Britain announces 164 coronavirus deaths -almost level with last week’s Sunday total – taking total to 36,839 as Boris prepares to decide if lockdown should be eased further
- The figure is similar to last Sunday (170) and only includes hospital deaths
- The full count across all settings will be published at some stage this afternoon
- Boris is preparing to make a decision on whether to loosen the lockdown more
- But the R number is still between 0.7 and 1 across the UK. Above 1 is dangerous
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Britain has announced a further 164 coronavirus deaths, taking the total to 36,839, ahead of the official figure later today.
The figure is hardly any different from that of last Sunday, 170, suggesting the decline in daily deaths is stalling, but still going down.
NHS England revealed a further 147 new deaths of people who tested positive for COVID-19 in England hospitals. Scotland revealed a further nine, Wales seven and Northern Ireland just one, which include deaths across all settings.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is preparing to make a decision on whether to loosen the lockdown further on June 1, with the promise of garden parties on the horizon.
But Government’s scientific advisers on Friday said the R number, which reflects how the virus is spreading, is still edging near a dangerous level. It must stay below 1 to avoid cases snowballing, and is currently between 0.7 and 1 across the UK.
Meanwhile, nine Tory MPs have called for the PM’s senior adviser Dominic Cummings to quit amid claims he broke coronavirus lockdown rules three times.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics, looked at by The Sunday Telegraph, show three regions which have recorded excess death more than 50 per cent higher since the start of March – London, the North West, and the West Midlands. Excess deaths include any that wouldn’t have been expected, including those directly and indirectly caused by the pandemic
How many excess deaths there are in the East, Yorkshire, East Midlands and North East, and how these compare to the five-year average
The South West, with the North East, has had the lowest excess deaths for England. Wales has seen 1,910 excess deaths, 59 unrelated to COVID-19, Scotland 4,140 (925 unrelated) and Northern Ireland 643 (65 unrelated)
As the R rate falls, more businesses will be able to reopen, Boris Johnson explained on May 10. We currently in step 1. The opening of schools and shops will occur in step 2 on June 1 and hospitality businesses will start opening up on July 4, if R continues to decrease
The daily death toll today, which will be updated when the Department of Health releases its figures, is set to be higher than that recorded last Sunday.
A drop of almost 37 per cent was recorded last Sunday, May 17. But progress has been slower since then.
At least 257,000 people have now been officially diagnosed with COVID-19, with more to be announced by the Government at some stage this afternoon.
But the true size of the outbreak is estimated to have seen around 5million infected, based on a death rate of 1.04 per cent estimated by Stanford University in California.
Today an analysis showed that London’s excess deaths have almost doubled from March 6 to May 8 – a period of time considered to be the coronavirus crisis in the UK.
‘Excess deaths’ which were not caused by the coronavirus – but other problems such as lack of healthcare – have risen during the pandemic.
The excess death rate paints a clearer picture of how the coronavirus crisis has impacted countries because it encompasses all the fatalities the coronavirus has contributed to.
Britain has suffered some 55,000 ‘excess deaths’ – the number of deaths above what would be expected for the time of year – in 2020, up nearly 70 per cent compared to the five-year average by May 8.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics, looked at by The Sunday Telegraph, show three regions which have recorded excess death more than 50 per cent higher since the start of March.
London has been the hardest hit with more than 9,000 excess deaths from March 6 to May 8 – a 92 per cent rise from what would otherwise be expected.
Some 1,600 of those have not been directly caused by COVID-19.
The North West is closest behind, with almost 7,360 excess deaths between March and now, 52 per cent higher than what would be expected. Almost 1,700 of the excess deaths were not related to COVID-19.
The West Midlands has had 6,193 excess deaths, which is 58 per cent higher than what would be expected for that time of year. Some 1,730 are unexplained and not caused by COVID-19.
The excess death toll captures deaths that may have resulted from a lack of access to healthcare, as doctors have warned the public are avoiding A&E in order to protect the NHS.
Conditions like stroke and heart attack need immediate medical treatment, but there are indications people are delaying presentation at hospitals.
It also includes suicides, which are feared to rise as a knock-on effect of people’s mental health worsening during the lockdown, or moving forward due to financial worries.
It comes as a Nobel laureate scientist claimed the coronavirus lockdown could have caused more deaths than it saved.
Michael Levitt, a Stanford University professor who correctly predicted the initial scale of the pandemic, suggested the decision to keep people indoors was motivated by ‘panic’ rather than the best science.
Professor Levitt also said the modelling that caused the government to bring in the lockdown – carried out by Professor Neil Ferguson – over-estimated the death toll by ’10 or 12 times’.
He told The Telegraph: ‘I think lockdown saved no lives. I think it may have cost lives. It will have saved a few road accident lives, things like that, but social damage – domestic abuse, divorces, alcoholism – has been extreme.
‘And then you have those who were not treated for other conditions.’
His claims echo those in a JP Morgan report that said lockdowns failed to alter the course of the pandemic but have instead ‘destroyed millions of livelihoods’.
Author Marko Kolanovic, a trained physicist and a strategist for JP Morgan, said governments had been spooked by ‘flawed scientific papers’ into imposing lockdowns which were ‘inefficient or late’ and had little effect.
He said falling infection rates since lockdowns were lifted suggest that the virus ‘likely has its own dynamics’ which are ‘unrelated to often inconsistent lockdown measures’.
Mr Johnson is keen to ease out of lockdown so that life can return to some form of normality as the UK spends the 62nd day in lockdown.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is preparing to make a decision on whether to loosen the lockdown further on June 1, with the promise of garden parties on the horizon. He is picturing during ‘Clap For Our Carers’ on May 21
From June 1 it is expected that car dealerships, local markets and garden parties will be permitted. But you will still be unable to go to the hairdresser, the pub or a nightclub
The current lockdown rules the Prime Minister spoke about on May 10. There are expected to be further changes on June 1, when schools and shops reopen, and on July 4 when some hospitality businesses could get permission to trade
Market stalls, garden parties and car dealerships are among the next wave of activities set to be given the green light by June 1.
A selection of open-air businesses and events are planned to be opened up from next month, with a return for National Trust parks also on the agenda, providing indoor attractions remain shut.
The proposals are set to be revealed when the PM hosts the Downing Street press conference on Thursday, after meeting with ministers at a cabinet meeting earlier in the week on Tuesday.
A senior Government source told The Sun: ‘It is clear from the scientific evidence that the rate of infection is much less likely outdoors. The combination of fresh air and sunshine are bad for the virus but they make it safer for everyone.
‘So we are looking at opening up the outdoors. But all done in slow steps.
‘Social distancing must continue and if there’s the slightest hint of the infection rate rising again, or people hanging around in large groups, the PM will call a halt.’
Despite concerns, some non-essential shops could be given the go-ahead to reopen as well, as the PM tries to salvage something for families to enjoy this summer.
But with highs of 77F (25C) and 79F (26C) expected in the south east and London tomorrow, the public are largely taking it upon themselves to get outdoors rather than stay inside.
UK beauty spots could be set to see a repeat of Wednesday’s scenes, when 80F temperatures saw clashes between locals and sun-seeking tourists on the hottest day of the year so far.
Amid the bank holiday sunshine, Downing Street has been busy today batting off claims senior aide Dominic Cummings broke lockdown rules three times.
Fury has rippled through Britain after the news broke yesterday he had twice travelled 270 miles from London to Durham while the public were told to stay at home for lockdown.
But just as the PM resolved to stand by his right-hand-man, the Downing Street adviser was rocked by fresh claims of flouting the strict national guidelines from two more witnesses, which whipped up a further frenzy for him to be sacked.
The PM has mounted a determined defence of his controversial lieutenant, telling allies: ‘It’s not like he was visiting a lover’ – a reference to Professor Neil Ferguson who stepped down from his scientific advisor role after seeing his mistress during lockdown.
Other senior ministers have rallied around the Machiavellian figure, insisting he acted as a concerned parent and broke no rules, despite allegedly leaving home for day trips on one of the visits, meaning he made three breaches.
But as Mr Cummings arrived in Westminster this lunchtime, fuelling speculation he would resign, the first cracks in Tory unity appeared.
Steve Baker, a former Brexit minister and a senior hardline Brexiteer like Mr Cummings, broke cover to demand the Prime Minister ‘take back control’ of events squirming from his grasp.
Mr Baker told Sky News that Mr Cummings’ career had always ‘created an awful lot of collateral damage’, including the Brexit campaign, adding: ‘He is not always right and he certainly isn’t indispensable’.
‘If he doesn’t resign, we’ll just keep burning through Boris’s political capital at a rate we can ill afford in the midst of this crisis,’ he said.
‘It is very clear that Dominic travelled when everybody else understood Dominic’s slogans to mean ”stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives”.
‘And I think mums and dads who very much care about their children and who have been forgoing the childcare of their extended family will wonder why he has been allowed to do this.
‘I really just don’t see, as we approach the Prime Minister (appearing) at the liaison committee on Wednesday, how this is going to go away unless Dominic goes.’
A number of Conservative MPs have called for the PM’s senior adviser Dominic Cummings to quit amid claims he broke coronavirus lockdown rules three times
He arrived in Westminster this lunchtime as the first cracks in Tory unity appeared over revelations he twice travelled 270 miles from London to Durham while the public were told to stay at home
Mr Cumming’s movements that suggest he has broken lockdown more than once
In other developments today:
- Two new witness testimonies reignited calls for Dominic Cummings to be sacked;
- The first claimed to have seen Mr Cummings at a town 30 miles away from his parents’ Durham farm where he was self-isolating with his wife and child;
- A second witness then said they sighted Mr Cummings back in Durham on April 19, five days after he had returned to work in Westminster;
- Boris Johnson mounted a determined defence of Mr Cummings, telling allies: ‘It’s not like he was visiting a lover’;
- It emerged that travel firms are already planning to exploit a loophole in the 14-day quarantine period by flying holidaymakers into UK via Dublin (which is exempt from new isolation rules);
- Labour leader Keir Starmer revealed his children have attended school throughout the coronavirus crisis as he called for classes to resume ‘as soon as possible’;
- Employers were told they will have to pay 25 per cent of wages of furloughed staff from August, raising fears of a wave of redundancies;
- Boris Johnson will drop drop the ‘track’ in his ‘test, track and trace’ system that is designed to get Britain out lockdown because the NHSX app will not be ready for weeks.