UK's official coronavirus death toll rises by 154 to 43,081

24 June 2020, 19:32

The UK's official coronavirus death toll passed the 43,000 mark on Wednesday
The UK's official coronavirus death toll passed the 43,000 mark on Wednesday. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The UK's coronavirus death toll has risen by 154, taking the country's official total to 43,081.

There have also been a further 653 people test positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of infections in Britain to almost 306,862.

The Department of Health and Social Care said there were 232,086 tests available today, although the number of people actually being tested is still not being recorded.

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.

Britain's total number of tests to have been carried out or posted out now stands above 8.5 million (8,542,186).

The figure for the number of people tested has been “temporarily paused to ensure consistent reporting” across all methods of testing.

It comes as Boris Johnson clashed with Sir Keir Starmer in the House of Commons on Wednesday over the prime minister's claim that no country has a working test and trace app.

Speaking during Prime Minister's Questions, the Labour leader dismissed the statement, saying there have been 12 million downloads of a similar app in Germany.

Mr Johnson said his opposite man was "completely wrong" and doubled down on the claim, saying, "there isn't one anywhere in the world so far."

However, several countries do have contact tracing apps up and running, according to Full Fact, such as France, Australia, Poland, Latvia, Denmark, Italy, Iceland, Japan and Singapore, while South Korea has something similar in place.

Although, for an app to be fully effective it needs to be downloaded by a large percentage of the population. It also needs to overcome the challenges posed by Bluetooth technology so that it provides reliable information about what contacts have occurred.

Meanwhile, Business Secretary Alok Sharma told LBC that gyms and leisure centres will "hopefully" reopen "at some point in July."

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari, Mr Sharma outlined the potential timeline for reopening gyms despite so far leaving them off the list of businesses that have been given the green light to welcome back customers.

"If you look at gyms, you’re going to be exerting yourself," he said.

"The chances of you having aerosol dispersion is going to be higher and therefore there are higher risks in certain close proximity settings.

"We want to move to a position where we can open gyms and leisure facilities and we hope to be able to do that at some point in July.

"But that will only be able to happen if we continue to meet those five tests and people follow the guidelines that we have in place right now."

Elsewhere, Nicola Sturgeon has announced further lockdown-easing measures today.

The First Minister said while the pace of easing lockdown in Scotland is "slower than England's", it is "right for our circumstances and, I hope, more likely to be sustainable than if we went faster."

Ms Sturgeon announced that the current "five-mile travel limit" will be lifted from 3 July, as well as self-catering accommodation and second homes.

From 6 July, outdoor hospitality, including beer gardens, will reopen, as long as social distancing is upheld.

The Scottish First Minister said people will be able to meet up with two other households indoors from 10 July. People can also meet in larger groups outdoors, with social distancing.

Shopping centres reopen from 13 July, with pubs and restaurants will reopening from 15 July.

On the same day, dental practices can reopen for registered patients, and opticians can reopen for emergency care.

From 15 July, pubs, hairdressers and barbers, museums, galleries, monuments and libraries can reopen with social distancing.

All holiday accommodation can reopen from the same day, as well as childcare providers and indoor hospitality.

Live entertainment venues like theatres, nightclubs and bingo halls "will not re-open until a later date", while "further consideration" is being given to the opening of indoor gyms and restrictions on weddings and funerals.