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UK's efforts must not wain, says Hancock as death rate hits 10,000


Health Secretary Matt Hancock briefs the media yesterday

Health Secretary Matt Hancock briefs the media yesterday

10 Downing Street/AFP via Getty

Health Secretary Matt Hancock briefs the media yesterday

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said yesterday was a "sombre day" as the hospital death toll from coronovirus in the UK passed the 10,000 mark.

Mr Hancock said that across Britain 19,945 had been admitted to hospital with symptoms of coronavirus.

Mr Hancock, who led yesterday's Downing Street Press briefing, confirmed:

  • An NHS app is now available to warn if people come into close contact with someone experiencing coronavirus symptoms.
  • Covid-19 testing for care home staff is set to be rolled out.
  • Spare NHS critical care capacity is higher currently than it was when the pandemic started, with 2,295 beds available.
  • More than 5,000 former and retired health staff are now back on the NHS front line and over 36,000 have come forward to enlist.

Addressing the number of deaths in hospitals, Mr Hancock said: "Today marks a sombre day in the impact of this disease as we join the list of countries who have seen more than 10,000 deaths related to coronavirus.

"The fact that over 10,000 people have now lost their lives to this invisible killer demonstrates just how serious this coronavirus is and why the national effort that everyone is engaged in is so important."

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called the figures "heartbreaking", adding: "Every one is a tragedy, every one is a family shattered."

Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show that the UK looked set to have "one of the worst, if not the worst" death rate in Europe.

Asked about the prediction, Mr Hancock said the "future of this virus is unknowable" and that there had been "a flattening of the curve" because most people were following the social distancing measures.

Announcing a new NHS coronavirus smartphone app, Mr Hancock encouraged people to start using it so earlier preventative measures could be taken.

The technology will "securely" and "anonymously" alert fellow app users when they have been in contact with a person that has developed coronavirus symptoms, he explained.

The minister added: "The more people who get involved then the better informed our response to coronavirus will be and the better we can protect the NHS."

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) piled more pressure on ministers this weekend after it urged members to refuse to treat patients as a "last resort" if adequate PPE was not provided.

Mr Hancock, who had contracted coronavirus previously, defended the Government's record on PPE, declaring there are "record amounts of PPE in the system".

Quizzed on the RCN's fresh advice, Mr Hancock replied that he had been in contact with the organisation as part of the Government's attempt to "get this right".

Mr Hancock said Covid-19 testing had been "available throughout" for care home residents but confirmed testing for staff in the homes was "coming", although admitted the process was "complicated".

Yesterday, the Department of Health said, as of 5pm on Saturday, a total of 10,612 patients had died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK, up by 737 from 9,875 the day before.

Belfast Telegraph