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18 Jun 2020

Press Conference Summary

Health Secretary Matt Hancock spoke at today’s press conference and was joined by Baroness Dido Harding, Executive Chair of Test and Trace.

Summary of Matt Hancock’s Comments:

  • There were a further 135 coronavirus deaths recorded in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 42,288.
  • 1,218 positive tests results yesterday. 33,000 people are estimated to have had Covid-19 in England.
  • 490 admissions to hospital on 15th June, number of people on ventilators is 360.
  • PHE have published their weekly surveillance report which shows that last week, for the first time since mid-March, the total number of people who have died is no higher than is normal at this time of year. This demonstrates that the number of deaths is going down.
  • The imperial vaccine is in the first stage of human clinical trials. AstraZenica has started manufacturing the Oxford Vaccine, in order to ensure we have stockpiles if, and when, it is approved.
  • Today we have published the way in which we propose to prioritise people for access to the vaccine, we will be guided by the science. The clinicians have recommended priority for frontline health and social care workers and those at increased risk, including adults over the age of 50 and those with heart and kidney disease. As we know more about the disease we will change the priority list.
  • Today’s data on test and trace shows that the system is working well. We will complement this with a contact tracing app, I want to be upfront and open about the challenges. We have rigorously tested the app but discovered a technical barrier – it works well on android but not on iPhones. After we started work on our app Google and Apple started working on their app, as soon as they did this, we started working with them as well. We have been testing Google and Apple’s product as well, but it doesn’t estimate distance. As it stands our app won’t work because Apple won’t change their system. Throughout this what matters is what works, I will work with anyone to gain any inch of ground against this disease. We have agreed to join forces to bring the best bits of the apps together.

Baroness Harding

  • In the second week of the programme 5,949 people who tested positive for coronavirus were referred to NHS contact tracing, of those 73% of people gave their contact details. We were then able to contact 91% of those contacts to ask them to self-isolate.
  • We are right now protecting local communities from outbreaks.
  • We have changed the process of requesting tests and have changed how our labs operate to allow them to work overnight and on weekends.
  • We have connected people’s test results to their GP records.
  • We have one of the largest contact tracing services in the world.
  • Having an app would be a helpful addition to the contract tracing service we have, but also we can do things ourselves such as good hand washing. The service is human led but technology will assist us.


How is the Government supporting Universities and Local Authorities working to ensure that students congregating in university towns doesn’t lead to an outbreak of the virus?

Matt Hancock: The work is starting now at DFE to ensure that we can assure a safe restart of universities in Autumn.

Will the government introduce laws to allow people to continue working from home?

Matt Hancock: It is essential that people continue working from home and this crisis has shown how possible it is, I am happy to talk to BEIS about this, but where people can work at home employers should facilitate this.

When will the app be launched?

Matt Hancock: We are working on it, but I won’t put a date on it. There have been local outbreaks for example in Leicester and in response we have sent mobile testing units.

Bank of England - £100bn Boost for UK Economy

The Bank of England has announced today that they will increase the size of their bond buying programme, leading to an extra £100bn into the UK economy to help fight the Coronavirus-induced downturn. It follows a £200bn boost to its bond buying programme back in March. The Bank's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) also kept interest rates at a record low of 0.1%.

This comes as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published their latest report into wellbeing during the lockdown and suggested that economic inequality may be on the rise.

The ONS said:

“There are some signs of increasing economic inequality, with more people on lower personal incomes reporting reduced income in the household because of the coronavirus as lockdown has continued, working fewer hours, and being less able to save for the future, while fewer people with higher incomes have been impacted financially.”

14 day Travel Quarantine and Rate of Infection

French President Emmanuel Macron visited London today to commemorate the 80th anniversary of his predecessor Charles de Gaulle’s “Appel” - a BBC broadcast to occupied France following the Nazi invasion in 1940. The President met with Prime Minister Boris Johnson where they discussed, amongst other things, the UK’s two-week quarantine for all international arrivals. This comes as Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told BBC Breakfast this morning that there is a “risk of legal challenge if you open up for one country and not others so we want to make sure we can open up – and this is our starting point – as soon as we can safely and responsibly do so”.

The ONS has also announced today that the number of people with Covid-19 in England continues to fall but the rate of decline is slowing. The average number of infections per day since the end of April has fallen from 4,500 last week to 3,800, according to the figures. And the weekly snapshot of the average number of infections suggests about one in 1,700 people were infected between 31 May and 13 June.

Regional Update

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, has announced that Scotland will enter their second phase of lockdown on 29th June and will allow shops (with access from the street), factories and outdoor markets to open. However, unlike in England, she has urged people not to travel further than 5 miles from home, unless seeing close family. Face coverings on all public transport will also be mandatory.

Northern Ireland has cut social distancing in schools to one metre and says hair salons and nail bars can reopen on 6th July.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has written to the Prime Minister calling for face coverings to be made compulsory in shops to limit the spread of Coronavirus.

Government Announcements

CMA. The Rt Hon. Lord Andrew Tyrie, Chairman of the Competition and Markets Authority, has confirmed that he intends to step down from his current role in September 2020

Department for Health The government has immediately authorised the NHS to use dexamethasone, the world’s first coronavirus treatment proven to reduce the risk of death.

Department for Health. Next phase of NHS coronavirus (COVID-19) app announced

Students Loan Company. Returning students given more time to apply for student finance