NEWS
16/03/2020 18:28 GMT | Updated 16/03/2020 19:01 GMT

Coronavirus Outbreak: 55 People In The UK Have Now Died After Testing Positive For Disease

Update comes after PM urged the country to end all non-essential contact, work from home and avoid pubs, clubs and theatres.

See the latest stories on the coronavirus outbreak.

Some 55 people have now died after testing positive for Covid-19 in the UK, the government has said.

The total number of deaths in England has risen to 53, NHS England said.

There has also been one death in Wales and one in Scotland bringing the total number of deaths in the UK to 55.

It represents a further 19 people dying since the last update 24 hours earlier.

Across the UK, 1,543 people have tested positive for Covid-19, up from 1,372 at the same time on Sunday. However, many thousands more are estimated to have been infected.

About 170,000 people have been infected by Covid-19 across the world and more than 6,500 have died.

Making a statement in the Commons on the coronavirus outbreak, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the pandemic is “the most serious public health emergency that our nation has faced for a generation”.

He added: “The measures that I’ve just outlined are unprecedented in peacetime. We will fight this virus with everything we’ve got.

“We are in a war against an invisible killer and we’ve got to do everything we can to stop it.”

It comes after Boris Johnson urged the country to end all non-essential contact, work from home and avoid pubs, clubs and theatres.

The prime minister set out the need for “drastic action” to tackle the “fast growth” of coronavirus across the UK as increased social distancing measures are introduced for the population.

As part of the measures, anyone living in a household with somebody who has either a persistent cough or fever must now also isolate themselves for 14 days.

All people should avoid gatherings and crowded places, while people who are vulnerable – including those who are elderly – will need to undertake even more drastic measures.

In other developments:

– A prison officer at HMP High Down, south London, has tested positive for coronavirus;

– Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organisation (WHO), urged countries to “test, test, test” every case. This is in contrast to what is happening in the UK, where only the most serious cases are now being followed up;

– Pulse magazine reported that some GP practices have been supplied with expired face masks that have concealed “best before” stickers;

– Children who develop a continuous cough or fever at school should be sent home with suspected coronavirus, new guidance says;

– The universal free TV licence for over-75s will end on August 1 instead of June 1, because of the coronavirus outbreak, the BBC announced;

– Hancock said there had been an “enthusiastic response” to the Government’s request for factories to aid in the production of additional ventilators;

– Flight schedules have been slashed by British Airways’ parent company IAG and easyJet. Virgin is also making cuts;

– A petition for all doctors and nurses in the UK to be tested for coronavirus if they show symptoms has gained thousands of signatures.