United Kingdom

UK announces daily Covid-19 death toll taking the official count past 38,480

The UK has announced a preliminary daily Covid-19 death toll of 106, taking the official count to 38,482.

Department of Health officials - who release the UK's final coronavirus count every afternoon - have yet to update the figures. 

This preliminary toll is calculated by adding up the individual tallies of each of the home nations and is normally lower than what the Government announces later in the day.

NHS England today announced 85 more Covid-19 fatalities in hospitals only, while Scotland and Wales recorded nine and 11 deaths across all settings, respectively. Northern Ireland announced one death.

Back-dated data from death certificates shows more than 46,000 people had been killed by the virus by May 15, 36 per cent more than the official toll given by the Department of Health (33,998) at that time. 

If the same mathematical sum was applied to yesterday's DH count of 38,316, it would suggest the true death toll currently is around the 50,000 mark. 

Despite the Prime Minister saying the government's five tests have been met and it is safe to start relaxing restrictions from tomorrow, the alert level remains at four.

There are still 54,000 new infections happening each week - down from 61,000 per week at the start of May - and 133,000 people are thought to currently have the virus, down from 137,000. This means one in 1,000 people are still catching it.

In other coronavirus developments today:

England is set to move into the next phase of the lockdown from tomorrow, with up to six people from six different households permitted to meet up in public places or gardens.

Exercise classes and barbecues are back on the agenda while primary schools and nurseries have also been told they can start to reopen. 

A series of experts have raised concern about the move from Westminster - which has not been replicated in Scotland or Wales.  

Prof Devi Sridhar, who has been advising the Scottish government, warned it looks 'inevitable' that cases will rise again in England. 

'I'm very sorry to say that I think it is right now inevitable looking at the numbers,' she told Sky. 

'If your objective is to contain the virus, to drive numbers down and to try to in a sense get rid of it so no-one is exposed to it, then it is not the right measure right now to open up.

'It's a big risk and gamble for exiting lockdown with a larger number of deaths than we did when we actually entered lockdown months back.'

Prof Sridhar said there was now a clear divide between Government and some scientists, but added that ultimately decisions will be made by politicians.

She said: 'I think what they should be saying is they consider the science, and hopefully they listen to it but the decision, and who actually has the accountability, are the politicians and leaders.'

Professor Peter Openshaw, who sits on the the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) to the Government, said people must proceed with 'great caution' as the lockdown is eased.

He told the BBC's Andrew Marr programme: 'At the moment, we still have quite a large number of cases out there in the community and I think unlocking too fast carries a great risk that all the good work that's been put in by everyone, to try to reduce transmission may be lost. So we do need to proceed with great, great care at this point.'

Asked if the Government is going too fast, he said: 'I think there is a pretty unanimous message now that we need to take this slowly and go step by step. We need to evaluate the effect of each step before we move to the next one.  

Dominic Raab today defended easing coronavirus lockdown in England despite a chorus of warnings about a second spike - but admitted that curbs will have to be tightened again if there is an 'uptick' in cases. 

Asked whether the lockdown will be tightened again if infection rates increase, Mr Raab told Sky's Ridge on Sunday: 'We will target, if there is any uptick, and it could be in a locality, it could be in a particular setting, we will target very carefully measures that would apply to it so that we can take these steps but also keep control of the virus.' 

The Foreign Secretary acknowledged the loosening that takes effect tomorrow is a 'sensitive moment', but insisted the government was making sensible changes to get the country back up and running.

'We can't just stay in lockdown forever. We have got to transition,' he said. 

Mr Raab played down fears that the curbs are being downgraded even though the government's own coronavirus alert system level remains at four - which suggests they should stay in place.  

Nicola Sturgeon has stressed she is being more 'cautious' and the virus can still 'run out of control'.  

Asked on Sky News whether she thought that the PM was loosening the lockdown in England too quickly, Ms Sturgeon insisted she did not want to 'criticise other politicians' and they were all 'trying to do the right things'.  

But she pointedly said that in Scotland they were being 'very cautious'. 'This virus has not gone away,' she said. 'That is why in Scotland we are moving very slowly.' 

She also today accused England of under-reporting care home deaths as she swiped at Mr Johnson for easing lockdown too early.

The Scottish First Minister said the apparent higher proportion of victims in care homes north of the border was due to the way they are recorded.

She insisted that people who died of stroke and 'happened' to have coronavirus were counted in the numbers in Scotland - whereas they were not in England, meaning that there was 'under-reporting'.

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