Boris Johnson is facing another night in hospital after ministers said he would ‘follow doctors’ orders’ amid mounting fears over his ‘persistent’ coronavirus symptoms.
The PM thanked ‘brilliant’ NHS staff this afternoon after he was dramatically admitted to St Thomas’, near Downing Street, overnight, with doctors alarmed that his temperature has still not dropped 10 days after his positive diagnosis.
Taking to Twitter, the 55-year-old insisted he was undergoing ‘routine tests’ and was ‘still in touch with my team’ as the government battles the deadly UK outbreak.
But there are warnings from ministers that Mr Johnson has ‘risked his health’ by keeping up a frantic workrate, while one senior Tory said he must learn he is ‘not indispensable’ and has to rest.
One MP suggested that he was too keen to emulate his hero, Winston Churchill by defying illness. Others said they believe Mr Johnson’s deputy Dominic Raab has now effectively taken over while the premier recuperates.
Mr Raab, who chaired the daily coronavirus crisis committee meeting this morning in the absence of the premier, dodged giving any timetable for him being back in action this evening.
‘He is in charge,’ the Foreign Secretary told the daily press briefing. ‘The PM will take the medical advice he gets from his doctor.’ Mr Raab said he had not spoken to Mr Johnson personally since Saturday.
Chief medical officer Chris Whitty said he was not the doctor who urged the premier to seek hospital treatment, but said he had told him to follow advice.
Downing Street has stressed Mr Johnson had not been admitted as an emergency case.
The PM’s spokesman refused to say whether there has been a diagnosis of pneumonia, although they dismissed claims emanating from Russia that he is on a ventilator as ‘disinformation’.
Asked if symptoms are ‘mild’ – the word previously used to describe them – the spokesman instead said they were ‘persistent’ and included a ‘a temperature and a cough’.
Mr Johnson tweeted: ‘Last night, on the advice of my doctor, I went into hospital for some routine tests as I’m still experiencing coronavirus symptoms. I’m in good spirits and keeping in touch with my team, as we work together to fight this virus and keep everyone safe.
‘I’d like to say thank you to all the brilliant NHS staff taking care of me and others in this difficult time. You are the best of Britain. Stay safe everyone, and please remember to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.’
It emerged at the weekend that Mr Johnson’s pregnant partner Carrie Symonds has also been suffering coronavirus, although she is now ‘on the mend’. The government’s chief medical adviser Chris Whitty has also recovered in a glimmer of good news.
On another turbulent day in the coronavirus crisis:
- The UK has declared 439 more deaths, taking the total to 5,373, and 3,802 new positive tests have pushed the number of patients up to 51,608;
- But in a glimmer of hope that means the number of people dying of COVID-19 has now fallen for two days in a row;
- Humiliated Nicola Sturgeon has admitted the effort to combat coronavirus has been damaged after she was forced to accept the resignation of Scotland’s chief medical officer for flouting her own lockdown rules;
- Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty is out of self-isolation and has been working after recovering from coronavirus;
- The Queen has hailed the sacrifice of frontline NHS workers battling the virus in a rare televised address that moved the nation as she praised the resolve of the British people to stay at home telling them: ‘We’ll meet again’;
- Worrying figures showed the UK’s coronavirus epidemic was set to overtake that suffered by France and Italy;
- Health Secretary Matt Hancock threatened to revoke the right to exercise outdoors if people continued to flout social distancing measures;
- A 54-year-old from Essex became the first midwife to die with coronavirus in England.
Boris Johnson (pictured on Downing Street clapping NHS staff on April 2) has been admitted to hospital after testing positive for coronavirus
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who chaired the daily coronavirus crisis committee meeting this morning in the absence of the PM, dodged giving any timetable for him being back in action this evening
Mr Johnson’s effective deputy Dominic Raab (left) chaired the daily coronavirus crisis committee meeting this morning. Health Secretary Matt Hancock (right) has recovered from coronavirus and was back at work in Downing Street
Mr Johnson tweeted to say he was ‘in good spirits and keeping in touch with my team’ today amid fears over his health
Downing Street infection timeline
March 10: Health minister Nadine Dorries became the first MP to test positive for coronavirus, shortly after attending a Downing Street reception.
March 27: Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock both release Twitter videos saying they have coronavirus and are self-isolating.
Hours later, chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty revealed he was self-isolating with symptoms.
March 30: The PM’s top adviser Dominic Cummings was revealed to be self-isolating with coronavirus symptoms.
April 2: Matt Hancock returns to work after seven dies in isolation and making a recovery.
April 3: Boris Johnson releases a video from his Number 11 flat saying he is continuing to self-isolate as he is still suffering a temperature.
April 4: Carrie Symonds, the PM’s pregnant fiancée reveals she has been self-isolating at her Camberwell flat.
April 5: The PM is taken to hospital ‘as a precaution’.
April 6: Downing Street declines to give a timeframe for Mr Johnson being discharged. The PM’s spokesman says he still has a ‘persistent’ cough and temperature.
Experts say there is a risk of pneumonia when a temperature lasts more than a week. There have been claims Mr Johnson has been coughing heavily during conference calls.
Mr Johnson’s spokesman said: ‘The Prime Minister was admitted to hospital for tests last night, his symptoms have remained persistent,’ the spokesman said.
‘He had a comfortable night in St Thomas’s Hospital in London and is in good spirits. He remains in hospital under observation.’
Asked if the PM was taking a risk by continuing to work, Mr Raab said: ‘Just to be clear, the PM – both in terms of going into St Thomas’ yesterday – was taking the advice of doctors, so he’s followed the doctors’ advice there and, in terms of his recovery in the days ahead, will continue to do so.’
Mr Raab said he would not comment on security matters when asked if he had taken over any of the Prime Minister’s security responsibilities.
He said Mr Johnson was being ‘kept abreast’ of developments.
Pressed again on why Mr Johnson is sick enough to be in hospital but well enough to be running the country, Mr Raab said: ‘That’s something he will decide on the medical advice he’s received from his doctor.’
Professor Whitty said he was not responsible for recommending Mr Johnson went to hospital, and praised the PM’s medical advisers as ‘outstanding’.
Asked about the pneumonia risk to Mr Johnson, Prof Whitty said: ‘I’m absolutely not going to discuss any individual patient nor, to be clear, do I have all the details; nor should I as this is an issue between him and his medical advisers.
‘I can give a general answer which is the clear majority of people who do end up going to hospital, they end up going into a general bed, they may or may not need oxygen and other things, and they don’t need to go further than that.’
Health minister Nadine Dorries – the first MP to test positive for coronavirus, but now recovered – suggested the PM needs to ‘sleep and recover’.
Foreign Office minister James Duddridge said Mr Johnson must now ‘let others do the heavy lifting’, while Tory West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said the PM might have to recognise he is ‘not indispensable’ while he recovers.
Cabinet minister Michael Gove’s wife Sarah Vine delivered a furious rebuke to those who had been demanding Mr Johnson keep working, saying: ‘I hope you are happy now. He’s in hospital.’
One senior politician said they expected a ‘smooth’ process even if Mr Johnson was not ‘in the room chairing things’.
‘Ultimate decisions are made by the PM,’ the MP said.
‘But there are people like Matt Hancock who has clearly got a complete grip on everything and has been impressing a huge number of his colleagues – there’s no reason why things should not keep on running as they have been running.
‘It is just the person in the room chairing things. The PM will obviously get a briefing on what has happened.
‘We are at a stage where the biggest efforts in government will be based around trying to sort out this antibody test. That is the way out of this.’
A Government source said the PM was not in a position where he was ‘physically unable to breathe’. ‘In a conference call over the weekend he sounded okay-ish. He didn’t sound like he was struggling for breath,’ they said.
One Tory MP ally of Dominic Raab told MailOnline they believed the Foreign Secretary was ‘running the show’.
The MP added: ‘For the public it is still very much Boris in charge, notwithstanding he is in hospital. But in reality it is Dom who is running the show.
‘That way Boris has had the opportunity to rest, sleep… and in 10 days he is up and running.
‘That is probably what is really happening at the moment. Others are running the show, because he has got a temperature, he’s got a cough, he damn well needs rest.’
The MP said they hoped the PM would be back in charge soon as he was the right person to be in charge of the crisis.
A Tory MP told the Telegraph Mr Johnson should stop trying to be copy Churchill’s example during the Second World War and instead let another Cabinet minister take charge of the national efforts to fight the virus.
The MP said: ‘I hear that the number of hours that he is able to work, he is finding frustrating. You don’t hold the camera up and look grim – it is not going to inspire the nation.
‘Unfortunately he has written too many books on Churchill and wants to be the guy – he needs to be Boris Johnson and not try to be someone else.’
A backbencher told MailOnline the reaction of Mr Gove and Health Secretary Matt Hancock to Mr Raab being in control could be ‘interesting’.
In a Twitter video posted on Friday from quarantine in No11, where he has been in self-isolation, an exhausted-looking Mr Johnson revealed he was still suffering from a high temperature.
Donald Trump wished Mr Johnson well in his ‘personal fight’ with coronavirus last night and said ‘all Americans are praying for him’ as the Prime Minister spent his first night in hospital.
Tony Blair refused to say whether he thought the PM should stand aside, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I have every sympathy and solidarity with him. I know it must be a hellish situation to be in.’
Foreign Secretary Mr Raab stepped in this morning to chair the daily ‘war cabinet’ dealing with the pandemic.
But Downing Street insisted Mr Johnson was still in charge despite his illness. Officials confirmed he was in an NHS hospital but would not say what tests he was undergoing and how long he would be in hospital.
He is thought to have been treated with oxygen, and is likely to have tests on white blood cell count, and liver and kidney function, according to doctors.
He is also likely to undergo an electrocardiogram to check his heart as well as his chest X-rayed and lungs scanned, particularly if he was found to be struggling for breath.
Even ministers were openly calling for Mr Johnson to take time out today. Ms Dorries said: ‘Many with #COVID19 are felled by fatigue/temperature and use isolation to sleep+recover. Boris has risked his health & worked every day on our behalf to lead the battle against this vile virus. Lets do our bit for him and @carriesymonds now. Send them our love.’
Military personnel were helping to conduct tests on NHS staff at a new facility in Edgbaston today
Troops were out and about around St Thomas’ Hospital in central London this morning as the PM undergoes tests
Health minister Nadine Dorries – the first MP to test positive for coronavirus, but now recovered – suggested the PM needs to ‘sleep and recover’
On Friday, the PM released a selfie-style video from self-isolation in Number 11 revealing he still had the symptoms of Covid-19
IS BORIS JOHNSON SUFFERING FROM ANY UNDERLYING CONDITIONS, AND WHAT DRUGS WILL DOCTORS TREAT HIM WITH?
HOW HEALTHY IS THE PM?
The Prime Minister has no known health problems and is thought to be fairly fit and well.
The last time he was admitted to hospital was in August 2019 after he stepped on a broken coffee pot in his garden and got glass stuck in his foot.
He said the ‘spindly little triangle’ of glass ‘hurt like h***’ for days.
As mayor of London he was known for cycling to work every day.
But he was forced to give it up when he became foreign secretary and then prime minister because of security precautions.
He admitted struggling with his weight as foreign secretary under Theresa May’s Government.
Mr Johnson said it was hard to stick to a healthy diet while constantly flying between countries.
At his biggest in December 2018 he weighed 16-and-a-half stone – which would have made the 5ft 9in politician categorically obese.
People with a BMI over 30 are thought to be at high-risk of suffering serious complications from coronavirus because of their weakened immune systems and high blood pressure.
But Mr Johnson has slimmed down since meeting his new partner Carrie Symonds.
Inside No10, he is said to squeeze a daily workout regime into his busy routine which includes yoga, pilates and aerobic exercises.
Mr Johnson is also an avid tennis player and can regularly be seen playing on the courts at Chequers, the prime minister’s country residence.
WHAT TREATMENTS WILL HE BE GIVEN?
Doctors will carry out a series of tests to check the prime minister’s organs are functioning and that he is breathing properly.
Coronavirus can cause pneumonia – a severe lung infection – in the most serious cases, which can eventually lead to both organs failing.
He is expected to be kept in and monitored for several days because pneumonia can strike suddenly and unexpectedly.
If the infection does start to penetrate deep into the lungs, Mr Johnson could be put on a ventilator and treated with painkillers and antibiotics.
There are a number of promising experimental drugs which have shown promise in studies in China.
But none are currently approved in the UK so doctors cannot treat British patients with them until human trials are complete.
A major trial is underway at the University of Oxford and health chiefs have urged more patients to sign up to speed up results.
WHAT ARE THE MOST PROMISING DRUGS BEING TRIALLED?
Hydroxychloroquine – sold as Plaquenil – is a well-established antimalarial available on the NHS which has been used since the 1940s.
It works by dampening the body’s immune response when it overreacts to viruses.
Doctors in Europe, the US and China have been given licence to prescribe the promising drug to COVID-19 patients because it is generally regarded as safe.
Early trials in China have shown the tablets can reduce the severe effects of the infection.
The UK has prevented clinicians from giving it to sufferers until human trials are complete.
Several major trials are testing its effect on COVID-19 sufferers, including one at the University of Oxford.
The HIV drug lopinavir/ritonavir – marketed as Kaletra and Aluvia – is another promising drug being studied by Oxford researchers.
The medicine is given to people living with HIV to prevent it developing into AIDS.
It is a class of drug called a protease inhibitor, which essentially stick to an enzyme on a virus which is vital to the virus reproducing.
By doing this it blocks the process the virus would normally use to clone itself and spread the infection further.
The drug was reported to have successfully cured coronavirus patients in China, but it has not been scientifically proven.
Sold as Ozurdex and Baycadron, it is used to treat allergies and asthma, as well as some types of cancer.
No studies have yet to prove dexamethasone can treat COVID-19- but it has been proven effective on patients with MERS and SARS, two different coronaviruses.
Steroids are often used by doctors to reduce inflammation, which is present in the lungs of patients with the coronavirus.
However, steroids also impair the immune system’s ability to fight viruses and other infections that often develop in patients with life-threatening illness.
Mr Duddridge tweeted: ‘Take care boss. Get well. Come back fighting. But for now rest, look after yourself and let the others do the heavy lift.’
Mr Street said the PM might have to hand control to his team for the time being. ‘We would hope that he would be able to continue to lead the Government, that’s what he’s said, but we all have to learn in life don’t we that we’re not indispensable and the team around you will step into your shoes if he is not able to do what I know he will be so, so desperate to carry on doing himself,’ he told Today.
Ms Vine, a Mail columnist, said: ‘So to all those who have been hysterically shouting ‘where’s Boris, where’s boris?’ I hope you’re happy now.
‘He’s in hospital. Next thing you know you’ll be complaining that he’s putting extra strain on the nhs by taking up a bed.’
Concerns over chief medical officer Chris Whitty have also been played down. He started displaying symptoms and went into self-isolation just after Mr Johnson.
‘He is out of isolation. He is fine. He kept doing conference calls,’ a source said.
The PM’s admission to hospital emerged minutes after the Queen’s historic TV address to the nation where she urged the country to pull together to fight coronavirus, saying: ‘If we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it.’ And she echoed Second World War heroine Dame Vera Lynn, promising anguished families separated by the crisis: ‘We will meet again.’
A Downing Street spokeswoman last night said: ‘On the advice of his doctor, the Prime Minister has tonight been admitted to hospital for tests.
‘This is a precautionary step, as the Prime Minister continues to have persistent symptoms of coronavirus ten days after testing positive for the virus.
‘The Prime Minister thanks NHS staff for all their incredible hard work and urges the public to continue to follow the government’s advice to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.’
Doctors will monitor Mr Johnson’s vital signs as well as conduct blood tests to assess how his immune system is fighting the virus, as well as assessing liver and kidney function, according to a leading scientist.
Dr Rupert Beale, Group Leader, Cell Biology of Infection Laboratory, Francis Crick Institute, said: ‘They will perform an electrocardiogram (ECG) to check the heart.
‘More sophisticated tests may include a CT scan of the chest to get an accurate picture of the lungs. They will consider the best way to deliver oxygen, and will also consider other treatments depending on test results.’
Despite continuing to suffer the symptoms of the virus – namely a high temperature – Mr Johnson, 55, has resolved to remain at the helm of the government’s crisis management.
Mr Hancock has recovered from the virus after revealing he had tested positive for coronavirus on March 27, the same day Mr Johnson also made public his own infection via Twitter.
Alarm bells started ringing that the nerve centre of the government’s crisis response had been compromised when chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and top Downing Street adviser Dominic Cummings also began showing symptoms.
Meetings have since been held via videolink, and rather than fronting the daily Number 10 press briefings, the PM has taken to releasing selfie-style videos from isolation.
In his most recent clip two days ago, Mr Johnson said he ‘still had minor symptoms, I have a temperature, and so in accordance with the government I must continue my self-isolation until that symptom goes’.
He was last seen outside on Thursday, when he stepped on to Downing Street to applaud NHS workers.
In the event the PM is too sick to continue in his role, Mr Raab, as First Secretary of State, would step in as acting leader.
Mr Johnson’s pregnant fiancée Carrie Symonds, who is due in the early summer, is also self-isolating in her own Camberwell apartment with the couple’s dog Dilyn after symptoms surfaced.
The 32-year-old said on Saturday: ‘I’ve spent the past week in bed with the main symptoms of Coronavirus. I haven’t needed to be tested and, after seven days of rest, I feel stronger and I’m on the mend.’
Politicians of all parties offered their best wishes to the PM this evening and prayed for a quick recovery.
No10 blasts Russian ‘disinformation’ over claim PM is on ventilator
Downing Street blasted Russian ‘disinformation’ today after a Moscow state media outlet claimed Boris Johnson had been placed on a ventilator to create his coronavirus.
A furious No 10 lashed out after the RIA Novosti news agency published claims by an anonymous source ‘close to the top of England’s national healthcare system’ claiming Mr Johnson was ‘rushed’ to hospital and required treatment with an artificial lung due to coronavirus.
That claim was flatly denied by Downing Street which said the Prime Minister had gone to hospital on the advice of his doctor for ‘tests’ because he continued to present symptoms of the virus 10 days after catching it.
Mr Johnson was today said to be in ‘good spirits’ in St Thomas’s Hospital in London, but Downing Street said he was well enough to receive his ministerial red box with official documents, and had been in contact with aides.
This afternoon his official spokesman, responding to the RIA claims, said: ‘This is disinformation.’
Sir Keir Starmer, who was this weekend elected as Labour leader, was among the first to wish him a ‘speedy recovery’.
Ministers have been begging the public to observe strict social distancing measures to stem the tide of infection from spreading and overwhelming the NHS.
But scenes from the warm weekend showed people flouting government rules and flocking to the nation’s parks to sunbathe.
Mr Hancock warned Britons that he was prepared to revoke the right to exercise outdoors if people continued to disobey his instructions.
The call on the public to stay indoors was echoed in Her Majesty’s address to the nation which was aired last night after being pre-recorded from Windsor Castle, where she is isolating with her husband Philip.
The monarch said: ‘I also want to thank those of you who are staying at home, thereby helping to protect the vulnerable and sparing many families the pain already felt by those who have lost loved ones.
‘Together we are tackling this disease, and I want to reassure you that if we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it.’
The Queen signed off the rare broadcast – only the fifth in her reign outside of Christmas – with a nod to a Second World War song by Dame Vera Lynn.
She said: ‘We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, betterdays will return: we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.’
The monarch reserved special praise for the NHS, thanking medical workers for their work and sacrifice in the battle against the virus.
PM’s chief aide is ‘working from home’
The PM’s chief aide Dominic Cummings is working but not from Downing Street, it emerged today.
Mr Cummings went into isolation after Boris Johnson tested positive for coronavirus around a fortnight ago.
The premier’s spokesman confirmed that Mr Cummings was still not back in No10.
‘He is not back in No 10 today. He is in contact with No 10,’ the spokesman said.
She said: ‘I want to thank everyone on the NHS front line, as well as care workers and those carrying out essential roles, who selflessly continue their day-to-day duties outside the home in support of us all.
‘I am sure the nation will join me in assuring you that what you do is appreciated and every hour of your hard work brings us closer to a return to more normal times.’
Brits stuck at home amid the lockdown tuned in to the speech, sharing photos of their entire families huddled in front of the TV to watch Her Majesty.
Shortly after her speech, Scotland’s chief medical officer, Dr Catherine Calderwood, resigned following criticism for visiting her second home and not adhering to social distancing advice.
Dr Calderwood had earlier apologised live on TV after being given a police warning for twice visiting her family’s coastal retreat in Earlsferry, Fife, more than 40 miles from her main home.
In a press conference beside Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Dr Calderwood said her actions were ‘a mistake and human error’ and that were ‘no excuses’.
Dr Calderwood issued an apology and was initially backed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to remain in the role.
However after further conversations with Ms Sturgeon, Dr Calderwood said on Sunday night that she had resigned ‘with a heavy heart’, agreeing the ‘justifiable focus on my behaviour risks becoming a distraction from the hugely important job.
What Boris has said and who he has met over the past month
March 3: Says he is still shaking hands and insists ‘crucial thing’ is to keep washing your hands
March 5: Hosts reception for International Women’s Day in Downing Street with MP Nadine Dorries who later tests positive
March 6: Meets scientists as he visits testing laboratory at Bedford Technology Park
March 8: Surveys flood defences in the Worcestershire town of Bewdley
March 9: Attempts to shake hands with a bishop at Westminster Abbey before stopping himself while at Commonwealth Service
March 10: Says people should avoid shaking hands, to shame other people into washing their hands
March 12: Says preventing mass gatherings is not an effective way to tackle coronavirus
March 16: Advises against mass gatherings in policy U-turn – effectively cancelling all sport and other events
March 17: Talks about importance of social distancing at briefing with Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Chief Scientific Officer Patrick Vallance
March 18: Speaks at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons and says all schools will be closed
March 19: Says UK can ‘turn the tide’ in fight against coronavirus within 12 weeks at briefing with Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance
March 20: Closes pubs, restaurants and theatres at press conference with Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries
March 21: Daily coronavirus update in the Cabinet Room
March 22: Media briefing with Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick and Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries
March 23: Orders a UK-wide lockdown with people told to stay at home
March 24: Hosts weekly Cabinet Room meeting remotely
March 25: Speaks at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons
March 25: Speaks to Queen Elizabeth II by telephone
March 26: Holds a video call to other G20 leaders
March 27: Takes part in NHS clap for carers outside Downing Street with Chancellor Rishi Sunak
March 27: Announces in a video that he has tested positive for coronavirus
March 29: Issues video on social media thanking NHS, pharmacy and supermarket workers
March 31: Chairs digital Cabinet meeting
April 1: Says in social media video that testing will be ‘massively ramped up’
April 2: Takes part in NHS clap for carers from Downing Street doorstep
April 3: Issues video on social media urging people to stay at home during sunny weather
April 5: Admitted to an NHS hospital in London for tests
UK’s coronavirus outbreak is set to overtake Italy and France: Worrying graphic suggests that three weeks since Britain hit 50 deaths it is in danger of being in a worse state than ‘Europe’s epicentre’ was at the same point
By Danyal Hussain and Joe Middleton and Jack Maidment, deputy political editor for MailOnline
Britain’s death toll from the coronavirus could overtake both Italy and France, a worrying new graphic has revealed.
The number of deaths in the UK rose by 621 to 4,934 yesterday, including 29 patients who did not have any underlying health conditions.
Now, the UK is just behind where Italy and France were 20 days after registering 50 deaths from the outbreak.
However, both those countries’ started to see their death rates decrease after this point, while the UK is expected to not peak for another week to 10 days.
This means Britain’s deaths could dwarf both countries, though this isn’t guaranteed.
The people who died of the illness were aged between 33 and 103, with 29 of them, aged between 35 and 95, having no known underlying health conditions.
The level of infections has risen sharply by almost 60 per cent, from 5,903 to 47,806, dashing hopes the rate of people getting the disease was starting to level out.
New graphs released by the Government today showed that the UK is just behind France and Italy’s death rate at this point. However both countries saw deaths start to decrease, while the UK is still expected not to peak for 7 to 10 days, suggesting Britain could have more deaths
Just days ago, Stephen Powis, the medical director of England, said there had been a ‘bit of a plateau’ in the number of people testing positive.
The Department of Health also said that, as of 9am on Sunday, a total of 195,524 people have been tested, up from 183,190 the previous day – pushing the amount of tests done daily to more than 12,000.
It comes amid concerns a huge backlog of potential patients awaiting their results could mean infections are far higher than is being reported.
If the backlog for processing the tests is too great, the rate of infections will remain at roughly the same level, with the services already pushed to the brink and only able to carry out a certain number of tests per day.
Matthew Lesh, head of research at the Adam Smith Institute, told MailOnline: ‘The UK numbers are masked by the inability of the laboratories.’
NHS England gave the breakdown by region of the 555 deaths of patients in England: – East of England 40 – London 174 – Midlands 74 – North East & Yorkshire 103 – North West 47 – South East 81 – South West 36.
Public Health England reported an extra 555 deaths in England, Public Health Wales recorded 12, and there have been 7 in Northern Ireland.
In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said authorities there had recorded an additional two extra deaths in Scotland, up to 220, but said the number was based on a new way of counting deaths and is ‘likely to be artificially low’.
It came as Matt Hancock this afternoon backtracked on a threat to ban outdoor exercise if people do not comply with the coronavirus lockdown.
The Health Secretary this morning blasted sunbathers for flouting the rules and warned the government would ban ‘all forms’ of public exercise if a ‘small minority’ refuse to stay at home.
However he later updated his comments while speaking at the daily Downing Street coronavirus press conference and said he did not want anyone to believe that a further crackdown was in the works.
Mr Hancock said the end of lockdown will be determined by ‘how much people follow the rules on social distancing’ and ‘the more people follow the rules then the faster we will all be through it’.
He then issued a direct plea to people who are ‘breaking the rules or are pushing the boundaries’, telling them: ‘You are risking your own life and the lives of others and you are making it harder for us all.’
He concluded: ‘We have included exercise as one of the things that you can leave your house to do because exercise is good for our physical and our mental health but please do not bend or break this rule.
‘We can’t rule out further steps but I don’t want anyone to think that any changes to the social distancing rules are imminent because the vast majority are following the rules.’
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson repeated the importance of staying at home this morning as he tweeted he knows it is ‘tough’ but it will mean ‘saving lives’.
Mr Hancock and Mr Johnson’s comments came after a south London park was shut indefinitely after 3,000 people visited ‘despite clear advice’ not to as green spaces and beaches across the UK filled up.
Mr Hancock previously told Sky News: ‘It is quite unbelievable frankly to see that there are some people who are not following the advice.’
He added: ‘Of course I understand how difficult this is but the problem is that when you go out it is not only that you might directly interact with somebody closer than two metres, it is also that you can spread the virus through touching something which somebody else then touches. You could pick it up that way.
‘We are crystal clear in the guidance on what people should and shouldn’t do. That guidance is backed up in law. It is not a request, it is a requirement in law and people need to follow it.’
Mr Hancock admitted this morning that hitting his promise of 100,000 coronavirus tests by the end of April will be ‘hard’ and that people involved in the efforts will have to ‘put their shoulders to the wheel’ to hit the target.