World, Europe

UK to ramp up testing as COVID-19 death toll hits 759

British PM and health secretary both test positive for coronavirus

Karim El-Bar   | 27.03.2020
UK to ramp up testing as COVID-19 death toll hits 759

LONDON

U.K.'s Health Ministry on Friday announced 181 deaths in 24 hours, the largest day-on-day rise so far, pushing the total number of fatalities to 759.

The British Department of Health reported: “As of 9am 27 March, a total of 113,777 have been tested: 99,198 negative. 14,579 positive. As of 5pm on 26 March, of those hospitalised in the UK, 759 have sadly died.”

British government minister Michael Gove said in a news conference that the rate of infection was doubling every three to four days.

He added that ‘antigen’ testing to determine if frontline health workers have coronavirus will begin over the next week. The test will allow those who test negatively to return to work, boosting the healthcare system’s capacity.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock both announced that they had tested positive for coronavirus earlier in the day. Chief Medical Officer for England Professor Chris Whitty announced he was in self-isolation after showing symptoms.

Gove said this showed the virus did not discriminate and underscored how important it was for the public to practice social distancing.

He spoke alongside Dr Jenny Harries, the deputy chief medical officer for England, and Sir Simon Stevens, the CEO of NHS England.

It was announced yesterday that a London conference centre was being turned into an emergency hospital. Stevens said that two further emergency hospitals would be built in similar conference centers in Birmingham and Manchester, with more to follow.

After emerging in Wuhan, China last December, coronavirus has spread to at least 176 countries and territories.

The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic.

The number of confirmed cases worldwide has now surpassed 585,000 while the death toll is upwards of 26,800 and over 129,800 have recovered, according to data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

Despite the rising number of cases, most who contract the virus suffer only mild symptoms before making a recovery.

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