Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s temporary release from an Iranian jail has been extended for one month, her MP has said.
Tulip Siddiq tweeted on Tuesday morning: “Very happy to hear from Richard Ratcliffe that Nazanin’s furlough has been extended for a month – in line with other prisoners in Iran.
“Now is the time for our government to do all it can to make it permanent.”
More than 15% of coronavirus deaths taking place outside hospital, says ONS
The Office for National Statistics has just published its latest weekly death figures for England and Wales. They cover the week ending 10 April.
Here are the main points.
- There were 18,516 deaths registered in England and Wales in the week to 10 April, based on the provision figures. That is 2,129 more than the previous week, and 7,996 more than the five-year average.
- Coronavirus was a factor in 33.6% of all deaths that week, up from 21.2% in the previous week. In London more than half of deaths (53.2%) involved coronavirus. And in the West Midlands the figure was 37%.
- Some 83.9% of the deaths involving coronavirus that week took place in hospitals, with the rest occurring in care homes, private homes and hospices.
- The number of deaths in care homes in that week was double what it was just four weeks before.
The 83.9% figure is significant. It means that more than 15% of coronavirus deaths in England and Wales are taking place outside hospital (or at least were in the week these figures cover). That seems higher than some people assumed. Yesterday Prof Yvonne Doyle, the medical director for Public Health England, said at the government’s daily press conference that 90% of coronavirus deaths were in hospital.
We’ll post more from the ONS report shortly.
Yesterday there was a rehearsal in the Commons for the new “hybrid” procedures, that will see a few MPs asking questions in the chamber, but most of them taking party virtually, via video conferencing. Here are some pictures showing how it worked.
Britain only made a formal request to Turkey over a consignment of personal protective equipment on Sunday, Turkish sources have told Sky News.
This is the day after Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary, said at the daily Downing Street press briefing on Saturday that 84 tonnes of the gear, was already heading to the UK.
This included 400,000 urgently needed clinical gowns, which he said would arrive in the UK from Turkey the following day. It failed to materialise, but no explanation for the delay was given.
Two sources have told Sky News that no formal request was made to the Turkish authorities – who were not supplying the shipment, but whose help was sought to get it to the UK – until Sunday.
Agenda for the day
Good morning. I’m Andrew Sparrow, joining the blog.
Here are the main events on the agenda for the day.
9.30am: The Office for National Statistics publishes the latest weekly death figures.
9.30am: The Commons home affairs committee takes evidence on coronavirus and immigration.
12pm: Downing Street lobby briefing.
12.30pm: The Scottish and Welsh governments hold daily briefings.
2.30pm: MPs return to the Commons. They will debate and vote on a motion on hybrid scrutiny proceedings (ie, allowing most questions to ministers to take place virtually), and then there will be a business statement.
2.30pm: The Commons foreign affairs committee takes evidence from Sir Simon McDonald, the Foreign Office permanent secretary.
Afternoon: The latest UK coronavirus hospital death figures are released.
2.30pm: The Commons justice committee takes evidence from the chief inspector of prisons, Peter Clarke.
5pm: The government is due to hold its daily press conference.
An NHS nurse has recovered from coronavirus despite recently having a kidney transplant.
Charlene Nelson managed to fight off the disease after spending just one week in hospital.
The mother-of-one, who works as a nurse at Sandwell Hospital in the West Midlands, started suffering from a shortness of breath on April 12. Nelson underwent a kidney transplant in 2015 and said she was “very scared” after contracting Covid-19.
The 37-year-old said: “I just couldn’t breathe. I called for an ambulance and it all felt like a big blur.
“I got into A&E and then I was put into isolation because of my symptoms. I was treated with antibiotics and tested for coronavirus.
“Because of my kidney condition, I was transferred to another hospital for further treatment.
“My results for Covid-19 came back positive. I was in a bad way for the first two days and I was very scared.
“But I soon started responding to the treatment and began improving.”
Nelson continued: “I think there may be people out there who think they don’t need to go to hospital or believe that their situation will worsen if they do go. However, my condition definitely improved.
A consignment of personal protective equipment being collected by the RAF from Turkey will be in the UK “in the next few days”, local government minister Simon Clarke has said.
Asked whether it had left Turkey yet, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
I can’t speak to that, I’m afraid. All I know is it set off last night.
It will be with us obviously in the UK in the next few days, which is the core priority.
Clarke said there is a “standing presumption” that the government will do its utmost to buy PPE “wherever it can be sourced” and urged manufacturers to “reach out” to the Cabinet Office to log their ability to make equipment.
On testing, he said the government is working to ensure more key workers are eligible to have the tests so “every possible slot is filled” but admitted it is an “enormous challenge”.
“We are doing our very best to make sure that we hit that target.”
The Lord Speaker, Lord Fowler, said he would chair the upper chamber from home, and all proceedings would be digital by Thursday.
He said the House of Lords Commission would consider on Monday whether peers would be able to claim their daily attendance allowance for the virtual proceedings.
Lord Fowler said peers’ membership of select committees would have to be considered, but it was a “pretty strong argument” that members would not have to leave their homes to contribute to proceedings in the chamber.
Commons Speaker urges MPs to stay at home as parliament moves towards remote working
The Commons Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, has urged MPs to “stay at home” as parliament returns following the Easter recess.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
My advice is please stay at home, let’s do it remotely.
Those that insist on coming – we can have up to 50, I’m not expecting 50 members in at once, far from it, I’m hoping that number is much reduced.
He stressed there would be “no advantage” for an MP in the chamber over one working remotely.
Here is the story my colleague Rajeev Syal wrote yesterday about how MPs plan to work mostly by video conferencing when the Commons returns today after the Easter recess.
Dentists and anaesthetists are among the latest groups to say they are working without adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) in the fight against Covid-19.
The British Dental Association (BDA) said dentists in England were facing “critical shortages” of PPE, while the Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCA) said doctors should not treat patients without proper equipment.
Over half (54%) of dentists in England said PPE shortages were hampering efforts to treat patients at urgent dental care (UDC) hubs, according to a survey of 1,010 UK dentists by the BDA.
Only one in five dentists in Scotland are reporting the same issues, the poll found.
Some 35% of all UK dentists surveyed said they felt fully protected against Covid-19 while 46% said they felt partly protected, and almost 12% said they were not protected at all.
Almost two-thirds of dentists at sites in England also reported shortages of FFP3 masks and gowns needed for high-risk procedures known as aerosol-generating procedures.
UK job vacancies dived in the three months to March as the labour market contracted in the face of the coronavirus, official statisticians have revealed.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the number of job vacancies plunged by 52,000 to 795,000 for the quarter.
It said the manufacturing and retail sectors reported the largest decline in hiring over the period.
The ONS also revealed that growth in the number of people on British companies’ payrolls slowed to 0.8% in March from 1.1% in February, according to preliminary tax data.
Economists also revealed on Tuesday that unemployment increased by 22,000 to 1.36 million in the three months to February, before Covid-19 gripped the UK.
Meanwhile, employment for the quarter to February jumped by 352,000 against the same period last year, rising to a record high of 33.07 million. It said this was heavily driven by a jump in the number of women in work, which rose by 318,000 to a record high of 15.73 million.
Primark furloughed 68,000 staff across Europe
The owner of budget fashion firm Primark has said 68,000 staff have been furloughed across Europe amid the coronavirus lockdown as it revealed a £248m hit for unsold stock as all its stores remain shut.
Associated British Foods boss George Weston said the group had been “squarely in the path of this pandemic”, but would not reopen Primark stores until the disease is under control.
Primark has seen sales plunge from £650m a month to zero as coronavirus has caused the 376-strong chain to shut completely, with no online business to fall back on.
Half-year results showed pre-tax profits slumped as Primark was left with piles of stock it was unable to sell amid the global coronavirus lockdown, falling 42% to £298m in the six months to 29 February.
Total charges in the first half soared to £309m, compared with £79m a year earlier, including the £248m stock costs.
Simon Clarke, minister of state for regional growth and local government, said 49 NHS staff had died in the coronavirus fight. He told BBC Breakfast:
Their service and their sacrifice will never be forgotten and we will look into every one of those cases to understand what has happened, I can give that total assurance.
He said he shared the “frustration” of NHS providers and the general public around issues with PPE supply.
But he said the government was confident it could can get the right levels of supply to hospitals and key public-sector workers. He said:
It is not straightforward, precisely because clearly this is an unprecedented challenge, and however much we have been able to put out, and it is a huge quantity, the demand is incredible.
It comes as at least 100 health and care workers have died of coronavirus, the Nursing Notes website has said, amid growing concerns about a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for those working on the frontline during the coronavirus pandemic.
The number of nurses, doctors, porters and members of other professions who have died has been catalogued by Nursing Notes, a platform run by nurses for others in the profession.
Katie Sanderson, a junior doctor in London, told BBC Radio 4’s Today there were “very, very significant gaps” in PPE provision.
Referencing a Doctors’ Association UK survey with more than 1,100 responses in 250 settings, she said 38% of doctors had no eye protection, 38% who need FFP3 masks do not have access to them and 47% do not have access to long-sleeved gowns.
Shortage of PPE ‘a disgrace’, says Labour
The shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel Reeves said the shortage of personal protective equipment was a “disgrace” as she urged the government to use smaller UK manufacturers to source items.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme she had been “inundated” with manufacturers who have contacted the government offering to make PPE but have heard nothing back.
There are many, many businesses around the country who have perhaps furloughed workers but have the capability and the capacity and the skills to make this personal protective equipment and clothing – particularly the gowns – but have not heard back from the government.
Some of them are doing it on an ad-hoc basis for local hospitals or care homes, but this needs to be systematic – it needs to be a national effort, using all of our manufacturing and textile capacity and capability to ensure that the doctors and nurses and care workers … have that equipment and clothing that they need.
She said there had been “too much focus” on importing PPE from overseas and that there had not been enough focus on bringing smaller suppliers into the national effort.
It is a disgrace that we’ve got people working on the frontline who aren’t properly protected and government’s first and foremost responsibility is to protect its citizens, and this now is our main priority.
Hello everyone, and welcome to the UK coronavirus live blog, bringing you the latest updates on Covid-19.
Please do get in touch if you would like to share any news tips of information with me this morning. Your thoughts, comments and insight are always very welcome. Thanks in advance.