A record number of 980 people died in UK hospitals in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total to 8,958.
This number is only exceeded in Europe by France, where 1,417 died in a single day – a figure which, unlike the United Kingdom, included deaths in care homes. Italy announced nearly two weeks ago its record death toll of 971, against the worst day of 950 coronavirus deaths in Spain.
As the hardest hit countries in Europe have now passed the peak of the epidemic, UK numbers are expected to continue rising for at least another two weeks.
Announcing the numbers, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, “We never forget that behind this number, behind everyone is a name, a loss and a family that will never be the same again. “
He added: “This Easter will be another test of the determination of the nation. It’s a time of year when people get together normally. But whatever the weather, whatever the temptation of your beach or park, we need everyone to stay at home. “
The numbers come on the day when the global number of deaths from coronaviruses approached 100,000.
The official daily death toll in the UK, which is calculated on a time scale different from the separate figures announced in the four countries, exceeds the daily total of 881 on Thursday and the previous record of 938 announced on Wednesday.
Earlier on Friday, the NHS England confirmed an additional 866 hospital deaths, bringing England’s total to 8,114. In Scotland, which also has deaths outside hospitals, there were 48 more deaths out of a total of 495. Wales recorded 29 more hospital deaths, bringing its total to 315, and there were 10 more deaths in Northern Ireland, bringing its total to 92.
Figures in England showed a particularly strong increase in deaths in the Midlands, where the number of victims increased by more than 84%, from 124 to 229 in 24 hours. London remains the most affected region with 249 deaths.
The patients who died in England were between 27 and 100 years old. All but 56 of them had underlying health conditions.
The latest data came after it was confirmed that the coronavirus had claimed the life of a 10th NHS doctor. Dr Fayez Ayache had retired as a general practitioner from Suffolk but worked part-time in North Clacton, Essex, until three weeks ago. He also volunteered to help refugees from his native Syria. He died Wednesday after being diagnosed with pneumonia and Covid-19.