Coronavirus: UK death toll passes 20,000 after another 813 people die

Personel walk outside the NHS Nightingale field hospital in London (Picture: Getty)

The UK has surpassed 20,000 coronavirus deaths after another 813 people died in hospitals.

The Department of Health (DoH) confirmed as of 5pm on Friday, of those hospitalised in the UK who tested positive for COVID-19, 20,319 have died.

On 17 March, the government’s chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance said that keeping the death toll below 20,000 would be a “good outcome in terms of where we would hope to get”.

Britain has the fifth-highest official coronavirus death toll in the world, after the United States, Italy, Spain and France. 

Read more: NHS doctor urges stop stealing from hospitals during coronavirus pandemic

A medical worker tests a NHS worker at a drive-in testing station at Haydock Park Racecourse in Merseyside (Picture: Getty)

England reported 711 new deaths, Scotland 47 and Wales 23, in their latest stats.

Scientists have said that the death rate will only start to decline quickly in another couple of weeks.

The total number of deaths is likely to be thousands higher once more comprehensive but lagging figures that include deaths in nursing homes are added.

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As of 10 April, the hospital toll underestimated deaths by around 40%.

Stephen Powis, the medical director of the National Health Service (NHS) in England, declined to give a new number, but told BBC Radio: “It will take some time, it may take many years, before the full effect of the pandemic is known in this country.”

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As the death toll rises, the government is facing growing criticism over its response to the pandemic.

It was slower to impose a lockdown than European peers and is struggling to raise its testing capacity.

There are concerns that limited testing could mean a slow exit from lockdown and a worse hit for Britain’s economy, the world’s fifth largest.

The government’s target of hitting 100,000 tests per day by the end of April is just days away. Reaching it would require a big leap from the 28,532 tests carried out on 23 April, the last day for which data is available.

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