U.K. Becomes Fifth Country With Over 20,000 Virus Deaths

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Coronavirus deaths in hospitals across the U.K. exceeded 20,000, making it the fifth country to pass that grim milestone, while the government signaled that the outbreak may be nearing its peak.

Deaths rose by 813, from 684 yesterday, with total fatalities reaching 20,319, according to data from the Department of Health. That was the highest daily death toll since April 21. Only the U.S., Italy, Spain and France have reported more fatalities linked to Covid-19.

The mortality figures are for the day they are recorded not for the day they occurred, and only include patients who die in a hospital. Total fatalities are likely much higher as thousands more have died in nursing homes.

An additional 4,913 people tested positive for the disease, with the total number of cases reaching 148,377. Some 28,760 tests were carried out, still short of the country’s capacity of around 51,000 and its target of 100,000 tests a day by the end of April. The U.K. has been looking to ramp up the capacity and number of testing facilities available.

On Friday, the government apologized after a new booking website for coronavirus tests ran out of supply shortly after opening. It had expanded eligibility on the testing program to include 10 million key workers and their families.

The 5,000 home testing kits that were available on the first day of the program being open were gone within a couple of minutes, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman, James Slack, told reporters.

The website then closed for applications after another 15,000 testing slots at drive-through centers had been allocated.

On Saturday, Simon Eccles, chief clinical information officer for Health and Care, NHS Digital, said on Twitter that home kits were booked up rapidly the next day too. “I know it’s frustrating but we’re developing more lab, supply and logistics capacity every day,” he wrote.

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