UK virus death toll tops 40,000: government
LONDON, June 5, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – Britain’s official coronavirus
death toll has topped 40,000, after the government on Friday reported
a further 357 fatalities in the last 24 hours.
The department of health said 40,261 people who tested positive for
COVID-19 had now died in the outbreak as of 0800 GMT on Friday.
A further 1,650 people tested positive, taking the total number of
cases to 283,311, it added.
The country is second only to the United States in terms of numbers
of deaths but broader statistics indicate the toll is much higher when
suspected cases are taken into account.
The Office for National Statistics, which tallies all deaths in
which COVID-19 was suspected or mentioned on death certificates, put
the toll at 48,106 up to May 22.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is going ahead with plans to ease
lockdown restrictions that were imposed on March 23, after indications
the virus was past its peak.
Some schools reopened this week to the youngest children in
England, while non-essential shops will be allowed to reopen their
doors to trading from Monday.
A separate study published on Friday meanwhile said about 53,000
people in England had the coronavirus in the last two weeks of May.
But less than a third (29 percent) of those who tested positive had
symptoms, the ONS said.
It surveyed almost 20,000 people in private homes and found that 21
people had the disease, which equates to some 0.1 percent of England’s
56 million people.
– Infection rate –
As the country gradually reopens, attention has focused on the
so-called R rate — the average number of secondary infections
produced by one infected person.
HEALTH-VIRUS-BRITAIN NEWSERIES-TWO LAST
The government said it was still between 0.7 and 0.9 across Britain.
Scientists and ministers say the easing of lockdown measures
depends on keeping the rate below one.
But the data also suggested there had been a slight increase and
the figure was above the threshold in two English regions.
“We believe it is probable that R is below 1 in all regions of
England with the exception of the North West and the South West,” said
the study by Public Health England and Cambridge University, which
help generate the official figure.
“Our estimates show that the regional R numbers have increased
although they remain below 1 for most of England — this is to be
expected as we gradually move out of lockdown,” said PHE medical
director Yvonne Doyle.
Securing public support for easing lockdown measures and confidence
about risks are seen as key to returning to a semblance of normality.
But the ONS found only four in 10 adults felt safe or very safe
when outside of their home.
Almost two in three parents in England said they were not confident
about sending their children back to school.
The study showed a decrease of positive tests in recent weeks but
higher rates of infection for frontline health staff and those unable
to work from home.
Some 1.9 percent of participants who worked in patient-facing
healthcare or social care tested positive, compared with 0.3 percent
for the general working-age population.
An estimated 0.7 percent of those working outside of the home
returned positive tests, compared with 0.2 percent for those working