Europe, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

UK COVID-19 deaths exceed 16,000

Much-needed shipment of personal protective equipment from Turkey runs into delays

Karim El-Bar  | 19.04.2020 - Update : 20.04.2020
UK COVID-19 deaths exceed 16,000


U.K. health authorities announced on Sunday that the countrywide death toll from the coronavirus increased by 596 in 24 hours.

The Department of Health said that of the 372,967 people tested, 120,067 were coronavirus positive.

It added that as of 5.00 p.m. local time (1700GMT) on Saturday, a total of 16,060 hospital COVID-19 patients had died.

Earlier on Sunday, ITV News reported that the delivery of 84 tons of much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) had been delayed.

Hospitals have consistently complained of shortages and the lack of PPE has become a focal point of criticism of the government's response to the pandemic.

The delivery was due to arrive on Sunday afternoon from Turkey, and the reason for the delay is unknown. Local media reported that U.K. hospitals could run out of PPE by this weekend.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced on Sunday that he appointed Paul Deighton, the chief executive of the London 2012 Olympics, as a PPE "tsar" in charge of dealing with shortages across the National Health Service.

"Just as Lord Beaverbrook spearheaded the wartime efforts on aircraft production, the appointment of Lord Deighton will bring renewed drive and focus to coordinate this unprecedented peacetime challenge," Hancock said.

"Lord Deighton led the delivery of the Olympics. Now he will lead a singular and relentless focus on PPE as the country's top manufacturing priority, with the full weight of the government behind him."

After originating in China last December, COVID-19 has spread to at least 185 countries and regions across. Europe and the U.S. are currently the worst-hit regions.

The pandemic has killed over 162,000, with total infections exceeding 2.35 million, while more than 604,000 have recovered, according to figures compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

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