The cabinet will meet this morning to discuss how the coronavirus lockdown measures may eventually be lifted. Boris Johnson is expected to explain the government’s approach to the public about how they’ll make the decisions. He’ll restate the hurdles that must be passed before any restrictions are lifted including making sure the NHS can cope, a consistent fall in the death rate and crucially the so-called ‘R’ rate of infection; the extent to which people with the virus are passing it on. That rate has come down significantly since the lockdown was imposed but Mr Johnson will outline how the ‘R’ rate will be a crucial yardstick of whether to lift or even reinstate restrictions as the weeks go on.
2. Coronavirus Testing
The group representing health trusts in England has accused the government of failing to have an effective coronavirus testing strategy. NHS providers says ministers should provide more clarity on how health and care staff can get tested quickly. Today’s the deadline set by the health secretary, Matt Hancock for carrying out 100,000 daily tests. Chris Hopson from NHS providers says that target has been a distraction. “The focus on are we going to perform 100,000 tests today is really a red herring because all it does is just measure how many tests get performed today. What we need to know is what are we going to do in terms of the testing regime over the next 6, 8, 10, 12 weeks.
3. Coronavirus Vaccine Production
Oxford University is working with the Pharmaceutical Company, AstraZeneca, to produce the COVID-19 vaccine if clinical trials are successful. Once we get an approval by the regulators we don’t want to have to go back to the beginning and work out how we manufacture this at scale. Manufacturing capacity in the UK for vaccines isn’t where it needs to be so we’re going to work together with AstraZeneca to improve that considerably. Professor Sir John Bell from Oxford University says we want to make sure that the rest of the world will be ready to make this vaccine at scale so that it gets to populations in developing countries for example where the need is very great. The deal will ensure people in the UK will be among the first to receive the inoculation.
4. Jury Trials
There were already more than 37,000 cases outstanding before the pandemic began. The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Burnett, has said the most innovative measures may be needed to allow jury trials to resume. Lord Burnett says he fears coronavirus will create an unimaginable backlog.
5. Coronavirus Refund Investigations
The Competition and Markets Authority is to investigate providers of weddings, holiday accommodation and childcare for not paying refunds after cancelling services due to the coronavirus pandemic. The consumer protection body says people are being pressured to accept vouchers or being told to claim on their insurance and says their rights must not be breached.
6. Lloyds Bank
In it’s first quarter Lloyds bank has made £74 million down from £1.6 billion during the same period last year. Lloyds has suffered a dramatic fall in it’s profit in the first three months of the year due to what the bank calls the unprecedented social and economic challenge presented by the pandemic.
7. Captain Tom Moore
Captain Tom Moore the second World War veteran is celebrating his 100th birthday today. He’s already been inundated with birthday cards and a letter from the Queen and made an honorary colonel. A military flypast will take place today to mark the 100th birthday including a Spitfire and a Hurricane which will be piloted by squadron leader Mark Discombe of the Battle of Britain Memorial flight. It encapsulates everything we stand for, we’re commemorating what he did 75 years ago, we’re celebrating right now what he’s achieved with his fundraising of £30 million for the NHS and inspiring the future for us all to pull together and work through this pandemic.
8. Oasis Song
Oasis have released a previously unheard song 11 years after the bands acrimonious split. Noel Gallagher said “Don’t Stop” was a demo whose only known recording was made at a concert in Hong Kong around 15 years ago. It had been thought lost until he discovered it among a pile of unmarked CDs at his home.