Wednesday 8 April 2020

No respite in sight as UK announces 938 more coronavirus victims - pushing Britain's death toll up to 7,097 - and infections rises by 5,491 - 50% more than yesterday's increase

Coronavirus UK: Death toll hits 7,097 with 938 daily fatalities

Reports from NHS England, the Scottish Government, Public Health Wales and Northern Ireland's Public Health Agency have pushed the UK's death toll above 7,000 and produced another unprecedented surge in the number of people who have died of COVID-19. Statistics from the Department of Health, meanwhile, confirmed another 5,491 people have tested positive for the virus, meaning a total of 60,733 people have now been officially diagnosed since Britain's outbreak began in February. There were 51 per cent more new diagnoses than the 3,634 that were diagnosed yesterday, but officials said in today's televised briefing that the spread of the virus 'is not accelerating'. 

The true number of patients past and present is widely assumed to be in the millions but the scale remains unknown because only hospital patients and NHS staff are being routinely tested. Today's update comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in intensive care in St Thomas' Hospital, London, where his condition is described as stable and he is 'responding to treatment', his spokesman said today. The UK is expected to endure a considerably longer lockdown as the peak of the outbreak may not come for another 10 days and Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said he believed the country was 'nowhere near' emerging from its current quarantine.

An update on testing revealed 5,491 more people tested positive for COVID-19 since Monday, meaning there have been 60,733 officially diagnosed patients since the outbreak began in February.

NHS England confirmed 828 more people have died in its hospitals, with patients aged between 22 and 103 years old and of whom 42 had been otherwise healthy.

Scotland, where 77 more deaths have been confirmed, also diagnosed a further 336 infections in the past 24 hours, Public Health Wales announced 284 more positive tests and 33 deaths, while five more fatalities were recorded in Northern Ireland. Two further deaths are unaccounted for.

Today's surge in deaths brings Britain within touching distance of the worst days experienced in Europe, which saw 969 deaths in Italy on March 28 and 950 in Spain on April 2. China never recorded more than 254 in a day. But the numbers are dwarfed by the US, which is being hammered by the virus and recorded 1,799 deaths yesterday. 
Despite another dark day in terms of new diagnoses and deaths, deputy chief scientific adviser, Professor Angela McLean, said in today's official briefing that the numbers of people being admitted to hospital are steady and the spread of the virus 'is not accelerating'.
As the NHS and Government battle to maintain their grip on the outbreak, stricken Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains on an intensive care unit in a central London hospital, where his spokesman says he is in a stable condition and 'responding to treatment'. The PM was admitted on Monday night after suffering a fever for 10 days.
Attention has now turned to Mr Johnson's vow to evaluate the progress of the UK's lockdown next week, which it looks like he will be unable to do. Downing Street says it will delay the evaluation, and there are no signs the stay-at-home measures will be lifted soon. London Mayor Sadiq Khan says the UK is 'nowhere near' the end. 
This sentiment was echoed by the World Health Organization's director for Europe, Dr Hans Kluge, who said it would be 'dangerous' to try and ease the rules too soon. Wuhan, the Chinese city where the pandemic started, has only today started to let its citizens travel again, 73 days after its prescient lockdown was enforced in January.
In another day of developments in the Britain's coronavirus crisis: 
  • Analysis of official figures shows coronavirus is killing one Briton every two minutes - and Birmingham is the epicentre of the UK's crisis; 
  • There are fears the government's bailout for employees could cost up to £40billion over three months, several times the Treasury's initial estimate; 
  • HM Revenue and Customs has urged furloughed employees to report firms which are still asking them to work, with any company found to be abusing the scheme facing criminal action;
  • President Donald Trump savaged the 'China centric' World Health Organisation and suggested US could withhold funding, as he claimed Britain is 'desperate' for ventilators and had asked for 200. The US is the worst affected country in the world with more than 400,000 confirmed cases and a soaring death toll; 
  • The deaths of two more NHS nurses were annnounced today - 29-year-old Rebecca Mack, from Newcastle, and Alice Kit Tak Ong, 70, who worked for the NHS for 40 years in London;
  • A symptom-tracking app run by King's College London suggests the number of people with coronavirus symptoms has fallen dramatically since lockdown started in late March;
  • Oxford University scientists say they may be able to make a COVID-19 vaccine by the autumn and said current trials could yield results within eight months.

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