Rishi Sunak announced a package of Government-backed loans worth £330mbillion to support businesses during the coronavirus outbreak as the number of confirmed cases rose by up to 400 on Tuesday. He said the Government will “be bold” in its support for the economy. Mr Sunak announced: “This struggle will not be overcome by a single package of measures or isolated interventions.
“It will be won through a collective national effort, every one of us doing all we can to protect family, neighbours, friends, jobs.
“This national effort will be underpinned by Government interventions in the economy on a scale unimaginable only a few weeks ago.”
Mr Sunak added: “The Government will stand behind businesses small and large.
“I can announce today an unprecedented package of Government backed and guaranteed loans to support business to get through this.
“Today I am making available an initial £330 billion of guarantees, equivalent to 15% of our GDP.
“That means any business who needs access to cash to pay their rent, their salaries, suppliers or purchase stock will be able to access a Government backed loan or credit on attractive terms.
“And if demand is greater than the initial £330 billion I’m making available today, I will go further and provide as much capacity as required.
“I said whatever it takes, and I meant it.”
He unveiled the measures after the Government’s chief scientific adviser said around 55,000 people in the UK now have Covid-19, as the NHS moved to cancel all non-emergency surgery and 71 people are now known to have died.
Sir Patrick Vallance told MPs it is hoped the death toll can be kept to under 20,000 as he told of the huge amount of strain the health service will be under from Covid-19.
Boris Johnson said the Government “must and will act with a profound sense of urgency” and would be like a “wartime government”.
The Prime Minister also warned that Covid-19 is so “dangerous” that without drastic action it will “overwhelm the NHS”, as he warned that more “extreme measures” may be needed to protect lives in the future.
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Shortly before the press conference, NHS England chief executive, Sir Simon Stevens, told MPs the NHS would be “flat out” helping coronavirus patients for the next four to six months.
He has sent a letter to hospitals telling them to prepare for a big influx of patients requiring ventilation and ordered moves to cancel non-emergency surgery by April 15 at the latest, alongside the discharge of medically fit people to free up beds.
During a hearing of the Health Select Committee, chairman Jeremy Hunt asked Sir Patrick whether the expected death rate was one fatality for every 1,000 cases, which would mean that there are “potentially 55,000 cases” at present.
Sir Patrick said: “We’ve tried to get a handle on that in Sage (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) and if you put all the modelling information together, that’s a reasonable ballpark way of looking at it. It’s not more accurate than that.”
Published at Tue, 17 Mar 2020 17:24:00 +0000