Coronavirus UK death toll rises to 759

27 March 2020, 14:34

Police enforcing the UK's coronavirus lockdown
Police enforcing the UK's coronavirus lockdown. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

The total number of people who have died after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK has risen to 759.

The UK figures were accurate as of 5pm yesterday, according to the Department of Health. The Department of Health and Social care said 113,777 people had been tested, with 99,198 negative and 14,579 positive.

A further six people were confirmed to have died from the disease in Wales today, bringing the latest total for the country to 34.

Tnd three more people who tested positive for Covid-19 in Northern Ireland died, bringing the total number of such deaths in the region to 13, health officials said.

In other significant developments today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced he had tested positive for the disease, as did Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

Both are in self-isolation with “mild” symptoms.

At Birmingham airport, a mortuary is being created in a hangar to help authorities cope with the rise in deaths.

An airport spokesperson said: “Birmingham Airport can confirm that it is working with the authorities to provide land and a hangar for a temporary mortuary site at the Elmdon side of Birmingham Airport, to support with the Covid-19 pandemic. 

"This mortuary is anticipated to accommodate the deceased from across the region, including those not related to Coronavirus. Birmingham Airport will do its utmost to support this multi-agency response during these difficult times."

Gatwick Airport also announced today that they are consolidate all operations into the South Terminal from 1 April and limit runway opening hours "to protect staff, passengers and the business from the impact of COVID-19".

The death toll rise is the biggest day-on-day increase since the beginning of the outbreak.

Hundreds of thousands more people are thought to be infected.

It took 13 days for the number of deaths in the UK to go from one to just above 100.

It took a further eight days to reach the latest total of 759.

The jump in coronavirus-related deaths in the UK from 578 to 759 is an increase of 181 - the biggest day-on-day rise and a 31% jump on the figures released on Thursday.

After the news about Mr Johnson and Mr Hancock, some scientists were critical of the fact the House of Commons has largely stayed "open for business", enabling the virus to spread.

Professor Susan Michie, director of the Centre for Behaviour Change at University College London, said: "Whilst the PM was telling people to stay at home and keep at least two metres apart from each other, the House of Commons was open for business and face-to-face parliamentary activities were carrying on.

"Given the transmission routes of touching contaminated surfaces and breathing in virus-laden droplets, it should not come as a surprise to hear that the PM and Health Secretary have tested positive for coronavirus.

"There are many reasons why those in leadership positions, including in Government, should practise what they preach."

Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, has not been tested for coronavirus as he has not displayed symptoms of the virus, his wife Sarah Vine said on Twitter.

Meanwhile Radd Seiger, spokesman for the family of teenage motorcyclist Harry Dunn, said Mr Hancock "irresponsibly failed to socially distance himself" when they met him on March 18.

Mr Seiger claimed the Health Secretary had hugged the family and shaken his hand as they met at the Department for Health and Social Care to discuss the teenager's death.

Earlier this week, it was announced that the Prince of Wales was also suffering "mild symptoms" of Covid-19.

On Thursday night Charles was seen for the first time since testing positive.

Clarence House posted a video in its Instagram Stories of heir to the throne Charles joining in with the round of applause for the NHS from Birkhall, his private home on the Balmoral estate in Scotland.