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Prime Minister’s Question Time returns to the House of Commons with social distancing and COVID deaths in the UK now more than 17,000

House of Commons discussing arrangements for virtual and socially distanced sittings Tuesday 21st April 2020. Image: Screen grab from House of Commons digital video.

PMQs return to a socially distancing Parliament in COVID-19 crisis Britain

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer will grill Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab over the Government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis today.

The Department of Health said 17,337 patients have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Monday.

The increase in personal and family tragedies is up by 828 from 16,509 the day before.

Up to 120 more MPs can take part remotely through the Zoom video-conferencing platform in the first PMQs since Parliament rose early a month ago.

The Government remains under fire with its commitment to reach 100,000 tests per day by the end of the month.

This appears to be an over-ambitious hope.

Complaints about lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health and care staff are continuing to dominate headlines and the political agenda.

Guardian coverage continues to be highly critical of the Government’s handling of the coronavirus emergency.

In its morning edition it is alleging that a chance to buy 16 million marks has been missed.

It alleges the UK is in the invidious position of exporting huge amounts of PPE materials that front-line NHS health workers need to protect and save lives.

Embarrassing U-turn by Senior Foreign Office civil servant on whether UK government decision on EU medical equipment procurement decision was political.

Senior civil servant, Sir Simon McDonald had to apologise to a House of Commons select committee yesterday for making a mistake when telling them that the government had taken a ‘political decision’ to not participate in an EU medical equipment procurement scheme.

Vaccine development making progress

Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the Government is ‘throwing everything’ at developing a coronavirus vaccine.

He said human trials led by the University of Oxford are beginning on Thursday.

Shipment of Turkey equipment arrives

A flight carrying personal protective equipment has arrived in the UK from Turkey after days of delays.

The flight is carrying part of an 84-tonne load of equipment, which includes clinical gowns, urgently needed by front line health workers.

And behind the alarming figures of COVID-19 casualty is the story of people recovering and being discharged from Intensive Care treatment.

How many health workers have to live away from their loved ones

There’s a growing trend in UK healthcare workers deciding to live away from their families while they work on the frontline of coronavirus clinical care.

Some are living in hotels.

Others are in mobile homes or caravans.

Four people explained to the BBC why they felt they had to leave home and live in this way:

Cleaner air- benefits of the COVID-19 emergency

One of the benefits of the lockdown in most countries throughout the world has been the clearing of smog-filled skylines.

The fall in air and road travel has led to a plummeting of pollution levels.

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