The number of people in the UK who have died with coronavirus has jumped by more than 100 in a day for the first time.The death toll has risen from 475 to 578, health officials have confirmed. A total of 104,866 people have been tested, of whom 93,208 tested negative and 11,658 were positive.Those latest figures come after Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled an aid programme to help the self-employed.The Department of Health said it was “revising its reporting approach” for coronavirus deaths.It said figures on deaths would now be recorded for the 24-hour period as of 17:00 the previous day.Wednesday’s figures – which reported 28 deaths – were not for a full 24-hour period. They covered only the eight hours from 09:00 to 17:00 on Tuesday.The government had been criticised for failing to provide backing for self-employed and freelance workers in its earlier huge package of economic measures.Meanwhile, in a further development, data collected via the NHS’s 111 telephone service is to be mixed with other sources to help predict where ventilators, hospital beds and medical staff will be most in need.The goal is to help health chiefs model the consequences of moving resources to best tackle the coronavirus pandemic.Earlier, a senior hospital figure warned that London hospitals are facing a “tsunami” of coronavirus cases and are beginning to run out of intensive care beds.Chris Hopson of NHS Providers, which represents hospitals, said while critical care capacity had been expanded hospitals in the capital had seen an “explosion” in demand.A third of the UK cases have been diagnosed in the city.
Ministers are being urged to step up testing for coronavirus, especially among health workers.Deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries was asked on Thursday why the UK did not order testing kits sooner.She said that “this is not an issue of a lack of foresight in planning, it is an unprecedented event”.Dr Harries added that “it is a brand new virus, so even to understand how you might test it you need to have the virus and understand a little bit about it before you can start”.
A glimmer of hope?It was just a brief moment in the daily press briefing, but deputy chief medical officer for England Dr Jenny Harries did offer some positive news.She said the coronavirus outbreak was “starting to move in the right direction”.Other countries who have been on a steep curve have seen the number of new cases rise by a third every day.But the UK trajectory is nowhere near that steep.Five days ago 1,000 new cases were reported. On Thursday 2,000 were.That may seem alarming, but if we had been on a steep upwards path today’s figures would have been twice as high. It suggests some of the early social distancing measures taken before the lockdown have maybe started to have an impact.We should be cautious. It is only a few days’ worth of data – and Dr Harries was clear we must not take “our foot off the pedal”.
In other developments:Clarence House said Prince Charles was “enormously touched” by the hundreds of get-well messages he received following his positive test for coronavirusThe UK has become the largest contributor to the international coalition to find a coronavirus vaccine after donating £210m in new aid funding, Downing Street saidAbout 170 Britons stranded in Peru have returned to the UK on the first government-chartered flightNumber 10 insists the government is on course to test 10,000 people a day by the end of the week, despite testing just 6,643 on WednesdayThe government extends its target for volunteers to help the NHS to 750,000, after an “amazing” 560,000 people signed up since Tuesday, Downing Street saysWorldwide, there are more than 470,000 recorded infections, and more than 21,270 deaths