Live updates: Almost 300 contact tracers have details shared by mistake as Government urged to launch investigation

In total 1,281 people who had tested positive for coronavirus have died across the North East’s health trusts As of Friday, May 22, there are 9,790 confirmed cases in the region. Scroll down and refresh the page for the latest updates as they happen throughout the day.

Those entering the UK will have to quarantine for 14 days. Copyright: Other 3rd Party

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Last updated: Friday, 22 May, 2020, 21:00

  • Government introduces mandatory two-week quarantine period on entering the UK from June 8 – with fines for those who refuse to self-isolate
  • IKEA has announced Gateshead store will reopen on June 1
  • In total 1,281 people who had tested positive for coronavirus have died across the North East’s health trusts
  • As of Friday, May 22, there are 9,790 confirmed cases in the region

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7.00am: Good morning

Welcome to today’s live blog.  We will be bringing you the latest updates from across the North East and UK on Friday, May 22. 

7.10am: Next phases begin in vaccine trial

Southampton researchers have begun recruiting volunteers for the next two phases in clinical trials they hope could bring a coronavirus vaccine this year.

Scientists at University Hospital Southampton (UHS) and the University of Southampton want to recruit up to 10,260 people from the area to trial the vaccine, the university said in a statement. Work began in January on the vaccine, which uses a virus taken from chimpanzees and has been developed by the University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute and the Oxford Vaccine Group. The first phase of trialling involved 160 health volunteers between 18 and 55.

Phases II and III involve vastly increasing the number of volunteers while expanding the age range to include older adults and children.

7.15am: Antibody test to be rolled out in the UK

A test to determine whether people have been infected with coronavirus in the past has been approved by health officials and will be rolled out across the country from next week. Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche and American rival Abbott Laboratories have each developed a 100% accurate test which can tell whether somebody has ever had the coronavirus. It involves taking a small sample of blood and testing it for antibodies which will indicate exposure to coronavirus.

Public Health England (PHE) has evaluated the tests and approved them as being safe and reliable for widespread use. Ten million tests will be rolled out in a phased manner over the coming months, with England’s health and care staff, patients and care residents first in line.

7.16am: Who is eligible for an antibody test?

In England, health and social care staff will be asked by their employer whether they want to have an antibody test. Clinicians will be able to request tests for patients in hospital and in social care settings if they deem it appropriate.

For care staff, the roll out will be phased across regions, with the Government and local leaders to decide the most appropriate places to start. It is hoped the test will become available to the wider public, although it is unclear how and when this will happen. In the meantime, people who are having blood tests for other ailments will also be asked if they would like a coronavirus antibody test.

7.30am: Strong message from police and NHS ahead of Bank Holiday weekend

Cleveland Police and Hartlepool’s hospital trust chiefs have joined forces urging restraint ahead of Bank Holiday weekend.

A senior medic at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust had the stark message: “This simply is not over yet” and added: “We can ill afford to become complacent after all the hard work to date.”  Ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend, Cleveland Police and the NHS are urging people to continue to act responsibly, avoid large gatherings and maintain social distancing.  Officers from the Hartlepool Neighbourhood Police Team have been patrolling the areas where members of the public often gather in warm weather; such as Hartlepool’s parks and beaches. Read more…

Copyright: JPIMedia

8.00am: Curluccio’s saved but over 1,000 jobs will be lost

Dining chain Carluccio’s has been bought in a rescue deal which will save 30 of its restaurants but result in more than 1,000 job losses, administrators have announced. Carluccio’s has been sold to Giraffe and Ed’s Easy Diner owner Boparan Restaurant Group in a deal which has saved 30 restaurants and around 800 jobs. However, administrators FRP Advisory said the move has also resulted in the redundancy of 1,019 Carluccio’s employees after it was unable to secure the future of the chain’s other 40 restaurants.

The chain has restaurants located in Newcastle City Centre and the Metro Centre in Gateshead. 

8.05am: Travel update as no Metro trains running between St James’ and North Shields

8.15am: No plans in place for weekly testing of care home residents and staff

There are no plans yet for the weekly testing of care home residents and staff, the Government’s testing chief has said. Professor John Newton, from Public Health England, who is leading the Government’s Covid-19 testing response, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We are rolling out testing to everybody in care homes and the value of that is to understand how the infection has spread. “It’s a very dynamic infection, the numbers are in fact falling.

So before you decide whether you need to test every member of staff every week, we need to understand how the infection has spread already.” He added: “We need to know how to protect people best, how to support care homes and that information is still coming in and I think it would be premature to decide exactly what is required now.” Professor Newton continued: “We need to design our testing programme for the future not for the past and that’s where the antibody tests are important because they will tell us who has had it, where the risk lies and how we can support care homes best.”

8.18am: Plea as cancer patients found to be skipping appointments

Health chiefs remind public NHS is ‘open for business’ after reports of patients missing cancer appointments due to Covid-19 fears.

Earlier this week, the city’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) discussed services that were “materially affected” as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic. This included referral to treatment times and diagnostics, although performance for Accident and Emergency and ambulance response times had improved due to “reduced demand.” One key area of concern included cancer services, with reports that patients were deferring appointments due to Covid-19. Read more…

8.30am: Government borrows record GBP62bn in April to help tackle coronavirus impact

Government borrowing surged to GBP62.1 billion to April – the highest figure for any month on record – after heavy spending in the face of coronavirus, according to new figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said public sector borrowing – excluding banks owned by the state – was GBP51.1 billion higher than the same month last year. The figure is significantly higher than analysts had predicted, with a consensus of economists predicting GBP30.7 billion for the month. However, it is slightly lower than the GBP66.6 billion estimate made by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) last month.

It comes after the Chancellor stepped up financial support for businesses and employees after vast areas of the economy were forced to halt due to the coronavirus lockdown.

8.37am: Different vaccine approaches ‘really important’, says Cambridge expert

Efforts to create different types of coronavirus vaccine are “really important” because about 90% of new drugs fail, a virologist at Cambridge University has said. Dr Chris Smith told BBC Breakfast on Friday: “There are more than 100 different projects going on around the world at the moment, across a number of different countries, and reassuringly, they all taking slightly different approaches. “There are more than 10 different types of vaccine that they are working on and this is really important, because when we go into drug manufacture or new vaccine development, about 90% of the time we will fail, and that’s just because we are in uncharted waters.

So the more irons you have in the fire, the better.”

8.50am: Hospitals ‘potentially unsafe’ due to lack of testing, says Nobel Prize winning scientist

Sir Paul Nurse, chief executive of the Francis Crick Institute, said a lack of testing had made hospitals “potentially unsafe places to be” during the Covid-19 outbreak. He added: “For a long time it has been clear that people without symptoms can be infected and therefore be infectious to other people. “And yet in the hospitals and in the care homes we haven’t been testing such people.

“So we have been allowing people, care workers, to be in the ward, who are potentially infected, infecting patients, infecting themselves, and as a consequence making hospitals potentially unsafe places to be. “We have to see a changed strategy there that is reliant upon the real evidence.” He added: “I don’t see clarity in the public sphere about these sorts of arguments that need to be shown to the public so that they feel actually they are safe when they go to hospital.”

9.04am: ‘Is it ministers?

Is it Public Health England? The National Health Service?’ Expert questions who is making decisions in Government

Sir Paul Nurse said it was unclear who was making decisions in Government. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The question I keep asking myself is: Do we have a proper Government system in here that can combine tentative knowledge, scientific knowledge, with political action?

“And the question I’m constantly asking myself is: Who is actually in charge of the decisions? Who is developing the strategy and the operation and implementation of that strategy? “Is it ministers?

Is it Public Health England? The National Health Service? The Office for Life Scientists, Sage?

I don’t know, but more importantly, do they know?”

9.05am: A19 reopens following overturned lorry

Police closed the A19 from the A690 to the A1018 in both directions overnight following the incident near Seaham, which happened at around 6pm.

9.20am: Coronavirus death toll breakdown across the North East – 1,276 people have sadly died in the region after testing positive

According to the figures from NHS England released on Thursday, May 21, the breakdown of the number of deaths of people who tested positive for coronavirus at North East hospitals is as follows: South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust Total number of deaths at the trust: 311

Number of deaths announced on May 21: 0 Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust Total number of deaths at the trust: 183

Number of deaths announced on May 21: 1 North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust Total number of deaths at the trust: 104

Number of deaths announced on May 21: 3 South Tees NHS Foundation Trust Total number of deaths at the trust: 221

Number of deaths announced on May 21: 1 Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Total number of deaths at the trust: 109

Number of deaths announced on May 21: 0 County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust Total number of deaths at the trust: 219

Number of deaths announced on May 21: 2 Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust Total number of deaths at the trust: 128

Number of deaths announced on May 21: 0

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