'Green shoots' in coronavirus fight but health chief warns against complacency

The medical director of NHS England has said there are “green shoots” in the fight against coronavirus but warned against complacency.

Professor Stephen Powis said there is evidence the public was heeding the message on the need to maintain social distancing.

He said there was a “bit of a plateau” in the number of new cases of people testing positive for Covid-19.

But he said it was vital that the public kept to the measures.

“It is really important not to read too much because it is really early days. We are not out of the woods, we are very much in the woods,” he said told the No 10 press conference.

Michael Gove with Dr Jenny Harries and Stephen Powis today

“So green shoots but only green shoots and we must not be complacent and we must not take our foot off the pedal.”

The jump in coronavirus-related deaths in the UK from 1,408 to 1,789 is an increase of 381 – by far the biggest day-on-day rise in the number of deaths since the outbreak began.

It means the total number of deaths is 27% higher than the equivalent figure yesterday.

The day-on-day increase in the number of deaths reported on Monday was 15%, on Sunday 21% and on Saturday 34%.

Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove described the rise in deaths as “deeply shocking, disturbing (and) moving.”

This graph shown by Stephen Powis today shows the ‘green shoots’

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And he said the government did not know when the peak of the number of cases would come.

He said: “There’s not a fixed a moment in time, there’s not a fixed date, like Easter, when you know that the peak will come. It depends on the actions of all of us. We can delay that peak, we can flatten the curve through our own particular actions.”

The number of people hospitalised in the UK with coronavirus has passed 10,000.

Speaking at the government’s daily press conference, Michael Gove said that 10,767 people had been admitted to hospital.

Criticisms about the number of tests carried out outside of hospital were raised with the minister, who suggested a shortage of a chemical reagent used in the tests was causing issues with production.

Thousands of new ventilators are also on the way and the first of these will be delivered to the NHS next week, Mr Gove added.

The devices, many made by a number of British manufactures including Dyson and Mclaren, will be delivered at the weekend.

Some of the life-saving devices will be bought from abroad, including from EU countries.

Mr Gove said: “I can announce that this weekend the first of thousands of new ventilator devices will roll off the production line and be delivered to the NHS next week.

“From there, they will be rapidly distributed to the frontline.”

“The number of people in Britain who have died as a result of the coronavirus outbreak is shocking and it is not possible to predict when the peak of the epidemic will come,” Mr Gove said.

There are signs that the lockdown is working

Asked about testing for NHS staff, he said that a ‘critical constraint’ on the number of tests being carried out was a world-wide shortage of chemical reagents.

“We are increasing the number of tests,” Mr Gove said.

“One of the constraints on our capacity to increase testing overall is supply of the specific reagents, the specific chemicals, that are needed in order to make sure that tests are reliable.”

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The minister went on to say that a drug used to fight malaria was being tested for use against Covid-19.

Mr Gove said: “In our determination to prevent as many patients as possible seeing their condition worsen, we are conducting rapid clinical trials on nose drops, including antimalarials, which may be able to reduce the impact of covid-19 on those affected.”


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