Covid-19 Daily Bulletin
- On Sunday, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries confirmedthat the government will review the lockdown measures in three weeks, and it will take three to six months to see if the policies have “squashed” the virus: “We actually anticipate our numbers will get worse over the next week, possibly two, and then we are looking to see whether we have managed to push that curve down and we start to see a decline. This is not to say we would be in complete lockdown for six months, but as a nation we have to be really, really responsible and keep doing what we’re all doing until we’re sure we can gradually start lifting various interventions which are likely to be spaced – based on the science and our data – until we gradually come back to a normal way of living…So over time, probably over the next six months, we will have a three-week review.”
- In Saturday’s press conference, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick revealed that the Government are establishing strategic coordination centres across the country, each led by gold commander, bringing together senior members of the emergency services such as the police, fire service, the and ambulance service, with local authorities and the NHS to lead communities. The government have embedded members of the armed forces within each of these groups, which would help plan the local response to the virus.
- One issue that these groups have been helping with is to coordinate the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Jenrick asserted that we cannot and should not ask people to be on the frontline without the right protective equipment and added that the government has a clear plan to ensure those serving this country have the right equipment. He said that the government has established a national supply distribution response team who are supported now by members of the armed forces and other emergency services to deliver the equipment needed. 170m masks, 42.8m gloves 13.7m aprons 182,000 gowns almost 10m items of cleaning equipment, 2.3m pairs of eye protectors delivered to 58,000 NHS trusts and healthcare settings including GP surgeries and pharmacies. Every GP practice, dental practice and community pharmacy has had a PPE delivery. All care homes, hospices and home care providers have or will shortly receive delivery.
- Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy Alok Sharma outlined new Government plans to support businesses over the period, including forthcoming plans to improve the insolvency system, which provides the legal options for companies running into major difficulties. The changes to the insolvency scheme will include new rules to make sure companies undergoing restructuring can continue to get hold of supplies and raw materials and there will be a temporary suspension of wrongful trading provisions for company directors to remove the threat of personal liability during the pandemic. These provisions will have retrospective effect from 1stMarch, however, all of the other checks and balances that help to ensure directors fulfil their duties properly will remain in force.
- Sharma also confirmed that the government will put in place measures to ensure that companies required to hold annual general meetings can do so flexibly in a manner which is compatible with the best public health guidance. This might include postponing or holding the AGM online or by phone using only proxy voting.
- Alok Sharma pledged that the Government would bring forward the relevant legislation to improve the insolvency system at the “earliest possible opportunity”,
- The Italian government has designated €400m (£358m) for food vouchers amid brewing social unrest, reports the Guardian. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte made the announcement late on Saturday after reports emerged of people in the south running out of food and money. He said that €4.3bn would immediately be made available to mayors to help their citizens and another €400m would go towards an emergency food-relief fund. The government approved a €25bn financial package earlier this month to safeguard the economy.
- European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will put the EU’s 2021-2027 budget “at the heart of our efforts” to fight the coronavirus crisis, she told Politico on Sunday. While the Multiannual Financial Framework isn’t the only tool in the box, “the MFF is a means of strategic investment and intra-European cohesion which is accepted by all EU member states,” she said, speaking over the phone. “It’s important to me that the MFF, as one of the most powerful instruments we have, is at the heart of our efforts” to help countries most affected by the crisis, von der Leyen said.
- The Huffington Postlooks at US President Donald Trump’s press conference, where he extended the United States’ shutdown and repeatedly questioned the distribution of medical supplies around the nation in recent weeks, even that some hospitals may be misusing protective equipment and masks as cases of the coronavirus continue to surge. “How do you go from using 10,000 to 20,000 [masks] to 300,000?” Trump asked during a press briefing in the Rose Garden on Sunday. “Even though this is different. Something’s going on. Where are the masks going, are they going out the back door?”
- Japan and South Korea are poised to tighten restrictions on overseas visitors in renewed efforts to prevent “imported” cases of the coronavirus, as American authorities warned that the US could face 200,000 deaths. Japan will expand its entry ban to include people travelling from the US, China, South Korea and most of Europe, local media reported on Monday. The measure will apply to foreign nationals who have been to any of the listed regions within 14 days of arriving in Japan.
- The U.K. should remain in full lockdown until early June, according to Neil Ferguson, the Imperial College London epidemiologist who warned the virus could kill around 250,000 people in the country unless the government imposed strict measures. Some forms of social distancing will need to stay in place after June, said Ferguson.
- Unless the U.K. is able to test “virtually everybody,” the government will not be able to lift its measures safely, warned former Prime Minister Tony Blair. “How are you going to ease from them unless you’ve got a very clear understanding of who’s got it and who hasn’t?” he told Sky News. Blair offered a tip to Johnson: put the most capable people in charge of logistics and procurement, even if they are from the private sector, and throw all the state’s support behind science and technology.
- The success of South Korea and Germany, which have deployed mass testing, should
serve as an example, former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt wrote in the Sunday Telegraph.“The restaurants are open in South Korea,” he wrote. “You can go shopping in Taiwan. Offices are open in Singapore. These countries learned the hard way how to deal with a pandemic after the deadly Sars virus. They now show us how we can emerge from lockdown.”
- Boris Johnson has reportedly resisted pressure to stop the construction industry from London Mayor Sadiq Khan, and the leaders of the devolved administrations Nicola Sturgeon, Arlene Foster and her deputy Michelle O’Neill, and Mark Drakeford, according to reports the Sunday Times. “I was overruled by the prime minister, who doesn’t believe construction workers should be at home,” Khan is quoted as saying.