That’s it for today’s news conference
And our liveblog – thank you for joining us.
Peak likely to be happening across the whole UK, Whitty says
England’s chief medical officer is asked if the “peak” has been reached across the UK, including in places like Bristol and the south west where numbers have not been as high.
Prof Whitty said the actual peak is an artificial not a natural because of the lockdown, so it is “likely to occur at really a very similar time”.
There could be a “slightly earlier effect in London” but much less than there would have been otherwise.
49 more deaths reported in Ireland
‘It’s going to take a long time’ until vaccine available
Raab and Prof Whitty gives another straight forward warning to people not to expect a vaccine any time soon.
“A vaccine is not going to come in any time particularly soon to allow us to ease out of the current social distancing measures into a transition” the foreign secretary.
England’s chief medical officer says in the long run the exit from lockdown will be either a vaccine and/ or highly effective drugs so that people stop dying of the disease.
The probability of having those by the end of the year are “incredibly small” he says.
“We’ll have to rely on social measures – it’s going to take a long time.”
WATCH: ‘We are not under water’ on PPE shortages
‘Wholly unrealistic’ all lockdown measures will disappear
Prof Whitty gives a frank assessment of how long the UK will be dealing with the virus.
“This disease is not going to be eradicated, it is not going to disappear – we have to accept we are going to be with it globally for the foreseeable future,” he explains.
“If people are hoping it’s suddenly going to move from where we are now in lockdown suddenly into everything’s gone that is a wholly unrealistic expectation.
“We’re going to have to do a lot of things for a long period of time.”
WATCH: Warning of ‘high mortality rate in care homes’
Hopes for tests soon to show what proportion of age groups have had virus
Prof Whitty says that he hopes “shortly” tests will soon be available “that will have at least a ranging shot to show what proportion of people in different age groups have had this virus”.
He adds the government is “hoping we will be able to do so in the pretty near future”.
Are we under utilising military reserves?
That’s the next question put to the panel, as it’s revealed 3,000 reserves have been deployed out of a pool of 20,000.
Sir Nick says the skills of those not currently called up are “not necessarily the ones people need at this time”.
‘Would be a mistake’ to say PPE shortages fixed within days
When will PPE shortages be resolved, Sky News’ Beth Rigby asks next. And she asks if the call for people to still seek medical help even if they have non-coronavirus symptoms is light at the end of the tunnel?
Raab says there is a “glimmer” of light but “we’re not there yet”.
On PPE, Sir Nick says “we are tight at different times on different items of PPE” and that the armed forces has been “so critical” to reduce shortages.
He says we’re not yet at the point that “we’re no longer able to cope with it” but that to promise in a few days this will be sorted “would be a mistake”.
Mid-May lockdown easing claim ‘not a government timetable’
The next question is about the transport union TSSA saying its workers have been told to expect an increase in railway usage between 11 and 18 May – does that mean that’s when an ease to the lockdown could come? And overseas doctors and nurses working in the NHS pay hundreds of pounds to use the NHS – might those be waived?
Raab says the dates for lifting the lockdown “are not something I recognise” and “it would be a mistake to take our eye off the ball now”. “I’m telling you that is not a government timetable.”
And on the medics’ question, he says he pays tribute to the “incredible job they do” but he’ll defer to the home secretary.
WATCH: UK has hit peak of the virus
Even ONS death figures are ‘under-estimate’
That’s the statements over, now on to questions from the media
The first questioner says figures suggest there have been a doubling of care home deaths in England and asks if because the virus appears to target the elderly, is that inevitable?
Raab says “I don’t think anything is inevitable” and the government is “fighting tooth and nail” to decrease deaths.
But Whitty says the “starting position is of course correct” because the virus targets “a very vulnerable group”. He says he thinks even the ONS’ figures on deaths is an under-estimate.
Daily deaths have ‘flattened off’
Talking through the slides that are released daily on stats like transport change, new UK cases and global death comparisons, Prof Whitty says the number of daily deaths in the UK has “flattened off” over the last week.
See all of the graphs for yourself, below.
Military still simultaneously protecting the country
Sir Nick says despite all the work the armed forces are doing to help internally during the COVID-19 crisis, they’re still involved in defending the UK with the nuclear deterrent and on essential operations overseas in Afghanistan, the Middle East and Africa.
‘Single greatest logistical challenge’ distributing PPE
Sir Nick says the delegation of armed forces personnel makes them much more flexible and able to adapt to local needs.
He says their help for the NHS to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) has been “the single greatest logistical challenge I have come across”.
And the forces are involved in testing, designing the systems and staffing some of the test centres.
And they’ve been helping quash misinformation.
WATCH: Death toll reaches 18,000 Raab announces
‘Peak of the virus has not overwhelmed NHS’
The crisis has “shone a light on the best amongst us”, Raab says, such as the weekly clap for carers events.
With Sir Nick Carter, chief of defence staff, he says he should point out the massive effort of the armed forces in building Nightingale hospitals and delivering PPE.
As a result that means “the peak of this virus has not overwhelmed the NHS”.
‘We’re not out of the woods yet’
Raab says the government has worked to “take the right steps at the right times” but he knows it’s been tough for communities, businesses and families.
There’s been an “immense mental strain” for people in terms of finances and isolation.
“We are making progress through the peak of this virus – but we’re not out of the woods yet.”
He says lockdown must remain “for the time being” because otherwise there could be a second spike in the virus and a second lockdown.
Dominic Raab kicks off news conference
The foreign secretary begins by announcing 559,935 people have been tested for the virus – of those 133,495 have tested positive.
And 18,100 hospital patients have sadly died, he says.
WATCH: Rooftop rave for social distancing locals
: Who will we hear from at today’s news conference? Fresh from his performance at Prime Minister’s Questions filling in for Boris Johnson while he recovers from coronavirus, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will be taking the lead for the government.
Could UK follow China’s immediate quarantines?
MP blasts ‘shambolic’ leadership
A Labor backbencher launches one of the most fierce criticisms of the government so far, saying the government management and leadership “has been shambolic”.
Could government provide free tasks to everyone?
Labor backbencher Hilary Benn asks – if the government changes tack and advises people to wear masks, whether it would provide masks to the public for them – and what plans there are to source them?
Responding to Hancock’s statment via video link, Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth says the UK looks like it is heading towards one of the worst death rates in Europe.
He asks Hancock for an explanation of why this is.
Ashworth also asks for an explanation of why the UK’s advice on isolating is for seven days in apparent contradiction with the WHO’s rule of 20 days. In addition, he asks about the high proportion of deaths amongst BAME communities, why the UK was not part of EU procurement schemes for PPE at the b eginning, and he calls for daily reporting of deaths in care homes.
In response, Hancock reveals 19 social care staff have died with coronavirus. He says the government is “constantly looking” at the question of the UK’s coronavirus response in comparison with other countries. Hancock reveals there are currently
, (spare beds in the NHS.)
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