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Ventilators on way to UK.

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NewsHealth

Coronavirus latest: Thousands of new ventilators will be shipped to NHS trusts next week, Michael Gove says

Michael Gove also said the UK needed to move faster with testing but there was a shortage in a key chemical needed for them to work

By Chloe Chaplain

Tuesday, 31st March 2020, 5:32 pm

Updated

36 minutes ago

Newly-made ventilators will be shipped out to NHS trusts around the UK from next week to help coronavirus patients, Michael Gove has announced.

The Cabinet Office Minister said in the daily Downing Street briefing that thousands of new ventilators are being made in the UK and will be completed by the end of this week.

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Mr Gove also admitted the UK "must go further and faster" in rolling out testing for the virus and said one of the key constraints the government is facing is a lack of availability of the chemical reagents necessary for the tests to work.

Chemical needed for tests

Speaking in Number 10, Mr Gove said the government was still increasing the number of tests but added: "One of the constraints on our capacity to increase testing overall is supply of the specific reagents, the specific chemicals, that are needed in order to make sure that tests are reliable.

Screen grab of Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove during a media briefing in Downing Street (Photo: PA)

Screen grab of Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove during a media briefing in Downing Street (Photo: PA)

"More NHS staff are returning to the frontline, and more testing is taking place to help those self-isolating come back, and to protect those working so hard in our hospitals and in social care. But while the rate of testing is increasing, we must go further, faster."

He said Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock - both working from home after testing positive for coronavirus - are collaborating with companies worldwide to secure the material needed to increase tests "of all kind".

Thousands of ventilators

On ventilators, Mr Gove said there are currently around 8,000 ventilators deployed in NHS hospitals but more are being purchased from abroad, and new sources of supply are being developed in the UK.

He said: "I can announce that this weekend the first of thousands of new ventilator devices will roll off the production line and be delivered to the NHS next week. From there, they will be rapidly distributed to the frontline."

He added that despite signs the rate of infection is being flattened, "now is absolutely not the time for people to imagine therecan be any relaxation or slackening" of lockdown measures.

Rishi Sunak also announced the UK government was waiving tariffs and taxes on medical equipment that is crucial to fight against the virus, including ventilators, testing kits and PPE from outside the EU.

They said that the public had to continue to be vigilant (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

They said that the public had to continue to be vigilant (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Professor Stephen Powis, the medical director of NHS England said there is evidence the public was heeding the message on the need to maintain social distancing because of "bit of a plateau" in the number of new cases of Covid-19.

'Not out of the woods'

But he stressed the country was "not out of the woods, we are very much in the woods," and "must not take our foot off the pedal".

He said the rate of hospitalisation of cases for Covid-19 was still increasing, as was expected at this stage of the epidemic but if the number of infections started to drop, the "hope" was that the number of hospitalisations would also begin to fall.

On Tuesday, the Department of Health announced the total number of people who have died from Covid-19 in hospital in the UK had reached 1,789. The number of deaths in British hospitals was accurate as of 5pm on Monday, the government said, and rose 381 from the day before.

Covid-19Michael GoveNHS

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