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Coronavirus: Live updates on Covid-19 in the West Country, wk ending 29 March

UPDATES ARE NOW CLOSED - You can find the blog for the week beginning 39 March 2020 here

Police officers conducting spot checks in the centre of Bristol. Credit: PA

Welcome to the ITV News West Country coronavirus live blog.

Here you will find the latest information and updates regarding the pandemic, including case numbers, event cancellations and venue closures.

We will also be highlighting some of the positive efforts being made by our local communities to support one another during the crisis.

Here are some key headlines for you today (Sunday, March 29):

Scroll down to read updates as they happen from across the West Country on Sunday, March 29.

6.56pm - First Bus driver dies after testing positive for coronavirus

A First Bus driver from Bristol has died after testing positive for coronavirus.

Martin Egan died on Saturday (March 28) two weeks after contracting the virus.

The 55-year-old had worked for First Bus for more than 40 years and was described as a “tremendously loyal and great character”.

Read this article in full here.

5.35pm - More arrests following alleged assaults of emergency workers in the West Country

Avon and Somerset Police said a number of its officers had been spat or coughed at. Credit: ITV News

Multiple arrests have been made across the West Country after emergency workers reported being spat or coughed at.

A number of incidents have been reported over the weekend, including an alleged assault of a paramedic in Stroud and an alleged spitting at a police officer in Bath.

You can read this story in full by clicking here.

4.43pm - 'All parts of UK on emergency footing'

All parts of the UK are now on ’emergency footing’ amid the coronavirus pandemic, the government has announced.

Speaking at today’s press conference, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said it would be an ‘unprecedented step’ for British peace-time, and unlike anything the government has done since the Second World War.

This means that we are establishing strategic co-ordination centres across the whole country. Each centre is led by gold commanders.

We are bringing together senior members of the emergency services, the police, fire and ambulance service, with local authorities and the NHS, to lead communities through this challenging period.

– Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick

4.15pm - Daily briefing underway

Today's press conference is being led by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, alongside deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries.

2.13pm - Paramedic allegedly coughed at in Stroud

The paramedic was allegedly coughed at while responding to an emergency incident. Credit: PA

A man who was self-isolating in Stroud with suspected coronavirus has been arrested after a paramedic was coughed at.

Paramedics were called to an address in the Gloucestershire town at around 11pm on Saturday (March 28) night, where a man reported feeling unwell.

More on this story here.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Boris Johnson is writing to every household in the UKto urge the public to obey the lockdown and stay home during the coronavirus “national emergency”.

The Prime Minister, who is self-isolating after testing positive for Covid-19, will warn “things will get worse before they get better” as he stresses the need to stay indoors to support the NHS by slowing the spread.

More on this here.

11.07am - Group from Bristol stopped from walking up Welsh mountain

Police in south Wales said they stopped a group from Bristol climbing Pen Y Fan during the lockdown. Credit: Brecon Roads Policing Unit / Twitter

A group from Bristol were told to return home by police after attempting to climb a mountain in Wales during the coronavirus lockdown.

Despite a Government order for people to “stay local” when exercising, a climbing party travelled from Bristol to Pen Y Fan on Saturday (March 28).

They were attempting to scale the peak, which is located in the Brecon Beacons National Park, before police intervened.

More on this story here.

9.50am - Plymouth-based NHS 111 call centre faces allegations over social distancing

Sitel has denied the allegations. Credit: Jacob King/PA

New allegations have been made about an outsourcing firm running NHS 111 services making staff work “desk to desk” in an apparent breach of coronavirus social distancing rules.

Labour has written to Health Secretary Matt Hancock with “urgent concerns” about a call centre in Plymouth operated by Sitel, which denied the allegations.

Click here to read this story in full.

6.01pm - Bristol taxi drivers and volunteers provide emergency food parcels

Taxi drivers and volunteers provided emergency food parcels to vulnerable people in Bristol. Credit: Bristol City Council

Emergency food parcels have been supplied to Bristol’s most vulnerable people by kind-hearted volunteers and taxi drivers.

Government supplies were dropped at City Hall on Saturday (March 28) morning before being taken to homes across the city.

They were delivered to more than 50 people who don’t have access to food or support as a result of the lockdown measures.

More on this story here.

4.24pm - Joggers told to stop running on Clifton Suspension Bridge

People have been told to stop running on the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Bridge Master Trist Johnson issued the plea to joggers in a statement on the Facebook page for the iconic Bristol landmark.

At the Clifton Suspension Bridge Trust, the health and wellbeing of our staff and users are our number one concern.

Following Government advice on the social distancing measures we should all be reducing social interaction between people in order to reduce the transmission of coronavirus (Covid-19).

We need you to stop running on the bridge and ensure you maintain a distance of two metres (three paces) from other bridge users. By not overtaking others and walking across the narrow footways, you will be saving lives.

I further ask you to please help us during this international health crisis by using the bridge only as a commuter route for essential journeys, taking your daily exercise close to home in a location where there is plenty of space to pass others at a safe distance.

– Trist Johnson, Bridge Master

3.14pm - Tourist in motorhome stopped by police at Devon border

The tourist in a motorhome was stopped by police at the Somerset-Devon border. Credit: North Devon Roads Policing Unit

A tourist has been sent back to Birmingham after being caught by police driving to the West Country in a motorhome during the lockdown.

Officers stopped the driver on the motorway near the Somerset-Devon border on Friday (March 27) as part of new spot checks being carried out to limit the spread of coronavirus.

More on this story here.

1.40pm - More than 1,000 coronavirus deaths in the UK

A man walks the streets of London in protective clothing. Credit: PA

The number of people who have died after contracting coronavirus passed 1,000 as it was revealed another Cabinet minister has been forced to self-isolate.

As of 5pm on Friday, 1,019 people had died after being diagnosed with Covid-19, up from 759 the day before, the Department of Health and Social Care said on Saturday.

A total of 120,776 coronavirus tests have taken place, with 17,089 positive results and 103,687 people testing negative.

More on this story here.

7.10pm - Weston Air Show cancelled

The Red Arrows performing at the Weston Air Festival in 2018 Credit: PA

North Somerset Council has announced that, following recent events and in line with government guidance, Weston Air Festival, which was set to take place on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 June, has been cancelled.

You can find out more on the Visit Weston-super-Mare website

5.25pm - Junior Doctor warns that unless NHS staff get proper protective equipment patients will suffer

Junior Doctor Emma Coombe wants the Government to do more. Credit: ITV West Country

Dr Emma Coombe from Bristol says the Government is letting frontline staff down, "It's really difficult to see politicians on the TV talking about giving the NHS all the resource that it needs, but not walking the walk when it comes to providing us with protective equipment"

Find Dr Emma's full message here

4.25pm - 'Stay at home'

Shaun Sawyer of Devon and Cornwall Police.

People in the West Country have been urged to stay indoors this weekend even if the weather is nice - or face police punishment.

The rules from the Government, which came into force on Monday (March 23), state you may only leave your home for four reasons:

  • 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 household
  • any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
  • travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home

In order to enforce the restrictions, officers have been conducting spot checks across the region to ensure drivers are complying - including in Plymouth, Penzance and Cullompton.

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer, of Devon and Cornwall Police, has since issued a warning - reminding people to either heed the advice or risk being fined.

Stay at home. If you need to go outside, stay local. That’s for shopping or light exercise.

But also stay socially responsible. It’s going to be a lovely weekend and everyone is going to be tempted to jump in their cars and drive to the moors and drive to the beaches.

I don’t need 1.7million people, adults and children deciding to drive everywhere this weekend.

Stay at home, stay local, stay socially responsible.

– Shaun Sawyer, Devon and Cornwall Police

4.10pm - Free parking for Gloucestershire's NHS staff

Free parking has been made available to NHS staff in Gloucestershire.

Gloucestershire County Council has made free parking available to support health and social care workers as they provide vital services to communities during the Covid-19 outbreak.

A free shuttle bus service has also been laid on for staff going to and from the county’s two main hospitals.

3.20pm - Woman from North Devon struck down by coronavirus is reunited with her family

Jess Marchbank enjoying some first cuddles with her children after recovering from coronavirus. Credit: ITV West Country

We ran the story of how coronavirus struck down fit and healthy mum-of-two Jess Marchbank from Westward Ho! in North Devon.

Well she's now home and was able to share cuddles with her kids after weeks apart.

Click here to find out more about her journey and what it's like to have Covid-19.

2.00pm - As carers across the West Country struggle to get the protective equipment they need, the Sue Ryder charity in Gloucestershire is crying out for proper facilities

The Sue Ryder hospice in Gloucestershire is desperate for more protective equipment. Credit: ITV West Country

One of the residents Frank Skinner who is terminally ill and may never see his relatives again is backing their campaign.

Find out more here

1.00pm - Reports of long queues and waits at supermarkets across the region.

This superstore in Bristol is employing a one-in-one-out policy with wouldbe shoppers queueing two metres apart.

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8.00am - As the West Country wakes up to another sunny day tourist bosses urge people to stay away from Weston-super-Mare

A spokesperson for Visit Weston said: “We have a new temporary logo for Visit Weston – or as we maybe should call ourselves: DON’T Visit Weston.

“We understand that it’s important for us to get out of our homes occasionally and get some fresh air, but always whilst following the guidelines on social distancing by staying two metres apart from other people.

“So whilst our beautiful beaches and seafront might ordinarily have been the perfect location for stretching our legs and feeling some sun on our faces, given that far too many people are choosing to not follow advice on keeping safe distances and not congregating in large groups as we’ve seen in Weston lately, we must now please ask you to STOP.”

6.00am - People across the West Country join UK in 'clapping for carers'

The West Country took part in a national round of applause for NHS workers for their help in treating patients during the coronavirus outbreak.

The heartwarming Clap For Carers initiative saw residents applauding from their doorsteps, windows and balconies.

Thursday, March 26

7.13pm - That's it for today

That's it from us on our live blog for today (March 26). Thank you to those who have been following our updates here and on social media.

This blog will start again tomorrow morning, so please check back for the latest regional updates then.

And don't forget - we have plenty more national stories regarding coronavirus on the ITV News homepage. You can read the latest coverage by clicking here.

7.03pm - Clap For Our Carers

Clap For Our Carers takes place at 8pm. Credit: PA

Don't forget - this takes place tonight (March 26) at 8pm.

Anyone can join in from their doorstep, window or balcony.

And we want to see your videos of it! Send them to us via email (westcountry@itv.com) or tag us in your posts on social media (@itvwestcountry on Twitter and Instagram).

6.16pm - Police checks in Penzance

This was the scene in Penzance a little earlier today, where drivers were being pulled over by the police.

These are part of routine checks officers are now carrying out to determine if people are travelling for essential reasons.

You can read more on the checks here.

5.50pm - Millennium Square car park in Bristol now free for NHS staff

Millennium Square in Bristol. Credit: ITV News

A car park in central Bristol has been made available to NHS staff - for free.

The Millennium Square car park in the city centre - which is roughly a mile from the BRI hospital - is owned by We The Curious, who have made it free for all NHS staff during the current coronavirus pandemic.

The car park is open 24 hours a day and staff say no pre-booking is required - NHS workers will simply need to show their ID upon arrival.

5.46pm - Self-employed to have 80 per cent of earnings paid for by the government

Self-employed workers will have 80% their average earnings paid for by the government as it aims to support workers through the coronavirus crisis.

The new package means self-employed people will now be supported in a similar way to workers who are having their wages paid for by the government for 80% of their salary, or up to £2,500 a month.

For more on this, and what it might mean for you, click here.

5.20pm - Cornwall Council to set up temporary mortuary facility to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

Cornwall Council says it is setting up a temporary mortuary facility in order to prepare for the potential volume of Covid-19 deaths. Council Leader Julian German said the decision reflects the gravity of the situation, and emphasises the need for people to use social distancing.

The council's Chief Executive, Kate Kenally, also announced the council is launching a recruitment drive for 4000 extra care staff ''to support this response, and to care for the population in future''.

Cornwall is also set to receive an emergency food package from the government, which will be distributed to vulnerable people via food banks and other agencies, potentially by the end of the week. The council will be releasing further details in the coming days.

4.44pm - Cornwall's Goonhilly Earth Station involved in coronavirus task force

4.34pm - Chancellor Rishi Sunak will give today's briefing

Chancellor Rishi Sunak. Credit: PA

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will present a support package for the self-employed at today's daily press briefing.

Today’s daily press briefing will again be held remotely, in a similar way to Matt Hancock's on Tuesday and the Prime Minister on Wednesday, Downing Street said.

It is expected to begin around 5pm.

More on this here.

4.28pm - Plymouth Argyle offer facilities to the NHS

Low risk appointments will be conducted at Home Park. Credit: Plymouth Argyle

Plymouth Argyle will be offering up its football stadium for routine NHS services during the coronavirus outbreak.

The club says it has teamed up with University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust to make their Mayflower Grandstand available for community antenatal and over 16 phlebotomy services.

A team of clinicians and Argyle staff have worked to transform Home Park into a clinical environment.

To read this story in full, click here.

3.14pm - Health official says 'encouraging signs' in coronavirus outbreak

The number of virus-related deaths in Spain has increased to more than 4000. Credit: AP

Health officials say they are "starting to see some encouraging signs" in Europe's fight against the coronavirus outbreak.

The World Health Organization's (WHO) regional director for Europe, Dr Hans Kluge, pointed to a "slightly lower rate of increase" in Italy in recent days.

Click here for more on this story.

2.03pm - Your views of the West Country

If you would like to send us your view of the West Country, tweet our weather presenter Charlie Powell using @ITVCharlieP or email our newsroom on westcountry@itv.com.

1.45pm - Harmonie-Rose shows us how it's done!

Like many people across the West Country Harmonie-Rose Allen is keeping fit and healthy at home.

She's doing P.E. with Joe Wicks on her blades.

Click here for the full story.

1.13pm - Domestic abuse helpline launched in Plymouth

The coronavirus lockdown is a cause for concern among domestic abuse organisations. Credit: PA

A 24-hour helpline has been launched by a domestic abuse service in Plymouth due to fears more people are at risk in the coronavirus lockdown.

Plymouth Domestic Abuse Service has warned the pandemic - which has forced most households into self-isolation - could result in a rise in domestic abuse rates.

Click here to read this story in full.

12.52pm - Police ban on driving somewhere to walk your dog

Police stop drivers in Penzance. Credit: ITV News West Country

Police in the West Country say they are cracking down on people who are driving to a location in order to walk their pets or exercise.

Officers across the region have been seen stopping drivers in a bid to enforce lockdown restrictions, as the picture above shows.

To read more on this, click here.

12.39pm - Greta Thunberg shows coronavirus symptoms after Europe trip

View this post on Instagram

The last two weeks I’ve stayed inside. When I returned from my trip around Central Europe I isolated myself (in a borrowed apartment away from my mother and sister) since the number of cases of COVID-19 (in Germany for instance) were similar to Italy in the beginning. Around ten days ago I started feeling some symptoms, exactly the same time as my father - who traveled with me from Brussels. I was feeling tired, had shivers, a sore throat and coughed. My dad experienced the same symptoms, but much more intense and with a fever. In Sweden you can not test yourself for COVID-19 unless you’re in need of emergent medical treatment. Everyone feeling ill are told to stay at home and isolate themselves. I have therefore not been tested for COVID-19, but it’s extremely likely that I’ve had it, given the combined symptoms and circumstances. Now I’ve basically recovered, but - AND THIS IS THE BOTTOM LINE: I almost didn’t feel ill. My last cold was much worse than this! Had it not been for someone else having the virus simultainously I might not even have suspected anything. Then I would just have thought I was feeling unusually tired with a bit of a cough. And this it what makes it so much more dangerous. Many (especially young people) might not notice any symptoms at all, or very mild symptoms. Then they don’t know they have the virus and can pass it on to people in risk groups. We who don’t belong to a risk group have an enormous responsibility, our actions can be the difference between life and death for many others. Please keep that in mind, follow the advice from experts and your local authorities and #StayAtHome to slow the spread of the virus. And remember to always take care of each other and help those in need. #COVID #flattenthecurve

A post shared by Greta Thunberg (@gretathunberg) on

Climate change activist has revealed she is in isolation after showing coronavirus symptoms.

While the world famous 17-year-old has not been tested, she says it's "extremely likely" she has COVID-19, having recently returned from her trip to central Europe.

During that trip she visited Bristol to join the youth climate strike on Friday, February 28. She drew the biggest crowd Bristol has ever seen, with an estimated 20,000 people turning out to join the march.

Now she's posted on Instagram to warn people to stay at home, saying her symptoms were so mild she may not have noticed if her father had not also become ill.

12.15pm - Famous landmarks left deserted

A woman with a medical mask and gloves carries bags in an empty Bath Abbey churchyard. Credit: PA

Britain’s busiest landmarks and beauty spots lie deserted in the beautiful spring sunshine as the nation stays indoors to try and contain the spread of coronavirus.

The pavements outside Buckingham Palace, usually packed, were completely empty on Tuesday after the Government introduced the near total lockdown earlier this week.

You can check out the full gallery - which includes an empty Bath Abbey and city centre - by clicking here.

11.25am - West Country hospitals doubling in capacity

Royal Cornwall Hospital. Credit: ITV News West Country

Hospitals across the West Country say they're doubling their capacity over the next few days to prepare for the predicted influx of coronavirus patients.

It comes as doctors are warning that as staff begin to go off sick it's going to be a very difficult few weeks.

You can read more on this story by clicking here.

11.05am - 'We want to reassure you'

Staff at the Royal Cornwall Hospital have set up a maternity triage advice telephone line to support expectant mums while lockdown measures are in place.

The Trust has released a video - which you can watch below - to reassure pregnant mums that they are there for them, and be contacted at anytime day or night.

Sorry, this content isn't available on your device.

10.47am - Will you be taking part in Clap For Our Carers?

Clap For Our Carers takes place tonight at 8pm. Credit: PA

A national salute is set to take place to honour the NHS staff working hard through the coronavirus outbreak.

In a gesture of appreciation to frontline medical personnel, people across the nation have been invited to join a mass round of applause from their doorsteps, windows and balconies on Thursday at 8pm.

More on this story here.

6.00am - First recorded coronavirus-related deaths in Exeter

Credit: ITV West Country

Two people have died at the Royal Devon and Exeter hospital after testing positive for coronavirus.

NHS England has confirmed a further 28 people have died after contracting the virus.

These are the first recorded deaths at Exeter and bring the total number of reported deaths from coronavirus in England to 414.

5.30am - NHS workers to be thanked with nationwide round of applause

In a gesture of thanks to the frontline healthcare heroes, everyone across the nation has been invited to join a a mass round of applause from their doorsteps, windows and balconies tonight at 8pm.

The Clap For Carers campaign, which started online, is being staged because “during these unprecedented times they need to know we are grateful”, according to the organisers.

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Wednesday, March 25

Coronavirus - all you need to know