THE number of coronavirus deaths in the UK rose to 40,465 today after 204 more fatalities were announced.
A total of 284,868 have now tested positive for the bug - up 1,557 from yesterday.
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Today's rise is smaller than it was yesterday, when 357 deaths were logged.
It is in fact the smallest death rate recorded on a Saturday for the last 11 weeks - although last Saturday's figure was similar (226).
NHS England revealed today that 27,359 have now died in hospitals across England - recording a further 75 deaths in the last 24 hours.
Patients in England were aged between 43 and 100 - and all of them had underlying health conditions.
In Wales, ten more people have died, bring the overall death toll in Wales to 1,393.
In Scotland, six more deaths were confirmed today, bringing the tally there to 2,415.
Northern Ireland recorded on more death today, meaning 537 have now died from coronavirus in Northern Ireland.
It comes as
The UK currently has the second highest official coronavirus death toll in the world after the US - where 108,211 people have died from the bug.
According to the John Hopkins University, the UK is followed by Brazil (34,021), Italy (33,689) and France (29,068).
It is however difficult to draw direct comparisons between countries where population sizes vary and countries record Covid-19 data in different ways.
R RATE RISES
It comes as new research shows the crucial R rate has risen back above one in some parts of England.
The Government has stressed throughout the pandemic that the R rate must remain below one in order to avoid a second peak of the virus.
If it rises above this level, the disease can spread exponentially, infecting more and more people.
Last night, Matt Hancock raised the prospect of localised lockdowns in some parts of the UK, with places like the North West and South West of England more infected than others.
New research by Public Health England and Cambridge University suggests the reproduction rate is 1.01 in the North West and 1.0 in the South West.
There is also evidence to suggest the value has risen in all regions, saying it was probably due to increasing mobility and mixing between households in public and work settings.
Speaking at last night's Downing Street briefing, Mr Hancock said the Government was "seeking to take a more local approach" to tackling outbreaks.
He added that there was a "challenge" in both the North West and the South West of England regarding the spread of the disease.
'SIGNIFICANT ISSUE OF DISORDER'
In the documents, Professor Clifford Stott of Keele University (a professor specialising in hooliganism and riots) and the security sub-group of scientists, wrote: "Restrictions imposed in the UK during the epidemic have not led to conflict thus far because they have been perceived as fair (for the most part)."
"Any sense of inequality arising from the imposition of selective measures would likely lead to civil disorder and feed the propaganda of extremist groups and hostile states.
"Households within local areas may also fear retaliation if cases within a neighbourhood prevent release and may conceal cases as a result."
The scientists also warned that local lockdowns will ruin the sense of community that Brits have felt, and kill the spirit of "we're all in this together".
Cutting up parts of towns of cities would shatter Government support for the measures, and "could lead to significant public disorder", the documents warned.
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In a bid to halt the spread, the Government announced this week that wearing face masks on public transport would be made mandatory from June 15.
Passengers without a face covering will not be allowed to board or told to get off at the next stop.
Matt Hancock has also now said the rule will apply to hospital staff and patients - although some NHS bosses have complained they were given little warning.
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