"Herculean effort" to provide PPE

COVID-19 UPDATE – Friday 10 April

Matt Hancock, secretary of state for health and social care opened today’s press briefing from Downing Street. Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, Deputy chief medical officer and Ruth May, chief nursing officer presented data and answered questions.

Matt Hancock said the number of deaths in the UK of people in hospital who tested positive for COVID-19 has now reached 8,958. There were 980 deaths today.

"We never forget behind this number, behind each one is a name, a loss and a family which will never be the same again."

He said 19,116 tests have been carried out in the UK, and 5,706 of those were positive.

Reported elsewhere, Italy has seen another decrease in coronavirus fatalities. A total of 570 people died in the last 24 hours, down from 610 on Thursday.

Stay at home during the long weekend

Matt Hancock reiterated the need for the UK public to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives. He added “however tempting the beach or park, we need everyone to stay at home”.

PPE still an issue

Whilst there is now enough testing available for NHS workers, Matt Hancock reported “a global squeeze on supply” of personal protective equipment. In normal circumstances, 233 hospital trusts are supplied with PPE, but currently, 58,000 health care providers are using PPE. He urges workers to use the equipment they need according to clinical requirements, to follow the guidelines and use “no more, no less” than is appropriate. It should be treated as a “valuable resource”.

New PPE plan announced by Matt Hancock

Strand 1: Guidance is provided as to “who needs PPE, when they need it, and who does not”.
Strand 2: Logistics – delivering a “Herculean” effort to get the equipment where it needs to be. 742 million pieces of PPE have been distributed already, and an online portal will soon allow primary and social care settings to request what they need.
Strand 3: Supply – Matt Hancock is appealing to UK business to help manufacture the PPE we need.

When asked about the government’s policy on face masks, Matt Hancock emphasised that they "should be saved for those who need them" most. Jonathan Van-Tam referred to the wearing of face masks by the public as a "vexed" issue. He stated that there "just isn't the evidence base" to support this as a valid approach.

New NHS beds in more Nightingale hospitals

Sunderland and Exeter will be supplied with Nightingale hospitals to provide extra coronavirus capacity, said Ruth May.

Nevertheless, Jonathan Van-Tam said that COVID-19 cases in UK hospitals is “beginning to bend” in the right direction. He stated that the public’s adherence to social distancing measures is “beginning to pay off”, but could not say whether we have yet reached the peak of the outbreak.

Speaking personally, Jonathan Van-Tam added that he has family members and friends working in the health and social care, and that the lockdown “really matters that we keep going with it."

NHS capacity exceeds demand

Matt Hancock said that at "no point in this crisis" has the NHS been overrun.