£60,000 payments for families of frontline workers claimed by coronavirus, and other things we learned from the latest Downing Street coronavirus briefing today

Here’s what we learned about the coronavirus pandemic from Monday’s Government press conference.

Monday, 27th April 2020, 7:17 pm
Updated Monday, 27th April 2020, 7:30 pm
Matt Hancock during a Downing Street briefing.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock was joined by Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Professor Stephen Powis, Medical Director of NHS England.

Latest figures

Mr Hancock started his press briefing by announcing the latest coronavirus figures in the UK.

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There have been 719,910 tests for coronavirus so far in the UK, including 37,024 on Sunday. 157,149 people have tested positive, an increase of 4,310 cases since Sunday. 15,051 people are in hospital with coronavirus, down from 15,239 on Sunday

21,092 people have sadly died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus, an increase of 360.

The Health Secretary said: "We must never lose sight of the human cost of coronavirus and the pain and the grief that it causes."

New frontline life assurance scheme provides £60,000 payout to victims of Covid-19

The most significant announcement from the briefing made by Matt Hancock was that of a new life assurance scheme for the families of frontline staff who die with coronavirus.

He told the Downing Street briefing that 82 NHS workers and 16 social care staff had died so far.

"I feel a deep personal sense of duty that we must care for their loved ones," he said.

"Today, I am able to announce that the Government is setting up a life assurance scheme for NHS and social care frontline colleagues.

"Families of staff who die from coronavirus in the course of their essential frontline work will receive a £60,000 payment.

"Of course, nothing replaces the loss of a loved one but we want to do everything we can to support families who are dealing with this grief."

Mr Hancock added that the Government was looking at other frontline professions who did not have access to a life assurance scheme.

He said: "As a Government, we are looking closely at other professions that work on the front line against coronavirus, who also do not have access to such schemes, to see where this may be required."

First public submitted question asked

More than 15,000 members of the public submitted questions to Monday's press conference, with plans to answer one question a day from the public.

The first public question came from Lynn in Skipton, who asked: “After the five criteria are met, is being able to hug our closest family one of the first steps out of lockdown?”

Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty responded: “Very clearly for most people the ability to actually interact with family in a way they have not been able to in this period is absolutely essential.

“In terms of a direct answer to this lady's question, it depends if I'm honest on the situation that she finds herself in.

“So if she is someone who has a significant medical problem in a way that means she would have to be shielding, then the answer is that it might well be prudent for her not to get into a situation where she is putting herself at risk.”

To submit your question, log on to www.gov.uk/ask.

Vital services to resume

Mr Hancock announced that some NHS services which had been paused due to the coronavirus outbreak will be restored from Tuesday.

He said: "As the number of hospitalisations from coronavirus begins to fall, I can announce that, starting tomorrow, we will begin the restoration of other NHS services - starting with the most urgent, like cancer care and mental health support.

"The exact pace of the restoration will be determined by local circumstances on the ground, according to local need and according to the amount of coronavirus cases that that hospital is having to deal with."

Hancock says Government are ‘on track’ to hit 100,000 a day testing target

The Health Secretary set a 100,000 tests per day target by the end of April. Despite only hitting 37,000 tests on Sunday, Mr Hancock said the Government were ‘on track to the 100,000 target’.

“We’re broadly where we expected to be,” he said.

“We saw 37,000 tests yesterday over the weekend and we’re improving the way we can deliver tests.

“It is important to note that we have already gone past the number of tests, per day, for instance, that they carry out in South Korea.

“We are approaching the levels that Germany undertakes.”

Concern over coronavirus related syndrome in children

Reports have emerged regarding a coronavirus related syndrome in children that could be emerging in the UK.

Professor Stephen Powis said: “We have become aware in the last few days of reports of severe illness in children which might be a Kawasaki-like disease.

“Both Chris (Whitty) and I are aware of that, and we have asked our experts, I have asked the national clinical director for children and young people to look into this as a matter of urgency.”

Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty added: “This is a very rare situation but I think it is entirely plausible that this is caused by this virus, at least in some cases.

“Because we know that in adults who of course have much more disease than children do, big problems are caused by an inflammatory process and this looks rather like an inflammatory process, a rather different one.

“Therefore, given that we have got a new presentation of this at a time with a new disease, the possibility – it is not a definite, we need to look for other causes as well – but the possibility that there is a link is certainly plausible.”

A&E cases fall

Mr Hancock said the number of patients attending A&E had fallen to 221,000 in the last week from 477,000 in the same week last year, as he urged people in need to use the NHS.

"In some cases we know that the drop is due to people not coming forward and using the NHS for critical things that matter," he said.

"Our message is that the NHS is open. Help us to help you."