United Kingdom

UK records 44 new Covid deaths - the lowest Saturday tally since lockdown began

Britain has announced a further 67 new coronavirus deaths today in the lowest Saturday tally since lockdown began, bringing the UK's total deaths from Covid-19 to 44,198. 

It comes the same day thousands of pubs, restaurants and hairdressers across the country reopened their doors to eager customers and weddings were at last allowed to go ahead.

Today marks the first time Saturday's death toll has dropped below 100 and is a 33 per cent decrease from the 100 deaths reported this time last week.

Some 39 patients who died in English hospitals were aged between 45 and 99 years old and all had known underlying health conditions, according to NHS England. There were five deaths in Wales and none in Scotland.  

Along with today's total death toll - which covers Covid-19 deaths across all settings - there were 624 further positive coronavirus cases.

Yesterday Number 10's scientific advisers revealed the R rate — the average number of people each Covid-19 patient infects — is still between 0.7 and 0.9 as a whole for the UK. 

In other coronavirus developments today: 

It comes the same day thousands of pubs and restaurants across the country opened their doors to customers for the first time since lockdown began on March 23. Pictured, a crowd outside The Market Porter Pub in Borough Market, London, today

The newly married Mr and Mrs Bone, Lucy and James, after their wedding at St Michael and all Angels Church in Ingram, Northumberland, as weddings are once again permitted to take place in England with a maximum of 30 guests

But SAGE admitted it could be as high as 1.1 in London, and 1 in the Midlands, the North East and Yorkshire, the South East and the South West.

Separate data released by the government panel also claimed the UK's current growth rate — how the number of new cases is changing day-by-day — may be 0 per cent, meaning it has stagnated. 

Coronavirus outbreaks could even be growing in London and the South West by two per cent each day.  

Britain yesterday recorded 137 more Covid-19 deaths. Official data also shows Britain's daily number of fatalities have not fallen as quickly in July as they did last month. 

Analysis shows the rolling average of daily deaths now stands at 103 — the fewest since the end of March, when the UK's crisis spiralled out of control. 

Customers are seen at The Holland Tringham Wetherspoons pub in London after it reopened following the closer at the outbreak of coronavirus

People enjoy Super Saturday at The Market Porter in Borough Market, central London, after it reopened under the easing of the lockdown

Number 10's scientific advisers today revealed the R rate — the average number of people each Covid-19 patient infects — is still between 0.7 and 0.9 as a whole for the UK

But it has only dropped 15 per cent since last Friday, when 186 new fatalities were recorded. Death rates were dropping by up to 30 per cent week-on-week through mid-June. 

Department of Health figures released yesterday also show only 544 new cases were diagnosed, the smallest 24-hour jump since March 17 — a week before ministers first imposed the lockdown. 

But other estimates suggest the number of actual cases has plateaued at around 3,500 per day for three weeks. 

Meanwhile, bride Lucy Johnston, 25, and her groom James Bone, 28, married in front of 27 guests at St Michael and All Angels Church in the hamlet of Ingram in the Northumberland National Park today.  

A group of mates give a toast with their pints at the Shakespeare's Head pub in Holborn, central London, as it reopened today

Customers queue outside the Fat Cat Brewery Tap pub in Norwich on Saturday afternoon

In yesterday's Downing Street press conference, the Prime Minister claimed the UK has continued to make 'progress nationally against the virus' but cautioned that the 'vicious' disease 'is still out there'

Screens were put up on the Atlas Bar and cafe in Manchester as the new era of going out to socialise with others began today

Retired vicar Rev Marion Penfold was given permission to marry the couple who live in Fawdon in the next valley.  

Weddings were allowed to go ahead with up to 30 guests, according to lockdown rules enforced from today. 

Coronavirus outbreak hits royal mail delivery office in Chester 

Chester Delivery Office in Cheshire faced an outbreak

Seven employees have been infected with coronavirus at a Royal Mail sorting office. 

The office in Chester, Cheshire, has since been through three deep cleans as staff try to rid the building of any traces of the disease. 

A Royal Mail spokesperson told the Sun Online: 'In the last week, seven colleagues at our Chester Delivery Office tested positive for coronavirus.

'They are now at home recuperating and we wish them a speedy recovery.

'During this time, we have carried out three full, enhanced cleans of the building as a precautionary measure.' 

The office is still open and staff who tested negative for the disease are continuing to work as normal - while following Government guidance. 

This morning pubs in England were allowed to open from 6am, with police and the NHS bracing themselves for fall-outs as people continue to drink into the night to shake off nearly four months in lockdown. 

Pub-goers are set to sink a staggering 15 million pints at 23,000 establishments across the country, experts predicted.

They will be hit with hiked prices for beer, wine, cider and spirits as pubs including Wetherspoons desperately try to make up for lost business.  

With the new coronavirus rules not published until Friday afternoon, some landlords had planned to open as soon as the clock ticked past midnight. But Downing Street scotched the swift openings by ensuring the ban remained in place until after sunrise.

Up to half of pubs have not been able to open because of insufficient notice from the Government, the national chairman of the Campaign for Read Ale (Camra) said. 

Speaking after raising a pint of Marston's Pedigree to mark the end of England's 105-day pub shutdown, Camra's Nik Antona said many licensees had done a fantastic job to reopen so quickly.

After meeting Steve and Katy Boulter, who run the Royal Oak in Barton-under-Needwood in Staffordshire, Mr Antona said one-way systems, protective screens and other measures had made pubs safe.

But he added: 'I think it's going to be difficult for pubs. They are opening up under uncertain circumstances. They don't know if they're going to get their customers back.' 

Sitting near a Perspex screen which had been used to divide up a large table beside the Royal Oak's main bar area, Mr Antona said pubs had not been given enough notice of the date on which they were allowed to reopen.

'These pubs have had to bend over backwards to get things done in time,' he said. 'That's why quite a few pubs haven't opened - because they just haven't had an opportunity to do everything they needed to do in time.

'I think the Government could have done better - they could have given more notice. They left it to the very last minute to help these pubs and the ones that have opened today have done a fantastic job to get there.' 

Meanwhile, Department of Health figures released on Thursday showed 205,673 tests were carried out or posted the day before. The number includes antibody tests for frontline NHS and care workers. 

A customer sanitises his hands at The Mossy Well, a J D Wetherspoon pub reopen for business, in Muswell Hill, London, today

In Bournemouth the local O'Neill's proved popular with drinkers lining up to get inside for their first drink

An early punter enters The Hope &Champion in Beaconsfield, Bucks, and uses hand sanitiser station on the door to help stop the spread of coronavirus

The doors of The Buck Inn in Sadberge, Teesside, opened to customers wanting a pint for breakfast, with this man being served by a masked barman 

But bosses again refused to say how many people were tested, meaning the exact number of Brits who have been swabbed for the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been a mystery for a month — since May 22. 

Health chiefs also reported 544 more cases of Covid-19, marking the smallest daily jump in new infections since a week before lockdown was imposed. Only 407 cases were confirmed on March 17. 

Government statistics show the official size of the UK's outbreak now stands at 284,276 cases. But the actual size of the outbreak is estimated to be in the millions, based on antibody testing data.

Officials revised the actual number of confirmed cases Thursday to take 30,000 duplicates they stumbled across through 'methodological improvements and a revision to historical data'. 

But the actual number of confirmed coronavirus cases is much lower than the estimated daily infections made by the ONS, mainly because not everyone who catches the virus shows any symptoms and opts for a test.  

England is braced for 'pub-ageddon' as bars and restaurants reopen on Super Saturday but fears of 6am mayhem were calmed with most not set to start serving until after 8am. Pictured: A Wetherspoons in Beaconsfield this morning

Builders queuing to get into the Briar Rose on Bennetts Hill in Birmingham early on Saturday morning to get their first pint in

Separate data released by the government panel also claimed the UK's current growth rate — how the number of new cases is changing day-by-day — could be between 0 per cent, meaning it has stagnated, or minus 6 per cent

Bar staff in PPE pour drinks at the reopening The Toll Gate, a Wetherspoons pub in Hornsey, north London, on Saturday morning

ONS data suggested 25,000 people across the country currently have Covid-19, or one in 2,200 people (0.04 per cent of the population) — a huge drop on the 51,000 active cases the week before.

But the same data showed the virus is spreading at a slightly quicker rate, with an estimated 25,000 new cases in the week ending June 27 — up from the 22,000 infections occurring in the community the week before.

ONS statisticians, who made their projection based on swab testing of 25,000 people picked at random, warned the speed at which the outbreak is declining has 'levelled off'. 

They added: 'At this point, we do not have evidence that the current trend is anything other than flat.'

The daily death data given by the Department of Health does not represent how many Covid-19 patients died within the last 24 hours — it is only how many fatalities have been reported and registered with the authorities.

It comes after the government of Spain's Catalonia region locked down a county of more than 400,000 people following a surge in coronavirus cases - just as Brits prepare to go there on holiday.

The western Catalan city of Lleida and the rest of Segrià county was put under lockdown from midday today. 

The western Catalan city of Lleida and the rest of Segrià county was put under lockdown from midday today. Pictured, police officers check the documents of people travelling on vehicles at the entrance of Lleida

'We have decided to confine the del Segria zone following data confirming a sharp rise in COVID-19 infections,' Catalonia's regional president Quim Torra told reporters, adding that no one would be allowed to enter or leave the area.

Around 431,183 people live in Lleida, according to 2019 figures, which is 173.9km inland from Barcelona. 

It comes after the UK Government lifted restrictions to let people living in England travel to the country on 'air bridges' - meaning holidaymakers won't have to go into quarantine as long as they return to England on or after July 10.

'We are taking a step back to protect ourselves and control the outbreak,' said Torra, who described the measure as a 'difficult decision.' 

There have been 62,057 confirmed cases in Catalonia since the outbreak began, with 5,673 related deaths. 

On Twitter the president added: 'The people of #Segrià should remain calm. You can count on our support. We need to take every measure possible to protect you and prevent an even larger rise in the number of new cases.' 

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