Coronavirus: UK daily deaths drop to pre-lockdown level

Coronavirus: UK daily deaths drop to pre-lockdown level

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The UK has recorded its lowest daily rise in the number of coronavirus deaths since before lockdown on 23 March, latest government figures show.

A further 55 people died after testing positive with the virus as of 17:00 BST on Sunday, taking the total to 40,597.

This included no new deaths announced in both Scotland and Northern Ireland for the second consecutive day.

However, there tends to be fewer deaths reported on Mondays, due to a reporting lag over the weekend.

The number of new UK cases on Monday – 1,205 – is also the lowest number since the start of lockdown.

On the day lockdown began, 23 March, there was a rise of 74 deaths.

The UK is only the second country – after the US – to pass the milestone of 40,000 deaths.

The welcome drop in deaths being announced is encouraging news.

But they come with a big caveat – there are always delays recording fatalities over the weekend.

Last Monday there were just over 100 new deaths announced, but other days last week topped 300.

Nonetheless, it does show that progress is being made. Two Mondays ago there were more than 120 deaths and in the week before that, 160.

During the peak of the virus there were more than 1,000 deaths a day.

The challenge now will be making sure the figures stay low as restrictions are eased.

There were no new deaths reported from London hospitals for the second day in a row. However, NHS England that it was aware of a “small number” of people who had died over the weekend and they would be included in figures in the next few days.

In Wales, three more deaths were announced.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the virus was “in retreat” but she also struck a note of caution, warning the virus could still “roar back with a vengeance” and told the most vulnerable Scots, who are shielding, that the time frame for this is being extended to 31 July.

Stormont has agreed that all shops in Northern Ireland can reopen from Friday, provided that social-distancing measures can be observed – most retailers in the Republic of Ireland opened on Monday.

On average, a total of about 1,600 people a day die of all causes in the UK. What is not known about the coronavirus deaths being reported is to what extent those deaths are on top of that figure or part of it.

Many of the victims are old and frail people with underlying health conditions, who therefore are at the highest risk of dying.

Experts predict there will be significant overlap between the coronavirus deaths and those that would normally be expected to die.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which counts death certificates mentioning the virus, suggests those deaths had reached more than 48,000 by 22 May.

The government is continuing to look at easing lockdown restrictions with reports that pubs could reopen on 22 June and places of worship might be allowed to open for private prayer from 15 June.

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