Coronavirus in UK live blog as it happened: latest as key workers and families to get free Covid-19 tests from Friday

Follow the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak in our live blog below

Thursday, 23rd April 2020, 7:59 am
Updated Thursday, 23rd April 2020, 6:00 pm

We will be providing live updates until 6pm this evening.

Shoppers queue using safe distance measures at Waitrose supermarket in Rushden, England (Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images)
Shoppers queue using safe distance measures at Waitrose supermarket in Rushden, England (Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images)

Coronavirus live blog, April 23

Last updated: Thursday, 23 April, 2020, 17:55

Jaguar Land Rover and Aston Martin to resume UK production

Jaguar Land Rover has announced it is to gradually resume production at two of its UK plants next month, amid “robust” guidelines to support a return to work.

The car giant said that manufacturing will resume in Solihull in the West Midlands, and at its engine plant in Wolverhampton, from 18 May.

The move will see around a quarter of the Solihull workforce return to work.

The news follows an announcement by luxury car-maker Aston Martin Lagonda that it will reopen its South Wales factory on 5 May.

Covid-19 vaccine trials begin in healthy volunteers

Human trials for a coronavirus vaccine are due to get under way in the UK, with the first dose to be administered on Thursday (23 Apr) afternoon.

Researchers from the University of Oxford are conducting the trials, as hundreds of volunteers agree to be part of the study.

The first dose was to be given to a healthy person this afternoon, while another will be given a meningitis vaccine, used in the trial for comparison.

The Oxford Vaccine Group has recruited up to 1,112 participants across study sites in Oxford, Southampton, London and Bristol, and hopes to repeat the process of administering the drug with six more volunteers on Saturday (25 Apr).

The tests will then progress to larger numbers next week.

Essential workers can book their own Covid-19 tests online

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said from Friday (24 Apr) employers of essential workers can now visit gov.uk and book a free coronavirus test for their staff who want one.

Relatives of such workers will also be included and the results will be sent out via text.

Those who are unable to go online will be able to apply for the test through their employer.

In addition to this, both home testing kits and mobile testing sites are also being introduced.

18,000 people to be hired to trace Covid-19 infections

The Health Secretary has said the government is introducing a new coronavirus contact tracing app, with 18,000 people to be hired to work on it.

The recruitment will include 3,000 clinicians to help trace infections, with training to take place over the coming weeks.

25,000 people to take part in testing

Mr Hancock said 25,000 people are to take part in the first phase of antibody testing, with plans to expand this to 300,000 over the next 12 months.

The tests are to help establish how many people have and have already had coronavirus.

Participants will provide regular samples taken from self-administered swabs and answer a few short questions.

Letters have now started to go out asking people to take part and  Mr Hancock appealed to anyone asked to become involved to do so.

NHS contact-tracing app undergoing testing

The Health Secretary said the infrastructure was being put in place to allow contact tracing to be rolled out on a large scale, stating it is “critical” in keeping the virus under control.

He confirmed that a new NHS contact-tracing app is currently undergoing testing, which will allow anyone who becomes unwell with coronavirus symptoms to inform the NHS via the app.

This will then inform other users they have had significant contact with.

Drive-through mobile testing sites to increase to 48

The number of mobile drive-through regional test centres in the UK is to increase from 31 to 48, in an effort to help conduct tests at speed where needed.

Professor John Newton, coordinator of the UK coronavirus testing programme, said: “We're going to have 48 of these pop-up facilities which can travel around the country to where they're needed most, for example in care homes."

Hancock: “Test, track and trace” could ease social distancing

The Health Secretary said the adoption of a “test, track and trace” method could enable “heavier” social distancing measures to be eased.

When done effectively, such a tracking method can help to suppress the transmission of the virus and thereby allows the UK to have lesser rules.

Mr Hancock said: "Critically, test, track and trace works more effectively when the rate of new cases is lower.

"So, the lower the rate of new cases, the more effectively you can keep it down using test, track and trace, rather than having to use heavier social-distancing measures."

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