Coronavirus Death Toll Rises To 26,097 With Care Homes And Community Fatalities

The new figures, taking into account deaths in all settings rather than just hospitals, were released on Wednesday.

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Coronavirus has been linked to 26,097 deaths in the UK to date, figures published for the first time today reveal.

The total – now including deaths in care homes and the community – means the UK has one of the highest fatality rates in Europe.

Previously, the government only released the number of deaths in hospitals that had been newly reported each day, though some of those are backdated as much as a month.

The new death toll was released by Public Health England and was correct as of 5pm on Tuesday, the government said.

It represents 3,811 more deaths than those previously counted in hospitals for the same period.

While the UK now has one of the highest overall death tolls in Europe, taking into account population the performance of the UK is comparable to Italy and France, and better than Belgium and Spain.

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HuffPost UK
HuffPost UK

Of the deaths, a PHE spokesperson said: “Around 70% were outside hospital settings and around 30% were in hospital. The additional hospital deaths have been identified through PHE’s laboratory system and were not reported to NHSE.”

Asked if deaths could have been avoided if there had been better testing and screening for care home residents, Raab said there was “always learning in an unprecedented crisis like this that we will want to feed back in”.

He added: “The key thing above all is to manage the ebb and flow of people into those care homes that might carry the virus, and that of course includes family members and friends, it includes people that are working in more than one care home setting, it includes NHS staff.

“So on top of testing and PPE [...] I think that is probably the single most important aspect.”

It comes with the government under pressure to lift some social distancing restrictions to kickstart the economy when the lockdown is reviewed next week.

There are signs that adherence to the lockdown is fraying, with the use of vehicles at its highest daily level since March 23.

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“We really have to be vigilant that most people are making huge efforts to stay at home and save lives,” said PHE medical director Yvonne Doyle.

“This is slightly worrying, so please do stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.

“Go out for the necessities and the transport data will reflect that.”

Raab said it was vital the UK proceeds “carefully” in lifting lockdown measures as he pointed to the transmission rate in Germany, which was thought to have risen on Tuesday before reportedly falling again on Wednesday.

He said: “Having relaxed restrictions in Germany over the last week, they have seen a rise in the transmission rate of coronavirus. [...]

“This is a very real risk and it is vital we proceed carefully, guided by the scientific advice, so that our next step through this crisis is a sure footed one.

“We mustn’t gamble away the sacrifices and the progress that we have made – we must continue to follow the scientific evidence and we must continue to take the right decisions at the right moment in time.”

Earlier, Michael Gove suggested ministers could lift restrictions on outdoor activities and businesses first, as the virus spreads more easily indoors.

He told the Commons public administration committee: “One thing we know is that the disease spreads more easily indoors, so work out of doors – and we’re already encouraging people to support the agriculture sector, whether that’s construction or, indeed, as a number of people have outlined, sales from garden centres – it might be able to take a differentiated approach in that way.

“But, again, I don’t want to pre-empt the judgement which is made across government.

“The prime minister has got to sign off on this, the cabinet has got to agree, but these are the sorts of common sense conversations people are having in public, so I hope I am not jumping the gun.”

Deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van Tam confirmed that the evidence suggested coronavirus spreads less easily outside but played down the prospect of an imminent return to outdoor activities.

He said ventilation and people being more spaced out contributed to making it harder for the virus to spread.

Asked whether that could allow the return of Parkrun events, the opening of garden centres, beach trips or drinking in pub beer gardens, Van-Tam warned that the virus will return if lockdown measures are not eased very carefully.

“These are complex and, at various different points, they might involve a congregation of individuals and one has to be very painstaking and very careful about thinking through some of these before we make the wrong move to relax measures,” he told the No.10 briefing.

“We have to be extremely sure-footed and extremely painstaking about this. This virus will absolutely come back.”

The reason for the discrepancy with the new official UK figure was not immediately clear. The government has described the new number as “confirmed deaths”, which may suggest it only includes people who have actually tested positive for Covid-19 rather than all those who have displayed symptoms.

PHE medical director Yvonne Doyle appeared to accept this, saying the figure for deaths in care homes may be revised upwards further.

She told the No.10 briefing: “We may expect more than we are seeing at the moment, yes.”


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