COVID-19 UPDATE: Tuesday 31 March
Cabinet office minister, Michael Gove led the government’s daily briefing on tackling the coronavirus crisis in the UK. He was joined by Dr Jenny Harries, Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Stephen Powis, National Medical Director of NHS England.
Testing regime: more work to do
Michael Gove said the UK must go “further, faster on coronavirus testing”. Government and the NHS is committed to “ramping up” the UK's testing regime.
Frontline workers will be targeted and prioritised to ensure as many as possible avoid unnecessary self-isolation or household quarantine.
Testing is currently constrained by global shortages of required chemical reagents.
More equipment for the NHS
Michael Gove stated that the current capacity of 8,000 ventilators across the country will be significantly increased. Stock will be bought in from the EU and manufactured across the UK.
Jenny Harries reported on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). In UK hospitals, guidelines for the use of PPE is constantly checked against WHO recommendations. She is confident that we have regulations to match our needs.
Distribution of PPE has proved "tricky". National stock and distribution flow is constantly evolving and recent alterations mean PPE will be prioritised according to critical risk levels.
A network of RAF facilities will support NHS logistics the country. Chinook and Puma helicopters are on standby for the transportation of supplies and personnel.
Public playing its part
While the UK is "not out of the woods", there are some green shoots, partly due to the public staying at home and protecting the NHS.
Social distancing is not in vain, but there is no room for complacency – we must all “keep our foot to the pedal” to restrict the spread of the virus.