Welcome to today’s Downing Street Press Conference.
I’m joined by Professor Angela McLean, Chief Scientific Advisor at the MOD.
First, let me give an update on the latest data that we have on coronavirus.
I can report through the Government’s ongoing monitoring and testing programme that as of today:
There have now been 1,383,842 tests for coronavirus across the UK, including 84,806 tests yesterday.
We know that 194,990 people have tested positive, that’s an increase of 4,406 cases since yesterday.
And of those who have tested positive, 29,427 have very sadly died, and our hearts go out to everyone who has lost a loved one throughout the coronavirus challenge.
We continue to see evidence of a flattening of the peak of this virus.
But, as the figures that I have just read out show, it’s is not over yet.
So, in the coming days, SAGE will be updating ministers with the latest scientific advice.
As ever, we will make sure that we continue to be guided by their advice as we take the decisions on next steps in fighting the virus.
Alongside the advice from SAGE, our five tests remain absolutely key.
First, we must continue to boost NHS capacity, so that the NHS cannot be overwhelmed.
Second, we need to see a sustained and consistent fall in the number of deaths.
Thirdly, we must see further reductions in the rate of infection to manageable levels, across all different areas and settings.
Fourth, we must be confident that the NHS will be able to cope with future demands, including as a result of any changes that we make to existing measures or indeed any new measures we might wish to take.
Fifth, and above all, we need to be confident that any adjustments to the current measures will not risk a second peak of infections that could then overwhelm the NHS.
Later on this week, the Prime Minister will update the country on the measures and decisions we will need to take to protect the NHS, to safeguard the economy and avoid the risk of a second peak that would be damaging both for public health, but also for jobs and the wider economy.
As we consider the decisions we will take next, to protect life, but also to protect our way of life, it’s now clear that the second phase will be different.
We will need to adjust to a new normal where we as a society adapt to safe new ways to work, to travel, to interact and to go about our daily lives,
We’ve never experienced anything like this first stage of COVID-19, in terms of the scale of the lives lost but also the lockdown that it has required.
As we go forward, we want to make sure that the next phase is more comfortable, is more sustainable and prevents lasting damage to jobs and livelihoods.
But we need to be under no illusions, the next stage won’t be easy.
And if we’re going to protect life and preserve our way of life we must continue to be guided by the scientific advice we receive, and make sure the next steps we take are sure-footed and sustainable.
Before I hand over to Angela to run through the data slides, I want to provide an update on one further feature that coronavirus as a challenge has thrown up for this country, and indeed, for the whole world.
Whilst the vast majority of people, and countries have come together and rallied to this international mission to defeat coronavirus, there will always be some who seek to exploit a crisis for their own criminal and hostile ends.
We know that cyber criminals, and other malicious groups are targeting individuals, businesses, and other organisations by deploying COVID-19 related scams and phishing emails.
That includes groups that in the cyber security world are known as ‘advanced persistent threat’ groups – sophisticated networks of hackers who try to breach computer systems.
We have clear evidence now that these criminal gangs are actively targeting national and international organisations, which are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, which I have to say makes them particularly venal and dangerous at this time.
We are working with the targets of those attacks, with the potential targets, and with others, to make sure that they are aware of the cyber threat, and that they can take the steps necessary to protect themselves or, at the very least, mitigate the harm that could be brought against them.
With that in mind, today, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre and the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency have published a joint warning about these groups.
And we’ve offered some advice on the cyber criminals and other actors who are seeking to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic through malicious cyber activity.
Our teams have identified campaigns targeting healthcare bodies, pharmaceutical companies, research organisations, and also various different arms of local government.
There are various objectives and motivations that lie behind these attacks, from fraud on the one hand to espionage.
But they tend to be designed to steal bulk personal data, intellectual property and wider information that supports those aims, and they are often linked with other state actors.
We expect this kind of predatory criminal behaviour to continue and evolve over the coming weeks and months ahead, and we are taking a range of measures to tackle the threat.
So, as we have done today, we will share advice on the nature of those threats to enable business, citizens and our international partners to better defend themselves against the full range of cyber-attack – from hostile states to criminal gangs.
Preventive action is often the very best way to deny attackers the opportunities they are looking for.
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) offers a range of practical advice to safeguard against cyber-attacks.
From things like the use of online passwords, to guidance on trusted sources of online information relating to COVID-19 like the gov.uk sites or Public Health England.
As well as providing practical advice, the UK will continue to counter those who conduct cyber-attacks.
And we’re working very closely with our international partners both to respond to the threats, but also to deter the gangs and the arms of state who lie behind them.
We’re absolutely determined to defeat Coronavirus, and also to defeat those trying to exploit the situation for their own nefarious ends.