More than 1.7 million people in the UK could have caught coronavirus over the past 15 days, health figures suggest.

Data from NHS 111 online show there were 1,496,651 web-based assessments in which people were flagged as potential carriers between March 28 and March 31. A further 243,543 calls to 111 and 999 concluded that people had possible signs of Covid-19.

The figures published by NHS digital come after GP practices in England were told to open over the Easter bank holiday to help the health system cope with the coroanvirus pandemic. Calls have been made for as many doctors to be on standby as possible as it is thought infections in the UK may peak over this period.

The British Medical Association (BMA) told members that ’emergency changes’ were being made to contract regulations which are ‘likely to lead to practices being required to be open on Good Friday and Easter Monday’.

The NHS said the number of Covid-19 assessments made over the past 15 days does not necessarily relate to individual people.

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They say it is possible some have sought help more than once or through various channels.

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Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme on Monday, Imperial College London’s Professor Neil Furguson suggested 3% of the UK population may have already been infected, but many go undiagnosed and do not need medical assistance.

While the number of people who have caught coronavirus continues to rise across the country, he suggested sweeping social distancing measures put in place by the Government is now appearing to slow down the infection rate.

Prof Furguson said the death rate will take longer to drop. A total of 1,789 people in the UK have officially died as a result of coronavirus according to the Department of Health.

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