Government admits more ventilators needed to protect lives from Coronavirus

Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the government faces a 'significant' challenge to protect lives from Coronavirus and needs more ventilators.

Mr Hancock said the 'shielding' stage of the response to Covid-19 would start in the coming weeks.

And he said the action plan for this would involve the over-70s self isolating for months.

He urged manufacturers who can to "turn production and their engineering minds" to the production of ventilators.

Mr Hancock said: "We start with around 5,000 ventilators, we think we need many times more than that and we are saying if you produce a ventilator then we will buy it. No number is too high."

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"They are relatively complicated pieces of kit, I couldn't make one, but they're not so complicated that the advanced manufacturing that this country is so good at now can't be able to turn its production lines over to.

"We've been talking to a whole host of companies about it and the Prime Minister is hosting a conference call today with them to say very clearly to the nation's manufacturers ventilators are the thing that we are going to need and frankly right across the world, the demand for them is incredibly high so it is not possible to produce too many.

"So anybody who can should turn production and their engineering minds over to the production of ventilators."

He added: "The thing the NHS needs now more than anything else is more ventilators. We've been buying as many as we can but we need to produce more too."

Mr Hancock said he could not make guarantees that everyone who requires a ventilator will get one, saying: "We don't make guarantees in healthcare".

He confirmed all people over 70 will be asked to self-isolate for months to protect themselves from coronavirus. 

Asked to confirm reports of the drastic measure which emerged last night, Mr Hancock said: “That is in the action plan, yes.

“And we'll be setting it out with more detail when it is the right time to do so because we appreciate that is a very big ask for elderly and vulnerable people.”

He said the measure would be introduced “in the coming weeks.”

And he said the government is prepared to ban large gatherings if necessary.

Mr Hancock coronavirus is "a very significant challenge" that will "disrupt the lives of almost everybody" in the UK.

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