3 April 2020
Covid-19 Update

According to Public Health England, as of yesterday evening there were 33,718 total UK cases, with sadly 2,921 deaths recorded. With 208 confirmed cases in Gloucestershire.

Thank you to all those who have submitted questions for our third question and answer session, hosted at the Barn Theatre. Clearly, we are hearing from many people who have the most difficult issues to highlight which are not yet covered by Government guidelines. I cannot answer them all, but I would urge you to still contact me and to take part as every single one of the questions you raise with me is fed back to the Government. This situation is still unfolding and vital decisions are still being made, it is important that Government hears what is happening on the ground, so that emerging policy is formulated to address the problems you are facing.  

I am pleased that Cotswolds District Council are now emulating these question and answer sessions, it is a great way to update you all on good Government policy that is being introduced and for important issues to be flagged.

The first devices from the Government’s ventilator challenge will roll off the production line this weekend, ahead of delivery to the NHS next week. This weekend, the first batch of the Penlon ventilator device, which has been rapidly adapted from other existing ventilator designs, will be ready for dispatch, with potentially hundreds more of the device to follow, alongside thousands more of other new devices in the coming weeks.


The Government has launched a new plan to dramatically ramp up Coronavirus testing so that by the end of this month, we can carry out 100,000 tests every day in England.

The new 5-pillar plan outlines the ambitions to:

  1. Scale up swab testing in PHE labs and NHS hospitals for those with a medical need and the most critical workers to 25,000 a day by mid to late April;
  2. Deliver increased commercial swab testing for critical key workers in the NHS, before then expanding to key workers in other sectors;
  3. Develop blood testing to help know if people have the right antibodies and so have high levels of immunity to coronavirus;
  4. Conduct surveillance testing to learn more about the spread of the disease and help develop new tests and treatments; and
  5. Create a new National Effort for testing, to build a mass-testing capacity at a completely new scale.

We will prioritise testing of NHS workers, to help ensure they can stay in work if they test negative. This will help protect life, and relieve pressure on our NHS.

The Government is writing off over £13 billion of debt for NHS providers, freeing them up to invest in vital services.

  • At this time of a global Coronavirus pandemic, we need to ensure our NHS hospitals can focus on protecting lives, not get distracted with managing their past finances.
  • The Gov’t is writing off £13 billion of debt for NHS providers, so that hospitals and services have the immediate financial certainty to plan and deliver their emergency response.
  • This significant change will put NHS services in a stronger position to respond to the immediate challenges of Coronavirus, as well as deliver widespread improvements in the years ahead.


The Chancellor is today taking further action to support businesses large and small, by helping banks approve loans as quickly as possible.

  • The Government has made available millions of pounds of finance to help businesses get through the Coronavirus crisis, and £90 million of business interruption loans have already been approved.
  • The Chancellor is now expanding the Government’s generous programme of business loans guarantees, so that many more small businesses affected by Coronavirus will be eligible if they need finance to keep operating during this difficult time. Lenders will be also banned from requesting personal guarantees on loans under £250,000.
  • At the same time the Chancellor is launching a scheme for large businesses, providing a government guarantee of 80 per cent to enable banks to make loans of up to £25 million, at commercial rates of interest, to firms with an annual turnover between £45 million and £500 million.
  • This will give banks the confidence to lend to more businesses which are impacted by coronavirus, and help ensure that the £330 billion of government support reaches as many businesses in need as possible.


Stay at home

You must stay at home, only leaving for the following very limited purposes:

  • Shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible.
  • One form of exercise a day – for example, a run, walk or cycle – alone or with members of your immediate household.
  • Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
  • Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.


Protect the NHS

You must stay at home to protect the NHS:

  • The NHS only has a limited number of doctors, nurses and specialist equipment.
  • We are working around the clock to increase NHS capacity.
  • The more people who get sick, the harder it is for the NHS to cope.
  • We must slow the spread of the disease so that fewer people are sick at any one time.


Save lives

You must stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives. The police will have the powers to enforce the following restrictions: 

  • Dispersing gatherings of more than two people in public, excluding people you live with.
  • Issuing fines to anyone who does not comply with these rules.
  • Closing shops that are not essential, as well as playgrounds and places of worship. 


Full guidance on staying at home can be found at www.gov.uk/coronavirus


You can find the most up to date medical advice at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus


You can volunteer to become an NHS Volunteer Responder at https://www.goodsamapp.org/NHS