Boris Johnson writes to all leaders of opposition parties to invite them to Number 10

Boris Johnson has written to all opposition leaders to invite them to Number 10 next week to work together to battle coronavirus.   

The announcement comes as it was revealed that the Queen will issue a rallying cry to the nation on Sunday in a rare address to the nation to boost morale.

In her first televised address on the coronavirus crisis, she is expected to say: ‘We are in this together – and we will all get through it together, too’. It is only the fifth time the 93-year-old monarch has made a broadcast outside of Christmas.

She recorded the message at Windsor Castle, where she is living in isolation with her 98-year-old husband Philip.

The news comes as the UK announced 684 more coronavirus deaths on Friday, taking the total number of fatalities to 3,605. 

Yet again the number was a record one-day high – this has been the case almost every day this week, with each day since Tuesday announcing more victims than the last.

On Thursday there were a record 569 new fatalities announced by the Department of Health and today’s statistics show a rise 20 per cent larger.

The new figures mean the number of people dead from COVID-19 in the UK has risen five-fold in a week, from just 759 last Friday, March 27.

The numbers behind the UK’s crisis have escalated rapidly over the past seven days and Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Friday said the virus ‘continues its grim march’. He admitted that next week is likely to be worse still, potentially topping out at more than 1,000 deaths per day by Easter Sunday. 

Britain is still being hammered by the consequences of huge numbers of people catching the coronavirus before the country went into total lockdown last week. The increases being seen each day are ‘expected’, scientists say.

Experts say it could take another couple of weeks before the benefits of social distancing start to show in NHS statistics – but they insist that the outbreak will taper off and the daily numbers will start to fall.

The Queen speaks to Prime Minister Boris Johnson from Windsor Castle on March 25 last week

The Queen speaks to Prime Minister Boris Johnson from Windsor Castle on March 25 last week

The Queen speaks to Prime Minister Boris Johnson from Windsor Castle on March 25 last week

In other developments in the Covid-19 crisis: 

  • The daily UK death toll rose again sharply to 684 and is predicted to peak next weekend;
  • Two nurses in their 30s fell victim to the virus, each leaving behind three children;
  • A grim looking Boris Johnson urged Britons not to leave home to enjoy the expected Easter sunshine;
  • He has been forced to extend his self- isolation because of a high temperature;
  • Half a million care home residents face becoming ‘abandoned victims’;
  • NHS scientists said the Government’s pledge to test 100,000 people a day by May was likely to prove impossible;
  • Teachers will grade their own GCSE and A-level pupils after exams were cancelled.

The four other times the Queen has made a special address were for the Gulf War, the death of Princess Diana, the death of the Queen Mother and her diamond jubilee.

Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the content in advance of the broadcast tomorrow night at 8pm, but the Mail understands the Queen will emphasise togetherness, highlighting the nation’s cohesion in the face of adversity.

She is also likely to praise health workers and all those who have been helping in the fight against Covid-19.

The Queen speaks to the nation in 1997 about the death of Diana, Princess of Wales

The Queen speaks to the nation in 1997 about the death of Diana, Princess of Wales

The Queen speaks to the nation in 1997 about the death of Diana, Princess of Wales

The Queen recorded a brief televised address to the nation during the Gulf War in 1991

The Queen recorded a brief televised address to the nation during the Gulf War in 1991

The Queen recorded a brief televised address to the nation during the Gulf War in 1991

Statistics show hospital admissions of coronavirus patients in England appeared to start dropping in London this week

Statistics show hospital admissions of coronavirus patients in England appeared to start dropping in London this week

Statistics show hospital admissions of coronavirus patients in England appeared to start dropping in London this week

There had been speculation about when the head of state would make a public statement about the unprecedented national lockdown. 

The Queen issued a written statement when she left London just over two weeks ago. Aides said the Government wanted to delay filming a broadcast because the pandemic was likely to worsen.

‘Her Majesty makes these television addresses very rarely so it’s important for her to choose the right moment to do so,’ a source said at the time.

‘As terrible as everything feels, we are only just in the early stages of this pandemic and the Queen has a very good sense of timing for these things to ensure that the most significant impact is felt. She will know the best time.’

The four other times the Queen has made a special address were for the Gulf War, the death of Princess Diana, the death of the Queen Mother (pictured) and her diamond jubilee

The four other times the Queen has made a special address were for the Gulf War, the death of Princess Diana, the death of the Queen Mother (pictured) and her diamond jubilee

The four other times the Queen has made a special address were for the Gulf War, the death of Princess Diana, the death of the Queen Mother (pictured) and her diamond jubilee

The @RoyalFamily account announced the broadcast on Twitter shortly after 2pm today

The @RoyalFamily account announced the broadcast on Twitter shortly after 2pm today

The @RoyalFamily account announced the broadcast on Twitter shortly after 2pm today

Anguish for Princess Eugenie as her father-in-law George Brooksbank, 71, is taken into intensive care with coronavirus as his wife also battles the deadly disease 

Princess Eugenie’s father-in-law is in intensive care with coronavirus.

George Brooksbank, 71, whose son Jack married the Queen’s granddaughter in 2018, is understood to be in a ‘serious but stable’ condition in hospital.

His wife Nicola, 66, is also suffering from the disease but has been recuperating at home.

‘It’s a traumatic time for Jack and Eugenie,’ said one of their friends. ‘George has been very sick but the whole family has been rallying round to help.’

A family spokesman declined to comment but a friend said: ‘They are hugely grateful for the excellent care that he has been receiving. They are thinking of all the other families who are being similarly affected at this time.’

George Brooksbank, 71, whose son Jack married the Queen’s granddaughter in 2018, is understood to be in a ‘serious but stable’ condition in hospital after being struck down by coronavirus

George Brooksbank, 71, whose son Jack married the Queen’s granddaughter in 2018, is understood to be in a ‘serious but stable’ condition in hospital after being struck down by coronavirus

 George Brooksbank, 71, whose son Jack married the Queen’s granddaughter in 2018, is understood to be in a ‘serious but stable’ condition in hospital after being struck down by coronavirus

Eton-educated Mr Brooksbank is a retired chartered accountant and company director who lives with his wife in Wandsworth, south London. They also have a home in France.

The couple watched proudly as Jack, 33, married Eugenie at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, at a ceremony attended by the Queen and most senior members of the Royal Family.

Mr and Mrs Brooksbank rode in a carriage procession around Windsor after the wedding, which was broadcast live by ITV.

Eugenie and Jack have been joining the princess’s mother Sarah, Duchess of York, to deliver supplies to frontline NHS staff at hospitals in London and Berkshire after being asked to help out by a friend who is a doctor.

‘They wanted to do anything they could to help,’ a friend said.

The care packages they delivered included essentials such as toothpaste, soap, shower gel, hand wash, anti-bacterial wipes, pasta, sauces, rice, cereal bars and tinned fruit.

It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he is ‘feeling better’ after suffering from coronavirus but will remain in self-isolation until his temperature drops.

Meanwhile the Department of Health confirmed 684 more people have died in hospital after testing positive for the virus, bringing the total UK deaths to 3,605.

Royal aides have been speaking to Downing Street for a fortnight about Her Majesty giving a morale-boosting television address to the UK amid the pandemic.

Sources had stressed last week the country was at the start of a very long and difficult process and that the timing of the address ‘needs to be right’.

As well as on television and radio, The Queen’s address this weekend will be shown on the royal social media channels, including @RoyalFamily on Twitter.

The Queen is highly experienced at public speaking and records her Christmas message in just one take, reading her script from a monitor.

But her message during the coronavirus pandemic had the added technical challenge of taking place while the UK is in lockdown.

The Queen has left Buckingham Palace and is staying with the 98-year-old Duke of Edinburgh with a reduced household at Windsor Castle for their safety.  

A royal spokesman said: ‘Her Majesty The Queen has recorded a special broadcast to the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth in relation to the coronavirus outbreak. 

‘The televised address will be broadcast at 8pm on Sunday April 5, 2020. The address was recorded at Windsor Castle.’

It will be only the fourth special address of her 68-year reign. Her Majesty gave her last speech in 2002 on the eve of her mother’s funeral.

Her previous special addresses to the nation were in 1997 after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, and 1991, when she spoke about the First Gulf War.

Eighteen years ago on the eve of her mother’s funeral, the Queen thanked the country for their support and the ‘love and honour’ shown to the Queen Mother.

Dressed in black, the Queen added: ‘I count myself fortunate that my mother was blessed with a long and happy life. She had an infectious zest for living, and this remained with her until the very end.’

The monarch spoke to the nation in 1997 on the eve of the funeral for Diana, Princess of Wales.

Diana’s sudden death in a Paris car crash triggered one of the monarchy’s worst crises in modern history.

When the Queen initially remained at Balmoral to comfort her grandsons Princes William and Harry, the newspaper headlines screamed: ‘Show us you care’ and ‘Where is our Queen? and ‘Where is her flag?’.

A sea of flowers was left at the gates of Diana’s London home, Kensington Palace, by shocked members of the public, but the flag pole at Buckingham Palace remained bare, as was the protocol, because the Queen was away in Scotland.

A rare palace statement was released telling of the royal family’s hurt at suggestions they were untouched by the tragedy.

The Queen had been due to pre-record her message, but in an unprecedented move for a royal broadcast of this kind, it was decided she should deliver it live.

The Queen gave a televised address to the nation when she celebrated her diamond jubilee

The Queen gave a televised address to the nation when she celebrated her diamond jubilee

The Queen gave a televised address to the nation when she celebrated her diamond jubilee

The UK's coronavirus outbreak is expected to get worse before it gets better, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said (Pictured: Paramedics working in London)

The UK's coronavirus outbreak is expected to get worse before it gets better, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said (Pictured: Paramedics working in London)

The UK’s coronavirus outbreak is expected to get worse before it gets better, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said (Pictured: Paramedics working in London)

Royal author Robert Lacey wrote of how it was a high-risk strategy, but an aide told him: ‘It was a psychological thing.

‘(The Queen) goes flat when she know’s it being recorded. When she knows it’s real, she rises to the challenge.’

Speaking from Buckingham Palace and against a backdrop of a view of the crowds of mourners outside, Her Royal Highness, dressed in black, said she was speaking from her heart as both the nation’s Queen and as a grandmother.

Prince Charles, 71, opens the NHS Nightingale Hospital in East London via video-link from his Scottish home at Birkhall today

Prince Charles, 71, opens the NHS Nightingale Hospital in East London via video-link from his Scottish home at Birkhall today

Prince Charles, 71, opens the NHS Nightingale Hospital in East London via video-link from his Scottish home at Birkhall today

‘It is a message of hope for those who need it most’: Prince Charles opens NHS Nightingale Hospital via videolink 

The Prince of Wales officially opened the new NHS Nightingale Hospital for intensive care coronavirus patients, saying from 530 miles away that it was a ‘message of hope for those who will need it most’.

Speaking to those gathered at the hospital’s entrance, he said: ‘I was enormously touched to have been asked to open the Nightingale Hospital as part of a mass mobilisation to withstand the coronavirus crisis.

‘It is without doubt a spectacular and almost unbelievable feat of work in every sense, from its speed of construction in just nine days to its size and the skills of those who have a created it. 

‘An example if ever one was needed of how the impossible could be made possible, and how we could achieve the unthinkable through human will an ingenuity.

‘The creation of this hospital is above all the result of an extraordinary collaboration and partnership between NHS managers, the military and all those involved to create a centre on a scale that has never been seen before in the United Kingdom to convert one of the largest national conference centres into a field hospital starting with 500 beds and with the potential of 4,000, is quite frankly incredible.

‘Now I was one of the lucky ones to have Covid-19 relatively mildly and if I may say so I’m so glad to see the Secretary of State has also recovered, but for some it will be a much harder journey. 

‘I am therefore so relieved that everyone can now have the reassurance that they will receive all the necessary technical care they may need and every chance to return to a normal life.

‘This hospital therefore offers us an intensely practical message of hope for those who will need it most at this time of national suffering.

‘Let us also pray, ladies and gentlemen, that it will be required for as short a time, and for as few people as possible.

‘I need hardly say that the name of this hospital could not have been more aptly chosen. Florence Nightingale, the Lady with the Lamp, brought hope and healing to thousands in their darkest hour. In this dark time, this place will be a shining light.

‘It is symbolic of the selfless care and devoted service taking place in innumerable settings, with countless individuals, throughout the United Kingdom.’

She paid tribute to Diana as ‘an exceptional and gifted human being’, adding: ‘In good times and bad, she never lost her capacity to smile and laugh, nor to inspire others with her warmth and kindness.’

In February 1991, the Queen recorded a brief televised address to the nation during the Gulf War.

It came as the allied land offensive began against Iraqi forces occupying Kuwait. 

The Queen called on people to unite and pray that the Armed Forces’ success would be as ‘swift as it is certain’, and that it would be ‘achieved with as small a cost in human life and suffering as possible’.

She expressed her hopes for a ‘just and lasting peace’.

The monarch also made a televised address when she thanked the nation for the festivities commemorating her Diamond Jubilee, describing it as ‘a humbling experience’.

As the special bank holiday came to a close in June 2012, the monarch said in the two-minute pre-recorded televised message she was deeply touched.

She added: ‘I hope that memories of all this year’s happy events will brighten our lives for many years to come.’

In 1983, Whitehall officials drew up a script for the Queen to read during the Cold War if Britain faced annihilation at the hands of a nuclear-armed Soviet Union.

Records released under the 30-year-old rule showed the monarch, in the event of a Third World War, would have urged her ‘brave country’ to stand firm as it faced up to the ‘madness of war’, but the speech was never recorded.

Over the weekend it emerged that one of the Queen’s footmen had tested positive for coronavirus, sparking further fears for the monarch’s health.

But Buckingham Palace said earlier this week that the monarch was in good health and that every precaution was being taken.

It is understood the staff member’s duties included walking the Queen’s dogs, corgi-dachshund crosses Candy and Vulcan, and bringing her food – both of which would have brought the pair into close proximity. It is not known, however, when they fell sick.

Prince Charles, who last saw his mother on March 12, tested positive but has since recovered. Doctors say the earliest he could have become contagious was the next day.

He came out of self-isolation on Monday in Scotland, while his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, who tested negative for the virus, will come out by the end of the weekend.

The Prince of Wales offered his own message of hope to the country earlier this week when he recorded a video after coming out of isolation.

Charles said in his words of support: ‘As a nation, we are faced by a profoundly challenging situation, which we are only too aware threatens the livelihoods, businesses and welfare of millions of our fellow citizens.

‘None of us can say when this will end, but end it will. 

Until it does, let us all try and live with hope and, with faith in ourselves and each other, look forward to better times to come.’

The footman was promoted to a role closer to the Queen six months ago and worked in her private apartments at Buckingham Palace.

Yesterday, the Queen thanked Armed Forces personnel working tirelessly to build London’s new NHS Nightingale Hospital at the ExCel convention centre.

The monarchy’s Twitter account paid tribute to the military who have been on 15-hour shifts to transform the site into a 4,000-bed hospital for coronavirus patients.    

UK’s top medical experts issue plea for more volunteers to take part in three coronavirus drug trials to find a treatment for the incurable illness

By Connor Boyd Health Reporter for MailOnline 

The medical experts spearheading Britain’s fight against coronavirus have issued a plea for more more infected patients to take part in three major clinical drug trials. 

NHS England medical director Professor Stephen Powis and the UK’s chief medical officers penned an open letter to doctors urging them to enroll more volunteers.  

There are three main trials being conducted in the UK to find an effective treatment for the incurable virus, which has killed 3,605 people in the UK.

They include the Principle trial, for high-risk patients in primary care, Recovery, for COVID-19 patients already in hospital, and REMAP-CAP, for critically ill patients.

Researchers behind the trials are testing the effect of a number of treatment options, including a drug used to treat HIV and the malaria medication hydroxychloroquine. 

‘The faster that patients are recruited, the sooner we will get reliable results,’ the letter says.

Hydroxychloroquine was today voted the best coronavirus drug currently available in an international poll of thousands of doctors.  

Britain's Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam at Number 10's press conference tonight

Britain's Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam at Number 10's press conference tonight

Britain’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam at Number 10’s press conference tonight

Chief medical officer Chris Whitty

Chief medical officer Chris Whitty

NHS England medical director Professor Stephen Powis

NHS England medical director Professor Stephen Powis

Chief medical officer Chris Whitty and NHS England medical director Professor Stephen Powis said in the letter: ‘The faster that patients are recruited, the sooner we will get reliable results’

Hydroxychloroquine - one of the drugs being trialled - was today voted the best coronavirus drug currently available in an international poll of thousands of doctors

Hydroxychloroquine - one of the drugs being trialled - was today voted the best coronavirus drug currently available in an international poll of thousands of doctors

Hydroxychloroquine – one of the drugs being trialled – was today voted the best coronavirus drug currently available in an international poll of thousands of doctors

WHAT ARE THE THREE MAIN CORONAVIRUS TRIALS IN THE UK?

Principle 

The Principle trial is studying people aged 50 to 64 who have COVID-19 symptoms and a chronic health condition such as heart disease, asthma or cancer. 

It is unclear how many patients are taking part. 

It is also open to those aged 65 or over, with or without other illnesses.

The first drug that will be trialled is hydroxychloroquine, sold as Plaquenil. Other potential treatments will be used if they show promise in pre-clinical studies.

The study is being run at the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Research and Surveillance Centre (RSC) in Surrey.

It will last until March next year.

Recovery

The Randomised Evaluation of COV-id19 thERapY (RECOVERY) trial is being run by the University of Oxford. 

It will test the HIV drug lopinavir/ritonavir, marketed as Kaletra and Aluvia, hydroxychloroquine, a malaria medication sold as Plaquenil, and dexamethasone, a type of steroid use in a range of conditions to reduce inflammation.

Almost 1,000 patients from 132 different hospitals have been already recruited in just 15 days.

Thousands more are expected to join the trial in the coming weeks, making it the largest randomised controlled trial of potential COVID-19 treatments in the world.

Definitive results on whether the treatments are safe and effective are expected within months and, if positive, they could potentially benefit hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. 

REMAP-CAP

The REMAP-CAP trial is an international effort, with more than 50 research teams around the world taking part. 

It is looking specifically at patients who develop community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) as a result of viral infections.   

The study will test 16 drugs, including  hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon beta, which have all shown promise in pre-clinical trials.

Between 2,000 and 4,000 patients will be enrolled.

Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and his deputy Professor Jonathan Van-Tam continue: ‘As yet, there are no proven treatments for COVID-19. We need to gather reliable evidence through clinical trials. 

‘Using international evidence and UK expertise the most promising potential treatments, at this stage, have been identified and the UK is running national clinical trials to gather evidence across the whole disease spectrum.’

The letter adds that using treatments without taking part in a trial would be a ‘wasted opportunity’. 

The Randomised Evaluation of COV-id19 thERapY (RECOVERY) trial is being run by the University of Oxford. 

It will test the HIV drug lopinavir/ritonavir, marketed as Kaletra and Aluvia, hydroxychloroquine, a malaria medication sold as Plaquenil, and dexamethasone, a type of steroid use in a range of conditions to reduce inflammation.

Almost 1,000 patients from 132 different hospitals have been already recruited in just 15 days.

Thousands more are expected to join the trial in the coming weeks, making it the largest randomised controlled trial of potential COVID-19 treatments in the world.

Definitive results on whether the treatments are safe and effective are expected within months and, if positive, they could potentially benefit hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. 

The REMAP-CAP trial is an international effort, with more than 50 research teams around the world taking part. 

It is looking specifically at patients who develop community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) as a result of viral infections.   

The study will test 16 drugs, including hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon beta, which have all shown promise in pre-clinical trials.  

New potential treatments specific to COVID-19 will be tested at these sites. 

The Principle trial is studying people aged 50 to 64 who have COVID-19 symptoms and a chronic health condition such as heart disease, asthma or cancer.  It is also open to those aged 65 or over, with or without other illnesses.

The first drug that will be trialled is hydroxychloroquine, sold as Plaquenil. Other potential treatments will be used if they show promise in pre-clinical studies. 

The study is being run at the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Research and Surveillance Centre (RSC) in Surrey. It will last until March next year. 

It comes after the number of people admitted to hospital with coronavirus in the worst-hit part of the UK fell for the first time.

London, which has been at the heart of the pandemic in the UK, saw new admissions fall below 4,000 again on Wednesday, according to Government data released tonight.

There were also falls in the Midlands, East Midlands and North West as the death toll rose sharply by 684 today to take the total number of tragic fatalities so far to 3,605. 

WHICH DRUGS ARE BEING TESTED IN THE THREE MAJOR TRIALS? 

Hydroxychloroquine 

The malaria drug chloroquine is the best coronavirus treatment currently available, according to an international poll of thousands of doctors. Pictured: hydroxychloroquine, a version of it, is prescribed in the US under the brand name Plaquenil

The malaria drug chloroquine is the best coronavirus treatment currently available, according to an international poll of thousands of doctors. Pictured: hydroxychloroquine, a version of it, is prescribed in the US under the brand name Plaquenil

The malaria drug chloroquine is the best coronavirus treatment currently available, according to an international poll of thousands of doctors. Pictured: hydroxychloroquine, a version of it, is prescribed in the US under the brand name Plaquenil

What are the brand versions of the drug?

Plaquenil.

What does it treat?

Malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. It is a less powerful and, by some experts’ accounts, less toxic, version of chloroquine phosphate.

Who makes it and where has it already been tested?

Drug giant Sanofi carried out a study on 24 patients, which the French government described as ‘promising’. 

French health officials are now planning on a larger trial of the drug, which is used on the NHS. 

What have studies shown?

Results from the French study showed three quarters of patients treated with the drug were cleared of the virus within six days. None of the placebo group were treated. 

How does it work?

It interferes with viral molecules replicating in red blood cells.

Is it being tested in the UK?

It is thought to be among 1,000 drugs being tested at Queens University Belfast. 

What are its side effects?  

Skin rashes, nausea, diarrhoea and headaches.

What do the experts think?

Chinese scientists investigating the other form of chloroquine penned a letter to a prestigious journal saying its ‘less toxic’ derivative may also help.

In the comment to Cell Discovery – owned by publisher Nature, they said it shares similar chemical structures and mechanisms.

The team of experts added: ‘It is easy to conjure up the idea that hydroxychloroquine may be a potent candidate to treat infection by SARS-CoV-2.’ 

Lopinavir/ritonavir, marketed under the brand names Kaletra and Aluvia, is an anti-HIV medicine

Lopinavir/ritonavir, marketed under the brand names Kaletra and Aluvia, is an anti-HIV medicine

Lopinavir/ritonavir, marketed under the brand names Kaletra and Aluvia, is an anti-HIV medicine

Lopinavir/ritonavir 

What are the brand versions of the drug?

Kaletra and Aluvia.

What does it treat? 

It is an anti-HIV medicine given to people living with the virus to prevent it developing into AIDS.

Who makes it?

Illinois-based manufacturer AbbVie donated free supplies of the drug to authorities in China, the US and Europe for tests.

What have studies shown? 

Chinese media reported that the drug was successfully used to cure patients with the coronavirus, but the reports have not been scientifically proven.

A separate Chinese study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the lopinavir-ritonavir combination did not improve survival or speed recovery of COVID-19 patients.

However, the authors noted they had enrolled a ‘severely ill population’ of patients.

In a clinical trial submission, scientists in South Korea said lab studies have: ‘In vitro [laboratory] studies revealed that lopinavir/ritonavir [has] antiviral activity against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).’

How does it work? 

It is a class of drug called a protease inhibitor, which essentially stick to an enzyme on a virus which is vital to the virus reproducing. 

By doing this it blocks the process the virus would normally use to clone itself and spread the infection further.  

Other drugs  

Shock-dependent hydrocortisone (sold under brand names Hydrocort, Alphosyl, Aquacort, Cortef, Cortenema, and SoluCortef)

Ceftriaxone (brand name Rocephin)

Moxifloxacin 

Piperacillin-tazobactam (brand name Tazocin)

Ceftaroline 

Amoxicillin-clavulanate

Macrolide (brand names Zithromax, Klacid, Erymax, Erythrocin, Erythroped and Erythroped A) 

Oseltamivir (brand name Tamiflu) 

Interferon-β1a

Anakinra  

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer for England, cautioned against reading too much into the data.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer for England, cautioned against reading too much into the data.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer for England, cautioned against reading too much into the data.

The 24-hour total  has risen by a record amount almost every day this week, with a five-fold increase in deaths in a week.

However at tonight’s news conference Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer for England, cautioned against reading too much into the data.

He said that overall the number of admissions was still rising. Asked about seeing any ‘green shoots’ in the battle against the virus he added: ‘If you’re asking me about the healthcare hospital admission data then I think it’s too early to make any kind of interpretation such as that. 

‘There will be day-to-day variations in the number of hospital admissions that occur as a feature of near-random chance.

‘So one mustn’t interpret the data, one needs to be patient and look for a long-term trend.’ 

However, Prof Van-Tam said he ‘absolutely sees green shoots’ of hope over containing the spread of Covid-19, given the response to the social distancing measures.

He said: ‘I absolutely see green shoots, I really do in terms of the massive change in public behaviour that has already taken place.

‘If that continues for as long as the Government asks for it to continue then they really will be quite big green shoots in the end.’

Asked  when the peak of the epidemic is expected to be, he said: ‘We don’t know the answer to that yet.

‘We’ve always said that we will know if our social distancing measures are working a few weeks after we’ve put them in place.’

He reiterated it was ‘too soon to say’, adding: ‘It’ll partly depend upon how well those social distancing measures are adhered to by every one of us.

‘I hope it will be soon. We’re going to watch very carefully to see when we’ve hit the peak and when we’re starting to turn it but we will not take any premature actions.’

Addressing whether the NHS will have enough ventilators during the peak, given some fear they will not receive the critical care they need, Professor Van-Tam expressed confidence in equipment supplies.

He said: ‘I can tell you I don’t think we’re anywhere close to that kind of scenario at the moment. We will watch it extremely closely and we will make decisions as we need to on a day-by-day basis.’

‘Tell us if you can produce testing kits’: Manufacturers are baffled after government pens letter pleading for businesses to make antigen and antibody kits – after their offers of help were ignored for FOUR WEEKS 

The Government today penned an open letter pleading for firms who can make personal protective equipment (PPE) and coronavirus tests to come forward – despite firms who offered help weeks ago saying they still have not heard back about helping tackle Britain’s growing crisis.

In a desperate attempt to get a grip of the testing fiasco and nationwide shortage of protective equipment for NHS staff, the Department for Health and Social Care supplied two forms for British manufacturers to fill out if they could step up to help.

But MailOnline can reveal one firm poised to supply DIY coronavirus antibody tests to Number 10 – kits deemed crucial in ending Britain’s draconian lockdown because they reveal who is immune to the disease – has yet to hear back on how it can get its test approved despite approaching them last month.

Brigette Bard, chief executive of Essex-based firm BioSure – which already makes HIV self-tests, demanded Public Health England offers clarity on what it needs, saying ‘there is nothing more critical at the moment’ than getting antibody tests approved.

Commercial laboratories and scientists drafted in to help yesterday after a screeching U-turn by ministers also exposed Downing Street’s incompetence today, claiming they had offered two weeks ago to help the Government dramatically scale-up its swab testing capacity but were ignored. 

Ramping up swab testing – often called antigen testing – is also viewed as crucial because it allows officials to test thousands of self-isolating health workers and to say for certain whether they have the disease, allowing those who are free of the killer infection to return to the NHS frontline.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock last night unveiled a five-point plan to boost COVID-19 testing capacity to 100,000 a day by the end of April – levels similar to those seen in Germany, which has been praised for its quick reaction to keeping the pandemic under control. 

But Mr Hancock was forced to admit the six-figure target did not include antibody tests. None of the fingerprick kits have yet to be approved by health chiefs amid fears over their accuracy. Mr Hancock last night claimed one of the tests he was being urged to buy was wrong 75 per cent of the time. 

Medics fighting the coronavirus crisis on the frontline have begged the Government to provide proper face masks, gloves and aprons amid claims of a nationwide shortage. The British Medical Association has already warned that doctors will die unless they are given adequate protection. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, pictured at the opening of the Nightingale Hospital in London today, suggested the UK's lockdown will be in place until the end of April at the earliest

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, pictured at the opening of the Nightingale Hospital in London today, suggested the UK's lockdown will be in place until the end of April at the earliest

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, pictured at the opening of the Nightingale Hospital in London today, suggested the UK’s lockdown will be in place until the end of April at the earliest

In an attack on the Government’s handling of the antibody testing shambles, Ms Bard said: ‘We urgently need a specification from Public Health England, so we know what we have to achieve. 

‘Matt Hancock has been on all the press this morning saying “antibody tests don’t work, self-tests don’t work” but nobody knows what they are supposed to be working to.

‘I want to know, if all these tests are failing and they’re no good, what are they being benchmarked against? Saying a test is a failure when you don’t know what failure is. I just don’t understand it.’ 

WHICH COMPANIES COULD MAKE ANTIBODY KITS FOR NUMBER 10? 

MailOnline has repeatedly asked officials to name which companies are in talks with the Government to make antibody tests but has never been offered clarity.

One of these firms is thought to be Derby-based SureScreen, which has shipped its tests to be used in Germany and Spain, among other nations.

The company sent hundreds of the tests – which trials have shown are 97 per cent accurate – to a PHE laboratory in Oxfordshire almost two weeks ago.

MailOnline earlier this week revealed Belfast-based manufacturer Biopanda Reagents had opted to restrict sales to just UK healthcare providers, suggesting it was gearing up for an order.

And Mologic – a Bedfordshire-based business awarded £1million by Number 10 to make antibody tests – this week began the evaluation of its kits at labs run by prestigious universities.

But the company, whose laboratory was visited by Prime Minister Boris Johnson last month, estimates it will be up to five months before Brits can use the tests to tell if they are immune.

Oxford Biosystems and Regenerus Laboratories in Surrey are also known to make antibody tests against COVID-19. It is unclear if their kits are being evaluated by PHE.

In another twist in the saga, it was revealed earlier this week that officials had already bought 2million antibody tests from two Chinese manufacturers – Wondfo and AllTest – a fortnight ago.

But it was alleged health chiefs had not even assessed whether the tests are suitable and that they still needed to be evaluated even though Number 10 had already parted with millions to buy them.

European countries have already had to send back defective coronavirus medical kits bought from China during the pandemic.

Spain was forced to return tens of thousands of testing kits and officials in the Netherlands recalled half a million ‘defective’ face masks it brought from Beijing.

WHAT ABOUT ELSEWHERE IN THE WORLD? 

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last night authorized the use of an antibody kit made by Cellex on an emergency basis, saying it is ‘reasonable’ to believe the test works. 

China, where the pandemic began in December, had approved eight antibody tests in its fight against the virus – including one that Britain bought a fortnight ago and is expected to arrive this week.

Germany is also planning on starting a mass antibody testing regime in the next fortnight as part of a major trial to get millions of workers out of lockdown.

She added there is an industry-recognised specification needed for the HIV self-testing kits BioSure makes to be brought to market, with the products needing to be at least 99.5 per cent accurate. 

But Ms Bard, who yesterday resorted to social media for Britons to share a post calling on health chiefs to look at the firm’s kit, fears the Government does not yet have a standard for COVID-19 tests.

She warned the company cannot start to manufacture the kits – which are just its HIV tests recalibrated to pick up on the coronavirus – until it knows what the benchmark for accuracy is. 

Ms Bard told MailOnline: ‘We have spent five years very successfully in the market generating masses of evidence, data, everything, so we have proven we have a highly usable, highly accurate test.’

In a plea on Twitter last night, she added: ‘We are ready to go with the validation of this test at PHE. But they won’t look at it because it’s a self-test… This test needs to be in the UK market.’

MailOnline has asked the Department for Health and Social Care for comment because Public Health England says it is not responsible for approving any kind of test – even though its laboratories are being used to evaluate some.

Other diagnostics manufacturers known to have sent their tests to PHE for trials today admitted there was still no clarity on whether they were actually going to be green-lighted.

Some kits Number 10 are known to be looking claim to be up to 98 per cent accurate. Ministers promised the kits – similar tests have already been approved in China – would be ready to start being rolled out in mid-April. 

Public Health England is believed to be assessing up to 150 different antibody tests but several kits have already failed medical checks, including one that was wrong 75 per cent of the time. 

Officials have not revealed how accurate the tests need to be before they will finally approve them. Mr Hancock warned last night that approving tests that don’t thoroughly work is dangerous, adding: ‘I will not do it.’

The UK is able to conduct 3,500 antibody tests every week at its specialist military laboratory at Porton Down in Wiltshire. But that specific test is laboratory-based and allegedly cannot be scaled up. 

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last night authorized the use of an antibody kit made by Cellex on an emergency basis, saying it is ‘reasonable’ to believe the test works.

In a letter to North Carolina-based firm, the FDA wrote: ‘The known and potential benefits of your product when used for diagnosing COVID-19, outweigh the known and potential risks of your product.’

China, where the pandemic began in December, had approved eight antibody tests in its fight against the virus – including one that Britain bought a fortnight ago and is expected to arrive this week.

Germany is also planning on starting a mass antibody testing regime in the next fortnight as part of a major trial to get millions of workers out of lockdown.

Antibodies are substances produced by the immune system in response to an infection. They stored away so that if it comes into contact with that same pathogen again it knows how to fight if off.

A member of the public is transported to an ambulance in Euston, London, by ambulance workers wearing personal protective clothing and medical face masks

A member of the public is transported to an ambulance in Euston, London, by ambulance workers wearing personal protective clothing and medical face masks

A member of the public is transported to an ambulance in Euston, London, by ambulance workers wearing personal protective clothing and medical face masks

The benefits of the UK’s lockdown are expected to start filtering through to hospitals in the coming weeks and widespread testing to see who has had the coronavirus already is believed to be key to getting the country back on its feet. 

But the government continues to face intense criticism with its opponents arguing that testing capacity should have been ramped up as soon as coronavirus emerged as a global threat.

Scrutiny of the approach taken in Whitehall has only increased after it was claimed that public health planners tasked with preparing the UK for a global health crisis ignored warnings from the World Health Organisation to prepare a mass testing programme.

Officials ‘did not discuss’ implementing such a programme because they assumed that a new strain of influenza was the most likely threat and testing in that scenario is ‘not important’, according to the Telegraph. The decision appears to contradict guidance on bird flu issued to countries by the WHO in 2005.  

MailOnline has repeatedly asked officials to name which companies are in talks with the Government to make antibody tests but has never been offered clarity.

One of these firms is thought to be Derby-based SureScreen, which has shipped its tests to be used in Germany and Spain, among other nations.

The company sent hundreds of the tests – which trials have shown are 97 per cent accurate – to a PHE laboratory in Oxfordshire almost two weeks ago. 

MailOnline earlier this week revealed Belfast-based manufacturer Biopanda Reagents had opted to restrict sales to just UK healthcare providers, suggesting it was gearing up for an order.

And Mologic – a Bedfordshire-based business awarded £1million by Number 10 to make antibody tests – this week began the evaluation of its kits at labs run by prestigious universities.  

It works exactly like the firm's HIV self test, which requires the user to take a drop of blood using a safety lancet before using its pen device to scan the sample for COVID-19 antibodies

It works exactly like the firm's HIV self test, which requires the user to take a drop of blood using a safety lancet before using its pen device to scan the sample for COVID-19 antibodies

BioSure claims to have developed an at-home finger prick test that takes a quarter of an hour

BioSure claims to have developed an at-home finger prick test that takes a quarter of an hour

BioSure claims to have developed an at-home finger prick test that takes a quarter of an hour

COMMERCIAL LABS OFFERED TO PROVIDE THOUSANDS OF EXTRA CORONAVIRUS SWAB TESTS TWO WEEKS AGO

Scientists who offered their help to the British Government‘s coronavirus swab testing effort say they never heard back from officials.

Universities, private laboratories and research institutes could have been processing thousands of coronavirus tests for weeks, they say, if they had been enlisted.

A COVID-19 testing row erupted this week after Germany scaled up its testing capability to 93,000 per day while the UK was still managing fewer than 10,000.

Public Health England, a government body separate from the Department of Health, is facing the burden of blame for insisting on developing its own tests and analysing results in its own eight laboratories along with around 40 NHS sites.

Academics and private sector scientists, however, say they have the machines capable of interpreting swab tests if they were given the right information.

There are believed to be thousands of the machines – PCR machines – ready and waiting in laboratories around the country and many owners are willing to help test NHS staff to help them keep working. 

Some have already taken matters into their own hands and begun testing medical workers in their local areas.

The scientists are capable of doing PCR tests, which look for evidence of the coronavirus inside people’s DNA and are different to antigen tests, which also test for current infection but do so by trying to trigger a reaction from viruses in a sample. 

But the company, whose laboratory was visited by Prime Minister Boris Johnson last month, estimates it will be up to five months before Brits can use the tests to tell if they are immune. 

Oxford Biosystems and Regenerus Laboratories in Surrey are also known to make antibody tests against COVID-19. It is unclear if their kits are being evaluated by PHE.

In another twist in the saga, it was revealed earlier this week that officials had already bought 2million antibody tests from two Chinese manufacturers – Wondfo and AllTest – a fortnight ago.

But it was alleged health chiefs had not even assessed whether the tests are suitable and that they still needed to be evaluated even though Number 10 had already parted with millions to buy them.

European countries have already had to send back defective coronavirus medical kits bought from China during the pandemic.

Spain was forced to return tens of thousands of testing kits and officials in the Netherlands recalled half a million ‘defective’ face masks it brought from Beijing.  

Mr Hancock, who returned to work yesterday after spending a week in isolation after catching coronavirus, was today grilled on his test pledge during numerous broadcast interviews.

Journalists repeatedly asked him what proportion of the 100,000 tests would be antibody. He said: ‘I think that the antibody test, the blood test, at the moment we haven’t got a reliable home test. If we manage to get one then that can be easily replicated and we can get into even higher figures, much higher figures.’

Asked why the government was factoring in the antibody test for its end of April deadline given that it does not currently have a test to use, Mr Hancock then replied: ‘Yes, but I am not assuming any come on stream, that is pillar three as we call it, in order to hit the 100,000 target.’ 

Health experts have said they cannot yet guarantee that people who have had the virus will have total immunity but they do believe those who have already had it will have some resistance to catching it again. 

WHAT IS AN ANTIBODY TEST, AND HOW IS IT DIFFERENT TO AN ANTIGEN OR PCR TEST? 

ANTIBODY TEST

An antibody test is one which tests whether someone’s immune system is equipped to fight a specific disease or infection.

When someone gets infected with a virus their immune system must work out how to fight it off and produce substances called antibodies.

These are extremely specific and are usually only able to tackle one strain of one virus. They are produced in a way which makes them able to latch onto that specific virus and destroy it.

For example, if someone catches COVID-19, they will develop COVID-19 antibodies for their body to use to fight it off.

The body then stores versions of these antibodies in the immune system so that if it comes into contact with that same virus again it will be able to fight it off straight away and probably avoid someone feeling any symptoms at all.

To test for these antibodies, medics or scientists can take a fluid sample from someone – usually blood – and mix it with part of the virus to see if there is a reaction between the two.

If there is a reaction, it means someone has the antibodies and their body knows how to fight off the infection – they are immune. If there is no reaction it means they have not had it yet.

PCR TEST

Antibody tests differ to a swab test, known as a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test, which aims to pick up on active viruses currently in the bloodstream.

A PCR test works by a sample of someone’s genetic material – their RNA – being taken to lab and worked up in a full map of their DNA at the time of the test.

This DNA can then be scanned to find evidence of the virus’s DNA, which will be embroiled with the patient’s own if they are infected at the time.

The PCR test is more reliable but takes longer, while the antibody test is faster but more likely to produce an inaccurate result. It does not look for evidence of past infection.

ANTIGEN TEST

Antigens are parts of a virus that trigger the immune system’s response to fight the infection, and can show up in blood before antibodies are made.

The key advantage of antigen tests is that it can take several days for the immune system to develop enough antibodies to be picked up by a test, whereas antigens can be seen almost immediately after infection.

Antigen tests are used to diagnose patients with flu, as well as malaria, strep A and HIV. They can also be done using swabs.

The row over antibody testing came as Mr Hancock signalled the nation could have a long wait for the end of lockdown. He suggested a mass testing and tracing programme will have to be put in place before restrictions can be lifted.

Such a programme would allow health experts to stop a second wave of the outbreak because people who catch coronavirus could be isolated quickly and all the people who they had come into contact with could also be found and tested.

He told the BBC: ‘The first step is to get the rate of infection down so that that isn’t increasing and as you say it takes some time after the lockdown is put in place to get that rate of infection, the rate of transmission down. That is the first step.

‘Then we need to make sure that we have the testing in place and the tracking so that if we release any of the measures we don’t simply then have the infection spread again in the way that it was starting to spread when we brought the measures into place. So it is a very difficult thing.’

Mr Hancock painted a tough picture of contracting the virus as he said he had lost half a stone in weight during his week in self-isolation with the killer bug. He said it was a ‘pretty unpleasant experience’ and felt like he had ‘glass in my throat’. 

The Health Secretary said that at the moment approximately 8,000 patients a day are taking the swab test but the hope is that number will fall as social distancing measures slow the spread of infection. He also said around 1,500 frontline medics are being tested at drive-through centres each day – but the number is ‘ramping up fast’.

He added: ‘At the moment we think that there are around 35,000 frontline NHS staff who aren’t in work due to coronavirus. The number is much smaller than some of the anecdotal evidence that we’ve been hearing, although of course there may be pockets.’

Mr Hancock has placed Public Health England director of health improvement Professor John Newton in charge of overseeing the UK’s testing efforts. Mr Newton warned today that testing right now would not lift the lockdown as testing ‘doesn’t really’ help flatten the curve – a phrase for controlling the outbreak.

He was asked what percentage of the 100,000 tests would be antigen and what percentage would be antibody and he suggested the latter will play a role. He told the BBC: ‘The Secretary of State’s target was for all of those tests together. He was very clear about that.’ 

The government has been slammed in recent days over the ’embarrassing’ performance of ministers at its daily conferences in Downing Street, with Mr Hancock’s return yesterday viewed by many as a major improvement as he signalled a U-turn on the UK screening regime.

Emerging for the first time since being struck down by the disease himself, the Health Secretary said he ‘gets’ why there has been criticism as he abandoned the previous centralised approach and urged the wider science industry to help boost capacity. He said the longer-term goal was to have capacity for 250,000 checks every day.

Defending the government’s response, a querulous and at times emotional Mr Hancock said that Public Health England had been ‘working round the clock’ and could be ‘proud’ of what it had done. Taking the press briefing in No10 this evening after a week in isolation recovering from the virus, he listed five ‘pillars’ for the new strategy.

Matt Hancock’s five-point plan to increase coronavirus testing to 100,000 per day 

Heath secretary Matt Hancock yesterday unveiled a five-point plan to boost the UK’s coronavirus testing ten-fold in a matter of weeks.

The five points he unveiled were:

Increase the number of swab tests being carried out by Public Health England labs and the NHS to 25,000 per day by the end of the month 

Shortages of chemicals and swabs have been blamed for stalling progress in this effort so far. 

Potentially PHE and NHS labs are thought to have the scope to carry out 100,000 tests a day by themselves.

Vastly expand the swab testing network using universities and research institutions and private sector retailers like Boots and Amazon

The key move by the Health Secretary was to give the green light for universities, institutes and private firms to get involved in testing.

Up to now there have been complaints of control freakery in a Government insistent on using its own facilities to avoid getting unreliable results.  

Introduce antibody blood tests which would tell people if they had had the virus and recovered

This is the game-changing test that would tell who is able to leave the constraints of lockdown and get the economy running again.

Mr Hancock stressed that there are as yet no proven versions of this test, and the science of what immunity people have after the disease is still developing.

But he confirmed that the government is looking at issuing ‘immunity certificates’ to people who pass such tests, so they can get back to ‘normal life’.

Boost community surveillance to determine the rate of infection and the spread across the country

The abandonment of community testing when the government moved from the contain phase to ‘delaying’ the outbreak was highly controversial last month.

The government wanted to focus resources on patients in hospital as number rose.

However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that without such mass testing in the community the government is ‘trying to fight a fire blindfolded’. 

Boost the size of the UK diagnostics industry

Mr Hancock addressed head-on criticism that the UK was lagging far behind Germany in terms of test numbers.

He bluntly admitted that the UK did not have the same scale of biotech industry as Germany, where many firms already manufacture screening equipment at scale.

But Mr Hancock committed to developing that infrastructure – which will not be a quick task.    

Swab tests at PHE labs will be increased dramatically to 25,000 a day; research institutions and private sector firms will be brought into the screening system; antibody tests will be introduced if they can be proved effective; community testing will be bolstered; and the overall UK diagnostics industry will be enlarged.

The previous approach on swab tests was meant to ensure checks are conducted properly, but the 10,000 per day level achieved so far contrasts sharply with the decentralised tactics deployed successfully in countries like Germany, which is carrying out up to 100,000.  

Explaining the sluggishness in hiking test numbers, Mr Hancock said approving faulty tests would put people at risk by giving them false hope they are free of the virus. He added: ‘I understand why NHS staff want tests, so they can get back to the frontline. Of course I do.

‘But I took the decision that the first priority has to be the patients for whom the result of a test could be the difference in treatment that is the difference between life and death I believe anybody in my shoes would have taken the same decision.’

Mr Hancock said the UK lacked a large diagnostics industry so was having to build from a ‘lower base’ than the likes of Germany, which is testing at greater levels for coronavirus. He also confirmed the Government was looking at ‘immunity certificates’.

But leading scientists have said the evidence about the truth on immunity is not yet clear enough. Eleanor Riley, professor of immunology and infectious disease at the University of Edinburgh, warned they could give Britons a ‘false sense of security’.

Fears have been raised that people can be struck down twice after reports in China and Japan of patients catching the disease after recovering. Other scientists believe the evidence for immunity is convincing and even claim that it could be life-long. 

It comes after it was revealed this morning that scientists who offered their help to the British Government‘s coronavirus swab testing effort say they never heard back from officials.

Universities, private laboratories and research institutes could have been processing thousands of coronavirus tests for weeks, they say, if they had been enlisted. 

Public Health England, a government body separate from the Department of Health, is facing the burden of blame for insisting on developing its own tests and analysing results in its own eight laboratories along with around 40 NHS sites.

Academics and private sector scientists, however, say they have the machines capable of interpreting swab tests if they were given the right information.

There are believed to be thousands of the machines – PCR machines – ready and waiting in laboratories around the country and many owners are willing to help test NHS staff to help them keep working. 

Some have already taken matters into their own hands and begun testing medical workers in their local areas.

The scientists are capable of doing PCR tests, which look for evidence of the coronavirus inside people’s DNA and are different to antigen tests, which also test for current infection but do so by trying to trigger a reaction from viruses in a sample. 

IS THERE A SHORTAGE OF PPE FOR NHS NURSES AND DOCTORS? 

It comes as an NHS trust is conducting a search for PPE suppliers amid the coronavirus outbreak and a nationwide shortage of face masks, gloves and aprons, which saw Mr Hancock insist the required stocks exist but argue there had been challenges in distribution.

The University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust (UHDB) issued the tender document listed as ‘Covid-19 – PPE’ on April 1. It described it as an ‘information gathering exercise’ to identify those who could supply or manufacture PPE should it need additional supplies in future.  

Thousands of items of PPE were donated in recent weeks to help keep UHDB trust staff safe while treating Covid-19 patients, either suspected or confirmed. 

Doctors’ Association chairman Dr Rinesh Parmar last month made an appeal to Boris Johnson, warning doctors and nurses feel like ‘cannon fodder’ because of a lack of protective equipment and kits.

It also followed a letter in the Sunday Times from almost 4,000 NHS workers who called on the Prime Minister to ‘protect the lives of the life-savers’ and resolve the ‘unacceptable’ shortage of protective equipment.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) last week revealed there are medical staff working to save lives and turn the tide in Britain’s war with coronavirus that have no access to basic protective clothing at all. 

Medics at Southend Hospital in Essex warned on Wednesday they may need to limit services to a ‘bare minimum’ amid concerns over a shortage of protective equipment for staff. 

While staff at The Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, in County Durham,were last week warned not to resuscitate patients during the coronavirus crisis because of a lack of protective equipment. 

The British Medical Association yesterday launched a campaign to urge the Government to send more protective gear to the NHS frontline amid complaints there isn’t enough go around. 

And GP practices say that, when they’ve appealed for equipment from the NHS, they have been told to buy their own from other suppliers. 

Some staff said they have seen colleagues fall ill because of ‘inadequate PPE’  and others are having to buy their own. One doctor revealed to their MP, Twickenham member Munira Wilson, that they had bought motocross goggles for their staff to wear.

It comes as an NHS trust is conducting a search for PPE suppliers amid the coronavirus outbreak and a nationwide shortage of face masks, gloves and aprons, which saw Mr Hancock insist the required stocks exist but argue there had been challenges in distribution.

The University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust (UHDB) issued the tender document listed as ‘Covid-19 – PPE’ on April 1. It described it as an ‘information gathering exercise’ to identify those who could supply or manufacture PPE should it need additional supplies in future.  

Thousands of items of PPE were donated in recent weeks to help keep UHDB trust staff safe while treating Covid-19 patients, either suspected or confirmed. This included goggles, gloves, surgical masks and protective suits from the University of Derby and 10,000 surgical masks from Rolls-Royce.  

Doctors’ Association chairman Dr Rinesh Parmar last month made an appeal to Boris Johnson, warning doctors and nurses feel like ‘cannon fodder’ because of a lack of protective equipment and kits.

It also followed a letter in the Sunday Times from almost 4,000 NHS workers who called on the Prime Minister to ‘protect the lives of the life-savers’ and resolve the ‘unacceptable’ shortage of protective equipment.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) last week revealed there are medical staff working to save lives and turn the tide in Britain’s war with coronavirus that have no access to basic protective clothing at all. 

Medics at Southend Hospital in Essex warned on Wednesday they may need to limit services to a ‘bare minimum’ amid concerns over a shortage of protective equipment for staff. 

While staff at The Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, in County Durham,were last week warned not to resuscitate patients during the coronavirus crisis because of a lack of protective equipment. 

The British Medical Association yesterday launched a campaign to urge the Government to send more protective gear to the NHS frontline amid complaints there isn’t enough go around. 

And GP practices say that, when they’ve appealed for equipment from the NHS, they have been told to buy their own from other suppliers. 

Some staff said they have seen colleagues fall ill because of ‘inadequate PPE’  and others are having to buy their own. One doctor revealed to their MP, Twickenham member Munira Wilson, that they had bought motocross goggles for their staff to wear.

Coronavirus symptom app suggests that 1.9 MILLION Brits could have Covid-19 with Birmingham and Liverpool among the future hotspots

Data gathered by a new specially-designed symptom tracking app suggests there are currently 1.9 million people aged 20-69 in the UK who have symptomatic Covid-19.

Contributors can track their daily health on the specially-created app, which is also being used by healthcare and hospital workers nationwide.

It comes as the UK today announced yet another record one-day high of 684 deaths, taking the total number of fatalities to 3,605. 

The COVID Symptom Tracker works by taking people through a questionnaire about how they are feeling and whether they have the typical symptoms of coronavirus

The COVID Symptom Tracker works by taking people through a questionnaire about how they are feeling and whether they have the typical symptoms of coronavirus

Currently, tests are mostly being rationed to people who are in hospital

Currently, tests are mostly being rationed to people who are in hospital

The COVID Symptom Tracker works by taking people through a questionnaire about how they are feeling and whether they have the typical symptoms of coronavirus. The app has been developed by a King’s College London team in association with the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, NIHR Biomedical Research Centre and healthcare start-up ZOE Global Limited

According to researchers, the preliminary data from the app shows wide variation across the UK, with hotspots of the disease including major cities like London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow, and Belfast.

But it also highlights problems in rural areas of South Wales, which are currently experiencing bed shortages following an influx of patients.

It is hoped that this information can support the effective deployment of limited NHS resources such as healthcare personnel, testing kits or ventilators to where they are most likely to be needed. 

Fever – a high temperature and body aches – is the most common symptom of the coronavirus and is experienced by almost nine out of 10 people who catch it, according to the World Health Organization

Fever – a high temperature and body aches – is the most common symptom of the coronavirus and is experienced by almost nine out of 10 people who catch it, according to the World Health Organization

Fever – a high temperature and body aches – is the most common symptom of the coronavirus and is experienced by almost nine out of 10 people who catch it, according to the World Health Organization

The app has been developed by a King’s College London team in association with the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, NIHR Biomedical Research Centre and healthcare start-up ZOE Global Limited.

As of April 1 2020 there were 1,626,355 users of the Covid Symptom Tracker aged 20-69 who had recorded their symptoms, healthy or not.

Statistical models created by the researchers estimate that 79,405 of these users would be positive if tested (4.9%) – though the data will become more accurate and sophisticated as more contributors share symptoms.

Lead researcher Professor Tim Spector from King’s College London, said: ‘Accurate real-time data is essential if we are to beat this disease.

‘What we are sharing today are just preliminary results from the two million people who are tracking their symptoms daily.

‘The more people we can get logging their symptoms on the app, the quicker we will be able to really understand this disease – it is clear levels of infection are very different around the country.

‘We would like to thank every single person who is already participating, and would urge everyone else to download the app and check in every day, whether you are experiencing any symptoms or feeling fine.’  

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