Europe, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

UK's COVID-19 death toll hits 4,934, up 621 in 24 hours

Health Secretary warned lockdown to be tightened if rules continue to be flouted

Karim El-Bar   | 05.04.2020
UK's COVID-19 death toll hits 4,934, up 621 in 24 hours


British health authorities announced on Sunday the U.K.-wide death toll from coronavirus rose by 621 over the last 24 hours.

The Department of Health said: “As of 9am 5 April, a total of 195,524 people have been tested of which 47,806 resulted positive.

“As of 5pm on 4 April, of those hospitalised in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus, 4,934 have sadly died.”

The news came as warming weather in Britain tempted people into the outdoors, provoking a sharp response from Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

Hancock said that if Brits continued to flout social distancing rules and did not respect the lockdown, then the lockdown would be tightened further like in other European countries such as France and Italy.

He told the BBC: “I think this example of exercise is a really important one, because we’ve said because of the positive benefits to your physical and your mental health that it’s OK to exercise on your own or with members of your own household,” he said.

“But if the result of that is that too many people go out and flout the other rules because they say, ‘Well, if I can exercise then it’s fine for me to do other things,’ then I’m afraid we will have to take action.

“So my message is really clear. If you don’t want us to have to take the step to ban exercise of all forms outside of your own home then you’ve got to follow the rules, and the vast majority people are following the rules.”

A council in south London closed a park after large numbers of people spent the day sunbathing on Saturday.

Lambeth council tweeted: “Despite clear advice, over 3,000 people spent today in Brockwell Park, many of them sunbathing or in large groups.”

Hancock said: “Sunbathing is against the rules that have been set out for important public health reasons.”

Catherine Calderwood, Scotland’s chief medical officer was photographed visiting her second home despite telling Scots to only travel when necessary.

Scottish politicians called on her to resign for not following the government’s -- and her own -- advice on social distancing and staying at home.

Calderwood said: “While there are reasons for what I did, they do not justify it and they were not legitimate reasons to be out of my home. While I and my family followed the guidance on social distancing at all times, I understand that I did not follow the advice I am giving to others, and I am truly sorry for that.”

Local media also reported that the singer Marianne Faithfull had tested positive for coronavirus and was in hospital in London. Her condition is stable and she is responding to treatment.

Since appearing in Wuhan, China, last December, the novel coronavirus has spread to at least 183 countries and territories.

More than 1.2 million cases of coronavirus have been confirmed worldwide, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Over 65,800 people died after contracting the virus, while more than 252,500 recovered after treatment.

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