Coronavirus in UK live blog: latest as government warned time is running out on 'track and trace'

Follow the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak in our live blog below

Thursday, 21st May 2020, 8:03 am
Updated Thursday, 21st May 2020, 8:03 am

We will be providing live updates until 6pm this evening.

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Coronavirus live blog, May 21

Last updated: Thursday, 21 May, 2020, 18:07

Professor Chris Whitty is talking through the daily slides. 

Overall number of new admissions has been steadily decreasing since early April. 

R number remains below 1. 

The trio are now taking questions (Hancock and Whitty are joined by Professor John Newton).

A member of the public asks for advice on how the Muslim community should practice their faith on Eid. 

Matt Hancock thanks the community and he says he appreciates that many won’t be able to celebrate in a normal way. 

Professor Whitty says the clear answer for all faiths is adapt your celebrations around current social distancing rules. They remain the same for every community. Must do this to protect whole community. 

Next a member of the public asks if a vaccine will be mandatory. 

Hancock says we will only recommend the vaccine if it is safe. He says people absolutely should take vaccine but question of whether it is mandatory is someway off being discussed. 

Whitty says that vaccine could only be used on those most vulnerable. In that case the person receiving the vaccine would only be harming themselves by rejecting vaccine. 

Next the trio are asked if the government changed his mind over NHS surcharge or if he was merely afraid of losing a vote. 

Hancock said the PM has asked for the surcharge to be removed as soon as possible. “Prime Minister has clearly himself been a beneficiary of carers abroad”.  Purpose of the surcharge is a fair one, but those who work for the NHS are already making that contribution already. 

Hancock is then asked if there will be a cap on care home costs for individuals who are sometimes forced to sell their home. He says manifesto clearly states that individuals shouldn’t be put in that position. 

Hancock is asked what happened in the last 24 hours that changed PM’s mind about surcharge. 

He says PM was talking about surcharge in general yesterday, not specific to NHS staff.

Hancock is asked why government has gone from saying app is an essential part of contact tracing to not saying that. 

Hancock says contact tracing app is important part of government’s plan, but not most important part. 

Next, the trio are asked if an app wasn’t essential why was contact tracing not launched sooner.

Hancock says the app is working int he Isle of Wight, but rolling it out to the rest of the UK is complicated. “We’ve chosen to do it in this order”. 

Former footballer Robbie Savage asks why young people are not allowed to practice football, but are allowed to play tennis. He asks if it is a question of class. 

Whitty says football is a contact sport and therefore a higher risk. 

That concludes today’s daily press briefing and today’s live blog 

That concludes today’s daily press briefing and today’s live blog 

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