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“We’re past the peak” – but PM indicates supports for facemasks

30 April 2020

By Simon Gentry, Managing Partner

Boris Johnson led today’s government press conference, his first for five weeks.   He announced that 81,611 tests we undertaken yesterday and that the number of people in hospital is falling, but that 674 people died yesterday across all settings, hospitals, care homes and in the community.

He acknowledges that the country has struggled to get enough PPE and then to get it to the right places, however he said great progress is being made.  He said this is the greatest challenge in our lifetimes but that our collective sacrifices are working.  The number of hospital admissions are falling and the NHS has not been overwhelmed, “We have shielded the NHS which has avoided a catastrophe.  We are past the peak.  We’re on the downward slope and there are many reasons to be optimistic”.  

He announced that he will set out a comprehensive plan next week to get the economy moving, children back to school and how we can get back to work safely, “suppress the disease and get the economy moving”.  He promised maximum political consensus in Westminster and with the devolved administrations.

He repeated that there are five key tests that will need to be passed before we put the plan into action.  The tests are:

  1. We must be able to protect the NHS
  2. Must see a sustained fall in deaths
  3. Must see infection rate falling
  4. Must get over the challenges of testing and PPE
  5. That we can prevent a second spike which would overwhelm the NHS.

He noted that the infection rate, known as R, must not go over 1 again. Keeping the R down is the challenge and we must remain disciplined to achieve that.  Responding to a question from the BBC, he said the even worse economic damage would be caused by a second outbreak, later indicating that he supported the use of facemasks – not least for the benefit that would bring to lifting public confidence.