The UK has announced 936 more deaths from the coronavirus today, taking the total number of fatalities to 7,095.
NHS England has confirmed 828 more people have died in its hospitals, aged between 22 and 103 years old.
Scotland, where 77 more deaths have been confirmed, also diagnosed a further 336 infections in the past 24 hours.
And Public Health Wales announced 284 more citizens had tested positive and 33 deaths had been reported. Five more deaths were recorded in Northern Ireland.
The total number of people who have tested positive for the virus across the UK currently adds up to more than 55,000, but the true scale of the outbreak is unknown.
When the death tolls of all four UK countries are combined the total number of fatalities is 7,172.
But because the statistics are recorded differently in each nation, numbers announced by the Department of Health each day are lower.
The Department’s all-UK roundup statistics are expected later this afternoon.
Experts warn that people should take the daily death tolls announced by governments as a guide rather than a concrete number for each day.
Many of the fatalities announced each afternoon happened days or weeks ago, and many of the people who have actually died in the past 24 hours will not be counted in the numbers for days or weeks to come.
University of Oxford’s Professor Jim Naismith said yesterday: ‘The current methods of reporting… has become unhelpful and distracting in evaluating the progress of the pandemic.
‘The swings in numbers that we are seeing are emotionally draining; hope one day and despair the next.’
He said the numbers of new positive tests and hospitalisations were a more accurate picture of the day-by-day situation, because there is no time delay on those.
A total 704 new cases were diagnosed in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the past 24 hours. England’s statistics, which account for the bulk of the numbers for Britain, will be published later this afternoon.
In recent days they have been reasons to be cheerful, with the 3,634 cases diagnosed yesterday the lowest for a week. For the past seven days the number has remained relatively stable at around 4,000 per day.
Today’s statistics come as Downing Street confirmed that the Government will not consider bringing an end to the UK’s lockdown next week.
Next Monday will mark three weeks since Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged the entire country to stay at home.
Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, is standing in for Boris Johnson and said it is too soon to consider ending the UK’s lockdown and that the country must keep its foot on the pedal
Chief scientific adviser to the Government, Sir Patrick Vallance, said last night that official statistics were starting to show ‘the beginning of change’ for Britain but it would still be at least a week until a clear picture of the epidemic emerged.
Mr Raab stressed at the daily Downing Street briefing last night that authorities could not consider easing the lockdown restrictions until it was clear the peak of the epidemic had passed and it could be ‘responsibly done’.
BORIS JOHNSON ‘RESPONDING TO TREATMENT’ IN INTENSIVE CARE UNIT
Boris Johnson is ‘stable and responding to treatment’ after his second night in intensive care, it was revealed today.
Downing Street delivered slightly more positive news about the PM’s condition amid claims his fever has finally dropped.
Mr Johnson’s official spokesman said he continues to receive ‘standard oxygen treatment’ and is ‘breathing without any other assistance’ – making clear he is not on a ventilator.
‘The Prime Minister remains clinically stable and is responding to treatment,’ the spokesman said.
‘He continues to be cared for in the intensive care unit at St Thomas’s Hospital. He’s in good spirits.
No10 confirmed that the PM has not been doing any work, although they said he has been in contact with aides.
There are fears that even the best outcome from his coronavirus struggle will see him out of action for weeks, with experts warning he could need a ‘phased return’ to work.
There are also questions about the PM’s care while he was in isolation, amid suggestions he was not physically monitored and only consulted a doctor by video link.
There are claims that social distancing rules were being flouted in Downing Street as the crisis developed, with meetings in cramped rooms and people coughing freely. Epidemiologist Neil Ferguson was among the first frequent visitor to become infected.
Tory MPs are calling for a review of the premier’s medical arrangements, saying the lack of protection has been ‘exposed’ by the latest crisis.
The UK leader has starkly different health support than in the US, where the president has a dedicated medical team and emergency facilities constantly on standby.
Downing Street confirmed the review would take place later than the three-week mark originally committed to by Mr Johnson on March 23 – which meant by Easter Monday.
However, the emergency legislation laid before Parliament three days after the PM’s announcement states that a review must take place every 21 days, with the first deadline being April 16.
Pressed on when the review will happen, health minister Edward Argar told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘When the scientific advice is such that we appear to have gone over the peak and it is safe to do so.’
London Mayor Sadiq Khan warned that an easing of the restrictions could be a long way off. ‘I think we are nowhere near lifting the lockdown,’ he told the BBC.
‘We think the peak, which is the worst part of the virus, is still probably a week and a half away.’
WHO regional director for Europe, Dr Hans Kluge, said in an update that relaxing lockdown too early would be ‘dangerous’.
‘We still have a long way to go in the marathon and the progress we have made so far in fighting the virus is extremely fragile,’ he said.
‘To think we are coming close to an end point would be a dangerous thing to do. The virus leaves no room for error or complacency.
‘Any shift in our response strategy, relaxing of lockdown status or physical distancing measures requires very careful consideration.’
But a minister told the Times that reopening schools should be one of the first moves in easing then lockdown.
Experts have said the closures are likely only to have a limited effect on the spread, and mean much of the workforce are tied up with childcare.
‘We need to be led by the science, of course,’ the minister said.
But if we can reopen schools after the Easter holidays things could begin to get back to normal. It could kick-start the economy.’
There was cautious optimism from chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance last night that the fight against COVID-19 ‘could be moving in the right direction’.
Sir Patrick said there were signs that the rates of new infections and new hospital admissions for COVID-19 were ‘flattening off’.
But he added it would be another ‘week or so’ before they could be sure, indicating lockdown measures would not be eased before then.