THE UK coronavirus death toll has risen to at least 37,986 after 149 fatalities were recorded in hospitals across England in the last 24 hours.
It brings the total number of deaths from the bug in English hospitals to 26,383.
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Today's rise in England is smaller than it was yesterday, when 185 fatalities were logged.
It is bigger than the jump recorded last Friday (121) – although it remains smaller than every rise recorded on a Friday in England for the seven weeks prior to that.
Patients were aged between 35 and 101, including 11 'healthy people'.
In Scotland, 15 more Covid deaths were confirmed today, bringing the overall toll in Scotland to 2,331.
A further 10 fatalities were reported in Wales, bringing the tally there to 1,317.
In Northern Ireland three further deaths were recorded, bringing its death toll from the virus to 521.
It comes as
- Groups of six allowed to meet in parks and gardens
- Dental surgeries expected to operate from June
- Gyms could reopen with new measures in place
- Several Covid vaccines to be 'available by the end of the year'
- Primary schools will reopen to some classes next week
- Airport tests could replace two week quarantine rule
- Changes to furlough scheme could cost 2million jobs
The numbers come after the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed this week 47,000 people may have been killed by the deadly bug in Britain already.
And according to data reported yesterday, the UK has registered 59,537 more deaths than usual since the week ending March 20, just before the lockdown began.
The figures equate to 891 people per million – a higher rate of excess deaths than any other country in the world with the same quality of data.
Meanwhile 18 councils in Britain are yet to see their coronavirus death peak.
North Somerset, Preston, Doncaster and Carlisle are among those suffering their worst weeks now, according to ONS data.
It comes as scientists across the nation battle to create a vaccine for the bug, with the world's leading pharmaceutical giants offering hope that several options could be available by the end of the year.
Pascal Soriot, chief executive of AstraZeneca, said: “The hope of many people is that we will have a vaccine — hopefully several — before the end of this year.”
In the meantime, cooped up Brits can enjoy a new lease of freedom after some lockdown restrictions were eased last night.
Speaking during yesterday's daily briefing, Boris Johnson said friends and families of up to six can meet in parks and gardens from next week – so long as they keep their distance.
Garden guests can also use their hosts' facilities at their discretion, although dinner parties and other indoor activities will still be banned.
Groups of four will also be able to play tennis and golf from Monday – the same day some primary school pupils will return to the classroom.
Other relaxed measures include the reopening of dental surgeries on June 8 and the opening of shops on June 15.
R RATE DROPS
The new allowances were put in place after all five of the Government's lockdown tests were met, including the crucial coronavirus R rate dropping below one.
Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, confirmed last night that the reproduction number is currently between 0.7 and 0.9 across the UK.
If the R rate of transmission goes above one then the nation, or certain areas, could go back into having to stay indoors again – with Mr Johnson stressing that all new freedoms were conditional.
The PM said: "I have to warn you, there will be further local outbreaks. So we will monitor carefully, we will put on the brakes as required, and where necessary, we will re-impose measures. It’s important to be clear about that up front."
And he said that those who are extremely clinically vulnerable and have been ordered to stay inside, will have to do so for even longer.
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