Wednesday 8 April 2020

UK's official death toll leaps by record 786 in 24 hours - plus 68 extra victims reported around the country: Total hits 6,159

Coronavirus UK: Death toll hits 6,227 after jump of 854 in a day
The Department of Health, which releases daily coronavirus figures for the UK, today said there had been 786 new deaths recorded across hospitals. This includes 758 in England and 28 in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. However, when counted individually, Britain announced 854 new deaths today, with the 758 in England, as well as 74 in Scotland, 19 in Wales and three in Northern Ireland. But the DH's cut-off of 5pm the night before means the official round-up is lower. For example, the DH's official death toll across the UK stands at 6,159 - but the true figure is 6,236 when the numbers are added up for each nation (5,655 in England, 296 in Scotland, 212 in Wales and 73 in Northern Ireland). 

Experts have warned against pinning too much hope to single-day changes in the statistics because many of the deaths date back days or even weeks before the date that they are announced, and it could still be another week or two before the effects of the UK's lockdown, which began on March 23, start to filter through to the numbers. Today's statistics come as Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in intensive care at St Thomas' Hospital in London (pictured left and right, ambulance staff at the hospital in the capital). His spokesman said this afternoon that the PM was 'in good spirits', is in a stable condition, has not been diagnosed with pneumonia and is still breathing on his own.

There is still hope from today's statistics, however - only 3,634 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 24 hours despite the number of tests increasing, marking the smallest rise in a week. 
Chief scientific adviser to the Government, Sir Patrick Vallance, today said it is possible that the UK is starting to see 'the beginning of change' and that the number of new cases was starting to level off and Britain appeared to be 'flattening the curve' of its epidemic.
Another element of confusion comes from the fact that deaths are backdated by up to 10 days or more, meaning that fatalities that happened days or even weeks ago are recorded on a later date, superficially increasing that day's count. As the number of delayed past deaths increases, the current day's count snowballs and looks bigger than it really is. 
Because of this, the true death toll for the UK could be 80 per cent higher than current figures suggest, according to data from the Office for National Statistics. The number announced on any given day will rise in the coming weeks as more fatalities filter through the system and are backdated.
Today's statistics come as Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in intensive care in St Thomas' Hospital in London after being transferred there last night. His spokesman says, however, that he is in good spirits, breathing on his own and does not have pneumonia. Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, who is standing in for Mr Johnson as deputy, tonight labelled the PM a 'fighter' and said he was confident he would 'pull through'.
Cabinet minister Michael Gove has been the latest figure at Whitehall to come face-to-face with the virus, today revealing that he was self-isolating for two weeks because a member of his family is ill. 
Scientists at the University of Washington have estimated that a shortage of intensive care beds in the UK could see it become the worst affected country in Europe, projecting that there would be 66,000 COVID-19 fatalities. Their study predicted the worst of Britain's outbreak would happen in the coming weeks, in mid-April.
Public Health England says it has now tested 213,181 people with a total of 266,694 tests carried out - 14,006 were done yesterday on 9,740 people.
In other news in the UK's ongoing coronavirus crisis:
  • The Queen has sent a message to Boris Johnson's fiancee, Carrie Symonds, and the Johnson family, saying they were in her thoughts and that she wished the Prime Minister a 'full and speedy recovery';  
  • 10 Downing Street's chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, is still working from home after entering self-isolation shortly after Mr Johnson did; 
  • World leaders and politicians around the globe rallied around Mr Johnson, who received well wishers from David Cameron, Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump;
  • Health experts have warned that the PM's admission to intensive care means he is 'extremely sick' and he is 'likely' to end up needing a ventilator; 
  • A statistical projection by the University of Washington suggests the UK could become the worst-hit country in Europe, with 66,000 people dying, because it doesn't have enough intensive care beds;
  • Research by University College London said closing schools would have a limited impact on the spread of the virus, but government adviser Professor Neil Ferguson rubbished the claim.

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