Coronavirus deaths in UK pass 30,000 after 649 more people die

Medics pictured wearing PPE outside a hospital in London

A further 649 people diagnosed with COVID-19 have died in the UK, taking the overall total to 30,076.

The figure released by the Department of Health is for coronavirus-related fatalities in all settings, including hospitals, care homes and the community, as of 5pm on Tuesday.

There have been 331 new deaths in hospitals in England, bringing the total to 22,049.

In Wales, 21 more people have died after testing positive for coronavirus, taking the total number to 1,044.

In Northern Ireland, 14 further coronavirus deaths have been reported, bringing the total number of fatalities to 418.

In Scotland, there have been 83 further deaths, with the total now 1,703.

Meanwhile, the weekly number of coronavirus deaths in Scotland has fallen for the first time.

There were 523 deaths relating to COVID-19 registered between 27 April and 3 May, a decrease of 135 from the previous week of 20-26 April, according to the National Records of Scotland.

It comes a day after the UK became the European country with the highest number of deaths, passing Italy.

Experts have urged caution over international comparisons as countries record COVID-19 deaths differently.

In the Commons on Wednesday, Boris Johnson was challenged by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer over accusations the government had been slow to respond to the outbreak.

The prime minister set a new 200,000 daily testing target and said he "bitterly" regretted the COVID-19 crisis in care homes.

He also expressed frustration about problems supplying personal protective equipment (PPE) to health workers.

Mr Johnson said the route out of lockdown will rely on a 'test, track and trace' programme to quickly identify new coronavirus cases and prevent the further spread of the infection.

The UK could "get going" with the easing of some lockdown measures from Monday, he signalled.

The prime minister suggested a "phase two" plan for tackling coronavirus now that infection numbers have peaked might come into force the day after he gives an update on the lockdown on Sunday.

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Deaths in hospitals are falling, but the government has struggled to get a grip on the crisis in care homes - where some of the most vulnerable people risk contracting the disease.

Mr Johnson said: "There is an epidemic going on in care homes which is something I bitterly regret and we have been working very hard for weeks to get it down."

He added that "a huge amount of effort has been gone into by literally tens of thousands of people to get the right PPE into care homes, to encourage workers in care homes to understand what is needed."

He said there had been a "palpable improvement" in the situation in care homes in recent days.

Sir Keir said "clearly there are ongoing problems" with PPE and "it is obvious that this problem is going to get even more acute if and when the government ask people to return to work" as more people will need it to do their jobs.

The Department of Health's fatality figures only include people who have tested positive for COVID-19.

An alternative measure is from the Office for National Statistics, which is based on all mentions of COVID-19 on a death certificate, including suspected COVID-19.

The ONS has said 29,710 deaths involving COVID-19 were registered in England and Wales up to 2 May.

Together with the latest equivalent numbers for Scotland (2,795 deaths registered up to 3 May) and Northern Ireland (393 deaths registered up to 29 April), it means a total of 32,898 deaths involving COVID-19 have now been registered across the UK.