UK coronavirus deaths surge to 55

16 March 2020, 18:02

Coronavirus has now killed 53 people in the UK
Coronavirus has now killed 55 people in the UK. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

55 people in the have now died after testing positive for coronavirus, the Department of Health has confirmed.

Across the UK, there have been 1,543 confirmed cases across the UK, up from 1,372 at the same time on Sunday.

It comes after the Prime Minister advised that people should avoid all "unnecessary contact with others" and "avoid pubs, clubs and other venues" to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Making a statement in the Commons on the coronavirus outbreak, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the pandemic is "the most serious public health emergency that our nation has faced for a generation".

Mr Hancock said: "Our goal is to protect life. Our actions have meant that the spread of the virus has been slowed in the UK and I want to pay tribute to the officials at Public Health England and the NHS for their exemplary approach to contact tracing and their work so far.

"However, the disease is now accelerating and 53 have sadly now died. Our hearts across this whole House go out to their families."


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Boris Johnson will not hold a daily press briefing
Boris Johnson will now hold a daily press briefing to keep the public informed. Picture: PA

Earlier today, it was confirmed the first death in Wales was a patient in their sixties in Wrexham Maelor Hospital.

It means there have now been deaths due to Covid-19 in every nation of the UK.

Dr Giri Shankar, of Public Health Wales, said: "The Chief Medical Officer has today confirmed the death of a Welsh resident who had tested positive for Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19). Public Health Wales offer our sincere condolences to family and friends affected by this loss."

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The virus has now had an effect on almost every country on the globe, with many nations deciding to place their citizens on almost total lockdown in an attempt to halt the spread.

The UK government has yet to bring in this measure, instead advising that people should halt "all unnecessary contact" with others.

Mr Johnson refused to ban mass gatherings, instead saying they would "no longer be supported" by emergency services.

But despite his insistence that people should not interact with one another in person, Mr Johnson has stopped short of closing down schools in the country.

He added that London "is a few weeks ahead of the rest of the country" and so Londoners must be particularly vigilant.

Mr Johnson stated that "drastic action" would be needed to help delay the spread of the disease and that "it looks as though we are now approaching the fast-growth part of the upwards curve."He has also urged Brits to work from home from now on.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty added that anyone over 70, pregnant women, or people with significant health issues should take greater care to minimise contact with others.

He also said the next few months would be "extraordinarily difficult for the NHS in all four home nations.

"They also warned that the UK is just three weeks behind Italy in the number of people who were infected.