LiveCoronavirus in UK live blog: latest as Matt Hancock holds daily press briefing

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Friday, 15th May 2020, 5:55 pm

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Coronavirus live blog, May 15

Last updated: Friday, 15 May, 2020, 15:11

Number of deaths over 41,000

The number of deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK has now passed 41,000, according to the latest available data.

Friday's figures from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, showing that 599 deaths involving Covid-19 had occurred in Northern Ireland up to May 8 (and had been registered up to May 13), follow figures on Wednesday from the National Records of Scotland, showing that 3,213 deaths involving Covid-19 had been registered in Scotland up to May 10.

On Tuesday the Office for National Statistics published figures that showed 35,044 deaths involving Covid-19 had occurred in England and Wales up to May 1 (and had been registered up to May 9).

Together these figures mean that so far 38,856 deaths have been registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, including suspected cases.

A further 2,503 hospital patients in England who had tested positive for Covid-19 died between May 2 and May 14, according to figures published on Friday by NHS England - which, together with the total figure of 38,856 registered deaths, indicates the overall death toll for the UK has now passed 41,000.

Liverpool schools will not return on June 1

Schools in Liverpool will not reopen to all pupils after the city's mayor raised safety fears over children going back into classes.

Only the children of key workers and vulnerable children will be allowed in school from June 1, the city council confirmed on Friday.

Mayor Joe Anderson earlier this week said he was "minded to resist" Prime Minister Boris Johnson's suggested June 1 partial reopening date, because of safeguarding concerns.

Just 1,500 contact tracers hired

The Government's approach to coronavirus testing has been labelled a "shambles" as it emerged that just 1,500 contact tracers out of a promised 18,000 had been appointed by the start of the week.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said while "about 15,000" applications have been received, only 1,500 people have currently been hired for the programme which is seen as key to allowing the UK to lift the most stringent lockdown measures.

Journalist details air travel during pandemic

Journalist Laurel Chor has tweeted a thread detailing what it's like to travel by plane during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Scotland teaching unions urge against early return to school

Des Morris of the SNCT and Educational Institute of Scotland has urged the Scottish government not to follow in the footsteps of the UK government with a n early return for schoolkids. 

He said: "There is a strong argument to maintain a cautionary approach and to reinforce such by indicating schools will reopen after the summer break. 

“Not only does that bring clarity to parents, pupils, and teachers, it provides a significant period to plan and prepare for the very real challenge of delivering a blended learning experience for Scotland’s pupils in session 2020/21.”

Majority of care home residents with Covid-19 die in care home

The majority of care home residents with Covid-19 die in their care home, with just over one in four dying in hospital, new analysis shows.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that just over one in four of all deaths of care home residents in England and Wales between March 2 and May 1 involved Covid-19.

Some 45,899 care home residents died during this period, of which 12,526 (27%) were deaths where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

From these 12,526 coronavirus deaths, 9,039 (72%) occurred within a care home.

Slovenia declare end of coronavirus pandemic

Slovenia is set to become the first European country to declare an end to its coronavirus epidemic.

A decree declaring an end to the outbreak will come into effect later this month. 

The central European country has registered just 35 cases in the past two weeks. 

People in the North East should 'disregard' Government advice and stay home

Gateshead Council has urged people in the North East to disregard the Government's advice and to stay at home.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, the council's leader Martin Gannon said: "Our message in Gateshead is for people to stay home."

He added: "We haven't got the same powers as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, we don't have the same legislative powers, but if I did have those powers I would be saying I'm doing exactly what they are doing in Scotland.

"The R rate in the North East of England I'm told is twice the rate of London and we have significant numbers of deaths, our hospitals are still busy, so therefore I'm extremely concerned.

“I think what the Government is doing nationally is reckless. It may be OK in some of the leafy suburbs, it may be alright in some of the rural villages, but it is not OK in Gateshead.”

Lake District National Park chief executive: 'Don't rush back'

The chief executive of the Lake District National Park has urged people not to rush back to the area.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Richard Leafe was asked whether the message is "do not come".

Mr Leafe said: "It is for the time being, yes. It is consider and respect the local communities in doing that.

"We are putting in place, for those people who insist on coming this weekend, a system whereby you can check to see how full the car parks in the Lake District are when you arrive so that you can go to one where hopefully there is a bit of space and you are able to get out.

"But my main point would be please don't travel for the moment to the Lake District because of the impact you will have on the local communities."

Welsh Government's road map will not provide timings

Wales's First Minister Mark Drakeford has told Sky News the "road map" out of lockdown to be published later on Friday will not provide timings of the different stages.

"Once you provide a date, people get fixated with a date rather than with a process you have to go through to make sure that it is then safe to take those measures," he said.

He said it would be a "traffic light system" that moved from lockdown into the "first cautious step" of the red zone, then the amber zone, and finally the green zone.

People with cardiovascular diseases and diabetes should keep their distance

The WHO's coronavirus special envoy has said that people with cardiovascular diseases and diabetes should keep their distance from others.

Dr David Nabarro told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I'm very clear that people with diabetes, people with cardiovascular disease are at risk.

"It is not so much that I want them to be shielded, it is just that I want them to be given the necessary advice and encouragement to be able to keep their distance from other people.

"Wherever possible, if they are forced to be close together, that we actually do everything possible to avoid them being exposed to infection. We look after them, that is the key point."

Sadiq Khan: 'This is not the deal I wanted'

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has said the Government has "forced Londoners to pay a heavy price for doing the right thing" after are last-minute bailout for the capital's transport network.

He said: "I want to be completely honest and upfront with Londoners - this is not the deal I wanted. But it was the only deal the Government put on the table and I had no choice but to accept it to keep the Tubes and buses running."

Mr Khan said Covid-19 had a "catastrophic" impact on TfL's finances, and blamed the Government for failing to properly fund the network.

"We are running as many services as humanly possible given the number of staff off sick, shielding or self-isolating. As staff are returning to work we are increasing services as fast as possible to get back to 100%.

"From Monday, we aim to run around 85% of buses, 75% of Tubes, restore the Circle line and re-open some of the 37 closed stations."

Different UK governments taking different approaches 'quite natural'

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis has said that different UK governments taking different approaches to releasing lockdown measures is "quite natural" and "quite appropriate".

He told BBC Breakfast: "At the moment, where people can work from home they should continue to do so and where they are going to work, look at what other modes of transport they can use to get to work in the first place as well."

Mr Lewis added: "If you cannot work from home and you can only work from being in a place of work, that place of work should be ensuring that you can practise social distancing, working with employers to ensure that you can stagger your times to be able to get to work in an appropriate and safe way."

He said that wearing a face mask is "a sensible and practical thing to do".

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