Coronavirus: UK hospital deaths rise by 813, taking total to 20,319

(Sky News) – Another 813 people have died in UK hospitals after testing positive for coronavirus, the Department of Health has said, taking the total to 20,319.

The majority of those deaths – 18,084 (up 711) – are in England.

Scotland’s daily figures showed that another 47 people have died there, taking the total to 1,231.

Wales has reported a further 23 deaths, giving a total of 774, and Northern Ireland’s hospital deaths have increased by 16 to 294.

On 28 March, NHS England’s medical director Professor Stephen Powis urged people to respect the lockdown rules, with the aim of keeping the number of deaths below 20,000.

“If it is less than 20,000… that would be a good result, though every death is a tragedy, but we should not be complacent about that,” he said.

Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, had first stated the number as a target to shoot beneath before a committee of MPs.

However, as the reported deaths only relate to those in hospitals, it is likely the country would have passed that milestone days, if not weeks ago.

The figures published by NHS England show 8 April continues to have the highest number for the most hospital deaths on a single day, with a current total of 855.

Dr Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia and an adviser to the World Health Organisation, said the UK could end up having one of the highest mortality rates in Europe.

Speaking to PA, he warned: “Our deaths are increasing more rapidly than any other country really apart from the US. But the US is still a long way behind us in terms of deaths per one million of the population.”

The UK is now the fifth country to have reported more than 20,000 deaths in hospitals relating to the pandemic, behind the US, Italy, Spain and France.

Although international comparisons are difficult because of differing methodologies, the number will be significant due to the government’s words.

It comes as for the second day in a row, the government had to stop requests from key workers for home testing kits and appointments for drive-thru tests.

At least 10 million key workers and anyone in their households are eligible for coronavirus tests if they have symptoms of the illness.

Testing capacity was increased from 40,000 to 51,000 on Thursday, meaning the UK is “ahead of our plans” to reach 100,000 tests per day by the end of April, the government has said.