Coronavirus in UK live blog as it happened: 759 more deaths recorded as UK warned social distancing is "vital" until vaccine

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Wednesday, 22nd April 2020, 6:06 pm

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Street art dedicated to the NHS at a skate park in Milton Keynes (Photo: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Coronavirus live blog, April 22

Last updated: Wednesday, 22 April, 2020, 17:23

Delayed consignment of PPE landed in the UK

An RAF plane, believed to be carrying a delayed consignment of personal protective equipment, has reportedly landed in the UK.

Flight tracker RadarBox showed the Airbus A400-M registered ZM416 depart Istanbul and land just after 3.30am on Wednesday at RAF Brize Norton.

The plane had been dispatched from the Oxfordshire base late on Monday. Two other planes are on stand-by to pick up further kit from Turkey.

It is not known if the consignment, which was originally due to arrive on Sunday, includes 400,000 badly-needed surgical gowns.

Tony Blair: 'you can't have a void of decision making'

Former prime minister Tony Blair has said "you can't have a void of decision making" as Boris Johnson recovers from symptoms of the coronavirus.

Blair told Good Morning Britain he "completely" sympathises with Mr Johnson's present condition, but said some important decisions have to be "taken now".

"I think in a situation where every day matters and where every day decisions have to be taken," he said. "You can't have a void of decision making."

"I think the person who is the acting prime minister along with what is essentially the war cabinet - the top four ministers that are meeting together - that person has got to be taking those decisions.

Tony Blair: 'we are not yet organised in the right way'

Speaking on Good Morning Britain, former prime minister Tony Blair has been recalling the foot-and-mouth crisis, which occurred during his time in charge of the country.

"To be frank about it, for the first few weeks we were behind the curve," he said, "but what I learnt is that you just have to set aside all the normal rules and bureaucracy and just reposition the government differently."

Comparing his experiences to the current situation, Blair said: "All of us know people who are serious people with capabilities to offer who are have been trying to fight their way into the system to offer them - and that is what makes me think we are not yet organised in the right way for the scale of this thing."

"How you exit is really, really complicated and, unless you have the right skill set there at the centre of government right from the very beginning, then it's going to be very hard to do things like mass testing, which I can't see any other way out of this."

Piers Morgan clashes with care minister on GMB

Serial antagonist Piers Morgan's lively mornings continue.

In an interview with care minister Helen Whately on Good Morning Britain, the presenter described the government's current level of testing as a "spectacular failure".

Morgan took issue with the care minister's answers regarding the number of people who have died in care homes, and said those who died in hospital of the same illness are being given more respect.

Whately said she would answer questions "if you let me finish speaking" and she was trying to "give him the context" of efforts to ramp up the number of tests.

Whately said that current figures on the deaths of people in care homes could be "misleading" as they "include some who have died in hospitals, so it is an inaccurate figure".

She said the way the data is being collected has been changed so that new figures could be published next week.

Little Mix cancel summer tour

Pop group Little Mix have cancelled their UK summer tour due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement on the group's Instagram, they said: "We are so sad to announce that following the latest Government advice, we have had to cancel our upcoming UK summer tour.

"The health and safety of all our fans and crew is always our number one priority."

It continued: "Please stay safe and stay home, lots of love, the girls x"

Government 'extremely worried' about domestic violence during lockdown

Women and Equalities minister Liz Truss, who has been giving evidence via a virtual meeting of the Women and Equalities committee this morning, has said the Government was "extremely worried" about domestic violence during lockdown.

"We recognised straight away that this was one of the major issues with the lockdown," she said, "that it would put domestic violence victims potentially at more risk of abuse."

"Which is why we have been very clear from the start that if you are a victim of domestic abuse, the rules about lockdown do not apply, you should leave the home if you are able to.

"If you are in a domestic abuse situation, you should absolutely be able to leave that property where you are facing domestic abuse."

Westlife cancel summer UK tour in response to coronavirus

Following similar news from Little Mix earlier in the day, Westlife have cancelled their UK summer tour due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement on their Instagram page, they said: "To all our UK fans - it is with great sadness that despite our best efforts, our shows scheduled for the UK in June and July must be cancelled.

"We have been monitoring the UK Government's advice surrounding mass gatherings and it is very clear that this is the course we need to take to ensure the protection of our fans, our crew and everyone around us, but also to ease the pressure on those working tirelessly to fight this virus."

UK goal for Covid-19 testing “ahead of plans”

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the UK currently has the capacity for 40,000 coronavirus tests per day, and is “ahead of plans” to meet its goal of 100,000.

This comes after the Health Secretary said the demand for Covid-19 testing has been “lower than expected”.

Speaking during PMQs today, Mr Raab told MPs: “I've set the goal of 100,000 tests a day by the end of this month and I'm delighted to say that the expansion of capacity is ahead of plans, even though demand has, thus far, been lower than expected.

"We are therefore ramping up the availability of this testing and expanding who is eligible for testing, and making it easier to access the tests."

Covid-19 care home deaths could be double the number reported

The number of coronavirus-related deaths in care homes in England could be double the amount already reported, the government has said.

More than 900 deaths from coronavirus occurred in care homes in England by 10 April, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), while the Department of Health said it also feared a “significant rise” in deaths not related to Covid-19 among residents on Wednesday (22 Apr).

In a statement with the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the government said: "It is anticipated that the number of deaths in care homes relating to Covid-19 reported by providers between April 11 and April 15 could be double the number of care home deaths reported yesterday.

"In common with the ONS, CQC's preliminary analysis also indicates there may be a significant rise in non-Covid-19 deaths."

It is feared that care home deaths may continue increasing, even as the NHS sees a decline.

New Covid-19 testing lab opens in Glasgow

A new coronavirus testing facility has opened today in Glasgow, with hopes it will be able to carry out tens of thousands of tests per day.

The Lighthouse Lab is hosted by the University of Glasgow at its Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus and officially started testing samples this week.

It is part of a network of other diagnostic testing facilities, including sites in Milton Keynes and Alderley Park in Cheshire, and is funded by the UK government.

The newly operational lab will test samples from regional test centres where NHS staff and front-line workers with suspected Covid-19 infections are tested, with the aim of processing thousands per day.

Tesco to start testing workers for coronavirus

Tesco is to start testing its shop workers for coronavirus this week as the government boosts its testing efforts.

Chief executive Dave Lewis said the supermarket will begin trialing testing for its workers in one region of the UK.

It is understood the voluntary testing will be available for around 200 staff, but added that it will only be “for critical workers currently experiencing symptoms, or for those with symptoms who are living with critical workers”.

The supermarket said that around 41,000 of its staff are absent each day, with the figure steadily falling, and it has recruited 50,000 temporary workers to help keep operations running.

UK deaths linked to Covid-19 rises above 18,000

The number of deaths in the UK linked to coronavirus currently stands at 18,100, as 759 more deaths have been recorded in the past 24 hours, according to Public Health.

The Department of Health and Social Care revealed there are now 133,495 confirmed cases of the virus in the country.

A statement from the government department said: "As of 9am 22 April, 559,935 tests have concluded, with 22,814 tests on 21 April.

"411,192 people have been tested of which 133,495 tested positive.

"As of 5pm on 21 April, of those hospitalised in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus, 18,100 have sadly died."

Raab: “Second spike” in coronavirus would trigger second lockdown

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has warned that a “second spike” in coronavirus cases would trigger a second lockdown, prolonging the current economic difficulties in the UK.

Speaking at Downing Street’s daily press conference, Mr Raab said: “We are making progress through the peak of this virus but we're not out of the woods yet, as Sage (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) advised last week.

"That's why the measures we introduced must remain in place for the time being.

"The greatest risk for us now, if we eased up on our social distancing rules too soon, is that we would risk a second spike in the virus with all the threats to life that would bring and then the risk of a second lockdown which would prolong the economic pain we are all going through."

Mr Raab added that testing will play an important role in the next phase of handling the crisis.

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