Our roving reporter, Emilia Snodgrass, roving between the bathroom and the sitting room, has pulled together a summary of the Government briefings in the last few weeks. This is her compilation:
Statement on Behalf of Her Majesty’s Government
THE COVID-19 VIRUS RESPONSE
We, the British people, are facing an unprecedented and unpredictable situation, that no-one could of foreseen. The risk assessment and simulation that took place several years ago and in 2018 could only have given us an inkling of how unprecedented it could be. I want to assure you that the cuts we have made in contingency funding do not reflect the qualitative value of contingency equipment.
In the matter of the sad deaths, that have sadly taken place in hospitals, these are very sadly increasing. There may be some deaths in the community, but we sadly cannot count these.
I want to assure the British public that we are working tirelessly, doing the very best we possibly can, working night and day, and day and night. I am pleased to announce that we have a new target and plan.
We have at all times been guided by the science, even though of course this is a new virus, and much of the science is not yet known. I have scientists on either side of me, backing me up in this. When we look back on this time, and reflect on decision taken, it should be clear we relied on these scientists at all times. It is very important that we look forward and not back. As my scientific advisor said, you do not review the treatment of a patient until the end - when they have sadly died. Or recovered.
This is a new virus, and criticism that we were slow to act does not take on board that this is a new virus. Based on the science, we have always taken the right decisions at the right time.
There are hearsay reports of a lack of equipment on the frontline. I want to assure the public that it is very important that the courageous frontline workers should have the appropriate equipment. And that we are doing our best, working night and day, tirelessly. Indeed, we have some equipment on its way now, and this is our first priority.
I have been asked if I would apologise for certain errors this Government has made, and I want to be very clear, I am indeed very sorry that some feel the need for an apology in these unprecedented times.
For several months we did not take part in a European ordering mechanism for equipment. There are many reasons for this, but I want to assure you that none of them are political. Besides, I understand no equipment has yet arrived under this scheme. I have now decided we should take part in a European ordering mechanism for equipment.
Indeed, we have also asked our friends in fashion and heavy industry to think about the production of relevant equipment.
Some journalists have been enquiring how we will get out of this current lock-down period, and although I have refused to be drawn in the past, I am now very delighted to say we have come up with a plan. The virus will have to pass 5 key tests. It is really the scientist’s plan, so I will leave them to explain it.
Although the WHO is encouraging countries to “test, test, test”, we have, on the advice of scientists, had to limit our testing. But we now want to “test, test, test”. One hundred thousand tests seems a good number.
In response to reports in recent papers that we could have more deaths than any other European country, I want to stress that different counting methods means it is impossible to compare. On this slide, comparing death rates, although we are not yet able to count all our sad deaths, I am pleased to say that we are unfortunately worse than some, and happily better than others.