Coronavirus LIVE: Updates as MPs mount challenge over virus deaths at South Yorkshire factory and Education Secretary says Government will unveil plans for full return of 'every single child' to school

Follow all the latest updates on coronavirus in Sheffield and across the United Kingdom, as a South Yorkshire school confirms it will be closed for a week and Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepares to discuss re-opening the hospitality sector.

Monday, 22nd June 2020, 4:34 pm

We will be providing live updates up until 5pm this evening.

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Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said the Government will unveil plans next week for the "full return of every single child" to school

Coronavirus LIVE: Updates as MPs mount challenge over virus deaths at South Yorkshire factory and Government prepares to unveil plans for 'full return of every child' to school

Last updated: Monday, 22 June, 2020, 16:28

 

  • The Department of Health and Social Care confirms 42,647 people have died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community after testing positive for coronavirus
  • Ropening of non-essential shops last week has led to a 51 per cent surge in number of shoppers visiting high street
  • AI robot developed by a pair of brothers has helped a local authority identify hundreds of shielding households in need of support
  • Punters and pubs could have to sign guest books
  • MPs challenge HSE on no site visit after three deaths at South Yorkshire factory
  • UK government reveals latest coronavirus R rate for Sheffield and South Yorkshire
  • Some 158 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed at a chicken processing plant in North Wales
  • A school in Doncaster has closed for a week following a confirmed case of coronavirus
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to discuss reopening the hospitality sector and loosening the two-metre social-distancing rule in England with his top Cabinet colleagues and scientists

Education Secretary says the Government will unveil plans for the 'full return of every single child to school' next week

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said the Government will unveil plans next week for the ’full return of every single child’ to school.

Shadow education secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey said: "All of this uncertainty could have been avoided if the Secretary chose to listen to the sector.

"So would he confirm today that he will now formally convene a taskforce of trade unions, education childcare leaders and staff, local authorities, parents' organisations and health experts to dress these issues urgently?"

Mr Williamson replied: "There is a reality - that this side of the House is committed to getting every child back into school and we understand that actually this is where they are going to benefit from.

"If it was up to the party opposite we wouldn't see any children back into the classroom, but what we've already got, we've got nursery back, we've got reception back, we've got Year 1 back, we've got Year 6 back, we've got Year 10 back and we've got 12.

"We've given schools extra flexibility to get more children in and we've made it clear that next week we'll be outlining plans for a full return of every single child in every year group back into school."

Lowest daily rise in coronavirus deaths for over two months

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said 42,647 people had died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Sunday, June 21 - up by 15 from 42,632 the day before. 

This is the lowest daily reported rise in deaths since March 15 but there is often a lag in the reporting of deaths over weekends.

The Government figures do not include all deaths involving Covid-19 across the UK, which are thought to have passed 53,500.

The DHSC also said in the 24-hour period up to 9am on Monday, 139,659 tests were carried out or dispatched, with 958 positive results. Overall, a total of 8,029,757 tests have been carried out and 305,289 cases have been confirmed positive.

The figure for the number of people tested has been "temporarily paused to ensure consistent reporting" across all methods of testing.

Sheffield's Covid-19 death toll remains unchanged for fourth day in a row

In Sheffield, the death toll for hospital patients stands at 284, which has remained the same since last Thursday, when the death of a 13-day-old baby was recorded in the city.

There have been 214 deaths in Doncaster and 186 in Rotherham, with both figures the same as they were yesterday.

Sheffield's Royal Hallamshire Hospital

According to NHS England, a further 20 people who tested positive for Covid-19 have died since yesterday’s figures were announced, bringing the total number of confirmed reported deaths in hospitals in England to 28,338.

For more on the latest coronavirus figures, please click here

Laughing gas canisters left strewn across Sheffield rooftop after Covid-19 party

Laughing gas canisters were left strewn across the roof terrace of Brook House on Summerfield Street, near Ecclesall Road, following the bash on Saturday, June 20.

One man living at the apartment block said he was kept awake by loud music blaring until 2am, followed by more noise as guests departed, and cannabis could be smelt wafting down corridors.

Government rules, imposed to prevent the spread of coronavirus, prohibit gatherings of more than six people from different households.

Laughing gas cannisters were discarded following a party on Saturday night, in breach of Covid-19 rules

Read the full story here

Huge 51 per cent surge in shoppers heading to high street

The reopening of non-essential retailers, including clothes shops and department stores in England led to a 51 per cent surge in customers heading to the high street, new data shows.

Between Monday, June 15 and Sunday, June 21 the number of shoppers was up compared with the week before but remain at historic lows, according to Springboard.

Fargate in Sheffield City Centre on June 15 after non-essential shops re-opened

Across all UK retail destinations, footfall was up 45 per cent despite Wales and Scotland keeping non-essential stores closed. 

Brothers help create AI robot which has been used by a local council to help identify hundreds of shielding households in need of support

An AI robot developed by a pair of brothers whose mother is shielding has helped a local authority identify hundreds of households needing extra support during the coronavirus lockdown.

Monty and Hector Alexander founded the start-up Yokeru after their grandmother fell over and was left for eight hours unaided, and are now looking at ways to ensure isolated households are not overlooked.

They started the business while Monty, 24, was studying mechanical engineering at Imperial College London, in an attempt to "improve communication between vulnerable people and caregivers".

An automated voice call system developed by the pair has been piloted at Hammersmith & Fulham Council since May 14 to regularly contact 9,000 residents shielding in the west London borough.

The technology costs around the fifth of a traditional call centre and has seen residents asked every two weeks how they are coping with self-isolation, if they feel at risk, and if they have concerns for their mental or physical safety.

Punters at pubs could have to sign 'guest books'

Speaking over the weekend, Health Secretary Matt Hancock gave perspex screens, masks and altered seating arrangements as examples of measures to mitigate the risk of spreading coronavirus if the two-metre rule is relaxed.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock

And he floated the idea that punters at pubs and bars could have to sign a guest book with their names and contact details so they could be swiftly traced if they come into contact with an infection. 

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said Labour would support a reduction of the two-metre rule "under certain circumstances", including the strengthening of other protections such as masks.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to discuss the re-opening of the hospitality sector with members of the Covid-19 strategy committee this afternoon. 

He is expected to announce on Tuesday plans for the hospitality sector to reopen from July 4 and set out whether the two-metre social distancing rule in England can be relaxed.

MPs challenge HSE on no site visit after three deaths at South Yorkshire factory

MPs have criticised a “toothless” regulatory body after the deaths from Covid-19 of three workers from the same South Yorkshire factory.

John Healey (Wentworth & Dearne) and Stephanie Peacock (Barnsley East) have both received complaints from concerned workers and relatives about Cranswick Foods, in Wombwell, Barnsley.

It comes as new research shows funding for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which is responsible for enforcing Covid-19 regulations, has been cut by more than half since 2010.

John is in touch with Leander Lupton, whose partner Dave Baxter, 55, died on April 19.

He said: “The email from Leander was one of the most distressing I have received in more than 20 years as an MP.

“Speaking to her, she is clearly heartbroken yet determined to seek answers for herself, Dave and their son."

Ms Lupton, of Wath-upon-Dearne, said: “My Dave left for work for the last time on April 1 and was admitted to hospital on April 6.

Dave Baxter

“When he was in the back of the ambulance, he asked me to let them know he wouldn’t be going in – he didn’t want to let them down. If they’d shown the same concern, they might still have a loyal, hard-working employee, my son would still have a dad and the world would still have a kind, gentle and giving man.

There have been 11 confirmed cases of Covid-19 among Cranswick Foods staff.

In a letter to John Healey, the HSE say they have received four reports about the Valley Park site as well as concerns about another Cranswick site in Hull.

Stephanie Peacock said: “It is deeply concerning that the HSE failed to visit Cranswick Foods even though three employees sadly lost their lives and others were seriously ill in hospital after contracting Covid-19

“I requested a referral to HSE on 30 April as employees working in the factory needed reassurance. The HSE failed to provide this despite the seriousness of the situation.

“As more workplaces begin to open, questions need to be asked as to why this happened and whether the HSE has adequate funding to respond to the current crisis.”

Big Issue vendors to resume sales from next month

Big Issue vendors are to resume street sales next month, it has been announced.

Around 2,000 vendors will be back out selling the magazine across England and Wales from July 6 for the first time in 15 weeks because of the lockdown.

Street sales stopped on March 20, although the magazine had been available in supermarkets and other stores as well as through subscriptions, which has enabled the organisation to maintain financial and other help for vendors.

The organisation said it has set out a health and safety plan of action which ensures that vendors are able to sell the magazine safely and customers are able to buy with confidence.

The plan includes investment in personal protective equipment for vendors, and contactless card payments.

Big Issue vendors are to resume sales from next month

UK government reveals latest coronavirus R rate for Sheffield and South Yorkshire

The rate of the spread of the coronavirus infection across the UK is shrinking, new figures published by the Government show.

The R value for North East and Yorkshire is 0.7 – 0.9, and the growth rate is minus 5 per cent to minus 1 per cent.

For the UK as a whole, the current growth rate is minus 4 per cent to minus 2 per cent, and the estimate of the reproduction number, referred to as R, remains at 0.7 to 0.9.

The growth rate reflects how quickly the number of infections is changing day by day, and, as the number of infections decreases, is another way of keeping track of the virus.

Observation of the gel that assesses the purity of the antigens produced in the laboratory (Photo by Pedro Vilela/Getty Images)
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