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|COVID-19: Manufacturers step up to ventilator challenge||01/04/2020|
The first devices from the government’s ventilator challenge will roll off the production line this weekend, ahead of delivery to the NHS next week, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove has announced.
The news comes as some of the biggest names in British manufacturing race to step up ventilator supplies to help protect the NHS and save lives throughout the coronavirus pandemic, as part of the Prime Minister’s call to manufacturers.
This weekend, the first batch of the Penlon ventilator device, which has been rapidly adapted from other existing ventilator designs, will be ready for dispatch, following approval from the MHRA that it meets the necessary safety requirements.
The device is being manufactured by a consortium* including Formula 1 teams McLaren and Mercedes, Ford, Siemens and Meggitt. An initial delivery will be ready this weekend, with potentially hundreds more of that device to follow, alongside thousands more of other new devices in the coming weeks.
Other existing ventilator devices are also being scaled up, in collaboration with British and international industry, including products from Diamedica, Breas Medical and Smiths Group.
A number of other British manufacturers have also started urgent production of new ventilators, designed from scratch, following efforts from the industry and Government to rapidly increase numbers available to the NHS.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove said, "Throughout our history British manufacturing has always stepped up in times of national need. Ventilators are one of the most complex medical devices and the speed and scale that design and production is ramping up is awe inspiring.
"We will do whatever it takes to ensure the NHS and social care sector has the support and equipment it needs to save lives."
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, "We are doing everything we can to support our NHS staff fighting this battle on the frontline, and it’s crucial we get even more ventilators there as soon as possible.
"We have seen a fantastic response from businesses to our call for a national effort - and I’m delighted these companies accepted the challenge to save lives across the country."
The Government has provided a number of letters of intent to purchase potentially thousands more ventilators with companies who have credible designs, subject to them passing the regulator and strict safety tests.
There are a number of companies involved in these devices including Plexus, Rolls Royce, GKN Aerospace, Team Consulting, Cogent, Dyson, TTP plc, Sagentia, Smith & Nephew, Cambridge Consultants, PA Consulting, Babcock, Oxford University, OES Medical, BMW, Pitlane Consortium and Kings College London.
Separately, a team led by UCL, working with Mercedes Benz, will also produce 10,000 new CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) devices to support affected patients, with a team from Oxford University also developing related technology, which will increase the capacity to provide oxygen to affected patients at an earlier stage in the process of the disease.
Thanks to the work of consortiums that are scaling up production of smaller manufacturers as well as the ingenuity of the biggest names in manufacturing to support the UK’s response to this public health emergency, many are coming up with new designs for this high tech medical devices in a matter of weeks, rather than months, further underlining the scale of this coordinated effort.
The Penlon device is based on elements found in their current range of CE marked products and meets the rapidly manufactured ventilator system specification. It is a fully intubated mechanical ventilator designed to provide support to critically ill patients with a range of functions including volume and pressure controlled ventilation.
Further details are set out in the PM’s call with manufacturers and suppliers, including other manufacturers involved: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/pm-call-with-ventilator-manufacturers-and-suppliers-26-march-2020
|Collaboration aims to fast track test to detect COVID-19 in less than 10 minutes||01/04/2020|
BioPorto Diagnostics and the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) are developing COVID-19 tests for early and rapid detection of the newly discovered coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).
Current COVID-19 testing analysis is based on the standard method of screening after sending samples to laboratories for analysis. That process can take up to six to eight hours before the results are ready, and the number of tests is limited to the scarce capacity of instruments used for analysis.
Serological COVID-19 tests have recently been introduced to speed up the process, but such tests are unsuitable for early detection and cannot distinguish between infected and recovered patients. Furthermore, serological tests may risk not identifying patients in the early phase of the disease, and therefore still relies on laboratory analysis for confirmation.
In this collaboration, associate professor, Jonas Heilskov Graversen and associate professor, Yaseelan Palarasah, from SDU are leading the development of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies which will be introduced on BioPorto’s patented technology Generic Rapid Assay Device platform (gRAD), for direct Point of Care detection of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles in less than 10 minutes - based on a simple sample from saliva or a pharyngeal swab.
This novel approach is said to offer a rapid standalone method for early and reliable diagnosis of COVID-19 patients, which could help medical facilities, such as doctors’ offices, hospitals, laboratories, and health centres, make fast diagnosis, so that appropriate precautions and treatment can immediately be implemented to improve patient outcome and epidemic control.
According to the developers, the rapid diagnosis means that people can go to work or travel by plane shortly after being tested.
|NHS Nightingale field hospital due to open||01/04/2020|
The NHS Nightingale field hospital is due to open in London's ExCeL Centre, only 10 days after building work began.
The UK's first Coronavirus field hospital will initially have 500 beds, but is designed to eventually treat up to 4000 previously healthy people struck down by COVID-19.
London patients in need of intensive care, with the best chance of survival, will be taken to the Nightingale Hospital, sited in the Docklands area.
Military personnel help workers in erecting cubicles and carrying equipment into the transformed centre and NHS staff helped unload medical equipment, such as oxygen tanks, heart monitors and defibrillators.
Jeremy Rees, CEO, ExCeL London, said: “Our country is facing the largest national emergency for a generation and our thoughts and sympathies are with those who are personally affected by this situation. It is crucial that everyone plays their part in the national effort, working with the Government to combat the spread of the coronavirus and save lives.
“We are proud to be able to accommodate the increasing demand for hospital beds and will work with the NHS to facilitate this request. The team at ExCeL London will ensure that we work with the Government and relevant authorities to support their efforts in seeing the British people and the UK through this unprecedented crisis.”
NHS chief executive, Sir Simon Stevens, said: “Under these exceptionally challenging circumstances the NHS is taking extraordinary steps to fight coronavirus.
"This will be a model of care never needed or seen before in this country, but our specialist doctors are in touch with their counterparts internationally who are also opening facilities like this, in response to the shared global pandemic.
"Despite these amazing measures, the fact is no health service in the world will cope if Coronavirus lets rip, which is why NHS staff are pleading with the public to follow medical advice - stay at home, stop the virus spreading, and save lives.”
Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England, said: “This is the single biggest health challenge our country has faced in generations, and we need everyone to follow the guidance set out by government about how to stay safe and practise good hygiene.
“Nurses, midwives and care staff across the NHS and social care always step up to the plate, and I’m thrilled but unsurprised that some of my retired colleagues are ready to re-join the NHS at this crucial time for our country, which is seeing the NHS ramp up the number of beds, services and facilities to help people to manage over the coming weeks and months.”
Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, said: “Our military planners and engineers are working hand in hand with the NHS to support their development of the NHS Nightingale Hospital. The Armed Forces have already been distributing personal protective equipment (PPE) to meet the increased demand and we stand ready to assist further in any capacity needed.
“The NHS and our Armed Forces are both world leaders in their fields, and this ambitious project is just one example of what can be achieved when they come together to help the nation.”
ExCeL London is being refitted to take hundreds of beds with oxygen and ventilators.
The NHS Nightingale Hospital will draw nurses, doctors and other staff from across the health service, as well as a number of military medics will also tend to patients. The majority will be NHS staff.
|Royal British Legion seeks new care home staff in response to COVID-19 outbreak||01/04/2020|
The Royal British Legion has announced that it is seeking new staff members to support its six UK care homes in Taunton, Cromer, Broadstairs, Bexhill-on-Sea, Southam and Ripon in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Legion is recruiting for a number of roles including nurses, care assistants, general assistants, catering staff, administrators and maintenance staff for full and part time positions.
“Never have the support and services provided by the care sector been more important, therefore we are taking action to ensure we can continue providing critical support to those who are most at risk. The Legion is in need of increased numbers of staff to ensure we are well equipped to withstand the challenges resulting from Coronavirus, including large scale staff absences due to self-isolation or sickness.
“We are asking anyone who is experienced in any of these fields and is interested in one of these jobs to contact us to find out more.”
|COVID-19: HSE supports hand sanitiser manufacturers||31/03/2020|
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has taken steps to support hand sanitiser manufacturers as UK production is increasing to tackle Coronavirus.
Due to unprecedented demand for biocidal hand sanitiser products during the coronavirus outbreak, The HSE is providing derogations that will assist the UK manufacture and supply of biocidal hand-sanitiser products that use propanol as their active ingredients.
During the temporary exemption, biocidal hand sanitiser products containing Propan-2-ol will not be required to obtain a product authorisation if they meet the relevant WHO-specified formulation II.
Article 55 (1) of the Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR) enables HSE, in cases of danger to public health, animal health or the environment which cannot be contained by other means, to provide short term derogations from the requirements for product authorisation.
Manufacturers in scope of the derogation should read the advice provided in the link below.
Dr Richard Daniels, HSE’s chemicals regulation director, said: “It is vital that workers and members of the public are able to protect themselves and others from the spread of Coronavirus. The correct use of safe and effective biocidal hand sanitisers are part of the range of government measures to protect the NHS and UK citizens.
“Amid this national effort, we are working closely with other government agencies, manufacturers and their trade associations to help remove obstacles to the manufacture and supply of safe and effective biocidal hand sanitiser products and reduce supply chain issues.
“While this action will enable manufacturers to place hand sanitiser products on the UK market quickly, we still expect them to meet their responsibilities to adhere to the correct standards which protect the people and the environment from potentially harmful chemical effects.”
HSE’s updated guidance has been published on https://www.hse.gov.uk/news/hand-sanitiser-manufacture-supply-coronavirus.htm
|Government launches new drive on Coronavirus tests for frontline NHS staff||30/03/2020|
NHS staff will be first in line for a new coronavirus (COVID-19) testing programme being developed in collaboration with government and industry.
The Department of Health and Social Care has announced that the government is working with industry, philanthropy and universities to significantly scale up testing.
A new partnership has been set up with Thermo Fisher Scientific, Amazon, Boots, Royal Mail and Randox, alongside the Wellcome Trust and top UK universities to boost testing capacity for frontline NHS staff.
Dozens of universities, research institutes and companies across Britain are lending their testing equipment to three new hub laboratories which will be set up for the duration of the crisis. No equipment already in use for Coronavirus testing or other vital work will be taken.
All current Coronavirus testing and research will continue, including at existing local NHS and Public Health England test laboratories, and this new programme will add significant new capacity.
Thermo Fisher Scientific and Randox, who make the equipment, are providing extensive logistical and technical support.
The first lab, intially on a fairly small scale, is expected to process around 800 samples. It will be scaled up every week from then on, with two other hub laboratories being stocked with equipment and opening soon.
The first samples to be processed in the labs will be taken from frontline health workers. As the labs’ capacity increases, other frontline workers will be tested. The samples will be taken at special sites set up around the country, initially in Coronavirus hotspots such as London.
Work is also underway to source more of the kits needed to take samples from people - of which there is a worldwide shortage.
Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, who has been positively tested for COVID-19, said: "We want to save lives, protect the most vulnerable, and relieve pressure on our NHS.
"Healthcare staff are key in our fight against the virus and I want to ensure that any frontline NHS or care worker who has symptoms of coronavirus or who has a family member with symptoms can be tested quickly and reliably.
"I pay tribute to the generosity and public spirit of Britain’s universities, research institutes and companies who have lent us their equipment without hesitation."
Dr Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer, said: "Laboratory-based testing on this scale is a little like building the medical equivalent of a car factory. We are assembling many different parts, some of them quite specialised and hard to find, then getting them to work accurately together in a highly co-ordinated process. There are bound to be teething problems, so we cannot switch on hundreds of thousands of lab tests overnight. But we hope that soon these hub laboratories will be operating round the clock, allowing us to significantly scale up our testing.
"This new service, which will be free, will help end the uncertainty of whether NHS staff need to stay at home. Those who test negative for coronavirus will be able to return to work - enhancing the capacity of the NHS and social care to treat patients and care for those in community settings, with plans for a full roll-out for health, social care and other frontline workers.
"Amazon and Royal Mail will help with logistics, while Boots has been supporting initial trials by supplying volunteer healthcare clinicians as testers. It will continue this support as the testing rolls out across the UK. Testing will not be done at Boots stores and these tests will not be available over the counter or for purchase online from any retailers."
Sebastian James, managing director, Boots UK and ROI, said: "I am extremely proud that Boots is supporting COVID-19 testing for NHS workers. Boots has been at the heart of UK healthcare for 171 years and has always come forward to support the community in times of need. We will work with the NHS to recruit trained professionals – both Boots colleagues and from the wider community.
"I am sure there will be many trained healthcare clinicians and students, who will step forward to support our dedicated NHS colleagues. Drive through test locations are being defined but will be spread across the UK; they will not however be in Boots stores, allowing our colleagues to focus on supporting our patients and customers."
Doug Gurr, UK Country Manager, Amazon, said: "We believe our role serving customers and the community during this time is a critical one, and we are committed to working closely with the Government to identify ways in which we can support efforts to respond to the crisis."
Mark Stevenson, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Thermo Fisher Scientific, said: "Our diagnostic test for COVID-19 will help to protect patients and enable medical staff to respond swiftly to treat those who are ill and prevent the spread of infection. This is closely aligned with Thermo Fisher’s mission - to enable our customers to make the world healthier, cleaner and safer. In partnership with the UK government and our industry partners, we are committed to expanding the availability of diagnostic testing to prevent the spread of this virus."
Randox CEO, Dr Peter FitzGerald, said: "We are committed to this important initiative to support NHS frontline staff.
"We have significant diagnostic capability and assets within the UK and, at this time of unparalleled national need, look forward to working with collaborative partners to meet the Government’s objectives."
Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of Wellcome, said: "Widespread diagnostic testing during a pandemic is enormously important to controlling the spread of infection. This initiative is a substantial step forward in our ability to fight this disease that will save many lives.
"Alongside other difficult but necessary public health measures such as physical distancing, cancelling mass gatherings, and school closures, testing is a critically important part of the response. Wellcome is extremely grateful to the government, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Amazon and Randox for joining this important partnership, and has been supporting this critical initiative."
Rico Back, Royal Mail Group chief executive officer, said: "Royal Mail fully understands the devastating impact of the coronavirus outbreak on families, businesses and communities across the UK. We have a responsibility to help people stay connected, especially in this crisis when many are unable to leave their home.
"The Universal Postal Service provides a lifeline for businesses and communities across the UK, and never more so than at this difficult time. We already deliver vital Government mail in relation to coronavirus. We are working closely with pharmacies and NHS trusts across the UK. And we are delivering many prescriptions and hospital appointments. This is of key importance for us. We will safely deliver these vital tests, a key step forward in the nation’s battle against the virus."
Creating the new hub laboratories is one of three main strands to increase the government's testing programme. The other two are boosting the capacity of existing local NHS and Public Health England labs; and urgently analysing the reliability of home testing kits that do not need labs. According to The Department of Health and Social Care, these could be a "game-changer - if they are reliable".
|Combined COVID-19 response group launched||30/03/2020|
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) collaboration is to throw its weight behind an emergency initiative by Leesman, building a global pan-industry response group to the threat posed to the real estate and facilities management industries by COVID-19.
New research from global data suggests that facilities and real estate management leadership teams will be under unprecedented pressure to report on the organisational impact of the mass mobilisation of home-working strategies. The threefold joint initiative aims to arm the industry with the information and insights it will need when social distancing policies are relaxed.
"The immediate impact on employees and employers is unknown, while uncertainty about how long this will last is adding to employees’ anxieties. We urgently need to know how home-working is working, which tasks are suffering, and which might improve. We believe this international crisis needs a unified international analysis that lets us learn from one another’s experiences as they unfold and together be ready for the questions that will come thick and fast when normality returns.”
|Prime Minister tests positive for Coronavirus||27/03/2020|
The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has tested positive for Coronavirus. He has mild symptoms and will self-isolate in Downing Street, but will continue to take charge of the government’s handling of the crisis.
A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “After experiencing mild symptoms yesterday, the Prime Minister was tested for coronavirus on the personal advice of England’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty. The test was carried out in No 10 by NHS staff and the result of the test was positive.
“In keeping with the guidance, the Prime Minister is self-isolating in Downing Street. He is continuing to lead the government’s response to coronavirus.”
In a Tweet, the Prime Minister wrote: "Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus.
"I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus.
Together we will beat this. #StayHomeSaveLives."
A video, which accompanied the Tweet, he announced: "I am working from home, I’m self isolating, and that’s entirely the right thing to do. But be in no doubt that I can continue… to communicate with all my top team and lead the national fightback against coronavirus.”
The transcript of the Prime Minister's video
I want to bring you up to speed on something that’s happening today which is that I’ve developed mild symptoms of the coronavirus. That’s to say – a temperature and a persistent cough.
And, on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer, I’ve taken a test. That has come out positive.
So I am working from home. I’m self-isolating. And that’s entirely the right thing to do.
But be in no doubt that I can continue, thanks to the wizardry of modern technology, to communicate with all my top team to lead the national fightback against coronavirus.
And I want to thank everybody who’s involved, I want to thank, above all, our amazing NHS staff. It was very moving last night to join in that national clap for the NHS.
But it’s not just the NHS, it’s our police, our social care workers, teachers, everybody who works in schools, DWP staff.
An amazing national effort by the public services. But also by every member of the British public who’s volunteering, an incredible response – 600,000 people have volunteered to take part in a great national effort to protect people from the consequences of coronavirus – I want to thank you.
I want to thank everybody who’s working to keep our country going through this epidemic.
And we will get through it.
And the way we’re going to get through it is, of course, by applying the measures that you’ll have heard so much about.
And the more effectively we all comply with those measures, the faster our country will come through this epidemic and the faster we’ll bounce back.
So thank you to everybody who’s doing what I’m doing, working from home, to stop the spread of the virus from household to household.
That’s the way we’re going to win, we’re going to beat it, and we’re going to beat it together.
Stay at home, protect the NHS, and save lives.
|COVID-19: Call for rapid sanitising technology for ambulances||27/03/2020|
The Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) is looking for rapid sanitising technology to speed up the time it takes to clean ambulances to help in the national effort against Coronavirus and save lives.
It can take up to 45 minutes to clean ambulances once they have transported a patient suspected of having COVID-19.
Some ambulance cleaning centres can also be some distance away from their base or hospitals – adding strain and delay on an already busy and pressurised service as the vehicles cannot be used until cleaning is completed.
DASA has launched a new Innovation Focus Area as part of its Open Call for Innovation, seeking industry’s help to identify rapid sanitising technology solutions that can be demonstrated in a live trial on an ambulance.
The current Open Call cycle has been extended until 1 April 2020 for early bids to be considered.
Solutions must be suitable for rapid deployment to clean public sector vehicles following the transport of patients with the COVID-19 virus.
Ideally solutions will have wider applicability than just ambulances, which might include, buses, trains, and other blue light services or even in hospital wards/rooms.
Solutions which are mobile, allow ease of operation and maintenance, robust and reliable are of particular interest.
DASA is working in conjunction with the Welsh Government, The Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) Centre of Excellence, the Welsh Ambulance Service, Innovate UK, and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).
|COVID-19: Government amends guidance for businesses||27/03/2020|
The government has amended guidance for businesses and venues to reflect updated COVID-19 regulations.
On 23 March the government stepped up measures to prevent the spread of Coronavirus and save lives. All businesses and venues outlined in the table below must now close.
Takeaway and delivery services may remain open and operational in line with guidance below. Online retail is still open and encouraged and postal and delivery service will run as normal.
Employers who have people in their offices or onsite should ensure that employees are able to follow Public Health England guidelines including, where possible, maintaining a two metre distance from others, and washing their hands with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds (or using hand sanitiser gel if soap and water is not available).
Parks will remain open but only for individuals and households to exercise once a day. Communal spaces within parks such as playgrounds and football pitches will be closed.
1. Businesses and venues that must remain closed
Food and drink
Restaurants and public houses, wine bars or other drinking establishments, or other food and drink establishments including within hotels and members’ clubs.
Exceptions: Food delivery and takeaway can remain operational and can be a new activity supported by the new permitted development right. This covers the provision of hot or cold food that has been prepared for consumers for collection or delivery to be consumed, reheated or cooked by consumers off the premises.
Cafés and canteens
Exceptions: Food delivery and takeaway can remain operational (and as above). Cafés and canteens at hospitals, police and fire service places of work, care homes or schools; prison and military canteens; services providing food or drink to the homeless. Where there are no practical alternatives, other workplace canteens can remain open to provide food for their staff and/or provide a space for breaks. However, where possible, staff should be encouraged to bring their own food, and distributors should move to takeaway. Measures should be taken to minimise the number of people in the canteen / break space at any one given time, for example by using a rota.
All retail, outdoor and indoor markets, auction houses, hairdressers, barbers, beauty and nail salons, including piercing and tattoo parlours.
Hotels, hostels, B&Bs, holiday rentals, campsites and boarding houses for commercial use, caravan parks/sites for commercial uses.
Libraries, community centres, youth centres and similar, places of worship.
Assembly and leisure
Providers of funeral services such as funeral directors and funeral homes conducting funerals may remain open, subject to Public Health England guidelines as mentioned above.
2. Work carried out in people’s homes
Again, it will be important to ensure that Public Health England guidelines, including maintaining a two-metre distance from any household occupants, are followed to ensure everyone’s safety.
No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs, and where the tradesperson is willing to do so. In such cases, Public Health England can provide advice to tradespeople and households.
No work should be carried out by a tradesperson who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild.
3. Takeaway and delivery facilities should remain open and operational
Businesses are encouraged to take orders online or by telephone, and businesses should not provide seating areas, indoors and outdoors, for customers to consume food and drink on. Ordering in advance is strongly encouraged to avoid waiting in, as per Public Health England guidelines.
Planning regulation has been changed to enable restaurants, cafés and pubs which do not currently offer delivery and hot food takeaway to do so. The legislation can be accessed online.
People must not consume food or drinks on site at restaurants, cafés or pubs whilst waiting for takeaway food.
Those venues offering takeaway or delivery services must not include alcoholic beverages in this list if their licence does not already permit.
4. Length of closure
As of 2pm on 26 March 2020 new Regulations extending the restrictions are now enforceable by law in England due to the threat to public health. These supersede Regulations that came into force at 2pm on 21 March 2020.
As agreed with the Devolved Administrations these measures have been extended to the Devolved Nations by Ministerial Direction. They are enforceable in Wales from 4pm on 26 March 2020 and Scotland from 7pm on 26 March 2020.
A business or venue operating in contravention of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations 2020 will be committing an offence.
In England, Environmental Health and Trading Standards officers will monitor compliance with these regulations, with police support provided if appropriate. Businesses and venues that breach them will be subject to prohibition notices, and fixed penalties. With the support of the police, prohibition notices can be used to force a business or venue to close.
If prohibition notices are not followed, or fixed penalty notice not paid, you may also be taken to court with magistrates able to impose potentially unlimited fines.
6. Financial support
7. Business support
Eligible businesses and venues in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of up to £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000. Eligible businesses and venues in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000. Businesses and venues with a rateable value of over £51,000 are not included in this scheme.
8. Business rates
9. Further information