Meanwhile London is likewise now recording more deaths per day than Wuhan, where COVID-19 first emerged, at a comparable stage, separate figures have shown. In total, 684 people in the UK died yesterday according the the Department for health, the worst tally so far, more than 100 up on previous day’s figure of 569. The analysis, put together by the Financial Times based on data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Worldometers and original research, suggests the daily death rates in both the UK and the USA are also poised to overtake Spain and Italy, Europe’s worst hit countries.
Unlike Spain and Italy, where the total death tallies are 14,681 and 11,198 respectively, there is no sign yet of the UK death rate slowing down.
A separate analysis also shows London is now witnessing more daily deaths than Wuhan, the Chinese city where the global pandemic first began, at the same stage of its outbreak, with an uptick in recent days.
DfH figures reveal London as the nation’s COVID-19 epicentre, with 100 people in the capital yesterday, representing almost 15 percent of the overall total.
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Yesterday, two NHS nurses, Aimee O’Rourke, 38, and 36-year-old Areema Nasreen were among those to die in the UK.
Overall, the UK’s death toll so far, 3,611, out of 38,697 confirmed cases, is higher than than of China (3,330 deaths out of 82,526), according to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Centre.
Google data has suggested people living in the UK and US are leaving their homes more frequently than those in France, Italy and Spain.
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Speaking on BBC Radio 4 today, Professor Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London, said while the epidemic was expected to plateau in the next week to 10 days, people’s behaviour was critical in determining what happens next.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock yesterday told people resist the temptation to enjoy the weekend’s sunny weather in order to slow the spread of the disease.
Asked what would happen if people ignored social distancing rules, he said: “That moves us to a slightly more pessimistic scenario.
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We want to move to a situation where at least by the end of May that we’re able to substitute some less intensive measures, more based on technology and testing, for the complete lockdown we have now
Professor Neil Ferguson
“We still think things will plateau but we’ll be at quite high levels of infection for weeks and weeks rather than seeing quite a rapid decline as the type seen in China.”
Prof Ferguson said he was “hopeful” that some of the intense social distancing measures could be substituted with rapid access to testing and contact tracing in a few weeks’ time – once case numbers are lower.
He added: “We want to move to a situation where at least by the end of May that we’re able to substitute some less intensive measures, more based on technology and testing, for the complete lockdown we have now.
Mr Hancock, speaking after ending his period of self-isolation after contracting the illness, committed to raising testing numbers to 100,000 a day by the end of April.
However, health specialists said they were currently “testing to the limit of our materials”.
He added that they were ready to increase capacity, but only if given a “reliable supply” of equipment to do so.
A spokesman for the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) said: “The UK has numerous high-quality accredited laboratories with suitable equipment, with the capability to process over 100,000 tests per day, set up and ready to meet testing targets.
“Staffing levels are currently adequate to expand Covid-19 testing.
“Biomedical scientists across the UK have already been re-trained to carry out testing or free up virology-trained staff to focus on testing.”
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