September 25, 2020

Coronavirus briefing: NHS staff saluted and US virus cases overtake China

It was an emotional moment for those who took part – not least the NHS staff and care workers being saluted by the nation. The Royal Family and prime minister joined well-wishers who flocked to front doorsteps, balconies and windows on Thursday evening night to applaud those dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. It came after figures revealed the UK death toll rose from 475 to 578 in one day, with 11,658 confirmed cases.

There will be additional support for the NHS from firefighters, who have agreed to drive ambulances and deliver essential supplies if required. However, unions point out many are off-work in self-isolation. And, with NHS leaders saying staff feel “at risk” of contracting the virus unless they wear protective equipment while dealing with all patients.

Normal life continues to be seriously affected. As vulnerable people continue to report problems getting groceries while in isolation, supermarkets are to use a government database of the 1.5 million people deemed most at risk to help prioritise delivery slots. Sharon Cranfield, from Surrey, tells us she’s reliant on deliveries because her daughter Jessica, 19, has cystic fibrosis, adding: “I’m terrified of going to the shops.” There are signs, too, the housing market is grinding to a halt, with transactions agreed before the lockdown falling through.

We dig into the detail of the government’s latest financial support package to find out what help is available to self-employed people. Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says the government’s response to coronavirus proves he was “absolutely right” during December’s election campaign that public spending could be increased.

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