England, Scotland and Wales have recorded 887 more coronavirus deaths today, taking Britain’s total to 7,984 as its coronavirus crisis rumbles on.
The grim tally is considerably smaller than the devastating 938 announced yesterday but still represents the second biggest surge since the epidemic began almost six weeks ago.
NHS England announced 765 more fatalities in its hospitals among patients aged between 24 and 103, taking England’s total to 7,248.
The Scottish Government announced this afternoon that 81 more people had died there, taking the national total to 447, and Wales confirmed a further 41 fatalities, increasing its own number of victims to 286.
A full update from the Department of Health, including the number of new positive tests, is expected this afternoon.
Experts say it is still too soon to see the impact of the UK’s lockdown in daily statistics – deaths announced today mostly took place days or weeks ago.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon spoke out about the UK’s lockdown today and said there is ‘no possibility’ that it will end any time soon.
The Government was expected to review its social distancing timescale on Monday but this has been delayed on account of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s illness.
Mr Johnson remains in intensive care at St Thomas’ Hospital in central London. He is said to have had a ‘good night’ and to be ‘continuing to improve’ on his fourth day.
In other COVID-19 developments in Britain today:
Mr Johnson is ‘continuing to improve’ in intensive care, and he has been sitting up ‘engaging’ with medical staff treating him at St Thomas’ hospital;
A respected think-tank has warned that a million people could end up with long-term health conditions as a result of the economic hit from coronavirus lockdown;
The Bank of England has extended the government’s Ways and Means provision – effectively its overdraft;
New figures show the economy had effectively flatlined before the coronavirus crisis hit with 0.1 per cent growth in the three months to February;
It has emerged that MPs have been offered an extra £10,000 in expenses to help them and staff work from home;
EU officials have accused the UK government of being in ‘fantasy land’ by insisting the Brexit transition period cannot be extended beyond December;
Mr Johnson was admitted to hospital on Sunday after his fever carried on for more than 10 days and has since been given oxygen therapy to help him breathe.
His spokesman said today: ‘The PM had a good night and continues to improve in intensive care at St Thomas’s. He is in good spirits.’
In a round of interviews earlier, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said Mr Johnson was doing ‘reasonably well’.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is now de facto leader of the Government and is standing in as deputy while Mr Johnson recovers from his illness.
Mr Raab will keep Government running, potentially for weeks, but there are concerns about a power vacuum at a moment when the country needs strong leadership.
The PM had been expected to lead a discussion next week about the progress of the UK’s lockdown and considerations of when it might end, but it looks as if he will now be unable to.