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  • joined once again by our chief medical officer, Professor Chris Witty, and the chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Balance.

  • From the very beginning of this crisis, I followed the advice of our world leading scientists to defeat Corona virus by taking the right measures at the right time.

  • What everybody needs to recognize is that our N hs, like any world class health service, has only limited numbers of doctors, nurses and specialist equipment.

  • So the more people who become sick at any one time, the harder it is for the N HS to cope.

  • And so it's vital to delay the spread of the disease and reduce the number of people needing hospital treatment at any one time.

  • That's why we've given the clear instruction that people must stay at home unless they have one of the reasons we've set out on DDE.

  • With your help, we will slow the spread of the disease.

  • I want to thank everyone who's being following the clear rules that we set out on Monday, and I want to thank everyone in the N hs, the front line of the fight against Crane of ours.

  • And of course, our public service is our teachers and our school stuff the transport workers, police officers, everyone who's keeping this country going.

  • But I also want to offer a special thank you everyone who has now volunteered to help the N hs.

  • When we launched the appeal last night, we hoped to get 250,000 volunteers over a few days.

  • But I can tell you that in just 24 hours, 405,000 people have responded to the core.

  • They will be driving medicines from pharmacies to patients.

  • They'll be bringing patients home from hospital.

  • Very importantly, they'll be making regular phone calls to check on on support people who are staying on their own at home.

  • And they will be absolutely crucial in the fight against this virus that is already in one day as many volunteers as the population of Coventry and so all of you into a war former N hs staff who are coming back now into the service.

  • I say thank you on behalf of the entire country.

  • Now I want to take some questions.

  • But finally I want to remind everyone of cool policy, stay at home, protect the n hs and save lives.

  • Thank you.

  • I think we'll go straight to questions.

  • Now on Dhe we're going to hear.

  • First of all, I think from Laura Kuhns Burg of the BBC.

  • Laura, are you that Thank you for Mister.

  • Yes, Prime Minister, can you honestly say that the government is coping?

  • There aren't enough tests.

  • People are struggling to make ends meet, and some people are being forced to go to work when they don't feel that they're safe.

  • Is that coping?

  • And can I ask the medics as well?

  • If we already had the kinds of numbers of tests that you would like to see, how much of a difference would it have made to your ability to fight the disease off?

  • First of all, Laura, on the on the tests out a huge national program of testing is being rolled out.

  • But our hand over to Patrick into Chris to say a little bit more about testing and how we're we're going to do it.

  • But on the the national effort to protect those who whose jobs whose livelihoods threatened, I think everybody understands the challenge that the whole country now faces.

  • But we have to get through this together, and we are getting through it together with an unprecedented program of support for not just for businesses but for workers of all kinds across the country.

  • Never in our history has the government put its owns around people in the way that we are doing now to help them get through this difficult time.

  • And yes, it is absolutely true that the measures to support people in employment are exceptional, and an extraordinary 80% of your salary up to £2500 per month were standing behind.

  • We're also in the course of the next couple of days you'll be hearing more from Rishi Soon.

  • Act the Chancellor tomorrow about what we're doing to help the self employed.

  • And I think people do understand that the complexity of their working arrangements a snow has been harder to come up with the right tailored program for the self employed as well.

  • But that is coming forward tomorrow on dhe.

  • Yes, I do think that when you look at the sheer scale of what the government is doing to get this country through, we will to answer your question directly.

  • We will cope, and we are coping very well.

  • Indeed, under the most challenging possible circumstances.

  • But the most important thing to enable us to get through it well together and to come out well together is I think we can, if I know we can, is that we all follow the instructions that the government has given a stay at home.

  • Protect the n hs on That's the way to save lives.

  • But on testing, Chris, would you like to say something?

  • But in terms of testing their variety, different things, you use testing for some of which we have tests available for and have done throughout, some of which we do not.

  • So I'm gonna run through them because they're different answers to depending which you're talking about.

  • Starting off with the Auntie Jen testing, which is testing for people who currently got a disease.

  • We initially were using that to help screen people who came from high risk countries when that ceased to be a sensible policy.

  • We've moved on to testing people in intensive cares and in hospitals, and we have sufficient tests for that at the moment.

  • The system for that is working fine and is being scaled up so that side of testing is in place and is working well.

  • So if the patient gets a SW far as a hospital, we're confident on the testing and on the scale up the thing we would like to do next, which would certainly make a difference less to the disease.

  • But definitely the HSE is being able to test N hs and other critical workers who are self isolating, who currently are not being tested as we do not have sufficient testing.

  • This is a global problem because basically every country is wanting this new test, which for a disease that wasn't actually being tested for anywhere at 33 months ago.

  • So everybody wants this.

  • So there is a global shortage and that's a bottleneck for us.

  • But the next priority is to get critical workers back to work or to say to them, You have got this so we definitely would like that not to fight the disease but support the N hs.

  • Once we have more testing than we need for that capacity, then we want to go out to test a much wider range of people with mild symptoms.

  • Some people already having it as part of our surveillance system, but we obviously like to go wider, but that's the prioritization list.

  • And then separately, they're all the tests, which we will want tohave, which are not yet absolutely evaluated but are going to be critical once you've got them.

  • That can tell someone whether they have had the virus.

  • So this is the antibody test.

  • You can't do that in the first few days after someone had a fever.

  • But after a few a few weeks, possibly as short as one week on that will allow us to be able to say to N.

  • H s workers.

  • Do other workers.

  • Look, you've had this infection, at least for a short time, on possibly for quite a long time.

  • We think it's like you're protected against this and you can go back to work and be confident you get another coffin fever that is not going to be Corona virus.

  • But that's that's a sort of technology that's quite close but and is being evaluated this week.

  • But when it's not there on the 1st 1 are.

  • Bottleneck is largely global shortages, which we are obviously doing our level best to free up because it would make it a lot, lot better for us to be able to test healthcare workers are now for sure, testing is crucial.

  • It's absolutely crucial.

  • And yes, we need more of it, a cz Krista's said on.

  • The other thing that's gonna be important with the antibody test is to be able to work out how many people have had the disease, a symptomatically, and that's gonna be important to understand what to do next.

  • So these tests are crucially important.

  • We need more of them on.

  • People are working very hard to get them in place.

  • The one thing I packed finding out, I think it is the one thing that's worse than no test is a bad test.

  • Yes, so Senate telling someone inaccurately other they have had it or have not had it could lead to dangerous mistakes being made.

  • So we do not want to go ahead with testing until we're confident off the technology and that that that is so important, that if it means a delay to get there, that delay is worth having, because that is, as Chris said, if you tell someone it's okay, you haven't got it, they have got it.

  • That is not a good position to be in.

  • If you tell somebody they're immune from it and they're not, that is not a good position to be in.

  • So we must make sure that we get the quality of this absolutely right on just Patrick on the numbers of people who have the disease.

  • A symptomatically.

  • There was a study I saw quoted from some Oxford academic saying that a CZ many as 50% may have had it asymptomatic your I think a lot of people have seen that, uh, that story.

  • How'd you How'd you evaluate that?

  • At this stage?

  • We simply don't know at the moment.

  • And there.

  • That's why the antibody test is so important.

  • So there are estimates that up to 80% or more people in Wuhan weren't detected.

  • Their estimates that of those who are positive.

  • So that's a small percentage of the population who were tested positive.

  • Quite a number of them were asymptomatic in a town in Italy.

  • But we haven't We don't know what a general population level.

  • That's why it's so important to get this test in place.

  • Thank you.

  • Uh, Beth three b sky news.

  • Thank you, Prime Minister.

  • Just a couple of questions you said earlier, You're not closing down the whole of the UK economy.

  • But other countries such as Italy, a country you said we were two or three weeks behind have now introduced a very strict, locked down lock down.

  • Wouldn't you save more lives if you did keep all non essential workers at home?

  • And if I may, A question on test in C m o S P H E England has said today 3.5 million testing kits could be available showing whether you've had grown a virus or not as early as next week.

  • In practical terms, who will get those tests and how on in broader terms?

  • How transformational do you think this will be in terms of Fighting Corona virus?

  • Thank you.

  • Well, thanks very much, Beth.

  • In in terms of the epidemiological value of what we're doing in asking people to stay at home, I think possibly the most boring I can say just repeat the basic message, which is that if you can stay at home, then you overwhelmingly should state.

  • And that's all our most important advice.

  • If it's absolutely necessary for you to to goto work a place of work, then it's vital that your employer follows the rules as set out by public health England, and ensures that you have the protection that you need in the proper rules.

  • On on social distancing.

  • I do apply.

  • But I wonder whether I could could ask either are witnesses to comment on on the value of what we're doing in terms of the Beth US recently enough about not closing down the whole UK economy, which we're not doing.

  • But we're simply asking people to stay at home.

  • You really want I like?

  • I can certainly give given answer.

  • Patrick might want Thio add to this.

  • I mean, the first thing is that the modeling every country does this slightly differently, and every country has got a slightly different epidemic epidemic pattern at this point in time.

  • So that's entirely reasonable on.

  • All of us, of course, are dealing with a new infection and therefore having to take the science from quite a low base very fast up in terms of the advice to give.

  • But the modeling we have done here, which Patrick and talk about in more detail was, was based on the idea that some quite a lot of people would have to go to work as part of this and that the mark, that is the basis on which the modeling is done.

  • But we absolutely need people to avoid anything that is in any way discretionary, where people can choose whether they do it or not.

  • So that's why all other social activity, all other mixing between how souls has to stop, is to allow these absolutely essential things to continue.

  • So that's that's the basis of doing this.

  • There is an additional reason, which is.

  • We have to remember that this is these many of the things we have to do are going to be have to be sustained for a reasonably long period of time.

  • On dhe broadly, the more difficult you make it for people that less easy it is to sustain.

  • So there is some degree of trade off between those two things.

  • In terms of testing, I want I want to be really clear about what we can and can't do.

  • We certainly have a acquired for the U.

  • K.

  • A lot of tests, but I'll go back to my previous answer on Patrick's previous answer.

  • The key thing for us to do is now to evaluate.

  • Are these tests accurate enough to be used by the general public on dhe?

  • If Thea answer is they're all incredibly accurate, then we will work out right the most quick and effective way to release these.

  • If it turned out none of the more accurate, we would not wish to release any of them because inaccurate testing isn't it is something which we really should be avoiding.

  • So the thing we're going to really fast is the evaluation and then, based on that evaluation, will be able to decide what to next.

  • Then we're perhaps you want to add anything on the modeling side.

  • Well, you know, I reemphasizes what we're trying to do is to break the transmission of virus from one household to another.

  • We're trying to break the transmission of virus in society.

  • To do that, we need to keep separate on.

  • The clearest way to keep separate is to stay in your house, and that's why that's the core message.

  • There are people who have to goto work in some jobs who cannot stay in the house all day.

  • The most obvious one is in the n H s, but there are others as well.

  • And then it's important to break the transmission where possible, to stay two meters apart.

  • And that's what we need to keep focusing on trying to stop the transmission of this virus between people between households and break that chain in terms of whether it's transformational in the long run.

  • The answer is it will completely transform what we can do in the short run.

  • This antibody test, which is the one that they were talking about.

  • These big numbers, I think, is less important than the other one.

  • The Auntie Jen test we were I was talking about earlier in a previous to previous previous answer.

  • Thanks.

  • And I should just I should have said more clearly, perhaps at the beginning that you should stay at home.

  • Except for those very few exceptions.

  • I just spell them out again that people have have gotten it unless you need to get essential supplies.

  • Beth, unless you're on a specific medical mission or helping the vulnerable or less you're taking daily exercise and remember that daily exercise is a very important provided you stay away from other people.

  • Gary Given Channel four Prime minister the frontline staff in the National Health Service on been working in social care couldn't be clearer.

  • They want that test on goaded 19 that tells them whether they got it.

  • They want it now and in the House of Commons again and again today, You said they're gonna get it as soon as possible.

  • People might have a little bit more confidence about where we're going as a country.

  • If you could answer this question, May how did we come to be so woefully behind other countries that have checked, evaluated on deployed tests in much, much bigger numbers already?

  • Well, thanks.

  • Thanks, Gary.

  • I repeat the answer that I gave earlier in the House of Commons.

  • We will do it as soon as possible.

  • We are massively ramping up our our testing programs, buying in huge numbers of tests to see whether you've you've had it already, but also pushing forward very fast on testing people to see whether they currently have it, that the anti general, the antibody tests that have bean described and a CZ Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has said we're going up from from 5000 to 10,000 tests today to 25,000 on on hopefully very soon upto 2 250,000 a day.

  • But to answer your question about, you know that the types of tests that that we have the differences that you see in between the UK is provisioned for testing and other countries, I think it probably would be most helpful if I again passed to Chris in tow.

  • Patrick to explain Chris I mean, I think that in terms of the testing, so first of all, why the delays in the UK system up?

  • There are multiple components of these tests, including the chemicals, and make them up the swabs that you use and the wrist shortages along many of these supply chains.

  • Essentially because every country in the world is simultaneously wanting this new thing.

  • Some components of it are old, but the scale of this is something which is obviously occurred at extraordinary speed on.

  • That's just a practical reality.

  • And I think anyone who understands how supply chains work on the huge demand for this there is globally would understand that I think comparing different countries is actually quite different is quite difficult.

  • Different countries got different testing strategies, but You're certainly right that what we need to do is look at those countries that have actually got more testing than us and work out how to do it the way they're doing it as best we can in our own system, using our own testing systems.

  • That something we're doing very actively at the moment.

  • Clearly, we're doing a lot of testing here, for example.

  • I mean, looking at the numbers we've done so far, 97,000 tests already conducted is not that there is no testing going on.

  • What we need clearly is to be able to scale it up.

  • Andi, I would just add to that that we've done many more tests.

  • Not with this is a competition.

  • We don't many more tests than most other European countries on Dhe.

  • You're totally right, Gary.

  • That the priority should be on will be getting those tests to our front line starts in the N.

  • H s.

  • And as I said, we're work.

  • We're going to do that as fast as we possibly can.

  • Frances Elliott of the Times.

  • Yes.

  • Hello, Public Health England this morning suggested that these tests these antibody tests, if they work, could be available from online stores and from boots.

  • Can we just explain, Understand that they may not work, But if they do work, how you gonna prioritize?

  • Who gets those tests was just going to be a scramble.

  • And how do you verify the test results?

  • Presumably, these will be critically important about whether you can work with vulnerable people, even sort of begin to go back to normal work.

  • Perhaps on dhe last had you collect the kind of results so that you can model what's happening elsewhere.

  • It seems it seems all the you do self testing on dhe.

  • This is obviously a very important result.

  • Um, Chris, So what we'll do is once we're confident off which tests work and how many therefore we've got available to use, there's a hierarchy of things that we need to do.

  • We need to start off by find our answering that critical question that Patrick was talking about how what proportion of people get this without any symptoms, because that has big implications for the way we then manage this.

  • That's a very early priority.

  • Then we need to help make sure we can get n hs workers tested to make sure we can work out who is immune alarm a certain immune to this test things infection and who isn't on.

  • We'll basically go out in kind of a graded way from there.

  • I do not think on.

  • I want to be clear that this is something will suddenly be ordering on the Internet next week.

  • We need to go through the evaluation, then the first critical uses on, then spread it out from that point of view, and we need to do that in a systematic way and your point, which is right.

  • The first thing we need to do is to collect the information to understand this epidemic.

  • So it's not 3.5 million free for all, with no data being collected, we need toe answer the critical questions and need to make sure the right people get the test first in order to earn our workers to go back.