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Coronavirus UK: Death toll hits 33,998 with 384 new fatalities

British officials have today announced the deaths of 384 more coronavirus patients, including a 15-year-old, across the UK.

This takes the nation’s total death toll to 33,998 and marks the lowest seven-day total (2,757) since the week ending Friday, March 27.

It comes as data from the University of Cambridge and Public Health England has suggested that around 12 per cent of all people in England – 6.6million – have had the virus already and recovered without being tested.

Separate statistics published today by the Office for National Statistics showed that the coronavirus killed more people than cancer, dementia and heart disease combined in April, resulting in the deaths of 27,764 people.

They show that 33,841 people died with the coronavirus between March 1 and April 30 in England and Wales – this is higher than the Government’s official figure because it counts people even if they haven’t been tested, which the Department of Health doesn’t. 

The virus is still believed to be spreading faster in care homes than in the general community and the peak of residents’ deaths caused by COVID-19 appears to have peaked later than it did in hospitals, suggesting they will continue for longer. 

A testing survey of more than 5,000 homes yesterday led officials to predict that there are currently somewhere between 94,000 and 222,000 people infected with the virus in the UK. 

And its reproduction rate is widely believed to be lower than 1 across the country – except perhaps in care homes and hospitals – meaning the outbreak will continue to shrink unless lockdown is loosened too fast.

NHS England today announced that 186 more people had died in its hospitals with the coronavirus, including a 15-year-old. 

The 15-year-old has become the 13th person under the age of 20 to die in an NHS hospital since the outbreak began.

The oldest patient in today’s statistics was 99 years old and 10 of them, aged between 30 and 94, had been healthy before they was diagnosed with the virus.   

All the patients confirmed today had died since April 10. 

Scotland announced 46 more people had died in its hospitals, along with 15 in Northern Ireland and nine in Wales.

Almost 230,000 people have been officially diagnosed with the viral disease but the true scale of Britain’s outbreak is considerably larger, with government officials suggesting up to 6.6million are likely to have caught it in England alone.  

WEEKLY COUNT IS LOWEST SINCE MARCH 

Counting the total coronavirus deaths announced between a Saturday and Friday, today’s death toll marks the lowest seven-day total since the week the lockdown began:

March 21 – March 27: 967 deaths

March 28 – April 3: 3,300 deaths

April 4 – April 10: 6,299 deaths

April 11 – April 17: 6,119 deaths

April 18 – April 24: 5,913 deaths

April 25 – May 1: 4,718 deaths

May 2 – May 8: 3,731 deaths

May 9 – May 15: 2,757 deaths  

An analysis by Cambridge University and Public Health England (PHE) suggested the disease could be eradicated in the capital within weeks at the current rate of transmission. 

And their data – which was fed into No 10’s scientific panel, SAGE – estimated up to 20 per cent of Londoners have already been infected. The rate across England is thought to be around 12 per cent.  

But the same data also showed the crucial R rate – the average number of people an infected patient passes the virus on to – in London, as well as every other region had already fallen before lockdown on March 23. 

It suggested the government’s social distancing measures introduced a week before, which saw public transport use plummet and millions of Brits work from home instead of risk travelling, slowed the crisis.

The Cambridge-PHE data prompted some MPs to urge the government to commit to lifting lockdown on a region-by-region basis, with one urging ministers to consider it because ‘it makes sense from a health perspective’. 

Data shows COVID-19's ability to spread was already severely hampered in London before lockdown was introduced, and it suggested that social distancing measures introduced the week before worked, with millions of Londoners avoiding public transport and opting to work from home. This graph shows the number of daily deaths recorded in NHS hospitals in London (red bars) against the estimated R rate (blue line)

Data shows COVID-19’s ability to spread was already severely hampered in London before lockdown was introduced, and it suggested that social distancing measures introduced the week before worked, with millions of Londoners avoiding public transport and opting to work from home. This graph shows the number of daily deaths recorded in NHS hospitals in London (red bars) against the estimated R rate (blue line)

The data also broke down the ‘attack rate’ – the number of people infected in total – for each of the regions in England, saying that around 12 per cent of England had caught the virus in total. They say London has been the hardest-hit region, with around 20 per cent of the capital having caught the disease since Britain’s outbreak began to spiral out of control, followed by the North West (14 per cent). In the Midlands and the North East and Yorkshire, the rate is estimated to be 11 per cent. While the team say around one in ten people in the East of England have already had COVID-19. The rate is just 8 per cent in the South East and even lower (5 per cent) in the South West

Other data published yesterday, by the Office for National Statistics, saw officials estimate that around 148,000 people currently have the coronavirus in Britain.

The first round of random public testing identified only 33 positive cases of COVID-19 out of a sample of 10,705 people and estimated a national infection level of 0.27 per cent – one in every 370 people.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer for England, said at yesterday’s Downing Street briefing that the data represented ‘really quite a low level of infection’ in the community.

This suggests that 148,000 people had the virus at any given time between April 27 and May 10, that figure being the middle estimate between a low of 94,000 and high of 222,000. During that time 66,343 people were officially diagnosed.

VACCINE HOPE AS TRIALS SHOW SUCCESS IN MONKEYS 

Hopes a coronavirus cure could be on the horizon were raised today after a vaccine developed in Britain showed promising signs in trials on monkeys.

The University of Oxford’s experimental jab strengthened the immune system in six rhesus macaques without causing any side effects.

Within 28 days of being vaccinated, all of the animals had COVID-19 antibodies – produced by the body to give it some immunity from the virus.

Researchers said the primates were able to fight off the virus before it penetrated deep into their lungs, where it can become deadly.

The promising results come as human trials of the Oxford University vaccine are already underway, with results expected in a month’s time.

Scientists commenting on the study have described the findings as ‘very encouraging’, but warn it does not guarantee the same results in humans.

They found a single vaccination dose was also effective in preventing damage to the lungs in the study on monkeys and mice.

Some of the animals showed antibodies to the virus within two weeks, but all of them had the virus-fighting molecules within 28 days.

The researchers found viral loads in the lower respiratory system were significantly reduced in the animals given the vaccine.

The data covers only a two-week window does not account for how many people may have had the virus and recovered since the outbreak began.

It found the rate of infection is six times higher in healthcare workers and carers than it is in the general population, the survey found. 

While 1.33 per cent of people who worked in patient-facing roles in hospitals or homes tested positive for the virus, only 0.22 per cent of those with other jobs did so.

The numbers announced did not include anyone who was tested in a care home or a hospital, where the statisticians said ‘rates of COVID-19 infection are likely to be higher’.

Most official testing, which has picked up a total of 233,151 positive cases over the entire outbreak is being done in hospitals and care homes.   

ONS data is soon expected to publish antibody data showing how many people have had the infection already but does not currently have enough data for a reliable estimate.

The current survey, of which this is the first set of data, will be ongoing as part of the government’s ‘test, track and trace’ plan for getting out of lockdown and will be expanded to regular testing in more than 10,000 households. 

How deadly the virus really is remains unknown but it is killing huge numbers of people with other health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and dementia.

Office for National Statistics data today showed that COVID-19 has become the leading cause of death in England and Wales, killing people at almost triple the rate of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

In England in April it killed 587 in every 100,000 people, compared to 209 per 100,000 for dementia and 85 for heart disease. 

The Office for National Statistics today revealed that COVID-19 was the leading cause of death in England and Wales in April by a considerable margin - it killed people at almost three times the rate of dementia and Alzheimer's disease

The Office for National Statistics today revealed that COVID-19 was the leading cause of death in England and Wales in April by a considerable margin – it killed people at almost three times the rate of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

The virus, which causes pneumonia, has killed more people in just two months than long-term lung diseases did in the entire of 2018, the ONS said.  

The ONS’s data shows that 33,841 people died with the coronavirus between March 1 and April 30 in England and Wales. 

LOCKDOWNS COULD BE EASED REGIONALLY AS DATA SHOWS 24 PEOPLE A DAY CATCHING  VIRUS IN LONDON

Lockdowns could be eased regionally, Number 10 today admitted on the back of promising data that suggested just 24 people a day are being struck down with the coronavirus in London.

Downing Street’s official spokesperson revealed some of the government’s strict measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 could be eased ‘at different rates in different parts of the country’.

It comes after an analysis conducted by Cambridge University and Public Health England (PHE) experts suggested the disease could be eradicated in the capital within weeks at the current rate of transmission. 

And the data – which was fed into No 10’s scientific panel SAGE – estimated up to 20 per cent of Londoners have already been infected. The rate across England is thought to be around 12 per cent.

But the same data also showed the crucial R rate – the average number of people an infected patient passes the virus on to – in London, as well as every other region had already fallen before lockdown on March 23. 

It suggested the government’s social distancing measures introduced a week before, which saw public transport use plummet and millions of Brits work from home instead of risk travelling, slowed the crisis.

The Cambridge-PHE data prompted some MPs to urge the government to commit to lifting lockdown on a region-by-region basis, with one urging ministers to consider it because ‘it makes sense from a health perspective’. 

In response to the speculation, Number 10’s official spokesperson said: ‘The roadmap that we set out does talk about the fact that we will be responsive to local infection rates and to the other data which is available and that it could lead to some of the measures being eased at different rates in different parts of the country and at the same time it could lead to some measures being re-imposed in different parts of the country but not others.’ 

Leading scientists today described the study – based on death data from PHE, NHS England and regional health officials – as ‘robust’ but admitted any projections for the future are likely to rise drastically because the current model does not take into account the government’s decision to slightly ease the lockdown last Sunday.

One epidemiologist argued it was ‘extremely unlikely’ the number of new cases in London – the hardest-hit part of England – had dropped to as low as 24 and another called for officials to be transparent with the data, arguing it was ‘not clear’ from the available documents how the group had come to their estimates. 

Downing Street was today told to ditch its ‘we-know-best attitude’ and publish more secret evidence underpinning its coronavirus response, with the data being released by Cambridge and not PHE. 

Number 10 has been repeatedly criticised over the course of the COVID-19 outbreak over an apparent reluctance to release the scientific evidence its experts have provided. Conservative MPs today questioned what other vital information was being kept secret as they demanded a change in tack.

Of those patients, 95 per cent (32,143) were killed directly by the virus, it said, which was on par with the total number of deaths from long-term lung disease – such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – in the whole of 2018.

In a normal year, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are the leading cause of death in England and Wales, accounting for around one in every seven fatalities (12.8 per cent). 

Dementia killed 69,748 people in 2018, according to past statistics from the ONS, and COVID-19 has killed almost half as many people in just two months. 

One in five of the COVID-19 victims in March and April (6,887) also had dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, showing how the virus is most devastating for the elderly and vulnerable. 

This has been most noticeable in the nation’s care homes, which care for around 400,000 people, approximately three quarters of whom have dementia.

More than a quarter of people to have died in care homes since the beginning of March – 12,526 out of 45,899 – have been linked to the coronavirus. 

Even the numbers of people dying without the virus have been pushed up as a result of the pandemic, the ONS figures show.

For example the number of ‘other deaths excluding COVID-19’ in care homes more than doubled on April 11 to 807 from 375 on the same day last year, with 437 coronavirus deaths on top of those.

Sally Warren, director of policy at The King’s Fund health think-tank, said: ‘The data indicates the grim toll the pandemic has taken on people living in care homes, revealing a 46 per cent increase in the total number of deaths amongst care home residents in England and Wales compared to the same period last year.

‘Whilst we can’t yet fully understand all the factors at play, this is yet another worrying finding that should keep our attention firmly on the crisis in our care homes.’     

The virus appears to have almost doubled the risk of dying for people living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. 

The ONS report said: ‘Compared with the five-year average, the rate of deaths due to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease was significantly higher in April 2020, at 208.9 deaths per 100,000 persons compared with 113.8 deaths per 100,000 persons for the five-year average.’  

Fiona Carragher, director of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: ‘These are horrifying figures for anyone with a loved one with dementia, and show for the first time the true toll of coronavirus.

‘Dementia is now the main underlying condition for COVID-19 deaths, accounting for one in five of total deaths. 

‘And beyond COVID-19, people have been dying from dementia at almost twice the usual rate.

‘Right from the start, action to address the challenge has been too slow – and our research this week has found many care homes are still struggling, with over 40 per cent still not confident in their PPE supply. 

‘We need an urgent plan from Government to guarantee safety and support in care homes, and ministers must now look at long term support for people with dementia living at home, and tackle isolation from friends and families. 

‘People with dementia are dying in unprecedented numbers, the Government must step in right now to prevent further tragedy.’ 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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