UK records biggest daily rise in coronavirus deaths

Alexandra Topping
Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters

The UK has recorded its biggest daily rise in the number of deaths so far in the coronavirus outbreak.

The UK hospital death toll rose by 563 to 2,352 on Wednesday, an increase of 31% on the total of 1,789 deaths reported the day before.

The Department of Health and Social Care said as of 9am on 1 April, a total of 152,979 people had been tested of whom 29,474 were diagnosed as positive – an increase of 4,324 on the previous day.

Wales recorded 29 new coronavirus-related deaths and there were a further 16 fatalities in Scotland and two in Northern Ireland.

As of 5pm on 31 March, of those treated in hospital in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus, 2,352 had died. On Tuesday, the previous record day, there were 381 deaths and 3,009 cases declared across the UK.

On Tuesday the medical director of NHS England, Stephen Powis, said “green shoots” of hope were emerging that physical distancing measures were beginning to work.

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But he warned: “It is really important not to read too much because it is really early days. We are not out of the woods, we are very much in the woods. So green shoots but only green shoots and we must not be complacent and we must not take our foot off the pedal.”

The government has faced criticism about the lack of testing available for NHS staff. Only 2,000 NHS frontline workers out of about half a million have been tested for coronavirus, despite up to one in four in some areas of the country being off work with suspected symptoms.

Coronavirus testing

Responding to criticism of the UK’s low testing numbers, No 10 said a “clear instruction” has been issued to hospitals to test as many staff as possible, with trusts allowed to decide how to split tests between workers and patients.

The latest figures reveal that only 500 tests a day are being carried out on doctors, nurses, paramedics and other medical staff.

Labour’s Richard Burgon tweeted: “Two weeks ago today Boris Johnson said at PMQs that coronavirus testing levels would increase to 25,000 per day. Two weeks on and the UK is averaging 7,500 tests per day. Enough time has been wasted. This needs sorting. Lives depend on it.”

Downing Street said the coronavirus testing capacity stood at 12,750 a day – but only 8,630 tests were carried out on Monday.