Call for more volunteers for coronavirus clinical trials as public urged to stay home over warm weekend

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Libby Wiener

Medial experts have appealed for more volunteers to take part in coronavirus clinical trials as the government urged people to resist the warm weather this weekend and stay indoors.

Speaking at the daily government's Covid-19 briefing, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam asked people to volunteer for world-leading research that Health Secretary Matt Hancock described as "essential to our plan" to tackle the Covid-19 epidemic.

The plea for more volunteers comes as the number of coronavirus-related deaths in the UK rose by 684, bringing the total to 3,605.

The Health Secretary said: "We have established three national clinical trials covering each major stage of the disease - primary care, hospital care and critical care for the most seriously ill.

"Just like the Nightingale, one of these trials was put together in nine days."

"These trials are looking at the effectiveness of existing drugs and steroids, re-purposed for treatment of Covid-19."

Mr Hancock added: "One of the trials, which is called recovery which deals in hospital care, is the largest of its kind in the world, with 926 patients involved."

"We've also set up an expert's therapeutics task force to search for and shortlist other medicines for the trial."

He added that the "bigger the trials, the better the data and the faster we can roll out the treatments".

The trial, which is being co-ordinated by researchers at the University of Oxford, has received £2.1 million of funding and is part of further investment into rapid research response during the ongoing pandemic.

It is one of three national trials which will cover each major stage of the disease – primary care, hospital care and critical care for the most seriously ill.

The Health Secretary and senior NHS experts also urged people to home this temperatures are set to hit 20C in parts of the country.

People are being urged to resist the warm weather this weekend and stay indoors. Credit: PA

Their plea comes after four NHS staff have died within 24 hours after contracting Covid-19, it was announced on Friday.

Two nurses in their 30s, Areema Nasreen and Aimee O'Rourke, both mothers of three children, have died alongside two healthcare assistants.

England's chief nursing officer Ruth May said the nurses "were one of my profession" as she urged members of the public not to be tempted to go outside in the forecast sunny weather on Saturday and Sunday.

In the daily Downing Street press conference, Ms May said: "This weekend is going to be very warm and it will be very tempting to go out and enjoy those summer rays.

"But please, I ask you to remember Aimee and Areema.

NHS nurse and mother-of-three, Aimee O’Rourke, is believed to have contracted the virus before she died. Credit: PA

"Please stay at home for them."

Mr Hancock reiterated the Government measures: "We cannot relax our discipline now. If we do, people will die.

"I end with the advice we all know. This advice is not a request - it is an instruction.

"Stay at home, protect lives and then you will be doing your part."

Earlier, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is extending his period of self-isolation, urged the public to stick with social distancing and not be tempted to "hang out" in the warmer weather predicted for this weekend.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know