Britain announces more Covid-19 deaths

Britain today announced 77 more coronavirus deaths, taking the official death toll to 36,870 as sun-worshippers descended on parks and beaches today amid an expected 79F heatwave.

NHS England recorded 59 Covid-19 fatalities across hospitals. While Scotland declared three deaths in all settings, Wales seven and Northern Ireland eight. 

Department of Health bosses, who release the official daily toll every afternoon, have yet to confirm today’s final figure, which includes victims from all settings such as care homes. 

The preliminary tally – often much lower than the final count – is calculated by adding up all of the individual tallies of each of the home nations.  

Only 118 Covid-19 deaths were announced yesterday by officials, marking the lowest daily figure since lockdown was enforced on March 23 – the last time a double-figure daily death toll (74) was recorded. For comparison, the final figure announced last Monday was 160. 

But death numbers released on Sundays and Mondays are usually smaller due to a delay in processing fatalities over the weekend. 

In other developments to Britain’s coronavirus crisis today: 

  • Dominic Cummings will make a public statement to address claims he broke lockdown rules by travelling to Durham amid growing calls for him to be sacked;
  • Britons descended on parks and beaches amid an expected 79F heatwave as they declared, ‘If Dominic Cummings can break the rules, we can too’;
  • An NHS hospital in the Somerset seaside hotspot of Weston-super-Mare was forced to stop taking new patients due to a high number of coronavirus cases; 
  • Newsreader Simon McCoy slammed his BBC colleague Gary Lineker for abusing his position after the Match of the Day host accused the Prime Minister of lying;
  • Schools face a long journey before they are able to return to normal, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said as he insisted classes must restart on June 1.

Beach-goers enjoy the sunshine as they sunbathe on the beach and play in the sea at a packed beach today in Southend, Essex

Beach-goers enjoy the sunshine as they sunbathe on the beach and play in the sea at a packed beach today in Southend, Essex

Beach-goers enjoy the sunshine as they sunbathe on the beach and play in the sea at a packed beach today in Southend, Essex

CUMMINGS TO MAKE A PUBLIC STATEMENT TO ADDRESS FURY OVER HIS LOCKDOWN TRIP TO DURHAM 

Dominic Cummings will make a public statement this afternoon to directly address claims he broke lockdown rules by travelling to Durham, Number 10 confirmed, as Boris Johnson faces growing calls to sack his top aide.

Mr Cummings is expected to take questions about his conduct which has plunged the government into a state of crisis and has prompted furious calls for a formal investigation into the chief aide’s actions. 

The intervention came after one of Downing Street’s scientific experts said the ‘debacle’ over the lockdown journey had ‘fatally undermined’ the nation’s fight against coronavirus.

Professor Stephen Reicher, a member of the advisory group on behavioural science which feeds into SAGE, said the result of ‘undermining adherence to the rules’ will be that ‘more people are going to die’. 

Mr Johnson is facing an increasingly furious backlash from ministers, Tory MPs and even bishops after he yesterday attempted to mount an extraordinary defence of Mr Cummings.

Mr Johnson has effectively staked his political reputation on trying to protect Mr Cummings. One cabinet minister claimed the PM had ‘sacrificed his own credibility’ to ‘save’ Mr Cummings.

At a dramatic press conference in Downing Street last night, the PM claimed his aide had acted ‘responsibly, legally and with integrity’ while making a controversial 260-mile trip from London to Durham during lockdown.

Mr Johnson insisted Mr Cummings had ‘followed the instincts of every father’ by driving to his parents’ farm after his wife developed symptoms of coronavirus. But he refused to deny that while in the North East, Mr Cummings had driven 30 miles to go for a walk in the countryside in an apparent second lockdown breach.

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The figures published today by NHS England show April 8 continues to have the highest number for the most hospital deaths on a single day, with a current total of 891.

Of the 59 new deaths recorded in England’s hospitals, 47 occurred over the weekend. Five took place on Friday, while the remaining seven victims succumbed to the disease between May 16 and 21. 

It comes as Dominic Cummings will this afternoon make a public statement to directly address claims he broke lockdown rules by travelling to Durham, Downing Street confirmed. 

Mr Cummings is expected to take questions about his conduct which has plunged the government into a state of crisis and has prompted calls for a formal investigation. 

The intervention came after one of the government’s scientific advisers warned the ‘debacle’ over the lockdown journey had ‘fatally undermined’ the nation’s fight against coronavirus.

Professor Stephen Reicher, who is a member of the Government’s advisory group on behavioural science which feeds into SAGE, said the result of ‘undermining adherence to the rules’ will be that ‘more people are going to die’. 

Mr Johnson is facing a furious backlash from ministers, Tory MPs and even bishops after he yesterday attempted to mount an extraordinary defence of Mr Cummings, staking his reputation on trying to protect his aide. 

At a dramatic Downing Street press conference last night, the PM claimed Mr Cummings had acted ‘responsibly, legally and with integrity’ while making a controversial 260-mile trip from London to Durham during lockdown.

Mr Johnson insisted Mr Cummings had ‘followed the instincts of every father’ by driving to his parents’ farm after his wife developed symptoms of coronavirus. The PM’s defence of his aide prompted fury among Britons. 

Sun-worshippers descended on parks and beaches today for the Bank Holiday amid an expected 79F heatwave, which could see parts of the country basked in temperatures hotter than Athens, Nice and Barcelona.  

Friends Amy Louise Thomas, 20 and Elli Wilson, 20, enjoying the hot bank holiday weather on Formby beach in Merseyside this morning

Friends Amy Louise Thomas, 20 and Elli Wilson, 20, enjoying the hot bank holiday weather on Formby beach in Merseyside this morning

Friends Amy Louise Thomas, 20 and Elli Wilson, 20, enjoying the hot bank holiday weather on Formby beach in Merseyside this morning

NHS HOSPITAL IN WESTON-SUPER-MARE SHUTS A&E AND STOPS TAKING NEW PATIENTS 

Weston General Hospital in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, has stopped taking new patients due to 'a high number' already there with coronavirus

Weston General Hospital in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, has stopped taking new patients due to 'a high number' already there with coronavirus

Weston General Hospital in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, has stopped taking new patients due to ‘a high number’ already there with coronavirus

An NHS hospital in the Somerset seaside hotspot of Weston-super-Mare was today forced to stop taking new patients due to ‘a high number’ of coronavirus cases.

Weston General Hospital dramatically announced this morning that it could not take any more admissions, including into A&E.

Health chiefs do not know why the hospital has had an influx of Covid-19 cases, with bosses warning all hospitals have ‘frequent’ changes in admissions.

But questions were today asked over whether the blame may lie on crowds who have flocked to the town to enjoy the sun since lockdown was slightly eased. 

Thousands of people travelled to the South West and other coastal areas as soon as the government allowed nationwide travel again on May 13.

Weston-super-Mare’s mayor even admitted ‘you can’t rule it out’, when questioned if scores of Britons on the beach were to blame for the surge in cases. 

Furious Brits warned VE day celebrations on the beach on May 8 were ‘coming home to roost’, and one warned a second wave ‘rolling’ into the South West. 

It is not the first time hospitals have been overwhelmed amid the coronavirus crisis, which began to spiral out of control in mid-March.

One NHS hospital in London was forced to declare a ‘critical incident’ early on in the crisis, after running out of intensive care beds. 

Other hospitals in the capital have allegedly had to turn away coronavirus patients because they were running out of beds, according to staff.

Crowds formed outside the Serpentine in London’s Hyde Park, as beaches in Sussex, Essex and Dorset quickly filled up with visitors looking to enjoy the dry and sunny conditions forecast to last the whole day.

People in England are now allowed to travel for day trips but must stay at least six feet away from people who are not from their household, something that could be impossible in crowded areas. 

In other developments today, an NHS hospital in the Somerset seaside hotspot of Weston-super-Mare was forced to stop taking new patients due to ‘a high number’ of coronavirus cases.

Weston General Hospital dramatically announced this morning it could not take any more admissions, including into A&E.

Health chiefs do not know why the hospital has had an influx of Covid-19 cases, with bosses warning all hospitals have ‘frequent’ changes in admissions.

But questions were today asked over whether the blame may lie on crowds who have flocked to the town to enjoy the sun since lockdown was slightly eased.

Thousands of people travelled to the South West and other coastal areas as soon as the government allowed nationwide travel again on May 13.

Weston-super-Mare’s mayor even admitted ‘you can’t rule it out’, when questioned if scores of Britons on the beach were to blame for the surge in cases. 

It is not the first time hospitals have been overwhelmed amid the coronavirus crisis, which began to spiral out of control in mid-March.

One NHS hospital in London was forced to declare a ‘critical incident’ early on in the crisis, after running out of intensive care beds. 

Other hospitals in the capital have allegedly had to turn away coronavirus patients because they were running out of beds, according to staff.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson today admitted that schools face a ‘long journey’ before they are able to return to normal, and he insisted classes must restart on June 1 for the mental health of children.

He acknowledged there would be ‘initial nervousness’ from parents about releasing their children from the months’ long shutdown. But he said that on top of missing classes they were also missing ‘social interaction’ with their friends.

His emotional pitch to parents came after Boris Johnson has suggested non-essential shops could soon reopen and family ‘bubbles’ be extended in a further easing of lockdown measures this week.

Draconian measures put in place on March 23 to limit the spread of coronavirus were relaxed two weeks ago to allow households to meet one person from another in an outdoor space, so long as they remain two metres apart.

Britons were also permitted to partake in unlimited exercise, use outdoor sports courts and facilities and visit garden centres while pubs, restaurants and bars stay shut.

But the Prime Minister last night suggested measures could be eased again, after he claimed in the daily Downing Street news conference Britain was ‘in a position to move to Step 2’ of his roadmap to recovery.

Mr Williamson repeated the Government’s mantra of creating a ‘protective bubble’ around returning pupils when he appeared on BBC Breakfast.

He added: ‘Without the benefit of going to school they are really missing out, not just educationally. I’m sure we have seen it with our own children, they have spent so much time away from children of their own age, having those elements of social interaction.’

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