Covid-19: After nearly 20,000 coronavirus deaths, UK to trial drones for delivering medicines – world news
As the death toll from coronavirus approached the 20,000-figure across the United Kingdom, the Boris John government on Friday gave the approval for trials to use drones to deliver medicines initially on islands and remote places in the country.
The death figure released on Friday was 19,506, with 143.464 cases. The figure refers to deaths in hospitals, not in private homes, care homes and hospices, prompting concerns that the real figure may have crossed 20,000, making the UK one of the worst affected in Europe.
Releasing figures and details in the daily Downing Street briefing, transport secretary Grant Shapps announced the trial of drones to deliver medicines, as the UK’s health authorities continue to grapple with the scale of the pandemic amidst reports that several errors were initially made.
Shapps said: “I have…given the green light to trials of drones delivering medical supplies. Earlier this year, we awarded £28 million to Southampton and Portsmouth to develop a Future Transport Zone”.
“As part of that initiative, £8 million was earmarked for testing drones, and how they might be used for delivering goods in the years and decades ahead. Of course, now we have an urgent need, so we’re making use of that testing programme as part of our response to Covid-19”.
“As a result, I have fast-tracked trials to begin next week to carry medical supplies and equipment to St Mary’s Hospital, near Newport on the Isle of Wight”, he added.
On demands that the government should announce conditions in which it would consider easing some lockdown restrictions, Shapps reiterated the five tests earlier set out by foreign secretary Dominic Raab, who is deputising for Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The five tests are: That the National Health Service can continue to cope; that the daily death rate falls sustainably and consistently; that the rate of infection is falling; that the operational challenges have been met’ and most importantly, that there is no risk of a second peak.