The rate of infection of coronavirus in the UK is doubling every three to four days and the country must stay indoors to stop the spread, Michael Gove has said.
Mr Gove confirmed the stark increase in cases as he stood in for Boris Johnson at the Government’s daily Covid-19 press briefing after the Prime Minister tested positive for the virus .
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has also tested positive , while England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty is also self-isolating at home after experiencing symptoms.
Meanwhile, the number of deaths in the UK rose by 181 as of 5pm on March 26, up from 578 confirmed as of 5pm the previous day.
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Michael Gove has said the Government brought together universities, businesses and research institutes in a “new alliance” to boost testing capacity for frontline workers.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster told the daily Downing Street press conference: “Today I can announce that the Prime Minister has brought together businesses, research institutes and universities in a new alliance to boost testing capacity for frontline workers…
“This will be antigen testing – testing whether people currently have the disease – so that our health and social care workers can have security in the knowledge that they are safe to return to work if their test is negative.
“These tests will be trialled for people on the frontline starting immediately, with hundreds to take place by the end of the weekend – dramatically scaling up next week.”
Mr Gove thanked those working in the NHS and “all those involved in this effort to reinforce the frontline in the battle against the virus”.
And he said: “The best scientific analysis now is that the rate of infection has been doubling every three to four days.”
Sir Simon said the Government is rolling out staff testing on the NHS.
He said: “We then want to expand it to a wider range of public service staff, including those in social care.”
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens confirmed that new NHS Nightingale Hospitals are being built in Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre and Manchester’s Central Convention Centre “with further such hospitals to follow”.
Cabinet minister Michael Gove has said that Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock both testing positive for coronavirus shows that the “virus does not discriminate”, adding: “We are all at risk.”
Mr Gove said the rate of infection of coronavirus in the UK is doubling every three to four days and the country must stay indoors to stop the spread.
On being asked about cancer patients being advised to miss their treatment amid the pandemic, Mr Stephens said:
The Royal Marsden is coordinating cancer care across the capital.
These are very difficult judgements that need to be made with the full input of clinicians and cancer patients.
On being asked whether the Government has not been taking its own advice, Mr Gove said:
I think the fact that both the PM and the health secretary have contracted the virus is a reminder that it does not discriminate.
The social distancing measures are in place in Government.
Sir Simon said the UK needs to continue in efforts to reduce the rate of the virus spread.
The Government has reconfigured hospital services making more beds available as well as building field hospitals across the country.
He said the number of people hospitalised with coronavirus is likely to rise significantly over the next few days.
CEO of the NHS, Sir Simon Stevens is now speaking.
Mr Gove has announced that thousands of tests will be rolled out to frontline workers over the next few days.
Those who test negative will be able to continue work.
Speaking about Boris Johnson’s diagnosis, he said: “This virus affects us all.”
“The Prime Minister has coronavirus and is self-isolating at home in Downing Street.”
Mr Gove said he continues to lead the effort, taking meetings through video links.
He said: “These figures are a powerful reminder to all of us to act.
“We need to stem the speed of the virus and protect the NHS.”
There has been an increase of 2,285 cases in the last 25 hours, Mr Gove said.
Michael Gove is addressing the nation for the daily Covid-19 press conference.
Read about the latest on coronavirus developments:
UK researchers screening volunteers for coronavirus vaccine trial
Researchers in the UK have started screening healthy volunteers for an upcoming coronavirus vaccine trial.
University of Oxford scientists are recruiting people aged between 18 and 55 for the trial in the Thames Valley region.
It will see up to 510 volunteers receive either the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine or a control injection for comparison.
Michael Gove and Sir Patrick Vallance will be taking today’s press conference.
It comes after Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock and Prof Chris Whitty all revealed they have coronavirus.
The death toll in Italy has risen by 919 – the highest daily tally since the epidemic began.
Now 9,134 people have died in the country after contracting the virus.
Young people are not invincible, WHO said.
“Every infection of covid-19 presents an opportunity of onwards infection,” WHO added.