Monday 4 May 2020

Is it finally working? UK announces its LOWEST number of coronavirus daily deaths since March 29 with 288 more fatalities

Coronavirus UK: Death toll hits 28,675 with 229 more fatalities
The Department of Health - which announces an official daily snapshot of deaths in all settings - has yet to provide today's COVID-19 update. The preliminary toll is counted by adding up all the numbers provided by the health officials of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. NHS England declared 204 COVID-19 fatalities in hospitals - but some of the deaths may have been included in previous daily totals. 

No official body provides an update of the number of fatalities outside of hospitals in England. Scotland had five deaths in all settings, while Wales and Northern Ireland recorded another 14 and six victims in hospitals and care homes, respectively. It means at least 28,675 Britons have now died from coronavirus, Europe's second-worst death toll - second only to Italy (28,884). But top statisticians say thousands of British care home victims are still being missed because the figures only include patients who have tested positive in a laboratory. In other developments to the UK's coronavirus crisis today, Boris Johnson (right) urged Britons not to 'ease up' on lockdown measures too early, saying it could 'allow the second peak of coronavirus'.

Mr Hancock acknowledged that the daily rise was lower 'than at any point since the end of March' but pointed out that the 'reported figures tend to be lower over the weekend so we do expect that number to rise'.

During the darkest days of Britain's crisis in mid-April, more than 1,000 deaths were being announced by the Department of Health each day. The UK has not recorded fewer than 200 deaths a day since March 26, three days after Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed the draconian lockdown.

Setting out Britain's new test, track and trace programme to curb the outbreak even further, Mr Hancock said it would 'hunt down and isolate the virus so it is unable to reproduce'.

It would involve an 'army' of 18,000 human contact tracers and the new app which is being launched tomorrow as part of a trial in the Isle of Wight.

The developments come after it was revealed that England's excess death rate amid the pandemic is the worst in Europe, higher than Italy, Spain and France. Data compiled by officials on the continent shows England's spike in excess deaths has also lasted longer than any of its coronavirus-ravaged neighbours. 

In other developments to the UK's coronavirus crisis today:

But the final count, which should have been released at 2pm, may be lower because of a change in how deaths are recorded in England.

Ministers finally caved in to mounting pressure to include COVID-19 fatalities in care homes in the daily updates last week. 

It came amid fears thousands of victims were being missed because the daily figures only took into account patients who died in hospitals.

Care home deaths make up almost half of all deaths in some neighbouring European countries, according to estimates.

And official data from Scotland suggests around 40 per cent of all victims die in care homes, suggesting Britain's true death toll could be in the region of 50,000.

Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales all now include care home deaths in their daily COVID-19 situation updates, which they announce individually.

But their tallies do not always line-up with the official count provided by DH because of how they are recorded. 

For instance, Scotland's death toll stands at 1,576 - but the Department of Health had only registered 1,559 fatalities for the country yesterday.

No overall daily update is given by England, with NHS bosses only offering a count of how many patients have died in hospitals.

But because of DH's new reporting system, some of the deaths NHS England reports each day have already been included in previous tolls.

Officials do not provide an in-depth breakdown to show how many COVID-19 deaths occurred in hospitals compared to care homes and other settings.   

It comes after an EU monitoring project today revealed that England has had the worst excess death rate in Europe during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Excess death rates show how many more people have died than would usually be expected for the time of year. 

The figures are seen as a clue to the number of 'hidden' coronavirus deaths, with official figures almost certain to be incomplete.  

Many countries have seen a spike in excess deaths during the pandemic but figures collected by EU-backed database EuroMOMO show England performing worse than any other European country. 

EuroMOMO assigns a so-called Z-score to all the countries in its database, showing the deviation from a five-year average of deaths. 

England's Z-score peaked at 44.1, according to the monitoring project, with Spain in second place at 34.7. 

The other three UK nations had a far lower Z-score, with Wales peaking at 19.3, Scotland at 17.3 and Northern Ireland at 8.5. 

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