Britain records 1,162 Covid deaths in second worst ever day of pandemic – but cases DROP week-on-week with 52,618 more infections
Britain today recorded 1,162 coronavirus deaths in the second worst day of the pandemic, but cases dropped compared to last week after health bosses announced 52,618 new infections.
Department of Health figures show only April 21 – in the midst of the first wave – was worse, when 1,224 victims were declared. The third worst day was on April 9, when 1,116 fatalities were recorded.
Today’s deaths were up 20.5 per cent compared to last Thursday, when 964 were reported. Experts fear the daily number of Covid-19 deaths may rise further, because of the spiralling number of infections in the community.
And the number of cases dropped six per cent from the same time last week, when health chiefs said they had found a further 55,892. This may be a glimmer of hope the nationwide lockdown is starting to slow the spread of the virus – although it can take a week for an infected person to develop symptoms and get a test.
It comes as Boris Johnson prepares to hold a Downing Street press conference at 5pm tonight, when he is expected to unveil plans to bring in the military to ramp up the sluggish roll out of the vaccine.
Only 1.3million Britons have been vaccinated in the first month of the critical programme, as it is plagued by supply and staffing shortages, logistical problems and bureaucratic barriers that have strangled the scale-up.
It has also faced delays as elderly Britons refuse to get the Belgian-made Pfizer vaccine in Stockton-on-Tees, insisting they would rather wait ‘for the English one’, and miss vital appointments in Nottingham.
Ministry of Defence chiefs were instructed to devise the plans to hit the Prime Minister’s lofty target of vaccinating 13million — including over-70s, care home residents, NHS staff and extremely vulnerable adults of all ages — and ending lockdown by mid-February.
The NHS operation, considered the biggest vaccination drive in British history, will involve more than 100 soldiers next week with almost 1,500 reserve troops on standby, The Telegraph reports. It comes after Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said last week there were 250 six-man tams were ‘standing ready’ to deliver 100,000 doses a day, if there was a request for more boots on the ground support from the Army.
Mr Johnson is expected to be joined at the press conference by Brigadier Phil Prosser as well as Sir Simon Stevens. The NHS England boss will likely face questions about a decision to tell GPs to ‘stand down’ routine appointments so they can prioritise Covid vaccinations.
As many as seven mass vaccination centres are set to open in England to aide the roll-out, set up in locations including sports stadiums and London’s ExCeL centre. But critics have warned the target is over-ambitious and said the Prime Minister should not make promises he won’t be able to meet.
It emerged last night that guidance had been sent to doctors explaining the jabs should be their ‘top priority’ – with other ‘non-essential’ activities postponed, potentially for weeks. NHS England has already advised surgeries to focus on the delivery of the vaccine by prioritising jab appointments over anything else.
Today’s figures mark the tenth day in a row Britain has recorded more than 50,000 new infections, as the virus continues to spread across the country.
It takes at least two weeks for someone who has been infected with the virus to develop symptoms bad enough to become hospitalised, and eventually sadly die from the disease, meaning the deaths are expected to rise at a later date.
This is a breaking news story. More follows.