Eight Developments You Need To Know About Coronavirus On April 17 2020

The government's furlough scheme has been extended to the end of June. Here's the latest.

Get the latest on coronavirus. Sign up to the Daily Brief for news, explainers, how-tos, opinion and more.

Wuhan has raised its death toll by 50% as a result of “belated, missed and mistaken reporting”, it has been revealed.

The latest figures show:

  • As of 5pm on Thursday, 14,576 people had died in UK hospitals after testing positive for coronavirus – an increase of 847 in 24 hours.
  • More than 21,000 coronavirus tests were carried out in England, Scotland and Wales on Thursday, with nearly 5,600 people testing positive.
  • In total, 108,692 people have tested positive for coronavirus in those three nations.

Here’s the latest:

Government furlough scheme extended until end of June

The government’s furlough scheme has been extended by another month until the end of June, the chancellor has confirmed.

Rishi Sunak said the decision had been made in light of the continued social distancing measures which were extended for a further three weeks on Thursday.

The scheme, which allows firms to furlough employees with the government paying cash grants of 80% of their wages up to a maximum of £2,500 a month, was originally open for three months and backdated from March 1 to the end of May.

Sunak, said: “We’ve taken unprecedented action to support jobs and businesses through this period of uncertainty, including the UK-wide Job Retention Scheme. With the extension of the coronavirus lockdown measures yesterday, it is the right decision to extend the furlough scheme for a month to the end of June to provide clarity.

“It is vital for people’s livelihoods that the UK economy gets up and running again when it is safe to do so, and I will continue to review the scheme so it is supporting our recovery.”

Don’t go booking any summer holidays yet

Downing Street suggested summer holidays should not be booked yet as there is no certainty of when the lockdown will be lifted and travel can resume.

The prime minister’s official spokesman was asked during a Westminster briefing about Transport Secretary Grant Shapps’ comments that he has no plans to book a summer holiday yet because of the pandemic.

The spokesman said: “While we are making progress in our fight against coronavirus, we are not able to say with certainty the point at which the social distancing measures can be relaxed and in terms of travelling within the United Kingdom for holidays, that is not something which the current social distancing guidelines allow for.

“And secondly, in terms of travel abroad, the advice of the Foreign Office continues to be that you should go abroad for essential travel only.

“As of today, it is a fact that both the guidelines and the official Foreign Office advice do not allow for people going on holidays.”

More confusion over coronavirus testing capacity

Health secretary Matt Hancock on Friday told a Commons health and social care committee there is currently capacity for 30,000 coronavirus tests.

The figure is at odds with the Downing Street statement on Thursday which stated there is capacity for 35,000 tests – and criticism that fewer than half that number are actually being carried out.

Hancock said there is currently capacity for 10,000 more tests to be carried out than currently are, but did not elaborate on the discrepancy between the figures he provided and the Downing Street number.

“We have capacity for 10,000 more tests a day than we did yesterday which I find, given the pressures on testing, is frustrating,” he said.

He also announced that testing will be expanded to those in the police, fire service and prisons, as well as critical local authority workers, the judiciary and Department for Work and Pensions staff where required.

Hancock confirmed to the committee that more than 50,000 NHS workers have now been tested for coronavirus.

Further waves of coronavirus will hit Britain, leading doctor warns

Britain will face “further waves” of coronavirus and will probably have the highest death rate in Europe because the government was “too slow” to act, a leading physician has warned.

Professor Anthony Costello, of University College London’s Institute for Global Health, told the same committee of MPs that the “harsh reality” is that “we were too slow with a number of things”.

“If we’re going to suppress the chain of transmission of this virus in the next stage we all hope that the national lockdown and social distancing will bring about a large suppression of the epidemic so far – but we’re going to face further waves,” he said.

“And so we need to make sure that we have a system in place that cannot just do a certain number of tests in the laboratory, but has a system at district and community level.”

Prof Costello said we “should not have any blame at this stage” but that “we can make sure in the second wave we’re not too slow”.

1966 England defender and Leeds United ‘icon’ Norman Hunter dies aged 76 after contracting coronavirus

Hunter, who made 28 appearances for the Three Lions and was part of the 1966 World Cup lineup prior to the final, was last week admitted to hospital with the coronavirus.

In a statement, Leeds United said the club was “devastated to learn of the passing of club legend Norman Hunter at the age of 76”.

“He leaves a huge hole in the Leeds United family, his legacy will never be forgotten and our thoughts are with Norman’s family and friends at this very difficult time.”

London bus passengers told: No need to pay – just stay away from the driver

A sign reading "doors out of use" is pictured on the front doors of a Transport for London (TfL) bus.
A sign reading "doors out of use" is pictured on the front doors of a Transport for London (TfL) bus.
GLYN KIRK via Getty Images

Bus passengers in London will not have to pay for travel under new measures to protect drivers.

Transport for London (TfL) announced that customers “will not be required to touch in” with their payment card or device from Monday. This is to avoid passengers approaching the driver’s cab, where all buses have a card reader.

Passengers will also only be allowed to board London’s buses using the middle door in the new pandemic measure announced by TfL.

The changes follow concerns due to the 16 bus workers in the capital who have died after testing positive to Covid-19. Transport workers had told HuffPost UK they had felt disregarded in the fight against the virus.

Sadiq Khan told BBC Breakfast said other measures, including protective glass and anti-viral cleaning went “above and beyond” expert advice.

He said: “It’s heartbreaking, I’ve had 16 bus drivers who have lost their lives, it’s personal to me. It’s really heartbreaking and my condolences to those families.

“I’m confident working with the excellent trade unions, we’ve made sure our public transport is as safe as it can be for both passengers and also our staff as well, who deserve a huge credit for keeping public transport running in these difficult times.”

Wuhan raises coronavirus death toll raised by 50%

The central Chinese city was the first epicentre of the outbreak.
The central Chinese city was the first epicentre of the outbreak.
Stringer . / Reuters

Officials in Wuhan have revised the coronavirus death toll by 50%, increasing the number of fatalities by 1,290 and bringing the total to 3,869.

State media reported on Friday that the undercount was due to admission facilities at hospitals being overwhelmed during the peak of the crisis.

The number of total cases in the city of 11m people was also raised by 325 to 50,333, accounting for approximately two-thirds of China’s total 82,367 announced cases.

The official Xinhua News Agency quoted an unidentified official within Wuhan’s epidemic and prevention and control headquarters as saying that, “due to the insufficiency in admission and treatment capability, a few medical institutions failed to connect with the disease prevention and control system in time, while hospitals were overloaded and medics were overwhelmed with patients.

“As a result, belated, missed and mistaken reporting occurred,” the official was quoted as saying.

Questions have long swirled around the accuracy of China’s case reporting, with Wuhan in particular going several days in January without reporting new cases or deaths – leading to accusations that officials were seeking to minimise the impact of the outbreak.

Meanwhile, it emerged on Friday that China’s economy had shrunk for the first time since records began in 1992, as a result of coronavirus.

Gross domestic product (GDP) fell 6.8% in January-March year-on-year, official data showed on Friday, slightly larger than the 6.5% decline forecast by analysts and reversing a 6% expansion in the fourth quarter of last year.

Covid-19 home testing kits delivered by Amazon ‘being piloted this week’

The Times reported that the deliveries are being piloted this week.
The Times reported that the deliveries are being piloted this week.
JUSTIN TALLIS via Getty Images

A pilot scheme of home deliveries for coronavirus tests is being carried out by Amazon this week, it has been reported.

According to The Times, Amazon logistics is beginning to send swabs to people’s homes with instructions to take a sample from their throats before the kits are picked up.

Results are reportedly returned by text message, with hopes for the entire process to take fewer than 24 hours.

The tests are separate from unsuccessful attempts to delivery an antibody test.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care did not confirm the report and neither did Amazon’s press office when contacted.

Editor’s note: This story previously referred and linked to an erroneous BBC report about the boss of an NHS trust calling the broadcaster over concerns about sourcing PPE. The full correction can be read here.


What's Hot