Coronavirus: Biggest daily rise in UK deaths – up 89 to 424
11:38am 24th March 2020.
(Updated at 9:33pm 24th March 2020)
The UK has seen its biggest daily spike in deaths from coronavirus with 89, taking the nationwide total to 424.
The Department for Health and Social Care announced the latest figures on the first day of a nationwide lockdown to counter COVID-19, with the vast majority of new deaths coming in England.
Eighty-three of the coronavirus fatalities confirmed on Tuesday were in England, with two in Scotland, one in Wales, and three in Northern Ireland.
The total of 89 is up from 55 deaths announced across the whole of the UK on Monday.
The latest patients to die in England were aged between 33 and 103 years old and were in vulnerable groups or had underlying conditions, NHS England said.
Twenty-one of the deaths appeared to have come at London North University Healthcare NHS Trust, which just last week declared a critical incident at its Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow after an upswing in coronavirus patients saw it run out of intensive care beds.
Sky News’ health correspondent Ashish Joshi said that the trust’s deaths were split between Northwick Park Hospital and Ealing Hospital, with the trust expected to clarify its numbers in a statement later.
“It is significant – there are more deaths at these trusts than anywhere else in the country,” Joshi added.
“They do have a specialist centre for infectious diseases; whether that has anything to do with the number of COVID-19 cases they are seeing, which could account for the number of deaths, we will have to wait to see if there is an explanation from the trust on that.”
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the UK now stands at 8,077, up 1,427 from 6,650 on Monday.
A total of 90,436 people in the UK have now been tested for COVID-19.
Boris Johnson has urged millions of Britons to stay at home to help stop the spread of the virus, although key workers were still met with packed trains on Tuesday morning.
Aerial images from London also showed people failing to comply with social distancing rules, prompting government minister Michael Gove to warn: “Unless you stay at home then the people you love most may die.”
Shops selling “non-essential” goods like clothing and electronics are shut, as are a range of public spaces and other venues including hair salons, libraries, outdoor gyms and places of worship.
Prisons in England and Wales have also been put on immediate lockdown, with all visits cancelled.
Construction sites, however, are being allowed to remain open – as they are in other European nations – although housebuilder Taylor Wimpey has decided to close its sites, show homes and sale sites.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said allowing construction sites to remain open if they want to kept the UK in line with other countries including Italy, which remains the world’s worst hit nation.
Mr Sunak also told the House of Commons that he was “determined” to find a way to support self-employed workers during the pandemic after calls for his economic rescue package announced last week to go even further.
Responding to a question from Tory MP Mark Pritchard, Mr Sunak said there were “genuine practical and principle reasons” why it was difficult to design measures for the self-employed that matched those for the employed.
But he added: “We absolutely understand the situation that many self-employed people face at the moment as a result of what’s happening and are determined to find a way to support them.”
Mr Johnson said in an unprecedented televised address to the nation on Monday night that people must not go out in groups of more than two people, unless they are members of the same household.
People are being urged to stay at least two metres from one another and only go out for essential supplies or exercise, which they should only do once per day.
Failure to follow the new coronavirus rules – which will last at least three weeks – could see police officers dispersing gatherings and imposing fines, which government officials said would start at £30 up to unlimited.
Downing Street said the use of fines would be targeted at dispersing gatherings.
The PM’s spokesman added that failure to pay any penalty notice could be subject to criminal proceedings and a summary conviction.
Pictures were also posted on Twitter of dozens of people brushing shoulders on the London Underground, which has been running a reduced service since mayor Sadiq Khan imposed restrictions to tackle COVID-19 last week.
Nurse Paul Trevatt was among those to alert Mr Khan and government ministers to the scenes on the Tube, tweeting pictures of a busy platform at Finsbury Park station.
He said: “As a nurse trying to get to work I am so angry at the selfishness of other people.”
NHS worker Nicola Smith, tweeted: “I love my job but now I’m risking my health just on the journey in?!”
She called on Mr Khan to “put the tube service back to normal so we can all spread out”, or said the prime minister should “start policing who’s getting on”.
Transport union TSSA has also called for police to be deployed at major train stations in London to ensure only passengers who are “providing vital services” are travelling.
Mr Khan has discussed the issue with Transport Secretary Grant Schapps, who tweeted: “We need enough trains for those who must travel with enough space to be safe. I offered support of my Dept to help sort.
“People must do their bit – only use Tube when essential. Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives.”
In other UK developments:
- London’s ExCel Centre is to be converted into a makeshift hospital with 500 beds in the next few days
- The health secretary has announced plans for a 250,000-strong volunteer force to help the NHS
- The army has begun delivering personal protection equipment to hospitals
- Cabinet ministers have held a meeting using video conferencing for the first time ever
- Sports Direct has confirmed it will not open its stores to the public following a u-turn
- Chemicals giant INEOS is to build a hand sanitiser factory near Middlesbrough within 10 days
- The Britain’s Got Talent finals will be postponed until later in the year, ITV has confirmed
- London’s Royal Parks will remain open but visitors have been urged to respect social distancing rules
Despite a number people appearing to flout the lockdown measures so far, an overwhelming majority of Britons support the new restrictions – according to a new poll.
In a snap YouGov survey, 93% said they were in support of the effective lockdown of the UK.
Two-thirds (66%) of those asked said it would be easy to follow the new rules for the next three weeks, with only 29% saying they think it will be hard.
However, respondents were split on whether police had sufficient powers to get people to follow the rules – 39% think they do and 39% think they do not.