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The number of people in hospital with coronavirus in the UK is “stable” and has now fallen in the capital for seven days in a row, the government has said.
Deputy chief scientific adviser, Angela McLean, said on Monday at the Downing Street press conference she hoped the trend in London – the worst affected area of the country – would soon be replicated across the rest of the UK.
Also speaking at the press conference, Rishi Sunak said despite the positive signals, the easing of lockdown restrictions remained some time away,.
“We are not there yet,” the chancellor said. “At this stage of the crisis we are absolutely focused on sticking to the guidance.”
Referring to the government’s five tests for lifting the lockdown, he said: “We are not there yet and it is very clear that, for now, what we should focus on is following the guidance, staying home to protect the NHS.
“Anything else that people might be speculating on is wrong, we are crystal clear on that message.”
It came as organisations representing hospital trusts have rounded on the government over its promise of more personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect workers in the fight against Covid-19.
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said there was “relatively low confidence” that a shipment of 400,000 surgical gowns which had been due to arrive in the UK from Turkey on Sunday would make its way into the country on Monday.
He said trusts are being forced into “hand-to-mouth” workarounds, including washing single-use gowns and restricting stocks to key areas.
The NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across healthcare, has also reacted angrily to government promises of more PPE, saying delays on the shipment from Turkey “makes a difficult situation worse”.
The Royal Air Force is on standby to bring the delayed shipment of medical gowns from Turkey to the UK following “some unexpected delays” over the weekend, the prime minister’s official spokesman said.
Amid suggestions that health staff could refuse to treat patients if they were not properly protected, the spokesman said: “It’s our job as a government to ensure that frontline healthcare staff are protected as much and as appropriately as possible and that they feel safe. We are working around the clock to ensure enough supply is reaching the front line.”