Britain announces 205 more coronavirus deaths – the lowest daily tally in six weeks

Britain has suffered a further 205 coronavirus deaths – the lowest figure in more than six weeks since March 26.

The official death toll for the UK is now 31,792. But it’s likely to be far higher in reality due to a delay in gathering death certificates.

The glimmer of hope comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepares to formally announce the next stage of the lockdown at 7pm tonight. 

Limits on outdoor activities are expected to be among the first thing to relax from tomorrow – but Government ministers have insisted there will be no major changes.

Downing Street today has attempted to defend the decision to ditch the blanket ‘stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives’ slogan for an ambiguous ‘stay alert, control the virus, and save lives’ line.

The softer approach has already attracted a backlash with leaders in Scotland and Wales refusing to abandon the familiar ‘stay at home’ strategy. 

It comes amid warnings from scientists that thousands more lives will be lost to the pandemic. One study estimates 100,000 Britons could be lost to the killer infection by the end of the year if the crisis is not controlled.

And a separate study estimates 700,000 people will die in Britain as a result of the COVID-19 and the lockdown measures used to control it – more than in the Second World War. 

On another pivotal day in the all-consuming crisis:

  • Mr Johnson is expected to confirm that garden centres will be allowed to open from Wednesday and publish guidance for safer working in offices – but tougher fines of up to £3,000 for breaches of the rules;
  • Airports and travel companies reacted with fury to plans to impose two weeks’ quarantine on anyone arriving in the country, including UK citizens returning from holiday;
  • The UK death toll rose by 346 to 31,587, including more than 200 healthcare workers. Globally there have been almost 4million cases with more than 276,000 lives lost so far;
  • Ministers voiced suspicion that political opponents and union barons were colluding to block schools reopening until pay demands were met, in a group they described as ‘The Blob’;
  • A poll has found Britons believe the government has handled the crisis worse than other major countries apart from the US; 
  • Mr Jenrick revealed that 40 per cent of Isle of Wight residents, around 50,000 people, have downloaded the NHS coronavirus tracking app in the first week; 
  • Statistician Professor David Speigelhalter has branded the government’s use of figures ’embarrassing’, saying test numbers were being misrepresented and the public was not being treated with ‘respect’. 
The PM is expected to drop the slogan 'stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives' in a televised address to the UK tonight at 7pm in an effort to reopen parts of the economy (pictured, new government pandemic slogan)

The PM is expected to drop the slogan 'stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives' in a televised address to the UK tonight at 7pm in an effort to reopen parts of the economy (pictured, new government pandemic slogan)

The PM is expected to drop the slogan ‘stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives’ in a televised address to the UK tonight at 7pm in an effort to reopen parts of the economy (pictured, new government pandemic slogan)

NHS England today confirmed 178 more people had died in its hospitals, – 148 have occurred in the past three days. The rest date back as late as March 17.

It brings the total number to 23,149 in hospitals alone. More fatalities that have happened outside of hospitals, including in care homes and private houses, will be announced by the Department of Health later today.

Patients were aged between 32 and 98 years old. Twelve of the patients, aged between 58 and 95 years old, had no known underlying health condition. 

The number of tests that have been conducted will also be revealed later. But figures show the 100,000 daily testing target has been missed for a week straight.


Nine in 10 people do not want the lockdown to ease immediately – with 50 per cent happy to stay off work if they are getting paid or receiving government subsidies.

As Boris Johnson prepares to unveil his ‘exit strategy’, a poll found just 4 per cent believe the draconian restrictions should start to be lifted now, and another 7 per cent were not sure.

Some 44 per cent would prefer later in May, while the same proportion say next month or beyond. 

The Deltapoll research for the Sun on Sunday also found half of Britons say they are happy to stay off work as long as they are getting paid or receiving government subsidies, while 25 per cent said they would prefer to return to work if there was a risk to their company or of job cuts.

Just 11 per cent said they wanted everyone to o back to work now. 

Meanwhile, a separate survey by Opinium has given a warning sign to ministers, suggesting the public believes the response to the crisis has been worse in the UK than France, Italy and China.

The research found 29 per cent think the UK has handled the situation worse than Italy and Spain. Over half 52 per cent believe the German response has been better. 

Just 96,878 swabs were carried out in on May 8- down slightly from May 7th’s 97,029.

Scotland, meanwhile, announced a further 10 fatalities, and 12 more people died in Wales along with five in Northern Ireland.

These figures include deaths in community settings, but health officials do not provide a clear breakdown of how many fatalities occurred in each setting. 

Britain now has the second highest death toll in the world, after the US where 79,700 people have succumbed to the pneumonia-causing virus. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will address the nation tonight at 7pm and is expected to unveil a new DefCon-style five stage system to describe the country’s outbreak condition. 

But he has already been forced to defend his ‘exit plan’ amid a furious backlash at dropping the powerful ‘stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives’ slogan.

Instead, a new ‘stay alert, control the virus, and save lives’ mantra will be pushed out by officials, which has attracted backlash and caused confusion among the public and leading politicians. 

The PM took to Twitter to clarify the new advice after Nicola Sturgeon condemned ditching the stay-at-home line that has brought the country to an effective standstill since March 23. 

The First Minister said she had not been informed about the change, and insisted the simple guidance would stay in force in Scotland whatever the PM says. Wales also indicated it would still tell people to stay at home. 

Ms Sturgeon, who will attend a Cobra meeting later to sign off the changes, has previously warned that ditching the clear and simple advice will be ‘potentially catastrophic’.  

Researchers predict social distancing measures until 2024 in order to beat Covid-19 if a vaccine is not discovered.

However, if Britain is plunged into a recession as a result, more than 675,000 could die from the virus, poor healthcare and impoverishment over the next five years, experts warn.

A study led by Philip Thomas, a Professor of Risk Management at the University of Bristol, produced the figure which is higher than the approximately 525,000 civilian and military personnel from Britain who died in the Second World War. 

Professor Thomas told the Sunday Express: ‘Poverty kills just as surely as the coronavirus.’ 

It comes after the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) received warnings that there could be 100,00 coronavirus deaths by the end of the year if measures are relaxed too far and too fast.

A study by experts from the London School of Tropical Hygiene and College London modelled different approaches to ‘evaluate which were viable and which were not’ and reportedly concluded there was ‘very limited room for manoeuvre’. 

Today’s deaths mean a total of 1,857 patients have succumbed to the virus in Scotland.  

The Scottish Government said 13,486 people have now tested positive for the virus in Scotland, up by 181 from the day before. 

Public Health Wales announced its total death toll now stands at 1,111 and infections 11,344 – up by 223 in 24 hours.  

All of the home nations except England add fatalities in all settings, including care homes, to their overall tally. 

Delays in death reports, uncounted victims who died at home or in care homes, and a refusal to count anyone who hasn’t been tested mean the daily death counts are not the most accurate measure of how many people are being killed by the illness. 

Although the overall UK death toll collected by the Department of Health and Social Care stands at 31,792, the real figure is far higher.

The Office for National Statistics says that up until April 24, there were 29,710 deaths across all settings in England and Wales that involved COVID-19.

At the time, a further 2,219 people had died in Scotland, according to National Records Scotland, and 393 in Northern Ireland, its statistics agency, NISRA, shows. This was a total of 32,322. 

The number is 42 per cent higher than the count announced by the Department of Health at the time – 22,173 fatalities.

How the government’s DefCon style five stage alert system for the UK’s coronavirus outbreak could work


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