Some 8,958 people died in the UK after being tested positive for Covid-19 at 5 p.m. yesterday – an increase from 980 the day before.
The daily rise of 980 outpaces the UK’s previous biggest jump of 938.
And for the first time, this means that the UK recorded more new deaths in a day than Italy and Spain did at their peak.
Italy registered 971 new deaths on March 28 while Spain registered 950 on April 3, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
The grim toll will likely raise further questions about the speed of the British government’s response.
A national lockdown was announced on March 26, but critics have accused the government of failing to release it quickly enough.
Large events and festivals continued until several days before the lockdown, when advisers to the British government decided that simply slowing the spread of the virus could still cause 250,000 deaths.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed the total number of deaths at a daily press conference in Downing Street.
He said, “Behind everyone is a name, a loss and a family that will never be the same again. “
Assistant doctor Jonathan Van Tam said the UK was still in a “dangerous phase” of the epidemic. He added, “It’s not over. “
And head nurse Ruth May made a passionate call to keep people at home over the Easter weekend to “protect my staff.”
When asked if it was frustrating to see people flouting lockouts, she replied, “It’s very, very frustrating. It’s personally frustrating to see that people are clearly not distancing themselves and clearly manifesting themselves in large groups.
“I was just crossing Westminster Bridge to see a whole horde of cyclists coming together. It’s extremely frustrating. “
She added, “There are also, again, occasions when my co-workers are abused by their neighbors to go to work. “
She said that Sam, a mental health nurse in eastern England, received “grief” from her neighbors on the way to work.
“Our nurses, our health staff must be able to go to work. It is fair and correct, but my request to everyone – please stay at home, save lives and protect my staff. “
The daily increase in deaths in the United Kingdom has just been exceeded today by France, which recorded a tragic increase of 987.
There was a steady increase in the number of people occupying hospital beds between March 20 and April 9.
But in the midst of the huge death toll, the number of people in critical care in London has dropped over the past day – the first major fall in the capital since the pandemic began.
And the deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, said that the UK coronavirus case curve may be showing signs that it is starting to “fold”, saying to Brits, “Your hard work is starting to bear fruit.
The numbers show that “the curve is curving,” he said, but added, “It is impossible to say that we have peaked. London declined on the last day, but Yorkshire and the North East increased. “
Urging people to stay at home, Hancock said, “This is a national effort, and everyone in this country can play their part in this plan.
“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 your park, we need everyone to stay at home.
“Because in hospitals across the country, NHS staff are fighting day and night to keep desperately sick people breathing, and they need you to stay home. “
Hancock also revealed that there was “finally” enough capacity to test all sick NHS staff for coronavirus.
He told the press conference that any NHS staff member who needs a test for Covid-19 will now be able to get one.
Officials said this means that any NHS staff member who has symptoms, who is in a household where someone has symptoms, can be tested.
Explanation of government action against coronaviruses
This will allow NHS personnel to return to work if they do not have Covid-19, thus strengthening the front line.
But it is understood that there are not yet enough tests for all the welfare staff who need them.
Instead, Hancock said that “all key social service workers” can now be tested if they need to.
There is not yet a definition of “key” social services personnel, but it is believed to include those working in the NHS.