Health and Social Care Secretary statement on coronavirus 16 November 2020Good afternoon and welcome to today’s Downing Street coronavirus briefing.I’m joined today by Professor Jonathan Van Tam, Deputy Chief Medical Office and Dr Susan Hopkins, the Chief Medical Advisor to NHS Test and Trace.Before we talk about testing and vaccines, I’d like to update you on the latest coronavirus data.The average number of new cases each day is now 25,329 up from 22,443 last week.There are today 14,915 COVID-19 patients in hospital across the UK, compared to 13,025 a week ago.And, sadly, yesterday 168 deaths were reported.This means that in the last week we’ve seen an average of 413 deaths, up from 332 a day a week ago.My profound sympathies are with everyone who’ve lost a loved one throughout this pandemic. These numbers make painfully clear, this virus remains a potent threat. And that threat is not just to the oldest and most vulnerable but to anyone, of any age, and of any background.We have already seen the serious impact that long COVID can have on peoples’ quality of life, even the fit and the young. Symptoms like fatigue, breathlessness, muscle pain, and neurological problems long after they first had the virus.We know that long COVID affects thousands of people, many thousands of people. We have already opened long COVID clinics in many parts of the country. And I am very pleased to be able to confirm that the NHS will have a network of 40 long COVID clinics right across England in place by the end of the month.They will bring together doctors, nurses, therapists and other NHS staff like physios to help those suffering with the long-term effects of coronavirus. Long COVID shows that this virus can strike us all, and we must all do our bit to strike back by following the rules and denying the virus the connections that it needs to spread.I know that this has not been easy and that it has meant celebrating Diwali or commemorating the fallen in ways that have been different this year from what we might normally do.I want to say thank you to everyone for their patience. We must persevere and get this virus under control. Coronavirus is not a short term problem that can easily be fixed. We must focus on the long term solutions, underpinned by the best possible science that can see us through this crisis and also lay firm foundations for the future.Testing capacityThis includes our ability to test at scale. We’re constantly improving our response, to bring the confidence that high-quality testing can provide. We’ve already built the largest coronavirus testing capacity in Europe.Up from 2,000 tests a day in March, to our current capacity of more than half a million. But we will not rest, because testing capacity helps keep people safe and can help us get things back more like normal life.Today I am delighted that we can announce two new mega labs, which will open early in the new year. They will add another 600,000 capacity to our daily capacity, that doubles the current capacity. They will also create 4,000 jobs. Crucially, they will represent a permanent part of the UK’s new diagnostics industry.We didn’t enter this crisis with a major diagnostics industry, and so together we have built one. Both to help beat the virus by testing more people and returning results more quickly and to give our country a permanent defence that we need for any future epidemic.And to improve our care for so many other diseases, like heart disease or cancer or flu.I am absolutely determined that we must have a massive diagnostics capacity, not just for this pandemic, but long into the future.More capacity also speeds up turnaround times but speeding up turnaround times isn’t just about the test, it is also about the logistics.So I want to take one moment to thank the Royal Mail, who, from this weekend, will empty some of their post boxes 7 days a week to speed up home testing. It is a big team effort and I am very grateful for our posties for playing their part to help keep people safe.This expansion of testing matters because it helps protect people. I just want to touch on some of the reasons why it matters.It means we can test the most vulnerable, and those who care for the most vulnerable, and we can test them more frequently.Over the last week, for instance we have delivered more than 3 million tests to NHS staff, to begin their regular bi-weekly testing.And today I know so many people have been relieved to hear that we have started a pilot for testing visitors in care homes, to use tests to allow people to visit loved ones in care homes in a way that keeps them safe and bring back some of those magical moments of social contact.Our expansion of testing also means we can roll out mass testing further.We are making progress in the city wide testing across Liverpool and we are now rolling out this localised approach to other areas.83 local authorities have now signed up to receive regular batches of these new lateral flow tests, which can allow for results in minutes.This is an important step and it combines the local insight of the brilliant Directors of Public Health right across the country with our strong national infrastructure of NHS Test and Trace combining to keep our communities safe.VaccinesI also want to turn to vaccines. While we don’t yet have a vaccine, we can now have hope.You may have heard the two promising pieces of news from earlier today.First, Janssen’s Phase 3 clinical trials are beginning today in 17 sites across the country, including Southampton, Dundee, Cardiff and Belfast.It’s the third vaccine to enter clinical trials here and should the trials come good, and that is by no means certain, and it can be proved to be safe and effective. We have 30 million doses on order by the middle of next year.Finally, you will no doubt have seen the excellent news that Moderna have today announced results from their preliminary trial data, suggesting that their vaccine has an effectiveness of 94.5 per cent. This is another encouraging step forward, although I stress that this is preliminary.The safety data is limited and their production facilities are not yet at scale.Should this latest vaccine be approved, the doses would be available from spring next year.And I can announce that we have today secured an initial agreement for 5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine.It is a similar RNA technology to Pfizer/BioNTech, of which we have already ordered 40 million doses, which should that be proved to work will come on stream potentially at the end of this year.Across diagnostics and vaccines, great advances in medical science are coming to the rescue. And while there is much uncertainty, we can see the candle of hope.And we must do all that we can to nurture its flame but we are not there yet.Until the science can make us safe, we must remain vigilant and keep following the rules that we know can keep this virus under control.Now I’d like to hand over to Dr. Hopkins to say more about our work on mass testing.
Governor Peter Shumlin today declared October 22 the first-ever ‘Vermont Clean Up Day’ inspired by the generosity of Vermonters helping the state recover from Tropical Storm Irene. Modeled on its springtime sister event ‘ Green Up Day ‘ the newly created Clean Up Day will ensure all Vermont families and communities impacted by the storm are prepared for the upcoming winter season. ‘I want to start by saying thank you for everyone’s outpouring of support, incredible generosity and patience at this difficult time,’ Gov. Shumlin said, speaking at a Richmond kick-off event with organizers and volunteers involved in Irene cleanup work. ‘None of us imagined the magnitude of damage Vermont would sustain but all of us knew that once the rains eased, we would all join together to begin the response, recovery and eventually rebuilding of our state.’ The Governor said Clean Up Day will signal an aggressive single-day push for financial donations for Irene recovery, coordinate volunteers with communities that need help cleaning up from the storm, and allow people to donate to specific families who were impacted by Irene. In future years, the event will become a way to help all Vermonters in need prepare for the coming winter.For Vermont Clean Up Day 2011 on October 22nd, there will be three ways people can help. By visiting www.vtcleanup.org(link is external), you can: 1. Make a monetary donation to the VT Disaster Relief Fund or other charity of your choice. Details for organizations involved in the relief and rebuilding effort can be found on the web. 2. Sign up to volunteer on Clean Up Day by joining a volunteer team designed to tackle a project in one of our affected communities, or organize a volunteer effort in your town if you are aware of a need. In addition to volunteer labor, we are also looking for skilled laborers like plumbers, electricians, and heavy equipment operators who are willing to donate their time on this one day to help their neighbors in need. 3. Donate to a specific need for a Vermont family through the “goods exchange” or through your local volunteer coordinator or food shelf. This list and your local coordinators will match needs with goods to help families who lost their homes and belongings get reestablished. “The last several weeks have shown that we Vermonters have a natural instinct to help our neighbors,’ said Lt. Gov. Phil Scott. ‘This statewide clean up day will lend some organizational support to help those who have the greatest need. With just a few weeks left before winter, we need to make every helping hand count.” Gov. Shumlin said he hopes businesses, communities, individuals, schools and other groups will enthusiastically participate in Clean Up Day projects, much as they do for the anti-litter Green Up Day event. He said the need for help providing everything from food to furniture, to mucking out basements and clearing debris, and much more has never been greater. ‘I hope that all Vermonters will participate in this special day in at least one way ‘ or better yet, all three ways,’ Gov. Shumlin said. ‘If we all lend a hand and do a little it will mean a lot to those in need.’ Source: Governor’s office. 10.11.2011
On Wednesday afternoon, USC Hospitality and Auxiliary Services workers held a protest on Childs Way near the Ronald Tutor Campus Center demanding higher wages.About 20 food service workers marched and chanted from noon until about 5 p.m.This marks the first protest by USC workers in the spring semester. Though the workers conducted larger protests in 2014, this is the first demonstration on campus grounds.The dialogue between the workers, represented by Unite Here Local 11 union, and the university began last summer.“We have been negotiating since July but we have not reached an agreement,” said Maria Villalobos, a university food service worker. “Our lawyer and their lawyer have been in talks but we have not reached a deal.”Villalobos, who has been a university employee for 42 years, explained that the protests have come after a series of unsuccessful meetings with the university. She explained how some of her colleagues have been suffering due to the low wages and limited hours allowed to work.Last year, Local 11 union, along with the Student Coalition Against Labor Exploitation, held demonstrations to the same issue. They claim that most of the workers protesting are paid less than $20,000 per year, a figure that traps them below poverty line.“We have had three protests in the 42 years I have worked here,” said Villalobos. She explained that the contract negotiations have stalled because the university is offering an increase of about 25 cents per hour after five years since the last negotiations.“We are going to continue to put pressure on them until there is a fair agreement. The current wages for these workers are simply not reasonable,” said Christian Torres, the union organizer who represents the workers.If the university fails to meet the worker’s demands, another protest is scheduled for Jan. 29.