Coronavirus: British deaths jump as officials warn of 'most dangerous phase'

Change in counting methods pushes UK into third highest toll in the world

Britain's Secretary of State for Foreign affairs Dominic Raab speaks during a daily news conference to update on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak held with Public Health England's (PHE) Medical Director Yvonne Doyle (not pictured) and Britain's Deputy Chief Medical Officer (DCMO) Jonathan Van Tam (not pictured), at 10 Downing Street in London, Britain April 29, 2020. Pippa Fowles/No 10 Downing Street/Handout via REUTERS  THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. THIS IMAGE IS FOR EDITORIAL USE PURPOSES ONLY. THE IMAGE CAN NOT BE USED FOR ADVERTISING OR COMMERCIAL USE. THE IMAGE CAN NOT BE ALTERED IN ANY FORM.
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The number of coronavirus deaths rose dramatically in Britain on Wednesday as the country jumped to the third highest number of deaths reported globally.

The UK changed the way it reaches its daily tally by including deaths in care homes.

There are 26,097 recorded deaths in Britain, a jump of more than 3,811 since Monday.

The increase in deaths in the 24 hours was 765, but thousands were added from care homes between March 2 and April 28.

It is now behind only the US, where 60,495 have died, and Italy, with a toll of 27,682.

Italy said on Wednesday 323 patients had died in the past 24 hours, while 427 deaths in France took its toll to 24,087.

Dominic Raab, the UK Foreign Secretary, said Britain was not yet through the most dangerous period and warned that a second rapid rise was a “real possibility” and not a “theoretical risk”.

A second spike could lead to many more deaths and “prolonged economic pain”, and would be a serious blow to public confidence.

Mr Raab said that Germany had a slight rise in infection rates after it lifted some restrictions last week.

“We must not gamble away the sacrifices that we have made,” he said. “We have to make the right decision at the right moment in time.”

There was light at the end of tunnel but it was vital to be “patient and careful at the moment of maximum risk”, Mr Raab.

Data showed a slight rise in people making car trips, suggesting some were ignoring isolation guidelines.

Mr Raab also announced that Britain was giving more than £1.6 billion (Dh7.33bn/US$2bn) to the Global Vaccine Alliance to find a vaccine for an international immunisation programme.

“We are giving £330 million each year over five years to the Global Vaccine Alliance as we seek to come up with a vaccine not only for Britain, but also to immunise the poorest around the world,” he said.

Britain is now capable of conducting 73,000 Covid-19 tests a day, close to its target of 100,000.

The country has bought 5 million masks from China and received three cargo flights of personal protection equipment from Turkey.

Mr Raab said that finally, all 19,000 Britons who had been on 60 cruise ships around the world were back home “safe and sound after an enormous effort”.

It is expected that Britons stranded in Bangladesh, Pakistan and New Zealand would be flown home soon.

Public Health England said the total number of deaths, including at care homes, was 17 per cent higher than previous data showed.

In more positive news, it was reported that there was considerable capacity in critical care beds, with only 40 per cent occupied.

While Covid-19 cases in London were declining, there was potential for a rise in regions across Britain, said Dr Yvonne Doyle of Public Health England.

“We are not through this yet,” Dr Doyle said. “We are still coming through the peak.”