Thu. Feb 25th, 2021

By Sam Blanchard

MAILONLINE — The UK has declared 439 more deaths caused by the coronavirus today, taking the total to 5,373, and 3,802 new positive tests have pushed the number of patients up to 51,608.

In a glimmer of hope after a dark week for Britain, the number of people dying of COVID-19 has now fallen for two days in a row and today dropped 30 per cent from 621 yesterday.

Today’s death count is the lowest since March 31, last Tuesday, when it was 381, and marks a 39 per cent fall from the UK’s worst day so far, Saturday, when the deaths of 708 people were recorded.

The number of new cases is also lower than it was for almost all of last week, with the 3,802 new positive tests 2,101 fewer than 5,903 yesterday and only the second time since March that the number has been below 4,000.

England accounted for 403 of the fatalities while Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland declared 36 more deaths between them over the past day. 

PM Boris Johnson

Number 10 tonight confirmed that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had been moved to intensive care in St Thomas’ hospital after being admitted for tests last night as a precaution.

A spokesperson said Dominic Raab would deputise for him as his ‘persistent’ coronavirus symptoms worsen. 

His deputy Mr Raab, who chaired the daily coronavirus crisis committee meeting this morning in the absence of the premier, dodged giving any timetable for him being back in action this evening.

‘He is in charge,’ the Foreign Secretary told the daily press briefing. ‘The PM will take the medical advice he gets from his doctor.’ Mr Raab said he had not spoken to Mr Johnson personally since Saturday.

Earlier, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, said authorities will start to consider easing the UK’s lockdown in the coming weeks if the numbers of people being admitted to hospital remains stable. There are fears a long quarantine will cause permanent damage to the economy and the NHS appears to be coping well so far.

However, for normality to return experts say antibody tests – which reveal who has already recovered from COVID-19 – will be necessary. But leading scientists have warned the UK is at least a month away from having any that work, adding that all the kits that have been checked already have ‘not performed well’ and are not worth using.

Europe death rates falling

More optimistic statistics come as countries around Europe, including Italy, Spain and Germany, appear to be seeing death rates fall – Germany’s outbreak appears to have hit is peak already with just 1,600 deaths.

In other coronavirus developments today:

Humiliated Nicola Sturgeon has admitted the effort to combat coronavirus has been damaged after she was forced to accept the resignation of Scotland’s chief medical officer for flouting her own lockdown rules;

Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty is out of self-isolation and has been working after recovering from coronavirus;  

Worrying figures showed the UK’s coronavirus epidemic was set to overtake that suffered by France and Italy;

Health Secretary Matt Hancock threatened to revoke the right to exercise outdoors if people continued to flout social distancing measures;

The Prime Minister’s spokesperson confirmed that sunbathing in public is not allowed and flouts rules allowing only essential movement;

Top scientists said it would take at least a month for the UK to develop antibody tests that could be rolled out widely to check who has had the virus already;

A report by the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre has found that ethnic minority people are at a greater risk of becoming seriously ill with the coronavirus;

Wales declared a further 302 cases and 27 more deaths, meaning it has now had 3,499 positive tests and 193 people have died.

The majority of the deaths happened in London again, with a total of 129, followed by 75 in the Midlands, 67 in the North East and Yorkshire, 44 in the East of England, 43 in the North West, 27 in the South West and 18 in the South East.

Falling figures may be a reason to be cheerful, but experts have warned against pinning too much significance to day-by-day numbers.

Statistics recorded on Sundays and published on Mondays have, since the outbreak in the UK began, been routinely followed by an upward surge on Tuesday.  Last Monday’s figure was 13 per cent lower than Sunday’s.  (ia/sovereignph/MaiOnline)

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