COVID-19: Daily update from Grayling PR (22nd March)

23rd March 2020, 10:06 am

Guest blog by Grayling PR (review of 22nd March). Please contact Chris Peacock to receive these daily bulletins by email. 

Political Update

• The Prime Minister has urged members of the public to follow government advice and avoid “any unnecessary contact” this Mothering Sunday.
• In a statement, the Prime Minister warned that the number of COVID-19 cases are accelerating, and that the UK is “only a matter of weeks – two or three – behind Italy”.
• The PM’s statement comes as the government announced it is writing to 1.5 million individuals with underlying medical conditions, urging them to stay at home for at least 12 weeks, to protect them from coronavirus.
• Communities Secretary, Robert Jenrick, has outlined how the government is planning to set up new “community hubs” to provide medicine, groceries and other essentials to those who will be unable to leave their homes under the new guidance.
• As of 9am this morning, there were 5,683 positive cases of the virus across the UK, whilst 72,657 patients had tested negative. 281 patients who tested positive for coronavirus have sadly died.

UK Government

Daily Press Conference

Comments by the Prime Minister

• The PM began by thanking “everyone who is being forced to do something differently today”, including those who refrained from seeing family on Mothering Sunday, as well as businesses who have been forced to close.
• The PM outlined how the UK is now taking “special steps” to protect those who are most vulnerable. He noted how “the shielding will do more than any single measure to save life… and to reduce infection and to stop the spread of disease”.
• Mr Johnson stated it was imperative that people listened to government advice, urging the population to follow social distancing guidelines, and warned that healthy people who do not follow advice could be putting others at risk – before warning the public to “take this seriously”.

Comments by the Communities Secretary

• The Communities Secretary began by thanking NHS staff for their work in recent weeks. The Secretary of State reiterated that the government’s approach to tackling the virus is “guided by science”.
• Mr Jenrick repeated that it was important for everyone to continue following the Chief Medical Officer’s guidance. The NHS has identified 1.5 million people who are deemed to be at the highest risk of being hospitalised. In the next few days, the NHS will contact these individuals and urge them to stay at home for at least 12 weeks. These individuals include people who live with respiratory conditions, particular types of cancers, or those who have undergone organ transplants – the full list of conditions is available to view here.
• The Secretary of State continued that people should not “underestimate what the government is asking”, before noting that individuals who have been asked to stay at home “are not alone”. Clarifying, Mr Jenrick stated that “others in the household will not be required to adopt protective shielding for themselves”, but should continue to follow social distancing measures – carers can continue to visit, but must follow PHE guidance.
• A new network of local community hubs will be created to help those who are unable to leave their homes and have no family or friend support networks. The Communities Secretary suggested that medicines will be delivered by pharmacists and groceries will be delivered by councils and other food distributors, with parcels being left on doorsteps. The new scheme is to be up and running “as soon as possible” according to the Secretary of State.
• “Many people will want to volunteer, and there will be opportunities for everyone to contribute in different ways – there is still a huge amount of work to do” stated Mr Jenrick, before saying that he wished for people to “emerge as stronger communities and better neighbours.”

Statement from the Prime Minister for Mothering Sunday

• The Prime Minister has released a statement warning people not to visit their mothers this Mothering Sunday, instead suggesting to “ring her, video call her, Skype her but avoid any unnecessary physical contact”.
• In the statement, the Prime Minister notes that “The numbers [of cases of COVID-19] are very stark, and they are accelerating. We are only a matter of weeks – two or three – behind Italy. The Italians have a superb health care system. And yet their doctors and nurses have been completely overwhelmed by the demand. The Italian death toll is already in the thousands and climbing. Unless we act together, unless we make the heroic and collective national effort to slow the spread – then it is all too likely that our own NHS will be similarly overwhelmed”.
• The statement concludes, “So this Mothering Sunday let’s all do everything we can to show our respect and love to those who gave us life – and minimise the risk to their own lives. Bit by bit, day by day, we are all helping to delay the spread of the disease, and to give our amazing NHS staff the time to prepare for the peak. So let’s follow the advice, stay home this Mothering Sunday. Send her your love by phone or skype.”
• The statement is available to view here in full.

Scottish Government announcements


• In line with England, at a press conference this evening the First Minister said 200,000 people in Scotland with medical conditions will receive letters containing strict guidance on isolation.
• Elsewhere, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes has urged for support to be given to companies who have offered to make hand sanitiser for the NHS and frontline staff.
• Following school closures, a new hub of information has been created on covering health information, advice on how to talk about COVID-19 and ideas on helping children through this time.
• Ferries to the Scottish islands will be restricted to residents and essential services, while advice was issued to the public not to travel to holiday homes. Pubs were also criticised for flouting the ban introduced on Friday.

Welsh Government announcements


• In Wales, a further 7 patients who tested positive have died, meaning that 12 of those who have tested positive for COVID-19 have now sadly died. As of 21 March, there were 280 confirmed cases in Wales.

Other developments

• The Minister for Health and Social Services has announced that Grange University Hospital will open early in response to the coronavirus outbreak, which will add 350 extra beds. The new hospital could be caring for patients by the end of April.
• The Minister for Health and Social Services has also announced that pharmacies can open an hour later and close an hour earlier in order to allows sufficient time for restocking. They may also close for two hours in the middle of the day for the same reason.
• Public Health Wales confirmed that from Monday 23 March, the Chief Medical Officer will not be making announcements about deaths related to COVID-19 in Wales. The information will instead be published as part of the Public Health Wales daily update.

Please contact Chris Peacock to receive these daily updates by email. 

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