Official UK Covid-19 death toll passes 40,000

5 June 2020, 16:01 | Updated: 5 June 2020, 16:21

The UK has recorded over 40,000 coronavirus deaths
The UK has recorded over 40,000 coronavirus deaths. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

The official death toll for coronavirus in the UK has passed 40,000.

The Department of Health and Social care said today that there had been a rise of 357 deaths bringing the total to 40,261.

Latest figures mean the UK has now become the second country in the world to officially record more than 40,000 deaths in the crisis, and is only behind the US in terms of fatalities.

It was announced to day that there was a steady decline in the number of new infections towards the end of last month.

But there are fears this infection could rise after data from Public Health England revealed the reproductive (R) rate of coronavirus is now around one in the north-west and south-west regions of England.

If R is one or higher, the virus will spread exponentially through the population. An R number of less than one indicates the virus is in decline.

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The UK was put into lockdown on 23 March
The UK was put into lockdown on 23 March. Picture: PA

However, Dr Yvonne Doyle, PHE's medical director, said the latest estimates show that while regional R numbers have increased, they remain below one for most of England.

There is a slight time in the calculations for the R value, with the latest figures relating to what was happening two to three weeks ago.

Today's milestone figure also comes as lockdown measures are relaxed further, with differing rules set out for England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

From 15 June, non essential shops will be permitted to open to the public for the first time since 23 March, so long as social distancing rules are permitted.

Public transport has also been opened again, but from the same date facial coverings have been made compulsory.

Earlier today, doctors said this measure doesn't go far enough, and they should be worn in "all areas" where social distancing is not possible to reduce the risk of coronavirus.

BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the risk of the virus would be "much less" if the public wears face coverings straight away instead of waiting for the mid-June start date.

He said: "The BMA recently advocated the wearing of face coverings by the public several weeks ago in areas where they cannot socially distance and believes it is right that people should be required to wear face coverings on public transport.

"Given there remains a considerable risk of infection, with thousands of new cases every day, wearing masks can reduce the spread of the virus."

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