Wales records another 17 deaths, taking total to 813
Another 17 people have died after testing positive for Covid-19 in Wales, Public Health Wales said, taking the death toll there to 813.
And there were 232 new cases reported, bringing the total number of cases to 9,512.
The Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething told a press conference there had been “challenges in communication” between Betsi Cadwaladr health board and Public Health Wales, and there had also been a “material under-reporting issue” in the Hywel Dda health board area, where 31 deaths were not reported and did not appear in Public Health Wales figures.
Gething said “individual family communication” had not been affected, with those who had lost loved ones informed of the deaths at the time, and that figures would now be “fully up to date”.
Public Health Wales
The latest number of confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Wales have been updated.
Find out how we are working with our partners to respond to the spread of the virus here: https://t.co/1Lza9meaTL pic.twitter.com/8tFBr0EI4Y
April 28, 2020
The coronavirus outbreak has changed all of our lives in ways that are profound and often overwhelming. Amid the endless headlines, rolling news coverage and constant stream of information about the virus, how much have you taken in? Here is a quiz from the Guardian’s Martin Belam, designed to test your knowledge of Covid-19 and refresh your memory on the facts.
Gove says scientific advisers determined what was held in PPE pandemic stockpile
In the House of Commons, in response to a question from the SNP’s Pete Wishart, Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, suggested that the government’s scientific advisers bore some responsibility for the shortage of PPE (personal protective equipment).
Asked by Wishart to acknowledge that the government had not stockpiled enough in advance, Gove said:
The stockpile that we had before this pandemic was explicitly designed in accordance with the advice from the scientific advisers the government has – Nervtag (the new and emerging respiratory virus threats advisory group) – and of course it was specifically for a flu pandemic.
The nature of coronavirus is different from a flu pandemic as we all know and we, like every government across the world, have had to respond to this new virus by assuring not just with personal protective equipment, but in every respect, that we are in a position to retool, refit and to upgrade our response.
This exchange can be viewed as an early dry run for the debate that is going to be central to what is now seen as the inevitable public inquiry that will take place into how the government handled the pandemic.
York, one of the UK’s most popular tourist destinations, could implement a one-way system to guide visitors around the Viking city on foot, the BBC reports.
Phil Pinder, who chairs the York Retail Forum, said plans were being considered to introduce a form of voluntary code or charter to help pedestrians safely navigate York’s higgledy-piggledy streets. Pinder told the BBC:
Narrow streets and alleyways would be strictly one way with perhaps a barrier at one end telling people to please go the other way round.
On wider streets people would be allowed to go in both directions but to stick to the left, like a car would, with a line down the middle and temporary stickers to guide people. We have to make sure it works for everyone and have rules we can all follow.
According to this Reuters analysis, the latest ONS coronavirus death figures suggest that the UK is now on track to record more coronavirus deaths than France or Spain, but not Italy.
In the Commons Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, has just said that the government will publish the figures showing whether or not it met its target of achieving 100,000 daily coronavirus tests by the end of April (Thursday) on Saturday. No 10 said yesterday it would not be able to disclose figures on the day because it took a while to get the figures for the number of home-delivered tests administered.
Announcing Scottish government guidance on facial coverings as calls grow for the rest of the UK to follow suit, Nicola Sturgeon has said that her government will review whether to make them mandatory as restrictions are lifted. She said:
As we go into a phase of lifting some of the restrictions and people are maybe coming into contact with more people than they are now we will review that and it may be at later stages we will take a tougher stance.
Over the weekend, pressure was growing on the UK government with the British Medical Association calling on ministers to make wearing masks in public compulsory. Sturgeon said that “all governments across the UK are considering this and it’s not for me to speak to them”. She added:
My judgment is that this guidance is appropriate in Scotland … there will be some instances where we decide to do things ahead of the rest of the UK, or vice versa – that does not indicate a different of opinion or a divide or split. My responsibilityis to make judgment based on the evidence I can get on what is right to protect the people of Scotland.
Sturgeon also said that one of the reasons she had issued the guidance was because she didn’t want the use of facial coverings to make people feel “invincible’ or distract from adherence to existing physical distancing and stay-at-home guidance.
at 1.51pm BST
At the Downing Street lobby briefing, when asked if the UK government would follow the Scottish government in offering new advice to the public on wearing face coverings (see 12.58pm), the prime minister’s spokesman said ministers were still considering advice on this topic submitted by the scientific advisory group for emergencies (Sage) last week.
Sky’s Sam Coates has a Twitter thread with more from today’s No 10 lobby briefing. It starts here.
Sam Coates Sky
Downing Street Tuesday briefing
– PM “fine”
– PM has chaired 915 meeting and met with Chx and cab sec around 11
– Rest of day meetings, papers and boxwork
– No details on PMQs tomorrow. Which is odd.
April 28, 2020
No 10 also announced that Matt Hancock, the health and social care secretary, will take this afternoon’s press conference.
There were reports in some papers this morning suggesting that Boris Johnson was going to announce his plans for starting to relax the lockdown at the end of the week. A story in the Daily Telegraph (paywall) said Downing Street sources had confirmed that the “prime minister was expected to share his plans with the nation by the end of the week” and the Times (paywall) quoted a No 10 adviser saying Johnson would “put flesh on the bones” of the plan by the end of this week
Now it seems that either someone in Downing Street jumped the gun, or else there has been a change of heart, because at the Downing Street lobby briefing the prime minister’s spokesman strongly signalled that Johnson would not be announcing any plans this week. The spokesman said:
We have set out that we will review social distancing measures by 7 May and the government is focused upon that date.
It was also stressed that the government will not be announcing plans to relax the lockdown until the five tests set for this to happen have been met.
Further 70 deaths in Scotland, taking total to 1,332
At her daily briefing, the Scottish first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, confirmed a further 200 confirmed cases of coronavirus, taking the total to 10,721.
There was also a decrease of eight people in hospital, giving a new total of 1,754 patients, and a decrease of eight patients in intensive care, reducing that total to 126.
There were 70 more deaths recorded since yesterday, taking the death toll to 1,332.
at 1.43pm BST
Scottish government recommends wearing face coverings where physical distancing is more difficult
The Scottish government has published updated guidance on the use of face coverings during the pandemic.
It doesn’t go as far as enforcing their use, but recommends that in “limited circumstances” there may be some benefit in wearing one when leaving the home and entering enclosed spaces with others where physical distancing is more difficult.
Examples of this include on public transport or entering a supermarket where it’s not always possible to maintain a two-metre distance from others.
The guidance reads:
We are recommending that you consider using face coverings in the limited circumstances described above as a precautionary measure. Given that the evidence of impact on transmission is relatively weak, the public use of facial coverings is not being made mandatory and will not be enforced at this stage. However, we will keep this guidance under ongoing review as we consider any easing of lockdown restrictions in the weeks ahead.
The guidance stresses that the wearing of face coverings must not be used as an alternative to physical distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene, which remain the most important and effective measures for preventing the spread of coronavirus.
The Scottish government advice highlights that there is currently no evidence to suggest that the general wearing of a facial covering outdoors has any benefit, unless in an unavoidable crowded situation. It adds that face masks are not suitable for children under the age of two.
It also specifies that face coverings should not be the same as those used by medical professionals:
By face coverings we do not mean the wearing of a surgical or other medical grade mask but a facial covering of the mouth and nose, that is made of cloth or other textiles and through which you can breathe, for example a scarf.
The UK government is not currently advising the public to wear face masks but has said it will consider the scientific evidence presented by Sage.
The change in policy from the Scottish government will add to growing pressure on the UK government to follow suit, after the likes of the London mayor Sadiq Khan and the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer already publicly backed the idea that non-medical face coverings should be recommended.
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Michael Gove’s statement to MPs on coronavirus and public services
Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, is making a Commons statement about coronavirus and the public services.
He started by paying tribute to public sector workers.
He said the ministerial group he chaired looking at the impact of the pandemic on public services had now met 30 times.
They have been working to address the shortfall in the agricultural workforce, to protect the food supply, he said.
Working with Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, the group had set up the free school meal voucher scheme, he said. He said 15,500 schools had placed orders for vouchers, and vouchers worth £29m had been redeemed.
Since the end of March 90% of rough sleepers known to councils have been offered accommodation, he said.
He said the armed forces had organised a 19,600-strong coronavirus support force.
He said more than 150,000 key workers and their family members had been tested for coronavirus.
More than 400 civil servants had been moved to the Department of Health and Social Care to help it operate, he said.
More than 750,000 people have signed up to the NHS volunteers programme, he said. And he said more than 600,000 had had their ID verified so they could start volunteering.
And he said a total of 3,203 fines had been handed out to people who flouted social distancing rules between 27 March and 13 April.
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