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Coronavirus: Ministers to discuss UK lockdown review
9 April 2020
- Coronavirus pandemic
Ministers are to discuss a review of the UK’s coronavirus lockdown to consider whether restrictions on people’s movements should be extended.
The government’s emergency Cobra committee will look at evidence from scientists on the impact of measures brought in two-and-a-half weeks ago.
It comes as Boris Johnson enters a fifth day in hospital with coronavirus.
Meanwhile, the public is being encouraged to stay at home over Easter amid forecasted warm weather.
Temperatures are set to reach 25C (77F) in some parts of the country, according to the Met Office.
The Times reports that political leaders across the UK are preparing to unite to deliver a “stay at home this Easter” campaign.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab – who is deputising for Mr Johnson as he continues treatment for the virus – will chair the virtual Cobra meeting, which will also include leaders of the devolved nations.
According to new laws, a review of restrictions put in place to slow the spread of coronavirus must happen by 16 April.
In Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford has already confirmed that lockdown measures will stay in place beyond next week, raising expectations this will be the case across the UK.
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The UK recorded its highest daily rise in the number of patients dying with coronavirus on Wednesday with 938 deaths recorded in UK hospitals in 24 hours.
The total number of UK deaths now stands at 7,097, according to the latest Department of Health figures.
Mr Johnson “continues to make steady progress” but remains in intensive care at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, according to the latest update from Downing Street on Wednesday night.
He was taken to hospital on Sunday evening after self-isolating with coronavirus symptoms and admitted to intensive care a day later.
Meanwhile, a leading economic think tank says the pandemic will have far-reaching consequences for people’s health in the UK because of the impact on the NHS and the likely financial downturn.
A briefing note from the Institute for Fiscal Studies suggests that wide-scale job losses could deepen inequalities, while the knock-on effects of cancelling non-urgent operations may take years to reverse.
“The health impacts of the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic will be felt long after the social distancing measures come to an end,” said Heidi Karjalainen, one of the authors.
According to the government’s coronavirus legislation, the health secretary must review the need for restrictions on movement – announced by Mr Johnson on 23 March – at least once every 21 days.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said at the government’s daily news conference on Wednesday the review would happen “around” the three-weeks point, which would be based on evidence that will “only be available next week”.
“I think rather than speculate about the future, I think we should focus very seriously on the here and now and the present,” he added.
Deputy chief scientific adviser Prof Dame Angela McLean told the news conference new cases were not “accelerating out of control” in the UK.
But NHS England medical director Stephen Powis warned now was not the time to become “complacent”.
He said: “We are beginning to see the benefits… we have to continue following instructions, we have to continue following social distancing, because if we don’t, the virus will start to spread again.”
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Mr Sunak also unveiled a £750m funding package to keep struggling charities afloat during the pandemic.
The measures, which involve cash grants direct to charities providing key services during the crisis, follow concern that some charities are facing collapse because of enforced shop closures.
In other developments:
- A Home Office scientific adviser has told staff at Her Majesty’s Passport Office that 80% of people will get Covid-19 and “we can’t hide away from it forever” amid demands they return to work
- A study by communications regulator Ofcom has found 46% of internet-using adults in the UK have seen false or misleading information about the coronavirus
- The agency that runs the UK’s organ transplant network has warned it could be forced to close as a result of the outbreak
- Record numbers of people in the UK are looking for farming jobs, according to figures released by job search engines
- Flour mills have said they are “working ’round the clock” to double production and meet soaring demand
- The Alzheimer’s Society has written to Health Secretary Matt Hancock calling for more action to stop the spread of coronavirus in care homes – on Wednesday it emerged that 15 residents had died at a home in Luton
- The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge video-called the children of key workers at a primary school in Burnley
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