UK records daily spike in death toll

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A near-deserted Regent Street in London, England, on March 26, 2020. According to the latest daily figures a total of 578 people have so far died across the UK after testing positive for the covid-19 coronavirus.

David Cliff | NurPhoto | Getty Images

The U.K. government has urged everyone to stay at home over the Easter weekend, after the country reported a record number of people had died as a result of the coronavirus outbreak over the last 24 hours.

Speaking at daily press conference on the coronavirus on Friday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the coming days would be “another test of the nation’s resolve.”

“We need everyone to stay at home,” he added.

The health secretary said 19,116 tests were carried out across the U.K. in the last 24 hours, with 5,706 people testing positive for COVID-19.

He added 8,958 people had now died as a result of the coronavirus nationwide, an increase of 980 from Thursday.

“We never forget behind this number, behind each one is a name, a loss and a family which will never be the same again,” Hancock said.

The U.K. has recorded the fifth-highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Europe, behind Spain, Italy, France and Germany — all of which have recorded more than 100,000 infections.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was said to be resting in St. Thomas’ Hospital in London on Friday, after being moved out of the intensive care unit less than 24 hours earlier.

Johnson became the first government leader worldwide to be diagnosed with the coronavirus last month, coming down with “mild symptoms,” including a high temperature and a persistent cough.

The 55-year-old Conservative Party leader was admitted to hospital for “some routine tests” Sunday evening, before being transferred to the ICU Monday afternoon as his symptoms “worsened.”

“The prime minister is back on a ward and continuing his recovery, which is at an early stage,” his spokesman told reporters on Friday.

“I was told he was waving thanks to all of the nurses and doctors he saw as he was moved from the intensive care unit back to the ward. The hospital said that he was in extremely good spirits last night.”

Downing Street also confirmed the prime minister has been able to do “short walks, between periods of rest, as part of the care he is receiving to aid his recovery.”

Dominic Rabb, the U.K.’s foreign secretary, has been deputizing for Johnson in his absence.

On Thursday, Raab said it was too early to decide when to end lockdown measures because the country had not yet reached the peak of the outbreak.

The U.K. government has suggested it will have a better idea next week of whether lockdown has been a success in reducing the number of coronavirus infections and hospital admissions.

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