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Coronavirus update live: Latest news as UK death toll nears 10,000

Coronavirus update live: Latest news as UK death toll nears 10,000

The UK’s hospital death toll reached 9,875 on Saturday with the virus claiming a further 917 lives – a day after the Department of Health announced the highest daily death toll for hospitalised coronavirus patients in Europe. While Downing Street says Boris Johnson “continues to make very good progress”, Matt Hancock has sparked anger among medics with

The UK’s hospital death toll reached 9,875 on Saturday with the virus claiming a further 917 lives – a day after the Department of Health announced the highest daily death toll for hospitalised coronavirus patients in Europe.

While Downing Street says Boris Johnson “continues to make very good progress”, Matt Hancock has sparked anger among medics with his “insulting” suggestion that NHS workers are overusing personal protective equipment (PPE), which the British Medical Association warns is at “dangerously low levels”.

Home secretary Priti Patel held her first daily government briefing amid questions over her recent absence, hours after publishing guidance on new immigration reforms branding many key workers “low-skilled”, which Labour called a “slap in the face”.

Meanwhile Donald Trump has threatened to take “action” against the World Health Organization next week, as the United States surpassed 500,000 confirmed cases.

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Nurse dies while self-isolating with coronavirus symptoms

Julie Omar, a 52-year-old nurse at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch, died while self-isolating at home.

The chief executive of the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, Matthew Hopkins, said in a briefing to staff members: “It is with great sorrow that I have to share with you the sad news that a much-loved member of our nursing team – Julie Omar – has died.”

Mr Hopkins added: “Julie, who was just 52, had been self-isolating at home after developing symptoms of Covid-19, but sadly her condition deteriorated and she died at home yesterday morning.

“She leaves a husband and a grown-up daughter.”

Earlier today Matt Hancock said a total of 19 NHS workers had died of coronavirus in the UK.

Passenger dragged off bus for not wearing face mask

Police forcibly removed a passenger from a bus in Philadelphia on Friday for not wearing a face mask.

A transit official ordered other passengers off the vehicle for the same reason, as a new rules implemented to protect transportation workers and passengers were enforced.

Transit operators have the right to refuse to let passengers travel that are not wearing face masks, but after the incident that rule has now been revoked.

France death toll rises by 635 to 13,852

The number of people who have died from the new coronavirus infection in France rose on Saturday to 13,832, according to the health ministry.

The number of people in intensive care units decreased from 7,004 to 6,883.

Two hospital porters die amid coronavirus pandemic

Two porters at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford have died amid concerns over the lack of protective equipment for NHS staff.

Both were married to members of the nursing staff and both were members of the Filippino community. It has not been confirmed whether they died from Covid-19.

The Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust said in a statement: “Both men were popular and hard-working members of our fantastic team of porters at the John Radcliffe Hospital. They will be sorely missed by their colleagues as well as family and friends in the wider community.

“Our thoughts are with their wives and families as well as their close colleagues. The families have asked that their privacy be respected at this very sad time.

“As colleagues we will be supporting both families as best we can through their loss and we know that they will also be supported by the wonderful Filippino Community here in Oxford in which both families play a significant part.

“We are also offering support to all their colleagues and reminding all staff about the services and advice that are available to them.”

Dr Bruno Holthof, Chief Executive Officer, and Sir Jonathan Montgomery, Chair of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said in a message to staff: “This tragic loss of our two colleagues touches us all. We are a team and every single member of our team is precious. None of us can deliver our service to patients alone. We all need each other and we stand together in honouring the memories of our colleagues and together we share in the sadness of their families.”

Latest figures from Italy

Italy remains the hardest-hit country in Europe with a total of 19,468 deaths, according to today’s update from the health ministry.

There are a total of 152,271 confirmed cases, with 3,381 people in intensive care. More than 32,534 people have recovered.

The nationwide lockdown has been extended to 3 May.

Meanwhile the US death toll is now around 20,000, with Johns Hopkins University putting the number of deaths in all 50 states at 19,701. The total number of cases has passed 500,000.

Queen urges UK to maintain coronavirus lockdown over Easter weekend

In a pre-recorded audio message released this evening, Elizabeth II says that “by keeping apart we keep others safe.”

She says: “Many religions have festivals which celebrate light overcoming darkness. Such occasions are often accompanied by the lighting of candles.

“They seem to speak to every culture, and appeal to people of all faiths, and of none. They are lit on birthday cakes and to mark family anniversaries, when we gather happily around a source of light. It unites us.

“As darkness falls on the Saturday before Easter Day, many Christians would normally light candles together. In church, one light would pass to another, spreading slowly and then more rapidly as more candles are lit. It’s a way of showing how the good news of Christ’s resurrection has been passed on from the first Easter by every generation until now.

“This year, Easter will be different for many of us, but by keeping apart we keep others safe. But Easter isn’t cancelled; indeed, we need Easter as much as ever. The discovery of the risen Christ on the first Easter Day gave his followers new hope and fresh purpose, and we can all take heart from this. We know that coronavirus will not overcome us.

“As dark as death can be – particularly for those suffering with grief – light and life are greater. May the living flame of the Easter hope be a steady guide as we face the future. I wish everyone of all faiths and denominations a blessed Easter.”

Flight schedules reveal disruption until May

Airline Routes, which analyses flight data loaded to reservation systems, says Virgin Atlantic has filed significant changes to its April/May 2020 schedule.

Sir Richard Branson’s airline is suspending all scheduled passenger services from 21 to 27 April.

Between 28 April and 3 May, the only routes from Heathrow will be to Los Angeles, New York and Hong Kong – the latter running on alternate days.

A planned service resumption on other routes on 27 April has been delayed to 4 May. Single daily services are due to re-start to Boston, Delhi, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC.

Shanghai is due to resume on 24 May.

Virgin Atlantic’s Gatwick operation remains closed.

Turin Shroud livestreamed to “open hearts to faith and hope” during pandemic

The Turin Shroud – which some believe was used to wrap the body of Jesus Christ following his crucifixion – was livestreamed to the world on Holy Saturday.

It is kept behind bulletproof glass in the Cathedral of John the Baptist and is usually shown to the public on special occasions. However Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia said he received thousands of requests to be able to view the relic remotely.

Opening prayers, the archbishop said people today “await to be liberated from the pandemic”, and said the shroud “opens hearts to faith and hope.”

He read aloud a letter from Pope Francis, in which the pontiff expressed appreciation for “this gesture, which meets the request of the faithful people of God, so harshly proved by the coronavirus pandemic.”

When will parliament resume?

The home secretary said there had been many discussions about how parliament could resume and function – but refused to elaborate.

Priti Patel said: “I think at this particular time we have to focus the resources of government, all our energies, ministerial responses, cabinet responses, every single sinew of Government focusing on saving lives and dealing with this awful disease.

“At some stage we will inevitably have to think about the work of parliament, scrutiny and also legislation, but I think right now we are focused on absolutely making sure we save lives.”

The government’s Immigration Bill had been due to come to parliament for a second reading on 21 April.

Lockdown powers ‘kept under review’

Priti Patel was also asked whether tougher restrictions would be introduced if people continued to flout the coronavirus lockdown.

She replied: “The purpose of the guidance that we put down and the regulations that went through Parliament over three weeks ago… is absolutely to stop the transmission of this virus.

“This isn’t just about breaches, but we will make our decisions as we previously made our decisions around the regulations and the guidance that was sent out to police forces around the country, based on the trends, the scientific evidence that also comes forward over the next week or so.

“And actually we have to look at all of this in the totality, in the round, and then we will absolutely, as with all aspects of government right now, keep it under review, look at what is going on.”

Martin Hewitt, chair of National Police Chiefs’ Council, said more data on arrests and fines will be released on Wednesday.

However he said the majority of the public were abiding by the lockdown regulations.

US now has highest number of coronavirus deaths

The US has surpassed Italy for the most confirmed deaths from the coronavirus in the world, with 19,424 people known to have died from Covid-19.

Priti Patel addresses questions over her apparent absence and claims immigration reforms will help NHS

The home secretary says: “I’m delighted to be here today with Martin”, who she says she has spoken to every single day for four weeks.

“I’ve actually been in the home office working virtually every single day, seven days a week – three days a week in the Home Office, actually – on a range of policy areas that are all related to this coronavirus pandemic,” Ms Patel said.

Ms Patel claims says the visa changes she has brought in will help and support the NHS, while the Border Force is “prioritising medical equipment”.

Labour earlier described her new points-based immigration system as a “slap in the face” to key workers, many of whom are classed as “low skilled” and would thus be denied entry to the UK under the reforms.

The Mirror asks whether the government refuses to speak about an exit strategy because one is not possible without a vaccine.

Priti Patel is asked where she has been for three weeks, and whether she has spoken to the PM.

Crime falls by more than 20% during lockdown as police hand out 1,100 fines​

Our home affairs correspondent Lizzie Dearden has more details on chair of the National Police Chiefs Council, Martin Hewitt’s statement moments ago.


Home Secretary says “it would be wrong to speculate” on when coronavirus restrictions might end.

Asked to apologise for the lack of PPE for NHS staff, Priti Patel says “there is a clear plan when it comes to PPE” and a “Herculean” effort to bolster manufacturing.

Ms Patel said: “I’m sorry if people feel there have been failings. I will be very, very clear about that. But at the same time, we are in an unprecedented global health pandemic right now” she says, insisting shortages are inevitable.

Asked to clarify that she is apologising, Ms Patel repeats “I’m sorry people feel that way” and says the government is doing everything it can to boost capacity.

NHS England chief says he is confident there are adequate supplies of face masks amid concerns about a shortage of PPE.

Now we’re onto questions from journalists.

He reminds the public that they should be accessing health services for non-coronavirus ailments as they always have done, amid fears some could be avoiding seeking medical help.

“The NHS is open for business,” he says.

There are “early signs of stabilisation”, Steve Powis says – the “first signs of a plateuing”.


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Susan E. Lopez

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