August 27th: UK Coronavirus Tests, Self-Isolation Payments and a New Leader

August 27th: UK Coronavirus Tests, Self-Isolation Payments and a New Leader

Positive Coronavirus Tests in the UK

While the UK has been opening up over the last few months, it should come as no surprise that the coronavirus has, unfortunately, not simply disappeared. The government has been encouraging us, through many different programs (such as the highly popular ‘eat out to help out’ scheme) to get back to some form of normal – albeit, while trying to keep the virus at bay.

However, anyone who has not been living in a cave since March (imagine how nice that would have been) will know that with increased social contact comes greater opportunities for the virus to spread. Or, so we thought.

It has today been shown by Test and Trace England that positive coronavirus tests have dropped for the first time in the last six weeks. Between August 13th and August 19th, there were 6,616 positive cases of coronavirus. However, between August 20th and August 27th, there were only 6,115 positive tests.

If anyone here watches our videos, you may know that interpreting such data can be difficult as it almost always comes with caveats. In the last two weeks, there have been no new big relaxations of social distancing regulation. So maybe people have simply gotten used to things as they are, and businesses have had the time to adapt properly to improve their coronavirus rules for customers and clients. When things open up more, this decrease in the spread of coronavirus may no longer be observed.

However, although this is the negative caveat, there is a positive one to report too. Some of you reading this may think you’re pretty smart and say “ah, well, maybe the fewer positive cases of coronavirus is to do with less testing”. This is a good point, but no, this is not the case. In fact, there has been a notable increase in testing, and despite this, there has been an observable decrease in cases.

So it appears that this is a positive news story to start the briefing on.

Self-Isolation Payments in the UK

In other UK news today it has been announced that those who receive universal credit payments can apply for payments to cover them while self-isolating if they live in an area with a high coronavirus rate. Self-isolation currently lasts for fourteen days, which means the £182 payment works out at about £13 per day.

Although this, according to the BBC, is similar to statutory sick pay, some have criticised this for not going far enough. The former Labour MP and current Manchester mayor, Andy Burnham, has claimed that what is needed is “full pay”.

But, as ever, we’ll leave it up to you to decide whether you think this is fair and whether you think the government has done enough or needs to go further.

A New Liberal Democrat Leader

In other news today, there is a new leader of the Liberal Democrat Party here in the UK. Although, he’s not exactly a new leader….

Sir Ed Davey has been the co-interim leader since Jo Swinson stood down following the loss of her seat to the SNP in the 2019 General Election.

Sir Ed Davey was up against Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran. Davey won 63.5% of the vote. Moran only won 36.5%.

This comes at a particularly tough time for the Liberal Democrats. They were the junior party of the coalition which governed Britain between 2010 and 2015. Since then, they have not been partially successful in national elections. They now have only a handful of MPs and have failed to resonate with voters despite offering unique promises – such as to undo Brexit in their 2019 election campaign.

Whether Davey will be able to bring the Liberal Democrats back to exercising power in government will undoubtedly be seen over the coming months and years.

For those of you who think the news is too long, be sure to check out tomorrow’s daily briefing.

Image of Sir Ed Davey taken from here. The image is used under this license. 

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