UK coronavirus hospital death toll passes 20,000

Country becomes fifth country to officially hit grim milestone – once described by as a ‘good result’ by NHS England chief

Andy Gregory
Saturday 25 April 2020 16:01
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Prof Stephen Powis stresses importance of social distancing after UK passes 20,000 coronavirus deaths

Coronavirus has now claimed more than 20,000 lives in UK hospitals, official figures show.

A further 813 deaths were announced by the Department of Health (DoH), bringing the number of hospital fatalities to 20,319.

NHS England said 711 people had died in hospital, with Public Health Wales reporting 23 deaths and the Scottish government an additional 47.

It is less than a month since NHS England medical director Stephen Powis warned keeping the number of UK deaths below 20,000 would be a “good result” – contradicting projections at the time forecasting nearly a quarter of that number of lives would be lost.

The UK is now the fifth country in the world to pass the grim milestone of 20,000 confirmed deaths, following Italy, the US, France and Spain.

However, the true figure is likely to be far higher when accounting for those in care homes and the wider community, which are not revealed until days later as a result of how they are recorded.

The home secretary Priti Patel, holding the government’s daily coronavirus press conference, said: “As the deaths caused by this terrible virus pass another tragic and terrible milestone, the entire nation is grieving.”

The Department of Health also revealed that on the first day of all key workers being made eligible for testing, just 28,760 tests were carried out – less than a third of the 100,000 daily target set for Thursday.

Some 46,000 people applied for tests on Friday, transport secretary Grant Shapps revealed at that evening’s briefing, however the government’s allocation of 5,000 home test kits had run out within two minutes of the site going live at 8am.

The official application website was closed hours later after the 15,000 appointments for drive through tests were also snapped up, forcing the DoH to apologise “for any inconvenience”.

Dr Simon Eccles, deputy CEO at NHSX, said an “amazing team who worked all night” enabled the website to reopen on Saturday, adding: “If we’d waited until we had the full 100k, to launch, no one would have had a test today.”

NHS England medical director Stephen Powis told BBC Breakfast that testing capacity on Saturday would be at 50,000.

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