Reading West MP and secretary of state for Business, Alok Sharma, hosted today's coronavirus press conference.

He said that there will be new measures to improve the insolvency system to help businesses hit by the coronavirus crisis.

Mr Sharma said "red tape" will be reduced to allow new producers of hand sanitiser to bring products to market "in a matter of days".

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"We are also introducing a range of measures to boost the supply of personal protective equipment, such as face masks, to protect frontline NHS staff," he told the daily coronavirus press conference in Downing Street.

"And we're removing administrative barriers to the production of hand sanitiser.

"By reducing the amount of red tape, new suppliers and businesses that produce ingredients for safe hand sanitiser will be able to bring their products to market in a matter of days."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a video conference call this morning and continues to lead the government's efforts to combat Covid-19 as he self-isolates after testing positive for the illness, Business Secretary Alok Sharma said.

Mr Sharma announced changes to insolvency rules to allow firms "greater flexibility as they face the current crisis".

"It is crucial when the crisis passes, as it will, we are ready to bounce back," he said, as he detailed measures to help businesses "emerge intact the other side of the Covid-19 pandemic".

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"These measures will give those firms extra time and space to weather the storm and be ready when the crisis ends whilst ensuring creditors get the best return possible in the circumstances," he continued.

The new rules will allow companies undergoing restructuring to continue access to supplies and raw materials.

And, he said, there would be a temporary suspension of wrongful trading provisions for company directors to remove the threat of personal liability during the pandemic, which will apply retrospectively from March 1.

"However, to be clear, all of the other checks and balances that help to ensure directors fulfil their duties properly will remain in force."

Companies required to hold annual general meetings will be be able to do so flexibly in a matter compatible with public health guidance, Mr Sharma said.

"This might include postponing or holding the AGM online, or by phone using only proxy voting," he said.

Prof Stephen Powis, National Medical Director of NHS England, said the NHS was working "incredibly hard" to increase its bed capacity.

He said the focus was firstly on London, where coronavirus has spread quicker than in other parts of the country.

"We are not at capacity yet within London, but beds are being opened all the time to increase that extra surge capacity," he said.

"In the first instance we are using theatres and recovery areas; those are areas in hospitals where anaesthetic machines, ventilators, are already used for surgery and can be readily adapted to take critically ill patients."

He added: "That's almost doubling the capacity that we have already. We are not using it at the moment, but clearly the number of patients is increasing each day."

Mr Sharma said the Prime Minister is showing only "mild symptoms" of coronavirus.

He said: "He continues to lead the government's effort in combating Covid-19, this morning he held a video conference call and he will continue to lead right from the front on this.

"What this has reminded us is that no one is immune and that is precisely why we ask people to follow the Government advice in terms of staying at home where they are able to do that.

"We want to make sure we protect the NHS and ultimately save lives."

The Business Secretary said testers of personal protective equipment (PPE) have been told to put the products at the "front of the queue" to ensure medics have more supplies.

He said the Office for Product Safety and Standards has written to testing experts at notified bodies.

"We've asked them to prioritise testing of any new PPE supply as a matter of priority," he said.

"We want to put PPE testing to the front of the queue."

When asked about the spread of the disease, Mr Powis said: "Clearly there has been a big increase in deaths today."

But he echoed the words of Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government's chief scientific adviser, saying: "If we can keep deaths below 20,000 we will have done very well in this epidemic."

He added: "It is early at the moment and the scientists who are working with the government to model what we can expect are of course adjusting their predictions now as we start to see the actuality of the epidemic in the UK, rather than what we believed might have happened a few weeks ago."