Home Secretary Priti Patel reveals more paedophiles are stalking children online


Criminals are exploiting the coronavirus lockdown with fraudsters using the crisis to con Britons out of £1.8 million, Priti Patel has warned.  

The Home Secretary’s first Downing Street address came as today’s death toll hit 917 bringing the UK’s spiralling victim count to 9,875. The youngest victim was just 11 years old.

Ms Patel, who has largely been absent from the government’s public response to the health emergency, also warned that paedophiles are seeking to exploit the fact that children are increasingly going online to meet friends and do school lessons on their computers.

Today’s death toll is a drop from yesterday’s 980 deaths, which remains the highest recorded in a single day so far and even surpassed Italy and Spain’s worst days. 

But it does put Britain on course to hit the grim 10,000-death milestone on Easter Sunday, which the country will spend in lockdown.

The total cases also today jumped by 5,233 to 78,991 after an additional 18,091 tests were performed, down 1,025 from Friday. 

Ms Patel also said talks are ongoing to provide charities and the Domestic Abuse Commissioner with an additional £2 million to bolster domestic abuse helplines and online support.

Joined at the briefing by Chair of the National Police Chief’s Council Martin Hewitt

Criminals are exploiting the coronavirus lockdown with fraudsters using the crisis to con Britons out of £1.8 million, Priti Patel (pictured) has warned

Chair of the National Police Chief's Council Martin Hewitt will join Priti Patel at the briefing

NHS England Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis arrives at 10 Downing Street

Chair of the National Police Chief’s Council Martin Hewitt (left) is pictured arriving at 10 Downing Street. He will join Priti Patel along with NHS England Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis (right) 

NHS England reported a further 823 patients had died in their hospitals in the past 24 hours – the youngest was 11 and the eldest was 102, both with underlying health problems. 

Out of these 828 deaths in England, 33 of these – aged between 29 and 94 – had no underlying health conditions. 

Scotland today confirmed a further 47 deaths, bringing the nation’s total fatalities to 542, while Northern Ireland’s tally hit 107 after an additional 15 deaths. 

The rise in deaths came as police told Britons to remain indoors on a warm Easter bank holiday weekend, but were forced to have words with some flouting social distancing rules in the nation’s parks.  

In her first interview since the outbreak began, Patel slapped down overzealous police forces after they threatened to check people’s shopping for ‘non-essential’ items and set up road blocks to grill motorists on whether their trips are legitimate.

On another grim day in Britain’s coronavirus epidemic:

  • A row erupted between Health Secretary Matt Hancock and a top nurse over his claims that medics were overusing personal protective equipment; 
  • Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer led the backlash over the Health Secretary’s claim that NHS staff were ‘wasting’ PPE; 
  • Mr Hancock revealed that of the 9,875 who have died, 19 were NHS workers; 
  • Downing Street said the Prime Minister was making extremely good progress with his recovery from coronavirus;
  • Former Home Secretary David Blunkett blasted ‘Sermon on the Mount’ coronavirus briefings by ministers and accuses officials of ‘hectoring’ people;
  • Scientists said coronavirus can spread 13 FEET from sufferers – more than twice the 6ft social distancing gap demanded by government – and that isolating infected people at home is not a good strategy. 

Paramedics take a patient into St Thomas' Hospital, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson is recovering from coronavirus

Paramedics take a patient into St Thomas’ Hospital, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson is recovering from coronavirus

A home made sign on the Yorkshire Moors warns visitors to go home as the country continues to live under lockdown restrictions

A home made sign on the Yorkshire Moors warns visitors to go home as the country continues to live under lockdown restrictions

Hancock repeats claims of PPE over use 

Matt Hancock speaking this morning

Matt Hancock speaking this morning

A row has erupted between the government and nurses after Matt Hancock again cautioned coronavirus medics against overusing personal protective equipment.

The Health Secretary insisted there was enough protective clothing to meet demand, but urged health workers to treat the gear like a ‘precious’ resource.

His remarks, made this morning in a broadcast round, doubled down on comments made at yesterday’s Downing Street press briefing where he responded to reports from the frontline of a dire shortage of equipment.

Royal College of Nursing general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair said that no amount of PPE was ‘more precious a resource than a healthcare worker’s life, a nurse’s life, a doctor’s life’.  

She told BBC Breakfast: ‘I take offence actually that we are saying that healthcare workers are abusing or overusing PPE.

‘I think what we know is, we don’t have enough supply and not enough regular supply of PPE.

‘This is the number one priority nurses are bringing to my attention, that they do not have adequate supply of protective equipment.’ 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock this morning pleaded with the public to avoid going outside as the nation enters the critical period in the epidemic.

He said it is not clear if the UK has reached the peak of its outbreak, but acknowledged that hospital admissions were flattening. 

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘The good news is we have seen the number of hospital admissions starting – starting, I stress – to flatten out.

‘You can see (from the Government’s charts) that instead of going up exponentially, as they would have done if we had not taken the measures, that they are starting to come down and flatten.

‘We haven’t seen that enough to have confidence to make changes.

‘The answer to your question, about have we reached the peak, is nobody knows.’ 

Scientists braced Britons to breach the 10,000-death barrier tomorrow and told the public to obey social distancing rules. 

Reacting to today’s figures, Dr Simon Clarke, associate professor in cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, said: ‘The news of a further 917 COVID19 deaths is very sad, but unsurprising. 

‘The fact that an 11-year-old was amongst the victims is particularly distressing. 

‘Only two weeks ago we saw the UK pass the threshold of 1,000 total deaths and we can expect that number to breach 10,000 tomorrow. 

‘It has become increasingly clear that younger people and those without underlying health conditions are at greater risk than had initially been expected, so it’s essential that people observe social distancing rules in order to start to halt the spread of the coronavirus.’

Of the 9,875 who have sadly lost their lives, the Health Secretary this morning revealed that 19 had been NHS workers. 

Mr Hancock said: ‘My heart goes out to their families, these are people who have put themselves on the front line.

‘The work is going on to establish whether they caught coronavirus in the line of duty while at work or whether, like so many other people, caught it in the rest of their lives. 

‘It is obviously quite difficult to work that out. What matters is we pay tribute to their service.’  

A police officer on a horse talks to sunbathers in Victoria Park, London, as Britons continue to bask in the glorious Easter sunshine

A police officer on a horse talks to sunbathers in Victoria Park, London, as Britons continue to bask in the glorious Easter sunshine

Mr Hancock today became embroiled in a row after he responded to claims of a personal protective equipment shortage by urging medics not to overuse the gear.

Royal College of Nursing general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair also said that no amount of PPE was ‘more precious a resource than a healthcare worker’s life, a nurse’s life, a doctor’s life’.  

UK braced for 18 months of restrictions 

Normal life will stay on hold until a virus vaccine becomes available in about 18 months, officials said last night. 

Advice to work from home and stay in for seven days if you have symptoms will probably still be in place next year. 

Ministers want to lift the most restrictive parts of the lockdown, including school and shop closures, within weeks. 

But senior Government sources say the only true ‘exit strategy’ is a vaccine or a cure. Until then, the UK will have to adjust to a ‘new normal’. 

An official last night told The Telegraph that social distancing measures that have been placed upon Britons could be ‘indefinite’. 

Official plans to encourage social distancing on a long term, voluntary basis, have also been discussed, as the government continues to hold talks on how long Britons can cope with the current measures. Some measures, such as remote working, could be left in place for longer.  

She told BBC Breakfast: ‘I take offence actually that we are saying that healthcare workers are abusing or overusing PPE.

‘I think what we know is, we don’t have enough supply and not enough regular supply of PPE.

‘This is the number one priority nurses are bringing to my attention, that they do not have adequate supply of protective equipment.’ 

Reports have emerged from the front line of health workers forced to treat patients in homemade protective gear made from bin bags and curtains. 

New Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also weighed in to condemn Mr Hancock’s remarks as ‘insulting’.  

He added: ‘It is quite frankly insulting to imply frontline staff are wasting PPE. There are horrific stories of NHS staff and care workers not having the equipment they need to keep them safe. The Government must act to ensure supplies are delivered.’

At yesterday’s Number 10 update, Mr Hancock assured that there is sufficient stock of face masks, gowns and gloves but admitted distributing them was proving a ‘Herculean logistical effort’. 

This afternoon will mark the first time the Home Secretary will front one of the daily Downing Street briefings.

Before his hospitalisation, Boris Johnson was front and centre of the country’s war on the virus, but is currently recovering in St Thomas’ Hospital after leaving intensive care.

A Downing Street spokeswoman today said: ‘The Prime Minister continues to make very good progress.’

A group of eight police officers was seen walking past people taking their daily exercise in St James's Park in central London

A group of eight police officers was seen walking past people taking their daily exercise in St James’s Park in central London

 

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