Coronavirus: Live updates on Covid-19 in the South West

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.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know

Sunday 5 April


Devon County Council has escalated the decision to increase the rate of pay for care providers with immediate effect in a bid to drum up recruitment.

It will see care workers' salaries - those working under contract to the Council - raised to a minimum of £10 per hour, up from £8.72.

A council spokesperson said the although the pay rise does reflect the hard work undertaken by current staff, it is to incentivise more people to join the essential sector.


Healthcare workers in Bristol have decided it is their turn to thank the public after two weeks of praise being showered onto the NHS.

Staff at North Bristol NHS Trust put their spin on The Rembrandts classic 'I'll Be There For You', and even peppered in a few 'Friends' references too.

The message was to thank people for staying at home and following the social distancing guidelines.


Credit: Gloucestershire Police

Police forces in the West Country have revealed they have bee forced to issue their first Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) in relation to social distancing regulations.

Wiltshire Police stopped a car that had been seen shooting an air rifle out of the window on Saturday afternoon. The rifle was found in the boot as well as an amount of cannabis.

On top of other charges, the force issued four men, between the ages of 29 and 38, with the first £60 FPNs in Wiltshire.

Similarly, Gloucestershire Police has said that despite most people following regulations, or cooperating with police when being told they are not, it also had to issue the county's first fine.

Two men and a woman were stopped after travelling from Manchester to Bristol to pick up a car they were buying, and were all given fines after the police informed them this was not an essential reason for travel.


The latest statistics from the Government have revealed that, despite a national fall in the number of deaths caused by coronavirus, the West Country has seen its highest figure yet.

Nationally, another 621 people lost their lives to the virus - down 87 from the previous day's numbers.

However, the number in the West Country was more than double that of the 17 the day before, with another 36 deaths in our region.


Lord Bath of Longleat has died aged 87 after testing positive for coronavirus.

The "gloriously" eccentric Alexander Thynn, 7th Marquess of Bath, died on Saturday after being admitted to the Royal United Hospital in Bath on March 28.

During his time there, it was confirmed that he had Covid-19.


Credit: Bella Wilson

A couple from the West Country will be rowing the English Channel to raise money for the Trussel Trust - on a rowing machine in their living room.

Bella Wilson and Sam Charman are making use of their time staying at home during the coronavirus lockdown to support the food bank charity.

The pair row for Portishead Pilot Gig Club, and had been in training for the World Championships in the Isles of Scilly in May.

Saturday 5 April


The newest figures from Public Health England show the highest daily coronavirus death toll in the UK so far, with a further 708 people losing their lives.

Of those, 17 were from the South West.

At the daily government briefing, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove said everyone had a part to play in slowing the spread by simply staying at home.


Councils and police forces across the West Country urge the public to not use the good weather as an excuse to flout social distancing regulations.

Visit Weston have released an alternative campaign, Don't Visit Weston, to put large groups off the idea of flocking to the coast in the sun.

Devon and Cornwall Councils have also joined forces to urge people to continue to visit the South West - but only when the pandemic is over.

Friday 3 April

4pm - medical students qualify early to help on front line

Hundreds of medical students from the West Country are being fast-tracked to the hospital frontline to help in the fight against coronavirus.

Around 220 medics from the University of Bristol and more than 50 from the University of Exeter have qualified early and will be taking up posts as doctors in hospitals across the region shortly.

Alongside this 138 undergraduate students from the University of Gloucestershire have stepped forward to help hospitals and other NHS services.


2.35pm - 36 more deaths announced across the South West

NHS England has announced a total of 604 more people have died from coronavirus - 36 more people in the South West.

12:30pm - Forest Live concert series cancelled

Forest Live, the summer concert series presented by Forestry England, has been cancelled.

Those set to play at Gloucestershire's Westobirt Arboretum included Jack Savoretti, Keane, Madness, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds and Rag‘n’Bone Man.

All tickets will be refunded.

11:45pm - thousands gather to pay tribute to key workers in #clapforcarers

Thousands across the West Country gathered outside to clap their hands for the NHS and key workers yesterday evening (Thursday 2 April).

As 8pm hit, residents across the region made as much noise as they could, in gardens, out windows and on balconies.

Read more on this story here

11:30 am - F1 driver Lando Norris raises money

Formula 1 and McLaren driver Lando Norris from Glastonbury has given himself a buzz cut to raise money for coronavirus with thousands online.

The 20-year-old took to live gaming site Twitch to cut off his hair, using beard trimmers!

9:00 am - Paignton promenade shut to traffic to prevent seaside trips

A Devon seafront has been shut off to traffic to prevent people driving to the seaside in breach of the Government's coronavirus guidelines.

Paignton promenade is being locked with gates, bollards, barriers and road closure signs because police report that too many people are still driving there.

Read more

Police had been patrolling the area and telling cars to leave but some drivers were seen returning to the promenade as soon as officers disappeared. Credit: Devon Live

00:01 - NHS confirms temporary hospital is being built at the University of the West of England

A new NHS hospital is to be built in the West Country to treat up to 1,000 patients with coronavirus. The facility will be built at the University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol in the coming weeks.

It will form part of the new NHS Nightingale hospitals, which include one already built in London, and two that are due to open in Manchester and Birmingham.

A makeshift NHS hospital will be built at the University of the West of England in Bristol to treat patients with coronavirus.

Thursday 2 April


Credit: Avon and Somerset Police

Avon and Somerset Police have teamed up with South Western Ambulance Service to allow new student paramedics to sit theory and hazard perception driving tests at their HQ.

It'll allow them to be on the road sooner so they can get out and attend incidents at a critical time for the NHS.


Vulnerable patients of Newquay Health Centre now have extra protection against the spread of coronavirus while still being able to see healthcare professionals.

The RAF 5050 Reserve Squadron have stepped in to help, with a drive-in nurses clinic now available in the car park.

This allows the nurses to do routine appointments on patients - without them leaving their cars.


Libraries across Devon and Torbay have expanded their online services to help communities stay connected after closing their doors during the coronavirus outbreak.

The libraries have added thousands of books to the service, including eAudiobooks and eMagazines as well as starting to live stream popular library events with the hope of keeping spirits high in the coming weeks.They are hosting daily online activities for children including Bounce & Rhyme and Story Time, as well as reading groups and language cafes for adults.

If you are in Devon or Torbay resident you can join online now and gain access to the digital library immediately. Find your local library on social media to access live events.


A total of 13 more people have died from Covid-19 in the West Country.

Public Health England have released the latest figures which collate the data from across our hospitals.

The patients did not all die on one day - but information about their deaths was registered with Public Health England yesterday. The date in brackets represents their date of death.

  • Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust: 1

  • Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust: 3 (All 30.03)

  • Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust: 3 (All 30.03)

  • Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust: 1 (01.04)

  • Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust: 1 (31.03)

  • Torbay And South Devon NHS Foundation Trust: 1 (01.04)

  • University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust: 1 (31.03)

  • University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust: 1 (30.03)

  • Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust: 1 (20.03)


Up to 4,000 meals a week for people facing food insecurity will be prepared at Truro School. Credit: Truro School

A school in Cornwall has teamed up with a local charity to make thousands of meals every week to give out to those in need.

Truro School has donated the use of its kitchen and catering equipment to The Hive Cornwall, an organisation that makes use of surplus food to reduce waste and emissions while also helping those living with food insecurity.

Originally based at RNAS Culdrose, The Hive quickly outgrew their kitchen facilities when Cornwall Council asked them to step in to increase food production.

After appealing for a bigger space, Truro School stepped in and the pair will now help tor produce up to 4,000 meals a week.

10am - Bristol charity launches UK’s first free food delivery service for homeless

Credit: Wonderland Communications/PA

A charity has launched the first free food delivery service for homeless people in the UK.

Caring In Bristol has created Cheers Drive to provide restaurant-quality meals to 600 of the most vulnerable during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The project comes as food banks and traditional food services for the homeless, such as voluntary food drops, have suffered due to social distancing advice and regulations.

Chefs, led by Josh Eggleton of the Michelin-starred Pony And Trap, will be supplying daily meals to the homeless and vulnerable in locations across Bristol.

Wednesday 1 April

6.45pm - Cornish theatre company pays tribute to popular member who has died from Covid-19

Ruth and Mick Boyles Credit: Sterts Theatre

Mick Boyles, a popular member of the Sterts community theatre group in Liskeard died from coronavirus on Tuesday 31 March. His wife Ruth is being treated for the disease.

Sterts Theatre has paid tribute:

4.15pm - Recycling collectors shocked as used tissues are left out for collection

Credit: BristolLive/BPM Media

Councils have urged residents not to leave personal waste such as tissues out for collection due to the risk of infection during the pandemic.

But some people are continuing to ignore the advice

Homeowners are being urged to separate waste such as used tissues andcleaning cloths, and double bag it. They are also being asked to leave it for 72 hours before placing it in the black bin rubbish.


The target of £150,000 could be met in the next few days. Credit: Wiltshire Community Foundation

The Wiltshire Community Foundation's fundraiser, to support those most affected by the knock-on effects of coronavirus, has passed the £100,000 mark.

The foundation's grant team will distribute money raised to local charities and organisations, to allow them to continue to provide vital services during this period of financial uncertainty.


The commander in charge of the operation said efforts had been made to protect crews “and the whole Culdrose family” from the risk of infection.

Three Royal Navy helicopters based in Cornwall are going to be used as flying air ambulances across the South West in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

They will also be used to transport medical staff and deliver emergency supplies across the whole of the West Country - from Bristol to the Isles of Scilly.

The Merlin Mk2 helicopters and their crews based at RNAS Culdrose near Helston will provide round-the-clock support to the NHS and South Western Ambulance Service.

In preparation for their task the helicopters - normally used to track submarines - have been stripped out so they can carry several stretchers, along with passengers and equipment, over long distances.


Buttler played a starring role in England's dramatic, last-gasp final victory at Lords on July 16, 2019. Credit: Jos Buttler/eBay

England's World Cup winning cricket hero Jos Buttler has put the shirt he wore in last summer's victory up for auction to raise money to fight coronavirus.

The 29 year-old from Taunton listed the shirt, signed by the whole team from that memorable day, on eBay to support specialist heart and lung centres.


Denise Hill made the 320 mile round trip after failing to get an appointment with her dentist, or any other in the South West.

A woman who is 32 weeks pregnant was forced to drive from Exeter to Birmingham for an emergency dental appointment after suffering from severe toothache.

Denise Hill made the 320 mile round trip after failing to get an appointment with her dentist, or any other in the South West.

As a result of the pandemic dentists in our region aren't allowed to see patients for routine appointments because of safety concerns, including the lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Emergency dental centres are also lacking adequate PPE, meaning emergency appointments can't be carried out.


If you see anybody sleeping rough you can tell the council by visiting their website

Everyone sleeping rough on the streets of Plymouth is being offered accommodation to protect them from Covid-19.

Plymouth City Council says it has secured an extra 39 beds in privately rented houses to help people off the streets.

Tuesday 31 March


Helplines in Devon set up to help those in need have taken more than 2,000 calls since being launched.

On Monday alone calls were coming in at the rate of around 50 an hour.

Teams coordinated by the Torbay Community Development Trust have been out collecting prescriptions and shopping for essentials as well as staffing the phones and befriending lonely, scared and isolated people across the Bay.

So far, there have been nearly 1000 requests for help and around 750 people volunteering with many more callers in need of advice or simply a kind word.

People in Torbay can call 01803 446022 and 01803 857727 for help.


Public Health England have released new figures detailing the number of coronavirus deaths in the country over the last week - with 20 new fatalities in the South West.

Regional breakdown of South West deaths (date of death):



We Are Bristol wants to support people who may not have internet access. Credit: PA

Bristol City Council has launched a telephone service to help vulnerable people in the city during the coronavirus lockdown.

The 'We Are Bristol' support line is something the council hopes will offer a 'lifeline' to worried residents facing isolation, who may not have access to online support.

People can phone with concerns ranging from where to get food supplies and medication, advice on getting pets walked, to arranging follow-up support from a variety of other organisations.

Phones will be manned from 8.30am - 5pm, Monday to Friday, by up to 30 trained call handlers.

“The hotline is in place to ensure we have a non-digital way for our most vulnerable residents and those at risk to access the help they may need, wherever we can. The coronavirus pandemic means many of us are worried, anxious and need help. Here in Bristol we have volunteers who are waiting to help you – when you most need it. We hope to move the hotline to a seven day operation soon.

“Anyone concerned about feeling isolated, getting food, essential items or medicine they need could benefit from the phone line. Even if you simply need someone to walk your dog or a person to talk to once a week. After all, a problem shared is a problem halved.

“Call the We Are Bristol support hotline on 0117 352 3011. Together we are stronger. Together We Are Bristol.”

The line will be manned by up to 30 staff who are all trained to handle calls and refer those with specific needs to the right areas.

There will also be a call back option to limit waiting time during busy periods and ensure everyone who needs help can access it.


South Western Ambulance Service has warned the public that first responders may turn up to 999 call-outs in full PPE.

The move aims to protect staff and other patients from the spread of Covid-19 - even if the call-out is seemingly unrelated to the disease.

Credit: Facebook/SWASFT


The council is lifting the charges to help key workers, but is urging the general public to remain at home. Credit: ITV News

Cornwall Council have suspended car parking charges in Council owned carparks in order to help essential workers move freely.

The payment suspension will be reviewed on a monthly basis.

Members of the public are urged to remain at home in line with the government’s advice on coronavirus.


Devon Air Ambulance will use its new critical care cars to respond to patients. Credit: Devon Live

Devon Air Ambulance has temporarily stood down its aircraft and will be responding to emergencies with its fleet of cars.

The service says its current operations would leave pilots exposed as they cannot wear personal protective equipment while operating the aircraft.

More on this story here

Cornwall Council is calling on the government to speed up the delivery of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for key workers in the county. Credit: PA images


Cornwall Council is calling on the government to speed up the delivery of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for key workers in the county.

Council Leader Julian German said it was vital that key workers and organisations who need PPE to safely carry out their jobs receive it quickly.

He has asked for further details about how and when that equipment, to help protect staff against coronavirus, would be distributed.

Many of Cornwall's social care partners and providers have identified a lack of PPE as their biggest concern when trying to keep staff and service users safe.

Cllr German said that PPE is 'desperately needed' to 'keep Cornwall running'.

Monday 30 March


Staff at Derriford Hospital have been praised by the trust that runs it after they set up a new Intensive Care Unit in a short space of time.

University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust said the staff had worked 'tirelessly' to get the new unit up and running.

It has been created in preparation of an expected influx of Covid-19 patients over the coming weeks who will require in-depth care.

Police assaults across the West

A number of people have been arrested for deliberately coughing or spitting at emergency crews who were responding to call outs across the West Country.

Police and Ambulance workers were targeted in a number of separate incidents - officers warn the situation is getting worse and stress they will respond robustly to anyone caught abusing key workers.

Credit: ITV West Country

In Avon and Somerset alone, police say five separate incidents saw six officers assaulted.

Behaviour which has spread to Gloucestershire where a volunteer officer reported being bitten three times, punched and spat st.

Officers say these assaults were only contained once spit hoods were used.

Credit: ITV West Country

A man denied deliberately coughing in the face of a paramedic, allegedlytelling him: 'Ha, ha, you've got it now', a court head.

Jonathan Brunsdon, 43, appeared before Cheltenham Magistrates' Court accused of coughing in the face of a paramedic

He denied a single charge of assaulting an emergency worker.

Brunsdon, who was sat behind a desk wearing a face mask, gloves and a plastic apron, spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth and address.

He entered a not guilty plea to assaulting Shaun Helbrow and elected trial atthe magistrates court.

Ventilator capacity

NHS trusts have called on health chiefs and the Government for greater detail on future ventilator capacity as a new order for 10,000 devices was placed with leading manufacturers.

A consortium including Rolls-Royce is ready to start producing medical devices under the name Project Oyster, and is also jointly scaling-up production of an existing design, known as Project Penguin.

It follows an announcement from Dyson that it had received an order from Prime Minister Boris Johnson - who has coronavirus - to build 10,000 of its own CoVent design.

Credit: Dyson
This weekend, police conducted spot checks in the centre of Bristol. Credit: PA images

2:45pm Somerset farm shop targeted by thieves during crisis

The shop has remained open but with more limited supplies Credit: PA

A farm shop in Somerset is appealing for information after a large quantity of its supplies were stolen during a break-in.

Westcroft Farm Shop in Berrow was targeted by thieves on Saturday evening [March 28].

The shops says it has been open during the coronavirus crisis out of choice, to continue to support the local community.

Read more on this story here.

1.30pm Around one-in-four NHS doctors are off work sick or in isolation

Professor Andrew Goddard, president of the Royal College of Physicians, says about 25% of the doctor workforce is off, either with coronavirus or because a family member or housemate is ill.

Follow the story on the ITV News national site.

12.45pm - New contract ensures vital train services will continue to run

Credit: ITV West Country

The Government has awarded a three-year contract to rail operators Great Western Railway.

The new contract will ensure train services continue to connect the South of England and Wales during Covid-19.

For further details, including how services will be improved in future, click here

12.20pm - Devon college uses 3D printers to make PPE for local hospitals

The college's 3D printer is making face shields for NHS staff tackling coronavirus. Credit: South Devon College

South Devon College is using its own technology to help staff at Torbay Hospital keep safe on the frontline.

The college's Hi Tech & Digital Centre in Paignton is making face shields on its 3D printers for workers battling coronavirus.

See the full story here.