COVID-19 NEWS BULLETIN APRIL 24th APRIL 2020
Daily Press Briefing Transport Secretary Grant Shapps lead the daily briefing, commenting was that there are tentative signs we are making progress, as the public adhere to social distancing measures. The transport secretary says the government are also launching a transport support unit, utilising the spare capacity created due to the reduced transport service which could be used for essential freight services. Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries stated that the total number of cases has risen and represents an epidemic curve, despite a fluctuation in reporting. She did add that the curve is flattening, saying that with increased testing of health and care workers we can expect to see an increase in cases as time goes on. Dr Harries also commented that the critical care capacity continues to increase across the NHS. The use of drones is being investigated to get supplies between the mainland and the Isle of Wight.
Yesterdays headline news was an increase in testing for essential workers and their families. Those eligible could book a Covid-19 test online via gov.uk. Health Secretary Matt Hancock yesterday said that the ability for testing was now at 50,000 tests per day, meaning capacity is halfway to the 100,000 a day testing target. The eligibility stated on
the government website shows criteria to be;
The website opened this morning and 20,000 applications were made before the website was reported as crashed. When quizzed by the press this afternoon, Mr Shapps stated that the website had not crashed, it was paused as all testing centre slots had been taken and more testing slots will become available tomorrow. Mr Shapps also confirmed that the test booking system would mean that 10.72 million essential worker households are now eligible to request a test through the website should they be showing symptoms, stating that there is no point taking the test unless you think you currently have symptoms.
Daily Updates on the Markets
With so much in the business news on the topic of oil prices, I thought it useful to discuss why oil prices have such an impact on the global economy. Monday saw US oil prices turn negative for the first time ever as the coronavirus crisis caused global demand to collapse. The reason oil has such an effect is that it is the most traded commodity.
Like any commodity, price is driven by supply and demand. The fall in oil price is a striking illustration of just how much economic activity has slowed worldwide. A collapse in demand for crude products such as petrol and jet fuel. Prices have weakened sharply as global demand for oil decreased and the knock-on effect of this has been a worldwide shortage of storage space for oil. Usually a fall in oil prices would be greeted by consumers and firms due to the lower prices and costs, normally lower oil prices aid an economic recovery. However, this fall is due to the sharp drop in travel and talk of economic recession from the coronavirus. Therefore, there is little expectation that the lower oil prices will have any positive economic effect. As we are all cutting back on travel, cheaper petrol and fuel prices, don’t make much difference. At the moment, the balance has been shattered which would suggest bad news economically.
Interestingly, the AA Motoring Group today said that they estimate motorists are being over charged by more than £5 a tank, raising the question about fairness of pump prices during this oil crash.
(Brent Crude Oil Futures performance over the last 12-month period, BBC website)
Other financial news today;
The FCA announced new measures to support borrowers of Motor and High Risk Credit, which will come into effect on Monday; 3 month freeze on repayments for Motor Credit 1 month no interest payment freeze for High Risk Credit UK retail sales continue to slow European Purchasing Managers Index results were very low, showing little faith in a quick economic recovery
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