Coronavirus UK LIVE: R rate rises as death toll hits 33,998 after 384 more fatalities – The Sun

CORONAVIRUS deaths in the UK have increased to 33,998 after 384 more fatalities were recorded in the last 24 hours.
A total of 236,711 people have now tested positive for Covid-19 across the UK – up 3,560 cases from yesterday.

New data released today reveals the coronavirus “R” infection rate has also risen.

Experts fear Covid-19's reproduction number has gone up from between 0.5 and 0.9 to 0.7 and 1 in some parts of the country.

It comes just days after some of the lockdown measures were eased.

Boris Johnson urged those who can't do their jobs from home to return to work in Sunday's address to the nation.

But the experts say the small increase in the R value isn't believed to be linked as it's too soon to show up in the data.

Instead, they think as the total number of cases in the community is falling, it leaves the number in care homes and hospitals accounting for a greater proportion of the total.

Follow our coronavirus live blog for all the latest news and updates…

  • 'IS CARE HOME STRATEGY TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE?'

    Alison Holt of the BBC now.

    She asks about the “very high” number of deaths in care homes and asks if the Government's plans are “too little, too late”.

    Mr Hancock reiterates his facts and figures from earlier about cases “coming right down” but acknowledges there is still a “long way to go” on this front.

    Dr Kanani says that most GP practices look after care homes “in the way you'd want your family to be looked after”.

    She says lots of different people are involved in this battle to keep care home residents as safe as possible.

  • 'WE NEED PAY RISES FOR NURSES'

    Next question is from Anna in Worthing, who asks about pay rises for “frustrated and devalued” nurses.

    Mr Hancock says: “I agree very strongly that nursing is a highly skilled profession and deserves decent pay.

    “We put up nurses' pay last month and last year we had the biggest rise in pay, especially for nurses starting their career – the lowest-paid nurses – got a pay rise, very significant, of over 15 per cent.”

    He says the crisis has shown “just how much the nation values our staff”.

    “I will be making sure we fight to have that fair reward,” he says.

  • 'WILL WE EVER TRULY ERADICATE COVID-19?'

    Questions now.

    Susanna from Oxford, a member of the public, says the Government's Covid alert level one is eradication in the UK.

    She asks: “Is this a realistic policy target?”

    Dr Harries acknowledges it's an “ambitious target”.

    “It's fair to say there isn't an immediate easy outcome to this to get us to level one,” she says.

    The only infectious disease we've ever eradicated is smallpox, Dr Harries says.

  • DEATHS CONTINUE TO DROP

    Deaths are “steadily decreasing, which is welcome news, and we need to keep our social distancing”, Dr Harries says.

    Here's the graph.

  • HOSPITAL ADMISSIONS ARE DOWN – BUT IT'S GOING SLOWLY

    An important slide now on hospital admissions – the downward trend here is “slow”, we've been warned, and we need to make sure we keep socially distancing.

    Dr Harries says 19 per cent of critical care beds are occupied by Covid-19 patients.

  • PARK USE BEGINS TO RISE AS LOCKDOWN EASES

    The next slide shows what we've all been up to since lockdown began.

    Park use is starting to rise.

    Almost half of all employed adults are now working from home, Dr Harries says.

    Some 80 per cent of all adults only left home for the specified reasons.

  • FIRST TIME GOVERNMENT SHOWS SLIDE ON 'R' RATE

    Dr Harries begins taking us through the slides.

    This is the first time we've seen this slide – it shows the 'R' rate, which appears to be rising.

    We've been told it needs to stay below one.

    But experts estimate that Covid-19's reproduction number has gone up from between 0.5 and 0.9 to between 0.7 and 1.

  • THERE'S A LONG ROAD AHEAD, WARNS HEALTH SECRETARY

    Mr Hancock says two-thirds of England's care homes have had no outbreak at all

    The number of care homes reporting their first case has fallen from 219 a day to 59, and the number of deaths in care homes has also halved since the peak of the virus, he adds.

    Communication between the NHS and the care sector is much better now too, he says, adding that health and social care have a “common mission” – but that “too often, bureaucracy has held them apart”.

    “Thanks to the collective efforts of everyone watching, we have passed through the peak, but there is a long road ahead,” he says.

  • ALL CARE HOME STAFF AND RESIDENTS TO BE TESTED BY THE SUMMER

    Mr Hancock is talking over funding for care homes and the infection control procedures now in place.

    “The measures have saved lives and protected 64 per cent of care homes – almost two-thirds – from having any cases at all,” he says.

    “All care home residents and staff in England, with symptoms and without, are now being tested.”

    He says every member of staff and all residents in English care homes will be tested by early summer.

    There will also be a named clinical lead for every care home in England too.

    “This is the most intense support and scrutiny care homes have ever received,” he said.

    Councils are also conducting “daily reviews of the situation on the ground” to ensure all care homes are properly supported, he adds.

  • MORE THAN 11,500 CARE HOME RESIDENTS DIED OF COVID IN APRIL

    Viewers are taken through the Government's plans to ease lockdown.

    Everything is based on that 'r' rate which we've heard so much about now.

    The 'stay alert' message is also reiterated.

    Mr Hancock says: “This disease has a bigger impact on the elderly, so there's been a huge need to protect people in care homes.”

    Care homes do “so much to look after our most vulnerable people in their frailty towards the end of their lives,” he says, adding that he knows how “worrying” this has been for families.

    In April, 31,203 people died in care homes, of whom 11,560 died with coronavirus.

    “Right from the start, we've tried to throw a protective ring around our care homes,” he says, adding that the first advice for homes was issued in February.

  • CORONAVIRUS TESTING HITS RECORD DAILY TOTAL

    Tonight's daily press briefing, which has just begun, will be led by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

    He's joined by Dr Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer and Dr Nikita Kanani of NHS England

    As ever, the news conference begins with facts and figures about the situation in the UK:

    • 2,353,078 tests for coronavirus have now been carried out in the UK, including 133,784 yesterday
    • 10,024 people are currently in hospital – 13 per cent fall from same time last wek
    • 33,998 people have died

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    NORTHERN LEADERS RESIST 'MADNESS' OF LOCKDOWN EASING

    Gateshead's council leader has called the Government's easing of the lockdown rules “frankly madness” as Liverpool says it will not be reopening schools on June 1.

    The unease at the changes to social-distancing rules among civic leaders in the north of England grew as Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said the Government's easing “did come a little too soon” for the North-West.

    Labour leader of Gateshead Council Martin Gannon said on Friday that his council's advice continued to be to “stay at home”.

    He said there was evidence that the rate of infection, measured through the R value, was greater than one in his borough.

    And he said his views on the lockdown were echoed by his counterparts in Newcastle and Sunderland.

    Mr Gannon told the BBC News Channel: “The national advice telling us the lockdown is over is frankly madness to Gateshead.”

    He said: “I think it's clear that this pandemic has a very different impact on different populations and different communities.

    “I'm sorry but it's just not working in terms of whether it's food supply, PPE, testing, tracking and tracing.”

    He added: “We have the knowledge, we have the experience. We know our communities.”

    Earlier, Mr Gannon said: “Our message in Gateshead is for people to stay home,” adding: “I think what the Government is doing nationally is reckless. It may be okay in some of the leafy suburbs, it may be alright in some of the rural villages, but it is not okay in Gateshead.”

    ALLOW SCHOOLS IN COMMUNITIES AT HIGHER RISK TO DECIDE WHETHER TO REOPEN – LGA

    Schools should be allowed to make their own decisions about reopening – especially in areas where there is a higher proportion of black, Asian and minority ethnic residents, council leaders have said.

    The Local Government Association (LGA) is calling for some schools in England, in consultation with councils, to be given greater flexibility locally over reopening as they argue that some communities are at higher risk.

    It comes after an analysis by the Office for National Statistics suggested that black men and women are more than four times more likely to die a coronavirus-related death than white people.

    The LGA wants councils to be given more powers to close schools if testing indicates clusters of new Covid-19 cases – and it says the Government should urgently publish the scientific evidence underpinning the decision to reopen England's schools to more pupils from June 1.

    WILLIAM AND KATE PRAISE 'TRAILBLAZING' VOLUNTEERS AT MENTAL HEALTH SERVICE

    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have praised volunteers at a mental health text support service for their “trailblazing” work over the past year.

    William and Kate spoke with the chief executive and five volunteers from the 24/7 crisis text service Shout85258 on Wednesday as it marked its first anniversary.

    The free service was launched by the couple, along with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, in May 2019 following a £3 million investment from the Royal Foundation.

    To further promote the service, the couple have also agreed for a crisis volunteer from Shout to temporarily take over their official KensingtonRoyal Instagram account on Saturday.

    From 10am, Alexis Caught, 30, from east London, will post videos highlighting Shout's work to William and Kate's 11.8 million followers through Instagram stories.

    HORSE RACING WILL RESUME BEHIND CLOSED DOORS ON JUNE 8 IN IRELAND

    Horse Racing Ireland has announced racing will resume behind closed doors on June 8 following approval from the Irish Government.

    YEMEN REPORTS 21 NEW CORONAVIRUS CASES INCLUDING 3 DEATHS

    Yemen's Saudi-backed government reported on Friday 21 new coronavirus cases, including three deaths, the coronavirus committee said on Twitter.

    The committee added that 13 of the new cases were in Aden, and eight in Hadramout, including the three deaths.

    The Aden-based government committee said the tally for confirmed coronavirus cases in areas under its control now stands at 106, including 15 deaths.

    CHINA MARKS MONTH WITHOUT ANY CONFIRMED DEATHS

    China has gone a month without announcing any new deaths from the coronavirus and has less than 100 patients in treatment for COVID-19.

    The National Health Commission reported four new cases of the virus on Friday, all local infections in the northeastern province of Jilin where a cluster of uncertain origin was recently detected.

    The last day the commission reported a death was on April 14.

    Just 91 people remain in treatment and 623 others are in isolation as suspected cases or for having tested positive without showing symptoms, including 11 newly detected.

    COVID SURVIVOR MEETS GRANDSON BORN AS HE BATTLED VIRUS

    A coronavirus survivor has met his first grandson, born as he battled the virus.

    Geoffrey McKillop, 56, was cheered as he left the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine, Co Londonderry, before receiving a hero's welcome in his native Bushmills.

    But the most poignant moment came as the businessman, who at one stage was given just hours to live, caught sight of his first grandson.

    Alexander was born four weeks ago, while Mr McKillop was fighting for his life on a ventilator in intensive care.

    His family were told that he may have just hours to live.

    But Mr McKillop was clapped by medics and his family as he left hospital on Friday.

    Bushmills residents lined the streets as he was driven through the town, where he owns the Hip Chip and the Codsway restaurants.

    The car paused to allow his daughter Hannah to take her son in a pram to the window for Mr McKillop to see.

    Mr McKillop had described looking forward to meeting his grandson as he left the hospital to cheers.

    JOINT SECRETARY OF NATIONAL EDUCATION UNION SAID MEETING WITH GOVERNMENT LEFT MANY QUESTIONS UNANSWERED

    Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), has said the meeting with the Government's scientific advisers on Friday afternoon left many of their questions unanswered.

    He said: “We are pleased with today's engagement, but very many questions that we asked were not addressed in the time available.

    “We think it is very important that all the questions are answered and in public written form. This is important for transparency and for other scientists to comment on.

    “We are pleased that Sir Patrick Vallance told the National Education Union that information and papers from Sage would be published and that they will prioritise its release. We have also asked to see any commentaries or papers produced by Public Health England that comment on the Department for Education's guidance.”

    Mr Courtney added that the education unions were told that there is still “a lot of uncertainty” about the science.

    He said: “For example, we were told children's likelihood to transmit Covid-19 is not more than adults but only that it may be less than adults. Just yesterday the Office of National Statistics suggested that age does not affect the likelihood of being infected. Today we heard that there are cases where children do act as the index case.”

    CORONAVIRUS CRISIS – BE IN THE KNOW

    Get the latest coronavirus news, facts and figures from around the world – plus essential advice for you and your family.

    To receive our Covid-19 newsletter in your inbox every tea time, sign up here.

    To follow us on Facebook, simply 'Like' our Coronavirus page.

    MINISTER FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES SAYS THE POTENTIAL REOPENING OF SCHOOLS ON JUNE 1 DEPENDS ON SCIENTIFIC ADVICE

    Minister for Children and Families Vicky Ford has said the potential reopening of schools to some pupils on June 1 depends on the scientific advice at the time.

    In a question and answer session hosted on the parenting forum Mumsnet, she said: “We will only do this provided that the five key tests set by Government justify the changes at the time, including that the rate of infection is decreasing.

    “As a result, we are asking schools, colleges and childcare providers to plan on this basis, ahead of confirmation that these tests are met.

    “The confirmation will depend on science advice at that time.”

    Answering several questions on social distancing in schools and nurseries, Ms Ford said: “I completely understand that social distancing within childcare settings with very young children will be harder to maintain.

    “We know that, unlike older children and adults, early years and primary age children cannot be expected to remain 2 metres apart from each other and staff.

    “In deciding to bring more children back to early years and schools, we are taking this into account.

    “It is still important to reduce contact between people as much as possible, and we can achieve that and reduce transmission risk by ensuring children, young people and staff where possible, only mix in a small, consistent group and that this small group or 'bubble' stays away from other people and groups.”

    'GRACIOUS, QUIET AND KIND' MEMBER OF NURSING TEAM DIES WITH COVID-19

    A healthcare assistant at Stoke Mandeville Hospital has died having tested positive for Covid-19.

    Jun Terre, 52, died on May 14 and was said to be “a gracious, quiet and kind gentleman with a smile that would light up a room”, according to Neil Macdonald, Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust chief executive.

    Mr Macdonald also thanked the team that looked after Mr Terre, saying that those who treated him knew him personally.

    “I am so sorry to have to share such sad news today,” he said. “This tragic loss of a valued member of our team has affected us all greatly.”

    The trust extended its condolences to Mr Terre's wife, who is also a member of the Buckinghamshire healthcare family.

    GAVIN WILLIAMSON SAID GETTING CHILDREN BACK TO SCHOOL IS 'VITAL' FOR EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

    Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has said getting children back to school is “vital” for their educational development and he has welcomed the efforts by many schools in England to prepare for a wider reopening.

    Following a meeting between education unions and the Government's scientific advisers on Friday afternoon, Mr Williamson said: “I want to reassure parents and families that we are giving schools, nurseries and other providers all the guidance and support they will need to welcome more children back in a phased way and no earlier than June 1.

    “That's why we have engaged closely with stakeholders from across the sector throughout the past seven weeks, including the trade unions, and today we arranged a detailed briefing for them with the scientific and medical experts.

    “Getting children back to school is vital for their educational development and many schools are already taking steps to welcome back their pupils. I am grateful for their support.”

    ZAMBIA REOPENS BORDER WITH TANZANIA TO CARGO AFTER COVID-19 CLOSURE

    Zambia reopened its Nakonde border with Tanzania on Friday for cargo after a five-day closure of the transit point for copper and cobalt exports and fuel imports, but people were not allowed to cross, a provincial minister told Reuters.

    President Edgar Lungu shut the border on Sunday after the town of Nakonde recorded 76 cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, the highest number registered by Africa's No. 2 copper producer in a day.

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