According to figures released on Saturday by the Department of Health and Social Care, a total of 4,313 people have now died in the UK. In a press briefing Saturday, cabinet minister Michael Gove said that a 5-year-old with underlying health conditions was among those who had died.
The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus is 41,903, an increase of 3,735 from the previous day’s figures. Gove said that seven healthcare workers had so far died from the virus.
The UK’s social distancing rules will remain in force for several more weeks, despite signs the coronavirus outbreak is slowing, one of the country’s leading epidemiologists has said.
Professor Neil Ferguson, one of the experts who has been advising the government on its response, told the BBC there’s been an 85% drop in the typical number of people movements outside homes since the rules were put in place.
He says that’s vital to limiting the spread of the virus.
“The critical thing first is to get case numbers down, and then I’m hopeful… in a few weeks’ time we will be able to move to a regime which will not be normal life — let me emphasize that — but will be somewhat more relaxed in terms of social distancing and the economy, but relying more on testing,” he said.
Stephen Powis, National Medical Director of NHS England, said Saturday the death rate from the virus continues to be high, and “is likely to continue over the next week or two.”
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the government will continue to keep the social distancing restrictions under review, and relax them “if and when the evidence shows we are able to.
When asked about a timescale for when restrictions would end, Gove said “it depends on compliance.”
The minister added that there was “no specific date in the calendar at which we can say that things will change.”
Johnson said he has written to the leaders of opposition parties to “invite them to work together at this moment of national emergency.”
In his letter, Johnson described the coronavirus outbreak as the “biggest threat this country has faced in decades” and one that will take months — not weeks — to fight.
“As party leaders, we have a duty to work together at this moment of national emergency. Therefore, I would like to invite all leaders of opposition parties in Parliament to a briefing with myself, the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser next week,” Johnson wrote.
The government is again urging people to stay home during the weekend, despite the temptation to leave because of the sunny weather. The beach in Brighton, a popular southern English resort, was largely deserted on Saturday, with police encouraging people to follow the rules.
Downing Street earlier posted a warning on Twitter, which said: “If you go out this weekend, you might catch more than the sun.”
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