Three more weeks of coronavirus lockdown expected

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The coronavirus lockdown will be extended for another three weeks, the government is expected to announce.

Ministers will agree the prolonged social distancing controls in a cabinet meeting on 16 April. It comes after the number of people who have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus (Covid-19) reached almost 13,000, with growing concern over increasing deaths in care homes.

The victims included a pregnant nurse whose baby, a little girl, was delivered successfully and is said to be doing well.

Speaking at the daily No 10 press conference on 15 April Health Secretary Matt Hancock said there could be no “let up” in the efforts to curb the spread of the virus.

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“We cannot let go of the hard work that has been done so far. This shared sacrifice is starting to work but we will not lift these measures until it is safe to do so,” he said.

The Stormont executive has already announced social distancing rules will continue in the north of Ireland at least until May.

The human cost of the epidemic was underlined with the disclosure that the latest victims of the disease included pregnant nurse Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapong, 28, who had worked on a general ward at Luton and Dunstable University Hospital for five years.

Her baby, a girl, was delivered successfully and was doing well, according to the hospital.

According to the latest daily figures, 12,868 patients have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on 14 April, up by 761 from the previous day.

HEALTH Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

However, England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty warned of a possible “bounce” in the numbers when the next set of figures are released due to delays in reporting deaths over the Easter weekend.

“At the moment, we are not yet at the point where we can say confidently and safely this is now past the peak and we can start thinking very much about the next phases”, he said.

The Office for Budget Responsibility warned earlier this week unemployment could rise by two million, while the UK could be left with the biggest deficit as a proportion of GDP since the Second World War.

Meanwhile, Dominic Raab is to take part in a “virtual summit” of G7 leaders hosted by Donald Trump.

The US president has caused dismay in many capitals with his announcement that he was cutting funding to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Downing Street made clear Britain would not follow the US example in cutting funding, saying WHO had “an important role to play in leading the global health response”.

The prime minister’s official spokesman said Raab would be emphasising the need for countries to work together to combat the disease counter the effects of the economic fall out.

“Coronavirus is a global challenge and it’s essential that countries work together to tackle this shared threat,” the spokesman said.

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