18th April 2020 – United Kingdom
# Cases $
Source: Public Health England and news reports. (Public Health England Web Site)
*=Interim Figures / Key: UK USA Other
** A new process for collecting numbers of recovered patients is in development: the figure shown is for 22/03/2020. The figure shown is an estimate based on a three week recovery time line.
$ Cases now include Pillar 2 cases as of 11th April 2020
More information coming soon.
22:17 White House Press Briefing
Trump opened his press conference by stating that, on a per capita basis, the US has seen fewer deaths than some other countries. “Our mortality rate is far lower than other nations of Western Europe,” he said, “with the lone exception of possibly Germany. “This includes the UK, Switzerland, Belgium, France. Spain has a mortality rate which is nearly four times that of the United States. “When the fake news gets out there and starts saying the US is number one… we’re not number one, China is number one. It’s not even close. You know it, I know it, they know it.”
Trump has opened his press conference by focusing on discussing the numbers “per capita”. “In Louisiana, Massachusetts and other hot spots,” he said, “we have tested more people per capita so far than all other major countries, so think of that.” He said that in New York, per capita testing was 6% higher than in Singapore – before clarifying: “in fact, there’s a typo. It’s 67%. Good job out there.” Speaking about the production of tests and ventilators, Trump said he inherited “broken junk”. “We assembled an army of young, brilliant geniuses,” he said, to get ventilators produced. “They did a job like nobody could believe. Round the clock. “And now the rest of the world is coming to us asking if we can help them with ventilators. “If there was a surge, we could have ventilators [to the states] within hours.”
Trump has reiterated his claim that the previous US administration left his government with a small stockpile of ventilators. “Our cupboards were bare,” he said. “We had very little in our stockpile, now we’re loaded up.” He went on to say that the government “loaded up” hospitals, and then made a series of comments about how they would agree terms for payment for the goods they were sent. “We gave billions of dollars worth of things to hospitals,” he said. “We’ll have to work that out at some point. In fact, I guess they’re going to be working that out with Congress. “But we loaded up hospitals, the federal government loaded up hospitals with things to take care of people that are very desperately ill – we weren’t worried about payment at that time. We said you’ll take care of it at the right time. “But we gave billions and billions and billions of dollars of medical goods and medicines and equipment to hospitals, and we’ll work it out with them. “But people don’t like to talk about that.”
Trump has once again taken aim at the media, this time calling for New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman to have her Pulitzer Prize revoked. “I even read a story where Mark Meadows, a tough guy, he was crying,” he said. “This was Maggie Haberman, you know, she won a Pulitzer Prize for her coverage of Russia, but she was wrong on Russia. So was everyone else. They should all give back their Pulitzer Prizes.” Haberman was amongst the staff of the New York Times and Washington Post which won the National Reporting Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for their reporting on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and its ties to the Trump campaign. “In fact, it turned out that the crime was committed by the other side,” Trump said. “The crime was not committed by this side, it was committed by the other side, a bunch of bad people. You saw the reports coming out over the last two weeks. They got caught.”
Trump has continued with his rant against the media, and specifically New York Times journalist Maggie Haberman, for an article she wrote about White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. “So Maggie Haberman gets a Pulitzer Prize,” he said, “she’s a third-rate reporter. “And because we exposed her as being a bad reporter, what happened is she came out and said Mark Meadows was crying. “And they made it sound – I said Mark, and it’s okay if he did… I think he was crying, probably really for the wrong reason they had it down. “But he’s not a crier. And if he was I – look, I could tell you people that I know that are very famous. They cry. And that’s okay too. “And the New York Times is a very dishonest newspaper. That’s my opinion. It’s not an opinion, it’s actually from my standpoint.”
At the briefing, President Trump said a number of US states – led by both Democrat and Republican governors – had already announced “concrete steps to begin a safe, gradual and phased opening”. He said Texas and Vermont would allow certain businesses to open on 20 April, while Montana would begin lifting restrictions on 24 April. Ohio, North Dakota and Idaho had advised non-essential businesses to prepare for a phased opening starting on 1 May.
In what has been a press conference full of confrontational remarks, Trump also took aim at another familiar target. “I’ve seen a great disparity in this country,” he said. “I’ve seen a very strong anti-israel bent in Congress with Democrats. “It was unthinkable seven or eight or 10 years ago and now they’re into a whole different thing.” He then named “AOC plus three” – meaning Democratic Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley as well as Ilhan Omar, a Somali-born lawmaker on whom he has in the past focused much of his criticism. “I mean, the things that they say about Israel are so bad and I can’t believe it,” he said. Of course, none of the above have had an opportunity to respond to these comments.
22:02 ‘Only touch what you plan to buy’
In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that people wear cloth masks or face coverings in public, which help reduce transmissions from asymptomatic carriers.
Some parts of the country have gone further – in Washington DC, for example, the mayor has issued an order saying that all people entering supermarkets or food halls must wear face coverings, and observe social distancing. All retail food sellers are required to post notices outside asking customers to cover their faces, and limit the number of people in store.
At one local grocery store, I also saw a sign urging customers to “only touch items that you plan to purchase”.
21:46 Canada-US land border to stay closed another 30 days
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that the Canada-US land border will remain closed to non-essential travel for an additional 30 days. The current closure was set to expire on Tuesday. “This is an important decision and one that will keep people on both sides of the border safe,” he said.
21:18 Spain to ease confinement of children
Ever since Spain’s prime minister imposed nationwide restrictions on movement on 14 March, children have had to stay indoors. It is among the strictest lockdowns in Europe with only adults allowed out to visit their nearest supermarket or pharmacy or for essential work. The country has seen 20,000 deaths in one of the biggest outbreaks of Covid-19 in the world. Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau pleaded with the government this week with the message: “Free our children.” Now PM Pedro Sánchez has given children some hope. From 27 April he has said children will be allowed outside but the measure is stlil being finalised and may involve under-12s only.
20:12 People gather on Jacksonville beach
Beaches and parks in Jacksonville, Florida, have reopened amidst calls for states to ease the lockdown measures in place. Duval County, where Jacksonville is located, has recorded 817 cases of coronavirus with 15 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Despite the images of crowds on the beach, the City of Jacksonville tweeted the public space should be used for “exercise only”.
19:46 UK paramedic dies after contracting virus
A UK paramedic has died after contracting coronavirus, says the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS). “This will deeply affect many people within the trust and we are supporting our staff during this very sad time,” said the NWAS, which services north-west England. It said they had lost a “very dear colleague” who had worked for the trust for a “considerable number of years”. The unnamed paramedic was married with children. As of 16 April, the government said there had been 27 verified deaths of National Health Service staff during the pandemic. But others, including retired staff who still worked within the NHS, have also died. At Saturday’s Downing Street briefing, Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick said the UK death toll, which has now risen above 15,000, was “heartbreaking”.
18:54 France coronavirus deaths rise to over 19,000
French authorities say 364 people have died in the last 24 hours after contracting coronavirus, bringing the national total to 19,323. The number of confirmed cases in the country has also risen to nearly 112,000. But in a positive development, France’s health ministry says the number of people being treated in intensive care units has fallen for a 10th consecutive day.
18:04 In Lombardy, ‘five times more killed’ than by WW2 bombs
A sobering remark by Italy’s special commissioner for the coronavirus emergency, Domenico Arcuri. He said Italy’s northern Lombardy region had now suffered more than five times the deaths seen from bombing in Milan during World War Two, when 2,000 civilians lost their lives between June 1940 and May 1945.
Another 482 deaths have been reported in Italy in the past 24 hours, including 199 in Lombardy, where Milan is the capital. So Lombardy has now seen over 12,000 deaths, more than half Italy’s toll of 23,227. The numbers are coming down every day, however. There are now 2,733 people in intensive care. “We’re going through a great tragedy. We’ve managed to confront it but we haven’t yet beaten it,” said Mr Arcuri.
17:54 New York governor: ‘A terrible experience’
At his daily briefing New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the number of Covid-19 patients in the state continued to fall. There were 16,967 people being treated in hospitals, compared with 17,316 a day earlier. Some 540 people died on Friday, the lowest daily tally in more than two weeks. But 2,000 new patients were admitted to hospital, which was “sobering”. While there was some positive news, he said it did not mean “happy days” were here again. Testing was a critical issue: “The more you test, the more information, the more you can reopen society,” he said. Mr Cuomo cautioned that infections could increase if the economy was reopened too fast. “At every level this is a terrible experience,” he said. He added that it was no time for politics. The situation will get worse “if you politicise this emotion”.
16:00 UK Press Briefing
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick is at the podium and has started speaking. He’s joined by Stephen Powis, the National Medical Director of NHS England. Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick says an extra sum of £1.6bn has been announced to help councils keep providing vital services.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick says 460,437 tests for coronavirus have now been carried out across Great Britain. 114,217 people tested positive up 5,526 since yesterday; there are 17,759 people in hospital in the UK, down from 18,711. As of yesterday, 15,464 of those in hospital have sadly died. The figure is up by 888. Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced a cash boost for councils. “Today we are providing 1.6bn of new funding to support councils with the pressures they face as they respond to the crisis.” This takes the funding to over 3.2bn. Mr Jenrick said it would help adult services, children’s services, the most vulnerable and waste collection services.
The communities secretary says he knows the lockdown is a lot harder for those without a garden – “I’ve made it clear to councils that all parks must remain open” so people can safely enjoy fresh air and green space, he says.
Jenrick says he is asking councils to reopen cemeteries and graveyards so people can “seek solace” at the graves of those they loved, or lay flowers. “There are times in my life when I have needed to do that”, he says, adding that small mercies can make a difference. Jenrick also cites a case where mourners were turned away and says, “funerals can go ahead with close family present”.
Asked about the chronic shortage of protective equipment for NHS staff, the communities secretary says it is extremely challenging to source at this time. He says a large consignment of PPE is due to arrive in the UK tomorrow from Turkey – some 84 tonnes of PPE. He says it will include 400,000 gowns, calling it “a very significant additional shipment”.
NHS England medical officer Stephen Powis confirms a “great reduction” in public transport usage as well as vehicles on the road. “That’s really important. It’s absolutely critical that we continue to comply with those instructions and to do everything we can to stop the spread of the virus,” he added.
When it’s pointed out that 400,000 gowns only covers three days for the NHS, Jenrick says the government is doing everything it can, “businesses here are playing their part as well… but I don’t underestimate the scale of the challenge”. “The workers on the front line, we understand their anxiety and we are trying to get the equipment as quickly as possible,” he adds.
Asked about Covid-19 deaths, Robert Jenrick says: “There does appear to be a disproportionate impact on BAME [black, Asian and minority ethnic] communities. For that reason the Chief Medical Officer is working with Public Health England to better understand issues. It’s right to do thorough research.” “I’m acutely aware of the challenge and am working with different groups,” he says, so that “the voices of BAME communities are heard.”
Referring to the graphs below, Stephen Powis says testing is expanding all the time and that “we are seeing all the time a stabilisation in the number of tests that are coming back positive”. He said it was becoming clear that fewer people were being taken to hospitals with Covid-19. “In London we have had a succession of days where the numbers are decreasing but also some signs in other regions such as the Midlands,” he added.
Jenrick says there are 10,606 ventilators in the NHS – and 190 of those have come from new UK suppliers “who rose to the challenge that the PM set to British industry”. The most important point to say is, there are sufficient ventilators, he says – the government is increasingly confident there will be sufficient capacity in the NHS. “Just a few weeks ago that was one of our great concerns,” he notes.
NHS England medical director Stephen Powis says the reduction in the number of deaths will be the last thing to change but added “if we continue to comply with instructions, it will change”. He said: “The hospital data comes rapidly and we can get that very quickly. It’s right that is published immediately. But we can also collect data on deaths in the community.” Referring to the graph below, Mr Powis said there was a “second line with some lag on it which we are working hard to decrease the lag”.
More of our lives have been touched by this virus as every day goes by, says the minister. So it’s crucial to keep going, “keep respecting the advice from the clinicians”. “If we do that together as a society, in the weeks to come there may be opportunities to ease the lockdown measures.” Powis says London is where we’re starting to see improvement earliest.
On the health of PM Boris Johnson, who is recovering from Covid-19, the communities secretary says: “You know he’s resting and recuperating at Chequers” (the official country retreat of the British prime minister, in Buckinghamshire). He has had some contact with ministers, but mostly with his private office at Downing Street, Jenrick says. We all hope he takes the time to recover, he says, adding that foreign secretary Dominic Raab continues to deputise in his place.
Asked about the public’s compliance with coronavirus guidance, Jenrick says: “It is correct that the hard work and forbearance of the British public is paying off. The rates of transmission are falling. “But the number of deaths remains sobering. It reinforces the need to consider this the moment to keep going and keep following the measures. “In weeks to come there may come opportunities to cautiously ease the measures.”
NHS England medical director Stephen Powis says it is “encouraging” that there is evidence “we are starting to see a reduction in the number of people who are hospitalised with Covid-19”. However, he adds: “Now is not the time to rest on our laurels.” “We don’t want to lose all the benefits that have been gained. This is not something that is going to be dealt with in weeks. We need to remain on the front foot for a good period of time.”
14:50 Spain’s death toll passes 20,000
The death toll from Covid-19 in Spain moved past 20,000 on Saturday, the country’s health ministry said. A total of 20,043 people have now died there, with 565 deaths in the past 24 hours. That figure is down on the 585 reported on Friday. Spain is one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic. The number of declared cases now stands at 191,726 – but the health ministry said the increase in infections had slowed in recent days, and the number of people considered to be cured had risen to nearly 75,000.
14:29 A holy ceremony without the usual crowds
An ancient ritual has gone ahead at the Holy Sepulchre Church in Jerusalem for Orthodox Easter, without the usual crush of thousands of pilgrims. During the Holy Fire Ceremony, a handful of Orthodox priests wearing face masks were present for what is seen as a miracle at the site revered by Christians as the location of Christ’s crucifixion, burial and resurrection. As always, the Greek Orthodox patriarch circled the tomb, then entered and emerged with candles said to have been lit by a heavenly flame. Usually, at this point, a big roar goes up from the crowd in the church and the fire is passed from candle to candle, to be taken to local and far-flung Orthodox Christian communities. This year, special arrangements were made with the Israeli authorities allowing planes to collect the flame from Ben Gurion airport – on the condition that nobody onboard disembarked to avoid breaking quarantine rules.
14:15 Daily update: UK government’s latest figures on virus deaths
A total of 15,464 people hospitalised in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus have died as of 17:00 BST on Friday, the Department of Health and Social Care has said. That’s an increase of 888 on the previous 24 hours. As of 09:00 BST on Saturday, 460,437 tests have concluded, with 21,389 tests on 17 April. A total of 357,023 people have been tested,114,217 of whom tested positive.
14:05 Fears 7,500 residents have died in UK care homes
The number of coronavirus victims in Britain’s care homes could be as high as 7,500, five times more than the official estimate, the sector’s main charity has warned. “Without testing, it is very difficult to give an absolute figure,” Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, told The Daily Telegraph. “However, if we look at some of the death rates since April 1 and compare them with previous years’ rates, we estimate a figure of about 7,500 people may have died as a result of Covid-19.” The figure is more than five times higher than the estimate of 1,400 suggested by the government earlier this week.
Britain’s official coronavirus toll currently stands at 14,576, although that only includes deaths recorded in hospitals.
13:24 Nigerian president’s chief of staff dies
The Nigerian president’s chief of staff, Abba Kyari, has died after contracting coronavirus. A statement from President Muhammadu Buhari’s office said it “regrets to announce the passage” of Kyari. “The deceased had tested positive to the ravaging Covid-19, and had been receiving treatment. But he died on Friday,” the statement said. There have been 493 confirmed coronavirus infections, with 17 deaths, in Nigeria.
13:10 More US lockdown protests expected
Further protests are expected in the US, as conservative activists call for social distancing measures to be relaxed. In recent days groups of protesters, including some with weapons, have gathered outside state legislatures and the homes of officials. President Trump has been accused of stoking partisan tensions after appearing to indicate his support in online comments. On Friday he posted tweets calling for people to “liberate” a number of states.
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee said the president’s “unhinged rantings” could put “millions of people in danger of contracting Covid-19” and lead to violence. In a briefing on Friday, Mr Trump defended the comments and said some measures imposed by governors had been “too tough”. According to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University, the US has more than 700,000 coronavirus cases with more than 37,000 deaths.
12:29 Scotland’s longest period with no mountain rescue in 19 years
With the UK about to enter a fifth week in lockdown, Scottish Mountain Rescue (SMR) says its teams have not been called to a mountain rescue since 22 March. The organisation said it was the longest time between call-outs since the foot-and-mouth outbreak of 2001. In normal circumstances, thousands of people are drawn to the hills in the first few months of the year, and SMR teams are typically involved in more than 400 rescue operations a year. Last month, SMR urged people to heed advice around coronavirus and to stay at home. The plea followed government concerns about people travelling from across the UK to the Highlands and Islands. Thanking the public for heeding last month’s warning, SMR said: “We can do this. Stay safe, stay local, stay well.”
12:08 Spain deaths pass 20,000
The number of people who have died with coronavirus in Spain has passed 20,000, the health ministry has announced. Since the start of the pandemic, 20,043 people have died there from Covid-19. In 24 hours, the death toll rose to 565, a slight drop from the 585 reported on Friday. Spain is one of the worst-hit countries, behind the United States and Italy.
11:48 Japan’s virus response criticised
In a stark warning, doctors in Japan have said the country’s medical system could collapse. According to two medical associations, the coronavirus outbreak is reducing the ability of Japan’s hospitals to treat other medical emergencies. While the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 remains relatively low compared with other countries, hospitals are turning away patients. Doctors have complained of a lack of protective equipment, which suggests Japan has not prepared well for the virus. This is despite the fact it was the second country outside China to record an infection, in January. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been criticised for not introducing restrictions to deal with the outbreak sooner for fear they could harm the economy.
11:28 No gun salute to mark Queen’s birthday
There will be no gun salutes to mark the Queen’s 94th birthday on 21 April, as it is not thought to be appropriate during the coronavirus pandemic. It is believed to be the first time in the Queen’s 68-year reign that there has been no such birthday salute. The monarch will celebrate the occasion privately, although there will be a social media post as normal. It has already been announced that there will be no Trooping the Colour, a public celebration of her birthday, in June.
11:26 ‘Charismatic’ detective dies after contracting virus
While the 150,000 coronavirus deaths around the globe are a blunt statistic, each one leaves a grieving family and friends. This morning, British Transport Police in London paid tribute to Detective Constable John Coker, who died on Friday aged 53 after contracting the disease. The father of three, who was based at Euston railway station, had been taken ill on 22 March. “His colleagues remember a man who was charismatic, kind and thoughtful and took everything in his stride. He will be greatly missed by all in the force,” said chief constable Paul Crowther. Limited train, tube and bus services have remained in operation to help key workers during the lockdown. A minute’s silence was held in London on Friday as it was announced that 26 transport workers there have died after contracting coronavirus, amid calls for improved safety measures.
10:35 Cases rise for fourth consecutive day in Germany
There has been a rise in the number of new infections in Germany, for the fourth day in a row. The latest figures, from the Robert Koch Institute, show there were 3,609 new cases in the past 24 hours. There were also 242 deaths, taking the country’s total tally to 4,110. On Friday, Health Minister Jens Spahn said the outbreak was under control in Germany following a month-long lockdown. He said that since 12 April the number of recovered patients had been consistently higher than the number of new infections.
09:07 UK ‘in a good place’ for vaccine development
The UK doesn’t currently have the capacity to produce the amount of vaccine it needs to tackle coronavirus, but “is in a really good place” for vaccine development, according to Prof John Bell, a member of the UK government’s vaccine task force. Asked about the possibility of a vaccine being produced by the autumn, Mr Bell said the real question was whether it would be effective, adding that “we won’t get a signal for that until May”. “The crucial thing is you have to do a proper trial because safety is really important for these things,” he said. “But if we can see evidence of a strong immune response by the middle or the end of May, then I think the game is on. “And they may well get across the finish line by mid-August.”
Sources: Various news sources including but not limited to BBC News, Fox News, CNN.
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