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UK coronavirus deaths over 17,000, up 828 daily

LONDON

The daily death toll from the new coronavirus in the U.K. increased by 828 in the last 24 hours, British health authorities announced on Tuesday.

The Department of Health reported: “397,670 people have been tested of which 129,044 tested positive.

“As of 5pm on 20 April, of those hospitalised in the U.K. who tested positive for coronavirus, 17,337 have sadly died.”

Separately, the number of people dying in care homes rose dramatically to 1,043 as of April 10, while 466 others died in private homes.

At the daily press briefing, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said one billion items of personal protective equipment were delivered to healthcare workers.

Earlier in the day, opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer of the Labour Party was quoted by senior BBC journalist as saying: “What we’re seeing here is an increasing gap between what the government says or thinks is happening and what the frontline are telling us.”

Hancock added that the government was giving £22 million ($27 million) in funding to Imperial College London for their phase two trials for a coronavirus vaccine, and £20 million ($24 million) to Oxford University to speed up their trials.

The Oxford vaccine will begin human trials on Thursday.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a phone call with U.S. President Donald Trump, with Johnson’s spokesperson saying: “The prime minister spoke to President Trump this afternoon, and thanked him for his good wishes while he was unwell.

“The leaders agreed on the importance of a coordinated international response to coronavirus, including through the G7 which the U.S. currently chairs. They also discussed continued the U.K.-U.S. cooperation in the fight against the pandemic.

“The leaders committed to continue working together to strengthen our bilateral relationship, including by signing a free trade agreement as soon as possible.”

MPs in Parliament voted in favor of sitting virtually so that parliament can reconvene safely amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Up to 50 of the U.K.’s 650 MPs will be able to physically sit in the Commons at any one time, while observing strict social distancing procedures, and up to 120 MPs take part virtually via video screening in parliamentary proceedings.

MPs will be able to take part in Prime Minister’s Questions session via video screens placed in the Commons as well.

The House of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle said: “By initiating a hybrid solution, with steps towards an entirely virtual parliament, we are enabling members to stay close to their communities, while continuing their important work scrutinising the government.

“I do not want members and house staff putting themselves at risk. By working virtually, this is our contribution to the guidance of stay home, protect the National Health Service and save lives.”

The novel coronavirus has spread to 185 countries and regions since emerging in China last December, with the U.S. and Europe being the hardest-hit areas in the world.

More than 2.5 million cases have been reported worldwide, with the death toll close to 172,000 and nearly 660,000 recoveries, according to data compiled by the U.S.’ Johns Hopkins University.

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