COVID-19 UPDATE – Wednesday 8 April
Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer opened today’s Downing Street briefing. He was joined by Professor Angela McLean, deputy chief scientific adviser and Sir Stephen Powis, national medical director for England.
- Boris Johnson remains in intensive care but is improving, sitting up and engaging with his clinical team, Rishi Sunak said.
- Each of the speakers warned against speculation around the lockdown. Angela McLean said that a "longer run" of infections data will be needed to see when schools can reopen, adding "so much depends" on the data.
Chancellor announces £750m rescue package for UK charities
The chancellor reiterated his commitment to "do whatever it takes”. He added: "I am striving every day to keep that promise."
He acknowledged the anxiety the c. 170,000 UK charities are experiencing, saying that “we will not be able to match every pound of funding they would have received this year”.
He announced a new £750m fund for charities across the UK - including hospices and charities helping domestic abuse victims. "At this time, when many are hurting, tired and confined, we need the gentleness of charities in our lives”.
Protecting health is an 'absolute priority'
Rishi Sunak stated that the protection of health is the "absolute priority", and that efforts to reduce virus transmission will significantly impact economic growth. We should not expect that every business can be protected.
The chancellor warned of a period of hardship to come. He said: "I will be absolutely honest - this will have a significant impact on the economy and not in an abstract way, on people's jobs and livelihoods."
Record increase of deaths in UK hospitals from coronavirus
The total number of deaths in UK hospitals from coronavirus reaches 7,097. This represents a record increase of 938 in a day.
This news, while regretted, was tempered by Angela McLean who said that cases in the UK are "not accelerating out of control”. She attributed this to the effect of the social distancing measures and added that demand for critical care in the UK is “flattening”.