LiveCoronavirus in UK live blog: Boris Johnson says UK are past the peak of the virus
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Coronavirus live blog, April 29
Last updated: Thursday, 30 April, 2020, 17:55
That concludes today's daily press briefing and today's live blog.
We will be back at 8am tomorrow with live updates on the coronavirus pandemic in the UK.
A question from the Stoke Sentinel asks why some key workers are required to make an 80 mile round trip to take a test.
Johnson says thank you the key workers in Stoke.
He says the issue will be raised with the NHS.
Says there is a massive way to go on testing and that “we're massively ramping up”. Says we're doing as much testing as anywhere in Europe.
On trials in Stoke, Whitty says it's extraordinary how many have volunteered. Says a huge thank you on behalf of future patients. Vallance echoes the sentiment.
On Remdesivir, a drug which has been touted as a potential preventative treatment, Vallance says that two studies have been conducted on the drug.
Vallance says its a promising treatment as it binds the virus and inhibits it, but its not a magic bullet.
Whitty says you should always see the published data before over interpreting the verbal report.
Combinations of drugs could provide a considerable additive affect.
We will have a significantly better treatment in the future, according to Whitty.
The PM is asked if he has been impacted by living with Covid-19 himself and whether it has changed his approach.
Johnson says “I was very lucky”, and says thousands have been less fortunate.
He says objective is to save lives and that has been their objective from the beginning.
The trio are now asked what a suitable level of R would be.
Johnson says people need to understand that “driving down the R is our collective endeavour”.
Vallance says at the moment we are using a calculated R, says it is right, but has a range. In London he says it is probably about between 0.5 and 0.7. Vallance says it can't be absolutely precise.
On face masks Johnson says that as part of coming out of the lockdown face coverage will be useful, as it will give people confidence in going back to work.
Notably the Prime Minister isn't allowing follow ups at today's press conference.
The trio are asked if those living with cancer will get the treatment that they need.
Whitty says that there is concern that those with emergency illnesses aren't coming forward. He says that NHS can definitely cope.
Johnson adds that its very important that those with urgent conditions must seek help.
Johnson is then asked if we should expect a second era of austerity.
The PM says that his instincts are that we will bounce back and this government will encourage the bounce back in all kind of ways.
He said he never liked the term austerity and it won't be part of the government's approach.
Whitty adds that learning the lessons once you've gone through something is vital.
Cites a Guardian article that explains difficulty in comparing death rates.
You can read that here.
The trio are asked about the UK recording one of the highest death tolls in Europe.
Johnson says international comparison is “bedevilled with difficulties”.
Only real comparison is going to be possible at the end of the pandemic when you look at total excess deaths.
Lockdown put in place earlier in the curve than in France, Spain Italy. “Right measures at right time”.
Very demanding thing to ask a population to go into lockdown, when you look at suicide rates and other factors.
“We're learning lessons every day”.
We were looking at a situation where people would not get ventilated beds, no access to ICU's. Nation came together to save lives.
The PM is asked does the economy need to wait.
Johnson says the government have made a huge effort to protect workers.
“Doing everything we can”, pays tribute to Rishi Sunak.
He says if we're to bounce back it's vital that we don't have a second spike.
Must not only “unlock the economy gradually”, but suppress the disease.
Asked what the R is, Whitty says they are entirely confident that the R is below 1 as there is no exponential growth.
A second question from the public asks how the government will assist those with mental health issues.
Johnson says as we've taken pressure off the NHS we can make sure the NHS can prioritise other care needs, including mental health.
Public Health reaching out to those with mental health problems.
Advises those experiencing mental illness to use helplines and other available resources.
The trio are taking questions now.
First a member of the public asks how the tourism industry will be impactd.
Johnson says “you will come back” but we must be sensible for now.
He says “we'll say a lot more” about how and when a lockdown exit will happen.
“Road map” of exit plan out next week.
Country's R between 0.6 and 0.9
Sir Patrick Vallance is speaking now.
He says that country's R is between 0.6 and 0.9.
Number of infections are going down.
New admissions to hospital is coming down.
Number of people in hospital down.
Critical care beds coming down “slowly”.
Trends of deaths is “gradually beginning to come down”.
A video is now explaining R (rate of infection) says that in March virus was at 3, now below 1.
This means that for every one person 3 were infected in March.
UK "past the peak"
Boris Johnson says for the first time the UK is past the peak and on the downward slope.
Says government are looking at how we can get kids back to school, get the economy back up and running, get back to work while suppressing the disease.
Reiterates that UK must pass five tests before that plan can be put into action.
1. Protect NHS 2. sutained fall in depths 3. sure that infection rate is fallen 4. improve testing and PPE issues 5. lessen risk of second peak.
He says we've come through the peak, or rather under what could have been a vast peak “like an alpine tunnel”.
“Keeping the r down” is vital, and we can only do it by our collective discipline and by working together. Has confidence that the UK can do it.