Coronavirus morning headlines as UK passes the peak

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Here is a round-up of the latest news in response to the coronavirus pandemic on Friday, May 1.

Follow updates on the world coronavirus pandemic on our live blog.

Confirmed worldwide cases:  3,308,548

Confirmed deaths: 234,112

Confirmed recoveries / discharges: 1,042,953.

The death toll for patients who were diagnosed with Covid-19 in Wales has reached 908 after 22 more fatalities were announced on Thursday.

Public Health Wales also confirmed that 183 more people have tested positive for the virus to bring the overall total to 9,812.

The latest figures from the Department of Health and Social Care show that 26,771 people have now died in all settings with coronavirus, an increase of 674 on the number announced on Wednesday and the third highest death toll in the world behind the US and Italy.

‘Comprehensive plan’ from Boris next week

Boris Johnson has promised to deliver a “comprehensive plan” next week on how the lockdown may be eased after declaring the UK is “past the peak” of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Prime Minister said on Thursday he would be producing a “road map, a menu of options” explaining how to get the economy moving and children back to school while still suppressing the disease’s spread. In Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said there will be a traffic light system to easing the lockdown. Read his plan here.

On Friday, Mr Drakeford said he does not think certain parts of the UK should come out of lockdown before others.

He added: “I agree with the Prime Minister, I am in favour of a four-nation approach.

“We went into lockdown together on the same terms, on the same day. I’d like to see us come out of lockdown on the same basis.”

Mr Johnson made his commitment as he fronted his first Downing Street press conference since leaving hospital for Covid-19, and he praised the NHS saying he had been “very, very lucky” but “thousands of people have been less fortunate than I was”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Prime Minister Boris Johnson

With the death toll having exceeded 26,700 and under pressure to detail a blueprint for easing the lockdown, the PM said: “We are past the peak and on the downward slope.

“I will be setting out a comprehensive plan next week to explain how we can get our economy moving, our children back to school and into childcare, and thirdly how we can travel to work and make life in the workplace safer.

“In short, how we can continue to suppress the disease and at the same time restart the economy.”

However, the PM cautioned that the timing around relaxing individual restrictions would depend on “where we are in the epidemic” and what the data suggests.

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Coronavirus latest

Postboxes painted blue for NHS

Cardiff has got a specially decorated postbox that has been created by the Royal Mail as a way of thanking NHS workers for their efforts during the current crisis.

There are five postboxes around the UK in total painted blue and bearing the message: Thank You NHS.

They are located close to St Thomas’ Hospital in London – where the Prime Minister was treated for coronavirus – Trafford General Hospital in Manchester, Royal Edinburgh Hospital, University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff and The Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

The Cardiff postbox near UHW

Royal Mail said the postbox locations were chosen to ensure the representation of all four nations of the UK, and to commemorate the Trafford General Hospital, the birthplace of the NHS, founded by Welsh MP Aneurin “Nye” Bevan in Manchester in July 1948.

Shane O’Riordain, from Royal Mail, said: “We are showing our support and thanks to the many NHS workers across the UK who are working tirelessly to help those affected by the coronavirus crisis.

“The special blue postboxes are a small token of our thanks for the exceptional service NHS workers are providing across all four UK nations.”

Stark warning from Welsh police force

Police have called the continued breaching of lockdown rules “simply unacceptable” five weeks on since they were first introduced.

South Wales Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Andy Valentine said the force had been called to incidents of people breaking lockdown restrictions for “frankly ridiculous” reasons and warned that doing so could lead to a delay in them being lifted.

Officers have been called to groups flocking to open spaces to sunbathe, play football and enjoy picnics; house parties, barbecues and large family gatherings; and suspected pub “lock-ins” in the five weeks since restrictions came into effect.

Other incidents included a woman who drove from Dorset to Cardiff to buy a car before breaking down on Newport Road, and a couple who travelled to South Wales from Leicester to collect a rug.

Wales star working night shifts to make PPE

Wales rugby star Rhys Webb has revealed he has been helping make PPE in aid of the NHS.

The scrum-half has been using his spare time in lockdown to help one of his friends in the effort to produce more equipment for health workers in their battle against coronavirus.

Wales scrum-half Rhys Webb

“One of my mates is involved with a company making PPE [personal protective equipment] masks for the NHS,” Webb told the BBC Scrum V podcast.

“They needed someone to work a couple of night shifts because they had to reach a certain target. I enjoy doing it so I sleep an hour in the day, go to work about 8pm and come back about 8am.”

Calls for pay rises for key workers

The Government is being urged to deliver pay rises and better conditions for the millions of people who are working through the Covid-19 crisis.

The TUC said that, as well as thanking key workers such as those in the NHS and the care sector, they should also be given decent pay and conditions.

Trade unionists around the country are marking May Day with an online £ThankAWorker action, expressing gratitude to employees who have made a difference to them during lockdown.

A new study published by the TUC to mark May Day suggested that almost two out of five key workers – an estimated 3.7 million people – are paid less than £10 an hour, compared with three in 10 other workers.

Women are more likely than men to be key workers and to be on low pay, said the TUC.

Many key workers are also trapped in insecure work, without guaranteed hours and often missing out on basic rights like sick pay, according to the report.

The TUC said its analysis showed that public sector workers who are on the front line of fighting Covid-19 are still being paid less today than they were a decade ago.

Demand for food banks soar

The coronavirus crisis has sparked a huge increase in people using food banks for essential supplies, according to charities.

The Trussell Trust said its network had seen its busiest-ever period, with 81% more emergency food parcels being given out in the last two weeks of March.

People struggling with the amount of income they were receiving from working or benefits was the main reason for the increase, the trust said.

The Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) also reported a record level of need, with an average 59% increase from February to March – 17 times higher than this time last year.

A coalition of charities – including the Trussell Trust, IFAN, Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), Children’s Society, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, StepChange and Turn2us – is urging the Government to do more to help protect people from being “swept into destitution” amid a huge rise in applications for Universal Credit in recent weeks.

Take part in our big lockdown survey

WalesOnline launches a unique survey aimed at capturing life in the UK under lockdown.

We want to know your experiences of this period, so that we can paint a detailed picture of the extraordinary times we are living through.

Wales has never before dealt with a crisis of this nature, a global health emergency that has sent shock waves through our way of life, our outlook and our economy.

So the Great Big Lockdown Survey poses an array of questions about your hopes and fears during the pandemic, your sense of how it is being handled, how your life has changed since the outbreak and how you think it might change on the other side.

That includes the impact on your finances, mental health and general well-being, but also how your habits and priorities may have altered – possibly, in some respects, forever. Take part  here.

Trump claims accused of being ‘purely fabricated out of nothing’

Donald Trump has claimed to have seen evidence that the coronavirus outbreak originated from an infectious disease laboratory in Wuhan.

The US president speculated that China could have unleashed Covid-19 on the world due to some kind of horrible “mistake”, and even put forward the idea the release was intentional.

It comes as his intelligence agencies said they are still examining a notion put forward by the president and aides that the pandemic may have resulted from an accident at a Chinese lab.

US intelligence agencies have debunked a conspiracy theory, saying they have concluded that coronavirus was “not man-made or genetically modified”

Speaking at the White House, Mr Trump said: “It’s a terrible thing that happened.

“Whether they made a mistake or whether it started off as a mistake and then they made another one, or did somebody do something on purpose.”

The Chinese government said that any claims that the coronavirus was released from a laboratory are “unfounded and purely fabricated out of nothing”.

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