Covid-19 Daily Bulletin
23 July 2020
A series of daily updates for CHO members regarding relevant updates pertaining to Coronavirus from home and abroad.
- The Government has announced it will cut its global aid budget by £2.9bn this year down from £15.8bn due to the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis, but it would still meet its commitment to spend 0.7 percent of GNI on international development.
- Labour MP Sarah Champion, chair of the International Development Committee, said it was “poor practice” to announce the move on the final day of Parliament before the summer, avoiding parliamentary scrutiny and criticised the Government for not consulting over the decision. She asked “If it is with immediate effect, do the projects know … Is there an overarching strategy in place?”
- Boris Johnson will visit Scotland today amid polls showing growing support for independence. Ahead of his trip, he has said the coronavirus pandemic has shown the “sheer might” of the UK union, noting the troops had done “vital work” to support the NHS during the pandemic and praised Treasury job retention schemes. He is expected to announce £50m in extra funds for Orkney and the Western Isles.
- Nicola Sturgeon warned that gyms and theatres could remain closed to ensure the safe return of children to school full time in August.
- 1,172 patients caught Covid -19 in hospitals according to Public Health Wales
- If shielding is required again, there will be no more free boxes sent to those most at risk, the Welsh government announced . The Welsh Tories and Plaid Cymru criticised this decision.
- Royal College of Nursing in Wales call for an investigation as data suggested community testing units – mostly used by health care staff – produce results slower than those from hospitals or regional testing centres.
- Ministers are expected to recommend wearing face masks in shops in Northern Ireland, but not make them mandatory.
- WHO warns about worrying infection trends in southern Europe and the Balkans .
- President Trump urged people to wear masks.
- Tokyo’s governor urged residents of the Japanese capital to stay at home during an upcoming four-day holiday weekend, as the number of new local coronavirus cases rose.
- Australia will have the biggest budget deficit since WW2 due to the fiscal support during the pandemic and South Korea falls into recession, seeing the steepest decline in GDP since 1998.
- The Government has responded to the Treasury Committee’s interim report on the gaps in coronavirus support. The chancellor defended the aid schemes although he admitted that some people were not eligible for furlough or SEISS scheme. With over a million people having fallen through the gaps, the committee remained convinced that more people could be helped.
- Mel Stride, chair of the committee has said that “Despite stating that he will not pick winners and losers when it comes to sectors and businesses that need support, the Chancellor has done this when it comes to households and individuals.”
- The Public Accounts Committee published a report today arguing that the government’s failure to plan for the economic impact of a pandemic was “astonishing”. The committee noted a lack of prior thinking and preparation for the aid schemes and discovered that the BEIS department was not even aware of a pandemic simulation exercise in 2016. The government had said it regularly tested its pandemic plans, which enabled a “rapid” response.
- The DCMS select committee has said the coronavirus crisis was the biggest threat to the cultural infrastructure, institutions and workforce in a generation and the Government has been too slow to help the arts sector. The chair of the committee, Julian Knight said the £1.57bn support package was “nothing more than an Elastoplast over a gaping wound”.
- The Guardian reports that test and trace fails to contact thousands in worst hit areas in England, with the proportion of close contacts being reached is below 80 percent in high infection areas
- Politico reports that guidance will also be issued to shops today on face coverings, which become compulsory at midnight today. The guidance will assure shops it will not be their responsibility to police the new laws, but if someone refuses to wear a face covering before coming in, a shop can escalate to the police, who have the formal enforcement powers.
- The i reports that the army, councils and the Whitehall were all given August deadline for new contingency plans to deal with a second spike of coronavirus, serious flu outbreak, Brexit and flooding.
- A long read in the FT based on dozens of interviews with people working in and around PHE concludes that a major reform is likely after finding “an impulse to centralise, a wariness of engaging with industry and the impact of a decade of fiscal austerity” in the agency.
- The FT reports that only 1.3m antibody tests out of the 10m ordered from pharmaceutical companies Roche and Abbott in May, have so far been carried out — almost entirely among NHS and care home staff; the government has indicated it has frozen its plans to roll out the programme to the general public.