UK coronavirus death toll passes 45,000 mark as 85 more people die

15 July 2020, 17:51

The official death toll has passed 45,000 but the real tally is expected to be higher
The official death toll has passed 45,000 but the real tally is expected to be higher. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The UK's coronavirus death toll has risen by 85, taking the country's official total to 45,053.

There have also been a further 538 people test positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of infections in Britain to almost 291,911.

The Department of Health and Social Care said there were 189,438 tests available today, while a total of 132,121 were processed.

However, the government's official figures do not include all deaths involving coronavirus across the UK, which is believed to be at least 10,000 higher, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Britain's total number of tests to have been carried out or posted out now stands above 12.4 million (12,461,869).

Today's figure is 41 lower than last Wednesday's figure of 126.

The figures include all deaths where a person tests positive for coronavirus in any setting, but does not necessarily mean the death was caused by coronavirus.

It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson committed to an independent inquiry into the handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the UK leader told MPs it could not start while the UK was “in the middle of combating” the crisis.

He said he does not believe now is the right time for such an investigation but it will "certainly" happen in the future.

Lib Dem acting co-leader Sir Ed Davey called on the Prime Minister to "commit in principle to a future public inquiry" on the handling of the pandemic.

He said: "Under this PM we suffered one of the worst death rates in the world and Europe's worst death rate for health and care workers.

"Previously he's refused my demand for an immediate independent inquiry, saying it's too soon, even though back in 2003 he voted for an independent inquiry into the Iraq war just months after that conflict had started.

“If he still rejects an immediate inquiry, will he instead commit in principle to a future public inquiry, yes or no?"

Johnson confirms there will be a Covid-19 inquiry but not yet

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the Government has no plans to make people wear face coverings in the office.

Mr Hancock told LBC's Tom Swarbrick that while a mask was "valuable" in protecting other people if you have coronavirus, "especially people you don't meet very regularly," a mask would not make "much difference" if you were among people you normally spend time with.

His comments come after a Daily Telegraph report claimed ministers were considering extending the policy on face masks to offices and other workplaces.

Mr Hancock denied there was confusion surrounding the new rules requiring people to wear face coverings in shops from 24 July, after two of his Cabinet colleagues were pictured in a branch of Pret a Manger - one wearing a mask and one not.

He told LBC that a photo of Michael Gove in a shop not wearing a mask was taken before he made the announcement about the incoming rules.

He clarified that businesses had been given time to prepare and "at the moment, the rule is wearing a face covering is recommended," but not mandatory.

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