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'New cases are NOT accelerating out of control... and that's good news': Official charts show UK's coronavirus curve IS flattening, despite grim record of 938 new deaths – more than Italy’s worst daily tally - taking toll to 7,097

'New cases are NOT accelerating out of control... and that's good news': Official charts show UK's coronavirus curve IS flattening, despite grim record of 938 new deaths – more than Italy’s worst daily tally - taking toll to 7,097
  • Lockdown appears to be working in the battle against coronavirus with hospital admissions slowing recently 
  • Govt deputy chief scientific adviser Professor Angela McLean said figures show outbreak not 'out of control' 
  • It comes despite the death toll seeing highest one-day rise so far, beating yesterday's record (786) by 152
  • Downing Street will not consider ending the UK's lockdown next Monday, when it will have been three weeks
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in a stable condition and 'responding to treatment' in an intensive care unit 
The UK's coronavirus outbreak is slowing, Government experts say - despite the death toll jumping by a record high of 938, overtaking Italy's worst-ever day (919) during the COVID-19 crisis.
Number 10's deputy chief scientific adviser Professor Angela McLean reassured Britons that the outbreak was not 'out of control', pointing to the figures showing the deceleration of hospital admissions and cases and calling it 'good news'. 
The numbers suggest the lockdown is working, with the drop in hospital admissions for the virus expected to lead to reduced death tolls in the next week or two.
However, today's record death toll is expected to be repeated or even surpassed in the coming days, as the peak of the virus hits Britain.
The number of Britons who have died in hospital after testing positive for the life-threatening illness is now 7,097 - more than double the tally of China, where the pandemic began in December.   
Department of Health data shows the number of cases increased by 5,491 today, meaning at least 60,733 Britons have been infected since the outbreak began spreading between humans on UK soil in February. 
But the huge jump is largely down to the Government yesterday testing around 3,000 more people than it usually does, swabbing almost 13,000 suspected patients for the killer virus compared to 9,740 the day before.  
Today's surge in deaths saw Britain surpass Italy's deadliest day on March 27, when officials in Rome recorded 919 new fatalities among hospitalised patients. Spain recorded 950 deaths in hospital on April 2. But the numbers are dwarfed by the US, which is being hammered by the virus with more than 400,000 cases. It recorded 1,799 deaths yesterday. 
However, the drop in hospital admissions and the cautious optimism of Prof McLean, suggests there is light at the end of the tunnel for Britain, with the effects of the lockdown expected to be seen in death tolls after next week.  
As the NHS and Government battle to maintain their grip on the outbreak, stricken Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains on an intensive care unit in a central London hospital, where his spokesman says he is in a stable condition and 'responding to treatment'. The PM was admitted on Monday night after suffering a fever for 10 days. 
In another day of developments in the Britain's coronavirus crisis: 
  • Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced there would be £750million made available for charities that were struggling while unable to raise money because of the lockdown;
  • Analysis of official figures shows coronavirus is killing one Briton every two minutes - and Birmingham is the epicentre of the UK's crisis; 
  • There are fears the government's bailout for employees could cost up to £40billion over three months, several times the Treasury's initial estimate; 
  • HM Revenue and Customs has urged furloughed employees to report firms which are still asking them to work, with any company found to be abusing the scheme facing criminal action;
  • President Donald Trump savaged the 'China centric' World Health Organisation and suggested US could withhold funding, as he claimed Britain is 'desperate' for ventilators and had asked for 200. The US is the worst affected country in the world with more than 400,000 confirmed cases and a soaring death toll; 
  • The deaths of two more NHS nurses were announced today - 29-year-old Rebecca Mack, from Newcastle, and Alice Kit Tak Ong, 70, who worked for the NHS for 40 years in London;
  • A symptom-tracking app run by King's College London suggests the number of people with coronavirus symptoms has fallen dramatically since lockdown started in late March;
  • Oxford University scientists say they may be able to make a COVID-19 vaccine by the autumn and said current trials could yield results within eight months.
Britain's Chief Scientific Adviser for the Ministry of Defence Angela McLean speaking during a remote press conference to update the nation on the COVID-19 pandemic
Britain's Chief Scientific Adviser for the Ministry of Defence Angela McLean speaking during a remote press conference to update the nation on the COVID-19 pandemic
Attention has now turned to Mr Johnson's vow to evaluate the progress of the UK's lockdown next week, which it looks like he will be unable to do. Downing Street says it will delay the evaluation, and there are no signs the stay-at-home measures will be lifted soon. London Mayor Sadiq Khan says the UK is 'nowhere near' the end. 
This sentiment was echoed by the World Health Organization's director for Europe, Dr Hans Kluge, who said it would be 'dangerous' to try and ease the rules too soon. Wuhan, the Chinese city where the pandemic started, has only today started to let its citizens travel again, 73 days after its prescient lockdown was enforced in January.
NHS England today confirmed 828 more people have died in its hospitals, with patients aged between 22 and 103 years old and of whom 42 had been otherwise healthy. The other 110 deaths were recorded across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. 
Italy issued official death toll figures of 919 for March 27, but, the same day, one region revealed it had missed off 50 deaths.
These extra 50 deaths were added to the daily total by most media outlets around the world including MailOnline, the BBC, CNN and AFP among many others.
However, Italy added the 50 'missing' deaths to the previous day's figures (March 26), so the official March 27 figure (Italy's highest) is 919.
Speaking at today's daily coronavirus briefing, Professor McLean said: 'This count of new cases in the UK, day by day over the last few weeks, is not accelerating out of control.
'Yesterday, there were 5,492 new cases and the spread of the virus is not accelerating and that is good news.'
When the death tolls of all four UK countries are combined the total number of fatalities is 7,172.
But because the statistics are recorded differently in each nation, numbers announced by the Department of Health each day are lower. 
Experts warn that people should take the daily death tolls announced by governments as a guide rather than a concrete number for each day.
Many of the fatalities announced each afternoon happened days or weeks ago, and many of the people who have actually died in the past 24 hours will not be counted in the numbers for days or weeks to come.
This means that each day's death count does not represent the date on which it is announced - it includes almost entirely deaths which happened more than 24 hours ago, and all the fatalities which actually happened on that day are announced officially in dribs and drabs in the days and weeks that follow.
University of Oxford's Professor Jim Naismith said yesterday: 'The current methods of reporting... has become unhelpful and distracting in evaluating the progress of the pandemic. 
'The swings in numbers that we are seeing are emotionally draining; hope one day and despair the next.' 
He said the numbers of new positive tests and hospitalisations were a more accurate picture of the day-by-day situation, because there is no time delay on those. 

UK's lockdown IS working: Symptom-tracking app says 500,000 FEWER Britons have tell-tale coronavirus symptoms this week

The number of people with coronavirus symptoms has plummeted since the UK's lockdown started two weeks ago, according to scientists.
A team of researchers at King's College London, who developed the COVID Symptom Tracker app, say the number of people reporting symptoms has dropped.
Latest analysis from the app, which has been used by more than two million people, estimates that there are now around 1.4million with symptomatic coronavirus in the UK.
This is a drop from a projected 1.9million on April 1 and the scientists called it 'really encouraging'. 
And its first analysis on March 26 had suggested around one in 10 people were ill with, or had already had, COVID-19 - which could have worked out as some 6.6million people.
The significantly lower estimate since then suggests that people staying at home, after the Prime Minister's speech on March 23, is starting to slow the outbreak down.
But officials in all corners - including Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and the World Health Organization - have said it is too soon to even think about lifting the social distancing measures. 
There can be a time lag of more than three weeks between someone becoming infected with coronavirus and dying. Symptoms take days - if not weeks - to become life-threatening. The death has to be recorded and reported, and the family notified, in a process that takes days
The number of patients in intensive care with coronavirus has stabilised in the past week, in a sign the outbreak is slowing
Charts show how the UK's coronavirus death toll compares to counts in other nations, including Italy
Figures show how the number of hospital beds being taken up by COVID-19 patients has stabilised in the past four days
A chart used in tonight's Downing Street press conference showed how footfall at 17 major train stations had dropped 94 per cent between the first week of March and the last week of the month
A total 704 new cases were diagnosed in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the past 24 hours. 
In recent days they have been reasons to be cheerful, with the 3,634 cases diagnosed yesterday the lowest for a week. For the past seven days the number has remained relatively stable at around 4,000 per day. 
Today's statistics come as Downing Street confirmed that the Government will not consider when it ought to bring an end to the UK's lockdown next Monday. Officials pledged to review the situation every three weeks.
Next Monday will mark three weeks since Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged the entire country to stay at home.  
Downing Street merely said there will be a review 'on or around' the three-week mark - with the law requiring a technical extension by April 16.
Chief scientific adviser to the Government, Sir Patrick Vallance, said last night that official statistics were starting to show 'the beginning of change' for Britain but it would still be at least a week until a clear picture of the epidemic emerged.
Mr Raab stressed at the daily Downing Street briefing last night that authorities could not consider easing the lockdown restrictions until it was clear the peak of the epidemic had passed and it could be 'responsibly done'.
However, emergency legislation laid before Parliament three days after the PM's announcement states that a review must take place every 21 days, with the first deadline being April 16.
Pressed on when the review will happen, health minister Edward Argar told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'When the scientific advice is such that we appear to have gone over the peak and it is safe to do so.'

CHANCELLOR ANNOUNCES £750M FUND FOR CHARITIES

Chancellor Rishi Sunak tonight announced a £750 million bailout for charities badly hit by the coronavirus crisis. 
Many charities have seen their income streams slashed because of the current state of lockdown and Mr Sunak said it is 'right we do everything we can' to keep the sector afloat.
Describing the funding package as 'unprecedented', Mr Sunak said the cash would help ensure charities across the UK 'can continue to deliver the services that millions of people up and down the country rely on'. 
The cash is expected to benefit tens of thousands of charities, including hospices and those supporting domestic abuse victims. 
Some £350 million of the cash will come direct from government departments with £370 million for smaller charities, including through a grant to the National Lottery Community Fund. 
Speaking at the daily coronavirus press conference in 10 Downing Street Mr Sunak said: 'The simplest acts have the potential to change lives. At this time when many are hurting and tired and confined, we need the gentleness of charities in our lives. 
'It gives us hope, it makes us stronger and it reminds us we depend on each other.' 
Medical staff are pictured practicing loading and unloading a stretcher from an ambulance outside the NHS Nightingale Hospital in East London
A woman was pictured sticking a drawing of a rainbow to the window of 10 Downing Street today, with the caption 'We are in this together'
Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, is standing in for Boris Johnson and said it is too soon to consider ending the UK's lockdown and that the country must keep its foot on the pedal
London Mayor Sadiq Khan warned that an easing of the restrictions could be a long way off. 'I think we are nowhere near lifting the lockdown,' he told the BBC.
'We think the peak, which is the worst part of the virus, is still probably a week and a half away.'
WHO regional director for Europe, Dr Hans Kluge, said in an update that relaxing lockdown too early would be 'dangerous'.
'We still have a long way to go in the marathon and the progress we have made so far in fighting the virus is extremely fragile,' he said.
'To think we are coming close to an end point would be a dangerous thing to do. The virus leaves no room for error or complacency.
'Any shift in our response strategy, relaxing of lockdown status or physical distancing measures requires very careful consideration.'
But a minister told the Times that reopening schools should be one of the first moves in easing then lockdown.
Experts have said the closures are likely only to have a limited effect on the spread, and mean much of the workforce are tied up with childcare.
'We need to be led by the science, of course,' the minister said.
'But if we can reopen schools after the Easter holidays things could begin to get back to normal. It could kick-start the economy.'
While the country is anxious to know when the tough new living restrictions will start to be relaxed, it is only today that Wuhan, the Chinese city home to the livestock market where the entire global pandemic began, has allowed its citizens to travel again.
The railways and airport reopened and people are no longer on effective city-wide house arrest. The city had been under total lockdown for a total of 73 days since mid-January when officials realised the disease outbreak was out of control.
The rest of China quickly followed suit and now most of Europe is enduring similar conditions after global travel during the Chinese crisis spread the virus to almost every country on Earth.
At the height of the city's epidemic Wuhan, a city of 11million residents, saw citizens forced into their homes by authorities and transport hubs and streets were deserted except for police patrols and emergency workers.
But restrictions in the city have dropped off in recent days as new infections significantly fell. For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, mainland China reported no COVID-19-related deaths on Tuesday. 
Wuhan reported just two new infections in the past 14 days but Chinese authorities must now tread a very fine line between granting more freedom of movement to citizens, and guarding against a second wave of infections. 

BORIS JOHNSON 'RESPONDING TO TREATMENT' IN NHS INTENSIVE CARE UNIT 

Boris Johnson is 'stable and responding to treatment' after his second night in intensive care, it was revealed today.
Downing Street delivered slightly more positive news about the PM's condition amid claims his fever has finally dropped.
Mr Johnson's official spokesman said he continues to receive 'standard oxygen treatment' and is 'breathing without any other assistance' - making clear he is not on a ventilator.
The PM was admitted to hospital at the weekend after his fever persisted for longer than 10 days
The PM was admitted to hospital at the weekend after his fever persisted for longer than 10 days 
'The Prime Minister remains clinically stable and is responding to treatment,' the spokesman said.
'He continues to be cared for in the intensive care unit at St Thomas's Hospital. He's in good spirits.
No10 confirmed that the PM has not been doing any work, although they said he has been in contact with aides.
There are fears that even the best outcome from his coronavirus struggle will see him out of action for weeks, with experts warning he could need a 'phased return' to work.
There are also questions about the PM's care while he was in isolation, amid suggestions he was not physically monitored and only consulted a doctor by video link.
There are claims that social distancing rules were being flouted in Downing Street as the crisis developed, with meetings in cramped rooms and people coughing freely. Epidemiologist Neil Ferguson was among the first frequent visitor to become infected.
Tory MPs are calling for a review of the premier's medical arrangements, saying the lack of protection has been 'exposed' by the latest crisis.
The UK leader has starkly different health support than in the US, where the president has a dedicated medical team and emergency facilities constantly on standby.
Alice Kit Tak Ong, 70, died of COVID-19 in London yesterday after working for the NHS for 40 years since moving from Hong KongTributes have poured in for Rebecca Mack (pictured), a child cancer nurse from Newcastle who's died from coronavirus
Tall barriers remain in place around housing compounds and people are only permitted to leave if they have a green health code or are carrying documents stipulating a valid reason.  
In the UK last night there was cautious optimism from chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance,that the fight against COVID-19 'could be moving in the right direction'.
Sir Patrick said there were signs that the rates of new infections and new hospital admissions for COVID-19 were 'flattening off' and that reductions in these statistics would eventually lead to death rates falling in the coming weeks.
But he added it would be another 'week or so' before they could be sure, indicating lockdown measures would not be eased before then, and said day-to-day figures do not present an accurate picture of the situation.
Current death rates in Britain suggest someone is dying of COVID-19 roughly every two minutes and Birmingham is the local authority at the epicentre of the UK's crisis.
Yesterday saw a further 786 deaths reported and statistics show the NHS trust with the most victims in England is University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB), followed by several trusts in London.
Although London is being hit harder by the disease, it is broken into more local councils and NHS boards than Birmingham is, spreading the pressure out over a greater area and number of staff.
As of yesterday, UHB had recorded 263 deaths, 37 of which were announced on Tuesday. Birmingham has also consistently had the most coronavirus cases throughout the outbreak in comparison to other local authorities.
Almost 1,400 of the UK's total 55,242 cases have been in Birmingham, higher than any single borough in London or elsewhere in England. At the other end of the scale, Rutland has recorded just six cases.
Nationwide the number of people saying they have symptoms of the coronavirus is falling, according to scientists at King's College London.
The researchers developed an app called COVID Symptom Tracker which has been downloaded by more than two million people. They self-reported data from people across the UK suggests lockdown could be working.
Calculations suggest that around 1.4million people are currently suffering from symptomatic coronavirus infection, down from around 1.9m on April 1. On March 26, three days after Boris Johnson introduced lockdown, the team predicted more than six million people could be ill or recovered. 
The significantly lower estimate since then suggests that people staying at home, after the Prime Minister's speech on March 23, is starting to slow the outbreak down.

VACCINE 'COULD BE READY BY AUTUMN', SAY OXFORD SCIENTISTS 

A coronavirus vaccine could be ready as early as autumn, leading scientists behind a major UK trial say.
Oxford University researchers are confident they can roll out a jab for the incurable disease within the next eight months.
This 'best case scenario' is much sooner than was previously touted. Britain's chief scientific adviser said it would be at least 2021 until a vaccine was ready.
But the Oxford team, one of hundreds worldwide racing to develop a COVID-19 cure, warned it will be 'challenging' if the outbreak peaks before a jab is ready for trials.
With no tests available to identify who has already been infected it could be difficult to find unexposed people to take part in the trial, the researchers say.
More than 500 volunteers aged between 18 and 55 have signed up to the trial and will begin tests towards the end of the month.
Modelling by researchers at the University of Washington predicts Britain will hit its peak on April 17. So far the virus has killed 7,100 and infected 55,000 in the UK. 
The researchers told The Telegraph: 'The best-case scenario is that by the autumn of 2020 we have the results about the effectiveness of the vaccine from a phase III trial and the ability to manufacture large amounts of the vaccine.'
They admitted that this time frame was 'highly ambitious' many things could get in the way of that target. 
'At the moment it is not possible to identify who has already been infected,' they added, 'and if the virus is spreading quickly throughout the population it might be difficult to find unexposed people to take part in the trial.
'Conducting trials after the peak subsides presents another problem, because so many people will have developed a natural immunity by then, and the amount of transmission will have dropped so that those who are still not immune will take longer to be exposed to the virus.'
Birmingham has also consistently had the most coronavirus cases throughout the outbreak, in comparison to other local authorities. Almost 1,400 of the UK's total 55,242 cases have been in Birmingham. Surrey and Hampshire  are second and thirdFigures show the NHS trust with the most coronavirus victims in England is University Hospitals Birmingham, with 263 recorded fatalities
Birmingham has consistently had the most coronavirus cases throughout the outbreak, in comparison to other local authorities, and its main NHS hospital trust has also recorded more fatalities than another other health board
But officials in all corners - including Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and the World Health Organization - have said it is too soon to even think about lifting the social distancing measures.
It will take at least another week for any effects of the lockdown to filter through to hospitals, Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK's chief scientific adviser, said yesterday.
The COVID Symptom Tracker app works by members of the public filling out forms which describe their health and ask about possible coronavirus symptoms.
Healthy people, those who think they might have COVID-19, and those who have been officially diagnosed are all encouraged to take part in it.
One of the app's developers, Professor Tim Spector, said: 'It is really encouraging to see that the rate of new symptoms being reported is beginning to fall.
'Even though hospital admissions and deaths are still on the rise, we hope that these figures offer a much needed light at the end of the tunnel.
'The altruism of the UK public combined with modern technology is allowing us to rapidly collect huge amounts of invaluable data to help us better understand this deadly virus.
'We would like to take this opportunity to thank every single person who is already participating and would urge everyone else to download the app and check in every day, whether you are experiencing any symptoms or feeling fine.'      

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