Matt Hancock reveals he lost 'two people he is fond of' to coronavirus

Matt Hancock looks emotional as he reveals he’s lost ‘two people he was fond of’ from the coronavirus outbreak during national press conference

  • Matt Hancock warned government could ban public exercise over rule breaking 
  • This afternoon he backtracked as he said a further crackdown is not ‘imminent’
  • Health Secretary revealed he had lost two people ‘he was fond of’ to coronavirus 
  • Comes after UK’s green spaces and beaches filled up yesterday with sunbathers
  • Police patrolling parks and public spaces around the UK to try to stop people loitering outdoors 

Matt Hancock has revealed he has lost two people to coronavirus – as he pleaded with people to stick to lockdown rules.

Delivering today’s press conference, the Health Secretary confirmed that the UK’s Covid-19 death toll had risen by 621 to 4,934, and that he had ‘lost two people that I was fond.’ 

Mr Hancock added: ‘I understand what a difficult time this is for the country’ – before calling on the ‘small minority’ to stop risking their own lives and those of others.

He also offered his ‘profound sympathies’ to the families and friends of those who have died. 

This afternoon Mr Hancock backtracked on a threat to ban outdoor exercise if people do not comply with the coronavirus lockdown, saying such a move is not ‘imminent’. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock today backtracked on a threat to ban all public exercise after people continued to break the coronavirus lockdown rules

Mr Hancock earlier blasted sunbathers for flouting the rules and warned the government is willing to ban ‘all forms’ of public exercise if a ‘small minority’ refuse to stay at home. 

However, speaking at the daily Downing Street coronavirus press conference he said he did not want anyone to believe that a further crackdown was in the works as he praised the ‘vast majority’ of people for sticking to the government’s guidance. 

Mr Hancock said the end of lockdown will be determined by ‘how much people follow the rules on social distancing’ and ‘the more people follow the rules then the faster we will all be through it’. 

He then issued a direct plea to people who are ‘breaking the rules or are pushing the boundaries’, telling them: ‘You are risking your own life and the lives of others and you are making it harder for us all.’

The latest government coronavirus slides published today showed that the number of new UK cases has spiked to 5,903

Meanwhile, hospitals in London have seen a large increase in the number of coronavirus admissions while hospitalisations in the North West went up by 25 per cent

The UK continues to track slightly below the coronavirus death rate recorded in other European countries like Italy, Spain and France

He concluded: ‘We have included exercise as one of the things that you can leave your house to do because exercise is good for our physical and our mental health but please do not bend or break this rule.

‘We can’t rule out further steps but I don’t want anyone to think that any changes to the social distancing rules are imminent because the vast majority are following the rules.’

Mr Hancock said this morning that he thought it was ‘quite unbelievable’ that some people are not staying at home, saying it is ‘not a request, it is a requirement’.  

The government has said that people should only leave their home for food, for medicine, for exercise or to get to work if they absolutely cannot work from where they live. 

A large group of cyclists ride around Regents Park in London today as people are urged to stay at home

A number of other countries have banned outdoor exercise in a bid to slow the spread of the disease and Mr Hancock said the government was prepared to follow suit.  

He said: ‘My message is really clear: If you don’t want us to have to take the step to ban exercise of all forms outside of your own home, then you have got to follow the rules.’ 

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson repeated the importance of staying at home this morning as he tweeted he knows it is ‘tough’ but it will mean ‘saving lives’.

Mr Hancock and Mr Johnson’s interventions came after a south London park was shut indefinitely yesterday after 3,000 people visited ‘despite clear advice’ not to as green spaces and beaches across the UK filled up.  

Police have been pulled off of their usual duties to prevent gatherings in parks as thousands of sunbathers came out in London to take advantage of the good weather. Pictured: Primrose Hill in London

People in Roath park in Cardiff are spoken to by police after appearing to ignore social distancing and government advice to stay at home amid the coronavirus pandemic

Mr Hancock and Mr Johnson’s interventions came after a south London park was shut indefinitely yesterday after 3,000 people visited ‘despite clear advice’ not to as green spaces and beaches across the UK filled up. Pictured: Police question a group in Normand Park, Fulham 

Officers had been using megaphones to tell sunbathers and others not sticking to the rules that they should return home. Pictured: Southwark Park, South London

Mr Hancock said staying at home is ‘the best way to control the spread of this virus and the fastest way to get us out of this’ as he said the guidance is ‘absolutely clear’ that people should not be out sunbathing in public. 

Meanwhile, Mr Hancock admitted this morning that hitting his promise of 100,000 coronavirus tests by the end of April will be ‘hard’ and that people involved in the efforts will have to ‘put their shoulders to the wheel’ to hit the target. 

He also insisted Mr Johnson is ‘okay’ despite still being in coronavirus self-isolation, with the Health Secretary saying the PM ‘has very much got his hand on the tiller’ of the crisis. 

Mr Hancock’s comments came as: 

  • Health experts said the UK is now seven to 10 days away from the peak of the coronavirus outbreak. 
  • Sadiq Khan hit out at commuters for failing to stay at home following the deaths of five London bus workers who tested positive for coronavirus.  
  • Carrie Symonds, Mr Johnson’s pregnant fiancee, said she had spent the last week in bed suffering coronavirus symptoms, but is ‘on the mend’. 
  • Health chiefs fear more than 50 doctors could die ‘if the PPE dries up and we have no choice but to treat our patients without the right equipment’.
  • The Ministry of Justice said hundreds of risk-assessed prisoners within two months of their release date are to be temporarily released. 
  • The total number of confirmed deaths of people who tested positive for coronavirus in hospitals in England has risen to 4,494, up 555 on the previous day’s update 

Police on horseback patrolling Regents Park, London, on Sunday. Officers are keeping an eye out for anyone visiting the park who isn’t there for their daily exercise allowance. 

Sunbathers, including this man next to the River Cam in Cambridge on Sunday, have been seen up and down the country flouting social distancing guidelines and leaving their homes to enjoy the sunny spring weather

Regents Park in London is still busy with families out wealking and joggers exercising by the water. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has reminded the country that orders to stay inside except for essential exercise or food shopping were ‘not a request’

Officers can be seen speaking to a family sitting on a bench on Primrose Hill, the warm weekend weather has seen a large amount of people flout social distancing rules and instead head out to sunbathe

Prime Minister Boris Johnson today urged people to stay at home during the coronavirus lockdown, as some people are tempted outside by the blue skies and sunshine this weekend

The nation will tonight hear from the Queen as the monarch delivers an address in which she will urge Britain to prove that this generation is ‘as strong as any’. 

There are fears the current warm weather could tempt people to disobey social distancing measures and the government will be hoping the Queen’s address will persuade people to stick to the rules, especially as the sun shines.

Lambeth Council tweeted yesterday to say that Brockwell Park had been shut because of the ‘unacceptable’ behaviour of some people. 

Sadiq Khan hits out at commuters who refuse to stay at home after ‘devastating’ deaths of five bus workers

Sadiq Khan has hit out at commuters who are refusing to stay at home following the deaths of five London bus workers who tested positive for Covid-19.

The mayor of the capital said he was ‘absolutely devastated’ following the coronavirus deaths.

He tweeted a statement saying that ‘lives depend’ on people following Government rules to stay at home unless travel is essential.

Meanwhile, trade union Unite said the deaths were a ‘terrible tragedy’. 

 Mr Khan said: ‘I have been clear that our incredible public transport staff – on the buses, tubes, trams and trains – are critical workers, making a heroic effort to allow our NHS staff to save more lives.

‘But we need to play our part too and that means fewer Londoners using the public transport network.

‘Please follow the rules. Stay at home and do not use public transport unless it is absolutely unavoidable.’ 

So far coronavirus has taken the lives of 4,313 people in the UK, with 41,903 cases of the disease.  

Mr Hancock today said ending lockdown measures ‘depends on how people behave’ as he urged everyone to stay at home but failed to set out a timeline for life to go back to normal. 

He told Sky News: ‘Every single person watching this programme can do their bit to get us out of this faster and they do their bit by following the social distancing rules.’ 

Labour’s new leader Sir Keir Starmer said his party will back the government if it decides to ban public exercise. 

He told the BBC: ‘Yes, we would. We do have to take whatever steps are necessary and social distancing, staying indoors is really difficult for people… but we have got to get through this and every time people break the guidance from the government they put other people at risk.’      

It came as it emerged that Mr Hancock and Chancellor Rishi Sunak are locked in a battle over when to lift the economically devastating lockdown. 

Mr Sunak has made ‘robust’ representations to the Health Secretary, arguing that unless a path is mapped now for a swift return to normal economic activity it could cause lasting damage to the country.

Government critics of Mr Hancock argue his ‘careerist’ fear of being personally blamed for a collapse in the NHS is blinding him to the dangers of a protracted lockdown.

But allies of Mr Hancock hit back last night, saying: ‘He is just doing his job, which is to protect the NHS.’ 

A formal decision about the extension of the strict social distancing rules cannot be made until Good Friday – the earliest point at which its effects would register on the infection figures. 

Matt Hancock today took aim at sunbathers flouting coronavirus lockdown rules as he said it was ‘unbelievable’ a ‘small minority’ of people are not staying at home

This group of men and women were exercising together in Roath Park in Cardiff, the public has been advised to only go out in groups with people from your household, to minimise the risk of spreading coronavirus between homes

Police were parked up in Roath park to deter anyone who was not exercising to leave the park in Cardiff on Sunday 

Police in Sussex were forced to pour a helmet full of water over a couple’s barbecue after they refused to follow the government’s lockdown rules.

The pair started a barbecue on Hove beach yesterday. 

Police confirmed a 31-year-old man and a 48-year-old woman, both from Hove, are set to be summoned to court for breaching Schedule 21 of the Coronavirus Act 2020.

On social media Sussex Police said they were disappointed that the couple showed ‘disregard for public safety’.

A message on the Sussex Police Facebook page read: ‘We can only express disappointment in the two people who showed disregard for public safety and started a BBQ on Hove beach today. 

‘The severity of this public health emergency means they will be summonsed to court for breaching the Coronavirus Act 2020.

‘Sunday is set to be another pleasant day and we again appeal to everyone to continue show their support for our NHS and stay at home.’  

However, with more than 700 extra deaths recorded yesterday, an extension for at least another three weeks after Easter is seen as a formality. 

Mr Hancock today dismissed the claims regarding his relationship with Mr Sunak as he said: ‘We are working very closely together and what matters is that we can get out of this as fast as possible and to do that we have to make sure that as many people as possible follow the rules so that we can slow the spread.’ 

The Queen will tonight deliver a televised message in which she will recognise the pain felt by many families living through this ‘time of disruption’.

She will personally thank front-line NHS staff, care workers and others carrying out essential roles for their efforts, in what is expected to be a deeply personal message reflecting her experience in other difficult times.

The UK death toll yesterday rose by 708 – bringing the number of coronavirus-related hospital deaths to 4,313 as of 5pm on Friday, up from 3,605 the day before. A five-year-old child was among the victims. 

The Queen will say in her address to the country and Commonwealth: ‘I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge.

‘And those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any.

‘That the attributes of self-discipline, of quiet, good-humoured resolve and of fellow feeling still characterise this country.’ 

She will acknowledge the ‘grief’ some have experienced, the ‘financial difficulties’ many face, and the ‘enormous changes’ the country is enduring, after almost two weeks of lockdown to tackle the spread of Covid-19.

With hundreds of thousands answering the call for NHS volunteers and others supporting vulnerable people in their communities, the monarch will say she hopes in the future everyone will be able to feel ‘pride’ in how they rose to the challenge. 

Police in Regents Park as people lie in the grass during the warm weather on Sunday. Britain has been in lockdown for nearly two weeks, but people are still flouting the social distancing guidelines set out by Boris Johnson on March 23

Feeding the swans and kite flying aren’t reasons to leave the house during Britain’s lockdown, but people flocked to the River Cam in Cambridge nonetheless on Sunday as the sun shone above

Brockwell Park in south London is now shut after thousands of people flocked there yesterday. The gates to the park are pictured today as people observe social distancing rules as they pass by 

There were plenty of people out in Greenwich Park today. The government has said people can leave their homes for exercise 

Green spaces across the UK were full of people on Saturday. Pictured is Regent’s Park in central London where people can be seen lounging by the water in groups

Members of the public are advised to stay at least two metres away from each other if they go outside, but as crowds head out to enjoy the sun, people were forced closer together, like these cyclists in Cambridge on Sunday morning

The Queen will tonight deliver a rallying cry to the nation in which she expresses hope that the ‘quiet, good-humoured resolve’ of the British people will help to overcome the coronavirus crisis

At any other time this weather would be perfect for a trip to the seaside, but Boscombe beach should be empty today as the government told the country to stay indoors and help stop the spread of coronavirus two weeks ago

Commenting on the difficulties facing the nation, the Queen, 93, will say: ‘I am speaking to you at what I know is an increasingly challenging time.

‘A time of disruption in the life of our country: a disruption that has brought grief to some, financial difficulties to many, and enormous changes to the daily lives of us all.’

In reference to the warm weather, the Queen will thank those who are following the official guidance to stay at home to protect the vulnerable.

The televised address will be a rare event, with the head of state only making three previous appearances during troubled times.  

Speeches were broadcast after the Queen Mother’s death in 2002, ahead of Diana, Princess of Wales’s funeral in 1997, and about the first Gulf War in 1991.  

Earlier today it was announced Lord Bath of Weymouth, the eccentric owner of Longleat Safari Park, died after testing positive for coronavirus. 

Lord Bath of Weymouth died at the Royal United Hospital in Bath on Saturday. He was 87-years-old and had been diagnosed with coronavirus

Family of Lord Bath released on a statement on Sunday, in which they expressed their ‘greatest appreciation for the dedicated team of nurses, doctors and other staff who cared so professionally and compassionately’

Alexander Thynn was the owner of Longleat Safari Park in Warminster, but was best known for his flamboyant dress sense and affairs with as many as 70 women, which he referred to as his ‘wifelets’

People were seen lying on towels in Regents Park to soak up the spring sunshine. Hundreds more deaths due to coronavirus were announced on Sunday, as people continue to leave the house without good reason

Cyclists gather in Regents Park and laze on the grass, police were patrolling on Sunday to stop people from gathering but it seems many people were still out in the sunshine

Alexander Thynn, the 7th Marquess of Bath, died at the Royal United Hospital in Bath yesterday after being admitted on March 28. 

He was the owner of Longleat Safari Park in Warminster, but was best known for his flamboyant dress sense and affairs with as many as 70 women, which he referred to as his ‘wifelets’. 

Viscount Weymouth gave many of his mistresses homes to live in within the grounds of his sprawling Wiltshire estate.

He was married to Anna Gael, with whom he had two children, but had affairs with 70 ‘wifelets’ who he tried to put up around the Longleat estates. 

Longleat Safari Park said in a statement: ‘It is with the deepest sadness we have to announce Lord Bath has died at the age of 87.

‘The family would like to express their greatest appreciation for the dedicated team of nurses, doctors and other staff who cared so professionally and compassionately for Alexander in these extremely difficult times for everyone.’ 

While people were out ignoring isolation guidelines on Saturday, Sir Keir Starmer was appointed the new leader of the Labour Party. 

Sir Keir Starmer has attacked the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic on his first day as Labour leader. Sir Keir, pictured arriving at Broadcasting House on Sunday, became the new Leader of the Opposition on Saturday

Test centres have popped up across the UK in major locations. Here a man holds a sign at a drive-through testing centre which has been built at Glasgow Airport to help stop the spread of the coronavirus disease in Scotland

Beflast’s SSE Arena has been converted into a makeshift testing centre to keep track of Northern Ireland’s coronavirus cases so far. Staff and a patient are pictured at the centre on Sunday

Manchester Airport is another airport being used as a coronavirus testing centre, centre’s are being set up around the country to track the number of British cases of the global pandemic

 Speaking today the new Leader of the Opposition claimed ‘serious mistakes’ have been made by Boris Johnson and the Government over the coronavirus.

Writing in the Sunday Times, Sir Keir wrote: ‘Let’s be honest, serious mistakes have been made.

‘The public is placing an enormous trust in the Government at the moment: it is vital that that trust is met with openness and transparency about those mistakes and the decisions that have been made.’

As well as his calls on testing and PPE, Sir Keir said the UK should build vaccination centres in towns and cities across the country so ‘the minute a vaccine becomes available, we can begin to protect the entire population’.

He also said ministers should publish their exit strategy for guiding the UK out of the current state of lockdown. 

One in five doctors are off work because of coronavirus reveals shocking new survey as thousands of NHS staff wait to be tested despite pledge to check 100,000 people a day by the end of the month 

One in five doctors in the UK are off work because of coronavirus, a shocking new survey has revealed. 

The poll of more than 2,500 doctors found that 18 per cent are off work, despite Health Secretary Matt Hancock saying on Thursday that there is a 5.7 per cent absence rate among doctors. 

The figures come just a day after Britain’s death toll from the virus jumped to 708 in 24 hours, with a five-year-old child being among the 4,313 known to have died, out of 41,903 confirmed cases. 

The poll, conducted by The Sunday Times and the Royal College of Physicians, found that the worst-hit areas for absences are central London and the northeast, where 30 per cent of doctors are off work. 

One in three – 34 per cent – have been absent at some point during the coronavirus crisis. 

The shocking figures will pile pressure on ministers to ensure that NHS staff are told whether or not they have the virus, with thousands still waiting to be tested despite a pledge to test 100,000 people a day by the end of April.  

One in five doctors in the UK are off work because of coronavirus, a shocking new survey has revealed 

Professor Alison Pittard, dean of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine, which represents 3,500 critical care medics, told The Sunday Times: ‘I know there are departments where up to 50 per cent of their medical staff are unable to work because of this.’ 

An A&E doctor at a London hospital said staff were ‘dropping like flies’, while as many as 27 nurses from Southend Hospital’s A&E department in Essex are said to have become ill. 

The survey also found that nearly one in four doctors have struggled to get hold of sufficient or appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

This is despite claims from ministers that they have distributed millions of items. 

At least eight NHS staff have already been killed by the virus, including three nurses, two of whom were mothers in their thirties. 

The latest nurse to die, John Alagos, 23, collapsed and died at home after an exhausting 12-hour shift. 

The poll of more than 2,500 doctors found that 18 per cent are off work and it comes just a day after Britain’s death toll jumped to 708 in 24 hours. Pictured: An NHS worker puts their completed test into a container at a testing site near The 02 in Greenwich on Saturday

His mother, Gina Gustilo, 50, told The Mail on Sunday her son had not been wearing the right protective clothing at work. 

He returned home on Friday following a night shift, after complaining of suffering a headache and high temperature throughout the night.

Ms Gustilo said her son’s colleagues told her he was not wearing ‘proper’ protective clothing, adding: ‘They wear PPE, but not totally protective of the mouth. They wear the normal masks.’ 

Richard Webber, of the College of Paramedics, said between 20 and 30 per cent of ambulance staff were off work either with Covid-19 symptoms or self-isolating.

The latest nurse to die, John Alagos, 23, collapsed and died at home after an exhausting 12-hour shift. He is believed to have died after falling ill with coronavirus 

Yesterday, Michael Gove said at a Downing Street press conference that just under 11,000 people were tested for the virus on Friday. 

This is far short of the 100,000 figure which Health Secretary Matt Hancock had promised by the end of the month. 

Britain’s biotech scientists also broke their silence on Saturday to warn that they do not have enough equipment to fulfil Mr Hancock’s pledge.    

The survey also found that nearly one in four doctors have struggled to get hold of sufficient or appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)

The ‘frustrated’ Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS), which represents around 17,000 NHS lab scientists and staff, warned that Mr Hancock’s plan would not work if things stay as they are. 

The body said there is a lack of chemical reagents, test tubes and swabs, forcing its president Allan Wilson to warn that the Government’s strategy is a ‘bit of a muddle’. 

It has forced Boris Johnson to compete with prime ministers and presidents around the world by personally calling major companies making test kits to try to secure more supply for the UK.  

The IBMS said it could only increase testing capacity ‘if we are given what we need’ and that their current supply of materials was being ‘tested to the limit’. 

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