Coronavirus in UK live blog: Rishi Sunak to stand in for Prime Minister at daily press briefing

Follow the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak in our live blog below

Wednesday, 8th April 2020, 7:55 am
Updated Wednesday, 8th April 2020, 3:39 pm

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An ambulance leaves St Thomas' Hospital in central London, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in intensive care with symptoms of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 (Photo: ISABEL INFANTES/AFP via Getty Images)
(Image: WHO)

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Coronavirus live blog, April 8

Last updated: Wednesday, 08 April, 2020, 17:58

Health Secretary reacts

The government will also match pound-for-pound the amount the public donates to the BBC’s Big Night In charity appeal

Deaths will continue to rise after curve has flattened

Stephen Powis has urged the public to keep using the NHS in the event of an emergency. 

He said: "The NHS has worked night and day to surge capacity to manage coronavirus but it’s also there for you if you have symptoms of a stroke, symptoms of a heart attack.

"Indeed if you have any emergency condition whether it’s a sick child, whether it’s a mother in pregnancy who’s worried about movements of the baby, you should be seeking emergency services just as you always have done. 

"They are there for you and, although we are focusing on coronavirus, it’s important we continue to focus on other emergency conditions."

Asked about unemployment figures, Rishi Sunak warns that there will be hardship ahead.

He said: "I’ve been very clear and very honest that this will take a significant impact on our economy.

"In spite of what are unprecedented measures in scale and scope, I can’t stand here and say I can save every single job, protect every single business or indeed every single charity. 

"That’s just simply not possible."

Pressed about the lockdown, Mr Sunak says: "There will be a Cobra meeting tomorrow chaired by the First Secretary of State (Dominic Raab), involving the devolved administrations to talk about the approach to the review.

"We committed there would be a review in and around three weeks, that review will be based on the evidence and data provided by Sage, which will only be available next week.

"But I think rather than speculate about the future, I think we should focus very seriously on the here and now and the present."

Mr Sunak said the priority is to stop the spread of the virus and insisted people should follow the advice to stay at home.

Powis, asked if the UK's testing rate would lead to more deaths compared with other countries, stressed the importance of testing before saying it is "one part of a set of different things" to be considered in any country's strategy.

He added: "I think it is almost too early in all countries' experience to know exactly which components of strategies have been the most effective or have been most important.

"It's highly likely it's the combination of these things rather than one any individual part of an approach."

Asked when schools could reopen Sunak says: "In all these instances, we are driven and basing our decisions on the science and what is best for controlling the spread of this virus.

"I pay tribute to those who are helping keep our schools open for the children of key workers, that is valuable and the work that they're doing is, I believe, well supported by the Department for Education.

"But they also are owed our thanks for doing that because that is vital at this time."

Government have done enough to minimise risk of fraud

The Chancellor said he is confident the emergency packages have been designed to "minimise the risk of fraud".

After a warning that emergency measures leave the system vulnerable, Mr Sunak said the schemes are being designed "at pace" but many decisions have been made "deliberately to counter fraud".

"That has actually influenced some of the design choices we've made," he said.

"That means some people might fall between through the cracks, it means people are saying, 'Can you not do it this way, can you include us?', and the reason we've not been able to do that is to protect against exactly that, exactly the risk of fraud or spurious claims that we won't be able to verify.

"So I'm confident the decisions we've made will minimise the risk of fraud."

Professor Powis now says that now isn't the time to be complacent. 

He say: "So this is not the time to become complacent, it's not the time to think that the job is being done, this is the time to continue everybody continuing, whether you're me, whether you're a member of the public, frankly if you're a football team, to continue to keep with social distancing and ensure that the hard work and the hardship that everybody is no doubt encountering leads to those benefits."

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