Ahead of the Daily Press Conference the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, released the test and trace figures between 28 May and 3 June 2020 – the first week of the system being in operation. The figures show that 8,117 people who tested positive for coronavirus had their case transferred to the contract tracing system, of which 5,407 were asked to provide details of their recent contacts. 31,794 contacts were identified and 26,985 were reached and advised to self-isolate. At the Daily Press Conference, the Health Secretary stated, “the system is working well, and we will keep improving it.”
Furthermore, a number of Labour MPs wrote to the Home Secretary Priti Patel today and expressed dismay at the way the Home Secretary “used heritage and experiences of racism to gaslight the very real racism faced by Black people and communities across the UK.” The letter went on to say, “being a person of colour does not automatically make you an authority on all forms of racism.” Responding on social media, the Home Secretary stated “I will not be silenced by Labour MPs who continue to dismiss the contributions of those who don't conform to their view of how ethnic minorities should behave.” At the Daily Press Conference, the Health Secretary said that he “abhorred the letter” and that he is “proud to be part of the most diverse Government in history.”
In wider news, the EU negotiator Michel Barnier has questioned whether the UK should remain a European financial hub after Brexit. He has stated on the record “We must ask ourselves whether it is really in the EU interest for the UK to retain such a prominent position.” Separately, Mr Barnier has proposed weekly talks with the UK and stated that the EU was willing to make compromises. In addition, the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has stated the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance between Australia, America, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom will be used to create “trusted supply chains.”
Daily Press Conference
The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, led the Daily Press Conference. He was joined by Baroness Dido Harding, Executive Chair of Test and Trace.
Firstly, the Health Secretary updated viewers on the daily figures:
- As of yesterday, there were 197,007 tests bringing the total number to more than 6 million – 6,240,801.
- The number of confirmed cases as of 11 June was 1,266 meaning a total of 291,409 cases confirmed in total.
- There were 462 estimated hospital admissions with Covid-19 in England, Wales and NI (excluding Scotland) on 8 June, down from 658 on 1 June.
- 440 mechanical ventilator beds are being occupied with COVID-19 patients on 10 June, down from 604 on 3 June.
- 5,911 people are in hospital with COVID-19, down from 7,309 this time last week.
- A further 151 people were reported to have died yesterday following a positive COVID-19 test, bringing the total number of deaths to 41,279. These are the lowest weekly death figures since w/e 28th March, this is good progress.
The Health Secretary went on to say:
- The virus is in retreat. We are working through our plan and the plan is working.
- The challenge has been not just to get the virus under control, but to also ease the lockdown measures.
- The bubbles mean that single parents and those that live alone can form a bubble with another household. I am really pleased that we have been able to. This will give hope and comfort to so many, I am pleased with the positive reception it has got.
- Test and trace is critical to lifting the lockdown and stopping the spread of the virus. It is on our radar and you have your part to play.
- If you test positive you must work with NHS Test and Trace. If you are asked to isolate, you must do so. It is your civic duty.
- Today we are able to publish some of the initial statistics from the first week of test and trace being in play. The system is working well, and we will keep improving it
- We still have spare capacity – this is a sign of the team’s success. I would like to thank the army of contact tracers as well as the private sector, and the people too. Let us maintain that spirit and fortitude that has helped us throughout the pandemic. This includes not attending large gatherings, including demonstrations of more than 6 people. This is a virus that thrives on social contact regardless of what your cause may be.
Dido Harding, Head of Track and Trace said the following:
- In the first week of the programme, 8117 people testing positive for coronavirus had their case transferred to the contact tracing system. 5,407 (67%) were reached and asked to provide contacts. 31,794 recent contacts were identified through the Test and Trace System. 26,985 (85%) of those contacts were reached and agreed to self-isolate.
- I want to say thank you to all of you who have got a test and all of you who have agreed to self-isolate. The first week of the partnership has got off to a good start. You are taking the virus out of circulation and you are trysting in us and providing your contacts when asked. We are building a high-quality service on which we can all depend.
- If you have symptoms, a fever, a persistent cough, or having issues with taste or smell, order a test.
The Health Secretary also took questions from the public and journalists.
When questioned on whether the NHS App would still play a vital role? “The app will help. We will bring it in when it is right to do so. We want to embed the NHS Test and Trace System before introducing the technological element.”
When questioned on why test and trace is not yet the world beating system the PM promised and whether another significant easing of the lockdown a dangerous step? “I have renewed confidence looking at these statistics that we will have a world class system. We are building and improving all the time. We have been incredibly frank that this system will be getting better and better. The better test and trace is, the more lockdown measures we can relieve safely. The measures we have announced are safe, part of the plan, we are sticking through that plan, and it is clearly working. We are coming out of lockdown carefully and sensibly, in a way that is safe. The survey shows that the incidents of the disease continues to fall.”
Are you ruling out any kind of enforcement mechanism? “We are not ruling this out but do not feel we need it at the moment. We want to see the numbers going up. We need to encourage everyone to get a test if they have any symptoms and bringing as many people as possible into the test and trace programme over the coming week. The vast majority of the population are willing to take part and comply and have thanked contact tracers for calling them.”
Government announcements regarding support schemes
The numbers using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) are as follows:
- On 7 June 2020 8.9 million jobs were furloughed, 1.1 million employers are furloughing staff and the total cost of claims is £19.6 Billion.
The numbers using the self-employment income support scheme are as follows:
- By 31st May, 2.4 million of the potentially eligible population (70%) had claimed a SEISS grant with the value of these claims totalling £7 billion. The average value per claim was £2,900.
BEIS have released the Ministerial direction regarding the establishment of the Future Fund which is designed to encourage investors to continue to back companies that would have received investment in the absence of the pandemic. It notes that the fund was approved despite “the uncertainties around value for money.”
Updated guidance following recent lockdown announcements
The Cabinet Office have updated their guidance on what people can and can’t do following recent announcements. The social distancing guidance has also been updated. The specific guidance on meeting people outside your household has also been provided.