UK death toll rises to 36,393 after another 351 people have died

Another 351 people were confirmed dead across the UK today as its coronavirus death toll rises to 36,393.

The Department of Health and Social Care recorded 351 deaths across all settings this afternoon, including hospitals and care homes.

The NHS confirmed 121 of these deaths took place in hospitals in England. There were also 24 deaths in Scotland, seven in Wales and three in Northern Ireland across all settings.

This preliminary daily tally is calculated by adding up the individual counts announced by each of the home nations.

As of 9am this morning, there have been 3,231,921 tests for Covid-19, with 140,497 tests taking place yesterday. In total 2,144,626 people have been tested, of which 254,195 tested positive.

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The highest number of deaths which took place in one day in hospitals was on April 8, with a current total of 891.

The latest figures come after it was suggested immunity certificates for people who have recovered from coronavirus are being considered again by the government.

Yesterday health secretary Matt Hancock suggested that as many as four million people may have already recovered from the virus, with early data showing 17% of Londoners and 5% of the rest of England having been infected.

An overall national average of 6.9% suggested the UK is still in the early stages of an epidemic and the country will have to learn to live with the virus for some time to come.

Immunity ‘passports’ identifying those who have had and recovered from the virus are being seen as a way of freeing people from social distancing measures as the country moves forward in easing lockdown.

Mr Hancock said that ‘systems of certification’ were being worked on in government to allow coronavirus survivors to get closer to normality in the months to come.

Scientists warn it is still unclear whether people who have recovered retain immunity to the virus, but antibody tests that tell people if they have previously been infected ‘may indicate some immunity to future infection’.

Yesterday the government agreed a deal with Swiss pharmaceutical firm Roche to supply antibody tests free on the NHS, with health and care workers first in line to get them.

The health secretary told yesterday’s Downing Street briefing: ‘We’re developing this critical science to know the impact of a positive antibody test and to develop the systems of certification to ensure people who have positive antibodies can be given assurances of what they can safely do.’

We’re not yet in a position to say that those who test positive in these antibody tests are immune from coronavirus. ‘But as our understanding of the disease improves, the insight these antibody tests provide will be crucial.’

Mr Hancock expressed hopes that bedside swab tests for the virus that give results in 20 minutes would become the standard way to check patients and staff in hospitals and in care homes.

A trial in 4,000 patients is under way in Hampshire and will be introduced nationally if it proves effective over the next six weeks.

The results could ‘change the way we control Covid-19 across the country’, Mr Hancock said, ‘If it works, we’ll roll it out as soon as we can.’

Ministers have agreed to buy 10 million antibody tests, which tell if people have had coronavirus. Next week they will be given to NHS and care staff as the first stage of a wider introduction.

Earlier this month, a spokesman for Boris Johnson said there was the possibility of issuing some kind of certificate based on immunity but that scientists still needed to know more about that subject area.

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