UK coronavirus death toll exceeds 1,000 

The number of deaths from the coronavirus epidemic in the UK has exceeded 1,000, the Department of Health has announced.

As of 5pm on Friday, 1,019 people had died from the virus, up from 759 the previous day.

The rates of increase suggest Britain is on a similar trajectory to Italy and Spain, the worst-hit countries in Europe, which recorded 969 and 769 deaths on Friday, the deadliest day so far.

Alister Jack, the Scotland Secretary, is the latest cabinet minister to announce he is self-isolating after developing “mild” symptoms of coronavirus.

In a statement, he said: “In the past 24 hours, I have developed mild symptoms associated with coronavirus.

“In line with medical guidance, I am self isolating and working from home.” He has not been tested for the virus.

UK death toll from Covid-19 virus surpasses 1,000. Chart showing UK's vumulative number of deaths from coronavirus

The prime minister tested positive for coronavirus earlier this week. 

Boris Johnson was self isolating in Downing Street with only mild symptoms. No 10 has insisted he will continue to co-ordinate the government’s response to the crisis.

Matt Hancock, UK health secretary, also tested positive, while Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, was self isolating after displaying symptoms of the virus.

As of 9am on Saturday, a total of 17,089 people in the UK had tested positive. The government’s medical and scientific advisers have warned that the NHS will be stretched to its limits as the pandemic reaches its expected peak in the next two to three weeks. 

There has been criticism in recent weeks over the slow rollout of coronavirus testing for doctors, the shortage of much-needed ventilators and problems with the supply of protective equipment for medical staff.

On Friday ministers announced the NHS would begin coronavirus testing for staff from next week, after coming under intense pressure from critics for failing to carry out a wider testing programme for those working on the frontline of the crisis.

Work being carried out the ExCel centre in London, which is being made into a temporary hospital. © PA

Ministers have promised to increase the UK’s testing capacity to 25,000 samples per day by mid-April. They have also pledged an additional 100,000 per day for frontline NHS workers, but not confirmed a date.

The government came under fire on Friday for missing opportunities to acquire more medical ventilators through equipment suppliers and the EU.

Several companies have complained that offers were not taken up to provide some of the additional machines needed to save the lives of people with acute respiratory difficulties.

Officials said the government was going directly to manufacturers and working through Foreign Office channels. One aide suggested the idea was to purchase from the source rather than through intermediaries. British overseas embassies have even been asked to seek sources of medical equipment.


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