Britain’s coronavirus death toll today jumped by only 151 in the lowest increase on a Thursday since March 19 as the outbreak continues to fade.
Department of Health statistics reveal the number of daily lab-confirmed Covid-19 fatalities is just 14 per cent lower than the 176 recorded last Thursday.
The official number of victims now stands at 41,279 — but separate grim figures say the actual death toll has already surpassed 50,000.
Northern Ireland recorded one death today, spelling an end to its four day spell of no coronavirus fatalities.
Figures released today also showed there has now been more than 291,000 cases diagnosed since Britain’s crisis began to unfold back in January.
In other coronavirus developments in Britain today:
The contact tracing system has only tracked the contacts of two-thirds of Covid-19 patients, damning figures show, as lead of system says the system is not ‘at the gold standard we want to be’;Rishi Sunak has heaped pressure on Boris Johnson to ease the two-metre social distancing rule amid a major Tory revolt. The rule could sink tens of thousands of businesses, the PM has been warned;Research from King’s College London suggests cases of Covid-19 in the UK have halved in one week with less than 5,000 new infections per day; HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE REALLY DIED?
Department of Health: 40,883
Department of Health bosses yesterday revealed the death toll had jumped to 40,883 across all settings, including care homes.
The daily data does not represent how many Covid-19 patients died within the last 24 hours — it is only how many fatalities have been reported and registered with the authorities.
It also only takes into account patients who tested positive for the virus, as opposed to deaths suspected to be down to the coronavirus.
Individual health bodies: 32,097
The Department of Health has a different time cut-off for reporting deaths, meaning daily updates from Scotland as well as Northern Ireland are always out of sync. Wales is not affected, however.
NHS England today revealed it has registered 27,707 lab-confirmed deaths across the country. But the figure only applies to hospitals — meaning fatalities in care homes are excluded from this count.
Scotland has recorded 2,434 coronavirus deaths among patients who have tested positive for the virus, followed by 1,419 in Wales and 537 in Northern Ireland. These tolls include fatalities in all settings.
National statistical bodies: 51,175
Data compiled by the statistical bodies of each of the home nations show 51,175 people died of either confirmed or suspected Covid-19 across the UK by the end of May.
The real number of victims will be even higher because the tally only takes into account deaths that occurred up until June 7 in Scotland and May 29 in the rest of Britain, meaning it is up to 10 days out of date.
The Office for National Statistics yesterday confirmed that 46,421 people in England and Wales died with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 by May 29.
The number of coronavirus deaths was 754 by the same day in Northern Ireland, according to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA).
National Records Scotland — which collects statistics north of the border — said 4,000 people had died across the country by June 7.
Their tallies are always 10 days behind the Department of Health (DH) because they wait until as many fatalities as possible for each date have been counted, to avoid having to revise their statistics.
Excess deaths: 63,708
The total number of excess deaths has almost reached 64,000.
Excess deaths are considered to be an accurate measure of the number of people killed by the pandemic because they include a broader spectrum of victims.
As well as including people who may have died with Covid-19 without ever being tested, the data also shows how many more people died because their medical treatment was postponed, for example, or who didn’t or couldn’t get to hospital when they were seriously ill.
Data from England and Wales shows there has been an extra 57,961 deaths since the outbreak took hold, as well as 4,808 in Scotland and 939 in Northern Ireland.
The Department of Health has, for the 20th day in a row, been unable to say how many people have been tested in one 24-hour period. It says 197,000 tests were carried out, but not how many of these were repeat tests or for surveillance research.
A total of 1,266 tests came back as positive. But there will be thousands infected every day who either do not show symptoms, or show symptoms but don’t get a test.
Research published today estimates fewer than 5,000 people are getting the virus every day in the UK. It suggests the outbreak has almost halved – down 48 per cent – in one week, considering there were 9,4000 new cases per day last week.
The estimate from researchers at King’s College London does not include Northern Ireland or care homes, where the virus is still thought to be spreading, meaning the true rate could be much higher.
The figures were based on a sub-group of 1million people who use the COVID Symptom Study app, of whom 12,872 carried out swab tests when they began to feel unwell.
The results of these swabs, taken between May 24 to June 6, were extrapolated to the wider population of 66.6million.
New infections fell 49 per cent in the North West, where 820 people are being struck down every day — down from 1,608 last week. The South East has seen a 46 per cent drop (365 from 674), followed closely by a 43 per cent decrease in the South West (162 from 284).
The North East and Yorkshire is reporting the highest number of new infections per day, while the South West is seeing the least, according to the estimate.
But the number fell from 1,965 to 1,275 a reduction of 35 per cent, suggesting that the situation is improving across all regions.
Cases are still lower in London than the north or east of England. Some 790 people are becoming infected per day, a drop of 27 per cent from last week.
And the R rate — the number of people an infected person passes the virus to — was predicted to be below 1 across all regions.
The estimate is in line with a government-run surveillance sample but is three times lower than Public Health England’s projected figure of nearly 17,000 a day.
Lead author of the King’s College London study, Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology, said: ‘Whilst the numbers are falling, thousands of cases of COVID are still very much in the population so measures such as social distancing, regular swab testing, wearing of gloves and face masks in public and maintaining high levels of personal hygiene should be followed closely if we want to keep the numbers low going forward.’
It comes as damning figures today showed Number 10’s flagship contact tracing system – considered a crucial part of the puzzle for avoiding a second wave – has only tracked down the contacts of two thirds of Covid-19 patients.
Between May 28 and June 3, 8,117 people who tested positive for the coronavirus were referred to the NHS’s flagship scheme.
Although this is significantly lower than the number of new positive tests announced by the Government during that time – 13,417 – Professor John Newton, director of health improvement at PHE, said this was mostly a problem with the testing figures.
Professor Newton said: ‘There’s quite a lot of double counting in the numbers of positive tests that are reported daily. We are very confident that the 8,000 includes a very high proportion of the new cases.’
But shocking statistics show contact tracers could only draw information about close contacts from 67 per cent of them (5,407).
Hundreds did not respond to phone calls or refused to give details of people they had been in contact with, the Department of Health admitted in another blow to the scheme that has been described as ‘shambolic’ by workers.
Overall 31,794 contacts were identified — the equivalent of almost six (5.8) for every infected patient. Only 26,985 of these contacts — 85 per cent — were tracked down and advised to self-isolate, the statistics revealed.
Of those people who were reached and asked to provide information about their contacts, just over three-quarters (79 per cent) were contacted within 24 hours of their case being transferred to the Test and Trace system.
Data from the COVID Symptom Tracker suggested there were 9,400 new infections occurring every day across the UK last week. But the estimate — which involves researchers at King’s College London — has been revised and has now dropped by 48 per cent in seven days
The number of people catching the coronavirus each day in England has dropped from almost 10,000 in the middle of May, to around 7,400 each day last week, to 4,500 now
Some 14 per cent were contacted between 24 and 48 hours, three per cent between 48 and 72 hours, and four per cent were contacted after 72 hours.
Finding people fast is vital for the system to work because the plan is for it to find potentially-infected people before they start to show symptoms and pass the virus on to other people.
Baroness Dido Harding — the head of the test and trace scheme — today admitted it wasn’t yet ‘at the gold standard we want to be’. She added: ‘Is it completely perfect? No, of course it isn’t.’
Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Professor Newton said they were happy with how the service has gone so far.
Professor Newton said the Government was seeing ‘high levels of compliance both from cases and contacts’, and added: ‘In general we’re very pleased to see these data… We’re quite confident that what we’re doing is having a big impact.’
Contact tracers try 10 times to reach someone in the first 24 hours after they have been referred to the service, attempting to get through to them by email, phone and text.
The data comes as feedback from the Isle of Wight suggested that the NHS’s long-awaited coronavirus contact tracing app — which has yet to be rolled-out — could be an effective way to stop the spread of the disease.
Just two new cases of the illness have been discovered on the island since the app’s initial trial ended on May 26 — a noticeable drop on the 45 cases spotted during the trial, suggesting it stopped patients from infecting other people.
Mr Hancock previously promised the app, then considered a vital part of the government’s test and trace strategy, would be ready to be rolled out across the UK by the middle of May.
But repeated delays have meant the app — now considered the cherry on top of the cake — is still unavailable anywhere except the Isle of Wight.
Baroness Harding was also unable to give a date for the launch of the app which will form part of the test and trace programme she leads.
She said: ‘This is a multi-channel consumer service, it’s online, it’s on the phone, it’s face-to-face in local communities and, in time, it will have an app.
‘The app “is the cherry on the cake, it’s not the cake itself and what you are seeing today is the first baking of the cake is going reasonably well”.’
Between May 28 and June 3, 8,117 people who tested positive for the coronavirus were referred to the NHS’s flagship scheme. But shocking statistics show contact tracers could only get information from 67 per cent of them (5,407)
Of those people who were reached and asked to provide information about their contacts, just over three-quarters (79 per cent) were contacted within 24 hours of their case being transferred to the Test and Trace system. Some 14 per cent were contacted between 24 and 48 hours, 3 per cent between 48 and 72 hours, and 4 per cent were contacted after 72 hours
It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces mounting pressure to reduce the two-metre rule from Tory backbenchers.
MPs and businesses warn that keeping the restriction in place could sink tens of thousands of businesses. Campaigners say it stops schools reopening properly while pubs and restaurants fear going bust.
Rishi Sunak has now joined the major Tory revolt – the Chancellor indicated his support for loosening the guidelines as he answered questions from Conservative MPs last night.
Mr Sunak highlighted warnings from business about the dire consequences of the limit, and pointed out dozens of countries have already relaxed it to one metre.
He said he was ‘sympathetic’ to concerns that sectors of the economy cannot get up and running until the situation changes.
There are increasing signs that the PM is preparing to shift on the crucial issue, with Downing Street sources saying he ‘instinctively’ wants to free up business but fears a second peak.
It is understood several other Cabinet ministers are pushing for an overhaul soon.
REVEALED: HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE DIED OF COVID-19 IN YOUR LOCAL AUTHORITY (Data from the Office for National Statistics, up to May 29) LOCAL AUTHORITY COVID-19 DEATHS LOCAL AUTHORITY COVID-19 DEATHS Birmingham 1,148 Wycombe 101 Leeds 645 Charnwood 101 County Durham 624 Mole Valley 101 Liverpool 550 Hartlepool 100 Sheffield 534 Portsmouth 100 Brent 472 Ashford 100 Croydon 471 South Derbyshire 99 Cheshire East 454 Wealden 99 Barnet 446 Neath Port Talbot 98 Bradford 441 Wychavon 97 Wirral 394 East Hertfordshire 97 Ealing 393 Wyre 96 Harrow 384 Elmbridge 96 Enfield 377 Telford and Wrekin 95 Manchester 362 Chorley 95 Walsall 352 North Lincolnshire 93 Cardiff 349 Fareham 93 Sandwell 339 Eastleigh 92 Cheshire West and Chester 335 Broxtowe 92 Wiltshire 332 Chiltern 91 Sunderland 328 High Peak 91 Bromley 328 North Hertfordshire 91 Stockport 322 Sevenoaks 90 Wigan 319 Folkestone and Hythe 90 Redbridge 306 Stroud 89 Salford 305 Warwick 89 Hillingdon 305 Vale of Glamorgan 88 Wakefield 302 Bath and North East Somerset 87 Newham 298 Amber Valley 87 Bolton 297 Three Rivers 86 Wolverhampton 290 South Staffordshire 86 Dudley 288 Spelthorne 86 Kirklees 282 Bridgend 86 Lewisham 279 Powys 86 Derby 276 Blackburn with Darwen 85 Lambeth 271 Peterborough 85 Coventry 270 Dover 85 Havering 270 Breckland 85 Sefton 268 Surrey Heath 84 Rotherham 267 Guildford 83 Rhondda Cynon Taf 266 Tandridge 83 Solihull 262 Plymouth 82 Haringey 261 Hinckley and Bosworth 81 East Riding of Yorkshire 256 East Northamptonshire 81 Northumberland 247 Denbighshire 81 Leicester 246 Erewash 80 Oldham 240 Darlington 79 Southwark 240 Cambridge 79 Tameside 237 East Hampshire 79 Waltham Forest 237 Gravesham 79 Bristol, City of 230 Carmarthenshire 79 Northampton 229 Chesterfield 78 Central Bedfordshire 228 Rochford 78 Gateshead 226 South Ribble 78 Newcastle upon Tyne 225 Kettering 78 Hackney 221 Brentwood 77 Greenwich 219 Rushmoor 77 Hounslow 218 Fylde 77 Warrington 213 Epsom and Ewell 77 Shropshire 212 Chichester 77 Barnsley 212 Rushcliffe 76 Bexley 211 Isle of Wight 75 Nottingham 208 Scarborough 75 Trafford 208 Barrow-in-Furness 74 Wandsworth 208 Broxbourne 74 East Suffolk 204 Crawley 73 Bury 200 Fenland 71 Cornwall 198 Newark and Sherwood 71 Doncaster 198 North Warwickshire 71 Rochdale 196 Worthing 71 Merton 194 Monmouthshire 71 Swansea 194 Castle Point 70 Middlesbrough 193 Harlow 70 Luton 191 Oxford 70 Milton Keynes 191 Rugby 70 St. Helens 187 Cannock Chase 69 Basildon 184 West Suffolk 69 Tower Hamlets 183 Pendle 67 Westminster 181 Broadland 67 Epping Forest 177 Woking 67 Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole 174 Derbyshire Dales 66 Hertsmere 174 Lancaster 66 Medway 173 Conwy 66 Southend-on-Sea 172 Tonbridge and Malling 65 Reigate and Banstead 169 Eastbourne 64 Stoke-on-Trent 168 Blaby 64 Sutton 168 Mid Suffolk 64 Hammersmith and Fulham 165 Torfaen 64 Kingston upon Hull, City of 163 Bracknell Forest 63 Barking and Dagenham 161 Merthyr Tydfil 63 South Gloucestershire 160 Allerdale 62 Stratford-on-Avon 159 Craven 62 Mid Sussex 159 Blaenau Gwent 62 Newport 158 Wellingborough 61 Reading 157 Mansfield 61 Swindon 156 Runnymede 61 Southampton 156 Uttlesford 60 York 155 Hambleton 60 Dorset 155 Sedgemoor 60 Camden 155 Staffordshire Moorlands 60 South Tyneside 154 North West Leicestershire 59 Harrogate 153 Arun 59 Islington 148 Gwynedd 59 North Tyneside 147 Wrexham 59 Tendring 146 Daventry 58 Brighton and Hove 145 Torbay 57 Richmond upon Thames 145 Cotswold 57 Gloucester 144 Worcester 57 South Lakeland 143 Stevenage 57 Wokingham 142 South Cambridgeshire 55 Bedford 141 Gosport 55 East Staffordshire 139 Tunbridge Wells 55 Knowsley 136 Burnley 55 King’s Lynn and West Norfolk 135 South Kesteven 55 Chelmsford 134 Redditch 55 Ashfield 132 Copeland 54 Cheltenham 131 Harborough 54 Thanet 131 Tamworth 54 Thurrock 130 Babergh 53 West Berkshire 129 Bolsover 52 North East Derbyshire 129 Hyndburn 52 Waverley 129 South Norfolk 52 Caerphilly 128 Bassetlaw 52 Aylesbury Vale 127 South Somerset 51 Nuneaton and Bedworth 127 South Bucks 50 Kingston upon Thames 126 Rossendale 50 Stockton-on-Tees 125 Rother 49 Windsor and Maidenhead 125 Oadby and Wigston 49 Bromsgrove 125 North Norfolk 49 New Forest 124 East Cambridgeshire 48 Kensington and Chelsea 121 South Holland 48 Carlisle 120 South Northamptonshire 48 Vale of White Horse 119 Malvern Hills 46 Newcastle-under-Lyme 119 Forest of Dean 45 North Somerset 118 East Devon 44 Ipswich 118 East Lindsey 44 St Albans 118 Somerset West and Taunton 44 Redcar and Cleveland 117 Corby 43 Blackpool 117 Hart 42 Dacorum 115 Richmondshire 42 Herefordshire, County of 113 Selby 41 Preston 113 North Kesteven 40 Gedling 113 Pembrokeshire 40 Cherwell 113 Great Yarmouth 39 Watford 112 Adur 39 West Oxfordshire 112 Eden 38 Wyre Forest 111 Exeter 38 South Oxfordshire 110 North East Lincolnshire 34 Braintree 109 Boston 33 Flintshire 109 Teignbridge 32 West Lancashire 108 Maldon 32 Lichfield 108 Ryedale 28 Calderdale 108 Isle of Anglesey 27 Test Valley 107 North Devon 26 Halton 106 Melton 26 Basingstoke and Deane 106 Mendip 26 Swale 106 Ribble Valley 22 Havant 105 Lincoln 22 Stafford 105 West Lindsey 22 Horsham 105 Rutland 21 Slough 104 Norwich 21 Huntingdonshire 104 Torridge 19 Colchester 104 Mid Devon 16 Winchester 104 West Devon 15 Maidstone 104 South Hams 12 Lewes 103 Hastings 9 Welwyn Hatfield 103 Ceredigion 7 Tewkesbury 102 City of London 4 Canterbury 102 Isles of Scilly 0 Dartford 102 SOURCE: Office for National Statistics