Siblings who were BOTH abandoned in red tartan bags reveal shock at finally finding each other


A brother and sister who were both abandoned as babies by their mother – and left in identical red tartan bags – have revealed their joy at finding each other more than 50 years later. 

Reunited siblings David McBride, who lives in Birmingham, and Helen Ward, from Dublin, appear in a two-part special of ITV’s Long Lost Family, Born Without Trace, starting tonight. 

Their extraordinary story, of both being born foundlings to a Protestant father and a Catholic mother in 1960s Northern Ireland – at a time of deep sectarian conflict – is being hailed as one of the reunion show’s best ever stories. 

Appearing on This Morning today from their respective homes, the pair recounted their remarkable individual stories – and their ‘amazing’ discovery of both each other, and a further 14 half-siblings since Long Lost Family researchers matched their DNA last year. 

They also explained how their birth parents had had a 40-year long affair but that religion had kept them forever apart. While their father was a married protestant with 14 children in Dublin, their mother, 17 years his junior, was a Catholic living in Northern Ireland. 

Scroll down for video   

David McBride, who lives in Birimingham, and sister Helen Ward, from Dublin, found each other after more than 50 years after the show Long Lost Family matched them via a DNA test – the siblings had both been abandoned as babies in Northern Ireland in the 1960s

The story of David's discovery on a freezing cold January evening in 1962 - he was left in the front seat of a car in a shopping bag - made the newspapers at the time

The story of David’s discovery on a freezing cold January evening in 1962 – he was left in the front seat of a car in a shopping bag – made the newspapers at the time 

Joy: Helen describes meeting her brother as 'amazing' and said the journey the pair have been on, discovering 14 more half-siblings on their father's side had been 'wonderful'

Joy: Helen describes meeting her brother as ‘amazing’ and said the journey the pair have been on, discovering 14 more half-siblings on their father’s side had been ‘wonderful’

Speaking to the show’s hosts, Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield, David explained how he first found out about his extraordinary past when he tried to get a birth certificate at the age of 15 to join the army.

He said: ‘I didn’t know much until I was about eight years old when I went to a family court and I found out I was going there to be adopted. 

‘The information about me being a foundling though, I didn’t really know much until I was about 15 years of age. I went to get a birth certificate for joining the army and I couldn’t get hold of one and when I got hold of one, it said ‘on or about the 6th January 1962.’

He reveals his father explained the vague date of birth was because he was a foundling and David was told that he had been discovered on the 16th January that year in the front seat of a car in Dunmurray, on the outskirts of Belfast, in a red tartan shopping bag on a freezing cold night.

He said: ‘The lady who owned the car found me in the front seat. She took me into the house and put me on the table. She ran across the road to get a neighbour and then called the police. They took me to the hospital in Belfast.’ 

The distinctive red tartan bags that both David and Helen were left in by their mother; the pair say they appreciate how hard it must have been for her to keep babies born to a Catholic man in a time of deep sectarian conflict

The distinctive red tartan bags that both David and Helen were left in by their mother; the pair say they appreciate how hard it must have been for her to keep babies born to a Catholic man in a time of deep sectarian conflict

Speaking on This Morning today, Helen Ward explained how her adoptive father had told her to 'let sleeping dogs lie' when she became curious about her roots

Speaking on This Morning today, Helen Ward explained how her adoptive father had told her to ‘let sleeping dogs lie’ when she became curious about her roots

The siblings, pictured with Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, on This Morning today revealed how they were finally reunited as brother and sister after David got in touch with a researcher on Long Lost Family - who asked him to take a DNA test

The siblings, pictured with Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, on This Morning today revealed how they were finally reunited as brother and sister after David got in touch with a researcher on Long Lost Family – who asked him to take a DNA test

David explained that his parents had had an illicit affair for almost 40 years - unable to be together because they were born into different religions

David explained that his parents had had an illicit affair for almost 40 years – unable to be together because they were born into different religions

David’s sister Helen has a remarkably similar backstory – being found abandoned, this time on the other side of the Irish border in a telephone box in Dundalk, in a tartan bag on 11th March 1968. 

She explains that while she always knew she was adopted, her curiosity about another possible family grew as she got older. 

She told Holly and Phil: ‘My parents were very open from an early age. They told me with plenty of love and care that I was adopted.’

While her father told her to ‘let sleeping dogs lie’ when she expressed at the age of 18 that she wanted to know more, she says she couldn’t rest, and by 2003 she was determined to find out her true origins.   

We started one journey and now we are on another, getting to know each other and our family…

Finally, in 2003 and with three children of her own, Helen found the courage to visit an adoption centre in Drogheda in southern Ireland. But sadly her birth certificate had only the simple words ‘child found exposed’.

Then last year she took a DNA test and posted it on an online database in a last-ditch attempt to find a blood relative.

Within months, producers on Long Lost Family uploaded David’s DNA onto the same system and found he had a match for a full sister.

‘Finding Helen was one of the greatest gifts,’ says David. ‘When we sat down and started talking, the world around us didn’t exist.’

David as a young boy (left). David learned a little about his background when he was 15 and applied to join the military, only to discover his birth certificate stated he was born ‘on or about 6 Jan’

David as a young boy (left). David learned a little about his background when he was 15 and applied to join the military, only to discover his birth certificate stated he was born ‘on or about 6 Jan’

After pursuing other genetic matches, researcher Ariel Bruce, a social worker on Long Lost Family, traced their parents after David got in touch saying he was keen to track down his birth family.  

They learned their father was a shop manager from Dublin who died in 1993, while their mother had passed away in 2017.

Behind those stark facts lies a heartbreaking story. Their father was a married protestant with 14 children, but he had an affair with their mother, 17 years his junior and a Catholic.

That would have been scandalous in a time of huge sectarian conflict, so their mother gave her babies up.

The siblings have visited their late mother's grave and expressed regret that she didn't have any more children

The siblings have visited their late mother’s grave and expressed regret that she didn’t have any more children

Poignantly, she never married or had more children, and learning this left her children feeling huge compassion for her.

They’ve been to her grave, and spoken on the phone to three of their 14 half-siblings.

‘We started one journey,’ says David, ‘and now we are on another, getting to know each other and our family.’

Helen told Holly and Phil that it was ‘so fantastic that I met David first’ saying they now had the support of each other to meet their new family.

Long Lost Family Special: Born Without Trace is on 1 -2 June at 9pm on ITV 

Siblings who were BOTH abandoned in red tartan bags reveal shock at finally finding each other


A brother and sister who were both abandoned as babies by their mother – and left in identical red tartan bags – have revealed their joy at finding each other more than 50 years later. 

Reunited siblings David McBride, who lives in Birmingham, and Helen Ward, from Dublin, appear in a two-part special of ITV’s Long Lost Family, Born Without Trace, starting tonight. 

Their extraordinary story, of both being born foundlings to a Protestant father and a Catholic mother in 1960s Northern Ireland – at a time of deep sectarian conflict – is being hailed as one of the reunion show’s best ever stories. 

Appearing on This Morning today from their respective homes, the pair recounted their remarkable individual stories – and their ‘amazing’ discovery of each other, and a further 14 half-siblings since Long Lost Family researchers matched their DNA last year. 

They also explained how their birth parents had had a 40-year long affair but that religion had kept them forever apart. While their father was a married protestant with 14 children in Dublin, their mother, 17 years his junior, was a Catholic living in Northern Ireland. 

Scroll down for video   

David McBride, who lives in Birimingham, and sister Helen Ward, from Dublin, found each other after more than 50 years after the show Long Lost Family matched them via a DNA test – the siblings had both been abandoned as babies in Northern Ireland in the 1960s

The story of David's discovery on a freezing cold January evening in 1962 - he was left in the front seat of a car in a shopping bag - made the newspapers at the time

The story of David’s discovery on a freezing cold January evening in 1962 – he was left in the front seat of a car in a shopping bag – made the newspapers at the time 

Joy: Helen describes meeting her brother as 'amazing' and said the journey the pair have been on, discovering 14 more half-siblings on their father's side had been 'wonderful'

Joy: Helen describes meeting her brother as ‘amazing’ and said the journey the pair have been on, discovering 14 more half-siblings on their father’s side had been ‘wonderful’

Speaking to the show’s hosts, Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield, David explained how he first found out about his extraordinary past when he tried to get a birth certificate at the age of 15 to join the army.

He said: ‘I didn’t know much until I was about eight years old when I went to a family court and I found out I was going there to be adopted. 

‘The information about me found though, I didn’t really know much until I was about 15 years of age and I went to get a birth certificate for joining the army and I couldn’t get hold of one and when I got hold of one, it said ‘about the 6th January 1962.’

He reveals his father explained that he was a foundling and David was told that he had been discovered in the front seat of a car in Dunmurray, on the outskirts of Belfast, in a red tartan shopping bag.

He said: ‘The lady who owned the car found me in the front seat. She took me into the house and put me on the table. She ran across the road to get a neighbour and then called the police. They took me to the hospital in Belfast.’ 

The distinctive red tartan bags that both David and Helen were left in by their mother; the pair say they appreciate how hard it must have been for her to keep babies born to a Catholic man in a time of deep sectarian conflict

The distinctive red tartan bags that both David and Helen were left in by their mother; the pair say they appreciate how hard it must have been for her to keep babies born to a Catholic man in a time of deep sectarian conflict

Speaking on This Morning today, Helen Ward explained how her adoptive father had told her to 'let sleeping dogs lie' when she became curious about her roots

Speaking on This Morning today, Helen Ward explained how her adoptive father had told her to ‘let sleeping dogs lie’ when she became curious about her roots

The siblings, pictured with Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, on This Morning today revealed how they were finally reunited as brother and sister after David got in touch with a researcher on Long Lost Family - who asked him to take a DNA test

The siblings, pictured with Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, on This Morning today revealed how they were finally reunited as brother and sister after David got in touch with a researcher on Long Lost Family – who asked him to take a DNA test

David explained that his parents had had an illicit affair for almost 40 years - unable to be together because they were born into different religions

David explained that his parents had had an illicit affair for almost 40 years – unable to be together because they were born into different religions

We started one journey and now we are on another, getting to know each other and our family…

David’s sister Helen has a remarkably similar backstory – being found abandoned, this time on the other side of the Irish border in a telephone box in Dundalk, in a tartan bag on 11th March 1968. 

She explains that while she knew she was adopted, her curiosity for another family grew as she got older. 

She told Holly and Phil: ‘My parents were very open from an early age. They told me with plenty of love and care that I was adopted.’

While her father told her to ‘let sleeping dogs lie’ when she expressed at the age of 18 that she wanted to know more, she says she couldn’t, and by 2003 she was determined to find out her true origins.  

David as a young boy (left). David learned a little about his background when he was 15 and applied to join the military, only to discover his birth certificate stated he was born ‘on or about 6 Jan’

David as a young boy (left). David learned a little about his background when he was 15 and applied to join the military, only to discover his birth certificate stated he was born ‘on or about 6 Jan’

After pursuing other genetic matches, researchers traced their parents. 

They learned their father was a shop manager from Dublin who died in 1993, while their mother had passed away in 2017.

Behind those stark facts lies a heartbreaking story. Their father was a married protestant with 14 children, but he had an affair with their mother, 17 years his junior and a Catholic.

That would have been scandalous in a time of huge sectarian conflict, so their mother gave her babies up.

The siblings have visited their late mother's grave and expressed regret that she didn't have any more children

The siblings have visited their late mother’s grave and expressed regret that she didn’t have any more children

Poignantly, she never married or had more children, and learning this left her children feeling huge compassion for her.

They’ve been to her grave, and spoken on the phone to three of their 14 half-siblings.

‘We started one journey,’ says David, ‘and now we are on another, getting to know each other and our family.’

Helen told Holly and Phil that it was ‘so fantastic that I met David first’ saying they now had the support of each other to meet their new family.

Long Lost Family Special: Born Without Trace is on 1 -2 June at 9pm on ITV 

UK announces daily Covid-19 death toll taking the official count past 38,480


The UK has announced a preliminary daily Covid-19 death toll of 106, taking the official count to 38,482.

Department of Health officials – who release the UK’s final coronavirus count every afternoon – have yet to update the official figures. 

This preliminary toll is calculated by adding up the individual tallies of each of the home nations and is normally lower than what the Government announces later in the day.

If today’s count remains below 110, it would be the lowest figure since lockdown was imposed on March 23 – when 74 deaths were recorded.

Last Sunday officials reported a further 118 deaths, a 30 per cent drop from the week before. 

Today NHS England announced 85 more Covid-19 fatalities in hospitals only, while Scotland and Wales recorded nine and 11 deaths across all settings, respectively. Northern Ireland announced one death.

Back-dated data from death certificates shows more than 46,000 people had been killed by the virus by May 15, 36 per cent more than the official toll given by the Department of Health (33,998) at that time. 

If the same mathematical sum was applied to yesterday’s DH count of 38,316, it would suggest the true death toll currently is around the 50,000 mark. 

Despite the Prime Minister saying the government’s five tests have been met and it is safe to start relaxing restrictions from tomorrow, the alert level remains at four.

There are still 54,000 new infections happening each week – down from 61,000 per week at the start of May – and 133,000 people are thought to currently have the virus, down from 137,000. This means one in 1,000 people are still catching it.

In other coronavirus developments today:

  • Ms Sturgeon accused England of under-reporting deaths in care homes, saying that is why Scotland’s figures look worse; 
  • The PM has praised the public’s ‘resilience’ as families across England will finally be able to see their elderly relatives again tomorrow, with millions of vulnerable people ‘shielding’ are given the green light to spend time outdoors; 
  • Chief science officer Patrick Vallance insisted ministers make final decisions on policy as he defended his SAGE advisory group from rising criticism; 
  • Chancellor Rishi Sunak is drawing up an emergency budget for July amid fears that the economy is descending into meltdown; 
  • Police and local authorities are braced for beaches, parks and beauty spots to be crammed again with the weather expected to be fine, despite government advisers appealing for people not to ‘knock the pants out’ of new rules;
  • Unions dismissed the idea that school summer holidays should be cancelled to allow pupils to catch up, saying teachers deserved time off after working ‘flat out’ during lockdown.  

How is the lockdown being eased in England from Monday? 

What’s changing?

From Monday, people can meet outside in groups of up to six as long as those from different households continue to socially distance.  

– Can I visit family and friends?

Yes . This means that family groups of no more than six can meet in parks and private gardens for chats and even barbecues.

– How far am I allowed to travel?

There are no mileage limits set for how far you are allowed to drive to visit family and friends in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland, but the general advice is to remain in your local area as much as possible.

However, people in Wales will still not be allowed to travel more than five miles from their home for any reason except work or to purchase essentials.

Great, can we hug?

Sadly no. You still cannot risk infection by being too close. The same goes for handshakes or kissing.

If young children from different households are part of the group, they must not share paddling pools, climbing frames, slides or anything that would encourage them to be closer than two metres to each other. 

Can I stay overnight?

Staying overnight at someone else’s home will still not be allowed anywhere in the UK, while even going indoors for any other reason than to access a garden or use the bathroom is prohibited.

However Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has advised that if the distance travelled to meet someone means that you have to use their bathroom, then ‘perhaps you shouldn’t be doing it’.   

Can we barbecue?

Yes, but you must wash your hands, be careful about passing food or plates and keep 6ft apart.

How about entering their house?

Only if there is no other way of getting to the back of the property. 

What about using the toilet?

You can, but you must thoroughly clean any surfaces you touch.

To be extra safe, you could even use a paper towel to open and close bathroom doors and perhaps consider using a kitchen roll to dry hands rather than a towel.

So what if it rains?

You will have to stand under an umbrella or leave. You cannot shelter in someone else’s home.

Can we camp in the garden?

No, Boris Johnson said he did not want you to stay overnight.

Do I only have to see the same group?

No, you can meet different people at different times, but try not to see too many in quick succession.

Can those shielding take part?

No, they must continue to shield if they’re in the clinically extremely vulnerable group and have had a letter from their GP.

What about the over-70s?

If they are not in the shielding group.

We are a family of six – can we meet anyone else?

No. The guidelines say you can meet only up to six people at any one time.

Can we visit a relative in a care home garden?

It would depend on circumstances and the care home’s management.

– What else will I be allowed to do under the new measures?

In England, Monday’s lockdown easing will signal the reopening of schools to allow students in nurseries, early-years settings, and Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to return to class.

Some shops are also set to reopen, with outdoor retail and car showrooms able to resume operations. 

– When might restrictions be eased further?

Boris Johnson has flagged that more restrictions will be eased on June 15, beginning with the reopening of other non-essential retail shops such as fashion or homeware retail.

Other businesses, such as pubs, hairdressers and cinemas will have to wait until July before they can reopen, the Government has previously said. 

England is set to move into the next phase of the lockdown from tomorrow, with primary schools and nurseries told they can start to reopen.  

Up to six people from six different households permitted to meet up in public places or gardens, putting exercise classes and barbecues back on the agenda. 

A series of experts have raised concern about the move from Westminster – which has not been replicated in Scotland or Wales. 

It will be around two or three weeks before the effects of the latest easing of restrictions is known, but Prof Devi Sridhar, who has been advising the Scottish government, warned it looks ‘inevitable’ that cases will rise again in England. 

‘I’m very sorry to say that I think it is right now inevitable looking at the numbers,’ she told Sky. 

‘If your objective is to contain the virus, to drive numbers down and to try to in a sense get rid of it so no-one is exposed to it, then it is not the right measure right now to open up.

‘It’s a big risk and gamble for exiting lockdown with a larger number of deaths than we did when we actually entered lockdown months back.’

Prof Sridhar said there was now a clear divide between Government and some scientists, but added that ultimately decisions will be made by politicians.

She said: ‘I think what they should be saying is they consider the science, and hopefully they listen to it but the decision, and who actually has the accountability, are the politicians and leaders.’

Professor Peter Openshaw, who sits on the the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) to the Government, said people must proceed with ‘great caution’ as the lockdown is eased.

He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme: ‘At the moment, we still have quite a large number of cases out there in the community and I think unlocking too fast carries a great risk that all the good work that’s been put in by everyone, to try to reduce transmission may be lost. So we do need to proceed with great, great care at this point.’

Asked if the Government is going too fast, he said: ‘I think there is a pretty unanimous message now that we need to take this slowly and go step by step. We need to evaluate the effect of each step before we move to the next one.’ 

Professor John Edmunds, an epidemiologist at the School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said the Prime Minister had ‘clearly made a political decision’ because the threat of a second peak remains high.

But after his comments, the chair of the government’s Sage board has said it is for the government to decide when to ease lockdown measures.  

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Sir Patrick Vallance, who heads up the advisory board of scientists guiding the government through this pandemic, explained Sage was only there to advise politicians, who have the final say on what to do with evidence presented to them.

Sir Patrick, the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government since March 2018, wrote: ‘Science advice to Cobr and to ministers needs to be direct and given without fear or favour. But it is advice. Ministers must decide and have to take many other factors into consideration.’

Dominic Raab has also come to the Government’s defense on easing coronavirus lockdown in England, despite a chorus of warnings about a second spike. But he admitted that curbs will have to be tightened again if there is an ‘uptick’ in cases. 

Asked whether the lockdown will be tightened again if infection rates increase, Mr Raab told Sky’s Ridge on Sunday: ‘We will target, if there is any uptick, and it could be in a locality, it could be in a particular setting, we will target very carefully measures that would apply to it so that we can take these steps but also keep control of the virus.’ 

The Foreign Secretary acknowledged the loosening that takes effect tomorrow is a ‘sensitive moment’, but insisted the government was making sensible changes to get the country back up and running.

‘We can’t just stay in lockdown forever. We have got to transition,’ he said. 

Mr Raab played down fears that the curbs are being downgraded even though the government’s own coronavirus alert system level remains at four – which suggests they should stay in place. 

Nicola Sturgeon has stressed she is being more ‘cautious’ and the virus can still ‘run out of control’.  

Asked on Sky News whether she thought that the PM was loosening the lockdown in England too quickly, Ms Sturgeon insisted she did not want to ‘criticise other politicians’ and they were all ‘trying to do the right things’.  

But she pointedly said that in Scotland they were being ‘very cautious’. ‘This virus has not gone away,’ she said. ‘That is why in Scotland we are moving very slowly.’ 

She also today accused England of under-reporting care home deaths as she swiped at Mr Johnson for easing lockdown too early.

The Scottish First Minister said the apparent higher proportion of victims in care homes north of the border was due to the way they are recorded.

She insisted that people who died of stroke and ‘happened’ to have coronavirus were counted in the numbers in Scotland – whereas they were not in England, meaning that there was ‘under-reporting’.

Mr Raab also played down criticism that the curbs are being downgraded despite the government's own coronavirus alert system level remaining at four - which suggests they should stay in place

Mr Raab also played down criticism that the curbs are being downgraded despite the government’s own coronavirus alert system level remaining at four – which suggests they should stay in place

UK MUST ‘IMPROVE’ IT’S CORONAVIRUS SITUATION BEFORE HOLIDAYING TO SPAIN 

Brits’ hopes of holidaying abroad have been dashed as Spain’s tourism minister says the UK must ‘improve’ its situation with coronavirus before tourists are allowed back.

Maria Reyes Maroto said British tourists will not be among those participating in a proposed trial-run for allowing tourists back into the country.

The first tourism test-run is due to take place in two weeks, ahead of the reopening of Spanish borders to holidaymakers from July 1.

The news comes after the government has faced increasing pressure to scrap its scheme forcing all travellers arriving in the UK to spend 14 days in quarantine.

Tourism and aviation industries have warned the measures could scupper any hopes of economic recovery and there is now a growing number of ministers and Tory MPs demanding Home Secretary Priti Patel rethink the plans.

Instead, she said tourists from Germany and the Nordic countries were the most likely to be permitted entry for the trial.

The tourism minister said the Spanish and regional government were in talks with holiday providers TUI and Jet2holidays about the prospect of Brits returning to the country.

The Mirror reported she told Spanish media the likelihood of holidaymakers from the UK being the first to visit Spain were slim: ‘There the health situation still has to improve.

‘For us it is important to guarantee that people arrive healthy and leave healthy.’

Meanwhile, families across England will finally be able to see their relatives or friends who have been ‘shielding’ for months.

As part of the easing of lockdown restrictions, 2.2million vulnerable people will be able to go outside with members of their household, while continuing to follow social distancing guidelines. 

Those who live alone will be able to meet outside with one other person from another household, in a move that will bring joy to thousands.

Boris Johnson last night hailed the ‘resilience’ of those who have been shielding since March, with many having no face-to-face contact since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Prime Minister said: ‘I want to thank everyone who has followed the shielding guidance – it is because of your patience and sacrifice that thousands of lives have been saved. I do not underestimate just how difficult it has been for you, staying at home for the last ten weeks, and I want to pay tribute to your resilience.’

Some groups of people are considered to be at extremely high risk of severe illness with coronavirus and had been asked to strictly follow shielding measures. 

According to NHS Inform, this ‘extremely clinically vulnerable’ group includes people who have specific cancers, are organ transplant recipients, are on immunosuppressant drugs, or have severe chest conditions such as cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD.

Over-70s with no underlying health conditions are vulnerable but have not been told they need to shield by Government guidance.  

Mr Johnson spoke after England’s deputy chief medical officer yesterday pleaded with Britons ‘not to tear the pants out of’ the loosened lockdown when more freedoms are granted on Monday. 

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam warned that abusing new liberties would fuel the spread of infection and said that the lifting of curbs should be treated as if gently lifting the lid on a coiled spring – ‘painstakingly’ slow.

The top scientific adviser said the country was at a ‘very dangerous moment’ in the crisis, as thousands of sun-seekers packed on to beaches to bask in scorching weather.

Official mobility data shows the number of people venturing out to parks has increased far above pre-lockdown levels as people look to socialise in outdoor spaces.

Crowds have flocked to beaches and parks this weekend in defiance of the lockdown rules that remain in place until Monday.

They were tempted by temperatures that soared to 80F (27C) with the country enjoying the sunniest spring since records began and the driest May since 1862.

UK announces daily Covid-19 death toll taking the official count past 38,480


The UK has announced a preliminary daily Covid-19 death toll of 106, taking the official count to 38,482.

Department of Health officials – who release the UK’s final coronavirus count every afternoon – have yet to update the figures. 

This preliminary toll is calculated by adding up the individual tallies of each of the home nations and is normally lower than what the Government announces later in the day.

NHS England today announced 85 more Covid-19 fatalities in hospitals only, while Scotland and Wales recorded nine and 11 deaths across all settings, respectively. Northern Ireland announced one death.

Back-dated data from death certificates shows more than 46,000 people had been killed by the virus by May 15, 36 per cent more than the official toll given by the Department of Health (33,998) at that time. 

If the same mathematical sum was applied to yesterday’s DH count of 38,316, it would suggest the true death toll currently is around the 50,000 mark.  

The total UK death toll as of yesterday 

Despite the PM saying the government’s five tests have been met and it is safe to start relaxing restrictions, the alert level remains at four.

There are still 54,000 new infections happening each week – down from 61,000 per week at the start of May – and 133,000 people are thought to currently have the virus, down from 137,000. This means one in 1,000 people are still catching it.

In other coronavirus developments today:

  • Ms Sturgeon accused England of under-reporting deaths in care homes, saying that is why Scotland’s figures look worse; 
  • The PM has praised the public’s ‘resilience’ as families across England will finally be able to see their elderly relatives again tomorrow, with millions of vulnerable people ‘shielding’ are given the green light to spend time outdoors; 
  • Chief science officer Patrick Vallance insisted ministers make final decisions on policy as he defended his SAGE advisory group from rising criticism; 
  • Chancellor Rishi Sunak is drawing up an emergency budget for July amid fears that the economy is descending into meltdown; 
  • Police and local authorities are braced for beaches, parks and beauty spots to be crammed again with the weather expected to be fine, despite government advisers appealing for people not to ‘knock the pants out’ of new rules;
  • Unions dismissed the idea that school summer holidays should be cancelled to allow pupils to catch up, saying teachers deserved time off after working ‘flat out’ during lockdown.  

England is set to move into the next phase of the lockdown from tomorrow, with up to six people from six different households permitted to meet up in public places or gardens.

Exercise classes and barbecues are back on the agenda while primary schools and nurseries have also been told they can start to reopen. 

A series of experts have raised concern about the move from Westminster – which has not been replicated in Scotland or Wales.  

Prof Devi Sridhar, who has been advising the Scottish government, warned it looks ‘inevitable’ that cases will rise again in England. 

‘I’m very sorry to say that I think it is right now inevitable looking at the numbers,’ she told Sky. 

‘If your objective is to contain the virus, to drive numbers down and to try to in a sense get rid of it so no-one is exposed to it, then it is not the right measure right now to open up.

‘It’s a big risk and gamble for exiting lockdown with a larger number of deaths than we did when we actually entered lockdown months back.’

Prof Sridhar said there was now a clear divide between Government and some scientists, but added that ultimately decisions will be made by politicians.

She said: ‘I think what they should be saying is they consider the science, and hopefully they listen to it but the decision, and who actually has the accountability, are the politicians and leaders.’

Professor Peter Openshaw, who sits on the the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) to the Government, said people must proceed with ‘great caution’ as the lockdown is eased.

He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme: ‘At the moment, we still have quite a large number of cases out there in the community and I think unlocking too fast carries a great risk that all the good work that’s been put in by everyone, to try to reduce transmission may be lost. So we do need to proceed with great, great care at this point.’

Asked if the Government is going too fast, he said: ‘I think there is a pretty unanimous message now that we need to take this slowly and go step by step. We need to evaluate the effect of each step before we move to the next one.  

Dominic Raab today defended easing coronavirus lockdown in England despite a chorus of warnings about a second spike – but admitted that curbs will have to be tightened again if there is an ‘uptick’ in cases. 

Asked whether the lockdown will be tightened again if infection rates increase, Mr Raab told Sky’s Ridge on Sunday: ‘We will target, if there is any uptick, and it could be in a locality, it could be in a particular setting, we will target very carefully measures that would apply to it so that we can take these steps but also keep control of the virus.’ 

The Foreign Secretary acknowledged the loosening that takes effect tomorrow is a ‘sensitive moment’, but insisted the government was making sensible changes to get the country back up and running.

‘We can’t just stay in lockdown forever. We have got to transition,’ he said. 

Mr Raab played down fears that the curbs are being downgraded even though the government’s own coronavirus alert system level remains at four – which suggests they should stay in place.  

Nicola Sturgeon has stressed she is being more ‘cautious’ and the virus can still ‘run out of control’.  

Asked on Sky News whether she thought that the PM was loosening the lockdown in England too quickly, Ms Sturgeon insisted she did not want to ‘criticise other politicians’ and they were all ‘trying to do the right things’.  

But she pointedly said that in Scotland they were being ‘very cautious’. ‘This virus has not gone away,’ she said. ‘That is why in Scotland we are moving very slowly.’ 

She also today accused England of under-reporting care home deaths as she swiped at Mr Johnson for easing lockdown too early.

The Scottish First Minister said the apparent higher proportion of victims in care homes north of the border was due to the way they are recorded.

She insisted that people who died of stroke and ‘happened’ to have coronavirus were counted in the numbers in Scotland – whereas they were not in England, meaning that there was ‘under-reporting’.

Britain announces 183 more Covid-19 deaths, taking official number of victims to 38,344


Britain today announced 183 more Covid-19 deaths, taking the official number of coronavirus victims to 38,344 – but it is the lowest Saturday total since before lockdown.

Department of Health officials have yet to confirm the final tally, which will be significantly higher because it takes into account fatalities in all settings. The preliminary toll is counted by adding up the individual death counts of each of the home nations.

NHS England chiefs today recorded 146 more coronavirus deaths in hospitals, while Scotland posted 22, Wales 14 and Northern Ireland one across all settings, including care homes.

Today’s death jump is the lowest on a Saturday since March 21 (56), just three days before the country went into lockdown. For comparison, 282 deaths were announced last Saturday. 

Despite the continued downward trend, three of the Government’s coronavirus scientists claim the UK is lifting restrictions too soon and that 80 people could die every day until a vaccine comes along.

The reproduction ‘R’ rate – the average number of people an infected Covid-19 patient infects – is sitting between 0.7 and 0.9 and if it breaches 1 then the outbreak could spiral back out of control again. Ministers are trying to juggle both keeping the R number below 1 – to extinguish the spread of infection – and fire up the economy and return to normal life.

The current lockdown allows the public to travel to beauty spots to sunbathe with members of their household, or to meet one person from another household at a two-metre distance. 

In other twists and turns in the coronavirus crisis today: 

  • Sun-seekers have been told they’ll be fined for breaking lockdown rules as Britons flock to beaches with temperatures set to hit 82F 
  • Senior Tories have demanded Boris Johnson reduces social distancing or see apocalyptic job losses in hospitality sector
  • Scientists said picnickers must sit in the shape of a hexagon, pentagon or parallelogram two metres apart to stay safe in a social-distanced summer
  • Ex-education secretary Alan Johnson claimed teaching unions ‘got it wrong’ over reopening schools and must now back down and stop their ‘war dance’
  • Holidaymakers arriving in Mallorca and Ibiza could face coronavirus tests at the airport and then a six-hour wait in hotels for results 

Professor Peter Horb, a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), which is steering ministers through the crisis, said Britain could not afford to lose control of the virus.

He told BBC Radio 4 this morning: ‘We really can’t go back to a situation where we’ve got the numbers of cases and deaths we’ve had in the past.’  

Sir Jeremy, director of the Wellcome Trust and SAGE member said in a Twitter post that he ‘agreed with John’ on the clear science advice, appearing to reference SAGE colleague Professor John Edmunds, who said on Friday the Government was ‘taking risks’ by relaxing measures from Monday.

Sir Jeremy also said the newly-introduced NHS test and trace system needed to be ‘fully working’ before measures were eased. He wrote: ‘Covid-19 spreading too fast to lift lockdown in England. Agree with John & clear science advice.

‘TTI (test, trace and isolate) has to be in place, fully working, capable dealing any surge immediately, locally responsive, rapid results & infection rates have to be lower. And trusted.’  

Professor Edmunds, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said the Prime Minister had ‘clearly made a political decision’ by unlocking the country on Monday, because the threat of a second peak remains high. 

He said that, even if the ‘untested’ contact tracing scheme goes smoothly, the country could still suffer 80 deaths a day until a vaccine is developed.  

Professor Edmunds said: ‘Many of us would prefer to see the incidence driven down to lower levels because that then means we have fewer cases occurring before we relax the measures. 

‘If we had incidence at a lower level then, even if R went up a little bit, we wouldn’t be in a position where we’re overwhelming the health service rapidly.

‘We could tolerate a little bit [of an increase in infections]. At the moment, with relatively high incidence,relaxing the measures and also with an untested track and trace system, I think we are taking some risk here. 

‘Even if that risk does pay off, and we manage to keep the incidence flat, we’re keeping it flat at quite a high level – 8,000 new infections a day.

‘If there’s a 1 per cent infection fatality rate that’s 80 deaths per day, if there’s half a per cent, that’s 40 per day.

‘That’s the amount of deaths we might expect to see going forward. That’s clearly a political decision, it’s not a scientific decision. 

‘It’s pretty clear to me the direction of travel is we’re starting to relax and we’re going to keep the reproduction level at one, but that means we’re keeping the incidence at this level.’ 

Britain announces 183 more Covid-19 deaths, taking official number of victims to 38,344


Britain today announced 183 more Covid-19 deaths, taking the official number of coronavirus victims to 38,344 – but it is the lowest Saturday total since before lockdown.

Department of Health officials have yet to confirm the final tally, which will be significantly higher because it takes into account fatalities in all settings. The preliminary toll is counted by adding up the individual death counts of each of the home nations.

NHS England chiefs today recorded 146 more coronavirus deaths in hospitals, while Scotland posted 22, Wales 14 and Northern Ireland one across all settings, including care homes.

Today’s death jump is the lowest on a Saturday since March 21 (56), just three days before the country went into lockdown. For comparison, 282 deaths were announced last Saturday. 

Despite the continued downward trend, three of the Government’s coronavirus scientists claim the UK is lifting restrictions too soon and that 80 people could die every day until a vaccine comes along.

The reproduction ‘R’ rate – the average number of people an infected Covid-19 patient infects – is sitting between 0.7 and 0.9 and if it breaches 1 then the outbreak could spiral back out of control again. Ministers are trying to juggle both keeping the R below 1 – to extinguish the spread of infection – and fire up the economy and return to normal life.

The current lockdown allows the public to travel to beauty spots to sunbathe with members of their household, or to meet one person from another household at a two-metre distance. 

In other twists and turns in the coronavirus crisis today: 

  • Sun-seekers have been told they’ll be fined for breaking lockdown rules as Britons flock to beaches with temperatures set to hit 82F 
  • Senior Tories have demanded Boris Johnson reduces social distancing or see apocalyptic job losses in hospitality sector
  • Scientists said picnickers must sit in the shape of a hexagon, pentagon or parallelogram two metres apart to stay safe in a social-distanced summer
  • Ex-education secretary Alan Johnson claimed teaching unions ‘got it wrong’ over reopening schools and must now back down and stop their ‘war dance’
  • Holidaymakers arriving in Mallorca and Ibiza could face coronavirus tests at the airport and then a six-hour wait in hotels for results 

Professor Peter Horb, a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), which is steering ministers through the crisis, said Britain could not afford to lose control of the virus.

He told BBC Radio 4 this morning: ‘We really can’t go back to a situation where we’ve got the numbers of cases and deaths we’ve had in the past.’  

Sir Jeremy, director of the Wellcome Trust and SAGE member said in a Twitter post that he ‘agreed with John’ on the clear science advice, appearing to reference SAGE colleague Professor John Edmunds, who said on Friday the Government was ‘taking risks’ by relaxing measures from Monday.

Sir Jeremy also said the newly-introduced NHS test and trace system needed to be ‘fully working’ before measures were eased. He wrote: ‘Covid-19 spreading too fast to lift lockdown in England. Agree with John & clear science advice.

‘TTI (test, trace and isolate) has to be in place, fully working, capable dealing any surge immediately, locally responsive, rapid results & infection rates have to be lower. And trusted.’  

Professor Edmunds, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said the Prime Minister had ‘clearly made a political decision’ by unlocking the country on Monday, because the threat of a second peak remains high. 

The lockdown rules are increasingly varied across the UK as the home nations butt heads on easing restrictions

The lockdown rules are increasingly varied across the UK as the home nations butt heads on easing restrictions

He said that, even if the ‘untested’ contact tracing scheme goes smoothly, the country could still suffer 80 deaths a day until a vaccine is developed.  

Professor Edmunds said: ‘Many of us would prefer to see the incidence driven down to lower levels because that then means we have fewer cases occurring before we relax the measures. 

‘If we had incidence at a lower level then, even if R went up a little bit, we wouldn’t be in a position where we’re overwhelming the health service rapidly.

‘We could tolerate a little bit [of an increase in infections]. At the moment, with relatively high incidence,relaxing the measures and also with an untested track and trace system, I think we are taking some risk here. 

‘Even if that risk does pay off, and we manage to keep the incidence flat, we’re keeping it flat at quite a high level – 8,000 new infections a day.

‘If there’s a 1 per cent infection fatality rate that’s 80 deaths per day, if there’s half a per cent, that’s 40 per day.

‘That’s the amount of deaths we might expect to see going forward. That’s clearly a political decision, it’s not a scientific decision. 

‘It’s pretty clear to me the direction of travel is we’re starting to relax and we’re going to keep the reproduction level at one, but that means we’re keeping the incidence at this level.’ 

Lockdown rules in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland


Long-awaited changes are being made to the UK’s coronavirus lockdown with the four Home Nations now adopting different approaches to the loosening of draconian rules. 

Boris Johnson set out his plans which mostly only relate to England at a Downing Street press conference last night with those changes coming into force on Monday. 

But more limited changes in Scotland came into force today while Wales and Northern Ireland are also doing their own thing. 

Below is a breakdown of how different rules apply in different parts of the country. 

The UK’s four Home Nations are now subject to different sets of coronavirus lockdown rules

ENGLAND 

Perhaps the most eye-grabbing change announced by Mr Johnson last night was that as of Monday groups of up to six people will be allowed to meet up outdoors. 

Social distancing rules to stay at least two metres apart remain in place but the six people can be from different households. 

This is a much more flexible approach than has been taken in Scotland and Wales. 

These group gatherings can take place either outdoors in a public park or within a private garden but people have been told to be careful if guests need to travel through a house to get to a garden. Barbecues are allowed. 

England’s new rules mean there is no limit on how far people can travel from their home. 

Meanwhile, people can also exercise as much as they want – a change which was announced by Mr Johnson in his first wave of loosening. 

Boris Johnson set out his plans to further ease lockdown last night. The changes will come into force on Monday in England

Boris Johnson set out his plans to further ease lockdown last night. The changes will come into force on Monday in England

When it comes to shops, all non-essential premises will be allowed to start reopening from June 15. That means most High Street stores like clothes shops and shoe shops. 

Other businesses, such as pubs, hairdressers and cinemas will have to wait until July before they can reopen, the Government has previously said. 

Primary schools and nurseries will begin their phased reopening from June 1 while some year 10 and 12 students will be able to return to secondary schools from June 15.   

SCOTLAND 

Nicola Sturgeon’s lockdown changes came into force as of today, in time for what is expected to be a sunny weekend with highs of up to 80F. 

The First Minister’s plans allow groups of up to eight people to meet up outside. 

However, they must all be from just two households. Similar to in England, these gatherings can either take place in private gardens or in outdoor spaces like parks.  

One difference is that people are not supposed to go into someone else’s house – even if it that is the only way to get to the garden. 

Social distancing rules remain at the two metre figure while there is no legal limit on travel away from home. 

Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, has taken a more cautious approach to easing lockdown than Mr Johnson but her changes came into effect today

Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, has taken a more cautious approach to easing lockdown than Mr Johnson but her changes came into effect today

However, the Scottish government has encouraged people to ‘stay local’ which means not travelling more than approximately five miles. 

Ms Sturgeon has advised that if the distance travelled to meet someone means that you have to use their bathroom, then ‘perhaps you shouldn’t be doing it’. 

People in Scotland are also allowed to exercise as much as they want outside. 

Scotland’s easing will enable people to visit garden centres and play some sports where social distancing can easily be maintained, such as golf and tennis. 

There is less clarity north of the border on when non-essential shops could reopen with the Scottish government yet to set a date for the return of the High Street. 

Scotland’s education plan is also much more cautious than England’s with schools not expected to start reopening until August 11. 

In Scotland, there is no set timeline for when more measures might be lifted. 

WALES 

First Minister Mark Drakeford set out his plans for lockdown loosening this morning. 

Outdoor gatherings will be permitted from Monday but only with people from two different households. 

However, the number of people who can meet up outdoors in a socially distanced way is unlimited. 

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford today set out his own plans for easing lockdown in Wales. Travel remains limited to five miles from home

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford today set out his own plans for easing lockdown in Wales. Travel remains limited to five miles from home 

The Welsh plan also allows people to use gardens for their gatherings although like in Scotland people are not allowed to go into other people’s homes. 

In Wales there is a broad five mile limit on travel away from home although the Welsh government has stressed travel should remain ‘local’ and not generally further than five miles, seemingly giving some room for interpretation. 

People in Wales are also allowed to exercise as much as they want outside but no date has yet been set for the return of non-essential shops. 

However, Mr Drakeford said today that non-essential retail businesses that can comply with social distancing rules should start to prepare to reopen over the next three weeks.

Mr Drakeford said a decision on whether they will reopen will be taken at the next review of lockdown measures on June 18 and will depend on scientific and medical evidence.

No date has yet been set for the reopening of schools. 

NORTHERN IRELAND 

Northern Ireland was the first of the four Home Nations to move on loosening rules relating to socialising. 

Groups of between four and six people are allowed to meet outdoors. 

They can all be from different households and social distancing at two metres must be stuck to.

Gardens are allowed to be used for those gatherings but access to another person’s house is not permitted. 

Arlene Foster has already loosened measures to allow groups of up to six people to meet outside in Northern Ireland

Arlene Foster has already loosened measures to allow groups of up to six people to meet outside in Northern Ireland

People can travel as far as they want from their home – just like in England – with no restrictions on the amount of outdoor exercise allowed. 

Some non-essential shops are expected to begin reopening from June 15. 

Pending the country’s rate of transmission remaining below one, a host of further restrictions are set to be eased in Northern Ireland on June 8. 

That could include the reopening of outdoor sports facilities, car showrooms and some non-essential retail stores.

Outdoor weddings with a maximum of 10 people are also set to be allowed and hotels will be able to start taking forward bookings at their own risk.

However, there is a longer wait for schools with pupils not expected to return to the classroom until the new academic year begins in September.                

Lockdown rules in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland


Long-awaited changes are being made to the UK’s coronavirus lockdown with the four Home Nations now adopting different approaches to the loosening of draconian rules. 

Boris Johnson set out his plans which mostly only relate to England at a Downing Street press conference last night with those changes coming into force on Monday. 

But more limited changes in Scotland came into force today while Wales and Northern Ireland are also doing their own thing. 

Below is a breakdown of how different rules apply in different parts of the country. 

The UK’s four Home Nations are now subject to different sets of coronavirus lockdown rules

ENGLAND 

Perhaps the most eye-grabbing change announced by Mr Johnson last night was that as of Monday groups of up to six people will be allowed to meet up outdoors. 

Social distancing rules to stay at least two metres apart remain in place but the six people can be from different households. 

This is a much more flexible approach than has been taken in Scotland and Wales. 

These group gatherings can take place either outdoors in a public park or within a private garden but people have been told to be careful if guests need to travel through a house to get to a garden. Barbecues are allowed. 

England’s new rules mean there is no limit on how far people can travel from their home. 

Meanwhile, people can also exercise as much as they want – a change which was announced by Mr Johnson in his first wave of loosening. 

Boris Johnson set out his plans to further ease lockdown last night. The changes will come into force on Monday in England

Boris Johnson set out his plans to further ease lockdown last night. The changes will come into force on Monday in England

When it comes to shops, all non-essential premises will be allowed to start reopening from June 15. That means most High Street stores like clothes shops and shoe shops. 

Other businesses, such as pubs, hairdressers and cinemas will have to wait until July before they can reopen, the Government has previously said. 

Primary schools and nurseries will begin their phased reopening from June 1 while some year 10 and 12 students will be able to return to secondary schools from June 15.   

SCOTLAND 

Nicola Sturgeon’s lockdown changes came into force as of today, in time for what is expected to be a sunny weekend with highs of up to 80F. 

The First Minister’s plans allow groups of up to eight people to meet up outside. 

However, they must all be from just two households. Similar to in England, these gatherings can either take place in private gardens or in outdoor spaces like parks.  

One difference is that people are not supposed to go into someone else’s house – even if it that is the only way to get to the garden. 

Social distancing rules remain at the two metre figure while there is no legal limit on travel away from home. 

Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, has taken a more cautious approach to easing lockdown than Mr Johnson but her changes came into effect today

Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, has taken a more cautious approach to easing lockdown than Mr Johnson but her changes came into effect today

However, the Scottish government has encouraged people to ‘stay local’ which means not travelling more than approximately five miles. 

Ms Sturgeon has advised that if the distance travelled to meet someone means that you have to use their bathroom, then ‘perhaps you shouldn’t be doing it’. 

People in Scotland are also allowed to exercise as much as they want outside. 

Scotland’s easing will enable people to visit garden centres and play some sports where social distancing can easily be maintained, such as golf and tennis. 

There is less clarity north of the border on when non-essential shops could reopen with the Scottish government yet to set a date for the return of the High Street. 

Scotland’s education plan is also much more cautious than England’s with schools not expected to start reopening until August 11. 

In Scotland, there is no set timeline for when more measures might be lifted. 

WALES 

First Minister Mark Drakeford set out his plans for lockdown loosening this morning. 

Outdoor gatherings will be permitted from Monday but only with people from two different households. 

However, the number of people who can meet up outdoors in a socially distanced way is unlimited. 

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford today set out his own plans for easing lockdown in Wales. Travel remains limited to five miles from home

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford today set out his own plans for easing lockdown in Wales. Travel remains limited to five miles from home 

The Welsh plan also allows people to use gardens for their gatherings although like in Scotland people are not allowed to go into other people’s homes. 

In Wales there is a broad five mile limit on travel away from home although the Welsh government has stressed travel should remain ‘local’ and not generally further than five miles, seemingly giving some room for interpretation. 

People in Wales are also allowed to exercise as much as they want outside but no date has yet been set for the return of non-essential shops. 

However, Mr Drakeford said today that non-essential retail businesses that can comply with social distancing rules should start to prepare to reopen over the next three weeks.

Mr Drakeford said a decision on whether they will reopen will be taken at the next review of lockdown measures on June 18 and will depend on scientific and medical evidence.

No date has yet been set for the reopening of schools. 

NORTHERN IRELAND 

Northern Ireland was the first of the four Home Nations to move on loosening rules relating to socialising. 

Groups of between four and six people are allowed to meet outdoors. 

They can all be from different households and social distancing at two metres must be stuck to.

Gardens are allowed to be used for those gatherings but access to another person’s house is not permitted. 

Arlene Foster has already loosened measures to allow groups of up to six people to meet outside in Northern Ireland

Arlene Foster has already loosened measures to allow groups of up to six people to meet outside in Northern Ireland

People can travel as far as they want from their home – just like in England – with no restrictions on the amount of outdoor exercise allowed. 

Some non-essential shops are expected to begin reopening from June 15. 

Pending the country’s rate of transmission remaining below one, a host of further restrictions are set to be eased in Northern Ireland on June 8. 

That could include the reopening of outdoor sports facilities, car showrooms and some non-essential retail stores.

Outdoor weddings with a maximum of 10 people are also set to be allowed and hotels will be able to start taking forward bookings at their own risk.

However, there is a longer wait for schools with pupils not expected to return to the classroom until the new academic year begins in September.                

Coronavirus UK: Death toll passes 38,000 with 324 new fatalities


Britain today announced 324 more Covid-19 deaths, taking the official number of coronavirus victims past 38,000 as separate data shows the true number of fatalities is at least 10,000 higher. 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the figure tonight at Downing Street’s daily press conference, where he also revealed 2,095 more Britons had been diagnosed with the virus, taking the country’s total cases past 270,000. 

NHS England chiefs today recorded 149 more coronavirus deaths in hospitals, while Scotland posted 15, Wales 10 and Northern Ireland three across all settings, including care homes. 

The remaining deaths are thought to have occurred in care homes in England – where the crisis is still raging on – and in the wider community. It means the official number of victims UK-wide is now 38,161.

Health chiefs yesterday announced 377 Covid-19 fatalities in all settings – taking the average daily death toll over the past week to 252, down from the record high of 943 recorded during the peak of the crisis in mid-April. For comparison, 351 deaths were announced last Friday.

Number 10’s top scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance also warned Britain’s crucial R-rate – the number of people an infected patient will pass the virus on to – is still close to one. In a downbeat Downing Street press conference, he warned the numbers were ‘not coming down fast’. 

MailOnline today published an interactive module that allows you to find out exactly how many people have died of Covid-19 in your area, based on government data. Birmingham is the local authority with the most fatalities in England and Wales (1,047). The Isles of Scilly off the coast of Cornwall is the only place to have had no deaths.

It came after a separate analysis of Office for National Statistics (ONS) data revealed 18 local authorities in England and Wales, such as North Somerset, Kettering, Preston, Wrexham and Carlisle, have yet to suffer their darkest days of the crisis – despite the national crisis having slowed significantly.  

In other coronavirus developments today: 

  • Boris Johnson sparked confusion again after Number 10 admitted coronavirus threat level has not been reduced despite the Prime Minister’s decision to ease lockdown from Monday; 
  • A Government adviser said halving the two-metre social distancing rule will have no significant impact on risk of spreading coronavirus as ministers say pubs with gardens could reopen in July;
  • The BBC has launched an official probe into Emily Maitlis’ rant about Dominic Cummings after receiving 20,000 complaints, with the corporation accusing her of ‘overstepping the mark’;
  • People identified as having been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus will not be told who has named them when they are asked to self-isolate for two weeks, it was revealed;
  • Firms must pay 20 per cent of wages for furloughed staff from August, Rishi Sunak is expected to say as he starts to wind down the government’s massive coronavirus bailouts.

Separate figures published today showed the number of Covid-19 deaths in the UK has passed 48,000 – which is 27 per cent higher than the official tally given by the Department of Health.

DH only counts victims who have tested positive for the virus, whereas the statistical bodies that analyse data in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all include suspected deaths in weekly tallies. 

But other models suggest the true number of fatalities caused by coronavirus is in the region of 60,000, when ‘excess deaths’ – how many more people have died than on average – are taken into account.

Ministers admit ‘excess deaths’ are the most reliable measure of how many fatalities the coronavirus has actually contributed to. They include people who have died because of indirect effects of the outbreak.  

Data published by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency today showed 716 deaths involving Covid-19 had occurred across the country up to May 22.  

The latest figures from the National Records of Scotland, published on Wednesday, showed 3,779 deaths involving Covid-19 had been registered in Scotland up to May 24.

And the latest figures from the ONS, published on Tuesday, showed 42,173 deaths involving Covid-19 occurred in England and Wales up to May 15.  

Together these figures mean, so far, 46,668 deaths have occurred in the UK where the coronavirus was mentioned on the death certificate.

A further 1,408 hospital patients in England who had tested positive for Covid-19 died between May 16 and May 27, according to figures published on Thursday by NHS England.

It means, together with the total figure of 46,668 registered deaths, indicates the overall death toll for the UK is now just over 48,000. 

Despite the rising death toll, Boris Johnson yesterday set out a significant loosening of restrictions which will enable up to half a dozen people from different households to mix outside and in gardens from June 1, as primary schools reopen and non-essential shops prepare to follow suit. 

The four Home Nations now have significantly different sets of lockdown rules in place. For example, in England from Monday six people can meet up outdoors but in Scotland from today it is eight people

The four Home Nations now have significantly different sets of lockdown rules in place. For example, in England from Monday six people can meet up outdoors but in Scotland from today it is eight people 

But scientists are becoming increasingly outspoken over the Government’s approach as they warn ministers that the pandemic is far from over. 

It came as Mr Johnson faced questions over his decision to ease lockdown as it emerged that the Government has not lowered its coronavirus alert level.

Despite the PM saying the government’s five tests have been met and it is safe to start relaxing restrictions, No10 confirmed today that the alert level remains at four. 

Mr Johnson suggested to MPs on Wednesday that the alert was ‘coming down’ from four to three and he was ‘hoping’ a decision would be taken yesterday.

Ministers have insisted throughout that the lockdown would only be eased when the five tests were met. However, the government has also set up the Covid alert system which describes what people can expect to happen at each level. Level four requires ‘current social distancing measures and restrictions’.

No10 insisted the government’s steps for England were taken on the basis of the five tests, and the Joint Biosecurity Centre is in charge of the alert level. However, it is understood no announcement is expected today, and sources declined to say whether one would come before Monday.

There was no alert status slide used at the daily Downing Street briefing last night, and Mr Johnson did not refer to the level. Labour said ministers urgently need to explain how the lifting of restrictions fits with the alert system.

How many people have died of Covid-19 in YOUR area? Birmingham has had more than 1,000 coronavirus fatalities – as analysis shows 18 areas in England and Wales have yet to see a peak in deaths

Government data has revealed an area-by-area breakdown of where the most and fewest people have died of the coronavirus since the outbreak began.

Birmingham is the local authority with the most Covid-19 fatalities in England and Wales, and the only one to have recorded more than 1,000 victims (1,047).

Meanwhile, Leeds, Durham and Liverpool have all recorded more than 500 deaths each since the beginning of the pandemic – 574, 516 and 509, respectively.

Only one local authority has recorded no deaths at all – the Isles of Scilly off the coast of Cornwall, which are home to just 2,000 people.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data has set out the areas where the most and fewest people have been killed by the virus by May 15, when the total for England and Wales was 41,047.

While the national outbreak is believed to be past its peak, there are 18 areas where Covid-19 fatalities still appear to be on the rise.

Local authorities including North Somerset, Kettering Preston, Doncaster, Wrexham and Carlisle, have yet to suffer their darkest days of the crisis, according to a separate analysis of the ONS data.

North Somerset recorded 24 coronavirus deaths in that week – up from 16 in the seven-day spell before. The area includes Weston General Hospital, which dramatically shut its doors to new patients on Monday following a spike in coronavirus patients.

It comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed earlier this week that ‘local lockdowns’ could be imposed on whole towns if there are regional flare-ups of coronavirus cases.

Eighteen councils in Britain have not yet seen their coronavirus death peak and many saw more people die in the week from May 9 to May 15 than at any other point in the outbreak so far. One of them was North Somerset, where Weston-super-Mare had to close its hospital because of a rampant spread of the disease

Eighteen councils in Britain have not yet seen their coronavirus death peak and many saw more people die in the week from May 9 to May 15 than at any other point in the outbreak so far. One of them was North Somerset, where Weston-super-Mare had to close its hospital because of a rampant spread of the disease

Most of the deaths recorded in the ONS’s figures happened in hospitals – 26,679 – with the most hospital deaths occurring in Birmingham, where there were 784.

This was followed by the London borough of Brent, with 368.

Meanwhile 11,632 people died in care homes in England and Wales, the biggest proportion of which was the 243 residents who died in County Durham.

The most recent data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that 18 local authorities recorded their highest weekly death toll in the seven-day spell that ended May 15. 

In Doncaster the number of people dying of the coronavirus has remained relatively stable for the past six weeks and had not started to drop by May 15.

A total of 31 people died in that week, from May 9 to May 15, which was the same as the tally counted a fortnight earlier – and the joint highest so far.

The week before had suggested a drop, with the figure falling from 31 to 18, but it bounced back again showing the area is still battling the virus.

At least half a dozen areas showed the same pattern – a one week drop in fatalities followed by a resurgence – which may have been a result of the VE Day bank holiday on May 8. Statisticians warned that deaths do not get registered properly on bank holidays and the statistics for the weeks surrounding them may be inaccurate.

In a data release the ONS said: ‘The early May Bank Holiday contributed to both the decrease in the number of deaths registered in Week 19 and the increase in the number of deaths registered in Week 20, as deaths were unlikely to be registered on Friday 8 May.

THE 10 AREAS WITH THE MOST AMOUNT OF COVID-19 DEATHS 

1. Birmingham

2. Leeds

3. County Durham

4. Liverpool

5. Brent

6. Sheffield

7. Aneurin Bevan UHB 

8. Croydon

9. Barnet

10. Cardiff and Vale UHB

ONS figures up to May 15

1,047

574

516

509

457

450

444

441

432

400

THE 10 AREAS WITH THE FEWEST AMOUNT OF COVID-19 DEATHS

1. Isles of Scilly

2. City of London

3. Ceredigion

4. Hastings

5. Rutland

6. South Hams

7. Mid Devon

8. West Devon

9. Norwich

10. West Lindsey

10. Isle of Anglesey 

‘Next week’s report will allow a better assessment of recent trends in the number of all-cause deaths and deaths related to COVID.’ 

Ashford in Kent saw its weekly death toll drop from 14 to eight and then back up to 19 for the week ending May 15 – that was its highest one-week number of the epidemic.  

THE 18 AREAS YET TO SEE THEIR PEAK 

Ashford, Kent

TOTAL CASES: 775 

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 599.5

TOTAL DEATHS: 78

Broadland, Norfolk

TOTAL CASES: 295

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 227.9

TOTAL DEATHS: 53

Carlisle, Cumbria

TOTAL CASES: 492

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 453.9

TOTAL DEATHS: 109

Doncaster, South Yorkshire

TOTAL CASES: 765

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 246.3

TOTAL DEATHS: 160

Eden, Cumbria

TOTAL CASES: 102

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 192.9

TOTAL DEATHS: 36

Fenland, Cambridgeshire

TOTAL CASES: 186

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 183.3

TOTAL DEATHS: 52

Herefordshire

TOTAL CASES: 439

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 228.5

TOTAL DEATHS: 84

Hinckley and Bosworth, Leicestershire

TOTAL CASES: 242

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 215.3

TOTAL DEATHS: 73

Kettering, Northamptonshire

TOTAL CASES: 235

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 232.1

TOTAL DEATHS: 55

North Somerset

TOTAL CASES: 427 

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 199.6

TOTAL DEATHS: 94

Preston, Lancashire

TOTAL CASES: 428

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 301.8

TOTAL DEATHS: 86

Richmondshire, North Yorkshire

TOTAL CASES: 130

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 244.2

TOTAL DEATHS: 38

Rother, East Sussex

TOTAL CASES: 95

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 99.3

TOTAL DEATHS: 38

Selby, North Yorkshire

TOTAL CASES: 135

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 151.5

TOTAL DEATHS: 36

South Norfolk

TOTAL CASES: 239

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 173.2

TOTAL DEATHS: 42

Tonbridge and Malling, Kent

TOTAL CASES: 216

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 165.5

TOTAL DEATHS: 48

Wrexham, North Wales

TOTAL CASES: 540 

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 396.7

TOTAL DEATHS: 252 (figure covers Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, which serves other towns in the area)

Wyre, Lancashire

TOTAL CASES: 345

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 310.2

TOTAL DEATHS: 72

Many of the areas’ record high death tolls could be averaged out with the week before to arrive at a similar figure to recent weeks. 

But North Somerset did not follow the same trend. Instead, after weeks of relatively steady death tolls in the mid-teens, its number for the week ending May 15 surged from 16 to 24.

This is likely because the coronavirus outbreak there has worsened in recent weeks. The general hospital in Weston-super-Mare, a seaside town in the district, had to close to new patients this week because of Covid-19.

Infection rates were found to be high in both staff and patients so the hospital shut its doors to new admissions in a desperate bid to get a handle on the crisis. 

Workers at the hospital forced to close due to a Covid-19 outbreak were the first to be contacted by the government’s Test and Trace programme today – as it emerged twice as many staff have the virus than patients.

Boris Johnson used Weston Hospital as an instance where the Government ‘moved very quickly to close things down there to try to sort it out’.

He added: ‘That is the kind of whack-a-mole tactics that we are going to use as we keep driving the virus down and keep reducing the incidents.’ 

The hospital in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, is believed to have 135 members of staff infected compared to 64 patients.

Those workers were among the 2,013 people who tested positive for the virus on Wednesday and who were contacted as part of the Test and Trace system rolled out across England and Scotland this morning.

The scheme is designed to find anyone who has come into contact with an infected person so they can be told to isolate for 14-days even if they are not sick.

Weston General shut its doors on Monday and is unlikely to admit any new patients for at least another week while it deals with the current outbreak. All members of staff are currently undergoing testing for Covid-19 which is set to be completed by the weekend.

Speaking to the BBC, Robert Woolley, chief executive of University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trusts said an investigation was under way to find out the cause of the spike in staff infections.

He said: ‘The question is, have we had patients bringing the infection into hospital when they arrive and staff are getting infected that way?

‘Or are staff coming in from the community infected and infecting themselves and possibly others? We just don’t know.  

‘It’s very complex and we need help from other agencies to know what the position is in greater Weston.’

A number of factors behind the spike are being considered, including claims that emerged today of hospital staff not being routinely informed by managers when their colleagues tested positive for the virus – even those who had previously shown no symptoms.

But North Somerset is not alone in terms of high coronavirus deaths. 

Those areas yet to see their peak include Ashford, Kent; Broadland, Norfolk; Carlisle, Cumbria; Doncaster, South Yorkshire; Eden, Cumbria; Fenland, Cambridgeshire; Herefordshire; Hinckley and Bosworth, Leicestershire; Kettering, Northamptonshire; and North Somerset.

Other areas are Preston, Lancashire; Richmondshire, North Yorkshire; Rother, East Sussex; Selby, North Yorkshire; South Norfolk; Tonbridge and Malling, Kent; Wrexham, North Wales; and Wyre, Lancashire.   

It comes as the Prime Minister tonight gave the green light to the first limited socialising since lockdown, revealing that up to six people can now meet outdoors and in private gardens for barbecues – as long as they stay six feet away from each other.

Mr Johnson revealed that the restrictions are being eased slightly from next week, as he formally reduced the country’s Covid ‘alert’ status from four to three.

Despite warnings from chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance that 8,000 new infections are still happening every day and admitting making the rules more nuanced will create ‘anomalies and inconsistencies’, Mr Johnson unveiled a series of changes to take effect in England from Monday.

Up to six people from different households will be allowed to mix, opening the prospect of reunions for family and friends – although they will still be told to obey social distancing rules. They will also be permitted to use gardens and private outdoor spaces, which was previously banned.

Non-essential shops and primary schools will start to reopen from next month, as had been suggested earlier in the week.

Mr Johnson told the daily Downing Street briefing: ‘I cannot and I will not throw away all the gains we have made together. So the changes that we have made are limited and cautious.’

It comes after Britons were last night warned not to get carried away with news that lockdown is loosening because the virus’ R-rate is still dangerously close to 1.  

The Government’s top scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance revealed the current R-rate is between 0.7 and 0.9, and while coronavirus case numbers were declining, they are ‘not coming down fast’ in a downbeat update at tonight’s Downing Street press conference.

The reproduction rate denotes the number of other people an infected patient will pass the sickness on to and it must stay at 1 or below or Britain will face another crisis. However, the way the R is calculated means it is out of date, and the latest calculation is based on data from around three weeks ago – before the lockdown loosened.

‘The current value is somewhere between 0.7 and 0.9, so it remains close to one. It may very close to one in some areas,’ said Sir Patrick. ‘The numbers are coming down at the moment, but they are not coming down fast.’ 

The number of people dying in April each year has remained relative stable at around 40,000 or the last 13 years, but saw a massive spike to 88,000 this year as the coronavirus epidemic raged through the UK

The number of people dying in April each year has remained relative stable at around 40,000 or the last 13 years, but saw a massive spike to 88,000 this year as the coronavirus epidemic raged through the UK

HOW DO KEY CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK STATISTICS COMPARE THIS AND LAST WEEK?

MEASURE 

% of people infected: 

Total currently infected: 

New cases per week: 

New cases per day: 

R rate:

% of ventilators used*: 

Hospital admissions*:

Deaths announced*:

New positive tests*:

LAST WEEK (MAY 21)    

0.25% 

137,000 

61,000 

8,714 

0.7 – 1.0  

13%  

697

338

2,615

 THIS WEEK (MAY 28)  

0.24% 

133,000 

54,000

7,714 

0.7 – 0.9 

11% 

475

377 

1,887

* refers to daily figures announced in the Downing Street press conference, whereas the other data is given by the Office for National Statistics on a weekly basis

Coronavirus UK: Death toll hits 38,104 with 177 new fatalities


Britain today announced 177 more Covid-19 deaths, taking the official number of coronavirus victims past 38,000 as separate data shows the true number of fatalities is at least 10,000 higher.  

Department of Health officials have yet to confirm the final tally, which is expected to be much higher because it takes into account fatalities in all settings. The preliminary toll is counted by adding up the individual death counts of each of the home nations.

NHS England chiefs today recorded 149 more coronavirus deaths in hospitals, while Scotland posted 15, Wales 10 and Northern Ireland three across all settings, including care homes. It means the official number of victims is now 38,014.

Health chiefs yesterday announced 377 Covid-19 fatalities in all settings – taking the average daily death toll over the past week to 256, down from the record high of 943 recorded during the peak of the crisis in mid-April. For comparison, 351 deaths were announced last Friday.

Number 10’s top scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance also warned Britain’s crucial R-rate – the number of people an infected patient will pass the virus on to – is still close to one. In a downbeat Downing Street press conference, he warned the numbers were ‘not coming down fast’. 

MailOnline today published an interactive module that allows you to find out exactly how many people have died of Covid-19 in your area, based on government data. Birmingham is the local authority with the most fatalities in England and Wales (1,047). The Isles of Scilly off the coast of Cornwall is the only place to have had no deaths.

It came after a separate analysis of Office for National Statistics (ONS) data revealed 18 local authorities in England and Wales, such as North Somerset, Kettering, Preston, Wrexham and Carlisle, have yet to suffer their darkest days of the crisis – despite the national crisis having slowed significantly.  

In other coronavirus developments today: 

  • Boris Johnson sparked confusion again after Number 10 admitted coronavirus threat level has not been reduced despite the Prime Minister’s decision to ease lockdown from Monday; 
  • A Government adviser said halving the two-metre social distancing rule will have no significant impact on risk of spreading coronavirus as ministers say pubs with gardens could reopen in July;
  • The BBC has launched an official probe into Emily Maitlis’ rant about Dominic Cummings after receiving 20,000 complaints, with the corporation accusing her of ‘overstepping the mark’;
  • People identified as having been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus will not be told who has named them when they are asked to self-isolate for two weeks, it was revealed;
  • Firms must pay 20 per cent of wages for furloughed staff from August, Rishi Sunak is expected to say as he starts to wind down the government’s massive coronavirus bailouts.

Separate figures published today showed the number of Covid-19 deaths in the UK has passed 48,000 – which is 27 per cent higher than the official tally given by the Department of Health.

DH only counts victims who have tested positive for the virus, whereas the statistical bodies that analyse data in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all include suspected deaths in weekly tallies. 

But other models suggest the true number of fatalities caused by coronavirus is in the region of 60,000, when ‘excess deaths’ – how many more people have died than on average – are taken into account.

Ministers admit ‘excess deaths’ are the most reliable measure of how many fatalities the coronavirus has actually contributed to. They include people who have died because of indirect effects of the outbreak.  

Data published by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency today showed 716 deaths involving Covid-19 had occurred across the country up to May 22.  

The latest figures from the National Records of Scotland, published on Wednesday, showed 3,779 deaths involving Covid-19 had been registered in Scotland up to May 24.

And the latest figures from the ONS, published on Tuesday, showed 42,173 deaths involving Covid-19 occurred in England and Wales up to May 15.  

Together these figures mean, so far, 46,668 deaths have occurred in the UK where the coronavirus was mentioned on the death certificate.

A further 1,408 hospital patients in England who had tested positive for Covid-19 died between May 16 and May 27, according to figures published on Thursday by NHS England.

It means, together with the total figure of 46,668 registered deaths, indicates the overall death toll for the UK is now just over 48,000. 

How many people have died of Covid-19 in YOUR area? Birmingham has had more than 1,000 coronavirus fatalities – as analysis shows 18 areas in England and Wales have yet to see a peak in deaths

Government data has revealed an area-by-area breakdown of where the most and fewest people have died of the coronavirus since the outbreak began.

Birmingham is the local authority with the most Covid-19 fatalities in England and Wales, and the only one to have recorded more than 1,000 victims (1,047).

Meanwhile, Leeds, Durham and Liverpool have all recorded more than 500 deaths each since the beginning of the pandemic – 574, 516 and 509, respectively.

Only one local authority has recorded no deaths at all – the Isles of Scilly off the coast of Cornwall, which are home to just 2,000 people.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data has set out the areas where the most and fewest people have been killed by the virus by May 15, when the total for England and Wales was 41,047.

While the national outbreak is believed to be past its peak, there are 18 areas where Covid-19 fatalities still appear to be on the rise.

Local authorities including North Somerset, Kettering Preston, Doncaster, Wrexham and Carlisle, have yet to suffer their darkest days of the crisis, according to a separate analysis of the ONS data.

North Somerset recorded 24 coronavirus deaths in that week – up from 16 in the seven-day spell before. The area includes Weston General Hospital, which dramatically shut its doors to new patients on Monday following a spike in coronavirus patients.

It comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed earlier this week that ‘local lockdowns’ could be imposed on whole towns if there are regional flare-ups of coronavirus cases.

Eighteen councils in Britain have not yet seen their coronavirus death peak and many saw more people die in the week from May 9 to May 15 than at any other point in the outbreak so far. One of them was North Somerset, where Weston-super-Mare had to close its hospital because of a rampant spread of the disease

Eighteen councils in Britain have not yet seen their coronavirus death peak and many saw more people die in the week from May 9 to May 15 than at any other point in the outbreak so far. One of them was North Somerset, where Weston-super-Mare had to close its hospital because of a rampant spread of the disease

Most of the deaths recorded in the ONS’s figures happened in hospitals – 26,679 – with the most hospital deaths occurring in Birmingham, where there were 784.

This was followed by the London borough of Brent, with 368.

Meanwhile 11,632 people died in care homes in England and Wales, the biggest proportion of which was the 243 residents who died in County Durham.

The most recent data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that 18 local authorities recorded their highest weekly death toll in the seven-day spell that ended May 15. 

In Doncaster the number of people dying of the coronavirus has remained relatively stable for the past six weeks and had not started to drop by May 15.

A total of 31 people died in that week, from May 9 to May 15, which was the same as the tally counted a fortnight earlier – and the joint highest so far.

The week before had suggested a drop, with the figure falling from 31 to 18, but it bounced back again showing the area is still battling the virus.

At least half a dozen areas showed the same pattern – a one week drop in fatalities followed by a resurgence – which may have been a result of the VE Day bank holiday on May 8. Statisticians warned that deaths do not get registered properly on bank holidays and the statistics for the weeks surrounding them may be inaccurate.

In a data release the ONS said: ‘The early May Bank Holiday contributed to both the decrease in the number of deaths registered in Week 19 and the increase in the number of deaths registered in Week 20, as deaths were unlikely to be registered on Friday 8 May.

THE 10 AREAS WITH THE MOST AMOUNT OF COVID-19 DEATHS 

1. Birmingham

2. Leeds

3. County Durham

4. Liverpool

5. Brent

6. Sheffield

7. Aneurin Bevan UHB 

8. Croydon

9. Barnet

10. Cardiff and Vale UHB

ONS figures up to May 15

1,047

574

516

509

457

450

444

441

432

400

THE 10 AREAS WITH THE FEWEST AMOUNT OF COVID-19 DEATHS

1. Isles of Scilly

2. City of London

3. Ceredigion

4. Hastings

5. Rutland

6. South Hams

7. Mid Devon

8. West Devon

9. Norwich

10. West Lindsey

10. Isle of Anglesey 

‘Next week’s report will allow a better assessment of recent trends in the number of all-cause deaths and deaths related to COVID.’ 

Ashford in Kent saw its weekly death toll drop from 14 to eight and then back up to 19 for the week ending May 15 – that was its highest one-week number of the epidemic.  

THE 18 AREAS YET TO SEE THEIR PEAK 

Ashford, Kent

TOTAL CASES: 775 

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 599.5

TOTAL DEATHS: 78

Broadland, Norfolk

TOTAL CASES: 295

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 227.9

TOTAL DEATHS: 53

Carlisle, Cumbria

TOTAL CASES: 492

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 453.9

TOTAL DEATHS: 109

Doncaster, South Yorkshire

TOTAL CASES: 765

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 246.3

TOTAL DEATHS: 160

Eden, Cumbria

TOTAL CASES: 102

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 192.9

TOTAL DEATHS: 36

Fenland, Cambridgeshire

TOTAL CASES: 186

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 183.3

TOTAL DEATHS: 52

Herefordshire

TOTAL CASES: 439

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 228.5

TOTAL DEATHS: 84

Hinckley and Bosworth, Leicestershire

TOTAL CASES: 242

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 215.3

TOTAL DEATHS: 73

Kettering, Northamptonshire

TOTAL CASES: 235

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 232.1

TOTAL DEATHS: 55

North Somerset

TOTAL CASES: 427 

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 199.6

TOTAL DEATHS: 94

Preston, Lancashire

TOTAL CASES: 428

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 301.8

TOTAL DEATHS: 86

Richmondshire, North Yorkshire

TOTAL CASES: 130

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 244.2

TOTAL DEATHS: 38

Rother, East Sussex

TOTAL CASES: 95

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 99.3

TOTAL DEATHS: 38

Selby, North Yorkshire

TOTAL CASES: 135

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 151.5

TOTAL DEATHS: 36

South Norfolk

TOTAL CASES: 239

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 173.2

TOTAL DEATHS: 42

Tonbridge and Malling, Kent

TOTAL CASES: 216

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 165.5

TOTAL DEATHS: 48

Wrexham, North Wales

TOTAL CASES: 540 

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 396.7

TOTAL DEATHS: 252 (figure covers Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, which serves other towns in the area)

Wyre, Lancashire

TOTAL CASES: 345

CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 310.2

TOTAL DEATHS: 72

Many of the areas’ record high death tolls could be averaged out with the week before to arrive at a similar figure to recent weeks. 

But North Somerset did not follow the same trend. Instead, after weeks of relatively steady death tolls in the mid-teens, its number for the week ending May 15 surged from 16 to 24.

This is likely because the coronavirus outbreak there has worsened in recent weeks. The general hospital in Weston-super-Mare, a seaside town in the district, had to close to new patients this week because of Covid-19.

Infection rates were found to be high in both staff and patients so the hospital shut its doors to new admissions in a desperate bid to get a handle on the crisis. 

Workers at the hospital forced to close due to a Covid-19 outbreak were the first to be contacted by the government’s Test and Trace programme today – as it emerged twice as many staff have the virus than patients.

Boris Johnson used Weston Hospital as an instance where the Government ‘moved very quickly to close things down there to try to sort it out’.

He added: ‘That is the kind of whack-a-mole tactics that we are going to use as we keep driving the virus down and keep reducing the incidents.’ 

The hospital in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, is believed to have 135 members of staff infected compared to 64 patients.

Those workers were among the 2,013 people who tested positive for the virus on Wednesday and who were contacted as part of the Test and Trace system rolled out across England and Scotland this morning.

The scheme is designed to find anyone who has come into contact with an infected person so they can be told to isolate for 14-days even if they are not sick.

Weston General shut its doors on Monday and is unlikely to admit any new patients for at least another week while it deals with the current outbreak. All members of staff are currently undergoing testing for Covid-19 which is set to be completed by the weekend.

Speaking to the BBC, Robert Woolley, chief executive of University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trusts said an investigation was under way to find out the cause of the spike in staff infections.

He said: ‘The question is, have we had patients bringing the infection into hospital when they arrive and staff are getting infected that way?

‘Or are staff coming in from the community infected and infecting themselves and possibly others? We just don’t know.  

‘It’s very complex and we need help from other agencies to know what the position is in greater Weston.’

A number of factors behind the spike are being considered, including claims that emerged today of hospital staff not being routinely informed by managers when their colleagues tested positive for the virus – even those who had previously shown no symptoms.

But North Somerset is not alone in terms of high coronavirus deaths. 

Those areas yet to see their peak include Ashford, Kent; Broadland, Norfolk; Carlisle, Cumbria; Doncaster, South Yorkshire; Eden, Cumbria; Fenland, Cambridgeshire; Herefordshire; Hinckley and Bosworth, Leicestershire; Kettering, Northamptonshire; and North Somerset.

Other areas are Preston, Lancashire; Richmondshire, North Yorkshire; Rother, East Sussex; Selby, North Yorkshire; South Norfolk; Tonbridge and Malling, Kent; Wrexham, North Wales; and Wyre, Lancashire.   

It comes as the Prime Minister tonight gave the green light to the first limited socialising since lockdown, revealing that up to six people can now meet outdoors and in private gardens for barbecues – as long as they stay six feet away from each other.

Mr Johnson revealed that the restrictions are being eased slightly from next week, as he formally reduced the country’s Covid ‘alert’ status from four to three.

Despite warnings from chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance that 8,000 new infections are still happening every day and admitting making the rules more nuanced will create ‘anomalies and inconsistencies’, Mr Johnson unveiled a series of changes to take effect in England from Monday.

Up to six people from different households will be allowed to mix, opening the prospect of reunions for family and friends – although they will still be told to obey social distancing rules. They will also be permitted to use gardens and private outdoor spaces, which was previously banned.

Non-essential shops and primary schools will start to reopen from next month, as had been suggested earlier in the week.

Mr Johnson told the daily Downing Street briefing: ‘I cannot and I will not throw away all the gains we have made together. So the changes that we have made are limited and cautious.’

It comes after Britons were last night warned not to get carried away with news that lockdown is loosening because the virus’ R-rate is still dangerously close to 1.  

The Government’s top scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance revealed the current R-rate is between 0.7 and 0.9, and while coronavirus case numbers were declining, they are ‘not coming down fast’ in a downbeat update at tonight’s Downing Street press conference.

The reproduction rate denotes the number of other people an infected patient will pass the sickness on to and it must stay at 1 or below or Britain will face another crisis. However, the way the R is calculated means it is out of date, and the latest calculation is based on data from around three weeks ago – before the lockdown loosened.

‘The current value is somewhere between 0.7 and 0.9, so it remains close to one. It may very close to one in some areas,’ said Sir Patrick. ‘The numbers are coming down at the moment, but they are not coming down fast.’ 

The number of people dying in April each year has remained relative stable at around 40,000 or the last 13 years, but saw a massive spike to 88,000 this year as the coronavirus epidemic raged through the UK

The number of people dying in April each year has remained relative stable at around 40,000 or the last 13 years, but saw a massive spike to 88,000 this year as the coronavirus epidemic raged through the UK

HOW DO KEY CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK STATISTICS COMPARE THIS AND LAST WEEK?

MEASURE 

% of people infected: 

Total currently infected: 

New cases per week: 

New cases per day: 

R rate:

% of ventilators used*: 

Hospital admissions*:

Deaths announced*:

New positive tests*:

LAST WEEK (MAY 21)    

0.25% 

137,000 

61,000 

8,714 

0.7 – 1.0  

13%  

697

338

2,615

 THIS WEEK (MAY 28)  

0.24% 

133,000 

54,000

7,714 

0.7 – 0.9 

11% 

475

377 

1,887

* refers to daily figures announced in the Downing Street press conference, whereas the other data is given by the Office for National Statistics on a weekly basis