COVID-19 UPDATE – 15 April 2020
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock led the Downing Street media briefing on a day when the number of global confirmed cases of COVID-19 exceeded 2 million.
He was joined by Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England and Professor Angela McLean, deputy chief scientific adviser .
- A formal decision on whether to extend the lockdown will be taken tomorrow. In the meantime, measures are "slowing the spread" of the virus but we should not "let go of the hard work done so far.” The lockdown will not be lifted "until safe to do so", said Matt Hancock. He went on to say that plans to ensure there is capacity in the NHS are working. “So far” everyone who needs a hospital bed has been admitted, and capacity is currently at 2,657 beds.
- There is “hard data” showing how all of us are staying at home, said Angela McLean. As a result, the curve is flattening. She added, "for me that is evidence that what everybody has done together has worked". She concluded that social distancing “is having the impact we hoped it would have".
- In the US, President Donald Trump announced his administration would cease funding the World Health Organization as a result of its dealing with the pandemic.
- Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, announced plans to ease the country's lockdown.
New social care brand to replicate NHS
Matt Hancock announced that the UK will introduce a "single brand" for social care, to replicate the overarching blue and white logo of the NHS.
He will ask businesses such as supermarkets to treat social care staff like NHS workers. He acknowledged that more social care staff are required and promised a recruitment drive, with government funding for "induction training".
Coronavirus in care homes
Matt Hancock said that "in the first instance" care staff showing symptoms of the virus and those with an infected or self-isolating family member will be tested.
When asked if younger patients have been prioritise over older people, who may have died unnecessarily, Matt Hancock stated this is "very obviously not" the case.
Matt Hancock announced that "new procedures" will allow people "wherever possible" the chance to say goodbye to a relative. He said steps will be taken to prevent the application of “blanket fashion” do not resuscitate orders.
Recorded deaths may jump after the bank holiday weekend
Chris Whitty answered a question about easing lockdown measures by saying that "we have not hit a point we can say confidently and safely this is past the peak and we can think about the next stages."
He expects the number of recorded deaths to rise after the Easter weekend.
Domestic abuse cases may rise
Matt Hancock said that victims of domestic abuse can expect “the right support” after lockdown. This was prompted by a journalist’s question around the “many costs of this awful epidemic”.
Chris Whitty followed up by saying we cannot yet know the full impact of the lockdown, but that it will have impact the mental and physical condition of victims.