Eight Things You Need To Know About Coronavirus Today

Four more NHS staff are confirmed to have died after testing positive for Covid-19. Here's the latest.
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The government’s furlough scheme has opened for applications, and unions have called for a minute’s silence to remember key workers who have lost their lives to coronavirus.

  • As of 5pm on Saturday, 16,060 people had died in UK hospitals after testing positive for coronavirus – an increase of 596 in 24 hours. On Monday, England announced a further 429 deaths, Scotland a further 12 and Wales nine more, taking the UK total to at least 16,510. Northern Ireland has yet to report.
  • As of 9am on Sunday, 372,967 people have been tested for coronavirus, with 120,067 coming back positive.

Here’s the latest:

Four more NHS workers confirmed to have died after contracting Covid-19

At least 63 NHS workers are now believed to have died after testing positive for coronavirus. With social care workers also included, the number of frontline health and care staff rises to 100, according to the website Nursing Notes.

Among four of the NHS workers whose deaths were announced on Monday was domestic supervisor Joanna Klenczon, who had worked at the Northampton General Hospital (NGH) for 10 years. She passed away on April 9 after testing positive for the virus.

Margaret Tapley, Patrick McManus and Sophie Fagan were also confirmed to have died.

HuffPost UK is collecting tributes to NHS staff who have died after contracting coronavirus from people who loved and worked with them.

Domestic supervisor Joanna Klenczon worked at the Northampton General Hospital (NGH) for 10 years before her death on April 9
Domestic supervisor Joanna Klenczon worked at the Northampton General Hospital (NGH) for 10 years before her death on April 9
Northampton General Hospital

Prince Philip praises frontline workers in rare public statement

Prince Philip has made a rare public statement, praising those tackling the coronavirus pandemic across the UK and keeping essential services running.

The Duke of Edinburgh, 98, who retired from public duties in 2017, said he wanted to recognise the “vital and urgent” medical and scientific work taking place.

In his message, the duke also gave thanks to key workers including those involved in food production and distribution, refuse collection and postal and delivery services.

In the message published on the royal family’s social media channels, he said: “As we approach World Immunisation Week, I wanted to recognise the vital and urgent work being done by so many to tackle the pandemic; by those in the medical and scientific professions, at universities and research institutions, all united in working to protect us from Covid-19.

“On behalf of those of us who remain safe and at home, I also wanted to thank all key workers who ensure the infrastructure of our life continues; the staff and volunteers working in food production and distribution, those keeping postal and delivery services going, and those ensuring the rubbish continues to be collected.”

Testing ‘mega-lab’ opens in Cheshire

The second of three so-called “lighthouse labs” has opened at Alderley Park in Cheshire.

The new facility will increase the UK’s capacity to test for coronavirus to “tens of thousands of samples each day” – still short of the government’s stated goal of 100,000 a day.

Testing minister Lord Bethell said: “Our target to reach 100,000 coronavirus tests a day requires a national effort. It is truly humbling to see remarkable experts from across the country use their skills to rapidly scale up testing capacity, with people from all sectors including industry and academia working tirelessly each day.”

Furlough scheme opens for applications

Thousands of businesses are expected to apply.
Thousands of businesses are expected to apply.
Christopher Furlong via Getty Images

The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme went live on Monday, allowing businesses to claim towards staff wages and help protect staff from redundancy.

The launch of the scheme comes as the government was warned of the economic cost for many companies of any delay in its implementation.

In a statement, chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “Our unprecedented job retention scheme will protect millions of jobs across the country and is now up and running.

“It’s vital that our economy gets up and running again as soon as it’s safe – and this scheme will allow that to happen.”

Under the furlough scheme, employers can go online to claim cash grants worth up to 80% of wages, capped at £2,500 a month per worker.

Around 5,000 HMRC staff will run the scheme, with the money due to reach bank accounts within six working days, a statement from the Treasury said.

It was announced last week that the scheme would be extended for another month, until the end of June.

Unions call for minute’s silence to remember key workers

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis described the silence as the "ultimate tribute".
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis described the silence as the "ultimate tribute".
ANTHONY DEVLIN via Getty Images

Unions are calling for a minute’s silence next week to remember all the health, care and other key workers who have lost their lives to coronavirus.

Unison, the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives, who between them represent more than a million NHS and public service workers, including porters, refuse collectors and care staff, are urging the nation to join the tribute at 11am on April 28.

The minute’s silence, on International Workers’ Memorial Day, will allow everyone to pay their respects and show support for the families of those who have died, said the unions.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “This is the ultimate tribute to remember workers who’ve lost their lives and put themselves in harm’s way to keep us safe and vital services running.

“Every year the sacrifice of workers around the world is recognised, but this year has a special significance because of the pandemic.”

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said the government “is looking into the idea”.

“I have responsibility for ceremonials and things like minute-silences, and we are actively looking into that and think it is a good idea,” he told the BBC.

Asked whether it could be an official government-led event, he said: “Yes, I think it could be but we will make an announcement on that at an appropriate time.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has backed the idea, saying the party “wholeheartedly” supported the call.

Royal College of Nursing general secretary Donna Kinnair said: “We’ve become used to hearing a great roar on a Thursday night for key workers, but this respectful silence will be a poignant reminder of the risks they run to keep us safe.

“I hope the public gets behind this with the same affection they show when applauding our people.”

Many have had virus with no symptoms, report suggests

A number of studies have found that more people than previously thought could have had the virus without any symptoms.
A number of studies have found that more people than previously thought could have had the virus without any symptoms.
SOPA Images via Getty Images

New research suggests that far more people have had the coronavirus without any symptoms – fuelling hopes that the virus is less lethal than currently feared.

Despite a high number of fatalities, health officials have said the virus most commonly causes a mild to moderate flu-like illness.

But evidence is now growing that a substantial number of people may have no symptoms at all.

Scientists in Iceland screened 6% of its population to see how many had previously undetected infections and found that about 0.7% tested positive, as did 13% of a group at higher risk because of recent travel or exposure to someone sick.

On board the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, where one crew member died from the virus, “the rough numbers are that 40% are asymptomatic”, said vice admiral Phillip Sawyer, deputy commander of naval operations.

In New York, a hospital tested all pregnant women coming in to deliver over a two-week period, with early 14% of those who arriving with no symptoms testing positive.

Of the 33 positive cases, 29 had no symptoms when tested, although some developed them later.

Researchers estimate that 18% of infected people never developed any.

These studies used tests that look for bits of the virus from throat and nose swabs, which can miss cases – testing negative one day and then positive the next.

Better answers may come from newer tests which check blood for antibodies, substances the immune system makes to fight the virus. But the accuracy of these, too, is still to be determined, and it is not yet known if recovery from the virus causes immunity.

Trump defends anti-lockdown protestors as ‘great people’

Two men hold signs as they protest against the state's extended stay-at-home order as hundreds gather to demonstrate at the Capitol building in Olympia, Washington.
Two men hold signs as they protest against the state's extended stay-at-home order as hundreds gather to demonstrate at the Capitol building in Olympia, Washington.
Lindsey Wasson / Reuters

Donald Trump has defended right-wing protestors defying lockdown rules, following days of apparent encouragement of people rallying across the US for for states to reopen the economy – despite governments and health experts deeming it not safe enough to do so.

Since last week, thousands of protesters in more than a dozen states have taken to the streets to demand stay-at-home orders be lifted, even though public health officials have warned that lifting restrictions too early could lead to a spike in cases.

The country’s coronavirus death toll – by far the highest of any country on earth – has now surpassed 40,000.

The protesters have been mostly right-wing followers, anti-vaccination advocates and gun rights activists who in some photos can be seen standing close together without masks or gloves, in defiance of the social distancing guidelines meant to slow the spread of the virus and flatten the curve.

In a series of tweets on Friday, Trump called to “LIBERATE” Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia ― three swing states with Democratic governors ― in an echo of the protesters’ demands. A day earlier, the president outlined guidelines in three phases for reopening the economy in some areas over a period of several weeks.

Asked on Sunday if he was concerned that his tweets helped incite violence against the governors ― some of whom are receiving death threats from protesters ― Trump immediately denied it.

“I’ve seen the people, I’ve seen the interviews of people. These are great people,” Trump said. “Look they want to get ― they call cabin fever, you’ve heard the term ― they’ve got cabin fever. They wanna get back. They want their life back. Their life was taken away from them. And you know, they learned a lot during this period. They learned to do things differently than they have in the past. And you know, they’ll do it hopefully until the virus has passed.

First two Nightingale patients discharged

London’s NHS Nightingale hospital has officially discharged its first two patients.

Two men were applauded by staff as they were released from the pop-up facility at the ExCeL, east London, on Sunday afternoon.

They are the first people to be successfully discharged from care since the hospital welcomed its maiden patients on April 7.

The facility was built in nine days, though the NHS has never confirmed how many patients have been treated there, despite stating its capacity to cope with thousands of admissions.

NHS England said one of the patients was Simon Chung, a father-of-one in his 50s, who has now been transferred to Northwick Park hospital in Harrow, north London, to continue his treatment.

Eamonn Sullivan, nursing director at NHS Nightingale London said: “This is wonderful news and testament to all the clinicians and support staff who have been working around the clock to care for our patients.

“Although these two patients being discharged today are now out of danger, their long road to recovery is a reminder of why everyone needs to do what they can to stay safe by following the government’s advice.”

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