Some 6,159 COVID-19 deaths have now been confirmed by the government. This was up 786 from Monday’s death toll. The previous highest day-on-day increase was 708 on Saturday.
However, speaking at the government’s daily coronavirus press conference on Tuesday, Sir Patrick Vallance pointed to the reduced number of UK cases as he cautiously pointed to signs of progress.
Tuesday’s number of new cases – 3,634 – was the lowest for seven days. It was also a marked decrease from the highest daily number of 5,903 recorded on Sunday.
Sir Patrick said: “There is not that big upswing in growth that we talked about in the beginning. There is a fairly steady increase in numbers.
“It’s possible that we’re beginning to see the beginning of change in terms of the curve flattening a little bit.”
Latest coronavirus news, updates and advice
However, he also warned: “We won’t know that for sure for a week or so.
“But what we are not seeing is an acceleration. It’s important we keep the number of new cases down because this in turn leads to people going into hospital.”
Referring to hospital admissions, Sir Patrick added: “There hasn’t been the accelerated take-off and again it’s possible that we’re beginning to see the start of a change where we might see numbers flattening off.
“It does begin to suggest that things might be moving in the right direction in terms of numbers and it’s important that we carry on with the measures that we have got in place in order to make sure that this does go in the right direction.”
Sir Patrick said a major factor was a “substantial reduction” in the use of public transport and cars, which will have led to a decrease in community transmissions.
His comments came as Boris Johnson remained in intensive care at St Thomas’s Hospital in Westminster.
Dominic Raab says Boris Johnson is 'a fighter' and 'our friend'
The prime minister’s official spokesman said he was in a “stable” condition after his coronavirus symptoms had worsened on Monday.
Johnson was breathing without any other assistance, the spokesman said.
Dominic Raab, who has become the de-facto PM in Johnson’s absence and led Tuesday’s press briefing, said the cabinet has “very clear instructions” from Johnson while he remains in hospital.
Meanwhile, Michael Gove became the latest senior member of the government to be affected by COVID-19 as he went into self-isolation.
The Cabinet Office minister and chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said one of his family members was showing “mild symptoms”, though Gove said he wasn’t suffering any himself.
Gove is part of the government’s coronavirus “war cabinet” and therefore one of Number 10’s figureheads in its response to the crisis.