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Coronavirus UK: Death toll hits 33,614 with 428 new fatalities

Britain’s daily COVID-19 death toll dropped again today as the outbreak continues to slow, as officials announced 428 more victims – the lowest jump on a Thursday since the end of March.

Official figures released by the Department of Health show 33,614 coronavirus patients have now died across all settings in the UK, including hospitals and care homes, since the crisis began.

But the count is known to be inaccurate because it only takes into account lab-confirmed cases. Separate figures suggest Britain’s real death toll – already the highest in Europe – could be in the region of 50,000.

Health chiefs also revealed a further 3,446 Britons have tested positive for COVID-19, meaning the official number of cases recorded in the UK has topped 233,000 – but the real size is also a mystery.

Ministers have no idea about how many people have been struck down since the outbreak began because of the controversial decision to abandon mass-testing before it spiralled out of control.

But the results of a pilot study today show an average of 148,000 people in England had coronavirus at any given time between April 27 and May 10 – 0.27 per cent of the population.  

The virus is not spreading as quick in London as it is in the North East of England, scientists have warned. The R number – deemed crucial to suppressing the outbreak – is twice as low in the capital (0.4). 

In other developments today:  

  • Statistics have shown April was the quietest month ever for A&E departments across England;
  • Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has been accused of blackmailing after threatening to cut TFL services unless the PM agrees an emergency bailout of £2billion by the end of today;
  • Boris’ Johnson’s school reopening plans are in chaos as top scientific adviser admits there is ‘low confidence’ pupils cannot spread coronavirus;
  • Nine out of ten UK firms shut down because of coronavirus believe they can restart again within three weeks;
  • Jeremy Hunt today condemned the failure to deploy coronavirus tests on patients discharged into care homes;
  • British health chiefs finally announced they had found a commercial antibody test with 100 per cent accuracy and are planning to buy millions of the kits from Swiss company Roche.

More than 2,000 people have now died in Scotland after testing positive for coronavirus, Nicola Sturgeon said at her daily briefing, with 34 more announced from the past 24 hours. 

Public Health Wales announced a further 10 deaths, totalling 1,164 in the country, and Northern Ireland a further five, equalling 454. 

The remaining 379 deaths occurred in England, which include all settings. NHS England announced 207 deaths from hospitals.

Patients were aged between 33 and 100 years old. Six patients, aged between 35 and 95 years old had no known underlying health condition, meaning they were considered healthy before the virus. 

Deaths have been very slowly falling over the past few weeks since the peak struck in mid-April, with fewer fatalities reported in hospitals and care homes every day. 

APRIL QUIETEST MONTH FOR A&E AS PATIENTS ‘AVOID HOSPITALS’ 

April was the quietest month ever for A&E departments across England, NHS statistics have revealed.

Only 916,581 emergency department visits were recorded in the month that Britain’s coronavirus crisis peaked – the first time on record the number has dipped below one million.

The number of times people sought emergency help fell by more than half in just two months as COVID-19 gripped the nation.

People have been avoiding hospitals out of fear of adding extra pressure to the NHS or catching the virus while they’re in the hospital, doctors say.

Medics warn the massive change in behaviour is a ‘ticking time bomb’ which may result in more people ending up seriously ill or dying in the near future because they avoided getting medical help when they needed it.

There are also concerns that people with cancer will be delayed casualties of the crisis, with urgent referrals for treatment for the disease down eight per cent on last year.

Some 181,873 urgent cancer referrals were made by GPs in England in March 2020, down from 198,418 in March 2019.

Urgent breast cancer referrals showed a bigger drop – down from 17,137 in March 2019 to 12,411 in March 2020, a fall of 28 per cent.

NHS England, which published the figures, said the falls were ‘likely to be a result of the COVID-19 response’ – an indication that people have been staying away from A&E departments because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The number of people being admitted to hospital beds through A&E also fell sharply last month, down 39 per cent from 535,226 in April 2019 to 326,581 in April 2020.

This is the lowest number reported for any calendar month since current records began.  

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The Government death tally only counts people who have tested positive but has been rationing tests for months.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) includes everyone who has COVID-19 mentioned on their death certificate, regardless of whether they were tested for it. 

Figures suggests the true number of coronavirus victims in Britain is likely over 44,000 and almost 40 per cent higher than the Department of Health’s statistics show.  

At least 50,000 more people than usual have died in Britain since the coronavirus outbreak began, statistics show, known as ‘excess deaths’.  

They take into account not just people who have died of COVID-19 but also those who died without a doctor ever noticing they had the virus, people who died as a result of hospital disruptions, and those who died because of indirect effects of the outbreak.

ONS has recorded 45,777 more deaths than normal since the beginning of March in England and Wales. Adding data from Scotland and Northern Ireland pushes this total to 50,979, the Financial Times reported.   

The backdated ONS data shows almost 10,000 care home residents have died of coronavirus in Britain, accounting for a quarter of all the country’s victims. 

Researchers at the London School of Economics suggest care home deaths could be more in the region of 22,000.

The care home scandal continues to flare as politicians rally and question the Government’s response to the outbreak in the early days.  

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt today condemned the failure to deploy coronavirus tests on patients discharged into care homes.

He insisted checks on patients sent back to care homes was an obvious ‘thing that needed to happen’.

The criticism came after an row between Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer and Boris Johnson which started at PMQs yesterday.

Sir Keir ambushed Mr Johnson by quoting official guidance that had been in place until March 12 – well after coronavirus had started being transmitted in the UK – that said it was ‘very unlikely’ care home residents would become infected with Covid-19.

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt (pictured today) said an 'over-focus' on the risk of a flu pandemic meant the government had not thought about the need for wide-scale screening

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt (pictured today) said an 'over-focus' on the risk of a flu pandemic meant the government had not thought about the need for wide-scale screening

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt (pictured today) said an ‘over-focus’ on the risk of a flu pandemic meant the government had not thought about the need for wide-scale screening

Mr Johnson accused the opposition leader of ‘selectively and misleadingly’ citing the document after the bruising exchange. 

The document published at the end of February did state it was not likely there would be infections in care homes because, at that stage, there was no evidence of community transmission. 

The advice was withdrawn on March 13, by which time there had been 31 coronavirus-related deaths in England, including one in a care home, according to the ONS.

The issue continues to fall back to caps on testing. NHS chiefs have revealed that it was only on April 15 – after the UK outbreak peaked – that enough capacity was in place to test ‘systematically’ everyone discharged from hospital. 

Although they say only a ‘very small number’ of asymptomatic patients would have been sent to social care without being checked, the error has been likened to taking death straight into care homes where extremely vulnerable people live. 

A Cabinet minister acknowledged the coronavirus crisis in care homes was ‘absolutely terrible’.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick told BBC Radio 5 Live: ‘I don’t deny that what is happening in care homes is absolutely terrible. It’s a huge challenge. But we are trying to put as much support as we can around care homes.’

Office for National Statistics data showed yesterday that 8,315 people have died in care homes in England and Wales with coronavirus listed on their death certificate. But researchers at the London School of Economics suggest this is only around 41 per cent of the total, which could be more like 22,000

Office for National Statistics data showed yesterday that 8,315 people have died in care homes in England and Wales with coronavirus listed on their death certificate. But researchers at the London School of Economics suggest this is only around 41 per cent of the total, which could be more like 22,000

Office for National Statistics data showed yesterday that 8,315 people have died in care homes in England and Wales with coronavirus listed on their death certificate. But researchers at the London School of Economics suggest this is only around 41 per cent of the total, which could be more like 22,000

WHY ARE THERE SO MANY DIFFERENT DEATH COUNTS?

Here is a guide to the different ways coronavirus-related deaths are counted and reported: 

Deaths of people in the UK who have tested positive for Covid-19 

Current total (as of 5pm May 14): 33,614 

This is the number of deaths announced each day by the Government. 

It is the number of people in the UK who have died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community after testing positive for Covid-19.

It is based on the number of deaths reported to the Department of Health & Social Care by the four nations of the UK, regardless of when the deaths took place. 

The day-on-day change in this number is not a measure of how many deaths have occurred in the previous 24 hours, but instead the number of deaths reported since the previous total was announced. 

Deaths involving Covid-19 registered in the UK 

Current total: 38,773 

This is the number of deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on death certificate, including suspected cases. 

Figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show 35,044 deaths involving Covid-19 occurred in England and Wales up to May 1 (and had been registered up to May 9). 

The latest figures from the National Records of Scotland showed 3,213 deaths involving Covid-19 had been registered in Scotland up to May 10. 

The latest figures from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, also published last week, showed 516 deaths involving Covid-19 had been registered in Northern Ireland up to May 1, including those registered up to and including May 6.

Together these figures mean that so far 38,773 Covid-19 deaths have been registered across the UK.  

Excess deaths in the UK for the period of the pandemic 

Current total: over 50,000

The latest figures from the ONS show that 108,345 deaths were registered in England and Wales between March 21 and May 1. 

This was 46,494 more than the average for this period in the previous five years. 

Of these excess deaths, Covid-19 was responsible for 33,257, or 71.5 per cent. The remainder – excess deaths not linked with Covid-19 – might have been caused by factors connected with wider changes since the lockdown began: a reluctance by some people to visit a doctor or a hospital, for instance, or the result of long-term health conditions being made worse by having to remain at home.

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Meanwhile a Government testing survey suggests up to 222,000 people in England may be infected with the coronavirus right now.

The survey, of which this is the first set of data, will be ongoing as part of the Government’s ‘test, track and trace’ plan for getting out of lockdown.

The first round of random tests of 10,000 members of the public has identified only 33 positive cases of COVID-19 – an estimated national infection rate of 0.27 per cent. This suggests that 148,000 people had the virus at any given time between April 27 and May 10, with the estimate ranging from 94,000 to 222,000.  

The 33 people who tested positive came from 30 different households, suggesting they either lived alone or most had managed not to infect the people they lived with. It is not known whether the people had realised they were ill before they were tested.

Numbers announced today did not include anyone who was tested in a care home or a hospital, where the statisticians said ‘rates of COVID-19 infection are likely to be higher’. 

During the time period of the study, 66,343 people were officially diagnosed. 

The rate of infection is six times higher in healthcare workers and carers than it is in the general population. In patient-facing healthcare and resident-facing social care roles, 1.33 per cent tested positive for Covid-19. 

It comes as the World Health Organisation regional director for Europe Dr Hans Kluge warned the UK was one of the top 10 countries reporting consistently high coronavirus cases over 24 hours. 

During a virtual briefing, he said: ‘Across the European region we’re seeing an overall slowing of the pandemic. But this remains a time of sorrow for many.’

Research published today shows the coronavirus is infecting people twice as fast in the North East of England than it is in London. 

Public Health England and Cambridge University found crucial reproduction rate, known as the R, is just 0.4 in the capital.

But in the North East and Yorkshire, the R – the average number of people each COVID-19 patient infects – is thought to be hovering at around 0.8. 

In the Midlands, the value is believed to be 0.68, but in the South West it is thought to be around 0.76. The R is 0.71 in the East of England, 0.73 in the North West and 0.71 in the South East.

It is vital the R number – which is thought to have been between 3.5 and 4 at the start of the crisis – stays below 1, otherwise the outbreak will start to rapidly spiral again as people infect others around them at a faster rate. 

London was formerly the UK’s coronavirus epicentre and at least two million people are thought to have been infected there, according to estimates.

But yesterday, it was revealed that eight out of 10 of areas with the highest infection rates in Britain right now are in northern parts of England.

The small industrial town of Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, has an infection rate of 882 cases per 100,000 – almost double that in Brent (419), the worst-hit part of London. 

Barrow’s infection rate is more than double that of Wales (365), triple England’s (244) and Scotland’s (251) and quadruple the rate recorded in Northern Ireland (220). 

Experts say the lower R in London may be because there are more white collar jobs in London, therefore more employees were able to work from home and isolate from others.

Or it could be because around 15 per cent of residents in the capital have now had the disease already and have built up immunity, which would slows the spread of the virus.

The coronavirus is infecting people twice as fast in the North East of England than it is in London, real-time tracking of the reproductive 'R' rating shows

The coronavirus is infecting people twice as fast in the North East of England than it is in London, real-time tracking of the reproductive 'R' rating shows

The coronavirus is infecting people twice as fast in the North East of England than it is in London, real-time tracking of the reproductive ‘R’ rating shows

Official figures show at least 552 people in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, have caught COVID-19 since the outbreak began in February. That gives the small industrial town of 67,000 people a rate of 882 cases per 100,000 - or 0.88 per cent - more than double that of Wales (365), triple England's (244) and Scotland's (251) and quadruple the rate recorded in Northern Ireland (220)

Official figures show at least 552 people in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, have caught COVID-19 since the outbreak began in February. That gives the small industrial town of 67,000 people a rate of 882 cases per 100,000 - or 0.88 per cent - more than double that of Wales (365), triple England's (244) and Scotland's (251) and quadruple the rate recorded in Northern Ireland (220)

Official figures show at least 552 people in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, have caught COVID-19 since the outbreak began in February. That gives the small industrial town of 67,000 people a rate of 882 cases per 100,000 – or 0.88 per cent – more than double that of Wales (365), triple England’s (244) and Scotland’s (251) and quadruple the rate recorded in Northern Ireland (220)

SADIQ KHAN ACCUSED OF BLACKMAILING FOR £2BLN BAILOUT 

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has been accused of blackmailing Boris Johnson after threatening to cut Tube, train and bus services unless the PM agrees an emergency bailout of £2billion by the end of today.

Mr Khan has claimed that Transport for London will go bust unless the Government hands over cash to fill the £4billion black hole coronavirus has left in its finances because of an 80 per cent plunge in income from fares, advertising and the congestion charge.

TfL was already losing millions each month before the coronavirus and is billions in debt after Mr Khan’s decision to freeze fares every year since he was elected in 2020. He has also been accused of being too soft on militant transport unions and having the worst average strikes record of any Mayor.

Industry sources have claimed TfL is losing £600million a month during the crisis and wants £2billion in taxpayer-funded support even though bosses have £1.2billion in their cash reserves.

Mr Khan told LBC: ‘Being blunt, today is the last day. Unless the government today gives us confirmation of the grant that we need, the consequences could be quite severe and the implications for all of us will be huge. The only way to balance the books is to cut services’.

Former Tory minister Stephen Hammond, MP for Wimbledon, told MailOnline: ‘An extraordinary remark. He is threatening the health of Londoners by saying this sort of thing. We need to get the networks, the Tube and the London suburban network back up to full capacity. the mayor should concentrate on running as big a service as possible so people can travel socially distanced and in as responsible a way as possible.’

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It supports preliminary data from the Government run study, which suggests around 10 per cent of Londoners have tested positive for antibodies.

This means around 900,000 people in the capital have developed some form of immunity to the virus.   

Around 8,000 people are estimated to have died in London – giving COVID-19 a death rate of 0.89 per cent in London. 

In the Downing Street press conference last night, Sir Patrick Vallance said overall the rate of people who have antibodies across the whole of Britain is around 4 per cent. 

Sir Patrick Vallance has previously said around 60 per cent of the population need to catch the virus to build up a national tolerance to curb the spread.  

It comes as health chiefs finally announced they had found a reliable antibody test after several weeks of hunting for one. 

Plans to roll-out the game-changing kits flopped after ministers couldn’t find a test good enough – but Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche’s has reportedly passed the test. 

Experts are hopeful these people could be immune from catching the infection again for up to three years. But currently, the evidence on how long immunity lasts is not clear.

Ministers are now in talks with Roche to buy millions of the kits, which officials today announced would be given to NHS and social care workers first before being rolled out more widely. 

Questions were today asked about why it took Public Health England so long to approve the test – 10 days after US regulators gave the ‘game-changing’ kit the green light.

One top scientist admitting it took ‘longer than it should’ and another warning ‘every day counts’ during a pandemic.

Meanwhile, on Britain’s second day ‘back to work’, there were more grim scenes on the Tube and buses this morning as people crammed onto limited services. 

Meanwhile, on Britain's second day 'back to work', there were more grim scenes on the Tube and buses this morning as people crammed onto limited services

Meanwhile, on Britain's second day 'back to work', there were more grim scenes on the Tube and buses this morning as people crammed onto limited services

Meanwhile, on Britain’s second day ‘back to work’, there were more grim scenes on the Tube and buses this morning as people crammed onto limited services

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (pictured in Downing Street in March) has launched an extraordinary attack on Boris Johnson and also warned he will cut Tube, train and bus services unless the PM agrees an emergency bailout by the end of today

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (pictured in Downing Street in March) has launched an extraordinary attack on Boris Johnson and also warned he will cut Tube, train and bus services unless the PM agrees an emergency bailout by the end of today

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (pictured in Downing Street in March) has launched an extraordinary attack on Boris Johnson and also warned he will cut Tube, train and bus services unless the PM agrees an emergency bailout by the end of today 

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has finally announced that he will increase Tube services in London to 75 per cent of normal on Monday.

But he has been accused of blackmailing Boris Johnson after threatening to cut Tube, train and bus services unless the PM agrees an emergency bailout of £2billion by the end of today.

Mr Khan told LBC: ‘Being blunt, today is the last day. Unless the government today gives us confirmation of the grant that we need, the consequences could be quite severe and the implications for all of us will be huge. The only way to balance the books is to cut services’.

Former Tory minister Stephen Hammond, MP for Wimbledon, told MailOnline: ‘An extraordinary remark. He is threatening the health of Londoners by saying this sort of thing. 

‘We need to get the networks, the Tube and the London suburban network back up to full capacity. the mayor should concentrate on running as big a service as possible so people can travel socially distanced and in as responsible a way as possible.’

There has also been anger over Mr Khan’s comments on LBC this morning, with one listener saying: ‘He is trying to blackmail the government and yes he is prepared to use the health and safety of London’s key workers as collateral for a bailout of his transport service’, while another critic tweeted: ‘It’s blackmail – just as people start to return to work’. 

Mr Khan has claimed that Transport for London will go bust unless the Government hands over cash to fill the £4billion black hole coronavirus has left in its finances because of an 80 per cent plunge in income from fares, advertising and the congestion charge.   

Pavements around London Bridge station were busy this morning as more and more people headed into work this week

Pavements around London Bridge station were busy this morning as more and more people headed into work this week

Pavements around London Bridge station were busy this morning as more and more people headed into work this week

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