The government is expected to signal that the UK lockdown will be extended beyond next week, potentially until May, as the country braces for the peak of the coronavirus epidemic over the coming days.
Senior ministers will gather to discuss the next steps for the UK’s response to Covid-19 without prime minister Boris Johnson, who remains in hospital but has been said to be “improving” and responding to treatment.
Meanwhile, The Alzheimer’s Society has warned dementia patients in care homes are being “abandoned” to the virus amid concerns about the number of cases of Covid-19 spreading through homes.
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Our reporter, Samuel Osborne, has collected together the key stories you may have missed overnight on coronavirus.
Prime minister’s health ‘improving’ as he makes ‘steady progress’
Dementia patients risk being ‘abandoned’ in care homes
Tens of thousands of dementia patients risk being ‘abandoned’ to Covid-19 in care homes, the Alzheimer’s Society has said.
The research charity has warned at least half of care homes are reporting cases of coronavirus and dozens of residents have died during the UK’s outbreak amid concerns about a lack of testing in homes.
The warning came following reports that fifteen residents had already died at one care home in Luton during the pandemic.
Five of the residents who died at Castletroy Residential Home, which holds 69 beds for elderly people, were confirmed to have had Covid-19.
Boris Johnson remains in hospital but ‘improving’
The prime minister is still in hospital but is said to be “improving” and responding to treatment after spending two nights in intensive care due to coronavirus.
Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, said on Wednesday that Mr Johnson was sitting up in bed and engaging with the medical team at St Thomas’ Hospital in London.
Our deputy political editor, Rob Merrick, has more details on the story below:
First positive update – two days after prime minister was admitted to intensive care when his coronavirus symptoms worsened
The government is expected to extend the UK’s nationwide lockdown, which must be reviewed by 16 April, as the country nears the peak of its coronavirus epidemic.
Media reports have suggested the extension could be until May at the earliest after ministers and officials warned on Wednesday there was little chance of restrictions being eased.
Stephen Powis, NHS England’s medical director, said now was not the time to become “complacent” about the virus.
“We have to continue following instructions, we have to continue following social distancing, because if we don't, the virus will start to spread again,” Mr Powis said.
However, tensions have risen between the Department of Health and economic departments in the government over how long the lockdown should last due to concerns that the effect on jobs and the economy could outweigh the health benefits of the measures, according to the Financial Times.
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