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UK 'Coping Very Well' In Fight Against Covid-19, PM Says

Wed, 25th Mar 2020 18:41

(Alliance News) - The UK is "coping very well indeed under the most challenging possible circumstances", the prime minister has said as the Prince of Wales tested positive for Covid-19.

Boris Johnson said the government was "massively ramping up" testing for coronavirus as he announced that 405,000 people have now signed up as volunteers to help vulnerable people.

He said it was hoped that "very soon" 250,000 tests would be carried out each day.

Speaking at the daily press conference inside Number 10, he added that he wanted to offer a "special thank you to everyone who has now volunteered to help the NHS.

"When we launched the appeal last night, we hoped to get 250,000 volunteers over a few days.

"But I can tell you that in just 24 hours, 405,000 people have responded to the call.

"That is already, in one day, as many volunteers as the population of Coventry."

The figure was revealed as the Foreign Office announced that Steven Dick the deputy head of mission at the British Embassy in Budapest, had died after contracting coronavirus.

Earlier Clarence House announced that Prince Charles was self-isolating at home in Scotland with his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, who does not have the virus.

A statement said Charles had "mild symptoms" and the couple had received tests on the NHS in Aberdeenshire after meeting the requirements for testing.

During the press conference, England's Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty dismissed claims made earlier by Sharon Peacock, director of the National Infection Service at Public Health England, who said members of the public will be able to carry out coronavirus antibody tests at home very soon.

She said 3.5 million tests – which will tell people whether they have had the virus – would be made available and distributed via Amazon and in places like Boots.

But Whitty said members of the public would not be buying these tests via the internet next week.

He stressed that frontline NHS workers would need the tests first so they could get back to work if they have had already had the virus.

The NHS is also carrying out separate tests to see if people currently have the virus, which are being given to patients in hospitals alongside some community sampling.

Earlier, NHS England's medical director, Professor Stephen Powis, said hundreds of thousands of these tests for Covid-19 per day could become a reality within weeks.

It comes as:

– Boris Johnson urged London Mayor Sadiq Khan to "get more Tubes on the line" but resisted calls to ban non-essential construction workers from heading to building sites.

– Parliament is set to adjourn for an early Easter break after emergency legislation to tackle Covid-19 is approved.

– The prime minister confirmed that ministers are considering asking black taxi drivers to act as a transport service for NHS workers.

– A total of 435 patients who tested positive for coronavirus had died in the UK as of Wednesday, however the latest figures for England have not yet been announced.

Prof Whitty said there were shortages along many supply chains in the production of tests because "every country in the world is simultaneously wanting this new thing".

He added: "It's not that there is no testing going on, what we need, clearly, is to be able to scale it up."

Replying to a question about how well the country was coping, Johnson said that "never in our history has the government put its arms around people in the way we are doing now to help them get through this time".

He added that a tailored package of support would be announced on Thursday to help self-employed people.

The PM said: "I do think when you look at the sheer scale of what the government is doing to get this country through, we will cope and are coping very well indeed under the most challenging possible circumstances.

"To come out of it well together as I know we can, we all need to follow the instructions the government have given and to stay at home, protect the NHS and that's the way to save lives."

By Harriet Line, PA Deputy Political Editor, and Jane Kirby, PA Health Editor

source: PA

Copyright 2020 Alliance News Limited. All Rights Reserved.

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