'Military drafted in to deliver PPE' to medics on coronavirus frontline

The military have been drafted in to deliver vital personal protective equipment (PPE), including 10 million masks, to medics on the coronavirus frontline, the Housing Secretary has told ITV's Peston.

Robert Jenrick said the Government were "ramping up efforts very significantly" in order to meet the extra demand for PPE, he told Anushka Asthana.

"We need to get more PPE out to people working on the frontline, that's in hospitals, it's in social care, it's in pharmacies and GP's surgeries," he said.

"We are doing that, we are ramping up efforts very significantly, we're taking very large stocks now, over 10 million masks for example in the last few days.

"And we've now got the military involved in delivering this to the frontline. There's reason to believe that is succeeding, we delivered stocks to hospitals in the last few days.

"Every social care provider in the country will get deliveries this week. We now have a PPE hotline so that those people on the front line can ring up, get the order that they desperately need."

But former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that he was hearing from the British Medical Association that "there are still shortages of goggles.”

"If you're looking after a patient who sprays you or spits on you or coughs on you, you should wear goggles," he said.

"We've got Chaand Nagpaul, the president of the British Medical Association speaking to the select committee tomorrow morning and we're obviously be asking him about that," Mr Hunt added.

Following the Prince of Wales' positive test for coronavirus, questions have been raised about testing in the UK; at the moment, only patients in hospital are being routinely tested.

The Housing Secretary said the Government's next priority was to ensure NHS workers were tested.

"We're ramping up production again very rapidly in the days and weeks ahead, we'll try to ensure that all NHS professionals get tested," he said.

Shadow Secretary of State for Education Angela Rayner MP, said the recent announcement that a test might be imminent was "woefully inadequate".

"What we need to do is make sure our essential public service workers get those tests immediately so that we can track the virus and that we can protect our frontline workers, including teachers and support staff, that are on the front line protecting our citizens against this virus."

The rise in UK coronavirus-related deaths from 422 to 465, a jump of 43, is the smallest day-on-day increase in the number of deaths since March 20.

Mr Hunt said the Government were monitoring what happens in Wuhan where strict quarantine measures have been relaxed, as the results would show whether the UK will be on and off lockdown for the next year.

"The big thing that will have some light on in about month's time is whether once you've suppressed the virus and then you lift the social distancing measures, it starts to come back," he said.

"And that's the thing we'll find out because they're just starting to lift some of the extreme measures in Wuhan, schools are going back in China, and we're looking very carefully at countries like Hong Kong to see whether it comes back."

Last week the Government introduced measures to help tenants who may be financially impacted by the economic fallout of the coronavirus outbreak.

The move came after criticism that they were not protecting renters, who are often among the most vulnerable members of society.

Asked what protection tenants will have against being evicted under new legislation, Mr Jenrick said: "What we've introduced through the emergency legislation is a complete moratorium on evictions for three months, with the power to extend that by another three months, if we need to, if in three months' time the coronavirus crisis is still with us.

"So absolutely nobody should be concerned about being evicted from their home for at least the next three months."

He said the three-month 'rent holiday' would be reviewed after three months.