COVID-19 UPDATE: Thursday 30 April
Prime Minister, Boris Johnson returned to the Downing Street briefing today. He was joined by chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty and Professor Patrick Vallance, chief scientific adviser.
- UK is "past the peak" of the outbreak
- Total number of deaths in the UK (in hospitals, care homes and the community) has now reached 26,711. A total of 171,253 people have tested positive for the virus
- Boris Johnson commits to presenting a lockdown exit strategy next week
Thank you NHS
Boris Johnson expressed his gratitude for the work of the NHS, both for caring for him when he was hospitalised with coronavirus, and for the "much happier visit" as his son was born yesterday.
He acknowledged that it had been difficult to provide PPE for everyone in the front line, and the “frustrations we have experienced in expanding numbers of tests”.
When a journalist pointed out that some key workers have to travel 80 miles to get tested, he promised to "check it out immediately". He added that while "we have got [test] numbers up to 86,000 plus but there is clearly a massive way to go. In principle every key worker in this country should be able to get a test. We want that to happen”.
UK past the peak of the outbreak
Boris Johnson announced that the UK had past the peak of the outbreak.
This is in spite of the big increase in numbers of deaths this week. This has moved from 20,000 at the weekend to 26,000 on Wednesday. These figures now show deaths in the community dating back to March.
Next week the government will be in a position to present its plans to restart the economy and re-open schools.
Patrick Vallance used the latest data to demonstrated that hospital admissions and ICU cases are decreasing. He pointed out that the number of deaths was also steadying.
The infection rate, known as ‘R’ is now below one (although variations may be evident in different settings). This means that cases are no longer growing exponentially.
Coping with lockdown
A member of the public raised the risk to mental health caused by social distancing. Boris Johnson said this was one of the reasons he wanted to ease lockdown measures as soon as possible and referred to the mental health support which is available to available anyone who needs it.
Geographical comparisons are difficult
Boris Johnson was asked about the UK death toll and how it compares to other European countries. He said that international comparisons are not reliable and that the UK moved to lockdown at the right time. He also said that the government is learning lessons every day.
Masks may be useful
For the first time, Boris Johnson suggested that face masks would be useful after lockdown. They may give people the confidence they need.