Coronavirus: Live updates on COVID-19 in the West Country

Welcome to the ITV News West Country coronavirus live blog for the week beginning 20 April.

Here you will find the latest information and updates regarding the pandemic and its impact on the region.

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

5:30pm - Demand for key-worker coronavirus tests surge

A new online portal for key workers across the South West to book Covid-19 tests at drive-through centres has had to temporarily close, just hours after it was launched by the Government.

As well as stopping bookings at drive-through centres, home testing kits also ran out by 8.45am, having already reached the capacity of daily demand.

Get the full story, and where tests are carried out in the West Country here.

4:30pm - Dyson told ventilators are 'no longer required'

Credit: Dyson

Dyson says its medical ventilators that were designed to help treat patients with coronavirus are no longer required.

The company, which is based in Malmesbury in Wiltshire, started making the machines after the Government issued an appeal to UK businesses.

Having invested more than £20million in the project, company founder Sir James Dyson said his staff had “worked around the clock” todevelop the ventilators.

3:30pm - People clap for Eddie Large

People neighbouring Eddie Large's Portishead home took to the streets today to applaud the late star's hearse as the funeral procession began.

Eddie's family, and former comedy partner Syd Little, made up the ten mourners allowed to attend the service.

Read the full story here.

2:00pm - More than a hundred fines issued to people flouting lockdown rules in Dorset

Between Sunday 29 March and Thursday 23 April 2020 Dorset Police issued 118 fixed penalty notices to people who have been found to be making non-essential journeys or blatantly flouting the regulations.

Just over half of the total fines issued, 60, were handed to non-Dorset residents.

Examples have included a group of five motorcyclists from Southampton out for a ride, people from Uxbridge and Hampshire who had gone for a drive because they were bored, someone travelling from Winchester to drop fishing rods to a friend and someone transporting a vintage car on the back of his vehicle to deliver elsewhere.

1:00pm - Funeral held for doctor who died of coronavirus

  • One of his colleagues pays tribute to Amarante Dias

The funeral of a 'much-loved' hospital worker, Amarante Dias, was held today and streamed live on YouTube for those who worked with him and knew him to virtually attend.

Amarante worked at Weston General Hospital and died with coronavirus last Monday (April 13). His funeral took place at the Weston-super-Mare crematorium

12:00pm - Dozens of assaults on emergency service workers in Devon and Cornwall

Credit: PA

Police officers who are are striving to keep the country running during the coronavirus outbreak are being assaulted on a daily basis, including verbal abuse, being coughed, spat and sneezed at and physical attacks.

In the weeks since lockdown began, there have been 87 assaults on Devon and Cornwall police officers and a further 12 on other emergency workers.

These have included verbal abuse, being coughed and sneezed at and physical attacks.

11:30am - Police cars targeted by vandals during lockdown

Credit: Avon and Somerset Police

Several vehicles, including a marked police car, have been damaged in Weston-super-Mare town centre.

Windows of a parked police car were found smashed and graffiti sprayed on the vehicle. It was parked in Orchard Street and it is believed the damage occurred between 11.40pm on Sunday night and about 12.15am on Monday morning.

Several other vehicles, including a van and motorbikes, were found damaged in Worthy Place, Boulevard and Bristol Road Lower at approximately 12.30am on Monday morning.

Two men, aged 31 and 32, were arrested on suspicion of criminal damage.

At a time when the overwhelming majority of people are showing their appreciation for the work of the emergency services, it is all the more disappointing to learn one of our own vehicles has been targeted and damaged in this way.

Detective Constable Carolyn Olsen

9:10am - ‘Steady rate’ of patients being admitted to Royal Cornwall Hospital

Four patients with coronavirus are currently in intensive care at the Royal Cornwall Hospital.

A “steady rate” of patients with coronavirus are continuing to be admitted to the Royal Cornwall Hospital.

At a press briefing hosted by Cornwall Council earlier today (April 23), Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust (RCHT) Chief Executive Kate Shields said there were currently four patients with Covid-19 in intensive care and a further 20 inpatients on other wards at Treliske.

Read more on this story here

7:00 am - Here are your headlines this morning

Friday 24 April

Here are some of our top stories from Thursday 23 April:

Scroll down for updates from across the West Country:

6.54pm - That's it for tonight

That is it for today's updates regarding coronavirus in the West Country.

Thank you to those who have been following our updates online - we will be back with the very latest tomorrow morning.

In the meantime, for updates from the national ITV News team, click here.

6.45pm - Comedy legend Eddie Large's family ask fans to wave him off in Portishead ahead of his funeral

Eddie Large (left) and comedy partner, Syd Little (right) during filming of an episode of the Little and Large show. Credit: PA

Comedy legend Eddie Large's family have asked people to safely gather in Portishead to wave him off before his funeral tomorrow (Friday 24 April).

Amongst the 10 close family and friends attending the funeral will be Eddie's comedy sidekick, Syd Little, who will be giving the eulogy at South Bristol Crematorium.

Click here for more on this story.

6.18pm - Exeter Chiefs launch online auction to raise funds for local NHS

Roll up, roll up: supporters can get their hands on some classic match-day Chiefs shirts. Credit: PA

Exeter Chiefs have launched an online auction to help raise funds for staff working at the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust.

Rugby fans can bid on a collection of signed shirts and memorabilia from recent years on eBay until Thursday April 30.

For more on this, click here.

6.02pm - Former Cheltenham Town footballers loses both parents to Covid-19 as he recovers from virus

Doug and Barbara passed away with coronavirus within weeks of each other. Credit: Gloucestershire Live

A former Cheltenham Town player and assistant manager has spoken of his devastation after losing both parents to coronavirus - while he was recovering from the disease.

Mike Davis, 64, spent almost three weeks in Cheltenham General Hospital with the virus last month.

Tragically, his father Doug died in the same hospital while he was being treated there. He only found out when he came round and his wife Debra told him the news.

Click here for the full story.

5.25pm - 'Coronavirus testing eligibility expanded to 'all essential workers' in England, says Matt Hancock

Health Secretary Matt Hancock at today's briefing. Credit: PA

Eligibility for coronavirus testing has been expanded to include "all essential workers" in England and those in their household, the health secretary has said.

Speaking at the government's daily coronavirus press conference, Matt Hancock said the government was making it "easier, faster, and simpler for any essential worker in England, who needs a test, to get a test".

He said from Thursday employers of essential workers can book tests for their any of their staff online on, while from Friday, any essential worker will be able to book their own.

More on this story here.

5pm - Health Secretary Matt Hancock gives today's briefing

You can watch the briefing live below:

4.01pm - The Killers drummer says summer tour is off

The Killers' summer tour has been postponed due to coronavirus, according to a member of the band.

The Las Vegas rockers were due to play nine stadium gigs across the UK and Ireland, including Bristol, but drummer Ronnie Vannuncci Jr has said the tour has been "definitely postponed" on social media.

Headed up by frontman Brandon Flowers, the trio were lined up to perform at Ashton Gate on June 9 as part of the annual concert series held at the home of Bristol City FC and Bristol Bears.

The postponement has not yet been officially confirmed by the promoters or Ashton Gate.

3.43pm - UK hospital coronavirus death toll rises

Latest coronavirus deaths in the UK. Credit: PA

A further 616 patients have died in UK hospitals after testing positive for coronavirus.

The latest Department for Health figures brings the overall death toll from the virus in hospitals to 18,738.

At the same point the day before, 18,100 virus-related deaths had been reported across the UK.

Click here to read more on the national figures.

3.34pm - Driver went on 70-mile trip around Cornwall because they were ‘bored’

Police in Penzance have stopped more than 200 drivers in the past week. Credit: Penzance Police / Facebook

Police in Cornwall have issued an urgent reminder to motorists to only make essential journeys during the lockdown after noticing a rise in traffic.

Officers based in Penzance say they have stopped more than 200 vehicles in the past week.

They said the majority of those stopped had perfectly legitimate reasons to be out on the road.

But one driver, who left a lasting impression on officers, was caught out after making a 70-mile trip around the county - simply because they were “bored”.

More on this story here.

3.10pm - Inside the Taunton laboratory testing for Covid-19

Scientists are now working around the clock to conduct as many NHS tests as possible. Credit: SYNLAB

A laboratory in Somerset is part of the national effort to provide Covid-19 testing for the NHS.

The lab has been ramping up its coronavirus testing since March and is now working around the clock to try and meet demand.

It is what is known as a Category 3 facility, in the heart of Taunton, which is required when processing potentially infectious samples.

Click here for the full story.

1.51pm - Two men arrested after police cars vandalised in Weston-super-Mare

1.47pm - Coronavirus vaccine unlikely to be available this year despite UK human trials starting

A vaccine is unlikely to be available before the year is out. Credit: PA

A coronavirus vaccine is unlikely to be available before the year is out despite tens of millions of pounds being poured into UK trials that start imminently.

The first UK human trial, carried at by a team at the University of Oxford, was set to begin on Thursday.

On the same day, a study to track Covid-19 infection and immunity was launched, initially targeting 20,000 households in England.

More on this story here.

1.12pm - Bristol care home closes following 'coronavirus outbreak'

Frenchay Park nursing home has suffered a coronavirus outbreak. Credit: Google Maps

A nursing home in Bristol has suffered an "outbreak" of coronavirus.

Frenchay Park nursing home closed to visitors as a result of the Covid-19 cases.

Public Health England South West and Bristol City Council are working together with local NHS colleagues to support staff and residents of Frenchay Park Care Home in Bristol following an outbreak of COVID in residents.

Bristol City Council

12.31pm - 'We have great public support for the way we are policing'

More than 250 people have been fined by police for breaking coronavirus lockdown restrictions in Devon and Cornwall, many of them motorists who were stopped as they tried to drive into the South West from other parts of the country.

Police have now issued 269 enforcement notices, prompting some accusations of heavy-handed policing but, in an interview with ITV News, Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer

Click here for more on this story.

12pm - Frank raises more than £175,000 for NHS

A six-year-old boy from Bristol with spina bifida - inspired by the fundraising efforts of Captain Tom Moore - is walking ten metres a day with the help of his walker.

Frank Mills started off with the aim of raising £99 for NHS Charities Together but has now surpassed £175,000.

Thank you for the donations and continued support for this very worthy cause.

The Mills family

Click here to read more on Frank's incredible fundraising, including details of how you can donate.

11.32am - Combat medics deployed to NHS Nightingale hospital in Bristol

11.25am - Parks reopen in Bath

Four parks in central Bath have reopened today in response a new direction from Government.

Bath & North East Somerset Council has opened the Botanical Gardens, Royal Victoria Park, Queen Square and the Parade Gardens in Bath for residents to use.

The council closed all its play areas and parks where practical to restrict access on 23 March as a preventative measure against the spread of coronavirus.

It is hoped people will use the parks to enjoy fresh air and green space while adhering to social distancing guidelines.

10:25 am - Patients thank Royal United Hospitals Bath after recovering from Covid-19

Angie Shell was admitted after falling ill at home. Credit: Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust

Two RUH patients who spent time in intensive care after contracting COVID-19 have thanked hospital staff for the ‘fantastic’ care they received.

Angie Shell, 61, from Trowbridge, was admitted to the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust after falling ill at home.

I had a cough and hadn’t been feeling well for a little while, but I have lupus and had put it down to that. But as the days went on I got worse and we made the decision to call for an ambulance.

Angie Shell

Hugh Mullally, 65, from Bath, fell ill after returning home from a work trip to Europe.

He was taken to the RUH and within days was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit.

I was intubated so that I could be placed on a ventilator. Then I was put into an induced coma. I had about 10minutes to say goodbye to my wife and read the notes that my children had written to me. It all seemed to have happened so quickly.

Hugh Mullally

9:25am - 50 surfers pictured at Cornish beach during coronavirus lockdown

Surfers at Fistral Beach, Newquay, during the lockdown. Credit: Cornwall Live

Coastguard teams in Cornwall are urging surfers to stay out of the water after up to 50 people were spotted in the sea at a beach.

There are concerns that if people do get into trouble, it will place extra strain on the emergency services.

Read more on this story here

8:30am - Tributes to much-loved primary school teacher from Plymouth who had been battling coronavirus

Mr Issitt has been described as a 'kind, funny and caring man'. Credit: Devon Live

Staff and pupils at a primary school in Plymouth have been paying tribute to a much-loved teacher who had been battling coronavirus.

Prince Rock Primary School has shared touching messages from both staff and pupils following the death of Michael Issitt.

Read more on this story here

7:30am - Here are your headlines this morning

Thursday 23rd April

Here are some of our top stories today (Wednesday, 22 April):

Scroll down for the latest West Country updates:

6.09pm - 'Several' residents die at care home in Devon

It's been reported that both residents and staff have been affected at Primley Court Care Home in Paignton. Credit: Devon Live

There have been 'several' deaths at a care home in Devon, following a coronavirus outbreak.

It has been reported that both residents and staff have been affected at Primley Court Care Home in Paignton.

The exact number of deaths has not been revealed, however Optima Care, which runs the home, has confirmed that 'several' residents have died.

More on this story here.

5.41pm - 'Lockdown must continue'

The UK has reached the coronavirus peak but is "not out the woods yet" and lockdown measures must continue, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said.

Speaking at the government's daily coronavirus press conference, Mr Raab said if restrictions were eased now, "we would risk a second spike of the virus".

He said that would result in "a second lockdown which would prolong the economic pain that we’re all going through".

Click here for the latest.

5.35pm - Bristol balloon company makes NHS gowns

Bristol balloon maker Cameron Balloons is manufacturing re-usable medical gowns after being approached by the NHS.

Don Cameron, who runs the company, said the skills and equipment used to make airworthiness-certified balloons "are perfectly suitable".

"Fabric designed to contain hydrogen or helium (which have the smallest molecules) is more than enough to stop anything as big as a virus," he said.

"Panels are being cut out on a computer-controlled cutting machine and are then sewn or welded together."

5pm - Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab gives todays' briefing

You can watch the briefing live below:

4.37pm - UK hospital coronavirus death toll rises

The UK death toll now stands at 18,100. Credit: PA

A total of 18,100 patients have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK, as officials report a further 759 virus-related deaths.

The update is an increase from the total death toll reported on Tuesday of 17,337.

The latest Department for Health figures come as the Health Secretary said the UK had reached "the peak" of the Covid-19 outbreak.

For a breakdown of the national figures, click here.

4.10pm - Matt Hancock: 'We are at the peak'

Matt Hancock was the virus peak has been reached. Credit: PA

The UK has reached its coronavirus "peak", the health secretary has said, but he warned against relaxing lockdown restrictions until "five tests" were able to be met by the government.

Matt Hancock told how experts have "high confidence" the peak has been reached, but "obviously" the number of infections need to "come down".

Click here to read the full story.

3.56pm - How West Country mosques are preparing for Ramadan

All places of worship remain closed during the Covid-19 lockdown.

As all places of worship remain closed during the Covid-19 lockdown, mosques across the West Country have been offering services online to help people pray at home during Ramadan.

Tomorrow (23 April) marks the beginning of the Ramadan celebrations where Muslims fast during daylight. Usually the community would come together to pray and eat when the sun goes down.

But with the lockdown restrictions, mosques will remain closed and people will have to pray at home.

Click here to read this story in full.

3.20pm - Police investigate death of four-month-old baby

2.34pm - Six-year-old Frank surpasses £140,000

A six-year-old boy from Bristol with spina bifida - inspired by the fundraising efforts of Captain Tom Moore - is walking ten metres a day with the help of his walker.

Frank Mills started off with the aim of raising £99 for NHS Charities Together but has now surpassed £140,000.

The youngster, who only started walking with the help of a frame 18 months ago, walks the ten metres a day outside the family home in Victoria Park.

Click here for more on this story, including details of how you can support Frank.

1.44pm - Exeter choir films uplifting cover in living rooms to fundraise for PPE

A choir based in Exeter has created a video filmed in members living rooms to fundraise for PPE.

The Soul of the City Gospel Choir says many of its members are front-line workers, volunteers or have partners and family members working within the NHS.

The group has released a video featuring a cover of Jackie Wilson's “Higher & Higher”.

Click here to read the full report.

1.28pm - More fines issued by Wiltshire Police

Police in Wiltshire recorded six coronavirus-related crimes between April 13 and April 19. Credit: PA

Six crimes linked to the Coronavirus pandemic were recorded by Wiltshire Police last week.

Between April 13-19, the force:

  • Recorded 58 incidents linked to COVID19

  • Recorded 6 crimes linked to COVID19

  • Issued 47 Fixed Penalty Notices

  • Made 4 arrests linked to breaches in the COVID19 national guidelines

The vast majority of people within our communities are adhering to the Government guidance which is in place to save lives.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Cooper

1pm - Plymouth family undertake pub crawl around their own home during lockdown

The Chapman family didn't let the lockdown spoil their fun.

A family of four stuck in lockdown have held their own Plymouth pub crawl without leaving the house.

The Chapmans were determined not to let the circumstances spoil their fun, so they converted different rooms in their four-bedroom home into famous city venues and enjoyed a different drink in each.

They dressed up and even enjoyed live music and a game of pool as they toured six different bars, each with its own sign.

Click here for the full story.

12.25pm - Banksy’s Girl with a Pierced Eardrum given coronavirus face mask

Banksy's Girl with a Pierced Eardrum has been given a giant face mask.

A Banksy mural on display in Bristol has been given a coronavirus-themed makeover.

Girl with a Pierced Eardrum - which first appeared in 2014 - has been given a giant face mask, similar to those worn by NHS staff and key workers.

It is not known who is responsible for the makeover, with some on social media suggesting it might have been the anonymous artist himself.

More on the artwork here.

11.45am - Firefighters trained to drive ambulances in Gloucestershire

Firefighters in Gloucestershire have been trained to drive ambulances. Credit: Gloucestershire County Council

South Western Ambulance Service has trained some firefighters from Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service to drive and crew ambulances.

Two new ambulances that will be staffed by Gloucestershire firefighters to help relieve pressure on paramedics during the Covid-19 pandemic have arrived in the county.

It is part of a regional initiative that will see 15 new ambulances introduced to the South West.

More on this here.

11.06am - Plane carrying protective equipment for NHS workers arrives in UK

The plane has arrived at Brize Norton three days late. Credit: Pool

An RAF plane, believed to be carrying a delayed consignment of personal protective equipment (PPE) for NHS staff, has landed in the UK.

It is not known if the consignment - which was due to contain 84 tonnes of desperately needed PPE and originally due to arrive on Sunday - includes 400,000 badly-needed surgical gowns.

The plane arrived at RAF Brize Norton in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

For more on this, click here.

9:45am - Rescued kittens named after historic NHS figures

The kittens were abandoned when their mother was unintentionally disturbed by a member of the public.

Three tiny kittens have been rescued from a garden near Redruth, Cornwall and named after key figures from the history of the NHS.

Read more on this story here

9:25am - West Country workers 'scared and let down' after missing out on government support

Thousands of people have missed the chance to be furloughed. Credit: ITV News West Country

Workers have told ITV News they feel forgotten and let down because they don't qualify for the Government's job retention scheme, suddenly leaving them without any income.

It's estimated thousands of people who changed jobs in March have missed out on the chance to be furloughed, where the government pays 80% of their wages.

Read more on this story here

7:35 am - Six-year-old with spina bifida raises more than £120,000 for NHS

Frank Mills started off with the aim of raising £99 for NHS Charities Together but has now surpassed £120,000. Credit: Family

A six-year-old boy from Bristol with spina bifida - inspired by the fundraising efforts of Captain Tom Moore - is walking ten metres a day with the help of his walker.

Frank Mills started off with the aim of raising £99 for NHS Charities Together but has now surpassed £120,000.

Read more on this story here

7:00am - Here are your headlines this morning

Wednesday 22nd April

6:30pm - Re-watch our NHS special

Catch up with our special programme shining a light on the work being done by the NHS to save lives and fight the coronavirus outbreak.

Hear from frontline staff, grateful intensive care patients recovering from Covid-19, the nurse in charge of Bristol's new hospital, NHS support staff and others.

Click here to watch the programme...

6:00pm - Bristol City players agree to defer part of their wages for three months to protect the financial future of the club

It's understood all playing staff - from the first team to the academy - will take a thirty per cent reduction in pay until the end of July.

The club has also announced it will be furloughing some non-playing staff under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Click here to

5:30pm - Potential coronavirus vaccine to be "trialed on people" but no easing of lockdown

A potential coronavirus vaccine is due to be "trialed in people" from Thursday, the health secretary has said.

Matt Hancock said "in normal times, reaching this stage would take years," and he's "very proud" the University of Oxford was able to make such progress.

Click here to

5:00pm - What are the similarities and differences between coronavirus and hay fever symptoms?

NHS England guidelines say hay fever sufferers will typically start to experience a worsening of their symptoms from the end of March through the summer, especially when it is warm, humid and windy, as this is when the pollen count is the highest.

However, people with hay fever should not confuse their reaction to pollen with that of Covid-19.

Click here to

4:00pm - Devon nurse who got standing ovation on Britain's Got Talent relives her battle with coronavirus

Beth Porch stunned Simon Cowell and his fellow judges after performing a song she wrote to reflect the challenges of working in a hospital.

Click here to

3:00pm - Coronavirus death toll surpasses 700 in the West Country

719 people who tested positive for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) have now passed away as a result of coronavirus in our hospitals.

That figure is an increase of 28 from yesterday's total of 691.

Click here to

2:45pm - Pirates owner tells ITV News of 'most stressful financial period'

The owner of Cornish Pirates Dicky Evans has told ITV News the current coronavirus restrictions have created the most stressful financial period of his career, but insists that the club will recover.

Click here to

1:45pm - Frank's fundraising passes £80,000!

Credit: Family

A six-year-old boy from Bristol with spina bifida has now raised more than £80,000 for NHS Charities Together.

Frank Mills was inspired by the fundraising efforts of Captain Tom Moore.

He is walking ten metres a day with the help of his walker.

Click here to

1:30pm - Plymouth professor hospitalised with Covid-19 has described the ordeal as 'like something from a movie'.

Credit: Poorna

Poorna Gunasekera is now back home recovering and says he is grateful for the NHS staff who saved his life - including some of his own former medical students.

Click here to

1:00pm - Leading union says half of South West nurses feel pressure to work with lower level of PPE

A leading union says half of nursing staff in the South West have felt pressure to carry out their work without the levels of protection set out in official guidance.

Responses to the Royal College of Nursing include those from staff working in areas where they are at high risk of contracting coronavirus.

Click here to

12:00pm - PPE stolen from dementia care home in Cheltenham

Staff at Wentworth Court have been wearing PPE to protect patients and themselves from coronavirus. Credit: Wentworth Court

A gang of thieves have stolen Personal Protective Equipment from a private ambulance parked outside a Cheltenham nursing home.

Wentworth Court cares solely for people with dementia and staff there have been using items such as face masks to protect their patients and themselves from coronavirus.[]( here to read more...

11:00am - 'Drive-through' coronavirus test centre at Bristol Airport for key workers

Credit: ITV West Country

Key workers will soon be able to get tested for coronavirus at Bristol Airport as part of the Government's drive to increase testing.

NHS staff and other key workers will be able to get tested on an appointment-only basis and will receive their results within a few days.

Bristol Airport is one of 32 sites across the country where centres have been set up as the Government scales up testing.

Click here to

8:50am - Bristol six-year-old with spina bifida taking inspiration from Captain Tom Moore with daily challenge

Frank Mills started off with the aim of raising £99 for NHS Charities Together but has now surpassed £58,000. Credit: Family

A six-year-old boy from Bristol with spina bifida - inspired by the fundraising efforts of Captain Tom Moore - is walking ten metres a day with the help of his walker.

Frank Mills started off with the aim of raising £99 for NHS Charities Together but has now surpassed £58,000.

Read more on this story here

7:30am - Drive-through coronavirus testing facility opens at Bristol Airport

The facility will be piloted for its first few days of operation. Credit: ITV News West Country

A drive-through coronavirus testing facility is to open at Bristol Airport.It will operate on an appointment-only basis for NHS staff and other key workers.

The facility will offer assisted and self-administered tests. Those tested will receive their results within a few days.

It follows the launch of the Government’s partnership with universities, research institutes and companies to begin rollout of the network of new labs and testing sites across the UK, with 32 testing sites opened to date.

New testing sites such as this one are a key pillar of our 5-pillar plan to scale up testing, and are critical in supporting NHS staff and other frontline workers who are isolating at home to return safely to work if the test is negative. This is a brilliant example of industries and businesses turning their resources to creating and rolling out mass testing at scale, which will help to deliver on our aim of carrying out 100,000 tests a day across the UK by the end of the month.

Professor John Newton, National Coordinator for the UK Coronavirus Testing Strategy

I am very proud that Bristol Airport is able to play a small but extremely important role in supporting the government’s target to test more and more frontline NHS and key workers by making available our staff car park and facilities to become a large scale drive-through testing station. We have been in constant contact with the government to play our part in the Covid-19 response plan including facilitating repatriation, essential flying, military and medical flights and all vital air links necessary at this time.

Dave Lees, Bristol Airport’s CEO

We are proud of our important role in setting up and managing this Covid-19 testing site, and other similar sites across the UK. It has been inspiring to see the enthusiasm of our employees to step up and support the government, our health services and the public during this crisis.

Gordon Brockington, G4S Director

We feel incredibly proud to be supporting COVID-19 testing for NHS workers in Bristol.

Mike Hickey, Area Manager for Boots in Bristol

7:00am - Here are your headlines this morning

Tuesday 21st April

Here are some of the top stories from today (Monday, 20 April):

5.50pm - Zoos and wildlife centres across the West Country at risk of closure

Zoos across the West Country are facing closure as a result of the pandemic.

The month-long lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic has left many zoos and wildlife centre across the West Country struggling to stay in business.

Porfell Wildlife Park in Cornwall and Bristol Zoo are among attractions that have launched fundraising campaigns as they struggle to meet everyday running costs.

Staff at Porfell, which is based near Lanreath, admit they are facing the very real threat of closure and the possible euthanasia of their animals.

Click here to read this story in full.

5.28pm - '140,000 companies apply for Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in a day'

Chancellor Rishi Sunak giving today's press briefing. Credit: PA

Chancellor Rishi Sunak says over 140,000 companies have applied for the Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme on its launch day.

Mr Sunak says the over a million jobs will be saved by the policy and firms will receive funds in six days.

HMRC opened the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme at eight o’clock this morning. As of four o’clock this afternoon, over 140,000 firms have applied and the grants they will receive will help pay the wages of more than a million people.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak

Click here to read more on this story.

5pm - Chancellor Rishi Sunak gives today's briefing

You can watch today's briefing live here:

4.38pm - Coronavirus deaths rise in the West Country

691 people who tested positive for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) have died as a result of coronavirus in our hospitals.

That figure is an increase of 19 from yesterday's total of 672.

More here.

4.14pm - Man jailed for assaulting police officer and ambulance worker

Darren Bosworth pleaded guilty and was jailed for six months. Credit: Wiltshire Police

A man who assaulted a police officer and an ambulance worker in Trowbridge has been jailed for six months.

An ambulance was called to 35-year-old Darren Bosworth's home on Gloucester Road, Trowbridge, last Friday morning [17 April] over concerns for his welfare.

He punched an emergency care worker in the face and, when police support arrived, Bosworth also assaulted an officer.

More on this here.

3.44pm - Garden waste collections to resume across South Gloucestershire

Garden waste collections are to resume in South Gloucestershire.

Garden waste collections will resume in South Gloucestershire later this month after being temporarily suspended due to staff shortages during the coronavirus outbreak.

South Gloucestershire Council said the temporary suspension enabled staff to continue with black bin waste and recycling collections.

Sort It recycling centres will remain closed with recycling collections on a fortnightly basis for the time-being, but garden waste collections will resume on April 27.

3.17pm - How has the coronavirus pandemic progressed worldwide?

Covid-19 has spread to more than 200 countries around the world. Credit: AP

The coronavirus pandemic has now reached more than 200 countries, infecting some 2.4 million people worldwide, and claiming more than 165,00 lives.

As the UK enters its fifth week of lockdown measures, other countries in Europe have begun to ease certain restrictions, while China, the original epicentre of the disease is slowly returning to some semblance of normal.

Click here to read how other countries around the world are coping with the outbreak.

3.07pm - Ellie Goulding surprises Bristol NHS worker

A Bristol-based NHS worker was given a wedding to remember as singer Ellie Goulding made a surprise appearance during an online ceremony.

Hayley Pitman works as a Theatre Practitioner in a Bristol hospital.

She was due to marry rugby coach partner Harvey Skelton on Saturday 11 April in Cheltenham.

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2.01pm - Devon nurse gets standing ovation on Britain's Got Talent

A nurse from Devon has sailed through to the next round of Britain’s Got Talent after stunning the judges with an emotional performance.

Beth Porch, who has been working on the frontline against coronavirus at a hospital in London, made her appearance on the ITV talent competition on Saturday (April 18) night.

The 25-year-old performed an original song called ‘You Taught Me What Love Is’, which she wrote to reflect the difficulties and challenges of working on a children’s ward.

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1.37pm - Cornish town’s seagull control measures suspended during lockdown

Looe has cancelled its free seagull control services because of the coronavirus lockdown. Credit: PA

A Cornish mayor has apologised to residents after cancelling seagull control measures because of the coronavirus lockdown.

Looe’s ‘seagull egg removal service’ - which was free for all residents in the town - has been temporarily suspended.

The announcement has left some people concerned that they will be fending off seagulls protecting their young.

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1.10pm - Ministers criticised over PPE shortages

The NHS is thought to use around 150,000 PPE gowns a day. Credit: PA

Organisations representing hospital trusts have criticised the Government over its promise of more personal protective equipment (PPE) for workers on the coronavirus frontline.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said there was "relatively low confidence" that a shipment of 400,000 surgical gowns which had been due to arrive in the UK from Turkey on Sunday would make its way into the country on Monday.

He said trusts are being forced into "hand-to-mouth" workarounds, including washing single-use gowns and restricting stocks to key areas.

More on this story here.

12.50pm - Pictures of GWR donations

Staff pictured with the donations in Cheltenham. Credit: GWR
Donations made in Swansea. Credit: GWR

12.35pm - Funeral of Weston NHS worker to be streamed online

Amarante Dias passed away on Monday 13 April after testing positive for COVID-19. Credit: Weston Super Mare Association of Malayalees

The funeral of a "much-loved" Weston General Hospital worker who died with coronavirus is to be streamed online.

Amarante Dias passed away on Monday 13 April after testing positive for COVID-19.

His funeral is set to take place on Friday (April 24).

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11.45am - GWR donates £10,000 worth of food and drink

A GWR train at London Paddington station. Credit: PA

Train operator GWR has donated almost £10,000 worth of on-board catering to a host of good causes across the Great western network including hospitals and food banks.

Rather than let date restricted food and drink usually sold on board its trains go to landfill, GWR has offered it to those in need through its network of 3,000 front-line staff.

Items include cake and biscuits and other perishable snacks, as well as just-add-water filter coffee cups, and recycled paper bags to help make-up food parcels.

We have a number of colleagues across the business who are active in their local community who were asking what more they could do to help, and one of the ideas that regularly came up was to help provide food and drinks, from our on board snack range, to those most in need. Rather than let food go to waste, where we have been made aware of a requests for help we have been able to work with our partners at Rail Gourmet do so, supporting the communities we serve.

Sarah Creaser, GWR Catering Operations Manager

11.13am - The dancing Devon cockatoo making us all smile

A cockatoo in Devon is helping bring a smile to millions of people in lockdown around the world with his version of High School Musical's We're All In This Together.

The catchy tune from the 2006 film starring Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens has become a rallying call to many Disney fans who are in self-quarantine because of the coronavirus pandemic.

NHS staff, key workers and the cast of the movie are among those who have shared their renditions of the hit.

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9:30am - Surfers in Cornwall continuing to defy authorities to stay away from the sea

Surfers are continuing to defy advice from the police and RNLI to stay away from the sea - with dozens pictured in the water at Newquay's Fistral Beach over the weekend.

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6:15am - Number of recorded West Country deaths close to 700

The number of recorded coronavirus deaths across all our NHS trusts now stands at 672. Latest hospital figures show 22 patients have lost their life to the virus since Saturday.















6:00am - Here are your headlines this morning:

Monday 20th April

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know