Coronavirus morning headlines as Welsh health board deals with worst outbreak in the UK (Tuesday, March 31)

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Here is a round-up of the latest news in response to the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday, March 31

Follow updates on the world coronavirus pandemic on our live blog.

Confirmed worldwide cases: 785,807

Confirmed deaths: 37,820

Confirmed recoveries / discharges: 165,659

The latest stats from Public Health Wales confirm fourteen more people have died in Wales after testing positive for Covid-19, taking the total number of deaths to 62.

It is the biggest daily rise in the Welsh figures since the first death was announced on March 16.

Dr Giri Shankar said there were 210 new confirmed cases, meaning there have now been a total of 1,451 positive tests.

Across the UK, there were 2,619 new cases of Covid-19 reported in the past 24 hours and 180 new deaths.

As of 9am on March 30, 2020, a total of 134,946 people have been tested, of which 112,805 were confirmed negative and 22,141 were confirmed positive. The number of Covid-19 patients who have died stands at 1,408.

The overall number of those with the virus is expected to be much higher as only a small proportion of people are currently being tested.

Deaths in the community figures to be released

The Office for National Statistics is set to release figures on deaths involving coronavirus in the wider community, such as care homes.

The ONS will look at deaths where Covid-19 was mentioned anywhere on the death certificate, including in combination with other health conditions.

These figures are likely to offer detail on how many community deaths involve coronavirus, rather than just looking at deaths in hospital.

It comes after figures revealed that a health board area in Wales has a higher rate of coronavirus infections than London.

The latest figures released suggest that the concentration of cases per 100,000 people in the Aneurin Bevan Health Board area is the highest in the UK.



The Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport

Using the latest comparable data available for both Wales and England, the area has 86.9 cases per 100,000 people – the highest in the UK.

In comparison, the whole of London – which is widely perceived as the worst-hit part of the UK – had 66.9 cases per 100,000 people.

Welsh charity says hundreds of cancer patients could die due to delays

Hundreds of cancer patients in Wales could die because of delays in treatment and screening due to coronavirus, a cancer charity has warned.

Tenovus Cancer Care says cancer services across the country have been put under huge pressure with resources diverted to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak and staff members off work with infections and self-isolation.

Today, the charity said the Welsh Government should introduce a national plan to ensure vital cancer surgeries can continue and delayed surgeries and screenings are carried out at the earliest opportunity when restrictions are lifted.



Cancer treatment has stalled, putting hundreds of patients at risk, according to Tenovus

Judi Rhys, chief executive of the charity, said: “I’ve spoken to leading cancer clinicians who believe hundreds, possibly several hundred, cancer patients could die in Wales because of delays in treatment and screening with NHS and private care providers who are dealing with the Covid-19 crisis.

“Cancer services were already under huge pressure, but now we are seeing a reduction in theatre space for surgeries and fewer available beds in intensive care units, so many people face having their surgery delayed for some time.

“Highly-specialised staff who normally deliver radiotherapy are being deployed to other areas and chemotherapy treatments are being delayed because of the risk of infection to patients.

“Sick and dying cancer patients who received community-based care also facing serious issues when trying to access their usual levels of care.”

PM to chair Cabinet meeting by videolink

Boris Johnson will chair a meeting of his Cabinet by videolink as he continues to self-isolate in Downing Street after testing positive for coronavirus, amid growing pressure to get more protective equipment to health workers.

The Prime Minister has faced heavy criticism over shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline NHS staff as well as the slow rollout of testing – issues which are likely to be discussed by ministers on Tuesday morning.



The PM chairing a meeting while self isolating
The PM chairing a meeting while self isolating

Last week, four people attended the meeting in person – including Mr Johnson, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill and chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty – while others dialled in on the Zoom app.

The PM and Mr Hancock have since tested positive for Covid-19, while Prof Whitty is self-isolating after developing symptoms. In Tuesday’s meeting, all attendees are expected to join by videolink.

In Wales, the Welsh health minister is due to be speaking at the now daily briefing that is being televised on BBC One at 12.30pm.

Call for calm from public and police over lockdown laws

One of Britain’s most senior police officers has urged the public not to judge officers too harshly in their policing of coronavirus lockdown measures amid growing criticism of the force’s responses.

At the same time, Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Neil Basu says officers should strive to preserve the public’s confidence through persuasion and education, rather than automatic enforcement, after allegations of “over-zealous” policing of social distancing regulations.

Complaints have included that people have been fined £60 for going out to buy items deemed non-essential, or for going on a drive due to boredom.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Mr Basu called for the public to show understanding toward police, and for officers to “police by consent” as they are compelled to use powers he “never imagined a British police officer would be asked to use”.

“Everyone in policing is acutely aware that how we police this pandemic will be remembered for many years to come,” Mr Basu wrote.

“Preserving the trust and confidence of the public by policing by consent is our mantra, and has been since 1829. There will be a period of readjustment to our new responsibilities, which no police officer ever thought they would have.”

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Coronavirus latest

Clarity needed over what ill-prepared doctors should do

Healthcare workers need clarity from ministers about what risks they should not have to take if they do not have adequate personal protective equipment, the British Medical Association has said.

The BMA trade union issued the call after concerns about PPE shortages, with leading nurses saying staff on some Covid-19 wards are caring for patients without any protective equipment.

The BMA said that despite the assurances, many hospitals and GP practices continue to face “life-threatening shortages” of PPE.

BMA consultants committee chairman Dr Rob Harwood said: “We need clarity from the Government on what it is that healthcare staff should do and, particularly, what risks they should not have to take if they do not have adequate PPE, if they should find themselves in this situation.

“This is about the safety of patients and doctors first and foremost.

“Doctors are placing themselves at significant risk by treating patients on the frontline and there are concerns that sometimes this is without adequate PPE.

“While the Government has been forthcoming in letting us know that protection is on the way, there are still doctors and other NHS staff who today, tomorrow and in the coming week, may face the daunting prospect of having to consider treating patients without adequate protection.

“Having seen the tragic deaths of medics in Italy and now closer to home here in the UK, doctors and NHS staff have every right to be concerned, knowing that a lack of adequate protection is not only dangerous, it may be fatal.”

The map of all the Welsh cases

Welsh artist’s tribute to NHS workers

And finally, Welsh Britain’s Got Talent artist Nathan Wyburn has created this amazing piece of art made up of the faces of 200 NHS staff.





The image has made high impact front pages of the Western Mail and South Wales Echo newspapers.



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