LiveCoronavirus in UK live blog: testing rolled out to over 65s, workers required to leave home and asymptomatic care home residents

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Tuesday, 28th April 2020, 6:01 pm

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Robin Barclay, cleaning contractor, poses on a street in Glasgow (Photo: ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Coronavirus live blog, April 28

Last updated: Tuesday, 28 April, 2020, 17:58

That concludes today's daily press briefing and today's live blog. 

Asked when contact tracers will be recruited, Hancock says "as soon as possible" and apologises for not having a more accurate answer. 

He says he wants these in place for when the app goes live. 

Hancock said there was a big benefit in the whole country locking down together. 

He says the government are now discussing whether some regions should be eased out of lockdown before others.

Asked a question by the Northern Echo, Hancock pays tribute to the people of the north east who have done their duty by staying at home. 

He says that post-lockdown it is a priority to ensure that no part of the country is disproportionately impacted by economic hardship. 

Matt Hancock says it is “good news” that there are spare ventilators in the UK. 

He says the UK are still producing ventilators and these will be distributed to countries who need them. 

Hancock is quizzed on why visitors weren't banned until mid-March. 

He says that this was a clinical decision. Having visitors has a positive impact on residents' “longevity and mental health”. 

When it was necessary to make the change the government made it, claims Hancock. 

Following Nicola Sturgeon's advice on using face coverings when leaving home the trio is asked if the UK will be adopting a similar strategy. 

Hancock says “we are guided by the science and the position hasn't changed.” 

Very clear science on social distancing, less clear on face masks. 

McLean says that the recommendation from SAGE is that their is weak evidence that masks can have a small effect if a person has symptoms, but these people should stay at home. 

On handwashing and keeping surfaces clean, McLean says the government has always been absolutely in favour of it. Keeping surfaces clean is “common sense” according to McLean. 

Hancock is asking if he would apologise to the families of loved ones who died in care homes. 

Hancock says the question is “unreasonable”. 

He said from the start the government new how important it was to monitor care homes. He says he can't remember one of the early discussions in January the protection of care homes was discussed. 

John Newton says that from the word go Public Health England have been testing at care homes. The trio had been asked why testing hadn't been introduced sooner and Newton says that when capacity was lower symptomatic patients were all treated as if they had the virus. 

Newton says it would be wrong to say that nothing was done for the care home sector. 

Hancock is now asked if the care home sector was now the government's top priority as the NHS appears to be coping with the virus.

Hancok says that care homes have always been a top priority. He says that he is glad that the government can now publish daily data on care home deaths. 

He said his principle is to be as transparent as possible. 

On care home testing John Newton says that the presence of symptoms wasn't necessarily a good indicator of whether coronavirus was present and that is why testing has been ramped up for asymptomatic patients in care homes. 

Hancock is asked for assurances on PPE.

He highlights the logistic difficulty and says that the government are “moving heaven and earth” and says that the government's system is improving everyday. 

The trio are taking questions now. 

A member of the public asks how the government can help with childcare while schools are shut and grandparents are socially distancing. 

Hancock says that it is too soon to reopen schools and we don't yet know how fast the number of new cases will fall. 

A second question from a member of the public asks if children who are living with immunocompromising diseases can return to school. 

Hancock has said that schools have been encouraged to ensure that those with extra needs are offered the help they need. He says those with certain medical conditions should continue to be shielded “because of the consequences should they get the disease”. 

Matt Hancock says the risk of a second peak is real and pleads for the public to continue staying at home. 

Professor Angela McLean is speaking now. 

She breaks down the five tests which need to be passed before lockdown can be passed. These are: ensuring the NHS can cope, a sustained a consistent fall in death rate, rate of inffection decreasing to a manageable level, increasing testing capcity and PPE supply, and eliminating the chance of a second peak.

Though deaths rose today, McLean says that the overal trend is declining. 

Testing rolled out to asymptomatic NHS staff and care home residents.

On testing, he says that everyday the UK is ramping up it's capacity on it's way to the 100,000 a day goal. 

He says the number of home testing kits is increasing to 25,000 a day, up from 5,000 last Friday. 

The capacity currently stands at 73,000. 

Testing will be rolling out to asymptomatic residents at care homes and patients and staffs in the NHS. 

All over 65s can now access a test if they're experiencing symptoms, as can workers who leave their home to do their job. 

Matt Hancock is speaking now. 

He is joined by Professor Angela McLean and Professor John Newton. 

He starts by reflecting on this morning's minute's silence, describing frontline workers as “the nation's heros".

He reveals that 43,000 tests were carried out yesterday. 

21,678 have died in hspital, an increase of 586. 

He says that it's important to be as transparent as possible. 

From tomorrow the number of deaths in hospital, care homes and beyond from tomorrow. He says this previously wasn't possible. 

Matt Hancock to take daily press briefing

Matt Hancock will again host today's daily press briefing at 5pm. 

He will be joined by deputy chief scientific adviser Professor Dame Angela McLean.

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