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  • being foreign secretary on the chief scientific adviser.

  • Good afternoon.

  • Welcome to Downing Street for today's Corona virus press briefing.

  • I'm joined by our chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Valence, on Dr von Doyle, medical director at Public Health, England.

  • Before Sir Patrick provides an update on the latest data from our Cobra Kurt Corona virus Dashboard, I just want to give you an update on the steps that we as a government have been taken to defeat kind of ours.

  • Our step by step action plan is aiming to slow the spread of the virus.

  • So fewer people need hospital treatment at any one time.

  • Thereby protecting the N.

  • H s is capacity.

  • At each point, we've been following the scientific and medical advice and we've been very deliberate in our actions, taking the right steps at the right moment.

  • We're also taking unprecedented action to increase n hs capacity by dramatically expanding the numbers of beds, key staff, lifesaving equipment on the front line so that we give people the care they need when they need it most.

  • That's why we're instructing people to stay at home so we can protect our n hs and save lives.

  • I can report that through the government's ongoing monitoring and testing programme.

  • As of today, 134,946 people have now being tested for the virus.

  • 112,805 have tested negative.

  • 22,141 have tested positive.

  • Of those who have contracted the virus, 1408 have very sadly died.

  • We express our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those of those who have passed away.

  • And I think those figures are a powerful reminder to us all of the importance of following the government's guidelines.

  • We must stay at home to protect our n hs and save lives.

  • And I'd like to thank all of those involved on the front line in particular all of those in the N hs for their battle against this virus.

  • The amazing doctors, the amazing nurses, all the support staff working day and night.

  • The thousands of other key workers from our teachers to supermarket workers toe a fantastic diplomatic network who are all as a team working around the clock to get us through this unprecedented Corona virus challenge.

  • This is the United national effort in the spirit of selflessness shown by so many is an inspiration.

  • I now want to turn to what we've been doing to support British people traveling around the world.

  • Grown a virus hasn't just changes at home.

  • It is the greatest global challenge in a generation as the country's work to secure their borders and stop the further spread of this deadly virus.

  • We appreciate that an unprecedented number of UK travelers are trying to get home, and we're not talking a few 100 or even a few thousands.

  • We're talking about hundreds of thousands of people traveling around the world.

  • So with that in mind, on the 17th of March, we advise people against all non essential traveled around the world.

  • And since the 23rd of March, we've advised the orca or UK residents who were currently traveling abroad should return home.

  • Hundreds of thousands have already done so, but many travelers haven't yet managed to get back home from young Backpackers to retired couples on cruises, and we appreciate the difficult predicament that they find themselves in.

  • We also recognize exactly the anxiety or families here in the UK who are concerned to get their loved ones home.

  • It's a worrying time for all of those who've been affected, and I want to assure them that this government, their government is working around the clock to support, advise and to help British travellers get home.

  • I've spoken to more than 20 foreign ministers around the world in the last week or so to support this effort to keep airports and ports open and to facilitate access to them by British travellers.

  • Over the weekend, I spoke to foreign ministers from Australia, New Zealand, India and Brazil on Pakistan.

  • I also spoke to the Ethiopian prime minister and in all of those cases urged them to work with us to come to keep commercial routes flying.

  • Given the scale and complexity of this challenge, it inevitably requires a team effort.

  • So the Foreign Office is working with other governments.

  • There's a particular focus on transit hubs and we're also working with the airlines to keep his many flights running.

  • This possible.

  • We got a lot more to do, but we've already helped hundreds of thousands of Britain's get home.

  • The first priority is being to keep as many commercial flights running as we can and that's based on just purely the scale and the number of people who want to come home.

  • And as a result of those efforts on the corporation we receive from the Spanish government, we've enabled NW estimated 150,000 UK nationals to get back from Spain, another commercial routes that have come under pressure.

  • We worked with a partner, governments and airlines to get back 8500 UK travelers from Morocco, around 5000 UK nationals from Cyprus.

  • That gives you a sense of the scale of the challenge and the numbers of British travelers abroad Now in circumstances where commercial flights can't operate, we've already chartered flights which proved necessary to return 1400 UK nationals on flights, for example, from from China at the outset of this crisis and were recently from Peru.

  • We've not faced challenges like this in getting people home from abroad on this scale.

  • In recent memory, airports are closing down all preventing airlines from operating on a commercial basis.

  • Local authorities have placed restrictions on movement that prevent people from getting to the airport and the critical transit hubs that we rely on for long haul flights are also shutting down or in some cases, limiting their flights.

  • Some of these restrictions have been done with very little notice, some with no notice at all, which makes it very difficult to respond.

  • So international collaboration is absolutely vital.

  • As I said, it's a team effort, and it involves government working with other governments but also working with the airlines.

  • So with that in mind, I can today announced a new arrangement between the government and airlines to fly home tens of thousands of stranded British travellers where commercial flights are no longer possible.

  • Partner airlines include British Airways, Virgin easyJet, Jet to and tighten on.

  • This list can be expanded under the arrangements that we are putting in place.

  • We will target flights from a range off priority countries starting this week.

  • Let me explain a little bit about how this will work.

  • In practice, where commercial routes remain an option, airlines will be responsible for getting passengers home.

  • That means offering alternative flights at little to no cost, where routes have been canceled and it means allowing passengers to change tickets, including between carriers.

  • So for those still in those countries, where commercial options are still available.

  • Don't wait.

  • Don't run the risk of getting stranded.

  • The airlines are standing by to help you.

  • Please book your tickets as soon as possible.

  • Where commercial flights are no longer running, the government will provide the necessary financial support for special charter flights to bring UK nationals back home.

  • Once special charter flights have been arranged, we will promote them through the government's travel advice on by the British Embassy or High Commission.

  • In the relevant country, British travelers who want to seat on those flights will book and pay directly through a dedicated travel management company.

  • We've designated £75 million to support those flights in the airline's in order to keep the cost down and affordable for those seeking to return to the UK and in arranging these fights are priority will be the most honorable, including the elderly or those with particularly pressing medical needs and also looking in particular countries where we've got large numbers of U K Tour is struggling to get home.

  • UK travelers, if they haven't already done so, should check the Foreign Office travel advice and that advice is under constant review, and it can help travelers find out more details about how to access the flights.

  • Under this arrangement, they should also follow the social media of the UK Embassy or High Commission in the country, where they find themselves so they can be directed to accurate real time information from the local authorities.

  • Any questions that can't be advised answered in that travel advice or by the UK embassies or high commission?

  • We also have our call center working 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

  • Now I know it's been difficult to get through for some travelers just to give you a sense of the sheer volume.

  • On average, we normally receive 1000 calls a day to that call center.

  • Last Tuesday.

  • We have nearly 15,000 the highest on record, so we boosted our resources.

  • We've redeployed people to assist in the call center on.

  • We've tripled our capacity.

  • Yesterday, the call center answered 99% of calls and helped thousands of British travellers to get the answers that they need.

  • So for those stranded off the family's nervously waiting news and wanting to see their loved ones return home, we're doing everything we can.

  • We've improved our advice and boosted the Cole center.

  • So travelers get better and swifter information.

  • We've put in place this arrangement with the airlines so that we can reach more British citizens invulnerable circumstances abroad, where commercial flights aren't running.

  • And we're working intensively around the clock with all of our partner countries and governments around the world to keep it open the airports, the ports on the flights to bring people home.

  • We've not faced an international challenge quite like this before, but together we're going to rise to it.

  • And, of course, here at home, we can all support our N HS by continuing to follow the guidance to stay at home, protect our n hs and save lives.

  • I think I'll now hand over to Patrick Vallance, who will give a presentation on the latest data, and then we'll take some questions after that, thank you very much.

  • I wanted to share with you some of the information about where we are in this outbreak on some of the measures have been taken on.

  • The idea, as we've said repeatedly, is to try and break and slow transmission of the virus, and that's through staying at home and keeping distant.

  • So the first slide shows that actually this has been successful in terms of the behavior changes, and I want to thank everybody for the way in which everyone is adhering to the measures that have been put in place.

  • This shows the use of transport over time from the end of February through two now, and you can see a dramatic fall off in the use of the London tube down to just a few percent off what it was back in the end of February.

  • A decrease in bus use, a decrease in national rail onda decrease also in the use of all motor vehicles.

  • So the measures are in place.

  • They are making a difference.

  • They aren't decreasing the contact which is so important to spread the disease, and we're doing a good job.

  • But cutting that down now.

  • The reason that's important is because, of course, it then prevents number of cases should reduce the number of cases.

  • Next line, please.

  • So this shows the number of new UK cases, and I'll repeat what I've said before.

  • This is cases that are detected with a positive test, so it's an under estimate of the total number of cases on its those cases which have been tested because they come to hospital.

  • What you can see is this being increase in the number of cases since the middle of March through to today.

  • We expect that the measures that are in place that have caused that social distancing the stay at home message will be reducing the number of cases of transmission in the community and decrease in the number of cases overall.

  • As the cases flatten off when we shouldn't take too much attention to individual day to day variation, we need to look over time and see what's happening.

  • We would expect this in turn to decrease the number of people needing admission to hospital.

  • Next line, please.

  • This graph shows the total number of people admitted to hospital since the middle of March, which is now 8000 people with Corona virus.

  • That's going up pretty much the same amount each day for the last few days.

  • That shows that it's going up not in an increasing amount, but going up in a constant amount, which may suggest that were already beginning to see some effects through about half of those cases slightly under hard for in London.

  • But what you can see in the lower lines on this graph is that we're also seeing cases throughout the UK, so the message stay at home, protect the N hs and save lives is true everywhere in the UK, we all need to do this in order to break and slow the transmission of this virus, decrease the number of cases and in turn, decrease the number of people coming into hospital.

  • What I've said recently is that we expect this to get worse over the next couple of weeks because there's a lag phase between getting the disease and people turning up in hospital.

  • So you would expect to see a continuation of this at least over two or three weeks than a stabilization on a gradual decrease.

  • Thereafter, the number of hospital admissions to repeat has gone up roughly the same amount each day, suggesting that we're not on a fast acceleration at the moment.

  • Next line, please.

  • All of this is about preventing deaths and preventing the N.

  • H.

  • S becoming overwhelmed in the intensive care units with ventilators.

  • And on this graph, it tracks the deaths that have occurred globally across some of the country's not all of the countries, obviously, and it shows that there is a pattern of increasing deaths which you expect to platter.

  • Reach a plateau to come down eventually and you can see in the UK here, which is in the Purple Line.

  • We're tracking roughly along the same path as Frantz.

  • I've said before we're behind Italy in terms of the curve, you can see that Spain has a higher number than Italy at the moment, in terms of its trajectory, not turned the total number, but the direction in which it's going.

  • The UK is tracking alongside France in this.

  • The measures we're taking well stop the transmission delay the transmission, reduced the number of cases that reduced the number of people becoming infected in the community, reduce the number of people therefore that need to go into ventilators and therefore reduce the number of people also, that might die or will die from this infection.

  • So I want to thank all of the people in the N.

  • H s who's working unbelievably hard at the front line to look after this, what we can do, but all of us can do is make sure that we heed the advice to stay at home, to reduce those contacts so that we ultimately decreased.

  • The number of people were going to be seriously ill or die from this infection.

  • Thank you very much, Patrick.

  • And it will turn to questions now.

  • His little kids back then.

  • Thank you, Foreign Secretary.

  • First off, sir Patrick, based on what you know now are the restrictions working on dhe?

  • Could we avoid the N.

  • H s being overwhelmed.

  • If the trajectory continues like this on Foreign Secretary, you're asking a huge amount of the public.

  • Is it the government's view that people need to be willing to follow these restrictions for as long as six months, if that's what it takes?

  • Shall I stop when the trajectory What?

  • What?

  • What we know is that the measures that have been taken are having a very big effect on contacts.

  • Andi, I showed you the date on transport.

  • The dramatic reductions in the amount of transport being used, you see dramatic reductions in footfall.

  • We know, of course, that things like restaurants and pubs, which places where people aggregate have bean bean closed.

  • So we are seeing a big change in contacts that is predicted to have a very significant effect on the so called R.

  • The R value is the number of people on average infected by one infected person, and the idea is to get that number below one, at which point the epidemic stops and starts to go down on the basis off the contacts.

  • You would expect that our value now in terms of the early phases of transmission in the community, to be coming down or below one so that we think that that has had the effect that that desired, that takes two or three weeks to feed through into the number of people who might be appearing in hospital a little longer in terms of those who is seriously ill or those, of course that might die.

  • So we expect to see a lag phase before you really see these curves changing.

  • Also, make a comment about the duration.

  • It's important that we do this now to get the numbers below N.

  • H s I C U capacity.

  • That is the absolute priority at the moment.

  • Once that is achieved, once we know that we've got this curve below the ice you capacity and stable.

  • Then, of course, it's timeto art.

  • Start asking the question, which is being asked across the world at the moment.

  • How do we release those measures and manage this going forward?

  • So I think it's premature to put a time an absolute time on how long this goes on for.

  • We need to do Phase one, and then we need to think about how we release these in the right way on the right approach in order to be able to allow the curve to stay below the icy capacity.

  • And I think the only thing Lord, that our dad is that obviously theme or members of the public as they're doing increasingly a follow this guidance, the quicker we'll be able to get into position where we review whether and how there is any using of those restrictions.

  • Beth Ricky Beth Rigby from Sky Thank you a question 1st 1st Sir Patrick on on Friday, The N.

  • H s chief said there was 6200 Corona virus patients in hospital today, he said it was 9000.

  • That's nearly 1000 new patients a day.

  • Do you think those numbers will accelerate over the next 2 to 3 weeks on.

  • At what stage?

  • At the moment, you think the end, it just could hit capacity on then.

  • Just a quick question for the foreign secretary, please.

  • Germany's testing 70,000 people a day.

  • Countries like South Korea do mass testing on contact tracing to try and control the spread of Corona virus.

  • Our target is 25,000 tests today.

  • Is that because you think that number is optimal?

  • Or rather, is it that we can't get our hands on the equipment because other countries have bean faster out of the blocks plants?

  • The question about the numbers.

  • So 6000 to 9000 roughly 1000 a day going up in that In that measure, that's not an acceleration.

  • It's quite important on dhe.

  • It tells you that actually, this is a bit more stable than it has Bean.

  • I do expect that number to continue.

  • I expect the number of people coming every day to be about that.

  • It may get up a little bit, Um, and then in two or three weeks, you would expect that to stabilize and then to start to go down a bit.

  • But it's important that's not a rapidly acceleration number is an important number.

  • It's a very difficult number to deal with.

  • And it's a number that the N.

  • H s star for clearly coping with in terms of what they're doing at the moment on the numbers, as projected, are designed.

  • As the chief medical officer said, To keep this below the icy you capacity, you can't promise.

  • And I certainly wouldn't promise that every single I C.

  • U is never gonna breach it's number because that happens every winter.

  • But the aim is to try and keep that below across the country, and that's what we're shooting for.

  • That's what the numbers suggest we should achieve there or thereabouts, and that's what we need to keep striving for.

  • It's why it's so important that we continue to stop the transmission in the community because that keeps the numbers down going into that critical stage better.

  • Well, I that is, that we're operating on multiple fronts to increase the testing that includes purchasing more tests.

  • It also means the progress we've been making bringing former and it just starts back into the workforce or we want to scale that up as swiftly as possible, but it's got to be reliable.

  • I think it was the chief medical officer that said one thing worse than notices, a bad test that got to do this in a safe way.

  • As of this morning, over 900 HS frontline staff being tested as part of our new testing scheme on will be rapidly expanding that Andy Bell from Channel Five.

  • Thank you.

  • Question for Foreign Secretary Festival Do you worry that in some parts of the country, police forces are interpreting Theo instructions from government, Shall we say, overzealously And maybe in creating a little bit too much on the way people maybe want to exercise, take their one piece of exercise a day, for instance, Question for Dr Doyle, a za health service professional.

  • Are you concerned that we're still seeing lots of examples on social media or people in the front line of the N H s?

  • You feel that they'd simply don't have the correct peopie that they should have.

  • You must be worried about that on a final question for Sir Patrick, are you thinking about adding the symptoms of loss of taste and smell as symptoms that might be a pointed towards people having the virus.

  • You want to get fast.

  • Thank you so on the protective equipment and their