Coronavirus: UK cases rise to 1,543

No new fatalities announced within 24-hour period

Andy Gregory
Monday 16 March 2020 15:10
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The number of coronavirus cases confirmed in the UK has risen by 171 to 1,543, according to the Department of Health (DoH).

The official death toll remained at 35 as of 9am on Monday, the same number as 24 hours previously.

But shortly before Westminster’s daily 2pm update, Wales announced its first fatality – a 68-year-old with underlying health conditions being treated at Wrexham Maelor Hospital.

“I am deeply saddened that a person in Wales who had coronavirus has died. My heartfelt condolences are with their family and friends,” said the country’s first minister Mark Drakeford.

“We continue to work hard to respond to this fast-changing situation, as the impact of the virus continues to increase in the days and weeks ahead.”

Salisbury District Hospital also said on Monday afternoon that a man in his fifties with underlying health conditions, who died on 11 March, had since tested positive for Covid-19.​

Some 44,105 people had been tested for the virus in UK at 9am on Monday, the DoH said.

Wales – where there are now 124 confirmed cases – announced a further 30 people had tested positive on Monday.

Holyrood announced a rise of 17, bringing Scotland’s total to 171.

It comes as Boris Johnson prepares to hold a televised press conference on Monday following an emergency meeting of the Cobra committee.

Ministers are thought to be mulling banning mass gatherings and telling the elderly to self-isolate.

The prime minister has agreed to hold daily televised press conferences to update the public, following a wave of criticism relating to the government’s approach to the pandemic.

Much of the criticism centred around the public availability of the modelling and scientific advice informing the government's strategy.

Westminster is taking a different approach to other governments around the world, and appears to have chosen to try and lessen the impact of further waves of the pandemic by allowing it to move through the population in a controlled way in the hope that herd immunity will develop.

Meanwhile, Public Health England (PHE) has now shifted its focus from looking at close contacts of people who were infected to looking at outbreaks, such as those in care homes and prisons.

The UK will also still test patients requiring admission to hospital for pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome or flu-like illness.

As a result of this shift, many patients in the community who may have coronavirus will not appear in the official daily update.

Future projections of the course of the pandemic in the UK will rely on modelling to provide an estimate, with only a small sample of people actually being tested.

PHE says this is a "robust surveillance programme... which will help us to understand the level of virus circulating in the community."

The World Health Organisation has also said that not every case can be counted and will accept estimates based on available data of confirmed cases plus modelling.

Additional reporting by PA

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