UK records more than 1,000 Covid fatalities as death toll exceeds 80,000

There were 1,035 new deaths and 59,937 new infections on Saturday

FILE - In this Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020 file photo, a woman walks past graffiti with the words Victory to the NHS (National Health Service) on a wall at the Royal Victoria Hospital, one of several hospitals around Britain that are handling the initial phase of a COVID-19 immunization program, in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Britain races to vaccinate more than 15 million people by mid-February, and in an effort to ensure vaccines get to the right places at the right times, along with the syringes, alcohol swabs and protective equipment needed to administer them, the government has called in the army. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison, File)
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The UK’s coronavirus death toll climbed above 80,000 after more than 1,000 people were reported to have died with the virus on Saturday.

The Department of Health reported 1,035 new deaths within 28 days of a positive test, down from Friday’s record toll of 1,325.

It marked the fourth consecutive daily toll – defined as deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test – above 1,000.

The government figures also showed 59,937 new cases, down from 68,053 the day before.

The total number of deaths in the UK since the start of pandemic is 80,868.

Nikita Kanani, the National Health Service medical director for primary care, said the vaccine will be administered to “all health and social care staff” by mid-February.

NHS England said on Friday it had made plans to vaccinate all frontline staff against Covid-19 in the next few weeks following the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the NHS was under severe strain and London hospitals were at risk of being overwhelmed.

Britain has the world’s fifth-highest Covid-19 death toll, and the figure for Friday surpassed April’s record.

“From the middle of January, all NHS Trusts will be able to provide vaccinations for local healthcare and social care workers, which will be critical in keeping both them and patients safe,” the NHS said in a statement.

“The life-saving jab will be offered to all staff across NHS services, including those who work in general practices, pharmacies, dentists and other primary and secondary care settings,” it said.

Clinics will be scaled up to enable vaccinations seven days a week, it said.

Many staff have already received their first dose of the vaccine.

The NHS said it will prioritise the vaccination of its workers based on local risk assessments such as underlying health conditions and whether people are from black, south Asian and other ethnic-minority backgrounds.

In a letter to NHS Trusts seen by Reuters, three key NHS England officials, including Dr Kanani, said they were under an “immediate requirement to vaccinate frontline health and social care workers, ensuring maximum uptake of vaccination and timely, equitable access across staff groups”.

Britain, the first country to approve vaccines made by Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca, on Friday approved Moderna’s shot, which it hopes to administer from this spring.