Health and Social Care Secretary’s statement on coronavirus (COVID-19): 2 June 2020

Good afternoon and welcome to Downing Street for the daily coronavirus briefing. In keeping with the new format, I’ll go through the slides now and then we’ll take questions from members of the public and from journalists.

Slide one shows the testing capacity and the number of new cases. The top chart in the slide shows the number of tests. That number of tests as of 2 June was 135,643. This is different to testing capacity which stands at just over 200,000.

As I said yesterday, this demonstrates that there is spare capacity in testing. So if you have symptoms of coronavirus, that’s a fever or a new dry cough or a change in your sense of taste or smell, then please do go and get a test from or by phoning 119. It’s incredibly important that we can trace the virus by ensuring that anybody with symptoms has a test. And of course we’re rolling out testing across care homes and making sure staff in hospitals get the opportunity to be tested as well.

The bottom chart on the slide shows the number of confirmed cases. This is 1,613 as of 2 June. This brings the total number of cases confirmed in the UK to 277,985. Although the 1,613 figure is slightly higher than yesterday we can see that the 7-day rolling average continues to fall.

The data from hospitals show that those new admissions to hospitals in England has fallen to 436. This is down from 471 on 24 May, so just over a week ago, and down from a high of 3,121 on 2 April. This figure of 436 admissions to hospitals in England with COVID-19 is the lowest figure since 20 March. It demonstrates once again that we are making progress against this disease. Again, as yesterday the proportion of mechanical ventilators, ventilated beds that are occupied by patients with coronavirus remains at 9%.

Just like yesterday, the number of people in hospital continues to fall. 7,607 are now in hospital with coronavirus and that is falling, broadly falling in each part of the country, but for a little bit of day-to-day movement in some of the areas, for instance as you can see right at the end of the chart for the North East and Yorkshire. But we keep that very closely under review. But the overriding trend, as you can see, is downwards.

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The next slide is the number of deaths and sadly on the 2 June [correction: 1 June], yesterday, 324 deaths with coronavirus were recorded taking the total to 39,369. We mourn each one of these. We try to keep these data as accurate as possible, including where we find, in the past, in some cases there are deaths where we discover there has been a connection to coronavirus and we add those into those data. So again we can see that the trend is broadly down but there is still some way to go. And after the weekend effect, which we’ve seen each weekend in terms of the number of deaths recorded, because this is according to the date these are recorded, we’ve seen that rise on most Mondays and sadly the figure is 324 today.

The final slide reports on data from the Office for National Statistics which was reported this morning and reported a total of 48,106 deaths in the UK where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate. You can see again that this number is falling. The top chart shows those data and where we were on the recorded daily deaths data for the period that corresponded to these data coming from the ONS. On the bottom chart we can see the place of occurrence of those deaths. You can see both the number of deaths and the proportion of deaths that are in care homes, both of those are falling. 27.3% of deaths occurred in care homes in the latest ONS data to the week of 22 May, bringing the proportion overall of deaths in care homes down to 32.5%.

We don’t capture in these charts, but we do capture in a report published by Public Health England today further data, some of which are much more troubling. The PHE investigation into the way in which the virus targets people unequally and disproportionately has been put on the website. This is a particularly timely publication because right across the world people are angry about racial injustice and I get that. Black lives matter and I want to say this to everyone who works in the NHS and in social care. I value the contribution that you make, everybody equally. And I want to say it right across society too. I want to thank you and I want you to know that our whole country cares about your wellbeing. And I value too those who come to our country to work in the NHS and in social care. And I love that this country is one of the most welcoming and tolerant and diverse. That goes for the whole country and it goes especially for the health and care system.

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As I said in the House of Commons earlier, PHE’s investigation found that age is the biggest risk factor for coronavirus, next gender, living in a city is a risk and being black or from a minority ethnic background is also a significant risk factor. There is much more work to do to understand what is driving these disparities and how the different risk factors interact and we are absolutely determined to get to the bottom of this and find ways of closing that gap. I’m delighted that Kemi Badenoch, the Minister for Equalities, will be taking this work forward, working with PHE and many others.

We value the contribution from everyone to fighting this virus. Everyone has a contribution to make. Of course, the thing that every single person can do is to make their personal contribution to fighting this virus. In the first instance things as simple as washing your hands, following the social distancing rules and of course if you have symptoms please self-isolate immediately and get tested to protect your friends and family. So let’s keep going and we’ll get through this. We’ll now turn to questions.

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