Coronavirus UK: Families of NHS, care staff who die to get £60k


Families of medics who tragically lost their own lives to coronavirus after bravely trying to save others will receive a £60,000 life assurance payout, Matt Hancock revealed tonight.

The Health and Social Care Secretary made the announcement as he fronted the daily Downing Street press conference to reveal 82 NHS workers and 16 social care staff had died so far.

The payout has echoes of lump sums paid to the families of military personnel who are killed while fighting for the nation.

Mr Hancock said: ‘I feel a deep personal sense of duty that we must care for their loved ones.

‘Today, I am able to announce that the Government is setting up a life assurance scheme for NHS and social care frontline colleagues.

‘Families of staff who die from coronavirus in the course of their essential frontline work will receive a £60,000 payment.

‘Of course, nothing replaces the loss of a loved one but we want to do everything we can to support families who are dealing with this grief.’

It came as the UK today announced 360 more coronavirus deaths – the lowest daily count recorded since March 30 when just 180 fatalities were registered.   

In other news: 

  • Some NHS services that have been paused due to the coronavirus crisis will be restored from tomorrow as the pressure eases;  
  • NHS doctors have been issued an urgent alert about a sharp rise in the number of children being admitted to intensive care with a serious ‘inflammatory syndrome’ that may be linked to coronavirus;
  • Boris Johnson announced his comeback with a plea for Britons to stick to coronavirus lockdown rules – amid mounting signs the public is starting to take matters into its own hands by getting back to work;
  • Economists warned the UK could take years to recover the ground it has lost, and taxpayers will be footing the bill for the government’s bailouts for decades;
  • A partial membership list of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) which informs the Government’s coronavirus response is to be published after concerns about a lack of transparency;
  • Ministers have insisted the 100,000-a-day target for coronavirus tests can be met this week despite the current level languishing at around 29,000.

Paramedics take a patient into Lewisham Hospital  in London today, as the NHS death toll from coronavirus hit 82

Paramedics take a patient into Lewisham Hospital  in London today, as the NHS death toll from coronavirus hit 82

The Health and Social Care Secretary made the announcement as he fronted the daily Downing Street press conference to reveal 82 NHS workers and 16 social care staff had died so far.

The Health and Social Care Secretary made the announcement as he fronted the daily Downing Street press conference to reveal 82 NHS workers and 16 social care staff had died so far.

Boris Johnson announced his comeback with a plea for Britons to stick to coronavirus lockdown rules - amid mounting signs the public is starting to take matters into its own hands

Boris Johnson announced his comeback with a plea for Britons to stick to coronavirus lockdown rules – amid mounting signs the public is starting to take matters into its own hands 

The move comes the day before the nation is expected to fall silent in tribute to key workers who have died in the pandemic.

Boris Johnson, who battled the illness himself, including a spell in intensive care, will observe the minute’s silence on Tuesday at 11am.

Government workers will be asked to take part and the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said it is hoped others will participate ‘nationwide’.

Donna Kinnair, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said: ‘On the eve of the silence to remember those who paid the highest price, this announcement will bring reassurance to families in difficult situations. 

Data issued by the government this evening showed that levels of social mobility are creeping up again

Data issued by the government this evening showed that levels of social mobility are creeping up again 

The number of new cases continued to rise in the latest data, but the rate has slowed significantly

The number of new cases continued to rise in the latest data, but the rate has slowed significantly

The number of people in hospital with coronavirus in London has fallen but the figures across much of the rest of the country have not dropped sharply yet

The number of people in hospital with coronavirus in London has fallen but the figures across much of the rest of the country have not dropped sharply yet 

Transport use is still massively down but the levels are up off the lows recorded earlier in the coronavirus lockdown

Transport use is still massively down but the levels are up off the lows recorded earlier in the coronavirus lockdown

BORIS JOHNSON ADMITS WE ARE ‘NEAR THE END’ OF THE FIRST PHASE 

Boris Johnson announced his comeback with a plea for Britons to stick to coronavirus lockdown rules today – amid mounting signs the public is starting to take matters into its own hands by getting back to work.

In a statement in Downing Street, the PM assured the country he is back in charge after weeks recuperating from a serious scare with the killer disease, and urged people to be ‘patient’.

With his trademark blond mane looking longer and more unkempt than usual, Mr Johnson thanked everyone who had ‘stepped up’ in his absence. 

And he channeled Churchill’s famous speech about the ‘end of the beginning’ by saying there are ‘real signs’ the UK is making ‘progress’.

However, he warned it was also the ‘moment of maximum risk’ and now is not the time to ‘go easy’ on the virus by loosening ‘social distancing’ rules. ‘We are now beginning to turn the tide,’ he said. ‘I ask you to contain your impatience because I believe now we are coming to the end of the first phase of this conflict.’ 

Mr Johnson said once the disease was under control the draconian curbs can be ‘refined’, and the government would say more in the ‘coming days’ about how it will ‘fire up the engines of this vast UK economy’. He urged Opposition parties to work with him, pledging to be ‘transparent’ about decisions. 

‘No amount of cash can make up for a family member who passes away but financial security should never add to the worries of those in grief.

‘The RCN and other health unions fought for this government announcement and we will examine the detail closely. 

‘It must be easily accessed, open to those in social care and primary care too and be paid promptly – no family should face a lengthy or complex process.’ 

Mr Hancock added that the Government was looking at other frontline professions who did not have access to a life assurance scheme.

He said: ‘As a Government, we are looking closely at other professions that work on the front line against coronavirus, who also do not have access to such schemes, to see where this may be required.’

Although the death statistics are known to drop following the weekend, the sharp fall unveiled today adds to evidence that the peak of the UK’s epidemic has blown over, with April 8 known to be Britain’s deadliest day (980).

The daily death toll is 22 per cent lower than the 449 coronavirus deaths announced last Monday and half the 717 declared fatalities on April 13. 

In a message of hope for millions earlier, Boris Johnson – back in charge after weeks recuperating from a serious scare with the killer disease – said we are near the ‘end of the first phase’ of COVID-19 and hinted that an ‘exit plan’ will be fleshed out within days. 

However, the PM made clear there is little chance of a loosening starting soon, urging people to be ‘patient’ as it is not yet the time to ‘go easy’ on social distancing rules.

NHS ISSUES ALERT OVER RISE IN CHILDREN BEING ADMITTED TO ICU WITH INFLAMMATORY SYNDROME

NHS doctors have been issued an urgent alert about a sharp rise in the number of children being admitted to intensive care with a serious ‘inflammatory syndrome’ that may be linked to coronavirus.

In an alert sent to GPs, health chiefs at an NHS board in London said: ‘There is growing concern that a [COVID-19] related inflammatory syndrome is emerging in children in the UK.

‘Over the last three weeks there has been an apparent rise in the number of children of all ages presenting with a multi-system inflammatory state requiring intensive care across London and also in other regions of the UK.’ 

The children being seen with the syndrome often suffer from stomach pain, cardiac inflammation and ‘gastrointestinal symptoms’ – which could include vomiting and diarrhoea.

Doctors have compared the mysterious complication to toxic shock syndrome and Kawasaki disease which, combined, cause harmful internal swelling, fever and breathing problems – all hallmark signs of COVID-19.

But some of the children needing intensive care have tested negative for the coronavirus, further complicating the diagnosis and raising questions that another pathogen could be behind the condition. 

It is not clear how many children have had the inflammatory syndrome, nor whether any have died with it. It is also unclear as to how old children are who are being struck down, or if there are any clusters of cases in the UK.

But it is thought to have only affected a ‘handful’ of children so far, according to one prominent paediatrician who admitted the complication could be caused by another pathogen. 

Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty also sounded a downbeat note this evening, telling the No10 briefing that there is still a ‘long, long way to go’ 

Mr Hancock announced that some NHS services which had been paused due to the coronavirus outbreak will be restored from Tuesday.

He said: ‘As the number of hospitalisations from coronavirus begins to fall, I can announce that, starting tomorrow, we will begin the restoration of other NHS services – starting with the most urgent, like cancer care and mental health support.

‘The exact pace of the restoration will be determined by local circumstances on the ground, according to local need and according to the amount of coronavirus cases that that hospital is having to deal with.’

Announcing his long-awaited comeback earlier today, Mr Johnson urged Britons to stick to coronavirus lockdown rules amid mounting signs the public is starting to take matters into its own hands by getting back to work.

The PM channeled Sir Winston Churchill’s famous speech about the ‘end of the beginning’ by saying there are ‘real signs’ the UK is making ‘progress’. 

However, he warned it was also the ‘moment of maximum risk’ and now is not the time to ‘go easy’ on the virus by loosening ‘social distancing’ rules. 

‘We are now beginning to turn the tide,’ he said in a Downing Street press conference. ‘I ask you to contain your impatience because I believe now we are coming to the end of the first phase of this conflict.’ 

Mr Johnson said once the disease was under control the draconian curbs can be ‘refined’, and the government would say more in the ‘coming days’ about how it will ‘fire up the engines of this vast UK economy’.  

The government is facing growing alarm that while the rules have succeeded in stemming the spread of the killer disease, they are also bringing the economy to its knees.   

There is mounting evidence of Cabinet infighting over the timing and details of a loosening. Ministers welcomed the prospect of an exit plan, with Paymaster General Penny Mordaunt and International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan saying they had been getting huge volumes of mail from ‘business owners who are desperate to get back to work’. 

There are also signs that Britons are starting to vote with their feet, with traffic levels rising, and more shops and constructions sites stepping up activity. 

But Downing Street cautioned that ‘refinements’ to the lockdown might not be across the board. 

‘There could be easing in some areas, there could also be a toughening in other areas,’ the PM’s spokesman said.

‘We will not be returning immediately to life as we knew it.’ 

Forecasters today warned the UK economy will not return to 2019 levels for three years – and taxpayers will be footing the bill for government coronavirus bailouts for decades.

The EY Item Club warned the recovery from the draconian curbs on activity might be slower than hoped, with the economy not expected to return to its late 2019 size until 2023.

It comes after Britain’s chief scientific adviser today revealed that he and other senior scientists warned politicians ‘very early on’ about the risk COVID-19 posed to care homes.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has been meeting approximately twice a week since its first coronavirus discussion on January 22.

Sir Patrick Vallance, who chairs the group along with Professor Chris Whitty, said they had ‘flagged’ the risk of care home and hospital outbreaks at the start of the epidemic.

While warnings about hospitals sparked a ‘protect the NHS’ mantra and a scramble to buy ventilators and free up beds, care homes saw no such efforts. Thousands of Britons in care are feared to have died from COVID-19.

The Government has been slated for its lack of support to care homes, with no routine testing available, no up-to-date records of the number of people infected or dead, and ‘paltry’ attempts to deliver adequate PPE.

Data about care home deaths is being counted separately to hospital data, was only first published on March 31 and is 10 days out of date each time it is released. The next set of figures will be released tomorrow.

BRITAIN’S ROADS WERE PACKED WITH TRAFFIC THIS MORNING

Traffic builds up on the A40 at Perivale in West London at 7.20am today despite the coronavirus lockdown continuing

Traffic builds up on the A40 at Perivale in West London at 7.20am today despite the coronavirus lockdown continuing

Britain’s roads were packed with traffic this morning as phone data showed that millions more people are taking to the roads in a further sign that they are starting to get back to work despite the coronavirus lockdown.

It will pile pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson who returned to work today as calls for an easing of the lockdown from within his party grow. With measures in place until at least May 7, he acknowledged frustrations over the restrictions but insisted he would not risk a second peak in the disease by relaxing them too quickly.

Photographs taken during rush hour showed queues building up on London roads including the A40 at Perivale and the A102 at Greenwich, while the M5 in Bristol and the M6 in Walsall were also busy with cars, vans and lorries.

Meanwhile rail commuters continue to pile onto London Underground trains as travel bosses carry on running a reduced service only for key workers, with Canning Town and Canada Water stations both busy this morning.

It comes as more businesses announce plans to reopen, with bakery Greggs set to reopen several stores in a trial, and key cutting and shoe repair firm Timpson opening some sites with strict hygiene and social distancing rules.

Mobility data from Apple based on requests for directions via its apps showed more people are now driving, but the use of public transport has remained static. Traffic in London on Friday and Saturday  – the most recent Apple data available – was up 4 per cent on the week before. Walking is also steadily increasing – it was up 8 per cent on the week before in London on Saturday. 

Live TomTom congestion data in London showed 14 per cent congestion at 8am today, down 49 percentage points on normal. But that represents a one percentage point increase on the 13 per cent figure recorded at 8am last Monday, and a two percentage point rise on the 12 per cent at the same time three weeks ago.

 

 

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