LiveCoronavirus in UK live blog: UK death toll rises to 26,097

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Wednesday, 29th April 2020, 5:59 pm

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A man holds a sign relating to the lack of PPE equipment for frontline NHS staff during a minute's silence outside Lewisham Hospital (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Coronavirus live blog, April 29

Last updated: Wednesday, 29 April, 2020, 14:30

445 more deaths in England

NHS England has announced 445 new deaths of people who tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of confirmed reported deaths in hospitals in England to 19,740.

Shadow foreign secretary calls on government to publish location of all stranded UK nationals

Labour shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy called on the Government to publish its statistics on the number of Britons who are stranded abroad and where.

She said: "I am deeply concerned that weeks after Britons were advised to return home by the Government, there's still no accurate assessment of who is stranded and where. On Monday, the Foreign Office came up with a figure of 57,500 and yet I've been told repeatedly that there can be no accurate assessment because while some embassies record those who approach them for help, others do not.

"We do need to know who is stranded and where so will he (Mr Adams) now ensure that his department counts and publishes those statistics so we can rapidly bring those numbers down?"

On the number of people currently seeking to return home, Mr Adams responded: "Our best estimate at the moment is around 50,000 people and hopefully by the end of today we will have passed the return of 20,000 British nationals on the charter flights.

"We will obviously update (Ms Nandy) with the numbers tomorrow. It is tricky collecting all the data, I won't pretend that it's not but I can assure her that when we do have that information, we will keep (her) updated."

Labour leader congratulates Johnson

Starmer warns that England could fall behind Scotland and Wales

Keir Starmer also warned that the UK was falling behind other countries in its discussion of a lockdown exit strategy. 

He said: "France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, New Zealand, Australia, Scotland and Wales have all published exit plans of one sort or another. (Mr Raab) said, 'well what are the proposals, what should they cover?'. If you look at those plans, as he's done and I've done, it's clear that there are common issues such as schools reopening, business sectors reopening.

"These are the issues that, if he wants me to put them on the table, I absolutely will."

He added: "Delay risks not only falling behind other countries, but also the successful four-nation approach so far."

Mr Raab responded: "The Scottish Government has not set out an exit strategy. I read through very carefully their 25-page document, it was eminently sensible and it was grounded in the five tests that I set out on April 16."

Dominic Raab is standing in for Prime Minister Boris Johnson at today's PMQs. 

Sir Keir Starmer asked whether 250,000 remaind an aspiration of the government. 

Mr Raab replied: "On testing, we now have 73,400 test capacity every day - that is almost double from the point at which we were at the dispatch box last week. On daily tests carried out, the figure is now 43,563 which is up from well over double the 18,000 from the point at which we were at last week."

He added: "Of course he's right to say that the 250,000 target is still an aspiration, I'm not going to put a date on it.

"Significant increase" in care home deaths expected

The Independent Care Group (ICG) expects a "significant increase" in the number of care and nursing home deaths, due to be included for the first time in the Government's daily update later.

ICG chairman Mike Padgham said: "Sadly, as far as care and nursing homes are concerned I fear we are not yet at the peak in terms of deaths from Covid-19 and we are now the front line in the fight against the virus.

"We fully expect today's figures to show an increasing number of deaths in homes.

"Care providers and care workers are working flat-out and doing an amazing job, trying to keep our residents as safe as we can.

"The Government has promised to get testing to all care and nursing homes to help in the battle.

"It is a shame that we haven't had this so far and we are still waiting to see how this works in practice. But we are where we are and hopefully once proper testing is in place we will see an impact."

People living in deprived areas more vulnerable to coronavirus, app suggests

People living in urban and the most deprived areas of the UK could be more exposed or vulnerable to coronavirus, the latest data from a symptom tracking app suggests.

Scientists analysing results from the Covid-19 Symptom Tracker app have found that the virus is disproportionately more common and more severe in those located in urban areas and regions of higher poverty.

"This could reflect that individuals in more deprived areas are more exposed or vulnerable to the virus," said Dr Cristina Menni, lead researcher from King's College London.

"It may be that they work in jobs requiring work out of the home, where they are more likely to be exposed to circulating virus.

"We know from previous research that deprivation is closely linked with increased health issues and disease burden; our results suggest that Covid-19 is no exception."

Government testing tsar 'confident' 100,000 daily target for tests will be met

Professor John Newton, of Public Health England has said the Government "are pretty confident we will hit that target.

"It puts us really right up there with countries like Germany, so we need that now but we need that for the future as well.”

There would be a lag due to receiving the data but "by the end of the week we will know whether we have reached that target".

How to stay sane during lockdown

UK-wide advice doesn't cover face masks

Environment Secretary George Eustice has said the UK-wide advice was still that members of the public were not being asked to wear face coverings, after Scotland announced it was recommending masks yesterday.

He told BBC Breakfast: "I know that Scotland has taken a particular position here, the advice hasn't changed yet for England but we do keep this under review."

Government still aim to meet the 100,000-a-day testing target by Thursday

Despite the Government declaring only 43,453 coronavirus tests were carried out on Monday, they're still aiming to reach their 100,000-a-day target by the end of Thursday.

Environment Secretary George Eustice told BBC Breakfast: “Yes that is his aim to get 100,000 tests being done.”

Eustice denied that the earlier introduction of wider testing at care homes would have saved lives.

Asked if tests not being available earlier for care home workers had cost lives, he told BBC Breakfast: “Because those staff are dealing with obviously very vulnerable cohort, the elderly, sometimes people with other conditions, if they are showing any symptoms at all then they must not be at work.”

Owners of Odeon cinemas will no longer screen Universal films

An unexpected result of the coronavirus pandemic, as the owners of Odeon Cinemas have said they will refuse to screen any Universal Pictures films in a row over the future of theatrical releases.

NBCUniversal boss Jeff Shell trumpeted the success of Trolls World Tour following its video on-demand release earlier this month, after it earned an estimated £80 million. Its theatrical run was cancelled due to coronavirus.

He said Universal, known for blockbuster franchises including Fast & Furious and Jurassic World films, may release movies in both formats even when cinemas reopen following the outbreak.

Adam Aron, the boss of cinema chain AMC, then accused Universal of wanting to "have its cake and eat it too".

He said AMC will not licence any Universal film in its 1,000 theatres around the world.

"AMC believes that with this proposed action to go to the home and theatres simultaneously, Universal is breaking the business model and dealings between our two companies.

"It assumes that we will meekly accept a reshaped view of how studios and exhibitors should interact, with zero concern on Universal's part as to how its actions affect us.

"It also presumes that Universal in fact can have its cake and eat it too, that Universal film product can be released to the home and theatres at the same time, without modification to the current economic arrangements between us."

Mike Pence forgoes face mask in world-renowned medical centre

US vice president Mike Pence has chosen not to wear a face mask during a tour of the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, despite of the world-renowned medical centre's policy requiring them.

Video shows Pence did not wear a mask when he met with a Mayo employee who has recovered from Covid-19 and is now donating plasma, even though all other people in the room appeared to be wearing one.

He was also without a mask when he visited a lab where Mayo conducts coronavirus tests.

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