Pupils and their families will be tested for coronavirus if they show symptoms during the phased reopening of schools, says Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.
He made the announcement after the Government’s official coronavirus death toll climbed to a total of 34,466 after another 468 fatalities.
A small group of demonstrators gathered at London’s Hyde Park to protest against lockdown measures aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19.
London, some of the Home Counties and Yorkshire have been identified as the worst areas in England for so-called ‘covidiots’ after more than 14,000 fines were issued.
A palliative care doctor has told Matt Hancock he’ll be “held to account” after the Health Secretary claimed he “protected” care homes during the crisis.
Follow our live blog below for the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic in the UK and around the world.
And sign up to get the Mirror’s daily coronavirus briefing email at mirror.co.uk/email - in your inbox after the press conference every evening.
Singapore reports 465 new infections
Singapore registered 465 new coronavirus infections, its health ministry said, taking the city-state’s total to 27,356 cases.
The vast majority of the newly infected people are migrant workers living in dormitories, the health ministry said in a statement.
Four are permanent residents. Singapore also reported one more death, bringing the virus-related death toll in the island nation to 22 .
Downing Street briefing ends
That’s it for today’s briefing in Downing Street.
Most of today’s briefing revolved around the phased reopening of schools in England from June 1.
For more on what the Education Secretary had to say, click here.
Education Secretary responds to criticism from doctors
When asked about the Government’s response to criticism from the British Medical Association that the number of cases was not low enough to return to school, Mr Williamson said: “We recognise how important schools are in terms of the important role that they play in every child’s life.
“It is understandable then when you’re given the advice that there is an opportunity to start opening schools in a very controlled, careful and phased way because of the enormous benefits that delivers to every single child – not just in terms of their education, but in terms of their emotional welfare, their physical welfare as well, we should be looking at doing that.”
He said that the Government will look at all the advice they get, and bring it back to Sage to ask how it fits with their advice.
He added: “I would hope that any school, wherever it is in the country, actually puts at the heart of what it does is making sure we’re delivering the very best for every single child in this country.”
Visitors from England flout lockdown rules in Wales
Visitors have continued to flout the stricter lockdown rules in Wales and travel to tourist destinations from England.
In Pembrokeshire, Dyfed-Powys traffic officers stopped a rented white Transit van from Bristol.
“The three occupants stated they were going to the beach, there was also camping equipment within the vehicle,” the force said.
“All three reported for non-essential travel, vehicle turned around.”
Meanwhile, a black Nissan Navara was stopped at Llanteg, having travelled 200 miles from Wokingham in Berkshire.
“The occupants were unable to account for their reasons for travel. Vehicle turned around accordingly, both occupants reported.”
South Wales Police arrested a motorist who was allegedly caught speeding at 140mph on the M4 at Bridgend and then provided a positive test for cannabis.
Will reopening of schools result in spike in R rate?
The Education Secretary is asked if he can provide a guarantee that reopening schools will not result in a significant increase in the R number – or the rate of infection.
He said Government scientists and advisers have looked at various models to ensure the safe reopening of schools.
He hands over to Dr Harries.
All of the models assured that the R number was coming in at less than one, she said.
Government is reviewing all of the coronavirus risk factors
Dr Harries is asked whether the list of people who are shielding should be reviewed given high rates of diabetes in those who have died from the virus.
She said that the previous data looked at individual diseases, rather than looking at other risk factors.
She added: “For example, we know that individuals who are obese will have high rates of type two diabetes, and we also know that they may have some other underlying health conditions.
“It’s really important that we put all these variables together to understand risk.”
She also said: “We are actually reviewing all of these different risk factors together to try and give a much more proportional representation of who might be at risk.”
Of the 22,332 people who died in hospital in England between 31 March and 12 May, 5,873 (26 per cent) suffered from either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, NHS England figures revealed on Thursday.
Gavin Williamson unveils school coronavirus testing plans
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has defended plans to send children back to schools next month – claiming a track and trace system will be in place by next month.
He said going back to school was “pivotal” for children, and the government is anxious to get them back to school.
From next month, Mr Williamson said, children will qualify for coronavirus testing if they show symptoms.
Why not take a regional approach to reopening schools?
The Education Secretary and Dr Harries are now taking questions.
The first one comes from a Gateshead resident, named Lynsey, who says it is a “very risky” decision “with potentially dangerous consequences” to reopen schools as early June 1.
Why not take a regional approach given that outbreaks are currently worse in some parts of the country?
Mr Williamson says it will be done in a “very cautious and phased way”.
He said: “If there are concerns about the R-rate, we will make sure we look at that in great detail and we will look at the rate of infection.”
He said that passing the Government’s five key tests is an important part of any decision to allow more children to return to school.
Daily number of new coronavirus cases is still trending downwards
Dr Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer for England, is now speaking.
She is urging Britons to continue to practice social distancing.
She said 3,451 new cases have been confirmed in the last 24 hours, but the daily total is trending downwards.
Teaching unions say they are willing to work with Government
Teaching unions have insisted they are willing to work with the Government to begin re-opening schools in England – provided it can be done safely without risking a renewed coronavirus outbreak.
Earlier, Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT union, said members supported schools re-opening provided they could be made “Covid secure” and it would not put public health at risk.
The teaching unions held talks yesterday with Government scientific advisers amid concerns that Boris Johnson was moving too quickly to ease the lockdown restrictions in England.
The meeting, however, was inconclusive with unions complaining that it raised more questions than answers.
Mr Roach said teachers needed “unequivocal guidance” from the Government that there would be “strong controls” in place which would satisfy both teachers and parents that it was safe to return.
“We are continuing to say to Government, but also to schools and employers, that we are here, we want to work with those employers to put plans in place to see whether schools can be ready for re-opening from June 1,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
“We want schools to be re-opened, we want children to be safe and we want staff to be safe. It is not a zero sum game here. It is about ensuring that we get back to a place where we can return to some form of normality.”
Pupils and their families to be tested for Covid-19 if they show symptoms
Regarding testing and tracing, Mr Williamson said: “School staff can already be tested for the virus, but from the first of June we’ll extend that to cover children and their families if any of them develop symptoms.
“Together these measures will create an inherently safer system where the risk of transmission is substantially reduced for children, their teachers and also their families.”
Mr Williamson has also criticised those who oppose the phased reopening of schools from June 1.
He claims there will be a “consequence” to delaying the reopening of schools.
He adds: “The longer that schools are closed the more than children miss out.”
Some pupils could return to school as early as next month
Planning can begin to bring a limited number of pupils back to school from as early as next month, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said.
Speaking at the daily briefing at Downing Street, he said children in reception, year 1 and 6 – as well as years 10 and 12 – can go back to school in smaller class sizes as part of a phased return.
“They stand to lose more by staying away from school,” he said. He praised teachers for “going above and beyond the call of duty” for continuing to teach children of key workers, as well as making sure resources were available at home for children at home.
“You have simply been outstanding and we are so grateful for what you’ve done,” he said.
“We have been quite clear all along that we’d only start inviting more children when our five key tests have been met. That position has not changed nor will it.”
But he added: “We can now start the planning for very limited return to school for some pupils potentially as early as next month.”
Education Secretary discussing plans for ‘wider opening of schools’
Mr Williamson is now discussing plans for the “wider opening of schools”.
He apologises to GCSE and A-level students who would have been making final preparations for their exams.
He says: “The sacrifices that you have had to make … has made things so incredibly tough for all of you.”
He said the approach is based on the “best scientific advice with children at the very heart of everything we do”.
Downing Street briefing underway
Downing Street’s daily press briefing is underway.
It is being led by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.
He begins by going over the latest coronavirus death and test figures.
The Government’s death toll has climbed to a total of 34,466 after another 468 fatalities.
Education Secretary to lead daily press briefing
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and Dr Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer for England, are set to lead the Government’s daily press briefing in Downing Street.
It will get underway in about six minutes.
We’ll have all the latest updates here.
Mexico reports 290 more Covid-19 deaths
Mexico’s health ministry has confirmed 290 additional coronavirus deaths and 2,437 new infections in a fresh one-day record rise in cases since the start of the pandemic.
The new infections brought confirmed coronavirus cases to 45,032 and 4,767 deaths in total, according to the official tally.
Mexico’s previous highest daily confirmed cases total was a day earlier on Thursday, when authorities reported 2,409 new infections.
Police dispersing lockdown protest in Hyde Park
Police are dispersing groups of people in Hyde Park with the threat of fines if they do not comply.
More than 10 police vans stood by as dozens of officers tried to move people on.
Several more people were seen being taken away in handcuffs.
Where latest coronavirus fatalities occured
NHS England has provided a geographic breakdown showing where the latest coronavirus deaths occurred.
The number of deaths of patients with Covid-19 by region are as follows:
- East of England – 24
- London – 21
- Midlands – 48
- North East & Yorkshire – 32
- North West – 29
- South East – 20
- South West – 7
UK total coronavirus death toll climbs to 34,466
The Government’s official coronavirus death toll has climbed to 34,466 after 468 more fatalities were confirmed in the last 24 hours.
However, the true death toll – including fatalities in places such as care homes and private homes – is higher than 41,500, according to the latest available data.
The number of confirmed cases has increased by 3,451 to 240,161.
Our breaking story is here.
Matt Hancock told he’ll be ‘held to account’ after claiming he ‘protected’ care homes
Matt Hancock was told he would be ‘held to account’ as many hit out at claims the government protected care homes from the start of the coronavirus outbreak.
The Health Secretary told yesterday’s press briefing that from the beginning they have tried to “throw a protective ring around our care homes”.
He said the government has made sure care homes have the resources they need and that they’ve prioritised testing in care homes.
But not everyone agreed, as he was told his claims were “categorically untrue”.
“Care homes were left without testing. Without contract tracing. Without PPE. Without support,” a palliative care doctor told him on Twitter.
Another on social media told him there was “never” a protective ring around care homes.
Click here for our story in full.
Tiny crowd shows up at anti-lockdown protest as man led away by police
A small group of demonstrators have gathered at London’s Hyde Park to protest against the UK’s lockdown measures to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Pictures show activists at the north-eastern end of the park near Speaker’s Corner with some of them brandishing banners saying “This is not about a virus, this is about control” and “No to the new abnormal”.
Meanwhile, only two people attend a similar protest organised in Bute Park in Cardiff city centre while no one showed up in nearby Heath Park.
David Samson, 50, who said he’s a finance worker, told the PA news agency that he came to the protest because: “I never thought I’d see in my generation the suppressing of civil rights” over a “fake virus”.
Police officers are at the scene and they were booed when a protester was led away in handcuffs.
Click here for the story in full.
Number of coronavirus cases in Saudi Arabia has topped 50,000
The number of coronavirus cases in Saudi Arabia topped 50,000 on Saturday, the health ministry said.
A ministry official reported 2,840 new cases, taking the cumulative total to 51,980.
That was up from an average of around 1,500 new cases a day over the past week.
The death toll in the kingdom increased by 10 to 302, the official said on state TV.
Saudi Arabia recorded its first COVID-19 infection on March 2, several weeks after the initial outbreak in Asia.
UK coronavirus hospital death toll rises by 244
The UK’s coronavirus hospital death toll has increased by 244 to 28,285 – one of the lowest daily increases since late March.
England reported 181 new deaths, Scotland had 41, Wales recorded 18 and Northern Ireland had four.
The daily increase of 244 is down slightly from 256 on Friday.
Click here to read our breaking story.
Another 18 people die in Wales after testing positive for coronavirus
A further 18 people have died after testing positive for coronavirus in Wales.
This takes the total number of deaths there to 1,191, health officials said.
Pub says it’s found a safe way for drinkers to enjoy a pint after lockdown
A pub boss says he has managed to find a safe way for customers to enjoy a tipple while social distancing.
Drinkers at the The Betsey Wynne in Swanbourne, Buckinghamshire, will enter and leave through a one-way system and be seated at tables two metres apart that are separated by Perspex screens.
Customers will be urged to keep their hands clean with gel dispensers visually displayed throughout the premises and they will use disposable menus to place their order using a phone app.
The pub would have a limit of 250 customers but the premises is spacious and also has a big beer garden.
Peter Borg-Neal, CEO of Oakman Inns which owns the pub said is being used as a prototype to demonstrate how the scheme could offer pubs a lifeline.
See here for more.
Latest trolley limits for Tesco, Aldi, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Lidl shoppers
Shoppers are still facing strict limits on the most popular items at Britain’s major supermarkets as the coronavirus crisis continues.
Panic buyers were stripping shelves of everything from toilet roll to pasta even before the lockdown began in March.
Some products, such as flour, yeast and eggs, are still hard to come by at many stores.
But there are generally good levels of stock now and as a result the big supermarkets, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda, have removed some of their restrictions for non-essential items.
Click here to see the latest trolley limits for UK supermarkets.
NHS staff line streets for funeral of nurse and parents who all died of Covid-19
NHS staff lined the streets to give a poignant send-off to a “dedicated” frontline nurse and his parents who tragically all died of coronavirus.
Keith Dunnington, who was a “popular and hard working” staff nurse at Gateshead’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, died on April 19 after supporting the NHS frontline in its fight against Covid-19.
His mum Lillian, 81, and dad Maurice, 85, also both died in hospital days apart in May after contracting the virus, Chronicle Live reports.
Hundreds of people – mostly health staff – gathered outside South Tyneside District Hospital and burst into applause as the hearses carrying Keith and his parents passed by.
Emotional photographs showed hundreds lining the streets to pay their respects while maintaining the social distancing guidelines.
For the full story click here.
First teenager to be murdered in London during lockdown was ‘talented’ footballer
The first teenager to be murdered in London during lockdown has been named as a talented footballer who was “in the wrong place at the wrong time”.
Tributes have been paid to Francois Kablan, 19, who was found with stab wounds near Southwark tube station in the south east of the capital after reports of several youths fighting.
He was tragically pronounced dead at the scene on Wednesday afternoon.
Four suspects, including an 18-year-old woman, were arrested near the scene on suspicion of murder.
The woman and a 20-year-old man have been bailed, but two youths aged 15 and 17 remain in police custody for further questioning.
Read the full story HERE.
Tell us what life is like in lockdown for your family
We are calling on as many readers as possible to take part in our Great Big Parenting survey to show the world just what life is like in lockdown.
We need you to give it to us straight – tell us what it’s really like, for you, the lockdown parent.
We are living through extraordinary times – nobody knows that better than you, right? Help us record those times and how you’re dealing with the home working and the homeschooling.
Tell us how you key worker parents have felt having to send your children to school when their classmates are all at home.
How are you coping with the worries – financial, educational, emotional? How are you reaping the benefits of more time perhaps, combined with the fear for relatives and for your children – and for yourselves?
Take the survey HERE.
Boris Johnson’s back to school plan in chaos as teachers and city leaders rebel
Boris Johnson faces a revolt against plans to send children back to school in England on June 1.
Ministers failed to reassure teachers it was safe to reopen in a meeting with unions on Friday.
And as it was revealed the R rate of infection is rising, doctors echoed the teachers’ fears and the World Health Organisation said testing and contact-tracing had to be in place.
Liverpool is leading the revolt, telling parents kids will not return till June 15.
The plans are on the brink of collapse as teachers and city leaders prepare to defy the Prime Minister’s timetable.
Click here for more.
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