The UK has recorded another 563 coronavirus deaths today, marking the worst day so far for two days in a row.
The increase takes the country’s total death toll to 2,352 – a jump of almost a third overnight (31 per cent).
And 29,474 people have now tested positive for COVID-19. The UK is the fifth hardest-hit nation in Europe and eighth in the world.
Wales today recorded 29 new deaths caused by the coronavirus along with a further 16 fatalities in Scotland and two in Northern Ireland.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon this afternoon told Scottish Parliament the country’s COVID-19 death toll now stands at 76. It also declared 317 more cases, taking the number of infections to 2,310.
Today overtakes yesterday as Britain’s darkest day so far in the escalating crisis. Tuesday saw a then-record-breaking 381 deaths and 3,009 cases declared across the home nations.
Today’s numbers blew that out of the water with 563 deaths and 4,324 cases.
But the true size of the outbreak remains a mystery because of the UK’s controversial policy to only test patients in hospital – and not the tens of thousands of Britons with milder symptoms who are recovering at at home.
Research by Imperial College London has suggested that as many as one in 37 Brits – around 1.8million people – may already have caught the coronavirus and be unrecorded.
In other UK coronavirus news today:
- Banks threatened the future of up to one million firms who say they will go bust after being denied access to the Government’s emergency loan scheme;
- Couriers begged people to stop going on spending sprees online during the crisis, claiming they are delivering more non-essential parcels than ever before;
- Ministers were accused of ‘complacency’ and snubbing offers of help from labs as Boris Johnson struggles to get a grip on the coronavirus testing shambles.
- Scientists claimed the UK could already have had 1.8million coronavirus patients with one in every 37 people having caught the disease.
- It was revealed nearly one million Britons have tried to claim Universal Credit in the last two weeks as the pandemic batters the UK economy; and
- London Mayor Sadiq Khan again blamed commuters for packed Tube trains during the crisis as he was shown footage of the cramped conditions on live TV.
A paramedic is seen on the back of an ambulance at St Thomas’ Hospital in London today
There have been 1,853 known fatalities when individual tallies from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are counted.
The Department of Health releases an official UK tally every afternoon that takes into account deaths recorded before 5pm the previous day.
It means that some of the deaths recorded by the devolved nations are added in to the next day’s count, leading to a total higher than the DOH announces.
An exact breakdown of the numbers counted in the Department of Health’s release will be published later this afternoon, including a regional breakdown.
Speaking yesterday Professor Jim Naismith, from Oxford University, said: ‘We can’t forget that behind these numbers are awful personal losses.’
He added: ‘However, it does appear deaths from previous days are only now being reported, this will have artificially decreased the previous daily totals and have increased today’s totals.
‘Scientists have consistently warned that we cannot judge our progress in curbing the epidemic by a single day’s reported number of deaths.’
Today’s increase in fatalities means the UK now has almost three times as many patients dead as Germany does (800).
This is despite Britain having less than half as many confirmed cases (72,000).
Prince Charles today released a video following his own diagnosis of and recovery from coronavirus. He paid tribute to emergency services workers and shop staff and stressed the importance of living with hope
Coronavirus has now become a factor in at least one in every 100 deaths in the UK, according to data from the Office for National Statistics
The Office for National Statistics yesterday released data breaking down the types of people who were among the first 108 to die with the coronavirus in the UK, finding that most of them were elderly men
PRINCE CHARLES RELEASES VIDEO AFTER RECOVERING FROM CORONAVIRUS
Prince Charles today described the coronavirus pandemic as a ‘strange, frustrating and often distressing experience’ after recovering from the infection.
The 71-year-old Prince of Wales paid tribute to emergency services workers and shop staff in a three-minute video and stressed the importance of living with hope.
He also said it was ‘essential’ that key workers including NHS staff were ‘treated with special consideration’ when finishing their shifts and trying to go shopping.
The message, recorded this morning by staff at Birkhall, the Prince’s home in Scotland, marked his first appearance since coming out of self-isolation on Monday.
Today, Charles said: ‘Having recently gone through the process of contracting this coronavirus, luckily with relatively mild symptoms, I now find myself on the other side of the illness, but still in no less a state of social distance and general isolation.
‘As we are all learning this is a strange, frustrating and often distressing experience when the presence of family and friends is no longer possible and the normal structures of life are suddenly removed.
‘At such an unprecedented and anxious time in all our lives, my wife and I are thinking particularly of all of those who have lost their loved ones in such very difficult and abnormal circumstances, and of those having to endure sickness, isolation and loneliness.’
ln addition, Charles also praised those on the front line in the National Health Service, saying they needed the country’s support.
But the true number of patients in any country is unknown because testing isn’t widespread enough, according to scientists.
A paper published earlier this week by Imperial College London – by the same scientists who urged the Government to take push Britain into lockdown to save people’s lives – estimated that there could be 19million hidden cases across Europe.
In Spain a staggering one in every seven people – 7.5million citizens – are predicted to have had the COVID-19 illness already, along with 10 per cent of Italians.
Researchers at Imperial College, led by government adviser Professor Neil Ferguson, studied coronavirus outbreaks across Europe to predict their true sizes.
Professor Ferguson has been one of the foremost British experts since the outbreak began and it was his work that persuaded the Government to order a lockdown.
He and colleagues now suggest that an average of four per cent of people in 11 of the Europe’s wealthiest countries have been infected – some 19million people.
They made the predictions as an alternative to ‘highly unrepresentative’ official figures, which are based largely on tests done in hospitals.
Many millions of people are believed to have caught the virus and recovered at home, putting the infection tolls in the UK, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden, France, Austria, Denmark, Germany and Norway considerably higher than the World Health Organization total of 366,000.
Professor Ferguson and his colleagues wrote in their report: ‘The ECDC [European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control] provides information on confirmed cases and deaths attributable to COVID-19.
‘However, the case data are highly unrepresentative of the incidence of infections due to underreporting as well as systematic and country-specific changes in testing.
‘We, therefore, use only deaths attributable to COVID-19 in our model; we do not use the ECDC case estimates at all.’
Estimates from Imperial College London show 15 per cent of Spain’s population may already have been infected with the coronavirus. Graph shows Imperial College’s estimated infection rates (yellow bar) contrasted with each nations’ current death rates – how many of those officially diagnosed can be expected to die (red bar)
As well as considering how many people have died with the coronavirus in each country, the Imperial team also looked at what types of lockdown measures each country has brought in and when they started them.
The stricter and the sooner they began, the smaller proportion of people are likely to have become infected.
The country with the lowest estimated infections was Norway, where only 0.41 per cent of its 5.5million people are thought to have caught the coronavirus (approximately 22,400 people).
In Germany the rate of infection was thought to be 0.72 per cent (577,000 people), according to the data which was estimated for March 28.
Besides Spain and Italy, which had a combined estimate of around 13.6million people infected, no other country’s toll was higher than four per cent.
In Belgium it was thought to be 3.7 per cent (433,600 people); in Switzerland 3.2 per cent (269,000); Sweden 3.1 per cent (316,200); France 3 per cent (2.035million); UK 2.7 per cent (1.775m); Austria 1.1 per cent (97,400) and Denmark 1.1 per cent (64,500).
The official number of cases recorded in all 11 countries in the research is just 365,734, by comparison.
Writing in the paper, the team said: ‘We estimate that there have been many more infections than are currently reported.
‘The high level of under-ascertainment of infections that we estimate here is likely due to the focus on testing in hospital settings rather than in the community.
‘Despite this, only a small minority of individuals in each country have been infected…
‘Our estimates imply that the populations in Europe are not close to herd immunity (50-75%).’
The paper by Imperial College intended to work out how effective lockdowns and social distancing measures would be at protecting people.
It predicts that the lockdown in Italy – which has the highest death toll of any country in the world – may have saved 38,000 lives.
The study has not been reviewed by other scientists or published in a journal.
True number of UK coronavirus deaths could be 24% MORE than official figures: Government reveals 40 more people died outside hospitals up to March 20th compared with official death toll of 170 – and 93% were aged over 65
Patients who had COVID-19 mentioned on their death certificates numbered 210 in England and Wales up to March 20, the Office for National Statistics revealed.
This was 24 per cent higher than the 170 deaths recorded by NHS England and Public Health Wales during the same time frame.
If the ratio has stayed true since that time, the true current number of fatalities could be around 1,739 instead of the official 1,408.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has launched a new data series adding in the numbers of people who have died with or after having COVID-19 in the community, including those who died in care homes or their own houses.
Coronavirus was not necessarily the cause of death for every one of the patients, but was believed to have been a factor.
The statistics show that only one of the UK’s first 108 coronavirus victims was under the age of 44. 60 per cent of them were men and 93 per cent were aged over 65.
The data does not include Scotland or Northern Ireland – up to March 20, eight people had died in the those countries (six in Scotland, two in Northern Ireland), suggesting the true figure could have been 10.
Anyone who has the virus – for which at least 22,141 people have tested positive in the UK – mentioned on their death certificate will be included in the weekly statistics.
This adds to the daily updates coming from NHS hospitals around the country where adults of all ages are dying in intensive care units.
It comes after it was revealed that King’s College Hospital in London has had three times as many deaths as official figures show and there are concerns the true figure is days or even weeks behind because of how long it takes to confirm cases and get families’ consent to release details.
In France, senior officials have admitted they expect their national count is wrong because of delays and unreported deaths happening outside of hospitals.
Medical staff wearing protective equipment are pictured removing a patient from the back of an ambulance at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, which is at the centre of the UK’s coronavirus crisis
All ages of adults have died with coronavirus since the UK’s epidemic began earlier this year. No children have been killed by the illness and over-85s are the most frequent victims
The ONS showed that a total 210 deaths in England and Wales that occurred up to and including March 20 (and which were registered up to March 25) had COVID-19 mentioned on the death certificate.
This compares with 170 coronavirus-related deaths reported by NHS England and Public Health Wales up to and including March 20.
The majority of the deaths reported by health authorities around the UK have taken place in the 10 days since March 20.
During that period the fatality total has risen almost 10-fold from 177 to 1,408.
While statistics have until now only counted people dying in NHS hospitals, new counts will show any death that medics link to the virus, wherever it happens.
Death tolls around the UK are expected to soar in the coming days and weeks as people who caught the virus before the country was put into lockdown succumb to the disease.
It can take up to three weeks before somebody is killed by COVID-19, suggesting there could be another fortnight before the effects of last Monday’s travel restrictions start to show.
It has been one week since Britons were told not to go outside unless it was necessary.
As well as a delay between people catching the virus and dying, there can also be lags between someone’s death and it being officially announced.
NHS staff have to test critically ill patients more than once to confirm they have the disease, and must also notify the family and get consent to share details if they die.
Death statistics being shared by NHS hospitals have already shown time lags of 10 days or more.
Coronavirus has been linked to the largest proportion of deaths in London, but COVID-19 deaths have been recorded in all regions of England and Wales
The ONS’s data is showing a moving death count significantly higher than the one used in the daily Government updates, because it includes all people who have COVID-19 mentioned on their death certificate, whether or not they have been officially diagnosed or hospitalised
A refrigerated mortuary is pictured at the Nightingale Hospital in central London
A makeshift hospital has been set up in London at the ExCel London, the Nightingale Hospital, to cope with a surge in coronavirus patients
Paramedics wearing protective gear wheel a patient into an ambulance at St Thomas’ Hospital in London
A paramedic is pictured in the back of an ambulance at a hospital in London, which is at the heart of the UK’s fast-growing coronavirus epidemic
ENERGY FIRMS BATTLE STAFF SHORTAGES TO KEEP BRITAIN’S LIGHTS ON
Britons have been warned of the potential for blackouts amid concerns that staff shortages could lead to issues with the country’s power network.
Fears are growing that high levels of staff sickness during the coronavirus outbreak, mixed with the Government’s self-isolation rules, could lead to a shortage of engineers.
The National Grid insists that the network is able to cope.
But one electrical infrastructure firm has now written to some of its most vulnerable customers warning them to keep torches and warm clothes nearby in case of power cuts.
UK Power Networks, which owns and maintains the electricity cables in the South East and East of England, as well as London, has written to priority customers, including pensioners and those with young children, telling them what to do if their homes are hit with a power cut.
The advice, reported in The Daily Telegraph today, includes ‘keeping a torch handy’ and ‘reducing heat loss by closing doors on unused rooms’.
Customers are also advised to have a ‘hat, gloves and a blanket to hand to keep warm’ and, where possible, to keep a corded telephone in the house, as well as a power bank to recharge mobile phones.
The advice comes as many electricity firms across the UK put non-essential infrastructure work on hold.
Companies have also implemented emergency strategies to deal with the knock-on effects of Covid-19, which has infected more than 20,000 people in the UK.
The ONS stats come after the number of patients being treated in hospital for COVID-19 doubled in less than a week.
Head of the NHS, Sir Simon Stevens, said that more than 9,000 people were in hospital with coronavirus on Monday, up from 4,300 on Thursday.
Positive test numbers are still soaring – more than 10,000 people have been diagnosed in the past four days – but the death toll appears to be levelling off.
Down from the daily maximum of 260 deaths announced on Saturday, March 28, only 180 fatalities were recorded yesterday, Monday, March 30.
The ONS statistics about the nation’s first 108 deaths revealed that 73 per cent of them were over the age of 75.
They show that 59 per cent of the victims up to March 20 were male – a total of 64 out of 108 – while 44 women died.
Only one person under the age of 44 was counted among the fatalities and 73 per cent (79 people) were over the age of 75.
There were 45 deaths among over-85s; 34 deaths in the 75-84 age group; 21 deaths between 65 and 74; seven for 45 to 64-year-olds; and one between 15 and 44. There were none among children.
The single hardest-hit age group was men over 85, among whom there were 27 fatalities. There were 20 among men aged 75-84, and 18 for female over-85s.
London had the most deaths of any region, with 44 people succumbing to the disease – 41 per cent of the national total.
Second worst hit was South East England, with 19 deaths – the first recorded hospital death was in a woman in the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading.
And there were 16 deaths in the East of England. The North East and South West of England only recorded one death each, and just two happened in Wales.
The ONS’s statistics add an element of detail not provided in current figures from the NHS and Department of Health by keeping a running tally of people’s ages, sexes and location.
It also includes deaths which happen outside of hospitals, but does not clearly divide the data.
Commenting on the release, Professor David Leon, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: ‘What ONS has done is important as it starts to provide a more complete picture of the impact of COVID-19 on mortality.
‘However, deaths which have COVID-19 as a cause on the death certificate that occur among people who were not tested for COVID-19 may misclassify them as such.
‘On the other hand untested deaths that were precipitated by COVID-19 may still go unrecognised.’
Professor Keith Neal, from the University of Nottingham, added: ‘I support the reporting of new figures but there is now a danger of the death figures becoming increasingly difficult to interpret.
‘We now have figures for the UK, England and Wales and the four separate administrations.’