Top Announcements - Testing Increased, NHS & Business Funding

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We have launched a new plan to dramatically ramp up Coronavirus testing so that by the end of this month, we can carry out 100,000 tests every day in England. But in the meantime, the most important thing to do is for people to stay at home

  • Significant progress to increase testing has already taken place across the country to protect the vulnerable, support our NHS, and ultimately save lives. But we need to go further.
  • That’s why we have published a new 5-point strategy, bringing together government, industry, academia, the NHS and many others, to dramatically increase the number of tests being carried out to 100,000 each day by the end of the month.

The new 5-pillar plan outlines the ambitions to:

  • Scale up swab testing in PHE labs and NHS hospitals for those with a medical need and the most critical workers to 25,000 a day by mid to late April;
  • Deliver increased commercial swab testing for critical key workers in the NHS, before then expanding to key workers in other sectors;
  • Develop blood testing to help know if people have the right antibodies and so have high levels of immunity to coronavirus;
  • Conduct surveillance testing to learn more about the spread of the disease and help develop new tests and treatments; and
  • Create a new National Effort for testing, to build a mass-testing capacity at a completely new scale.

We will prioritise testing of NHS workers, to help ensure they can stay in work if they test negative. This will help protect life, and relieve pressure on our NHS.

The Government is writing off over £13 billion of debt for NHS providers, freeing them up to invest in vital services.

  • At this time of a global Coronavirus pandemic, we need to ensure our NHS hospitals can focus on protecting lives, not get distracted with managing their past finances.
  • That’s why we are writing off £13 billion of debt for NHS providers, so that hospitals and services have the immediate financial certainty to plan and deliver their emergency response.
  • This significant change will put NHS services in a stronger position to respond to the immediate challenges of Coronavirus, as well as deliver widespread improvements in the years ahead.

The Chancellor is today taking further action to support businesses large and small, by helping banks approve loans as quickly as possible.

  • The Government has made available millions of pounds of finance to help businesses get through the Coronavirus crisis, and £90 million of business interruption loans have already been approved.
  • The Chancellor is now expanding the Government’s generous programme of business loans guarantees, so that many more small businesses affected by Coronavirus will be eligible if they need finance to keep operating during this difficult time. Lenders will be also banned from requesting personal guarantees on loans under £250,000.
  • At the same time the Chancellor is launching a scheme for large businesses, providing a government guarantee of 80 per cent to enable banks to make loans of up to £25 million, at commercial rates of interest, to firms with an annual turnover between £45 million and £500 million.
  • This will give banks the confidence to lend to more businesses which are impacted by coronavirus, and help ensure that the £330 billion of government support reaches as many businesses in need as possible.

Stay at home

You must stay at home, only leaving for the following very limited purposes:

  • Shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible.
  • One form of exercise a day – for example, a run, walk or cycle – alone or with members of your immediate household.
  • Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
  • Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.

Protect the NHS

You must stay at home to protect the NHS:

  • The NHS only has a limited number of doctors, nurses and specialist equipment.
  • We are working around the clock to increase NHS capacity.
  • The more people who get sick, the harder it is for the NHS to cope.
  • We must slow the spread of the disease so that fewer people are sick at any one time.

Save lives

You must stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives. The police will have the powers to enforce the following restrictions: 

  • Dispersing gatherings of more than two people in public, excluding people you live with.
  • Issuing fines to anyone who does not comply with these rules.
  • Closing shops that are not essential, as well as playgrounds and places of worship. 

Full guidance on staying at home can be found at www.gov.uk/coronavirus

You can find the most up to date medical advice at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus

You can find the answers to frequently asked questions about what you can do and can’t do during this pandemic here.

You can volunteer to become an NHS Volunteer Responder at https://www.goodsamapp.org/NHS