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Official coronavirus death toll jumps to 26,000 after figures from care homes now included

Dominic Raab was keen to stress this was not a 'sudden surge' in deaths (PA)

3 min read

The official death toll from coronavirus has jumped to more than 26,000 after figures from care homes were now included.

A new method of reporting fatalities gives a total around 17% higher than previous data, with an  additional 3,811 deaths recorded since the start of the outbreak.

Public Health England say 26,097 people have died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community from the virus.

But Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was keen to stress this was not a “sudden surge”, but merely a clearer, more up-to-date picture of the impact of Covid-19 is having in the UK.

Speaking at the daily Downing Street press briefing, he said: “As the Health Secretary announced yesterday, from today we are moving to an improved daily reporting system for deaths, so that deaths in all settings are included, wherever the individual has tested positive for Covid-19, rather than just those in hospitals.

“Those figures show that up to yesterday on the new measures, we have recorded an additional 3,811 deaths in total. 

“And I think it is just important to say that those additional deaths were spread over the period from 2 March to 28 April. 

“So they don't represent a sudden surge in the number of deaths.”

He confirmed the new figure does include an additional 765 deaths compared to the previous day, adding: “We are still coming through the peak and this is, as I've said before, a delicate and dangerous moment in this crisis. 

“So I know that a lot of people have made a lot of sacrifices which is why it's so important that we don't let up now and risk undoing all of that hard work.”

And Mr Raab explained it was vital the UK proceeds "carefully" in lifting lockdown measures and does not create a second wave of infection, as he pointed to the situation in Germany.

He said: "Having relaxed restrictions in Germany over the last week, they have seen a rise in the transmission rate of coronavirus...

"This is a very real risk and it is vital we proceed carefully, guided by the scientific advice, so that our next step through this crisis is a sure footed one.

"We mustn't gamble away the sacrifices and the progress that we have made - we must continue to follow the scientific evidence and we must continue to take the right decisions at the right moment in time.”

And the Cabinet minister said he "did not know" whether the Government’s five tests for removing the strict social distancing measures had been met, as they were waiting for updated advice from the scientific advisory group (SAGE).

”We are coming through the peak but we are not there yet, which is why we are keeping our focus on the social distancing measures which has been one of the great successes of the approach taken because of the support of the British people is so important”, he said.

"People sitting at home watching this have saved lives by following that guidance. Until we are out of the woods, if I can put it like that, they need to keep doing that."

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