THE lowest coronavirus death figures for a fortnight were announced today – taking Britain's official total death toll to 16,509.
England declared 429 deaths and a further 20 were confirmed across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland today (April 20) while 4,676 more people have tested positive for the virus, taking the total number of patients to 124,743.
It is a drop from the 596 fatalities announced on Sunday (April 19) and half as many as announced on Saturday (888). It is the lowest number since April 6 (439).
At today's daily government briefing, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said that 17,971 people are still in hospital battling the coronavirus.
Mr Sunak said more than 140,000 companies had applied to the government's furlough scheme for grants to help cover the wages of more than one million people and said more money would be made available for early-stage businesses to help them set up during the economic turmoil.
He stated that the UK is receiving PPE shipments regularly from domestic suppliers as well as those from overseas, and is expecting a shipment of 140,000 gowns from Myanmar – but the Turkish shipment is still delayed.
He said: “We're improving our sourcing internationally and domestically to make sure we can get the PPE we need in what is a very challenging international context.
“But people on the front line can rest assured that we're doing absolutely everything we can and straining everything we can to get the equipment they need.”
The figures come as Professor Carl Heneghan, a leading expert at the University of Oxford argued the peak of infection was actually about a month ago, before lockdown began. He also believes that the ‘true death rate’ among people who catch the virus is between 0.1 and 0.36%, considerably lower than the 13% currently playing out in the UK.