People urged to stay at home over Easter weekend as Covid-19 death toll approaches 8,000



People have been asked not to go out this weekend as the UK death toll from the Covid-19 pandemic approaches 8,000.

A total of 7,978 patients have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Wednesday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said, up by 881 from 7,097 the day before.

The latest deaths include 765 more in England – bringing the number of people who have died in English hospitals after being confirmed to have the virus up to 7,248.

The University Hospital of North Midlands NHS Trust – which includes Royal Stoke University Hospital and Stafford County Hospital – has now reported 71 deaths, while there have been 34 at Mid-Cheshire Hospital Trust, which includes Crewe’s Leighton Hospital.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, speaking at the Downing Street daily briefing, said: “Can I start with an update on the Prime Minister – he’s still in intensive care but he continues to make positive steps forward and he’s in good spirits.”

Mr Raab said 243,421 people have been tested for the virus, 65,077 have tested positive, and the number of people admitted to hospital with coronavirus symptoms now stands at 16,784.

“And of those who have contracted the virus, 7,978 have sadly died and our thoughts and our prayers are with their family and friends,” Mr Raab said.

On the possibility of easing the lockdown Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “We are not done yet. We must keep going.”

Mr Raab added: “After all the efforts everybody has made, after all the sacrifices so many people have made let’s not ruin it now.

“Let’s not undo the gains we’ve made, let’s not waste the sacrifices so many people have made.

“We mustn’t give the coronavirus a second chance to kill more people and to hurt our country.”

Sir Patrick Vallance, Chief Scientific Adviser, said it is important to continue with the measures in place.

He said: “The measures that everybody has taken, the difficult things that we’ve all had to do, are making a difference, they’re making a big difference.

“We know that the social distancing is working and we know that people are doing what they’re supposed to do and we need to keep doing that.

“And the reason we need to keep doing that is because it stops the transmission of the virus in the community and we know that that is already happening.”

He added: “The message is clear which is the social distancing we’re doing is breaking transmission, it’s stopping the hospital admissions, beginning to see that flattening off, still unbelievably busy but beginning to see that flatten off, it’s preventing more people going into intensive care and it will prevent deaths.”

Sir Patrick, responding to a question about death projections, said: “In general I’d expect the deaths to continue to keep going up for about two weeks after the intensive care picture improves and so we’re not there yet in terms of knowing exactly when that will be, but that’s the sort of time frame I’d expect.”

Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty, asked about the speed of infection, said: “At the time when I was first talking about this the doubling time – how fast we were doubling in terms of numbers, particularly in intensive care – was about three days, it varied a bit.

“This has got steadily longer in time over the last two weeks thanks to what people have done.”

He added: “This is really now becoming not quite flat but the doubling time is now six or more days in almost everywhere in the country and extending in time.”

Sir Patrick, addressing the spread of the virus in the community, said: “This is not doubling. In the community you’d expect this now to be shrinking for all the reasons I’ve said and the evidence suggests that’s what’s happening in terms of the transmission in community.”

Mr Raab, pressed about when the UK will publish the principles which will guide the Government’s strategy in lifting the lockdown, said: “We’ll make the right decisions at the right moments and we’ll be guided by the science.”

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