Coronavirus Has Killed 15 Care Workers, Matt Hancock Confirms

The government has faced sharp criticism over failures to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline staff.

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Health secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed the deaths of 15 social care workers due to coronavirus in the UK.

Speaking in the Commons, Hancock paid tribute to the care workers who have lost their lives.

It comes amid reports care homes are running out of personal protective equipment (PPE) to shield themselves from the virus.

Earlier, first secretary of state Dominic Raab confirmed 69 NHS workers had also died due to the disease – meaning that 84 NHS and social care staff have died.

But others, including the campaign group Nursing Notes, put the total at more than 100.

“Fifteen social care staff have sadly lost their lives and, in the same way we pay tribute to and we remember all those NHS staff who have died, so too we do [those] who serve our country and look after people in social care,” Hancock said on Wednesday.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady earlier this week called for a judge-led public inquiry into what she called the “grotesque” failures to provide frontline staff with PPE.

UK ‘at the peak’

The health secretary also said the UK was “at the peak” of the Covid-19 outbreak and that there were 3,000 spare critical care beds.

He said: “That is more than three times more than we had at the start of this crisis.”

The spare capacity was before the new Nightingale hospitals were included, he added.

He also appealed to people suffering from non-coronavirus conditions to seek treatment, too.

“Today, I want to reinforce the message that non-Covid NHS services are open for patients,” he said. “The NHS is there for you if you need advice and treatment.”

Hancock also asked people to continue following the social distancing advice.

He told MPs: “I just want to thank everyone from across the country for their steadfast commitment in following the rules, including in this House.

“It is making a difference. We are at the peak. But before we relax any social distancing rules or make changes to them we have set out the five tests that have to be met.”

Hancock later expanded on the point, saying it was a “question of degree” rather than numbers of new cases of the virus: “We are at a peak and we have high confidence that we are at a peak in this disease, but obviously we need to see that come down.

“It’s a question of degree. The reason I’m not giving a numerical answer is because it is a question of degree. The fewer new cases, the more effective test, track and trace are as a way of keeping the disease down, and therefore the more of the social distancing measures can be lifted.

“This is all a question of degree and we do not have an answer to the question of when that will all be do-able because we have not yet seen the curve start to come down, and we don’t know the pace that which that curve will come down under the current social distancing rules.”