Another 563 people have died after contracting coronavirus, taking the UK death toll to 2,352.

Today’s jump in deaths is the biggest daily increase since the outbreak began, following another massive rise of 381 deaths yesterday.

The updated toll comes after Wales recorded 29 more deaths. A further 16 people were confirmed dead in Scotland, while Northern Ireland recorded two more deaths today.

A total of 29,474 people have now tested positive for coronavirus. A week ago, on March 25, the total was 9,529.

More than 150,000 people have been tested for Covid-19 in the UK, with an average of around 8,000 tests a day in the seven days up to April 1.

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In the previous seven days the daily average was around 5,800.

It comes as more than 1.7 million NHS assessments recorded people with Covid-19 symptoms in the space of just 15 days.

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The new figures from NHS 111 online show there were 1,496,651 web-based assessments which flagged potential coronavirus based on people’s symptoms between March 28 and March 31.

A further 243,543 assessments via the NHS 111 and 999 phone lines concluded people had possible Covid- 19.

The assessment numbers do not relate to individual people, as it is possible people may have sought help more than once or via various channels.

Meanwhile, GP practices in England were told to open over the Easter Bank Holiday to help the NHS cope with coronavirus.

The assumption is that infections from the virus may peak over the period.

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

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Elsewhere, scientists at King’s College London have found losing your sense of smell and taste could be the best way to tell if you have coronavirus.

The researchers have been tracking symptoms via their specially-created Covid Symptom Tracker app.

Over half (59%) of the 1.5 million people who signed up to the app by March 29, and tested positive, reported a loss of smell and taste, compared with 18% of those who tested negative, analysis of the data showed.

Despite the wide reports of people losing their sense of taste and smell, it is not classed as an official symptom on the NHS website.

Researchers said the reports of those symptoms were much stronger in predicting a positive Covid-19 diagnosis than self-reported fever.

The team behind the app has now created a model featuring a combination of symptoms, including loss of smell and taste, fever, persistent cough, fatigue, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and loss of appetite, and said the strongest predictor is loss of smell and taste.

Commonly accepted symptoms of the respiratory disease include a fever, which NHS England says is usually a temperature of 38C or above, tiredness and a dry cough.

Under current Government guidance people are advised to self-isolate if they have a new continuous cough and or high temperature.

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) says other symptoms can include shortness of breath, aches and pains, and a sore throat.

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