Coronavirus deaths rise by 596 in UK as total figure rises past 16,000

19 April 2020, 14:23

Coronavirus testing continues at Edgbaston Cricket Ground, Birmingham
Coronavirus testing continues at Edgbaston Cricket Ground, Birmingham. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

Five hundred and ninety six more people have died from coronavirus in the UK, official figures showed today.

A total of 16,060 patients have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Saturday, the Department of Health said, up by 596 from 15,464 the day before.

The latest figures come as ministers were facing mounting pressure to establish a proper exit strategy to bring the UK safely out of lockdown.

There were reports a 'traffic light' system was being considered, with three stages, red, amber and green, that would allow different businesses and social restrictions to be lifted at different times, depending on the scale of the infection.

However Michael Gove today dismissed this, and denied that schools could reopen shortly.

READ MORE: the 'traffic light' strategy explained

Mr Gove poured cold water on suggestions the 'traffic light' strategy that could see some schools and businesses allowed to reopen as early as mid-May.

He said today: "We have stressed that the reporting in today's newspapers that schools will reopen on May 11, that is not true, we have not made that decision."

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson also denied a decision had been made to reopen schools.

Mr Gove said ministers do not want to "take steps too early" despite the rate of infection appearing "to be flattening".

On Monday, the country will enter its fifth week in lockdown, with continued calls for a relaxation of measures that have shut schools and businesses, scaled back transport and closed and parks and public spaces closed as Britons are advised to pay heed to social distancing guidelines.

Mr Gove said Boris Johnson was "recovering well" at Chequers, his country estate, following treatment for Covid-19 in intensive care at St Thomas' Hospital in London earlier this month.

"He had the opportunity to talk to Dominic Raab, his deputy, the First Secretary of State, on Friday.

"And the Prime Minister's instructions to the rest of us in Government were communicated by the First Secretary of State when we had a conference call yesterday morning."

The virus has now claimed the lives of more than two million people worldwide, including 16,060 in hospitals in the UK.