Coronavirus latest news: Government spent £2.1bn on PPE that was 'useless'

·9 min read
About 2 billion items of PPE were unfit for doctors and nurses - GETTY IMAGES
About 2 billion items of PPE were unfit for doctors and nurses - GETTY IMAGES

The Government squandered at least £2 billion in taxpayers’ money on personal protective equipment of such poor quality it cannot be used in the NHS, a report has warned - five times higher than official estimates.

Some 2.1 billion items of personal protective equipment (PPE) have so far been deemed unfit to keep doctors and nurses safe in clinical settings - with 10,000 shipping containers-full still to be unpacked as of May this year, said the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

The amount of unusable kit is five times higher than the number estimated by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in January, said the select committee, which monitors public expenditure.

The wasted sum forms part of the estimated £372 billion spent by the UK on pandemic-containing measures which will expose taxpayers to “significant financial risks for decades to come”, the cross-party committee warned in two reports published on Sunday.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

07:59 AM

Analysis: The risk-reward minefield of Covid jabs for children

Of all the debates raging about Covid-19, the question as to whether children should be vaccinated is perhaps the most interesting and consequential of the moment, writes Paul Nuki.

It entails not just a difficult call over vaccine safety but delicate ethical arguments to do with teenage consent and adult self-interest.

The minefield of long Covid cannot be avoided; vaccine passports and school closures are pertinent; and those with a conspiratorial bent are already raising dark issues to do with vaccine supply and malign state influence.

If you consider, too, that we may never get to herd immunity without vaccinating children, I’d say it was the perfect midsummer family dinner conversation.

The debate got going last Monday when, after long deliberation, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advised ministers not to vaccinate children and young people under the age of 18 en masse.

07:40 AM

Six million face quarantine turmoil if Greece and Spain go 'amber plus'

Summer holiday plans for nearly six million Britons could be ruined if Spain and Greece follow France onto the "amber plus" list requiring isolation on return, according to an analysis.

Labour said an estimated 5,857,558 people face the prospect of last-minute quarantine requirements during the "summer of chaos", by comparing official data with survey responses.

The Government exempted isolation at home for 10 days for fully-vaccinated holidaymakers returning from countries on the amber list, but ministers removed this at last minute for France amid concerns over the Beta variant.

There has been speculation that Greece and Spain could face the same measures as France, though the Government has not confirmed this.

Labour's shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said: "Not only have they failed to protect our borders, allowing Covid cases to rocket - they also refuse to be straight with the public and give them the information they need to book travel with confidence, with clear information on the direction of travel of infections in each country.

"Families who have booked holidays in good faith now risk losing out - 10-day quarantine is simply not an option for many people who are already struggling financially thanks to the pandemic."

06:50 AM

Families face 'tidal wave' of debt

Families face a “tidal wave” of debt including at least £4 billion in unpaid council tax as Covid restrictions lift, new research has shown.

The study by the Centre for Social Justice (CJS) showed more than 2.4 million are now in “severe debt,” equivalent to one in 25 people and up from 600,000 before the pandemic.

The amount of outstanding council tax alone grew by a record 24 per cent between March 2020 and March 2021, when it hit £4.4 billion, according to the analysis of official data by the CJS.

Some seven million people - more than one in ten of the population - anticipate problems paying off their council tax debt.

Read more: Families face huge debts as restrictions lift

06:22 AM

Javis criticised for 'cower' Covid remark

Health Secretary Sajid Javid's suggestion that the nation needs to not "cower" from coronavirus has been criticised as "deeply insensitive" by those who have lost loved ones to Covid-19.

Mr Javid said on Saturday he had made a "full recovery" and that his "symptoms were very mild, thanks to amazing vaccines", of which he had received two doses.

"Please, if you haven't yet, get your jab, as we learn to live with, rather than cower from, this virus," he wrote on Twitter.

Co-founder of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Jo Goodman said Mr Javid's comments "are deeply insensitive on a number of levels" and insulting to people who have shielded and those who stayed at home to protect society.

"Not only are they hurtful to bereaved families, implying our loved ones were too cowardly to fight the virus, but they insult all those still doing their best to protect others from the devastation this horrific virus can bring," she added.

Sajid Javid - REUTERS
Sajid Javid - REUTERS

05:48 AM

More on the £2.1bn PPE 'waste'

A report by the Public Accouns Committee has found that the Government spent £2.1 billion on PPE that could not be used by nurses and doctors because it was of poor quality.

PAC chairwoman Dame Meg Hillier said: “With eye-watering sums of money spent on Covid measures so far, the Government needs to be clear, now, how this will be managed going forward, and over what period of time.

“The ongoing risk to the taxpayer will run for 20 years on things like arts and culture recovery loans, let alone the other new risks that departments across Government must quickly learn to manage.

“If coronavirus is with us for a long time, the financial hangover could leave future generations with a big headache.”

05:19 AM

Could the PM lose his seat?

It has never happened in the history of British politics, but according to a new report Boris Johnson's seat could be in danger at the next election.

The Prime Minister and Dominic Raab risk losing their seats because of the chaos over foreign travel, a report backed by a former Tory party chairman has warned.

The Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary hold seats in constituencies with the highest number of aviation jobs which have been threatened by the Government’s border closures and Covid travel restrictions.

Some 3,356 voters in Mr Johnson’s Uxbridge seat are directly employed in aviation, enough to slash his 7,210 majority to within a whisker of defeat if they switched to other parties. The 1,666 aviation jobs in Mr Raab’s Esher and Walton constituency could wipe out his slender 2,743 majority.

No sitting prime minister has ever lost their seat at a general election.

Read more: Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab 'risk losing seats at election over Covid travel chaos'

Boris Johnson giving his victory speech in Uxbridge at the last election, in December 2019 - PA
Boris Johnson giving his victory speech in Uxbridge at the last election, in December 2019 - PA

04:42 AM

Exclusive: Double jab to watch Premier League

Premier League football fans who have not been fully vaccinated could be barred from attending matches from October under plans expected to be signed off by ministers, The Telegraph can disclose.

The mandatory requirement is expected to extend to the autumn rugby internationals, major concerts, and spectator events of 20,000 or more as part of Boris Johnson’s efforts to turn Covid-19 into a “manageable menace”.

A social media campaign aimed at boosting uptake among 18-30 year-olds will also be ramped up, linking vaccination to the ability to go on holiday, as three million of them are yet to receive a single dose.

Read more: Unvaccinated will not be allowed in to big events this autumn

Only fans with both jabs will be allowed in to grounds from the autumn - MARC ASPLAND
Only fans with both jabs will be allowed in to grounds from the autumn - MARC ASPLAND

04:19 AM

DeChambeau's positive test keeps him out of Games

American golfer Bryson DeChambeau has withdrawn from the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for Covid-19.

DeChambeau was due to represent his country in the event starting on Thursday at Kasumigaseki Country Club, but received news of his positive test before he departed for Japan.

The 2020 US Open champion is the latest athlete to have their Olympics plans ruined by coronavirus.

Read more: Bryson DeChambeau withdraws from Tokyo Olympics due to positive Covid-19 test

Follow the latest action from Tokyo in our live blog.

03:28 AM

Protests could mean longer lockdown in Australia

New South Wales logged its second-highest daily increase in locally acquired Covid cases of the year on Sunday amid fears of a wave of new infections after thousands of people joined an anti-lockdown protest (see video below).

"In relation to yesterday's protests, can I say how absolutely disgusted I was. It broke my heart," Gladys Berejiklian, the premier of Australia's most populous state, told reporters.

"I hope it won't be a setback, but it could be," Ms Berejiklian said.

The outbreak, which began in June, is being driven by the highly contagious delta variant of the virus, and has now infected 2,081 people in New South Wales. There are 43 people in intensive care, up from 37 a day earlier.

03:03 AM

Today's top stories

  • Premier League football fans who have not been fully vaccinated could be barred from attending matches from October under plans expected to be signed off by ministers, The Telegraph can disclose

  • The number of officers off work in Britain's biggest police force has reached a record pandemic high due to the chaos of the 'pingdemic', as binmen are expected to be added to a list of works exempt from self-isolation

  • The NHS Covid-19 app must be "decommissioned" once the pandemic eases, the UK’s privacy tsar has said, as she warned ministers against mission "creep"

  • The Government squandered at least £2 billion in taxpayers’ money on personal protective equipment of such poor quality it cannot be used in the NHS, a report has warned - five times higher than official estimates

  • Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab risk losing their seats at the next election because of the chaos over foreign travel, a report backed by a former Tory party chairman warns

  • Hospitality industry leaders have warned the Government it could face legal action over plans for compulsory vaccine passports for nightclubs and other "large crowded settings" in England

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