The death toll from the novel coronavirus in UK hospitals, care homes and the wider community rose by 315 to hit 28,446 on Sunday, the latest government figures revealed.
The latest figures indicate that the UK’s toll is now edging closer to that in Italy, one of the worst-hit countries in the pandemic where the figure stands at 28,710 this week.
UK Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove announced the figures at the daily 10 Downing Street briefing as he also confirmed that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be laying out a detailed plan next week to start easing the economy out of the current lockdown.
“We’re consulting with employers and unions, professionals and public health experts, to establish how we can ensure that we have the safest possible working environments, and the Prime Minister will be saying more,” the minister said.
He also confirmed a pilot in the Isle of Wight region of Britain of a new contact tracing app created by the digital arm of the state-funded National Health Service, NHSX, that could alert users when they have come into contact with someone who has coronavirus symptoms and should seek a Covid-19 test. After the pilot of the “test, track and trace procedures” on the island, the app is expected to be made more widely available later this month.
Gove went on to pay tribute to Muslims currently celebrating Ramzan during lockdown.
He said: “For those experiencing the first Ramzan without a loved one, this will be a particularly painful time.”
“As with Christians who could not celebrate Easter together in church, and the Jewish community whose Passover rituals were affected by social distancing, our thoughts are with Muslim neighbours who cannot break their fast together and must adapt their religious and cultural practices because of the crisis.”
Professor Stephen Powis, the National Medical Director of NHS England, who joined the minister at the daily briefing said the number of hospital admissions for coronavirus, as well as the number of occupied critical care beds were “continuing to fall” across the country.
He reiterated that the falling number of deaths also indicated that “we were past the peak of the virus” in the UK.