As we reported earlier (see 12.51), Wales is the latest devolved administration to publish its strategy for lifting the lockdown amid continuing pressure on the UK government to do the same.
In a press conference in Cardiff, the Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford said the decision to outline its plan for easing the restrictions was about “strengthening the UK wide approach, certainly not undermining it”.
England remains the only nation that has not published a plan to ease restrictions after Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon did so yesterday and Northern Ireland’s Arlene Foster suggested she could lift its measures at a different pace from the rest of the UK.
Drakeford said he remains committed to a four-nation approach to tackling the pandemic and that publishing Wales’ plan was about sharing information with neighbouring countries.
However, it will inevitably add urgency to the pressure on the UK government to set out a whole-UK approach just two weeks before the proposed end of the current lockdown measures.
There will also be questions about how this approach – where differing restrictions could be in force in Wales and England – affects those living near the border, who may live in one country and work in the other.
Drakeford said Wales’ plan was “a contribution to crafting that UK approach but sharing with one another our thinking, by being open about the issues we think will matter in different parts of the United Kingdom. I think that will help us to craft a way forward in which we all understand what one another are doing and we come to a common set of ideas and a common timetable for going about them”.
Separately, the first minister was asked about Donald Trump’s mind-boggling – and overwhelmingly rebuked – suggestion that people could inject disinfectant to cure the coronavirus. He said:
Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford mercifully does not use his press conference to advise people to inject Dettol. On President Trump, he says it was “an extraordinary thing for anybody in that position to say”.
April 24, 2020
at 1.38pm BST
At her daily media briefing, first minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that the new system announced by Matt Hancock allowing coronavirus tests for all essential workers and their families will apply to Scotland.
She said that, while the Scottish government was considering many options, it was looking at what has been described as the “Belgian bubble” option:
Some countries are looking at how people could slightly more widely define their households…could you expand that to one friend or a couple of friends, particularly if you live on your own?
In response to the inevitable question about Donald Trump, Sturgeon said:
It is clearly not the case that ingesting disinfectant in any shape or form is a good idea.
All of us as leaders are finding ourselves in uncharted territory… and all of us will get things wrong, but there is a big responsibility on our shoulders to apply our own judgement, and [that includes] not standing up at a podium and coming out with something that you have half-heard and possibly misunderstood.”
All 5,000 home testing kits for key workers ran out within two minutes – lobby briefing
The number of home testing kits available ran out in only two minutes after the government opened Covid-19 testing to all key workers and their families.
No 10 said 5,000 home testing kits – the total amount on offer – were ordered online on Friday morning.
Another 15,000 tests are anticipated to take place at the drive-through centres on Friday, the prime minister’s spokesman said.
The spokesman added the government hoped to have 18,000 daily home testing kits available for key workers by the “end of next week”.
Downing Street also confirmed that in the 24 hours up to 9am on Thursday, 23,560 tests for coronavirus were carried out and total capacity for testing now stands at 51,121 per day.
The number of NHS care workers and relatives tested has reached 119,333, with absence rates due to coronavirus among doctors at 4.1% and 8.2% for nurses in the NHS in England. That compares to 6.6% for doctors and 9.5% for nurses on 4 April.
at 1.23pm BST
A Second World War veteran with a long-standing lung condition has been given the all-clear to go home after spending six days in hospital with Covid-19.
Douglas Moore, 98, was admitted to Kettering General Hospital on 15 Apri after having a fall as well as having a high temperature and a cough. Moore, from Wellingborough in Northamptonshire, said he felt “very special” after nurses gave him a round of applause as he was discharged on Wednesday.
They were very good to me in hospital and I felt very special when they gave me a clap and a cheer when I left today. I think they are all absolutely wonderful and the hospital is wonderful too.
The veteran served in the 8th Army as a signaller, and was one of the pioneers in the use of radar in Egypt where it was used to spot enemy planes, boats and mines. His grandson, Lee Tuffin said:
My granddad is just an amazing man. He is always worried more about everyone else than himself.
His memory is surprisingly good for his age and everyone who meets him loves him, and they can’t get over the fact he is 98.
Here is 98-year-old Second World War veteran Douglas Moore, who has a long-standing lung condition, leaving @KettGeneral after being given the all-clear from #coronavirus pic.twitter.com/4PYBBcT3vG
April 24, 2020
Wales publishes framework for easing lockdown measures and learning to live alongside Covid-19
The Welsh first minister, Mark Drakeford, has published a framework to help determine when Wales will begin to relax lockdown restrictions and learn to “live and work alongside coronavirus”.
The move echoes similar steps taken by the Scottish government on Thursday, when the first minister Nicola Sturgeon published her government’s planning for moving beyond current restrictions there and accepting the new normal of living and working alongside Covid-19.
The Welsh government said a Wales-wide programme of surveillance, case identification, and contact tracing is being developed through the office of the chief medical officer, Dr Frank Atherton. It will highlight the importance of community testing and support the containment of emerging coronavirus infections as and when restrictions are eased.
The framework and the seven questions below will help determine when the time is right to relax some of the lockdown regulations, it added. The seven questions are:
Would easing a restriction have a negative effect on containing the virus?
Does a particular measure pose a low risk of further infection?
How can it be monitored and enforced?
Can it be reversed quickly if it creates unintended consequences?
Does it have a positive economic benefit?
Does it have a positive impact on people’s wellbeing?
Does it have a positive impact on equality?
Drakeford said that while the unprecedented steps taken to enact the lockdown have helped the NHS and saved many lives, it has come with its own cost to people’s wider health and wellbeing and long-term costs to the economy. He added:
Coronavirus is not going to disappear – it is likely it will be with us for a long time. We will need to have some sort of restrictions in place for some time yet to continue to control the spread of the virus and reduce community transmission. This framework will help us determine what is right for Wales.
There is a long road ahead of us towards recovery to pre-pandemic levels, but if we continue to work together, I hope we will be able to make changes to the restrictions and see a gradual return to something resembling normal life.
Dr Atherton said:
Action to ease the lockdown restrictions will need to be supported by a comprehensive public health response, which will need to be developed quickly and at scale.
We are now working towards a new recovery phase to lead us out of the pandemic but only when the conditions are right.
More details on this to follow.
at 1.01pm BST
Further 64 deaths in Scotland take total to 1,184
The number of people who have tested positive for Covid-19 in Scotland is 9,697, an increase of 288, the first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, told reporters at her daily briefing.
She added that reductions in numbers in hospital and intensive care give “real and growing cause of optimism” – there were 1,710 people in hospital as a result of coronavirus, a decrease of 38, and 141 in intensive care, a decrease of seven.
She also announced that, since 5 March, 2,271 people who had been in hospital as a result of the virus had been discharged.
Finally, she said a further 64 deaths had occurred overnight, taking the total to 1,184.
at 1.03pm BST
A new online ordering system needs to be up and running immediately to stop vital supplies of protective equipment for frontline care workers from running out, the government has been warned.
The Local Government Association (LGA) said social care workers and council service staff were risking their lives keeping services going during the coronavirus outbreak due to a “chronic” lack of personal protective equipment.
It said dwindling supplies would run out in days and called for councils to be given an urgent guarantee that emergency supplies would reach them while they waited for the government’s “Clipper service” to be fully operational.
The Clipper system is intended to provide a central hub for the supply and distribution of PPE but has faced delays, the LGA said, adding that it could take at least another three weeks for it to get up to speed.
The government has faced mounting criticism over its failure to ensure NHS staff treating coronavirus patients and care home workers have the PPE they need.
Based on feedback from councils, the LGA said local areas could each need access to millions of pieces of PPE including masks, aprons and gloves each week.
Ian Hudspeth, chairman of its community wellbeing board, said that social care staff could not afford any more delays in getting critical PPE, adding that while emergency supplies had been “helpful” they had also been “sporadic and inconsistent” and not always enough to meet local demand.
Councils recognise that starting a new supply and distribution system from scratch is a huge undertaking, but we cannot afford any more delays.
The government’s online ordering system needs to be fully operational as soon as possible, so that councils and care providers can directly request that critical PPE gets to the frontline where it is desperately needed.
The LGA said councils were having to appeal to local businesses, manufacturers and other organisations to see if they can help supply unused items or produce any new PPE such as gloves, aprons, goggles and masks.
?PPE for frontline care workers will run out within days amid ongoing delayed roll-out of Govt’s new Clipper supply website https://t.co/x6rEkYgD7N
⚠️Councils and social care staff need urgent emergency supplies as they strive to protect vulnerable from #coronavirus
April 24, 2020
at 12.40pm BST