be 'many, many job losses'. He says there are no or few other countries in the world that have done as much to protect workers than the UK during this period. Johnson says it's important to protect young peple, and believes they should be guaranteed an apprenticeship.

16:55 Baroness Dido Harding aims for a weekly dashboard of both national and local data from next week. This would be on the test and trace system, which launched last week.

She was being asked by Health and Social Care Select Committee chair Jeremy Hunt in this afternoon's evidence session.

16:25  The home secretary has confirmed plans for travellers to the UK to be forced to quarantine for 14 days, as the BBC reports. Anyone who breaks quarantine has to pay a £1,000 fine.

11:40 MPs were critical of having to physically go into Parliament to vote yesterday. They were voting on whether remote voting should continue in light of the pandemic...

09:15  Good morning. The Global Drug Survey has revealed that the British public starts consuming alcohol earlier in the day during the pandemic, and half say they have increased the number of days of the week they drink alcohol. Four out of 10 admitted it was impacting their health negatively, as the Guardian reports.

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Tuesday 2 June

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15:30 Health secretary Matt Hancock has been 'blasted' by the statistics watchdog for his way of presenting data on Covid-19 testing, reports the Mirror.

Criticism included telling people about tests that had been posted out but not used, and failing to make clear that many people were tested more than once.

13:05 The daily Government briefings will stop in their current format, Downing Street has announced. Since March, they've been broadcast live each 5pm.

Now, the weekend ones will be scrapped, and the Prime Minister will conduct one a week. 

09:40 Good morning. We have been touched by the response to our brief appearance on yesterday evening's Government coronavirus briefing. Below is just some of the Twitter reaction.

 

 

 

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Monday 1 June

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19:10 Thanks to the GP community for your support following us featuring on tonight's live briefing.

See our story for more details of what we asked the health secretary, and GP reaction.

17:05 Today's Government briefing is being led by health secretary Matt Hancock and Professor John Newton.

Jaimie, our editor, will be asking them about GP-related issues in a few minutes!

We're up! Jaimie asks about the unexpected change of shielding guidance.

15:35 GPs have been telling us about their experiences today, after the UK's 2.2 million shielding patients were unexpectedly notified over the weekend that they're permitted to go outside from today. This would be their first time doing so since March.

However, the intention had been for the most clinically vulnerable to the virus to continue staying at home until at least 30 June, and GPs; other doctors; healthcare charities and seemingly NHS England's medical director of primary care weren't informed of the sudden change.

More details in our story here.

15:30 We're pleased to say that we're featuring on tonight's Government briefing! Our editor Jaimie Kaffash will be asking a question - so please do tune in from 5pm.

13:00  The Government has said it reached the targeted 200,000 daily Covid-19 testing capacity on Saturday - although the count included 160,000 tests for current infection and 40,000 antibody tests.

The Government said the 'rapid expansion of testing capabilities has led to the largest network of diagnostic testing facilities in British history', with over 150 mobile and drive-through testing sites set up.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: 'Reaching our 200,000 capacity target is an important milestone on our journey to control the spread of the virus, save lives and gradually ease lockdown.'

10:20 Good morning and welcome to a new week and month in these unusual times. This weekend, the Government decided to inform patients who are shielding from Covid-19 that they can now leave their homes. The out of the blue announcement came as a surprise to GPs, patients, health charities, and perhaps also NHS England. Read the full story here.

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Friday 29 May

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17:30 We're heading into the final weekend of the current lockdown restrictions being in place. From Monday, some easing is allowed, such as that people from six separate households will be able to meet, as long as they're still in an outdoors space and two metres apart.

Enjoy the weekend, all, and we'll see you for plenty more GP news to start the new month with...

17:25 Chancellor Rishi Sunak is leading today's briefing. See today's exclusive about the Treasury here...

He is joined by Prof Stephen Powis, medical director of the NHS.

Sunak announces that from August, businesses must start paying to the furlough scheme. It will end completely in October. He describes eight months as a 'generous' period of time. More than eight million UK workers are currently covered by it. 2.3 million self-employed people have signed up to it. 

He reinforces how not every job can be saved, and won't discuss future Budgets today. 

Powis cites ONS statistics showing that there are up to 8,000 new infections in the community.

11:50 New research from Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation has found that over half (53%) of current smokers with lung conditions were planning to quit smoking due to Covid-19 in May.

This rose from 50% last month, and is based off a survey of over 12,000 people living with lung conditions in England. It aligns with World No Tobacco Day on Sunday.

11:45 Further afield, South Korea has had to close schools again, following an increase in Covid cases. Museums and galleries have seen similar measures after another 177 people were reported as testing positive over the past three days, Sky reports.

They're concentrated in the densely-populated Seoul area.

09:20  Good morning. Some 120 scientists have raised concern over the study, published in the Lancet, which led to the halting of a large number of trials into the use of hydroxychloroquine as a Covid-19 treatment.

As Pulse reported earlier this week, the study - which linked the treatment to a higher number of deaths - has prompted the MHRA to pause recruitment to that arm of the PRINCIPLE trial in UK GP practices.

The Guardian reports that this comes asGuardian Australia revealed that the Australian data in the study 'did not reconcile with health department records or databases'.

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Thursday 28 May

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20:10 A first-year uni student has set up a non-for-profit project called Letters for the NHS. It connects letter-writing volunteers with time to spare with key workers. A lovely idea!

20:05 Much of the nation clapped for the NHS and carers again tonight, in what may be the final time for many communities. It began ten weeks ago to thank health and social care staff for their efforts during the pandemic.

19:10 Pulse blogger Dr Punam Krishan shares a lovely message about Scotland's easing of lockdown measures. Happy birthday Punam, and hope you and your family have a wonderful day tomorrow!

17:05 Prime Minister Boris Johnson is leading today's Government briefing, alongside chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty and chief scientific advisor Patrick Vallance.

Over 1,000 new people have tested positive since yesterday. The number of those in hospital with the virus has decreased since this time last week.

He is satisfied that the 'fourth test' is being met. 100 new deals have been signed for PPE.

The fifth test is confidence that adjusments to current measures won't risk a second spike that overwhelms the NHS.

Johnson notes that health is devolved, with the four parts of the UK moving at different speeds.

He talks through easing of the lockdown in the future.

He says nurseries and early years settings, such as Reception and Years 1 and 6 will begin reopening on Monday, before others, such as Year 12, two weeks later on 15 June.

Outdoor retail and car showrooms will open on 1 June, with other forms of non-essential retail planned for 15 June, as long as the five tests are 'still being met' and shops have been made 'Covid-secure'.

From Monday, six people from other households can meet, socially distancing in gardens and outdoors spaces. He reiterates that people shouldn't be inside the homes of families and friends, unless it's 'to get to the garden'.

He adds that those who've been told to shield, should continue. Johnson says: 'I do understand how difficult this has been for you especially', and thanks them. He's looking into how to make life easier for this group.

Johnson warns of future local outbreaks and measures that will be taken in this area after monitoring.

Vallance warns that some areas may still have an R rate of near 1. On average, it's between 0.7 and 0.9. He adds that the numbers aren't coming down fast. He stresses that there's not a lot of room to do things, and the test and trace system must be managed effectively. There's a 'significant' number of people still getting the virus. He reinforces that we're 'all susceptible' to the virus.

The first question from the public comes from Jay of Horsham. She's shielding, with her young son, who's been unable to see his dad. She feels the shielding community has been forgotten about. 

In response, Vallance discusses those who are shielding and in other vulnerable groups, and how people should be able to leave shielding in stages at a later date. The burden of loneliness and other problems are acknowledged.

Carol from Sunderland asks about local lockdowns and affected incomes. The PM says no-one should be penalised for doing the right thing, such as staying home. He mentions the furlough scheme and universal credit.

Replying to a media question, it's reinforced that you can't stay in others' homes.

Dentists can reopen from 8 June.

The medics are asked about Northern Ireland's R rate increasing, by a Belfast journalist, who also asks if the PM will criticise Cummings at all, even if he's clearly not going to be sacked or resign. 

Vallance stresses that these aren't low numbers, and how the situation is 'fragile'.

17:00 Another day in a row of the Department of Health and Social Care being unable to state how many people have been tested for coronavirus.

13:50 Durham Police has concluded that Dominic Cummings did break lockdown rules during his trip to the North East, reports the Telegraph.

12:30 The Track and Trace system launched at 9am. However, there are reports that it's encountered difficulties already.

According to LBC, a tracer described the process thus far as a 'complete shambles'.

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Wednesday 27 May

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17:50 Health secretary Matt Hancock is delivering today's briefing, discussing the brand new Government 'test and trace' strategy.

He says it will be voluntary at first, on the basis of it being people's civic duty, but can be made mandatory. If it doesn't work, lockdown may continue. We're urged to 'do it for our community; the NHS; frontline workers...'

Baroness Dido Harding is discussing the steps. All contract tracers have been undergoing induction before starting work. 

NHS Test and Trace will help people establish who people who test positive have been in contact with. 

She stresses that you must isolate for 14 days if informed to, even if you have no symptoms and/or feel well. 

She says it's one of the most complex and ambitious projects worked on. Over 40,000 people are already employed on this.

16:15 The Prime Minister is being questioned by fellow MPs in a Liaison Committee session, on the Government's handling of coronavirus. He reiterates that non-essential retail, such as car showrooms, are reopening next month.

16:10 For the fourth day in a row, the Department of Health and Social Care has been unable to provide numbers of how many people have been tested for coronavirus.

14:45 Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed the country will hold a public inquiry into the Government's response to coronavirus, the New European reports.

10:30 Domestic abuse charity Refuge has seen a 957% increase in traffic to its website in the past fortnight of lockdown, the BBC reports.

10:00  Good morning. The Government says it has significantly boosted UK PPE supply with over 100 new suppliers contracted from around the world.

It says it has also ramped up domestic production with contracts signed to deliver more than 2bn of items in the UK. The announcement said this includes Jaguar Land Rover manufacturing 14,000 visors a week for healthcare staff.

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Tuesday 26 May

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17:05 Today's briefing is being led by health secretary Matt Hancock and Prof John Newton, who is coordinating the national testing effort.

Hancock shares the positive news that Northern Ireland has reported no coronavirus deaths for the first time since 18 March, and that UK-wide virus deaths have fallen to their lowest level in six weeks.

He says that there are 98 NHS colleagues currently in hospital with the virus.

Hancock also discusses the new authorisation of drug Remdesivir, which Pulse reported earlier. He describes it as 'probably the biggest step forward in the treatment of coronavirus since the crisis began', but stresses the 'early steps'.

15:45 For the third day in a row, the Department of Health and Social Care has been unable to publish the numbers of people tested in the 24 hours prior to publication of the daily update (and consequently not the cumulative total either).

Today, it noted that this is 'due to technical errors with Pillar 2 data collection'.

However, it did state that a total of 37,048 people have now died with coronavirus in the UK, following another 134 deaths.

Some 265,227 people have tested positive.

15:40 Guys and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust has shared the story of a doctor and nurse getting married at their workplace, St Thomas' Hospital, during the pandemic.

Acute medical registrar Annalan Navaratnam, 30, and ambulatory emergency nurse Jann Tipping, 34, tied the knot in the hospital's chapel.

Bride Jann said: 'We’re so grateful to the chaplaincy team who went the extra mile to make it possible.'

Revd Hilborn continud: 'At such a challenging time for staff, as chaplains we strive to offer as much support as we can. We know how upsetting it is to need to delay big celebratory events such as weddings so we are happy to talk to any staff who need to postpone their wedding to see how we can help.

'I was delighted to be able to get special permission to marry Jann and Annalan in the beautiful chapel at St Thomas’. It was a lovely service and I was thrilled to be part of it.'

We wish them all the best for their future. 

15:30 Pressure is growing, with the Prime Minister being urged to fire his aid Dominic Cummings. As we reported earlier, Moray MP Douglas Ross resigned this morning from being a minister as a result of the Government's handling of the issue, with more Conservative MPs speaking up against the decision throughout the day. 24 have now done so, with those from other parties doing similar. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also stated that if he was Prime Minister, he would have fired Cummings.

Leaders of six opposition parties - bar Labour - have now addressed the Prime Minister, describing how they feel Cummings' actions undermine the public health strategy.

Yesterday, the Faculty of Public Health issued a similar message, stating: 'We are deeply concerned that recent actions from Government appear to undermine essential public health messaging at this crucial time. It is vital that all in society continue to follow guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and save lives...'

Meanwhile, Cummings' televised conference yesterday was met with widespread criticism, including in reference to his claims that he drove to Barnard Castle to test his eyesight.

14:55  The number of coronavirus-related death registrations have fallen to their lowest weekly level since early April, according to the latest ONS data.

As the BBC reports, there were 4,210 death registrations mentioning Covid-19 in the week to 15 May, down from 4,426 the previous week.

However, it still accounted for over a quarter of all deaths in the UK, and the care home population was still taking a hit, accounting for 44% of all Covid-19 deaths.

14:30  And just like that, it's afternoon. We report today that GP Survival has asked for further police investigation into the potential lockdown breach by Prime Minister aide Dominic Cummings. Pulse asked BMA and RCGP if they had any thoughts on the affair, but they both declined to comment.

10:00 Good morning. According tothe Mirror, health secretary Matt Hancock is so 'unpopular' that people switch channels when it turns out he's hosting the daily coronaviruas briefing... 

Richard Osman, who hosts TV show Pointless - which airs at the same time - said: 'Pointless is definitely getting a new audience, although we’re up against Boris Johnson or Matt Hancock sometimes.

'If it’s Matt Hancock, our ratings shoot up, but when it’s Rishi Sunak, we’re in trouble.

'He’s very much the Bradley Walsh of the Cabinet.'

09:40 We're back after a very politically eventful Bank Holiday weekend. 

The issue with Dominic Cummings and the Government's response continues - the Prime Minister's most senior aid was revealed on Friday night to have broken the lockdown rules he helped to create, by travelling from London to Durham. It was announced the following night that he did so on more than one occasion, with Durham Police also issuing statements. 

The Cabinet subsequently showed their support for Cummings' actions, with health secretary Matt Hancock stating: 'I know how ill coronavirus makes you. It was entirely right for Dom Cummings to find childcare for his toddler, when both he and his wife were getting ill.'

The Government had reiterated the 'stay at home' messaging since March's lockdown, reinforcing that those with symptoms should not leave their home at all.

Despite mounting pressure from much of the public and fellow MPs, the Prime Minister has continued to defend his aid. Cummings delivered his own historic broadcast in the Rose Garden of Downing Street yesterday afternoon, reading a statement and taking media questions. 

***

Friday 22 May

***

19:05 Health minister Nadine Dorries has announced which charities will be receiving Government funds during this time.

Over £22million in grants will be available to them.

The health and social care charities benefitting include Blood Cancer UK, Anthony Nolan, MENCAP,  St John Ambulance, Samaritans, Young Minds, Carers UK, Alzheimer’s Society, Race Equality Foundation, Royal Osteoporosis Society and Stroke Association. 

Some good news as we head into the long weekend. Have a nice Bank Holiday, everyone, and we'll see you back on Tuesday!

17:00 Home secretary Priti Patel is leading tonight's briefing, alongside Paul Lincoln, director general of Border Force, and chief scientific advisor Patrick Vallance.

The number of those currently in hospital with the virus has reduced by 14%.

Patel announces that those arriving in the UK must self-isolate for 14 days, the incubation period for the virus. This will be implemented from 8 June, with a short list of exemptions. They'll have to provide details to be traced should they be needed to.

There will be penalties for those who flout this.

She says: 'We do not take these steps lightly.

'Our freedoms have been sadly but necesarily curtailed.

'By taking these steps, we could save many more lives.

'We reconigse how hard these changes will be for our travel and leisure sector.'

The measures will be reviewed every three weeks.

Passenger arrivals are down 99% compared to last year.

15:55 The BBC reports a new discovery - that those with the most severe form of Covid-19 have extremely low numbers of T-cells.

Scientists from the Francis Crick Institute; King's College London; and Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital looked at immune cells in the blood of 60 Covid-19 patients and found an apparent crash in the numbers of T-cells.

15:20  Coronavirus testing in care homes is ‘chaotic’ with only a small proportion of staff and residents being tested, sector leaders have warned.

Umbrella-group National Care Forum (NCF) is calling on the government to increase the number of routine tests in care homes from 30,000 a day to 200,000 ‘as a matter of priority’, reports Pulse sister title Nursing in Practice.

The NCF conducted a poll between 23 April and 14 May of 78 social care members. It found 8% of staff (3,466) 28% of residents (4,619) had been tested for Covid-19, out of 43,152 staff and 16,240 residents.

The organisation concluded testing in care homes was ‘chaotic’ as the survey also revealed most testing results take between 24 hours and six days, but that a large number were returning ‘void’ or ‘inconclusive’ owing to delays in obtaining results or faulty tests.

Read the full article here

14:30  The public is supportive of legal protection for doctors during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Medical Protection Society has found.

A YouGov survey of over 2,000 British adults, commissioned by MPS, showed that 84% think doctors who have been working with stretched resources, outside of their normal area of expertise, or have returned from retirement to support the NHS, should be able to focus on saving lives without fear of prosecution or investigation following treatment of patients.

The survey further showed that:

  • Two thirds (67%) of the public support the introduction of emergency laws, so doctors are protected from criminal and regulatory investigation in relation to their treatment of patients during the Covid-19 crisis; and
  • 81% believe that if a doctor decides they cannot safely see a Covid-19 patient because they have not been provided with adequate PPE, and a patient subsequently comes to harm, the doctor should not be held personally accountable.

MPS medical director Dr Rob Hendry said: 'Doctors continue to work in uniquely challenging circumstances – they are treating patients with what is still a new disease, making difficult clinical and triaging decisions, and some have even had to make a decision to not see patients due to inadequate PPE provision.

'Many are working outside of their normal area of expertise or have come out of retirement to support the NHS - in the knowledge that over 300 frontline health and care workers have lost their lives to Covid-19.

'These doctors tell us they are concerned that they will face investigation for the decisions they are making in good faith. Now more than ever, they need to know they are supported

'It is clear from this survey that there is overwhelming public support for doctors’ protection. We hope the Government will make a bold show of its support by granting doctors legal immunity when treating patients in good faith during this crisis.

'We also hope that if and when the GMC receives complaints about doctors, they will not just stick to their commitment to fully consider the challenging position that doctors are in but also reflect on the strength of public confidence in the profession.'

13:00  Although GPs in England are looking forward to a bank holiday off this weekend, having definitely worked at Easter and possibly also during the VE Day celebration, the same luxury will not be afforded to Scottish GPs. Backed by an investment of £8.2m, Scottish practices were asked to stay open for both bank holidays.

10:00 A Hidden Harms Summit was hosted at Downing Street yesterday, focusing on overcoming crimes like domestic abuse and modern slavery during the pandemic.

The Prime Minister discussed the day on Twitter.

09:35 The SAGE committee has stated that 1 June is too early for schools to reopen safely, reports TES.

The BMA has agreed with the National Education Union that five tests must be met for them to do so.

***

Thursday 21 May

***

18:05 The Government has announced that it is trialling a new rapid-turnaround Covid test.

It said:

  • Trials of a new coronavirus test returning results in just 20 minutes will begin in Hampshire today
  • The test has been shown to be highly effective in clinical settings and will now be trialled in a number of A&E departments, GP testing hubs and care homes in Hampshire
  • Up to 4,000 people of all ages and backgrounds will be tested

17:10 Health secretary Matt Hancock and chief medical officer Chris Whitty are leading tonight's briefing, announcing further funding of £4.2 million for mental health organisations such as the Samaritans.

Hancock also discusses 'bespoke support' in mental health care for NHS staff, and shares that around 17% of Londoners have already had Covid-19, based on current antibody test results. However, the figure is believed to be far lower elsewhere in the UK - averaging 5%.

But the big news was that healthcare professionals will now get access to Covid antibody tests, after the Government sealed deals with two suppliers. The 'phased' rollout will start 'next week' - read all here.

15:25  NHS England has moved to clarify that the weekly 'virtual ward round' under the new Covid-19 care homes service can take place via phone with a manager in the case of smaller care homes with fewer than 10 residents.

In a bulletin to practices, it said: 'In these circumstances, the weekly "check in" may take the form of a discussion (which may be by telephone or video call) with the care home manager to discuss whether any residents are a clinical priority for assessment, review or care that week, and if – on the basis of this discussion and any further clinical information available – no resident is considered to be a clinical priority for review that week, then the weekly ‘check in’ may be concluded.

'This does not affect the need to ensure a process for personalised care and support planning is in place for these residents, as well as appropriate pharmacy and medication support.'

14:25  250,908 people in the UK have now tested positive for the virus.

A total of 36,042 have died.

This includes 312 health and social care workers, who put their lives on the line for the sake of others.

14:10 The Government is understood to be releasing more information on the safety of reopening schools tomorrow.

A reminder of the BMA's latest stance is here.

13:45 Further afield, unemployment levels in the US are rapidly rising, as the pandemic continues. 23.4% of the entire nation's workforce are now believed to have filed for unemployment benefits.

13:40 Scotland has announced the steps it will begin taking in easing its lockdown.

The relaxation will commence a week today, and will see people allowed to meet one other person from another household outside, as the BBC reports.

Previously, first minister Nicola Sturgeon had highlighted the risks of implementing this at an earlier stage.

Scottish schools will be reopening on 11 August, which was the date they were intended to return after the summer holiday anyway.

10.15  Good morning. Today we lead on the astonishing news that some locum GPs are being forced to claim benefits as work has dried up in the face of the pandemic. 

***

Wednesday 20 May

***

18:45 Expanding on a new data analysis that showed there were no Covid-19 deaths of anyone with diabetes under the age of 20, Professor May Ng, chair of the Association of Children’s Diabetes Clinicians, has moved to further reassure parents of children with the condition.

She said: ‘Recently, around 100 children across the UK have been diagnosed with a more serious condition called Covid-19 paediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome. There is no evidence to suggest that children with diabetes are more prone to this compared to other children without diabetes.

‘There is also no evidence that children with diabetes are more likely to be infected with Covid-19 compared to children without diabetes, any more than they are with gastroenteritis or any other infections that circulate during the school year. We should continue to be vigilant, especially around handwashing and social distancing.

In principle, children with diabetes can return to school as long as protective measures in the education setting are in place in accordance to national guidance. You may wish to consider how well your child will be able to maintain social distancing, and the support your child needs from school. You will be considering whether anyone else at home may be at higher risk of catching the virus.

‘There will be further national guidance on return to schools and we await any further advice from the chief medical officer.’

18:40 The Home Office has extended the bereavement scheme to NHS support staff and social care workers, effective both immediately and retrospectively.

Home secretary Priti Patel described it as a 'very complex issue' that has been worked through 'at pace'.

She added: 'Rest assured, all families will have the support they need during this tragic time'.

17:05 Culture secretary Oliver Dowden and NHS England's national medical director Prof Stephen Powis are leading today's briefing, sharing imminent support for charities, particularly small ones that aren't nationally known but make significant differences on community levels.

There's praise for Captain Tom Moore, 100, who will be knighted for his contributions to NHS fundraising.

Dowden also discusses the return of the arts and sports. He is this week setting up a community taskforce in this area, on creative and different ways to get industries back up and running.

The safe return of TV production is also noted. The Queen's Birthday Honours list has been delayed til Autumn. 

Dowden stresses that normal life that we're used to remains a long way off.

Powis reinforces that coronavirus is a mild illness for most, but that a minority require intensive care. He highlights the benefits of social distancing, backed up by recent statistics of those in hospital, and the importance of keeping the R level below one, so the rate of community transmission continues to fall.

He says the decline has been steepest in London, which was once home to the peak. 

35,704 people have now died with the virus in the UK. 2,472 further cases have been confirmed since yesterday. 363 more people have died.

0.7% of our national income is going in aid to poorer nations to support them during coronavirus, Dowden states, describing the nation's 'moral responsibility'.

Powis says how now we're over the peak, we're in a position to rebuild the NHS services affected by redeployment, such as routine services. He encourages the public to seek help from their GP if required.

11:00 The Guardian reports that a fifth of Covid-19 patients may have contracted the virus in hospital.

09:50 Good morning.

The Government is facing questions after the email addresses of almost 300 of its new Covid-19 'contact tracers' were shared. The tracers, which include health professionals, are currently being trained by the company Serco, under an outsourcing contract with the Government.

As the BBC points out the error, for which Serco has apologised, 'will be unhelpful for a contact tracing project that is set to ask many thousands of people who have fallen ill to share the details of their friends and acquaintances

***

Tuesday 19 May

***

18:20 A nice update from Worcestershire Acute NHS Trust, sharing that 440 of its coronavirus patients have now returned home.

Local MP Rachel Maclean welcomed the news, stating: 'That's 440 people back at home with their loved ones thanks to the life-saving work of everyone at (the trust). Thank you!'

17:30 Today's briefing is led by environment secretary George Eustice and deputy chief scientific adviser Prof Angela McLean.

Testing, care homes, transport usage, fishing policy, burdens on councils and local authorities, and the furlough scheme are among the topics being discussed.

Mr Eustice also replies to a journalist's question about some people receieving coronavirus test results either inconclusively or delayed.

17:25 Another message of support on World Family Doctor Day. Here at Pulse, we're also very grateful for the brilliant work being done by the GP community.

16:20 Chancellor Rishi Sunak has warned that the UK faces a 'severe recession' that hasn't been seen before.

14:30 Over 11,800 people have now died with Covid-19 in care homes across the UK, reports the BBC, although the number was lower in the last week than the week before, with 1,940 new deaths.

11:55 Happy World Family Doctor Day! NHS England's Covid-19 primary care bulletin today says the team will be using it it as 'another opportunity to celebrate, though our social media channels, the vital role of general practice, working with multi-disciplinary teams'.

10:00  Good morning. Newspapers report today on a glimmer of hope from the first human trials of a Covid-19 vaccine. Although the results are only from a preliminary safety study, US company Moderna's vaccine appeared to create antibodies, reports the Guardian.

***

Monday 18 May

***

19:10 The Government announced today that anyone over the age of five, with symptoms, is now eligible for coronavirus testing.

19:00 The Pulse team is celebrating today, as our editor Jaimie Kaffash has been shortlisted for Editor of the Year in the PPA Awards!

Thanks as ever to our readers for supporting our work during this period and beyond.

17:05 Foreign secretary Dominic Raab is back to leading the Government briefings today. He recognises people's concerns and seeks to provide them with reassurance.

Deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam discusses today's announcement that loss of taste and/or smell is now counted as Covid-19 symptoms that warrant self-isolation.

He also stressed how the nation may need to learn to live with coronavirus if a vaccine isn't found - which may take years.

12:20  The Government has announced a £500,000 investment in a trial which aims to see if dogs can detect Covid-19 infection in humans before symptoms appear.

The dogs, which can already detect certain cancers, will undergo intensive training as part of the clinical trial, which will be led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in collaboration with the charity Medical Detection Dogs and Durham University.

Professor James Logan, lead researcher for the work and head of the Department of Disease Control at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: 'Our previous work has shown that malaria has a distinctive odour, and with Medical Detection Dogs, we successfully trained dogs to accurately detect malaria.

'This, combined with the knowledge that respiratory disease can change body odour, makes us hopeful that the dogs can also detect COVID-19... If successful, this approach could revolutionise how we detect the virus, with the potential to screen high numbers of people.'

11:55  More than 1,000 units of convalescent plasma, donated by people who’ve recovered from Covid-19, have now been collected to help patients battling the virus.

The NHS' Give Blood team shared its thanks to those involved.

09:40  Good morning and welcome to a new week. A survey by the Royal College of Physician has showed that doctors of BAME origin are significantly more likely to be concerned about their own health during the coronavirus pandemic than their white counterparts, at 76% and 48% respectively.

The survey also showed doctors are concerned for those they live with (61%) and 16.5% have found themselves in a position over the last two weeks were they were unable to access PHE-recommended PPE.

And, although access to testing for Covid-19 has improved, 5% still said they had been unable to access a test for themselves, 17.5% for members of their household and 4% for their patients.

Many doctors also had to wait days for their test results, with only 17% reporting results coming back within 24 hours.

Professor Andrew Goddard, president of the Royal College of Physicians said: 'It is no wonder that clinicians are worried for themselves and their families, when the very things that would keep them safe – PPE and testing - are still hard to access for so many of them.

'Clinicians are working incredibly hard in the most extraordinary circumstances the NHS has ever faced, but without the right safety measures in place, they’re still living in fear for their own health and the health of their families. Confidence in the system they work in is low and more must be done to regain that trust.'

***

Friday 15 May

***

17:05  GP and NHSE's medical director of primary care Dr Nikki Kanani is leading today's Government briefing again.

She is alongside health secretary Matt Hancock and deputy chief medical officer Jenny Harries.

Hancock says even asymptomatic people in care homes will all be tested by mid-June. He says the NHS is supporting care homes to introduce technology, such as video consultations with GPs. 

He describes how bureaucracy has held care homes back, and how the Government will do everything humanely possible to protect residents.

Harries discusses the R rate, of which the aim is to remain below 1. She says there's a range - 0.7 to 7. This is partly due to different models of the data, and time delays.

Hancock is asked if people with learning difficulties have been forgotten about. He discusses working age people who are in care homes and require care, as well as the elderly.

Harries says 19% of critical care beds are currently occupied with Covid-19 patients. 10,731 people are currently in hospital with the virus.

384 more people have died with coronavirus in all UK settings since yesterday.

Hancock is asked about educational settings, such as limited facilities, underfunding and social distancing. This comes as the BMA today addressed the National Education Union in solidarity of its view on when schools should reopen

Hancock adds the 'good news' that the virus 'seems to spare children in almost every case'. He adds 'the risk for children is much lower' for anyone else in society - more so for those without underlying conditions. He wouldn't support a proposal to reopn schools if it wasn't safe to do so.

Dr Kanani mentions her own school-age children and thanks teachers. She adds that risk is relative, and that risks for wider families must be considered. The return to school is taking place in a phased way, she reiterates. She discusses physical space and how returning to school is good for children in the long run.

Harries stresses perspective - she says it's unlikely for people in school settings to have the virus, and that those been invited to return soonest are at key stages of their education. She cites paediatricians' views too, such as how groups are managed. She says in a family, for instance, you wouldn't think of putting on PPE.

14:40 Devastatingly, more nurses have lost their lives to Covid-19.

Birmingham Women's and Children's Hospital has paid tribute to its senior mental health nurse Lillian Mudzivare.

The 41-year-old is survived by her husband and daughters, and colleagues recounted their pride when she joined their team.

Ms Mudzivare was further remembered for her 'care and compassion for patients', 'exuberance' and 'everything she did for the young people of Birmingham'.

09:45  Back already... Couldn't let you miss out on this excellent video that health secretary Matt Hancock has posted of himself clapping the NHS. You're welcome.

09:35 Good morning and a happy Friday to you all.

Now, we bet you won't be able to guess who is back. It's the CQC!

Read all about it in today's top story. How do you feel about it? A bit like our first commenter?

'Such a relief to hear this... everyone in primary care has really missed their presence.'

***

Thursday 14 May

***

17:05 Transport secretary Grant Shapps and deputy chief medical officer Prof Jonathan Van-Tam are doing today's briefing.

Shapps discusses current plans for religious places, for instance, to reopen, and reiterates previous advice on aspects like hand-washing and wearing face coverings, plus entire households needing to self-isolate if someone has symptoms.

He charts more information about steps into the nation's economic recovery, and how the public has protected the NHS by reducing travel, for instance, over the past two months in lockdown.

He announces £2 billion to improve roads and rail within the nation, such as by filling dangerous potholes to encourage more cyclists and relieving public pressure on transport. The effects of the winter flooding may also benefit.

Shapps adds how things have been achieved in weeks that would normally take years, such as taking swathes of the economy online almost overnight, and creating new hospitals. He asks why if GP surgeries can move online, most rail passengers still using paper tickets.

15:30 233,151 people in the UK have now tested positive for the virus, with 33,614 having sadly died.

15:25  148,000 people in England were infected with coronavirus within the last two weeks, the Guardian reports based on ONS data.

11:45 The public is being reminded to not ignore cancer symptoms during the time of Covid-19. This post focuses on childhood cancer, highlighting symptoms such as paleness, breathlessness, unexplained bruising or bleeding and weight loss.

11:40 A&E attendances have fallen to their lowest level on record, since the pandemic began.

09:30 Public Health England has finally approved an antibody test for coronavirus. It has been hailed as a significant step forward but it's worth noting that we still don't know if having antibodies mean you cannot get the virus again. Nonetheless, some positive news on a Thursday morning in lockdown. 

***

Wednesday 13 May

***

18:40 A devastating case - a London Victoria rail station worker has sadly died with Covid-19 after being spat at whilst at work.

Belly Mujinga, 47, and a female colleague were assaulted at the workplace on 21 March. She died on 5 April, leaving behind an 11-year-old daughter.

A police investigation has now been launched following the attack by the man, who claimed to have the virus.

Our thoughts are with Ms Mujinga and her loved ones.

17:05 Housing and communities secretary Robert Jenrick is delivering today's briefing. He'll be discussing the housing market and is joined by deputy CMO  Jenny Harries.

More than two million people in the UK have now been tested for coronavirus, while more than 3,000 have tested positive since yesterday.

He stresses how we've been at Level 4 since lockdown began in March - meaning an epidemic is in 'general circulation' in the UK, and again thanks the public for its role in bringing the R level down. He reiterates the need to avoid a 'disastrous second peak that could overwhelm the NHS' and that further steps will only be taken when safety is certain.

The first question from a member of the public is from Michael, asking about his industry - theatres. Jenrick stresses the importance of the arts, in terms of the economy, staff making a living, and as something much of the public enjoys. He adds that the culture secretary is working hard in this area, including on social distancing when these venues are ready to open. The hope is that this may be later this summer, but this is conditional on factors like R.

Laura of Rossendale asks about meeting in 'family clusters' or 'bubbles'. Jenrick discusses past guidance, which doesn't propose that - just that individuals can meet one other person from outside their household now. Harries stresses the public health issue, and that those who have been alone or isolated will welcome this as a strong mental health boost, but that it gets complicated when making this fair and consistent with other public health advice, such as for large families meeting other families. She says it's important to think through the implications, such as if families live far apart, too. 

The BBC asks about why the Government 'can't seem to get a grip on the crisis in care homes'. Jenrick says care homes are at the heart of all the Government's current work, with focuses on better infection control and ensuring less rotation of staff between care homes, such as via agency staff. Ensuring named contacts between councils and the NHS, particularly with smaller, independent care homes, is another point, as are PPE and testing for residents and workers. Mobile testing units, often operated by the Ministry of Defence, are also discussed by Jenrick.

Jenrick also says the Government is working on a 30% discount for new homes for key workers.

Building sites will also be functioning til 9pm six days a week, in efforts to compensate for the previous pause.

16:05  Genomics England is continuing to seek volunteers for a major genome sequencing study that will explore the effects of coronavirus.

Those who have recovered from the virus are being encouraged to help with the search for new treatments and can register their interest here.

It today revealed a collaboration with Genomic Study and the University of Edinburgh.

16:00 Health secretary Matt Hancock has announced that a further £600 million is being brought in for care homes, via the Government's infection control fund to protect residents and staff.

10:45 Today is the first day the eased lockdown comes into effect. More industries are permitted to go to work if it's safe to do so via measures like social distancing; those in England are allowed to see one person from another household at a time, as long as they're in an open space like a park and remain two metres away at all times; and people can go for exercise more than once a day and use parks for non-exercise reasons, such as sunbathing.

10:40  Following yesterday's extension to the furlough scheme, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has warned of the likelihood of the UK economy facing a significant recession.

10:00 Good morning.

The Government has launched what it describes as a 'ground-breaking' nationwide study which will see the genomes of thousands of patients with coronavirus sequenced to understand how a person’s genetic makeup could influence how they react to the virus. 

Genomics England has partnered with the University of Edinburgh to lead the £28m research drive, which aims to support the search for new treatments, the Government said.

The study will involve up to 20,000 people currently or previously in an intensive care unit with coronavirus, as well as 15,000 individuals who have mild or moderate symptoms.

The Government said that since genetic discoveries 'need very large numbers of patients', the GenOMICC study 'ultimately aims to recruit every single Covid-19 patient who is admitted to intensive care in the UK'.

***

Tuesday 12 May

***

17:10 Today's Government briefing is being led by business secretary Alok Sharma, NHS national medical director Prof Stephen Powis, and Health and Safety Executive Board chief executive Sarah Albon.

Points such as the furlough scheme and the summer's roadmap are being reiterated.

Employers will later be able to bring employees back part-time.

82% of adults have only left their home for permitted reasons, if at all, while 92% avoided contact with vulnerable people, Powis states.

Today saw 85,293 tests. 2,007,146 tests have taken place in total. Powis says the number of daily confirmed tests remains static, suggesting a stable level.

Another 627 more people have died after testing positive for the virus. There is now a total death toll of 32,692.

Powis acknowledges the weekend lag of recording data.

15:15 Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced that the furlough scheme will be extended until October, with the Government continuing to pay 80% of wages of those involved. It was originally due to end next month.

11:20 The first Covid-19 drugs trial in primary care has been rolled out. The PRINCIPLE trial is testing whether low-risk treatment in the community can help people at higher risk of complications from Covid-19 to recover more quickly, reducing the need for hospitalisation.

More than 500 GP surgeries are already recruiting people aged 50–64 with a pre-existing illness, or aged 65 and over, into it.

Additionally, older people who have had coronavirus symptoms for 15 days or less can now screen for the trial online.

11:15 The Government has launched a new online portal for care homes to arrange Covid testing.

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: 'The additional testing capacity we have achieved delivers many thousands of tests a day for residents and staff in care homes.

'This new portal allows those who book tests for staff and residents to do so even more easily, and it also offers a route for the prioritisation of care homes with the greatest need.

'We will continue to grow our testing capacity, as we know the certainty and confidence that high quality testing can provide.'

10:45 Happy International Nurses Day. Deputy medical director of primary care Dr Raj Patel thanks general practice nurses for their invaluable role.

09:15 Good morning from the Pulse team. Today, the Northern Irish Government is expected to announce its plan for exiting the coronavirus lockdown. Here's hoping it is a little clearer than that in England.

***

Monday 11 May

***

19:05 Today's press briefing is being held two hours later than normal, at 7pm. Boris Johnson is talking through some of this afternoon's 50-page guidance on the next stages of the lockdown.

The first question from a member of the public is from Scott of Devon, asking about meeting friends and family in the park if observing social distancing.

The Prime Minister and CMO Chris Whitty discuss making modest steps one stage at a time, and that you can meet only one other person from another household, as long as you're still separated by two meters.

Simon in Essex asks about schoolchildren whose parents are in the industries now being prompted to return to work (such as construction and engineering).

The PM reinforces how these workplaces should be safe, and guidance published today and tomorrow will stress how transport and workplaces should be Covid-19 secure.

For the first time, more than two members of the public are posing questions to the PM. Next, Pooja from Solihull says how yesterday's announcement left the public with more questions than answers, and seeks to know when the British public will get more clarity.

The PM reiterates that people have overwhelmingly stayed at home, and of the 'stark message' to 'stay at home'. He acknowledges that around now, the message becomes more complicated, and hopes that Pooja understands what's being said, such as that people should speak to their employer if they can't work from home. He adds that changes are being made this week about exercise, but that other than that, things are generally as they had been, and will remain that way until there's further progress. He cites what Patrick Vallance said about it being conditional on other factors concerning the rate of R.

He adds that the British public have worked together in driving R down.

The BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg asks for further clarity about what people should do, and whether Whitty and Vallance approved the slogan changing from 'stay at home' to 'stay alert'.

The PM talks about the importance of transport and workplaces being Covid-secure, including social distancing and reduced capacity on public transport.

Whitty replied about how he and Vallance aren't communications experts.

Sky political editor Beth Rigby asks about whether this situation may be infinte, in light of the PM admitting today that a vaccine might not ever be found.

The PM said he doesn't believe the SARS vaccine has a vaccine after 18 years.

He can't say that we won't be living with this for a long time, and we may need to become more agile, flexible and smart in how we tackle not just this infection, but potentially future ones as well.

Vallance says we can't ever guarantee a vaccine, but great progess has been made - a number are in the clinic now, which is so far so good. He'd be surprised if we didn't end up with a therapeutic, vaccine or both.

Modifications to the Chancellor's furlough scheme are due tomorrow.

14:15 The Royal London Hospital has opened two floors, which had been mothballed since 2012, to provide up to 176 critical care beds for coronavirus patients, reports the Evening Standard.

14:10 Imagery of public transport filled with commuters has been published today.

14:05 223,060 people in the UK have now tested positive. 32,065 have died.

Overall, 1,400,107 people have been tested.

12:50 Amid the drive to remind the public to continue to action non-Covid health concerns, medics are reiterating to expectant mums that they must still receive the pertussis vaccination from their GP.

10:25  In response to the Government’s announcement that some lockdown measures are to be eased from next week, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair said: 'The Westminster Government’s plan to ease certain aspects of lockdown in England is too fast, too confusing and too risky.'

'As the Prime Minister said in his address to the nation tonight, the death toll in this country has indeed been tragic, and it would be irresponsible to allow any chance of a second spike of this virus, however, these measures risk doing just that.

'There is no detail of how those being asked to return to work will be protected from the infection or prevented from infecting others and there are mixed messages about returning workers not using public transport when many will not own cars. These pose serious risks of further spread of the infection.

'There is no clarity on how social distancing will be monitored and enforced when lifting restrictions on visiting parks and public places and opening travel to any part of the land.

'Meanwhile the level of testing to monitor spread remains far below the capacity needed and there is still no agreement even about the best app for testing and tracing.

'So the message has to be clear. It is imperative that we do not risk people mixing with each other without the ability to rigidly adhere to social distancing.

'Without this assurance, lives are still at risk and the NHS is still at risk.

'Much of the Government’s management of the Covid-19 pandemic have so far been inconsistent and lacking the absolute caution needed. We need to see clear plans and be confident that the shortcomings of the past are not repeated in the road map out of lockdown.'

09:15 Good morning. This weekend, the Government has announced a (rather confusing) easing of the current lockdown measures against coronavirus in England. The new message is to stay alert against the virus, which many people said they did not understand.

But the Government has said a 50-page document is set to be released later, which may offer clarification. Time will tell!

However, the other UK countries went their own way, with Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon notably telling residents to continue to stay home.

***

Thursday 7 May

***

22:20 Some wonderful news as we head into the long weekend - GP Dinesh has arrived back home after being treated for Covid-19!

We wish him and his family all the best during his continued recovery.

20:20 The Metropolitan Police has urged Londoners to continue to comply with the restrictions this Bank Holiday.

Chief Superintendent Karen Findlay stressed that they haven't been lifted.

She added: 'Enforcement will always be a last resort where it is absolutely necessary.

'The vast majority of people are (following the rules), and I thank them for their continued support and co-operation at this challenging time, in order to prevent the spread of the virus and extra burden on our NHS colleagues.'

On that note, enjoy the long weekend as much as you can given the circumstances. We'll see you back on Monday for more GP news!

17:05 Today's Number 10 briefing is underway, led by first secretary of state Dominic Raab, again noting how we've passed the peak of the virus, without the NHS becoming overwhelmed. He notes the 'tragic' and 'sobering' death toll, and the 'real challenges' in this country with PPE and care homes.

He says the Government has prevented the death toll rising to even higher levels.

He adds that 'R' is now between 0.5 and 0.9, and the rate of deaths is now steadily falling. He stresses that the virus is not beaten yet, and remains deadly and infectious.

He discusses the 'carefully' developed roadmap of the next stages of the lockdown, with 'detailed guidance' to reassure the public and businesses.

5,614 more people in the UK have tested positive.

The UK death toll has risen to 30,615.

86,583 tests were carried out in the past day.

A further 539 deaths were recorded since yesterday.

Deputy chief medical officer Jenny Harries stresses the importance of monitoring international data. Over 80% of the public have been adhering to guidelines in when they're allowed outside their home.

Statistician Professor Ian Diamond is also participating.

Thomas from London asks about the safety in lifting the lockdown measures. Raab recounts the Prime Minister going to set out a roadmap to ensure the virus doesn't get its grip back on the country.

Brandon of Warrington asks how the Government intends to control outbreaks in prisons, whilst also considering the safety of staff.

Raab describes the plan that's been in place, adding that nothing is taken for granted, and that the justice secretary is also monitoring it and the situation is under control.

The R rate is now lowest in London, which was once the worst-hit city in the UK.

Beth Rigby of Sky asks if BAME people should be shielding. Raab replies that ministers will take clear advice from PHE.

Raab adds that any changes in the short term to the lockdown will probably be incremental, and that before Sunday's update, there are no changes. He adds that the Government must have the ability to put back measures, such as if people flout the rules or if the R level rises.

16:50  The Government will start a programme of coronavirus testing and tracing from mid-May.

It has appointed Baroness Dido Harding to head up the effort, while Professor John Newton will be scientific lead alongside the UK's chief medical officers.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: 'I am delighted that Baroness Harding is taking on this vital role as part of our fight against coronavirus.

'Her significant experience in healthcare and fantastic leadership will be an added strength to our test and trace programme, and her work will be pivotal in our efforts to turn the tide on this virus and keep people safe.'

15:50 Welsh schoolchildren will not return on 1 June, regardless of the decision in England, Wales' education minister Kirsty Williams has confirmed.

15:05 The Queen has demonstrated her support for the Journalists' Charity, reiterating the sentiment: 'Lockdown without journalism? Unthinkable.'

14:35 Very sad news, the day before VE Day - the Evening Standard reports that nine Chelsea Pensioners have sadly died with coronavirus.

14:30 Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon has extended the nation's lockdown. The Scottish Government reviewed the measures today, and she used today's press briefing to say: 'We are together making really significant progress in our efforts to get this virus under control... All of that gives us real hope and real encouragement. But we also know that progress remains fragile.

'Our estimates suggest that there are still significant numbers of people in Scotland infected with this virus.

'Any significant easing up of restrictions at this stage would be very risky.'

12:15 The Prime Minister's update to the nation on the next steps of the lockdown will be delivered at 7pm on Sunday.

11:50 The London Nightingale site's deputy clinical director Professor Richard Schilling has shared the below message, in light of the hospital going on stanby:

10:00 Elusive artist Banksy has created an artwork in aid of the coronavirus response. It is temporarily on display at University Hospital Southampton, before being auctioned off to raise money for the NHS.

09:45 A promising update - the first units of convalescent plasma donated by people who have recovered from Covid-19 have been supplied to hospitals. The first transfusions have now taken place, NHS Give Blood confirmed.

Those interested in donating their plasma are encouraged to look into doing so.

09:40 Sadly, another doctor has died with coronavirus. Dr Tariq Shafi was a consultant haematologist at Kent's Darent Valley Hospital.

He had graduated from King Edward Medical College.

NHSE's medical director of primary care Dr Nikki Kanani was among those paying tribute.

09:30 Good morning all. Today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to chair a cabinet meeting discussing how the lockdown can be eased.

This comes after he told Parliament yesterday that some lockdown measures may be eased as early as Monday, with an announcement expected on Sunday.

***

Wednesday 6 May

***

19:40 Twickenham MP and Lib Dems health spokesperson Munira Wilson raised the point of why those in her constituency were being sent as far away as Brighton for testing, despite having a testing site in the area.

She also cited local key workers whose tests had been lost.

19:30 Battersea MP Marsha de Cordova, who is also shadow women and equalities secretary, cited the BMA's research into how BAME doctors are disproportionately affected by the virus, in today's PMQs.

Specifically, she asked Liz Truss, minister for women and equalities, to ensure that no more NHS staff have to risk their lives.

19:20 Sadly, the UK has now surpassed 30,000 coronavirus deaths. The confirmed figure is 30,076.

The Prime Minister also expressed regret at the number of deaths within care homes, in today's PMQs.

201,101 have tested positive, while over a million in the country (1,072,144) have been tested.

17:00 GP and NHS England's medical director Dr Nikki Kanani is leading today's press briefing. She is alongside housing and communities secretary Robert Jenrick, and Professor Yvonne Doyle, medical director of PHE.

Dr Kanani discusses community, and how she grew up in a community pharmacy before becoming a GP. She describes some personal 'challenges', such as that she's home-schooling her children and has a family member who is shielding. 

She reassures viewers that primary care services are still there, and pays tribute to 'unsung heroes' within primary care, including community pharmacists, dentists, optometrists and GP practice staff. She says that services may seem different - giving examples of an increase in phone calls and online consultations, and that she was dressed in PPE at her surgery yesterday - but urges people to continue to come forward should they require assistance in the coming weeks and months.

Dr Kanani also responds to a question from the public about how religion is being affected by the pandemic.

Her appearance went down well within the GP community!

More details can be found in our story here.

16:40 The chief medical officers, led by Professor Chris Whitty, have issued an open letter on the importance of clinical trials, and how recruiting patients onto them is an essential step in coming closer to effective treatments of Covid-19.

16:35 Leader of the opposition Keir Starmer used today's PMQs to highlight how at least 29,427 people in the UK have sadly now lost their lives to Covid-19.

He asked the Prime Minister: 'How on earth did it come to this?'

16:30 Health secretary Matt Hancock has been criticised for his response to shadow health minister Dr Rosena Allin-Khan's question in the Commons yesterday.

Dr Allin-Khan, also a London A&E doctor, approached him about lack of testing for frontline health workers, many of whom have sadly died. Mr Hancock's response included: 'I think she might do well to take a leaf out of the shadow secretary of state's book in terms of tone'.

The shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, later defended his colleague.

16:20 Some uplifting news emerging from badly-hit North London - no new coronavirus deaths have been reported since yesterday by major hospitals the Royal Free, Whittington or UCLH, the Camden New Journal reports. 

This would make it the first time in over seven weeks.

14:40 More heartbreaking news of healthcare staff dying with Covid-19.

Haematology nurse Jennie Sablayan, 44, worked at University College London Hospital for more than 18 years and leaves behind two daughters.

She was praised for how she cared for blood cancer patients, and will be sorely missed.

12:25 Speaking in today's Prime Minister's Questions, Boris Johnson sets a target of 200,000 tests per day by the end of this month. He added that the plan is then to go higher still.

The Government previously aspired towards 100,000 tests by the end of last month.

However, in his weekly blog, Pulse editor Jaimie Kaffash argues that this numbers game has all been one big distraction.

12:20 We're currently speaking in the British Society of Magazine Editors' Lockdown Lunch webinar. Editor Jaimie Kaffash is on the panel, sharing how we're covering Covid-19.

09:45 Good morning.

The Doctors' Association UK is calling for there to be a coroner's inquest into each and every death of a healthcare worker to Covid-19, looking at factors including PPE.

Over 90,000 people has signed its petition supporting the call, after guidance was issued to coroners suggesting that PPE provision should not be considered as part of a coroner’s inquest into a death of a healthcare worker

Dr Katie Sanderson, a frontline NHS doctor and a DAUK committee member said: 'It is really important if we are to honour our colleagues who have died, that we ensure that the circumstances around these deaths are investigated properly and thoroughly.

'We do not feel that there has been a meaningful commitment on this to date. At DAUK we have called for a public enquiry to examine relevant aspects of public policy, including the evidence used to formulate PHE PPE guidance. We are also calling for inquests to be opened into deaths of all frontline healthcare workers and carers, to ensure that the local conditions leading to these are understood, and that families have the opportunity to ask questions about these.'

***

Tuesday 5 May

***

20:00 Some good news for Pulse today - we're thrilled to have been shortlisted for three awards at this year's British Society of Magazine Editors Talent Awards.

We're up for Best Section Editor/Team (News and Investigations); Best Editorial Assistant (Eleanor Philpotts) and Best Scoop (Lea Legraien).

Wish us luck for the (virtual!) ceremony! 

19:55  GPs are sharing the #HelpUsHelpYou message, reiterating that GP services remain open for those in need.

NHS England's medical director for primary care Dr Nikki Kanani posted the following.

19:50 The Telegraph reports that Professor Neil Ferguson, one of the Government's leading scientists advising on responses to the pandemic, has resigned from the Government advisory group SAGE after breaking the lockdown to meet his married lover.

A month ago, Scottish chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood also resigned from her position, after being found to break the social distancing and essential travel-only measures by twice visiting her holiday home.

17:10 Speaking in today's press conference, first secretary of state Dominic Raab warns that some cyber-security criminals are targeting the public via phishing, scamming, fraud and hacking. He says the Government has evidence of them being 'particularly dangerous' at this time. The US and UK have today published a joint warning on these groups, who plan to 'exploit'.

Responding to a question from Bren of Gloucestershire about inequalities in the community, Professor Angela McLean, deputy chief scientific advisor, says how infectious diseases always particularly affect the disadvantaged.

Next, Jane from West Yorkshire asks whether the test, track and trace app, which launched today on the Isle of Wight, could expand worldwide. Raab says the Government wants it to be UK-targeted to deal with the challenges faced in this country.

Unfortunately, the target of 100,000 daily tests was missed again. Instead, 84,806 were provided in the 24 hours leading to 9am today. 

A further 693 deaths have been recorded since yesterday, bringing the total to 29,427. The UK has now surpassed Italy's death toll, making it the worst-affected in Europe.

Professor McLean continues that the Government is watching the progress of other nations that have allowed children back to school.

Raab stresses that businesses and the country want certainty, and that the Conservatives were elected on that basis.

Professor McLean confirms that obesity is a further risk factor for people in intensive care with Covid-19. She adds that under all circumstances, pandemic or not, it's better to not be obese.

13:15 Encouraging to see images of Covid-19 survivors donating their plasma in efforts to support others affected by the virus.

Here's Dr Abhi Lal of Worcestershire Acute NHS Trust.

13:00 There are reports that the UK has surpassed 30,000 deaths with Covid-19, making it the worst-affected country in Europe and second worst in the world.

12:55 More concerning cancer statistics - there's been a 70% drop in referrals (two-week waits) from GPs in the Vale of York since the start of the pandemic.

NHS Vale of York CCG, York Teaching Hospital Trust, GP practices and Vale Cancer Alliance are encouraging anyone with symptoms to continue to seek assistance from their GP.

Dr Dan Cottingham, cancer and end of life lead at NHS Vale of York CCG, reiterated: 'Cancer hasn’t gone away because of coronavirus. There will still be people in our community experiencing signs and symptoms of cancer such as the sudden appearance of a lump, blood in their urine, or a change to usual bowel habits - and so it is vital these people contact their GP practice so a doctor can investigate and refer to a specialist if necessary.

'Accessing a GP has changed during the pandemic but GP practices are continuing to provide the same safe care they always have done.'

Pulse reported on this nationwide issue last month.

12:50 New police figures show that hate crimes against Chinese people in the UK have soared during the pandemic.

Sky News documents that at least 267 offences were recorded in the first three months of this year, including assaults, robberies, harassment and criminal damage.

Victim Michael Chiu, 22, a Sheffield Hallam University student, recounted being subjected to racist abuse by people in a car who threw fruit at him.

11:30 The North East's Nightingale temporary site, part of Newcastle Hospitals, is now opening, a day after it was announced that London's is closing via standby.

The region is now the worst-affected in the country, and NHS chief executive Simons Stevens has described the site as a 'reassurance' for those living there.

11:25 Today is International Day of the Midwife, and they're being praised for their crucial role within healthcare.

11:20  There is currently another Health and Social Care Select Committee evidence session taking place. In connection with the 'Management of the Coronavirus Outbreak' inquiry, participants include deputy chief medical officer Jenny Harries and chief scientific advisor Sir Patrick Vallance.

10:35   A Paris doctor has said one of their patients had Covid-19 in December, indicating the virus may have reached Europe a month earlier than previously thought, reports the BBC.

10:30  The news that PHE is looking into how obesity affects Covid-19 morbidity conincides with NHS Digital's annual release of statistics on obesity, diet and physical exercise in England.

It showed that 67% of men and 60% of women were overweight or obese in 2018/19. This includes 26% of men and 29% of women who are obese.

There were 11,117 hospital admissions directly related to obesity, up by 4% from the year before, and 876,000 admissions where obesity was a factor, an increase of 23% on 2017/18.

09:50 Good morning. PHE has outlined details of its review into factors which impact who will get more seriously ill with Covid-19.

Its rapid review, due to report by the end of the month, will look at the factors including ethnicity, levels of obesity, gender, age and deprivation.

***

Monday 4 May

***

17:10  Delivering today's press briefing are health secretary Matt Hancock, the Government's director of health improvement Professor John Newton, and deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam.

Over 28,000 people across all settings have now died, an increase of 288 since yesterday. However, Hancock says that this number is expected to rise. There may be a delay in reporting some deaths over the weekend. 

Today, testing capacity stands at 108,000, says Hancock. He adds that the focus is now on 'test, track and trace', allowing a 'more targeted approach to lockdown'.

He says the Government is developing the aforementioned app, and building 'an army of contact tracers'.

The app has already been tested at an RAF base, and from tomorrow, the pilot will begin on the Isle of Wight, starting with healthcare professionals before rolling out to the public.

From Thursday, each household on the island will receive a letter from the chief nurse on the next steps on downloading the app. Users who fall ill with symptoms inform NHS staff via the app.

Hancock stresses that the app doesn't mean the end of social distancing. This will only occur if the Government's five tests are met.

Professor Van-Tam then talks through the tests, starting with NHS capacity and a sustained fall in daily deaths. It goes onto solid information that the rate of infection is decreasing to manageable levels; operational challenges around testing, PPE and being able to meet future demand; and confidence that adjustments contemplated won't risk a second peak - a matter of 'deep scientific discussion'.

He says there are continuing challenges around PPE.

Two more members of the public ask questions, including about how the Government is reviewing how BAME healthcare staff are affected. It launched its rapid review today.

17:05 An NHS app centred on coronavirus is being trialled on the Isle of Wight. It may then launch nationally. Transport secretary Grant Shapps has acknowledged how not everyone has a smartphone to download an app, but that the aim is for as many people as possible to utilise it.

17:00 Spain and Italy, once Europe's worst-hit nations, have been easing their lockdowns.

17:00 London's Nightingale hospital site is being put on standby and stop accepting patients next week (15 May). However, it may reopen if required. TheGuardian states that 12 patients are currently being treated there, and are being moved to other London hospitals.

The BBC adds that it never had more than 100 patients at a time. It has capacity for 4,000, and was created in case the NHS struggled to cope with demand.

The Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast sites also have very few patients, it continues.

16:55 6.3 million people in the UK have been placed on furlough, BBC News announces.

16:35 The public's anxiety levels have reached new highs, according to the Government's 'happiness index', as published in theEvening Standard.

Almost half of Brits described their anxiety levels as 'high', compared to 21% at the end of last year. This came as socialising was effectively stopped due to everyone being unable to meet friends or visit public venues.

The ONS equates this to 25 million people suffering elevated amounts of anxiety during late March.

16:30 More than two million people in the UK have now claimed benefits since the coronavirus crisis reached the country, announces the Mirror.

15:45 Sadly, further health and social care staff have died with coronavirus.

They include Cecilia Fashanu, 63, the second nurse to die with it at Cumbria's Cumberland Infirmary.

The agency nurse had received critical care for weeks and was summed up by son Anthony as 'Superwoman' and by Lyn Simpson, chief executive of North Cumbria Care NHS Foundation Trust, as a 'much loved colleague'.

This upsetting news comes as 229 more UK deaths are understood to have been announced since yesterday. This is the lowest figure in over a month (since 29 March).

14:45  The Government has released a list featuring the majority of members of its Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) committee.

The publication comes after the Government was accused of lacking in transparency as it was withholding the names of the experts on which it bases its response to the Covid-19 crisis.

The list features senior scientific figures from the Department of Health, NHS England and Public Health England as well as scientists from Britain's top universities.

Some members have still declined to allow their names to be published.

12:45 Speaking in a press briefing, Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced that it's 'very likely that on Thursday I will be asking you to stick with lockdown for a bit longer'.

The UK Government is due to review the lockdown situation on Thursday.

10:00  A BMA survey has revealed that almost half of doctors have had to rely on donated or self-bought PPE.

While this was 38% of hospital doctors specifically, the figure rose to 55% of GPs. 

Additionally, two thirds still don’t feel fully protected from Covid-19.

Over 16,000 doctors responded, making it what's believed to be the biggest survey of frontline doctors since the start of the crisis.

***

Friday 1 May

***

19:15 The latest Londoners to have sadly died with Covid-19 include a maternity nursing assistant who had recently been diagnosed with cancer, and a head of social sciences at a Kensington sixth form.

Mother-of-three Elma Cavalida, 49, died at Barnet Hospital after having coronavirus for almost a month, the Evening Standard reports.

Her husband said Mrs Cavalida, who moved from the Philippines 19 years ago, loved her job and was 'totally committed' to the NHS. She was due to start chemotherapy early in April.

Teacher Melvin Gwanzura was 43 and described by his partner as 'the healthiest, fittest person you could meet', who regularly played sport and didn't drink or smoke.

His partner added that Mr Gwanzura, who left Zimbabwe for London in 2001, was 'the most joyful, wonderful person', who 'inspired his students' and was 'devoted to his job'. 

His workplace, St Charles Catholic Sixth Form College, also shared a moving tribute.

Our thoughts are with everyone affected.

18:00  Deaths from Covid-19 in the nation's most deprived areas are more than double those in the least deprived, according to today's ONS data.

The Health Foundation described it as revealing a 'clear and worrying trend'.

Senior fellow David Finch continued: 'It is too early to say for sure what is driving this trend. The link to deprivation is complex given the virus has spread more in densely populated urban areas that tend to be more deprived.

'However, there are clearly ways in which existing inequalities mean the crisis is having a disproportionate impact on certain groups.'

Newham, Brent and Hackney are London's worst-affected boroughs.

17:20 The health secretary announces that the goal he set, of reaching 100,000 daily tests by the end of April, was met. 

Making the revelation in today's press briefing, he says that over 122,000 tests were conducted yesterday.

There have been reports that the Government changed its method of counting to meet this target.

Hancock began the session by stating that the restoration of fertility services has commenced, and that he appreciates how time-sensitive this is. 

Meanwhile, more than 6,000 people in the UK have tested positive for the virus since yesterday. This total figure now stands at 177,454.

Hancock also said that by the middle of this month, 18,000 contract tracers will be in place.

He adds that we won't leave the current measures until it's safe to do so, but that the Government also cares about the restoration of the economy and freedom.

Andrew of Leeds asks today's first question from the public. He asks if there will be fines for parents who keep their children away from school after the lockdown has lifted.

Hancock says that schools won't reopen if it's not safe. He reinforces that the virus doesn't appear to give children as severe symptoms as it does adults. Hancock adds the goal is to return to the norm and the position the nation was in before. 

He adds that the reason for shutting schools was for the link to transmission.

Professor Stephen Powis acknowledges that there had been some concern about how children are affected, which is still being looked into.

Next up, Stuart of Redditch asks about investment into the Nightingale sites, and waiting lists among the NHS.

Hancock says the Nightingale hospitals were designed for patients who are intubated with Covid-19.

Powis says the surge in the Nightingale sites has been managed because of the compliance the public has shown in socially distancing. He adds that they must be kept as an 'insuance policy' for the time being, but will be under review going forward. He praises how they've shown how agile the NHS can be.

09:50  Good morning and welcome to the month of May.

The Government has signalled that the UK is 'past the peak' of the virus, with a road map for easing the lockdown set to be unveiled next week.

This will include looking at how various types of businesses can go back to work, while upholding necessary social distancing measures.

***

Thursday 30 April

***

20:20 That's it for April. It's been a very hard month for many in lots of ways - from people's health and what the NHS has been facing, to the economy and the emotional impact of spending the month in lockdown. 

Thank you to the wonderful GPs and other healthcare professionals who continue to work so hard as the world experiences the pandemic.

20:10 The Prime Minister's fiancee, and new mum (as of yesterday) shared this message of gratitude during tonight's weekly #ClapforNHS.

20:00 Pulse has received some good news today - we're very pleased to have been recognised in the Press Gazette's recognition of Coronavirus Journalism Excellence.

Our 12 March story on the majority of GPs not having sufficient PPE has been identified as one of the best exclusives of the pandemic so far.

Thanks to our readers for supporting our work during this time and beyond!

17:10 Delivering his first press briefing in five weeks, during which time he recovered from Covid-19 himself (and had a baby), the Prime Minister confirms that the UK has come through the peak. But he stresses that it's vital that we avoid the 'disaster' of a second peak, that could be even bigger.

Today, the members of the public asking questions are Michelle of Cornwall and Katie from Liverpool. Michelle's is about tourism and the risk to rural areas of a second spike of infections; and Katie's is about the sad increase of suicides since lockdown began, and mental health support.

Responding to a question from Robert Peston, chief medical officer Professor Whitty reiterates that we're nowhere near the end of the epidemic.

Replying to a media query from Dan Wootton, Professor Whitty stresses the concern for other medical issues during the pandemic, such as cancer, heart attacks and strokes, as well as the decline in A&E attendances. The Prime Minister states that those needing urgent cancer treatment will get it. 

Johnson also says more info on face masks will be released next week.

26,711 people in the UK have now died with the virus - including those who didn't die in hospital settings.

Thanking those volunteering to participate in trials, chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance says that without these, there are just anecdotes.

Johnson also refered to future plans, such as children returning to schools, and workers returning to their normal workplaces.

A road map and 'menu of options' will become known next week.

Lessons being leant daily is a key topic throughout the briefing.

12:05  Various areas across the UK, including Peterborough, Hull and Inverness, have been described by the Department of Health and Social Care as having 'high availability of tests' today.

10:00 Community pharmacists are now included within the Department of Health and Social Care's death in service benefits.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society said: 'This should never have been in doubt - there was a lot of hurt caused to our profession - however pleased this had now been confirmed'.

09:55 Globally, there's also some encouraging news emerging this morning.

Not only has South Korea recorded no new domestic cases for the first time in February (it was at one stage one of the worst-affected in the world), but the Guardian also states that the nation's recovered patients who later retested positive were not reinfected after all, but were actually false positives.

09:40 Some nicer news on the last day of what's been a difficult month - a happy 100th birthday to Captain Tom Moore.

He's also now raised more than £30million for the NHS and been made an honorary Colonel.

Captain Moore has received cards from all over the world to mark the occasion, as well as messages from the Queen and Prime Minister.

***

Wednesday 29 April

***

17:05 In today's press briefing, first secretary of state Dominic Raab says that we're still coming through the peak, and about how many sacrifices the British people have made. He reinforces the need to avoid a second spike of the virus, that would harm public health, overwhelm the NHS and lead to another lockdown, damaging public confidence and the economy.

He says this need isn't just a 'theoretical risk', and references Germany, where Angela Merkel has said that a second lockdown may be needed if the country's infection rate continues to rise.

However, Raab reinforces that there is light at the end of the tunnel, whether you're an NHS worker or parent at home with young children. Patience is needed, though.

He continues that the UK is continuing to source PPE from abroad, including from China and Turkey, for the NHS and care homes; and provides an update on progress made in helping a total of 1.3 million British nationals to return from overseas since the start of the global coronavirus outbreak.

Meanwhile, Professor Yvonne Doyle of PHE warns that there's been the highest usage of motor vehicles in a single day since the lockdown began. She says that this is worrying.

Deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam reinforces that the virus isn't going to disappear.

17:00 For the first time, Covid-19 deaths within the community and care homes were counted in today's daily data, as well as those within hospitals. The total has now surpassed 26,000.

16:10 The BMA is celebrating now dependents of international healthcare workers in the NHS who sadly die on the Covid-19 frontline will be granted immediate indefinite leave to remain with no fee.

The trade union shared its 'delight', having previously urged home secretary Priti Patel for this measure.

16:05 Given the potential impact of the pandemic on those wishing to start a family, the Department of Health and Social Care has announced that anyone who has frozen their eggs, sperm and embryos will be able to extend their storage for an additional two years.

16:00 Having 'expanded eligibility' for tests, the Department of Health and Social Care has stated that today there is availability across the UK, including in Brighton, Bournemouth, Bristol, Exeter, Penrith, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Hull.

13:05  Over 11,000 hospitality and tourism workers from England, Scotland and Wales have applied for training to work in the care sector during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The pilot of the transition programme, developed by Skills for Health, People 1st International and CareTech, was launched at the beginnig of April but can only accept 500 people.

12:20  The Home Office has added midwives, radiographers, social workers and pharmacists to a list of professions which will see visa relaxation during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Frontline workers from overseas, with visas due to expire before 1 October 2020, will receive an automatic one-year extension.

The Home Office had previously announced that doctors, nurses and paramedics would have their visas automatically extended.

They will also not have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge for the duration of the extension.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: 'Frontline health and social care workers from overseas are doing extraordinary work in responding to this global outbreak.

'Around 3,000 vital health and care workers and their families will benefit from the extension, and we are hugely grateful to them for protecting the vulnerable and saving lives.'

11:15 Devastatingly, more NHS professionals have died after contracting coronavirus. They include Ken Lambatan, a cardiac research nurse at St George's Hospital, London.

Colleagues and friends summed him up as a 'true gem', 'very popular' and someone who lit up the room and loved his role.

 

10:50 Congratulations to the Prime Minister and fiancee Carrie Symonds, who welcomed a baby boy this morning.

Boris Johnson's spokesperson confirmed that mother and baby are 'doing very well', and that their son was born at a London hospital.

Both Boris and Carrie experienced coronavirus symptoms earlier this month, with Boris continuing his recovery after being treated in intensive care.

Such happy news! 

09:00  Good morning. The Government has expanded access to coronavirus testing, with all people who have to leave the house to work, and all over-65s - and their households - now eligible for testing if they display symptoms.

***

Tuesday 28 April

***

18:30 Another sad death from Covid-19, of London vicar Reverend Peter Holmes, 65.

He had led Norbiton's St Peter's Chuch since 1993 and was due to retire this year.

The Evening Standard charted how he had always helped those in the community, such as by setting up a homelessness charity.

It also shared how Reverend Holmes had self-isolated since March, in part due to suffering from asthma, and was hospitalised early this month.

His final text to his wife and four children read: 'Love each other, love God, run for Jesus. Whichever way this goes, I love you all.'

His son Tom stated that he didn't fear death. He said: 'My dad has done thousands of funerals over the years and reassured many people that this isn’t the end.'

17:10 From tomorrow, Covid-19 deaths within the community and care homes will be counted among the daily figures. Currently, they're solely deaths occuring in hospitals.

Two members of the public asked questions in today's press briefing. One was from a mother whose son has cystic fibrosis and autism, asking about a return to school and normal life before a vaccine is secured. The other was similar to yesterday's, about grandparents being able to see their grandchildren again.

Health secretary Matt Hancock reiterated the risk of a second wave of the virus.

17:05 A moving image from this morning's minute's silence in memory of the NHS and social care staff who died with coronavirus.

17:00 Some more heartbreaking news - two brothers have died with coronavirus within hours of each-other, and weeks after their father also died.

Ghulam Abbas, 59, and Raza Abbas, 54, had been treated in adjoining beds at South Wales' Royal Gwent Hospital, the BBC reports.

Our thoughts are with their family.

16:55 It's nice to see support for GPs during this time, as this Tweet depicts:

16:20 Some 2,000 people died with Covid-19 in UK care homes in the week up to 17 April, the latest data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has shown.

The data comes as Covid deaths in hospital have now started to decline, standing at 316 on the latest daily count, published yesterday.

Over 3,000 care home patients have now died with Covid-19.

10:35 Last night's Panorama said that the Government counted each glove, rather than a pair, as PPE, so numbers appeared higher.

It also classed paper towels as PPE.

10:15 Bristol's Nightingale temporary site has now also opened.

In line with members of the Royal Family opening them thus far, Prince Edward officially launched it yesterday.

09:30  University Hospitals of Derby and Burton has paid tribute to one of its cleaners, Eileen Landers, who sadly died on the weekend with coronavirus.

Chief executive Gavin Boyle said: 'Eileen joined the Trust as a domestic assistant at Queens Hospital Burton in 2004 and was a very popular member of the team. Eileen worked in many departments and wards across the hospital, most recently in the Discharge Lounge, and was known for her high standards, which colleagues and the nursing team say were second to none.

'During her time here she was known for her absolute dedication to her role and her dedication to coming to clean the hospital and protect patients. The importance of the role Eileen and her colleagues perform simply cannot be overstated.'

09:25 A reminder that there will be a minute's silence at 11am - a nationwide tribute to NHS and care staff who died with Covid-19.

Chief nursing officer Ruth May and national medical director Professor Stephen Powis will lead NHS England staff in marking the silence, and will join partners from the Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Midwives and UNISON.

Professor Powis said: 'This is an opportunity for us all to pay tribute to doctors, nurses, cleaners and many other NHS staff who have died in this pandemic.

'I hope the whole nation will fall silent in tribute and show how much their contribution is remembered and appreciated.'

The NHS' chief people officer Prerana Issar has also said that NHSE is considering how to formally commemorate all those who have died while working to care for others once the health service is through the peak of the virus.

***

Monday 27 April

***

17:10 82 NHS staff and 16 care staff have now died with coronavirus, health secretary Matt Hancock confirms in today's press briefing.

He also shares statistics on how A&E attendance has reduced, and reiterates that the NHS is always open for those in need.

He adds that NHS services, starting with cancer care and mental health support, will start being 'restored' tomorrow.

It's revealed that 15,000 questions from members of the public have been submitted today alone.

The first question from a member of the public is from Lyn of Skipton. She says how much she's missing her grandchildren and asks if being reunited with family will be one of the first steps after we're eased out of the lockdown.

Reading the question for the first time, Hancock says he understands the impact of not being able to see relatives. Chief medical officer Chris Whitty replies that it largely depends on Lyn's personal circumstances, such as whether her health means she needs particular shielding. Hancock adds that the quickest way of returning to normality eventually is ensuring we adhere to the Government's measures, such as by social distancing, for the time being.

16:25 Brentwood and Basildon CCG employee Laura Tanner has sadly become another Essex NHS worker to have died with the virus. We reported today that Thurrock GP Dr Kamlesh Kumar Masson has also died.

The 51-year-old was a locality administrator who had worked for the NHS for more than a decade, according to ITV.

Her husband Kevin, who also had symptoms, described her as 'fantastic, loving and caring', and a 'great mother' to sons Ethan, 23, and Kian, 13.

Our thoughts are with all of those affected.

16:20 Some moving words from Jason, whose brother Mark Channon sadly died last night, survived by his partner and five-month-old daughter. RIP Mark.

12:30 The Royal College of Nursing is calling for a nationwide minute's silence at 11am tomorrow, to remember the healthcare professionals and key workers who have sadly died with Covid-19.

12:20 From today, members of the public can ask questions in the daily press briefings.

They can submit them here.

11:00  GP indemnity provider Medical Protection has said members carrying out additional work or working in a different setting to normal will be provided with cover at no extra cost, and they do not need to inform the organisation.

Members working reduced hours can adjust their membership and pay less, Medical Protection added. Meanwhile, it has made its counselling service for those experiencing work-related stress - usually only in relation to an ongoing legal case - open to all during the pandemic.

Medical director Rob Hendry said: 'We know Covid-19 is causing health, wellbeing and financial concerns for GPs at a time when they want to focus on treating patients.

'As a mutual organisation, our purpose is to be there for members in times of difficulty and there has never been a more important time to do this.

'We will continue to monitor the situation in the coming weeks and months so we can respond quickly to challenges as they arise.'

10:20  An NHS clinical trial using blood plasma from recovered patients to treat Covid-19 has been approved.

Government press release said the national randomised clinical trial will help to determine if plasma collected from donors who have recovered from Covid-19, known as ‘convalescent plasma’, is an effective treatment for patients who are severely unwell with the illness. Plasma from recovered Covid-19 patients can be transfused to patients who are struggling to produce their own antibodies against the virus.

The Government said that, if effective, a scaled-up national programme will deliver up to 10,000 units of convalescent plasma per week to the NHS. This would provide enough convalescent plasma to treat 5,000 patients each week, it added.

09:15  Good morning and welcome to a new week.

Today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has returned to work after recovering from Covid-19.

Addressing the nation from the steps of 10 Downing Street, he suggested the UK was being successful in fighting the pandemic.

He said: 'This is the moment when we have begun, together, to wrestle it to the floor'.

He hailed the lockdown effort with achieving successes for the health service, including the NHS not getting overwhelmed and not running out of ventilators.

***

Friday 24 April

***

20:05 Some happier news as we start the weekend. North London's Royal Free Hospital shared this week that a total of 517 of its coronavirus patients have recovered and been discharged.

Each time a patient returns home, staff on an elderly ward celebrate by pinning a butterfly to a mural of a dementia care tree.

They're pleased to report that the tree is 'rapidly filling up'!

20:00 Upsettingly, Sky News reports that 4,000 domestic abuse arrests have taken place in London alone, in the last six weeks, when the nation has been lagely self-isolating at home.

This equates to an average of 96 per day.

The Department of Health and Social Care is reiterating that police services and support remain available during the lockdown.

19:50 Heartbreaking news - twin sisters have died within three days of each other after testing positive for Covid-19.

Katy and Emma Davis, 37, who had both worked as nurses, died at Southampton General Hospital this week, on Tuesday and today respectively.

Their sister Zoe told the BBC: 'They always said they had come into the world together and would go out together as well.

'There are no words to describe how special they were.'

The twins lived together and had underlying health conditions.

We are thinking of their family at this terrible time.

19:45 Very sadly, more NHS staff have died with coronavirus. They include Dr Vishna Rasiah, a consultant neonatologist at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, and Dr Medhat Atalla, consultant geriatrician at Doncaster Royal Infirmary.

Chief executive Sarah-Jane Marsh said of Dr Rasiah: 'Vish was an amazing doctor, leader, colleague and friend passionate about the care of babies and their families.

'Losing him in such a cruel and unfair way will be too much to bear for many of us, in particular anyone involved in neonatal care, and of course his beautiful wife and daughter.

'As our tears flow, we must always remember the values that Vish stood for, and hold his vision, courage and compassion in our hearts. God bless you Vish, and may you rest in peace.'

Dr Tim Noble, medical director, and Richard Parker, chief executive at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals, said of Dr Atalla: 'It is with immense sadness that we inform you that our colleague, Dr Medhat Atalla, has passed away.

'A hugely popular and respected colleague, Dr Atalla was a very special human being who practised medicine across three continents throughout his career, affecting the lives of so many in such a positive way.

'He was a truly gentle gentleman and he will be hugely missed by us all.'

Our thoughts are with their loved ones.

13:25 The first human trial in Europe of a coronavirus vaccine began in Oxford yesterday.

The BBC states that more than 800 people volunteered, with two injected so far.

One of them, Elisa Granato, explained: 'I'm a scientist, so I wanted to try to support the scientific process wherever I can.'

We wish them all the best.

13:20 Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething found himself in an awkward situation this week. He made comments about a Labour colleague in a video-call, having not realised his microphone was still active...

13:15 The Government's supply of home testing kits are believed to have gone within two minutes of being made available this morning.

The Department of Health and Social Care shared the following message:

***

Thursday 23 April

***

19:55  The daily press briefing this evening saw the Government extending coronavirus testing to all essential workers, and members of their households, who show symptoms.

It said this would help them return to work of the test was negative. They will be able to book the test via a new online system.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: 'We are making it easier, faster and simpler for any essential worker in England who needs a test to get a test. From today, employers of essential workers will be able to go on GOV.UK to get a test for any of their staff who need a test. And from tomorrow, any essential workers who need a test will be able to book an appointment on GOV.UK themselves directly.

'This all applies for people in essential workers’ households who need a test too. It’s all part of getting Britain back on her feet.'

15:06  Another 616 people have died with the coronavirus, taking the UK death toll to 18,738. In total, 138,078 people have tested positive with the virus, including 4,583 since yesterday.

09:20 Good morning all. 

The Government will be contacting 20,000 households in England to take part in a large-scale study tracking the coronavirus in the general population, in a bid to learn more about the virus spread and the development of immunity.

Those taking part will provide regular nose and throat samples to researchers and answer short questions during a home visit by a health worker. It will include 25,000 people in the pilot phase, extending to 300,000 over the next year.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: 'Understanding more about the rate of Covid-19 infection in the general population, and the longer-term prevalence of antibodies, is a vital part of our ongoing response to this virus.

'This survey will help to track the current extent of transmission and infection in the UK, while also answering crucial questions about immunity as we continue to build up our understanding of this new virus.

'Together, these results will help us better understand the spread of the virus to date, predict the future trajectory and inform future action we take, including crucially the development of ground-breaking new tests and treatments.'

***

Wednesday 22 April

***

16:50  The number of hospital-based Covid-19 deaths has now topped 18,000 in the UK, with another 759 daily deaths.

14:40  Attending the Commons chamber in person, health secretary Matt Hancock said in a statement to MPs that people who think they need medical care - unrelated to coronavirus - should continue to contact their GP, online or via phone.

14:30 Foreign secretary Dominic Raab, who is standing in for Prime Minister Boris Johnson while he recovers from coronavirus, has faced new Labour leader Keir Starmer for the first time, as a MPs returned to the Commons for a semi-virtual PMQs.

In response to questions about Covid-19 testing, Mr Raab promised that the Government would fulfil its pledge to reach 100,000 tests a day by the end of the month, despite currently only testing around 18,000.

13:00  Sadly, another GP has died with the coronavirus. NHS Dorset CCG's chief clinical information officer Dr Craig Wakeham died on the weekend. His colleagues have paid tribute to the 59-year-old, who served local patients for 30 years.

11:00  Good morning. The Government is facing questions about whether it could have joined an EU scheme to source medical equipment to handle the coronavirus crisis at an earlier stage. Sources in the Government had said not joining the buying scheme had been a 'political decision' because the UK left the EU on 31 January, but this was strongly refuted by the health secretary, as the BBC reports.

***

Tuesday 21 April

***

17:25 In today's press briefing, health secretary Matt Hancock announced that a vaccine currently being worked on by Oxford University scientists will be trialled on people from Thursday.

16:45  The British Psychological Society has recommended that patients who have been severely ill with Covid-19 in hospital should receive psychological follow up 1-2 months after being discharged - either by the hospital or their GP.

It suggested common psychological aspects of recovery may include symptoms such as anxiety and low mood, fear of falling ill again, nightmares and poor sleep or even problems with memory and attention. People may also suffer stigma or fear of contaminating others.

Previous research on recovery from respiratory viruses suggest a number of risk factors for developing psychological problems after recovery, including prolonged ventilation, social isolation because loved ones could not visit and ICU environmental stressors such as noise and light. 

The BPS said: 'All patients recovering from severe Covid-19 should be proactively followed up (in person or by phone/video call) between one to two months after discharge either by their general practitioner (GP), or by a hospital-based critical care follow-up clinic, in order to review their psychological, functional and physical needs.'

15:25 Among the 100+ health and social care staff who have died with Covid-19, many appear to have remained working past retirement age, often due to their desire to help others.

One of these is 84-year-old Margaret Tapley, who was still working as an auxiliary nurse in Witney, Oxfordshire.

Her granddaughter Kathryn MacLennan told the BBC that she had been 'very aware' of the risks of the virus but 'could never imagine leaving her work family'.

Grandson Ben added that she dedicated her life towards the NHS, which she had worked in for more than 40 years.

Rest in peace, Margaret, and thank you for your decades of service.

14:45 Caption Tom Moore, 99, who has this month raised an astonishing £27m for the NHS, is opening the latest NHS Nightingale temporary hospital today.

The Yorkshire and the Humber site is in Harrogate.

 

14:40 As with yesterday, there's a delay on today's figures.

13:30 New ONS data shows that the week ending 10 April saw the highest number of England and Wales deaths in that week of the year, in modern history.

It had the biggest number of deaths in any week since 2000. There were 18,516 deaths recorded (of all causes).

12:20 The UK's first Sikh A&E consultant, Manjeet Singh Riyat, sadly died yesterday with Covid-19.

Gavin Boyle, chief executive of University Hospitals of Derby and Burton, where Mr Riyat, 52, worked and died, paid tribute.

He said: 'Mr Riyat, known to his colleagues as Manjeet, was a widely respected consultant in emergency medicine nationally. Manjeet was the first A&E consultant from the Sikh community in the country and was instrumental in building the Emergency Medicine Service in Derbyshire over the past two decades.

'He was an incredibly charming person and well loved. Manjeet knew so many people here across the hospital, we will all miss him immensely. On behalf of everyone here at UHDB, including our patients and the communities we serve, I would like to offer our sincere condolences to his family.'

12:15 Some positive news - over 250 Covid-19 patients in Leeds have been discharged from hospital.

12:00 It's the Queen's 94th birthday. This year, the usual celebration, a Trooping the Colour ceremony, will not be taking place.

We wish the monarch a very happy birthday.

10:00  The MDU has called for a 'national debate' about whether it is 'right' to sue the NHS for patient care around the Covid-19 pandemic, amid concerns that the NHS will face a deluge of claims relating not just to the coronavirus but also to postponed elective care.

Chief executive Dr Christine Tomkins said the MDU is 'concerned that medical liability claims will come long after public memory of the sacrifices made by healthcare workers have been forgotten' and when 'the circumstances of the pandemic which requires people to work outside their speciality and beyond their experience will also be forgotten'.

In response, there 'needs to be a public debate about whether it is right to sue the NHS for patient care around the Covid-19 pandemic', Dr Tomkins argued.

'Any compensation paid will be a drain on NHS resources and disastrous for the morale of staff who are acting so selflessly and courageously. Claims will also place an additional burden on taxpayers, who will be facing all the economic consequences of the pandemic.'

09:40 Dire news today as over 100 health and social care workers have now died with coronavirus in the UK.

Several papers report on the tally, kept by Nursing Notes.

The Guardian has written tributes to 81 of those who have lost their lives.

Meanwhile, Pulse is sad to report on the death of a fourth GP to the virus.

***

Monday 20 April

***

16:35 New data reveals that 124,743 people in the UK have now tested positive.

A total of 16,509 of those hospitalised have sadly died.

16:30  The Government has published directions to NHS England handing the commissioning board the power to exercise local commissioning powers in place of CCGs and hospital trusts.

The document, published today but effective as of 28 March, directs NHS England to assume the powers and duties of CCGs to commission 'certain health services' from foundation trusts and NHS trusts until 31 December of this year.

It also hands NHS England the powers to control staff, goods and services at NHS trusts, related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The document said: 'The Secretary of State considers that the incidence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in England constitutes an emergency for the purposes of section 253(1) of that Act, and that accordingly it is appropriate to give these Directions.'

15:30 In a rare public address, the Duke of Edinburgh has voiced gratitude to people working on tackling the effects of coronavirus, from 'those ensuring rubbish continues to be collected', to those in medicine, science and research. 

Prince Philip, 98, cited World Immunisation Week and wrote his statement 'on behalf of those of us who remain safe and at home'.

15:20 There's a delay on today's Covid-19 figures.

10:45  The saga of PPE shortages continues, with a promised large import having been caught up in red tape.

Responding to reports that a delivery of millions of items from Turkey - due to arrive in the UK on Sunday - was delayed, BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: 'For doctors and healthcare staff working on the front line now and in the coming days, the announcement that the expected arrival of PPE from Turkey has been delayed for an indefinite time is extremely concerning.

'Given the health secretary’s warning of the possibility of full-sleeved gowns running out altogether in some hospitals this weekend, doctors were banking on the Government’s announcement of imminent extra supplies of PPE from overseas. Healthcare workers desperately need proper and effective protection now – by whatever means possible.

'Far too many doctors are already placing themselves at considerable risk by simply doing their job of caring for patients, as a recent survey by the BMA worryingly found that significant numbers are still without the equipment they need.

'This is not just about protecting healthcare staff; some of whom have already tragically lost their lives in the fight against Covid-19, this is about protecting the patients they treat.

'This really is a matter of life and death. In what is an incredibly challenging time, doctors and healthcare staff should feel as equipped and supported as they need to be able to deliver care for patients. Instead, they are left fearful for their own health and safety – this is shameful.'

It comes as PHE was forced to published guidance which has been viewed as a down-grading of safety standards on Friday, recommending wideranging re-use of certain PPE items.

10:15 The Government's furlough scheme is opening for applications today.

HMRC set up an online portal which launched this morning, and the Treasury aims for funds to pay workers to reach employers' accounts within a week.

09:50 NHS Blood and Transplant is appealing to survivors of Covid-19 to donate their blood plasma in the hope it can help cure people battling the illness.

NHSBT is hoping to use the plasma in a clinical trial which is pending approval.

Chinese scientists have found, in preliminary trials, that antibodies from recoved patients could aid in the recovery, reports Sky News.

Potential donors can find more information here.

09:35 Some good news to start this week, too - London's Nightingale site has discharged its first patients. A very moving sight to see!

***

Friday 17 April

***

19:30 A positive update to end the week with... Have a nice weekend, all!

 

17:05  In today's press briefing, Alok Sharma announces that the Government has set up a vaccines taskforce, coordinating efforts of the Government, academia and industry to 'accelerate development' of a vaccine. He says it will ‘position the UK as a leader’.

He references the past efforts of Edward Jenner when he worked on a smallpox vaccine.

He later adds that the Government has greenlighted a further 21 research projects.

Sharma also stresses that the public can't become complacent, and that the complex process of producing vaccines 'has no guarantees'. He expresses pride at how 'again and again, Britain has stepped up'.

Patrick Vallance doesn't anticipate a sudden drop in coronavirus cases.

Earlier today, chancellor Rishi Sunak extended the furlough scheme until the end of June.

 

16:40 The flag at BMA House is flying at half mast, as a mark of respect to the NHS staff who have died with Covid-19.

14:10 108,692 people have now tested positive in the UK.

The death toll has risen to 14,576 (of those who were in hospital).

A total of 341,551 people have now been tested for the virus.

10:45 Oxfordshire GP Dr Helen Salisbury has only just received a supply of PPE, after four weeks.

She stressed that it remains an insufficient amount for her 11,500-patient practice.

10:30 Scenes of crowds gathering on London's Westminster Bridge for last night's clapping for the NHS have been met with criticism, after they congregated and ignored the Government's social distancing measures.

09:45 Good morning. The Government has announced that the UK's current lockdown measures to control the coronavirus outbreak will need to stay in place for 'at least' three more weeks.

And it looks as though the wait for a resumption of normal life will be a lot longer than that...

Leading yesterday's coronavirus briefing, foreign secretary Dominic Raab said five tests need to be met before the lockdown can end.

This included ensuring stocks of PPE and Covid-19 tests could meet future demand, said Mr Raab.

The Government also has to be sure the NHS can cope; that there is a sustained fall in the daily death rate; and that adjustments to restrictions don't risk causing a second peak of the virus outbreak.

***

Thursday 16 April

***

20:35 Captain Tom Moore, 99, has now raised £15million for the NHS.

20:30 The nation clapped again at 8pm, to thank those working in the NHS and social care for their dedication during the time of coronavirus.

17:05 The UK's lockdown measures will remain in place for at least another three weeks, foreign secretary Dominic Raab confirms in today's press briefing.

He says we're at a 'delicate and dangerous' stage of the pandemic; praises the 'incredible' national team effort, and highlights that 'now is not the moment to give coronavirus a second chance'.

Professor Chris Whitty reinforces that people who become seriously ill at home, such as by experiencing a heart attack, stroke or severe asthma attack, should still utilise the NHS.

Professor Whitty later says that ethnicity is less clear than age and comorbidities (such as cardiovascular disease) in the context of Covid-19. He adds that male sex is another risk factor, for reasons that are unclear.

He's discussed ethnicity, particularly of NHS staff, with scientists. He says they're keen to get this clear, and if they see any signal at all, want to see what can be done to minimise risk. He stresses that it must be looked at more carefully to get it right.

16:50 Happy 18th to Sam, who's spending his birthday working on a Covid-19 ward in Blackpool!

16:20  Iceland Foods has said that banning NHS workers from using cash, and telling them they had to buy any food they touched, was an 'error'. It has now withdrawn the guidance, which caused widespread offence (see post from 10:20).

15:25 Health secretary Matt Hancock has said that testing is being ramped up again, including via 22 drive-through centres.

Earlier this week, there was criticism when a drive-through testing facility for key workers at the Cardiff City Stadium was shut on Bank Holiday Monday, having only opened six days prior.

15:20 Nice to see praise for collaboration across primary care.

Working a shift at a Covid-19 hub, Doncaster GP Dr Dean Eggitt commented: 'We have Nurses, Health Care Assistants, Pharmacists, Receptionists, Managers, and GPs all working together to ensure patients and colleagues are safe.

'I think we need to keep this in place after the pandemic ends. It's great!'

15:15 London GP Dr Zoe Williams is joining the workforce at the Nightingale temporary hospital.

14:45 Another 861 people have died with Covid-19 in the UK, taking the total death toll to 13,729.

103,093 people have now tested positive.

14:40  The Northern Irish Government has launched a support service for the mental health of NHS staff during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr Alan Stout, chair of the BMA Northern Ireland GP Committee, said: 'The new framework for staff wellbeing is a very welcome development in these current times. Doctors right across Northern Ireland are currently making a huge commitment to the health service. No one will have ever worked through a situation like this and there is bound to be both a short and long-term impact on their mental health.

'We are pleased to see that the support services will be offered to both staff working in hospitals and GPs and we would strongly encourage anyone who feels they need support to access the services, either those available face to face or the extensive online resources that are available. There is no shame to admitting that you need help, either now or in the future.'

14:10 Birmingham's Nightingale hospital has officially opened. Prince William opened it - his father Prince Charles did the same for the London one earlier this month.

11:10  The BBC has honoured NHS workers who have died with Covid-19 with an article telling some of their life stories.

10:50 Very sadly, more NHS staff have died with coronavirus. They include Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapong, 28, who was pregnant and whose daughter, also named Mary, was delivered via emergency caesarean and is believed to be doing well. 

Ms Agyapong was as a nurse on a general ward at Luton and Dunstable University Hospital, and died on Easter Sunday.

David Carter, chief executive of the trust, said: 'It is with great sadness that I can confirm the death of one of our nurses, Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapong, who passed away on Sunday.

'Mary worked here for five years and was a highly valued and loved member of our team, a fantastic nurse and a great example of what we stand for in this trust.'

JustGiving page has been set up and currently raised more than £96,000 in memory of Ms Agyapong and to support her family.

Our thoughts are with her loved ones at this difficult time.

Dr Peter Tun, 62, died at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, where he worked for more than 20 years, as an associate specialist in neuro-rehabilitation.

His son Michael Tun posted on Twitter: 'So proud of my superhero dad Dr Peter Tun. He was looking forward to retirement and wanted to play with his grandchildren (when I have them eventually). He died of COVID19 on Monday. I miss you so much dad!'

He continued: 'My dad Dr Peter Tun died from COVID19 because of the lack of PPE. My hope in writing this is that it will save more doctors and nurses lives and avoid pain for their families. My dad would have wanted to speak up if he thought it would save lives.'

10:45 NHS data shows that 15 NHS Trusts in London have now recorded more than 100 deaths linked to Covid-19. 

They include the Royal Free Trust; University College London and Guy's and St Thomas' Trusts.

10:40 Birmingham's Nightingale Hospital temporary site will open today, at the NEC event venue and led by University Hospitals Birmingham.

It will be the second to open, following London's at the ExCel.

10:20  Doctors have reacted to a policy saying NHS staff must buy any items they touch while shopping at the Iceland supermarket chain.

09:50  Good morning.

Health minister Nadine Dorries has said in a tweet that the only way to exit full lockdown is when there is a Covid-19 vaccine.

However, when news outlets started reporting on her tweet, she backtracked slightly.

Wednesday 15 April

***

18:00  Health secretary Matt Hancock has announced updated Government plans to allow close family to say goodbye to relatives who are dying from Covid-19 in hospitals and care homes, reports the BBC.

14:35  98,476 people in the UK have now tested positive for Covid-19.

15,994 tests occured yesterday. 

12,868 people in UK hospitals with coronavirus have now died.

14:25 Yvette Cooper MP, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, has written to immigration minister Kevin Foster, asking for visas to be extended for care workers. They have already been done so for doctors.

14:20 58 Labour MPs have addressed health secretary Matt Hancock over concerns about the lack of PPE for care workers.

13:05 The Department of Health and Social Care has relaxed its coronavirus rules for those with learning disabilities and autism.

These people can now leave their home for exercise more than once a day, and travel outside their local area during the current lockdown.

Lawyers had previously challenged the measures.

13:00 Trisha Greenhalgh, professor of primary care at the University of Oxford, shares a message of hope and thanks after her doctor son overcame coronavirus and returned to work. 

12:55 Pulse contributor Dr Ellie Cannon has reiterated an important message - that GP practices, alongside other healthcare services such as pharmacies and A&E, remain open during the pandemic.

11:25 A video titled #YouClapForMeNow is trending online, with over 40,500 tweets about it. 

It thanks 'every key worker... from Britain or overseas, who put their lives on the line to help put their lives on the line to help beat coronavirus', and appeals for solidarity.

11:20 Great news - 99-year-old war veteran Captain Tom Moore has now raised over £5million for the NHS. He's won the support of thousands by walking 100 laps of his garden, having initially set a target of £1,000.

His JustGiving page is here. Excellent work Tom!

11:10 In London, the Islington Gazettte reports that 69 people have died at Whittington Hospital with Covid-19. 

The hospital primarily covers the boroughs of Haringey and Islington.

11:00 More NHS staff have sadly died with coronavirus. They include Southmend Hospital healthcare assistant Maureen Ellington; Kevin Smith, a plaster technician from Doncaster; Oscar King Jr, a porter in Oxford; and nurse Gareth Roberts of Cardiff. 

Yesterday, Andrea Young, chief executive at North Bristol NHS Trust, said of Maureen Ellington:

'Our Trust has been on a journey over the years, through which Maureen has continued to play a caring and dedicated part. I want to personally recognise Maureen’s considerable service to the NHS and to North Bristol Trust specifically.

Having touched the lives of many of our staff over the years, we will be providing a place for everyone to remember Maureen in a virtual memorial service next week. My thoughts are with Maureen’s family, friends and colleagues at this very difficult time.'

09:50  Good morning. After the worrying news of the number of deaths to Covid-19 among care home residents around the country, the Government has pledged testing for 'all symptomatic care residents'.

It further said all patients discharged from hospital will be tested before going into care homes as a matter of course; while all social care staff who need a test will now have access to one.

The CQC will contact all 30,000 care providers in the coming days to offer tests, the announcement said.

***

Tuesday 14 April

***

20:05 Newham's Project Surgery shows how it's running children’s injections services via drive-through clinics, welcoming cars and pushchairs.

20:00 In today's press briefing, chancellor Rishi Sunak commented on the Office for Budget Responsibility's report and warned of some tough times ahead for the nation's economy.

19:50 Pharmaceutical giants GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi have united to work on a coronavirus vaccine.

14:30  93,873 people in the UK have now tested positive.

As of 5pm yesterday, 12,107 of those hospitalised have sadly died.

In total, 302,599 people have now been tested, with 14,982 tests taking place yesterday.

12:35 The Prime Minister is recuperating at Chequers, his Buckinghamshire country residence. He was discharged from London's St Thomas' Hospital over the weekend, rested as negative for the virus, and subsequently released a video expressing his gratitude to the NHS.

Specific thanks were given to nurses Jenny McGee of New Zealand, and Luis from Portugal, who stood by his bedside for '48 hours, when things could have gone either way'.

Fiancee Carrie Symonds, who is expecting the couple's first baby and herself experienced coronavirus symptoms earlier this month, also shared her appreciation of the health service.

12:30 The O2 music venue has also been converted into a space to help with the efforts against coronavirus.

Professor Richard Schilling, deputy clinical director of London's Nightingale temporary hospital, described how the site's training team is using the arena to train hundreds of volunteers.

10:45 Data from the Office of National Statistics shows that 6,235 deaths in England and Wales that occurred in the week leading to up to 3 April involved Covid-19. This is contrast to the 4,093 deaths reported on 4 April by the Department of Health.

The ONS is including deaths in care homes and the community, rather than solely hospitals.

There was a total of 16,387 deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending 3 April, which was the highest weekly figure since the weekly records began - in 2005. 

Almost half of deaths in London had a link to coronavirus.

Overall, ONS shows that the coronavirus death toll could be 15% higher than what's been reported.

In response to the new ONS stats, Liz Kendall MP, shadow minister for social care, said: 'The increase in Covid-19 deaths in care homes is extremely worrying, but the true picture will sadly be even worse because these figures are only up to the week ending the 3 April.

'We urgently need these figures on a daily basis to help deal with the emerging crisis in social care and ensure everything possible is being done to protect more than 400,000 elderly and disabled people who live in nursing and residential care homes.

'The Government has rightly said the NHS will get whatever resources it needs to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. This must also apply to social care, which needs a much greater priority and focus than it has had so far.

'It is vital that at today’s press conference, Ministers set out precisely how they are keeping care home residents safe and when care staff will get the PPE and testing they desperately need.'

10:30 There has been much concern about care homes during the time of coronavirus, and yesterday, chief medical officer Chris Whitty announced that 13.5% of care homes in the UK have experienced an outbreak - up 9% from the previous week.

This includes 92 that reported one in the past 24 hours alone.

This morning, the Guardian stated that two of the UK's largest care home providers, HC One and MHA, have reported 521 deaths from coronavirus.

The daily death tolls provided by the Department of Health and Social Care only refer to coronavirus deaths that took place within hospitals.

09:25  Good morning, and welcome back to Pulse's Covid-19 liveblog.

The Medical Protection Society (MPS) has announced free membership for fast-tracked medical students joining the workforce early due to the Covid-19 crisis.

Students currently enjoy free membership with Medical Protection, this will now continue throughout their first year of foundation training as newly qualified doctors.

Dr Rob Hendry, medical director at Medical Protection, said: 'The incredible dedication of final-year students who are answering the call to join the frontlines of tackling Covid-19, is nothing short of remarkable.

'To support them during this challenging time, as they enter a changed professional landscape, we are continuing their free membership into their first foundation year.

'Those new to the profession will face real challenges and, as a mutual organisation, our purpose is to be there for our members in times of difficulty. There has never been a more important time to step in and provide the assistance that they need.'

***

Thursday 9 April

***

19:45 Have a nice Easter weekend all, and thank you for all you've been doing during this difficult period.

In the meantime, have a look here if you need a reminder of what practices should know whilst they're open tomorrow (Good Friday) and Bank Holiday Monday. 

19:20 Good news - Downing Street confirms that the Prime Minister has left intensive care, and moved onto a general ward. He was first admitted to St Thomas' Hospital on Sunday.

19:00 Before the nation claps in support of the NHS in an hour's time, as per the new Thursday night routine, the One Million Claps appeal is asking people to donate £5 over text to support NHS Charities Together.

18:30 The Department of Work and Pensions is understood to be receiving ten times more calls than normal.

18:00 BBC Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis has won widespread praise today after her powerful intro last night. She opened with: 'The language around Covid-19 has sometimes felt trite and misleading. You do not survive the illness through fortitude and strength of character.

'The disease is not a great leveller. The consequences of which everyone, rich or poor, suffers the same.'

15:40 This afternoon's press briefing sees Dominic Raab discuss how the UK's death toll of hospitalised Covid-19 patients has risen by 881 in a single day.

There have now been 7,978 deaths in the UK.

The first secretary of state also answers a journalist's question by saying that he hasn't had any contact with the Prime Minister since his admission to intensive care.

The public has been urged to adhere to Governmental guidelines on essential travel and social distancing over the Easter weekend, with Bank Holidays tomorrow and on Monday.

For instance, the chancellor said: 'However you’re celebrating Easter this year, celebrate it at home'.

14:45 The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have spoken to staff and students of Casterton Primary School, Burnley, thanking teachers for their role during this period in keeping schools open for vulnerable children and those whose parents are key workers.

14:40 An update on the Prime Minister includes that he had another 'good night', continuing to improve in intensive care and receiving 'standard oxygen treatment', and remains in 'good spirits'. 

14:00 Sadly, the deaths of more NHS staff have emerged since yesterday. Scotland reported its first, of Janice Graham, a 58-year-old district nurse and support worker who died in Inverclyde on Monday and was 'bright and enaging', with 'razor sharp wit'.

Sky News states that Dr Abdul Mabud Chowdhury, a locum urologist in East London who died yesterday after 15 days in hospital, wrote to the Prime Minister three weeks ago about the need for improved PPE.

12:50 A&E attendances last month were their lowest since records began. In English hospitals, they were down a by close to a third (29%) compared to the same period last year - a low not seen since current records started in August 2010.

However, calls to NHS 111 have more than doubled and ambulance response times also increased.

Dr David Brill wrote on Twitter:'Our A&E is also weirdly quiet on the non Covid side. Seriously hoping people aren’t just sitting at home with heart attacks, strokes and appendicitis...'

12:00 BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul is calling for a 'targeted and culturally sensitive' campaign to ensure all communities can access and understand advice about Covid-19.

This comes as the Eastern Eye reports that nearly a third of people critically ill with the virus are said to be from a BAME background.

09:50 NHSX has teamed up with Facebook to enable isolated patients to video chat with relatives during the coronavirus lockdown.

Facebook will provide up to 2,050 of its Portal video calling devices for free to hospitals, care homes and other settings including hospices, in-patient learning disability and autism units, the Government said.

Minister for care Helen Whately said: 'Social distancing is tough on us all, and we must remember how beneficial interaction with loved ones is for our wellbeing.'

09:30 Good morning and Happy Easter - although as you know, GP practices have been told to open as normal both tomorrow and on Monday. You can read all about what is required of practices here.

***

Wednesday 8 April

***

18:00 The Evening Standard reports that seven residents of an East London care home have died with suspected coronavirus, and another 21 have fallen ill. 

Hawthorn Green home in Stepney, where around 50 people live, is another care home affected by the virus. Those in care homes have been considered at heightened risk, in part due to the close proximity in which they interact on a daily basis.

17:55 Welcome news for the third sector - the chancellor used today's press briefing to announce £750 million of funding to support charities. 

Rishi Sunak said: 'We need the gentleness of charities... it gives us hope'.

£200 million will support hospices.

Sunak singled out St John Ambulance; the Citizens Advice Bureau; and organisations supporting vulnerable children, victims of domestic abuse, and disabled people.

Elsewhere within the briefing, Sunak describes the Prime Minister as receiving 'excellent care' and having an 'improving condition'. Describing Johnson as his 'colleague and friend' as well as his boss, he adds that he has been 'sitting up in bed' and 'engaging positively with the clinical team'.

17:15 The daily toll from Covid-19 has reached a new high, with 938 patients having died in a day. Over 7,000 people have now died and over 19,000 people are hospitalised.

14:15 A new laboratory aiming to achieve 30,000 coronavirus tests a day is to be set up at Cambridge University, to facilitate the Government's plan of 100,000 daily tests by the end of this month. 

Health minister Edward Argar told the BBC that it would make 'a significant contribution' to ramped-up testing.

14:10 Another doctor is reported to have died with coronavirus. Dr Paul Matewele was a senior lecturer in microbiology immunology at London Metropolitan University, and died yesterday in North London's Barnet Hospital. He was said to be a 'dynamic researcher', 'unflappable' and a 'gentle soul', who published findings into how bacteria spreads.

13:20 GP and MP Dr James Davies, who represents the Vale of Clwyd, has distributed PPE including 5,000 face masks for healthcare staff.

13:10 An update on the health of the Prime Minister states that he remains clinically stable in intensive care, responding to standard oxygen treatment, and isn't on a ventilator.

He's not currently working, but is able to contact those he needs to, and continues to be in good spirits.

12:00 The first coronavirus patients were admitted to London's temporary hospital NHS Nightingale last night. Other sites remain in development across the country.

11:20 Sadly, more NHS staff are reported to have died with coronavirus. They include 29-year-old nurse Rebecca Mack, for whom a tribute stated: 'Today, the NHS lost an absolutely amazing and beautiful nurse, myself and my colleagues lost the most tremendous clinician. At the age of just 29, she had her entire life ahead of her.'

Kingston Hospital consultant geriatrician Dr Anton Sebastianpillai was referred to in an obituary notice from Peradeniya Medical School in Sri Lanka, where he qualified in 1967, as a 'distinguished alumnus'. 

Acting Lib Dems leader Ed Davey MP shared his 'privilege' at meeting Dr Sebastianpillai to 'discuss the NHS & Tamil history'.

GP practice nurse Alice Kit Tak Ong, 70, is understood to have still been working full-time, including running paediatric clinics, when she fell ill. She came to the UK from Hong Kong to study nursing in the 1970s, aged 23, and had been part of the NHS community for 44 years. 

Dr Amrit Lamba, of Colindale Medical Centre in North London, told the Guardian: 'She had talked of retirement, but nursing and medicine was a real passion for her and she would never let it go.

'Even at the end of her career, she was up-to-date on every development and sharing her wisdom with the practice. She’ll be missed and remembered very, very fondly.'

09:50 The World Health Organization (WHO) has completed its review into whether the public should be advised to wear facemasks. 

The BBC reports that it has concluded that the only two groups that should wear them are those who are:

  • sick and showing symptoms
  • caring for people suspected to have the coronavirus

However, a study has shown vulnerable patients may benefit from wearing them in high-risk situation such as healthcare settings, as we report here.

***

Tuesday 7 April

***

17:35 Deputising for the Prime Minister in today's press briefing, Dominic Raab discusses the 786 new deaths reported in the UK, and that he is 'confident that the Prime Minister will pull through'.

London has the most hospital admissions per day in the country, with approximately 4,000, followed by the West Midlands with approximately 3,000.

17:00  55,242 people in the UK have now tested positive for Covid-19. 14,006 tests took place yesterday, surpassing previous figures.

6,159 of those hospitalised have sadly died.

16:00 A number of charities have been urging the Government to not forget them and provide support as part of its financial aid.

15:55  Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation have launched a post-Covid-19 hub for people left with breathing difficulties after the virus. Their family and carers, plus healthcare professionals and policymakers can use it too.

15:40 WhatsApp is imposing a limit on forwarding, in order to decrease the spread of fake news about coronavirus. Users will now only be able to forward messages that have previously been shared more than five times, to one other chat at a time.

15:00 A drive-through coronavirus assessment centre has opened at Shrewsbury Town FC's stadium

It's appointment-only, for patients directed by their GP who are showing symptoms of coronavirus. 

Set up by Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin CCGs, it's not a testing centre, but for assessing patients with symptoms of coronavirus or supporting patients who have other urgent health issues but who are unable to see a healthcare professional because of their coronavirus symptoms.

14:55 The Medical Defence Union has launched a support package to help medical students and foundation doctors during the coronavirus crisis. 

The MDU is automatically waiving membership fees for medical students starting their F1 post early, while its package of benefits includes 24-hour legal advice; free membership for students volunteering; and indemnity for claims arising from Good Samaritan Acts.

It also has a health and wellbeing resource.

14:50 Politicians from all over the world, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi; French President Emmanuel Macron; Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and former Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn have sent their best wishes to Boris Johnson. 

Prince William echoed his grandmother's sentiment below, by stating: 'Our thoughts are with the Prime Minister and his family, who like so many in the UK and around the world are affected by coronavirus. We wish him a speedy recovery at this difficult time'.

14:45 The Queen has sent a messge of support to Boris Johnson's pregnant fiancée, Carrie Symonds, who also isolated with coronavirus symptoms last week. She has wished the PM a speedy recovery.

14:40 Like yesterday, there is a delay on today's coronavirus cases.

12:52 A Downing Street update on the condition of the Prime Minister reads: 'He’s been stable overnight and remains in good spirits.

'He is receiving standard oxygen treatment and is breathing without any other assistance. He has not required mechanical ventilation or non-invasive respiratory support.'

12:50 NHS teams around the country are sharing 'get well soon' messages to the Prime Minister, who remains in intensive care.

11:00 Children, most of whom are off school and having to stay at home, are being encouraged to design rainbows and share the pictures to support NHS workers and boost their morale. 

Many are being seen up in windows across the country, and leading children's hospital Great Ormond Street has described them as raising smiles. 

10:55 It's being reported that Michael Gove MP is now also self-isolating. He is well in himself, and a family member has symptoms.

He completed media interviews this morning.

10:40 We're very sad to say that more health and social care staff have died with coronavirus. They include Catherine Sweeney, a home carer from West Dunbartonshire, Scotland; and Jitendra Rathod, a cardiac surgeon in Cardiff. 

Ms Sweeney was described as'caring and generous', having dedicated over 20 years to serving the needs of the most vulnerable in society. Her family added that the whole community share their grief.

Mr Rathod was an associate specialist in cardio-thoracic surgery at the University Hospital of Wales. A tribute from Cardiff and Vale University Health Board praised him as an 'incredibly dedicated surgeon who cared deeply fo his patients', 'greatly respected' and 'a wonderful human being'. He is survived by his wife and two sons.

09:30  Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent the night in intensive care but is not yet on a ventilator, according to Downing Street.

They continue to say Mr Johnson was taken to intensive care as a precautionary measure, to be in close proximity to a ventilator, should he require one.

***

Monday 6 April

***

20:20 The Prime Minister is in intensive care. A Downing Street spokesperson said: 'Since Sunday evening, the Prime Minister has been under the care of doctors at St Thomas' Hospital, in London, after being admitted with persistent symptoms of coronavirus.

'Over the course of this afternoon, the condition of the Prime Minister has worsened and, on the advice of his medical team, he has been moved to the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital.

'The PM has asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is the First Secretary of State, to deputise for him where necessary.

'The PM is receiving excellent care, and thanks all NHS staff for their hard work and dedication.'

17:05 In today's press briefing, foreign secretary Dominic Raab provides an update on the condition of the Prime Minister, who remains 'in good spirits' and receiving updates in St Thomas' Hospital, London, where he had a 'comfortable night'.

Raab also shares details on Brits who have been repatriated in light of the coronavirus crisis. More flights, including from India and the Philippines, will take place this week.

Later in the briefing, it's promisingly revealed that the public's efforts are working to a degree. It's stressed that it's still too soon to see the changes made from two weeks ago. 

17:00 The Department of Health's data has changed from previous updates. It's now including the total number of tests (rather than just the number of people tested), and test figures are expanded to include all five pillars of the UK Testing Strategy that were announced last week.

51,608 people in the UK have now tested positive for coronavirus.

As of 5pm yesterday, a total of 5,373 of the hospitalised patients have sadly died.

14:40 As part of the new Shadow Cabinet being announced by Keir Starmer, who became Labour leader over the weekend, Dr Rosena Allin-Khan is the shadow minister for mental health. Dr Allin-Khan, an A&E doctor, will be rejoining the NHS frontline in efforts against coronavirus in the next few days. Jonathan Ashworth remains shadow health secretary.

14:20 There is a delay on today's coronavirus figures again. 

 

13:55 Dr Jack Manley, who works in A&E in London, has launched DeliverAid, where the public can donate to provide healthy meals for NHS staff. Its total currently stands at more than £13,000, from 345 donations. A welcome initiative!

13:50 Labour MP Tony Lloyd is also in hospital with coronavirus. The 70-year-old, who represents Rochdale, is being treated in Manchester and believed to be 'stable' and 'responding to treatment'.

13:40 The Prime Minister remains in hospital for observation, and isn't expected to leave today, states the BBC

There have been reports that he has been on oxygen, but Number 10 haven't commented on whether this is the case.

Many are encouraging him to recover by resting, instead of continuing to work. 

13:30 Having recently overcome coronavirus, health secretary Matt Hancock is donating blood for a trial researching the virus.

He recommends that anyone who's asked to take part in a trial of this type to do so, to play their 'part in getting the country through this terrible disease'.

 

12:30 Progress is also being made at the NHS Nightingale temporary hospital in the North Yorkshire town of Harrogate. It's believed to be hosting 500 beds for Covid-19 patients from across Yorkshire and the Humber.

12:15 A tiger at New York's Bronx Zoo has tested positive for coronavirus. 

The tiger, Nadia, is believed to be the first known case of an animal with Covid-19 in the US, and to have been infected by an asymptomatic zoo keeper.

11:50 Chief medical officer Chris Whitty is understood to be back at work, having recovered from coronavirus symptoms. Great news!

11:42  Welcoming the opening of a Covid-19 testing centre in Belfast for healthcare workers, BMA’s Northern Ireland Council chair, Dr Tom Black, said: 'The opening of this centre will hopefully see a much-needed increase in testing of healthcare staff, enabling them to return to work quickly and, most importantly, prevent patients from potentially becoming unwell with COVID-19 themselves. 

'We are about to enter the ‘peak’ two-week surge of the coronavirus here, during which our health service system will be stretched to levels we have never experienced before. This is why it is vital to test as many healthcare workers as possible as we need as many hands on deck in the coming weeks to care for patients.'

11:31 Health secretary Matt Hancock has wished Prime Minister Boris Johnson a speedy recovery, after he was admitted to hospital for coronavirus on the weekend.

11:00 Very sadly, more NHS staff are reported to have died after testing positive for coronavirus. 

Liz Glanister, 68, had vowed to continue working as a nurse at Aintree University Hospital, Liverpool, and was fondly remembered by colleagues as a 'work mum', 'mentor' and 'witty friend' who taught so much to those on placement, according to the Mirror.

23-year-old John Alagos is understood to be the youngest nurse in the UK to have died with coronavirus. His mother said he wasn't wearing the correct PPE at work. Mr Alagos was described as'very popular' and 'missed greatly'.

Last night, Lynsay Coventry became the first serving NHS midwife in England whose death with coronavirus was publicly confirmed. The 54-year-old had worked at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, Essex, for ten years, and sadly died on Thursday. The NHS trust's chief executive Lance McCarthy said Ms Coventry 'will be remembered for her professionalism and commitment to the women she supported'.

Her family's tribute read: 'Our hearts are broken at the loss of our loving, wonderful and caring mum, sister, daughter and grandmother. We each know how much she loved and cherished us. 

'What we also know is how proud she was to be an NHS midwife. Lynsay followed her dream and trained as a midwife later in life. It was a role she committed herself to and saw the midwifery team at the Princess Alexandra Hospital as her other family'.

At least ten frontline NHS staff have now died with coronavirus. Last week, tributes were also paid to 'cherished grandfather' Thomas Harvey, a healthcare assistant at North East London NHS Foundation Trust, and 'living legend' Dr Alfa Saadu, former medical director at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Essex and Ealing NHS Trust.

Our thoughts are with their loved ones, and we thank them for all they did within the NHS. 

10:50  Professor Paul Cosford, emeritus medical director of Public Health England, has blogged about his experiences of having to 'shield' from coronavirus, due to having being diagnosed with incurable cancer.

Professor Cosford says: 'Even for a pandemic expert like me, life in isolation has been a struggle'.

10:40 Ireland's Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar, has rejoined the medical register and plans to work one session per week during the coronavirus crisis. He qualified as a GP a decade ago.

10:00 Urgent care services throughout Leicestershire were suspended last week, including in Market Harborough, Melton Mowbray and Hinckley.

09:50 Scotland's chief medical officer, Dr Catherine Calderwood, resigned last night, after it was revealed that she visited her holiday home on two consecutive weekends during the coronavirus lockdown. This goes against the instructions she repeatedly issued to the nation - to only travel if it's essential. 

Dr Calderwood initially apologised profusely, including during yesterday's daily press briefing, and was backed by first minister Nicola Sturgeon in staying in the position. However, she quit the role, which she had occupied for over five years, later in the evening.

09:40 The Prime Minister was hospitalised last night, due to continuing to experience coronavirus symptoms, such as a high temperature, after ten days. 

This was not an emergency admission, and was for 'tests' upon his doctor's recommendation. He remains in charge of the nation's response to the virus, but foreign secretary Dominic Raab led this morning's Government meeting.

09:30 The Queen addressed the nation last night, in only the fourth speech of its kind during her entire reign. Thanking key workers including the NHS, and the public in adhering to Government rules during a difficult period, she also stated: 'We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return. We will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.'

The monarch also discussed the experiences of child evacuees during the Second World War, in relation to social distancing that means people are currently separated from their loved ones. She added: 'Now, as then, we know, deep down, that it is the right thing to do.'

09:20 Some unfortunate news to start the week. The Government has ordered millions of antibody tests to establish who has had coronavirus, but none of them work. The Times reports that Professor John Newton, Public Health England's new testing chief, made the admission. 

***

Friday 3 April

***

20:00 And finally, something to smile at as we head into the weekend - in some areas, it appears the message to keep washing your hands is getting through...

17:20 Three national clinical trials have been established, says the health secretary in today's press conference.

'We need more patients to volunteer to become part of the trials', he urges. 'But for now, the only way to protect yourself and your family from this disease is to stay at home.'

16:30 Some more very sad news - there are reports that another healthcare professional has died after testing positive for coronavirus. Aimee O'Rourke, 39, is understood to be the second NHS nurse and mother-of-three whose death was announced today. She worked at the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate, Kent, having joined the acute medical unit upon qualifying in 2017.

Her daughter Megan described her as an 'angel' who will wear her 'NHS crown' forever.

Our thoughts are with Ms O'Rourke's family at this time.

15:10 The chief medical officers have written to clinical colleagues, asking for 'every effort to be made' in enrolling Covid-19 patients in national priority clinical trials.

14:50 The UK has suffered its worst daily death toll yet. 684 more people have died in 24 hours after testing positive for Covid-19. 

Since yesterday, a further 4,450 people have been diagnosed, raising the number of confirmed cases in the country to 38,168. In total, 3,605 hospitalised patients have died.

14:40 DIY shop Screwfix is donating PPE to frontline NHS health workers. Last month, Pulse reported that a practice had been instructed to buy their own PPE from Screwfix.

13:15 The Prime Minister remains symptomatic. On the basis of his temperature, he will stay in self-isolation, having announced his Covid-19 diagnosis a week ago today. Colleague Matt Hancock, however, who also tested positive last week, has returned to Downing Street.

Addressing the nation via video, he urges Brits to avoid temptation to head outside this weekend, despite the 'fine weather'. Acknowleding that households may be going 'stir crazy', particularly if they have children, he calls on the public not to 'hang out and break the regulations'.

12:40 The first NHS Nightingale site, in London, is officially open! 

Meanwhile, more temporary hospitals have been announced, in Bristol and Harrogate, if local services require them. Others are already in development in Birmingham and Manchester.

12:20  The Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) has partnered with online doctors' careers service Messly to create an app that allows GMC registered GPs to submit anonymous daily reports on PPE shortages at their practice. Reports can be submitted at https://nhsppe.com/.

DAUK will use the data to produce daily and weekly reports of PPE shortages across the UK with the hope it will 'allow supplies to be directed to where shortages are most severe', including the public's 'vast' offers of donations, it said. 

It follows reports that doctors have been 'gagged' over raising their concerns about the lack of sufficient PPE in their workplaces.

12:13 Health secretary Matt Hancock has told Sky News about his experience of battling Covid-19 over the past week.

He said: 'It is rough, especially when you are on the downhill part of it - it's very worrying because we've all seen how serious it can get.

'I had a couple of days when it was really very unpleasant and I've lost about half a stone.

'But, thankfully, I've recovered and I'm now feeling fine and it's very good to be back at work.'

11:35 Prince Charles is now virtually opening the NHS Nightingale site at East London's ExCel Centre. The temporary hospital is the first of various around the country that are being created in record time to care for Covid-19 patients.

Health secretary Matt Hancock is currently speaking at the launch too. 

10:50  A second #ClapforNHS was held last night, with neighbourhoods across the country taking to their windows and front doors at 8pm on Thursdays to applaud the health service for their efforts during the coronavirus crisis. 

10:45 In Spain, the number of Covid-19 deaths has sadly risen to 10,935, whilst the number of confirmed cases has reached 117,710.

10:30 Some very sad news this morning, as another healthcare professional has died after testing positive for coronavirus. Areema Nasreen, a 36-year-old NHS nurse in Walsall, died shortly after midnight.

Sky News shares a touching tribute to the mother-of-three from her friend Rubi Aktar, who said: 'With your support, motivation and inspiration I am the nurse that I am today and I hope I can do you proud Areema.

'You had so much to live for, I am sorry you didn't get to see your kids grow up and I'm sorry that you didn't get to complete your career.'

Our thoughts are with Ms Nasreen's loved ones.

Thursday 2 April

***

17:40 In today's press briefing, health secretary Matt Hancock announces plans to write off £13.4billion of NHS debt.

He adds that over 5,000 NHS workers have now been tested, and that 5.7% of doctors are currently absent from the workforce.

He sets a goal of 100,000 tests per day by the end of this month, and is 'determined' to get there. For context, 10,657 tests were carried out in England yesterday. Later, whilst taking journalists' questions, he confirms that this is via all mediums of tests, and calls on the life sciences industry and universities to 'unite' to meet this target. 

Hancock also describes the rate of infection as 'doubling every three to four days', and states that 12,949 people have now been hospitalised.

Again, the public is prompted not to become complacent.

15:00 Farewill is providing free wills for NHS workers. It states that last month saw almost twelve times the number of requests from NHS workers than in December 2019.

14:40 Salisbury Medical Practice has published an open letter after a member of their staff was left 'embarrased, humiliated and made to feel worthless' when utilising Tesco's NHS priority scheme.

The Wiltshire practice add that she was told by a Tesco employee that she was from 'just a GP practice'.

14:30 More than 70 staff at leading London children's hospital Great Ormond Street have coronavirus, it's being reported.

14:10 Sad news - 569 more people have died in the UK after testing positive for coronavirus. 33,718 have tested positive in total, and of those hospitalised, 2,921 have died.

Daily testing capacity for inpatient care in England is now 12,799. Yesterday, 10,657 tests were carried out.

12:30  38% of people have increased their use of NHS technology since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, claims NHS Digital.

The NHS website is one of the biggest health-related websites in the world and typically attracts approximately 30 million visits a month, equating to 950,000 visits a day.

But last month, visit numbers reached their highest ever -  61,311,711 and the Covid-19 content page was visited over 28 million times.

11:30  Scientists are conducting clinical trials into links between the tuberculosis vaccine and lower death rates from Covid-19, reports Bloomberg It says this comes as unpublished research suggested lower death rates in countries which mandate the vaccine.

10.55  Good morning. A panel of advisers to the World Health Organization (WHO) will be assessing whether to update advice on the public use of facemasks to halt the spread of Covid-19. 

Currently, the WHO advises keeping a distance of one metre from anyone who coughs or sneezes, reports the BBC. The UK Government recommends keeping a distance of two metres from other people while out on necessary errands.

But Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have conducted a study which showed that coughs can project potentially virus-carrying liquid droplets six metres away, and sneezes can reach as far as eight metres.

***

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 aGP 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 three cancer screening programmes - breast, cervical and bowel - as well as 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.'

 

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Monday 16th March

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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 newsdesk@pulsetoday.co.uk

 

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Thursday 21 May

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