UK ministers were warned last year that the UK needed a robust plan to deal with a pandemic and its economic and social consequences, the Guardian revealed. The 600-page Cabinet Office document warned that even a mild pandemic could cost tens of thousands of lives and included recommendations such as the need to stockpile PPE and organised advanced purchase agreements for other essential supplies. It comes as the government continues to face accusations that it has reacted too slowly to to the coronavirus outbreak.
The government’s expansion of testing for key workers and their families suffered a setback after all 5,000 home test kits for key workers ran out within two minutes this morning. And the Department for Health and Social Care apologised after the website for booking tests online stopped accepting applications due to high demand.
The Welsh government became the latest devolved administration to publish a plan for easing lockdown restrictions and learning to live alongside Covid-19, amid mounting pressure on the UK government to do the same.
The UK’s hospital death toll rose by 684 to 19,506.
Transport for London announced it would furlough 7,000 workers – around a quarter of its workforce – from Monday for an initial period of three weeks. The move followed TfL recording a 90% revenue loss during the lockdown and is expected to save the network £15.8m every four weeks.
The lockdown will be lifted when it’s “safe to do so” and this depends on the number of new infections falling, the health secretary Matt Hancock said. He said he would not allow for changes to be made that are unsafe and that keeping the number of cases down is also the best thing for the economy. There is no prospect of easing the lockdown yet, he added.
Global confirmed death toll passes 190,000. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University say at least 193,042 people have died since the outbreak began, while at least 2.7m have been infected. The figures are likely to significantly underestimate the true scale of the pandemic due to suspected under-reporting and differing testing regimes.
Recoveries outstrip infections in Spain. Authorities in Spain, which has seen the second largest number of confirmed cases in the world, point out that more people are being diagnosed as cured than are falling sick for the first time since the beginning of the outbreak.
Italy to ease lockdown, local media report. Newspapers in Italy are reporting that the country’s lockdown, the longest and toughest in Europe, is to be eased over the next four weeks. There has been no official confirmation, however.
Saudi Arabia extends Yemen ceasefire. Saudi Arabia says it is extending a unilateral ceasefire in Yemen by one month to support efforts to contain the epidemic there. The announcement comes after a two-week ceasefire expired on Thursday. The ceasefire was by the Saudi-led coalition waging war on the Iran-backed Houthi rebel group that had seized control of parts of the country.
Don’t ease lockdown yet, says German public health body. The Robert Koch Institute warns against further loosening restrictions. Its vice-president, Lars Schaade, says the situation is too fragile to allow more relaxation after small shops were allowed to reopen this week and some pupils returned to school.
WHO launches effort for €7.5bn fund. The World Health Organization announces a multibillion-euro “call to action” for a global response to the pandemic. The programme and its €7.5bn (£6.5bn) fundraising effort will be officially launched on 4 May.
Sweden reports its greatest number of new cases yet. Sweden reports 812 new confirmed cases, the highest such number since the outbreak began. That brings the total number of infections in the country to 17,567. It also reports 131 new deaths, taking the total death toll there to at least 2,152, according to data published by its public health authority.
Philippines pass 7,000 cases. Confirmed cases in the Philippines rise to more than 7,000, as the country’s health ministry announces 211 new infections. The ministry reported 15 additional deaths and 40 more recoveries. It brought the total cases to 7,192, deaths to 477 and recoveries to 762.