Coronavirus updates: Brazil’s virus daily death toll reaches record levels

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden


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Edited by Claudia Allen and Claire Heald

All times stated are UK

  1. BBC ‘should show flexibility over free TV licences’

    There’s a question on whether the government should take action to extend free TV licences for over-75s beyond August.

    Free TV licences for up to 3.7 million people had been due to be scrapped on 1 June but the date was put back.

    Dowden says the BBC made the “right decision” to delay the date for them to be scrapped.

    He says he hopes the corporation “shows similar flexibility again” when the new deadline comes around in August.

  2. Why won’t schools advice be published?

    The LBC’s Ben Kentish has two questions – one on the publication of scientific advice about whether it is safe for schools to re-open and the other on why the families of more NHS staff, including porters, cleaners and carers, who have lost their lives are not being given bereavement support and indefinite leave to remain in the UK should it be required.

    In response, Dowden says he is a father of two and schools will not reopen from 1 June unless it is safe to do so.

    He says the Sage committee is releasing its advice regularly.

    He points to measures being taken to ensure school settings are safe, including staggered entry times, extra sanitisers and dividing children into smaller groups.

    The culture secretary says rules on indefinite leave to remain are under constant review.

    Powis adds that it is not just doctors and nurses that are the nation’s heroes.

  3. Powis defends NHS hospital discharges

    Asked whether schools will return in London given a low rate of infection, Dowden says the intention is to “move as a whole country” when it comes to reopening schools in England.

    But he says there may be more local easing of the lockdown if the local data supports it.

    Powis is asked whether the prime minister was “passing the blame” to doctors when he said earlier that hospital patients had not been discharged to care homes without the approval of a clinician.

    He replies he is confident doctors would not have done so unless they were “confident” they no longer required hospital treatment and it was “safe to discharge them”.

    He also points out that it “can be harmful” to keep older patients in hospital once their care is complete.

  4. Care home problems ‘not glossed over’

    Nick Watt

    Copyright: BBC

    We now move on to questions from journalists, with the BBC’s Nick Watt leading the way.

    He suggests different ministers have been sending different messages about their handling of the outbreak in care homes, with Justice Secretrary Robert Buckland saying things could have been done differently at an early stage to minimise infections while, in contrast, Prime Minister Boris Johnson “brushed” off concerns at PMQs earlier.

    In response, Dowden says ministers have categorically not “glossed over” the impact on care homes,

    While “any death is one too many” and the number of deaths in care homes is still too high, he says the totals are coming down, adding that testing has been conducted throughout.

    Pressed on whether ministers should be more open and admit mistakes pending a future inquiry, he says there will be a moment to learn the lessons of the outbreak but the focus at the moment should be on saving lives.

  5. What’s behind the UK’s jump in testing?

    Nick Triggle

    Health Correspondent

    More than 177,000 tests were provided on Tuesday – a record amount.

    It is not surprising to see such a high number. On Monday the government announced eligibility for testing was going to be increased.

    All over-fives are now able to get tests if they have symptoms – previously it was limited to key workers, over-65s, people who needed to leave home for work, hospital patients and care home residents in England and Scotland.

    In Wales and Northern Ireland it was even more limited.

    What is not yet clear is how many of these tests were posted out. The figure includes those carried out at testing centres and in hospitals, as well as those sent out by post – but not yet returned.

  6. NHS services ‘to resume in next weeks and months’

    There’s a question about when NHS staff who have been redeployed to fight Covid-19 will return to their regular jobs.

    Dowden says there will be more “capacity” for regular services as the UK exits the peak of the virus.

    Powis says regular healthcare services will resume over the “next weeks and months”.

    He adds that it was the “right thing to do” to prioritise Covid-19 care during the month of April.

  7. UK has ‘moral responsibility’ to help other nations

    The first question is from a member of the public.

    Thomas, from the north-west of England, asks what the UK is doing to help poorer nations through the pandemic.

    Dowden says the UK will continue to honour its commitment to spend 0.7% of national income on overseas aid, despite the challenges to the UK economy from the outbreak.

    The UK has always looked to help the less fortunate at times of need, Dowden adds, saying this is a matter of “moral responsibility”.

  8. New cases ‘stable, perhaps even falling’


    Copyright: Downing Street

    Stephen Powis, medical director at NHS England, says levels of public transport use during the lockdown are “still very low”.

    But there has been a “slow increase” in car use, he adds, possibly because of people heading back to work.

    He says despite an increase in the rate of daily testing, the number of new cases is “stable, or perhaps even falling”.

    This shows the prevalence of the virus in the population is continuing to fall, he adds.

    Unveiling the slide above, he says the number of people in hospital after a positive test is below 10,000 for the first time since March.

    Stephen Powis

    Copyright: BBC

  9. New taskforce to help sport and arts recover

    Among other measures, Dowden says £150m will be made available from dormant bank accounts to support social enterprises.

    Turning to sport and the arts, he says their absence has created a “rather odd” feeling in the country.

    He announces a new taskforce to look at helping sport and the creative industries prepare to get back on their feet.

    Among those who will be involved include former footballer Alex Scott, ex-ITV boss Michael Grade and the English National Ballet’s Tamara Rojo.

  10. Captain Tom ‘a marker of generosity’

    Oliver Dowden

    Copyright: BBC

    Dowden now turns to the efforts of the British people and pays tribute to Tom Moore, whose knighthood was announced earlier.

    He says his fundraising efforts have been a “marker of generosity”, adding that the Queen’s Birthday’s Honours list will be put back to the autumn to help recognise the efforts of ordinary people.

    He says the public have raised £800m in fundraising campaigns since the outbreak.

    The government is doing its bit, he adds, saying it has matched all funding raised during the BBC’s Big Night In, ensuring that £70m has been raised to be spent by Comic Relief and Children in Need.

  11. Dowden thanks people for sacrifices

    As has become common practice in the last few days, Dowden
    is talking through the government’s coronavirus alert levels.

    These are based on the R number, the infection rate, and the
    number of cases.

    The UK is currently at level four, meaning the epidemic is
    still in general circulation and transmission is high.

    But Dowden says thanks to the sacrifices of the British
    people he hopes it will soon begin to come down to level three, which would
    trigger a further easing of social distancing and other current restrictions.

    But he says the process will take place in “careful steps”
    and he says the UK must avoid a “disastrous” second peak.

    The next review of the current restrictions will be on 28

  12. 363 further deaths across the UK

    Oliver Dowden

    Copyright: BBC

    A further 363 deaths have been recorded across the UK in the
    past 24 hours, Oliver Dowden says.

    That takes the number of those testing positive who have
    died so far, according to Department of Health figures, to 35,704, although it
    is widely accepted that the overall figure is much higher.

    The culture secretary also says 177,216 tests were carried
    out in the past 24 hours.

    That’s the biggest daily total to date and a huge increase
    on yesterday’s figure of just below 100,000.

    This, however, does not correspond to the number of people
    actually tested as some individuals are tested more than once.

  13. BBC reporter’s gift of shoes to migrant goes viral

    Video content

    Video caption: Coronavirus outbreak: Reporter’s gift of shoes to migrant goes viral

    An interview with a jobless migrant took an unexpected turn for BBC Hindi’s Salman Ravi.

    Like many thousands of others in India who have lost their work because of the pandemic, the man was facing a long journey home with his family.

    But as Salman discovered, this worker was planning to walk 600km (370 miles) barefoot.

    “They were completely broken, physically and mentally. I couldn’t just witness it any more,” said Salman.

    Video of the BBC reporter handing the man his shoes has since gone viral.

    India has announced that domestic flights will resume but train and bus services are still disrupted in many areas, leaving migrant workers no choice but to walk.

  14. UK briefing due at 17:00

    A reminder that we are expecting the UK government’s daily
    briefing to start in less than ten minutes.

    It’s being led, for the first time during the outbreak, by
    Oliver Dowden. He is secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport.

    Alongside him will be Professor Stephen Powis, medical
    director of NHS England, who in contrast is something of a veteran of the No 10
    press conferences.

  15. UK Parliament to be ‘Covid-19 secure workplace’ by 2 June

    Jacob Rees-Mogg

    Copyright: AFP

    Image caption: Jacob Rees-Mogg said the House of Commons would not be “bustling” when MPs returned

    Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg is sticking by a plan to make MPs return to Parliament next month, after five weeks of remote working.

    Despite claims from opposition MPs that returning would be irresponsible and put them at risk, he said working via video link was making it harder for the Commons to scrutinise and pass new laws.

    But he said progress was being made on making Parliament “a Covid-19 secure workplace”, with measures to keep MPs two metres apart in the usually packed division lobbies.

    “We will not be returning to the crowded, bustling chamber of old,” Mr Rees-Mogg said.

    Read the full story

  16. Sweden to investigate care homes

    Swedish nursing home

    Copyright: Getty Images

    A national review of medical
    treatment in care homes has been announced in Sweden. It follows concerns – reported by the BBC on Tuesday – that some regions have not automatically made oxygen available for

    Care home residents account for nearly half of deaths linked to Covid-19 in Sweden.

    The government’s health and social care inspectorate (IVO) said it had carried out
    preliminary checks on 1,000 homes in April and found “serious deficiencies” in
    the care given to one in 10 residents.

    “What we have seen and what
    has been reported in the media is serious,” said IVO director general Sofia Wallström in a statement.

    Further checks are planned at all 1,700 care homes for elderly residents across Sweden during
    the first two weeks of June.

  17. Spain issues new rules on compulsory face masks

    A man wearing a face mask walks at Barceloneta beach in Barcelona on 20 May, 2020 during the hours reserved for the elderly

    Copyright: Getty Images

    Image caption: From Thursday it will be compulsory to wear a face covering in many situations

    We mentioned earlier that Spain had introduced strict rules on wearing face coverings in public. Here’s a bit more detail:

    Everyone must wear face coverings in places such as shops, offices, restaurants and public transport, and outdoors if social distancing is not possible. The only exemptions are for children under six and people with health issues such as asthma or anxiety. But they are still recommended for children aged three to five.

    The rules come into force on Thursday.

    The Spanish government says wearing masks is justified as it blocks the transmission of infected droplets in areas where safe distances cannot be guaranteed.

    The rules elsewhere in Europe are:

    • Masks should be worn in shops and on public transport in most parts of Germany, Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic
    • Slovakia and the Czech Republic are extending that rule to include offices too
    • Greece says masks should be worn in shops, on transport, in enclosed spaces and by tour guides

    Here’s a guide on how to make your own face mask.

    And for those in the UK, here’s the latest guidance on the advice for different parts of the country.

  18. Germany to ban temporary abattoir workers amid pandemic

    Workers queue for Covid-19 tests at a meat processing factory in Germany

    Copyright: Getty Images

    Image caption: Workers queue for Covid-19 tests at a meat processing factory in Germany

    Germany has agreed a proposal to ban the use of temporary workers at slaughterhouses following a spate of coronavirus infections.

    Hundreds of people working at abattoirs across Germany and France have tested positive in recent weeks, while many workers have arrived from Romania on flights chartered by farmers.

    Health experts are looking at possible reasons for the outbreaks, including overcrowded accommodation and cold conditions at processing facilities.

    On Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet agreed a draft proposal preventing subcontractors – largely migrant workers – from processing meat at plants from January 2021.

    Meanwhile, the United States faces a major meat shortage due to infections among staff at processing plants.

    Read more on the predicament in the US, and here’s a long read from our reporter Jessica Lussenhop, on one outbreak at a pork factory in South Dakota.

  19. Trump says he may ask leaders to gather for G7 summit

    Donald Trump

    Copyright: Getty Images

    US President Donald Trump says he is considering hosting the G7 summit at Camp David after it was previously moved online amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    The in-person gathering of world leaders was due to be held between 10-12 June at Camp David, the country retreat for the US president in Maryland.

    The meeting was rescheduled to a video conference, but Mr Trump said it would be “a great sign to all” if it was held at its original location.

    “I am considering rescheduling the G7, on the same or similar date, in Washington, DC, at the legendary Camp David,” he wrote in a post on Twitter. “The other members are also beginning their comeback. It would be a great sign to all – normalization!”

  20. Culture chief to lead UK briefing for first time

    Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden

    Copyright: AFP

    We’re expecting the UK government’s daily coronavirus press conference in
    around 40 minutes’ time.

    For the first time, it will be led by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, whose brief includes oversight of charities and sport.

    Alongside him will be Stephen Powis, national medical director at NHS

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