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UK declares 569 more coronavirus victims taking total fatalities to 2,921 as death toll quadruples in a week - and officials confirm 4,200 new cases with almost 34,000 Brits infected

UK declares 569 more coronavirus victims taking total fatalities to 2,921 as death toll quadruples in a week - and officials confirm 4,200 new cases with almost 34,000 Brits infected
  • Since Monday, March 30, 1,693 new deaths caused by coronavirus have been announced in the UK
  • This is more than had happened on all days up to Sunday, March 29, combined since the outbreak began
  • Rises in deaths now are mostly among patients infected weeks ago, experts say, and there is time lag
  • Today's death toll is only a small increase on yesterday and fewer new cases have been diagnosed 
  • Health authorities face mounting pressure to test NHS staff as routine and move on to testing the public
  • True scale of Britain's epidemic is unknown and estimates suggest two million may have caught COVID-19
Another 569 coronavirus deaths were declared in the UK today, meaning Britain's death toll has quadrupled in six days with 2,921 confirmed victims of the deadly infection. 
The rise makes today the worst day so far in the outbreak - which has crippled Britain since it began spreading on British soil in February. It is the third day in a row that a new one-day high in deaths has been recorded.
A further 4,244 people were diagnosed with the life-threatening infection in the past 24 hours, pushing the total number of positive tests to 33,718 - but officials are clueless about the true size of the outbreak.
The figures provide a glimmer of hope that the unprecedented lockdown may be working because it the number of new cases was down from 4,324 yesterday, while the daily death count jumped by just six.  
Figures show the UK's COVID-19 death toll - which leading scientists warned could have topped 500,000 without drastic Government action - was just 759 last Friday. 
It came as Health Secretary Matt Hancock emerged from self-isolation tonight to announce a U-turn on the testing fiasco, saying he wants to use independent labs so everyone can get swabbed.
He admitted the UK won't be testing 100,000 people a day until the end of the month and revealed some antibody tests he was being urged to buy had failed trials - with one missing three out of four cases.
In other developments to the escalating UK crisis today: 
  • Chancellor Rishi Sunak will order banks to hand over loans to struggling firms with one million businesses teetering on the brink of collapse;
  • Fifty-five per cent of Britons believe Boris Johnson imposed the coronavirus lockdown 'too late' while more than a third do not think current restrictions go far enough, according to an exclusive poll for MailOnline;
  • Bungling police used 'wrong law' to fine Britain's first conviction for breaching lockdown £800 when the 41-year-old refused to say why she was at Newcastle Station;
  • The Prime Minister is preparing to overrule control-freak health chiefs who wanted to take control of all testing to get a grip on Number 10's testing shambles;
  • Business groups say firms have 'furloughed' half of their staff with concerns the government's bailout will need to be massively bigger than thought;
  • Overdraft customers will be able to request zero-interest buffers of up to £500 over three months to help ease the financial impact of coronavirus, under new proposals from the City regulator;
  • The ONS has revealed costs of cough and cold medication have risen by nearly 11 per cent over the last fortnight, amid fears of profiteering;

A member of the public is lifted into the back of an ambulance by paramedics in Euston, London. The capital remains at the centre of the UK's COVID-19 epidemic

The number of new daily cases of the coronavirus remained relatively stable through the last five days of March. Not pictured on this graph, however, are the 4,324 new cases declared yesterday and 4,244 today - both record highs
NHS staff were today finally being swabbed for coronavirus at a drive-through facility in Chessington, with queues of cars being waved through by a security guard in hi-vis jacket
And the NHS has announced more victims in four days this week (1,693) than in every other day of the outbreak combined up until Sunday, March 29 (1,228).
The true scale of the outbreak is not shown by the Department of Health's statistics, which cut off at 5pm the day before they are announced.
Because of this, some of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland's statistics will be taken into tomorrow's overall count for the UK. 
Combined, each country's individual death tolls for the day - England (561), Scotland (66), Wales (19) and Northern Ireland (6) - add up to 652.
This takes the real total to 2,977, and individual numbers of positive tests put the patient count at 39,215.
Experts have stressed that fast rising numbers of infections and deaths do not mean that the UK's lockdown isn't working.
It is expected to take at least a fortnight to see any impact on official statistics because of how long it takes the virus to make people ill and then for them to recover or die.
People dying in intensive care yesterday, for example, are likely to have caught the virus two, three or even more weeks ago - before the Stay Home campaign began. 
If testing rates remain the same, the first thing to drop will be the number of new infections as fewer people become ill in the first place.
After that, the number of people being admitted to hospital will fall, according to cancer doctor Professor Karol Sikora, and then, finally, the number of people dying will come down, too.
The process of catching the infection to dying can take two to three weeks or longer for each patient who succumbs to the illness.
Professor Keith Neal, infectious diseases expert at the University of Nottingham, said: 'These figures are much in line with expectations. 
'There is continuing evidence that the social distancing measure put in place on the 16th and then 23rd of March could be having an effect in slowing the rate of increase of new infections. 
'The current social distancing needs to be maintained and it is also a reminder that not only the old and those with underlying conditions can get severe disease.'
NHS England said its own patients who died were between 22 and 100 years old.
44 of them were otherwise healthy, with the youngest patient with no underlying conditions being just 25. A 100-year-old victim also did not have any other illnesses. 
One factor which could change the UK's statistics in the coming days and weeks is the pressure the Government is coming under to test more people.
Public Health England, which is managing all COVID-19 testing across around 48 laboratories, tested 7,771 people for the coronavirus yesterday - a total 10,657 tests. 
But critics are calling on authorities to ramp this up significantly and routinely test all NHS staff and then move on to testing the public and not just hospital patients.
Drive-through screening stations have been set up for NHS workers only in London and have so far tested around 2,800 medical staff. 

GOVERNMENT WILL OUTSOURCE WORK TO 'LITTLE SHIP' LABS TO SCALE UP COVID-19 TESTING

Boris Johnson is preparing to overrule control-freak health chiefs today amid warnings 'time is running out' to scale up coronavirus testing.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has finally signalled a U-turn on the screening regime, after weeks of insisting on all checks being carried out centrally.
Instead he has issued a plea for the wider science industry to boost capacity - with Sir Paul Nurse, chief executive of the Francis Crick Institute, saying the government must summon the Dunkirk spirit and let 'small ship' labs in universities, private companies and research institutes help out.
The previous approach was meant to ensure checks are conducted properly, but the 10,000 per day level achieved so far contrasts sharply with the decentralised tactics deployed successfully in countries like Germany, which is capable of up to 93,000 tests per day. The UK can currently only manage 12,000.
Only around 2,800 NHS staff have been tested at drive-through 'swab stations' despite fears tens of thousands are off work unnecessarily. But the Government said many more had been tested at labs elsewhere.
Tests to diagnose people who currently have the virus are viewed as critical for keeping health workers on the frontline, and tracking the outbreak could allow lockdowns to be co-ordinated in 'hotspots'.
But experts say screening for people who have already had the disease - antibody testing - will be the biggest breakthrough in getting the country back on its feet.
In a video released from his self-isolation in Downing Street last night, Boris Johnson admitted mass testing was the solution to the 'puzzle'. 'This is how we will defeat it in the end,' he said.
The Francis Crick institute today announced it has started testing NHS staff from University College London Hospitals and aims to ramp up to 500 per day by next week and expand to other hospitals in the capital.
Other smaller laboratories say they have volunteered to help with testing, too, among them the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology at Oxford University and Systems Biology Laboratory in Abingdon, which is testing local GP staff already. Cancer Research UK said it is also providing equipment and expert staff to help with testing.
However, there is already a blame game under way within government over the failure to scale up the testing regime - with the PHE insisting it has 'played our part'.
Ambulance workers are seen outside the NHS Nightingale Hospital in East London - the hospital has been built inside a conference centre to handle up to 4,000 extra coronavirus patients when hospitals get overloaded
Ambulance workers are seen outside the NHS Nightingale Hospital in East London - the hospital has been built inside a conference centre to handle up to 4,000 extra coronavirus patients when hospitals get overloaded
Construction workers are seen constructing a morgue the size of two football pitches to cope with people who die at the new NHS Nightingale hospital in London
Containers are delivered to Manchester Central Convention Complex, where contractors are building another temporary hospital cope with overflows of coronavirus patients
Containers are delivered to Manchester Central Convention Complex, where contractors are building another temporary hospital cope with overflows of coronavirus patients
The Government is being slammed for letting Public Health England try to run testing for the whole country in-house and not pulling in resources from private research institutes, university labs or more than 40 hospital labs.
The Francis Crick Institute, one of the country's leading science labs, in London, has stepped up by beginning testing staff from the local Imperial College London Hospitals NHS Trust.
It said it will be able to manage 500 tests per day by next week and wants to scale up to 2,000 a day for healthcare professionals so they can continue to work.
Its CEO, Sir Paul Nurse, said the Government was 'running out of time' to get a grip on the widespread testing that the World Health Organization has urged nations to do.
The WHO says every person suspected to be COVID-19 positive should be tested, and their close contacts should also be tested so the virus's spread can be monitored.
Sir Paul said on BBC Radio 4 this morning that there were many labs even in the public sector - but outside PHE - that could be used.
Referring to the famous Second World War evacuation of UK forces from the French coast, he said: 'A metaphor here is Dunkirk, to be honest. We are a lot of little boats and the little boats can be effective. 
'The government has put some bigger boats - destroyers - in place. 
'That is a bit more cumbersome to get working and we wish them all the luck to do that. But we little boats can contribute as well.'
Sir Paul said the smaller labs were 'more agile' to deal with global shortages of reagents. 
'We can make pipelines of reagents and chemicals,' he said.  'We can move faster to deal with issues. Of course we have supply chain problems but we can reduce them by being small and agile.' 
In response to heavy criticism that it wasn't doing enough, the Government has again pledged to test more people.  
Downing Street said Health Secretary Matt Hancock would be setting out plans for a 'significant increase' amid criticism the UK has been lagging behind other countries. 
The Health Secretary is out of self-isolation today after catching COVID-19 himself in a mini outbreak in Westminster which also struck Prime Minister Boris Johnson, chief medical adviser Professor Chris Whitty, Imperial College London scientist Professor Neil Ferguson and Dominic Cummings, the PM's chief adviser.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the Government had finally reached its target of 10,000 tests a day, with 10,412 carried out on Tuesday in NHS and Public Health England (PHE) laboratories across the UK.

CAMBRIDGE TEST '98.7% ACCURATE WITHIN 90 MINUTES' TO BE USED BY NHS 

Scientists have developed a coronavirus testing machine that can produce results in less than 90 minutes and is being rolled out at NHS hospitals in the city and across the UK.
The company Diagnostics for the Real World, founded at Cambridge University, has invented the portable Samba II machines and had them approved by Public Health England.
Ten of them are being used at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge this week before they are put to use nationwide.
The scientists say the machine is 98.7 per cent accurate.
CEO Helen Lee said: 'The Samba machine can be placed literally anywhere and operated by anyone with minimum training.'
Nasal and throat swabs must be collected from patients then put into the machines which will scan them for tiny traces of genetic material (RNA) from the SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus.  
Current tests which work in the same way can take 24 hours or more.
 Estimates from Imperial College London show 15 per cent of Spain's population may already have been infected with the coronavirus. Graph shows Imperial College's estimated infection rates (yellow bar) contrasted with each nations' current death rates - how many of those officially diagnosed can be expected to die (red bar)
Estimates from Imperial College London show 15 per cent of Spain's population may already have been infected with the coronavirus. Graph shows Imperial College's estimated infection rates (yellow bar) contrasted with each nations' current death rates - how many of those officially diagnosed can be expected to die (red bar)
The spokesman said the total number of NHS staff to be tested at drive-through facilities had now risen to 2,800, although 'significant numbers' had also been tested at NHS and PHE labs.
He said that they were working on a number of measures which would enable 'hundreds of thousands' of tests to be carried out each day.
'We acknowledge that more needs to be done in relation to testing,' the spokesman said in a briefing. 'We need to be testing more people and we need to be making progress very quickly.' 
Testing NHS staff is vital because it could allow thousands of staff, who are self-isolating because they or their family members have shown symptoms, to return to work if they are virus-free.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said that following complaints of shortages, the NHS had developed a new specification for the swabs used to carry out the tests which had been validated and shared with potential manufacturers.
'We think that provides us with a way forward to complete hundreds of thousands of tests,' he said.
Following the opening of a large-scale testing laboratory in Milton Keynes this week, the spokesman said two more would be opening next week in Cheshire and Glasgow to cover the north of England and Scotland.
At the same time, the Government was working with nine potential suppliers on developing an antibody test which would show whether people have had the virus in the past, and is seen as key to lifting the lockdown.
However the spokesman said that it was essential that they were accurate- the Government had reportedly been offered tests which had not met the required levels of accuracy and would not have been safe to use. 
NHS doctors brought out of retirement, mothers, teachers and a child: The heartbreaking reality of Britain's coronavirus death toll
With the UK's coronavirus epidemic claiming the lives of dozens and now hundreds of people every day, fast-rising statistics and numbers can cloud the human tragedy behind the virus's spread.
But the almost 3,000 people who are confirmed to have died already include a 13-year-old boy, a doctor who came out of retirement to help the NHS, a famous comedian, a mother in her 40s, and a retired teacher and nursery worker.
Dr Alfa Saadu, 68, Welwyn Garden Cityy
Dr Alfa Saadu, 68, died yesterday morning after fighting the coronavirus for two weeks
Dr Alfa Saadu, 68, died yesterday morning after fighting the coronavirus for two weeks
Alfa Saadu, 68, had been back at work at Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, having retired in 2016 after a 40-year career in the NHS. 
He was one of thousands who responded to the NHS's plea for former staff to return to the frontlines to help hospitals cope with the coronavirus workload.
Dr Saadu, a married father-of-two originally from Nigeria, had been working at the hospital in Welwyn Garden City for two weeks before he contracted the virus and died, succumbing to the illness on March 31. 
His son Dani told HuffPost UK: 'He was a very passionate man, who cared about saving people. As soon you spoke to him about medicine his face would light up.
'He worked for the NHS for nearly 40 years in different hospitals across London. He loved to lecture people in the world of medicine – he did so in the UK and Africa.' 
Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, 13, Brixton 
Ismail Abdulwahab died at King's College Hospital in London (pictured). His family chose not to release his photograph
Ismail Abdulwahab died at King's College Hospital in London (pictured). His family chose not to release his photograph
Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab became the UK's youngest coronavirus victim when he died on Monday, March 30 at King's College Hospital in London.
He did not have any other health conditions but died after developing severe COVID-19. Family friends said his parents moved to the UK from Somalia.
In a statement released yesterday, Ismail's family said: 'We are heartbroken as a family due to the devastation caused by the coronavirus as it becomes too real for us as a family and community.
'Ismail was a loving son, brother, nephew to our family and a friend to many people who knew him. His smile was heart-warming and he was always gentle and kind.' 
Caroline Saunby, 48, Middlesbrough
Caroline Saunby, 48, died on Sunday
Caroline Saunby, 48, died on Sunday
Caroline Saunby, a mother of young twin boys, died after collapsing at home and being taken to James Cook University hospital in Middlesbrough by air ambulance.
The family of the 48-year-old said her symptoms worsened and Caroline soon struggled to breathe before later losing her battle with the infection.
Mrs Saunby, who passed away on Sunday after showing signs of the illness last Thursday, leaves behind her two twin sons Joseph and Elliot and grieving husband Vic.
It is believed Ms Saunby, who had no prior health problems, noticed discomfort and she fell ill on Thursday with suspected tonsillitis after developing a sore throat. 
Linda Tuppen, 66, Manchester
Linda Tuppen was found dead on Saturday
Linda Tuppen was found dead on Saturday
Linda Tuppen, from Greater Manchester, died in her sleep last Saturday, five days after she began to feel unwell with coronavirus symptoms.
She became ill with a chest infection on March 23, the day the Prime Minister imposed a lockdown, and her symptoms escalated to pain in her sinuses, causing her to stay in bed all day the following Thursday and Friday. 
Her son, a software engineer, was so concerned for his mother he called 111. But Linda, a much-loved former teacher and nursery nurse, refused to speak to them and said she just wanted to sleep. 
Tragically, he went to check on her the next morning and found that she had passed away. Rob, 28, who has a 23-year-old brother, said: 'It's devastating, we lost our father in 2008, so we're pretty much on our own now.'
Eddie Large, 78, Bristol
Little and Large were last seen together in February 2019 on a celebrity special of BBC quiz show Pointless
Little and Large were last seen together in February 2019 on a celebrity special of BBC quiz show Pointless
Eddie Large, one half of the famous comedy double act Little and Large, died at the age of 78 after contracting coronavirus in hospital while being treated for heart failure in hospital in Bristol, his family revealed today.
The Glasgow-born comedian, whose real name was Edward Hugh McGinnis, was known for his partnership with Syd Little which spanned five decades after winning Opportunity Knocks in 1971. 
Today, Mr Little described the news as 'devastating', adding: 'He had been ill for a while but when it happens, it hits you. We were together 60 years. It wasn't like having a partner. We were friends.'
Eddie, a lifelong Manchester City fan who lived with his wife Patsy in Portishead, near Bristol, died alone in hospital because of a ban on visitors during the current crisis with his son Ryan saying 'his heart was sadly not strong enough to fight' coronavirus. He had a heart transplant in 2003.
His agent Peter Mansfield said today: 'His family were very sad not to be able to be in the same room as him, touching him, in the last week because of coronavirus. They were only able to speak on the phone which was obviously very sad for them. But they wanted to say thank you to the NHS which was fantastic throughout.'  
aM'gAed El-Hawrani, 55, Leicester
Dr El-Hawrani was primarily an ear, nose and throat consultant and surgeon but before he became unwell, he had also been volunteering in A&E
Dr El-Hawrani was primarily an ear, nose and throat consultant and surgeon but before he became unwell, he had also been volunteering in A&E
Amged El-Hawrani became the UK's first front-line hospital doctor to die from coronavirus.
The 'dedicated' consulant, who was an ear, nose and throat specialist at Queen's Hospital in Burton, was known for being 'extremely hard-working' and deeply committed to his patients.
He died on March 28 at the Glenfield Hospital in Leicester – the first UK death of a full-time hospital doctor from the virus since the crisis began.
Dr El-Hawrani was primarily an ear, nose and throat consultant and surgeon but before he became unwell, he had also been volunteering in A&E.
His family said they were devastated but 'immensely proud', and staff at his hospital said they were 'desperately saddened'.

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