The O2 arena in Greenwich is being turned into a training facility for NHS staff, in a bid to support the rapidly constructed NHS Nightingale hospital at ExCel London.
At present, the centre is expected to operate until 29 June – with the facility available without hire fee.
While no patients will be treated at the O2, the facility is expected to support staff training.
“While this will result in further rescheduling of events booked to take place during this period, the priority for us all at this time is to help save lives and we know our customers and partners will understand our desire to support the NHS in this way,” the O2 said on its website.
Dr Paul Cosford, the medical director for Public Health England, has called for people to stay at home over the Easter weekend because physical distancing measures are working.
Reiterating the “good news” issued by Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, at the daily news briefing on Thursday, Cosford said the number of new cases looks to be starting to flatten and the number of deaths is not accelerating as fast as it would if there was “uncontrolled transmission” across communities.
With “some time yet” still to go before the UK gets through the peak, Cosford said “we must carry on” with physical distancing.
He told Good Morning Britain:
People are complying [with the measures] in a very large majority and the impact that is having is that transmission is much, much less than it would otherwise be.
The most important thing now is we continue [to stay at home] so we can get through the peak and come down the other side.
Good morning! This is Lucy Campbell, I’ll be taking over the blog for the rest of the day. We’ll be bringing you all the latest UK developments on coronavirus. As always, any tips, comments, advice or suggestions are most welcome. Please feel free to email me at email@example.com or get in touch via Twitter, I’m on @lucy_campbell_.
TV presenter Kate Garraway says her husband, who is being treated in hospital for Covid-19, is still in intensive care and “very ill”.
In a message read out on air by her Good Morning Britain co-presenter Ben Shephard, Garraway said it “remains an excruciatingly worrying time”.
Her husband, Derek Draper, 52, a former lobbyist and political adviser, was admitted to hospital last Monday.
Garraway praised the NHS team treating him as “extraordinary”, saying: “I know that it’s only their professionalism, dedication and bravery that has kept Derek with us so far. I also know that they are working just as hard on all the patients in their care.” She added:
It is hard to find the right words because thank you alone just doesn’t seem enough but I do thank them with all my heart as I know Derek would also want to if he could.
I also want to say thank you so much to everyone who has sent messages of support. I’m sorry that I haven’t been able to respond to them but I hope you understand I’m focusing on Derek and my family right now.
However, in quieter moments, I am seeing them and they are so comforting and wonderful to read. I am very aware that I’m not the only one going through this torture, there are thousands of families everywhere worried about their loved ones and hundreds more every day too that are having to deal with the worst news that their loved ones have been taken by this horrific virus.
I want to send a message of love and support to all of you going through this. You are not alone, we must all stand together and support each other. And I’m praying to be able to be talking with you soon with some positive news. Love, Kate.”
She and Draper, who have been married since 2005, have a daughter and a son.
Boris Johnson’s father relieved at PM’s move from intensive care
Boris Johnson’s father, Stanley, has spoken of his relief after the prime minister was moved from intensive care where he was being treated for Covid-19.
Stanley Johnson said he was “amazingly thankful” for the efforts of the NHS and appreciative for the outpouring of support.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said his son must now rest to continue recovering from coronavirus. The prime minister is still being treated at St Thomas’ hospital in London.
“This is pretty straightforward now. He must rest up. As I understand it, he has moved from the ICU into a recovery unit but I don’t think you can say this is out of the wood now,” he said.
“He has to take time. I cannot believe you can walk away from this and get straight back to Downing Street and pick up the reins without a period of readjustment.”
He added: “To use that American expression, he almost took one for the team. We have got to make sure we play the game properly now.”
My colleague, Robert Booth, also brings readers an exclusive story on today’s Guardian front page detailing how hundreds of people are dying in care homes from confirmed or suspected coronavirus without yet being officially counted.
He reports that more than 120 residents of the UK’s largest charitable provider of care homes are thought to have died from the virus in the last three weeks, while another network of care homes is reported to have recorded 88 deaths.
Care England, the industry body, estimated that the death toll is likely to be close to 1,000, despite the only available official figure for care home fatalities being dramatically lower.
He has also written a harrowing accompanying piece shining a light on the struggle going on inside UK care homes as they battle rising Covid-19 deaths. In one Buckinghamshire care home, in which eight patients with dementia have died in quick succession in just three weeks, he writes:
Now relatives of the dying must say goodbye by phone or through bedroom windows, the solace of touch made impossible by fear of contagion.”
Morning folks, Simon Murphy here to steer you through this morning’s UK coronavirus news. To recap, the nation was given a dose of good news when it emerged last night that prime minister Boris Johnson had been moved from intensive care where he was being treated for coronavirus. He remains at St Thomas’ hospital in London.
Separately, the Guardian revealed that the cabinet minister Robert Jenrick travelled to visit his parents at the weekend, despite repeatedly urging the public to stay at home during the lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus. The Guardian established that the housing, communities and local government secretary – who has made media appearances urging people to save lives by remaining in their properties even if tempted to see loved ones – went to see his parents at their Shropshire home, 40 miles by road from his own.
Jenrick defended himself on Twitter after a source close to him had earlier admitted that he had made the journey during lockdown conditions, but said he dropped off food and medication, and did not enter the house. The Guardian understands that the local community has been supporting Jenrick’s parents by delivering groceries in recent weeks. This was not denied, though the source said Jenrick had collected and delivered medication for his parents, too.
The story was followed up widely across Fleet Street, including on the front page of the Daily Telegraph:
It was also taken up by the Daily Mail on its front page, focusing on Jenrick also staying at his second home.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Office has chartered 12 more flights to bring more than 3,000 stranded UK nationals back from India. It follows seven flights that have already been arranged between April 8 and April 12 and will bring the total number of Britons repatriated from India to around 5,000.
The new flights will leave from Goa, Amritsar, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata and Thiruvananthapuram between April 13 and April 20 with bookings opened on Friday.