Coronavirus UK: Death toll hits 32,065 with 210 new fatalities

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The UK has announced a further 210 victims of the coronavirus today – the lowest daily increase since March 26, as the official number of victims topped 32,000.  

Department of Health figures show that 3,877 people tested positive for COVID-19, meaning 223,060 people have been struck down with the deadly virus since the outbreak began.

The daily death toll is the smallest in six-and-a-half weeks (183 on March 26), fuelling hope that the worst days of the first wave of the UK’s crisis have been and gone.  

This may be the result of a dip in the statistics which happens every Monday because of reporting delays over the weekend – and the effect was particularly prominent after bank holidays – but appears a positive sign nonetheless.

Every major NHS hospital trust in England has recorded at least one death linked to COVID-19, including one group in Birmingham that has recorded 820 deaths from the virus in fewer than two months. 

The statistics come as Prime Minister Boris Johnson today unveiled a 50-page document setting out details of how the UK will finally start to move out of lockdown, which could see family and friends reuniting next month.

Separate figures today revealed men working in low paid jobs – security guards, taxi and bus drivers, cleaners and chefs – are four times more likely to die of coronavirus than men in professional jobs. 

In other developments to Britain’s coronavirus crisis today: 

  • Government advice now urges people to wear face masks if out in public and unable to stay 2m (6’6″) away from other people;
  • Rifts have emerged between the devolved nations – Scotland and Wales have refused to adopt the ‘stay alert’ slogan and to loosen restrictions;
  • Top-level sport in England could restart behind closed doors from June 1 but spectators may not be able to attend venues until a vaccine is found;
  • It is hoped all primary school children will be able to return to school for at least one month before the end of this school year;
  • Tourism chiefs today urged Britons to stay away from beauty spots after the Government said people could travel as far as they like for unlimited exercise.

The PM said 'we must acknowledge that life will be different, at least for the foreseeable future'.

The Government this weekend unveiled its new slogan 'Stay alert', causing uproar and confusion as it replaced 'Stay at home' but said people still cannot socialise

Prime Minister Boris Johnson today unveiled a 50-page document setting out details of how the UK will finally start to move out of lockdown, which could see family and friends reuniting next month

Separate figures today revealed men working in low paid jobs - security guards, taxi and bus drivers, cleaners and chefs - are four times more likely to die of coronavirus than men in professional jobs. Pictured: A busy London Underground train this morning after

Separate figures today revealed men working in low paid jobs – security guards, taxi and bus drivers, cleaners and chefs – are four times more likely to die of coronavirus than men in professional jobs. Pictured: A busy London Underground train this morning after 

University Hospitals Birmingham remains the hardest hit NHS trust in the country, recording a staggering 820 deaths since March.

This is by far the highest number in England and is 46 per cent more than the second worst affected hospital trust – Barts Health in London (558).

Seven of the 10 hospitals with the most people killed by the virus are in London, which has been at the center of the first wave of Britain’s epidemic.

Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, suggested recently that around a million people in the capital have been infected with COVID-19 already.

Other hospitals facing grim death tolls have been Derby and Burton NHS Trust (424) and the Pennine Acute Hospitals in Manchester (390).

Every NHS hospital in the country has now had a patient die after testing positive for the coronavirus, along with many private providers run by companies including Virgin Care, HCA and Nuffield Health.

There are 20 hospitals that have recorded only a single death throughout the epidemic, including the purpose-built Nightingale Hospital in London.  

The new lockdown rules at a glance:  

  • Face coverings advised for people on public transport and in enclosed spaces 
  • Mixing in ‘bubbles’ of friends and family could start from next month
  • At the same time major sports could be played behind closed doors  
  • Those who can should continue to work from home ‘for the foreseeable future’
  • People working in sectors including food production, construction, manufacturing, logistics, distribution and scientific research in laboratories should go back to work from Wednesday.
  • But ‘hospitality and non-essential retail’ businesses should remain closed
  • More key workers encouraged to send children to school 
  • Primary schools will start to get back up and running for reception, year 1 and year 6 in June, in small classes
  • Parents will not face fines for refusing to send their children. 
  • Majority of secondary schools will stay closed until September
  • Outdoor sports like tennis or golf allowed with one other person from another household

 

As the death toll continues to fall the British Government is now making moves to get the country out of lockdown.

In a speech to the nation last night Prime Minister Boris Johnson said people should start returning to work as much as possible, and that ‘unlimited exercise’ and travelling outdoors for leisure would be permitted from Wednesday.

And officials today released a 50-page document offering clarity on some of the hazier areas of policy on which they had been hammered for giving mixed messages. 

People could start mixing in ‘bubbles’ with family and friends from the beginning of next month, the report said. 

The blueprint stressed that the five tests for easing lockdown have not yet been met, and so major loosening of the draconian curbs is not possible.

In a grim foreword, the PM said ‘we must acknowledge that life will be different, at least for the foreseeable future’. 

Mr Johnson warned that a vaccine was the main long-term way out of the crisis, but the plan cautioned that ‘it is possible a safe and effective vaccine will not be developed for a long time (or even ever)’.

But the document said ‘smarter’ social distancing measures are being introduced to try and nudge the country back to some sort of normality. 

In the future, restrictions will be targeted ‘more precisely’, recognising that ‘not everybody’s or every group’s risk is the same’.

WHICH HOSPITALS HAVE SEEN THE MOST COVID-19 DEATHS? 

All NHS hospital trusts in England have now recorded at least one COVID-19 fatality.

These are the hardest hit trusts: 

  1. University Hospitals Birmingham (820 deaths)
  2. Barts Health (558)  
  3. London North West University Healthcare (550)
  4. King’s College Hospital, London (461)
  5. Royal Free London (452)
  6. University Hospitals of Derby and Burton (424)
  7. Imperial College Healthcare, London (400)
  8. Pennine Acute Hospitals, Manchester (390)
  9. Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals, London (379)
  10. Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Trust, London (374) 

The guidelines say those who can should continue to work from home ‘for the foreseeable future’, and pointed to full health and safety guidelines due to be published tomorrow.

From Wednesday all workers are being urged to return to duties in sectors such as food production, construction, manufacturing, logistics, distribution and scientific research in laboratories.

‘The only exceptions to this are those workplaces such as hospitality and non-essential retail which during this first step the Government is requiring to remain closed,’ the document said.

The plan said schools cannot yet fully reopen, but said more key workers should be encouraged to send their children.

‘There is a large societal benefit from vulnerable children, or the children of critical workers, attending school: local authorities and schools should therefore urge more children who would benefit from attending in person to do so,’ it said.

Face coverings are being advised for people on public transport and in enclosed spaces – something that happened in Scotland a fortnight ago.

The document also corrected another blunder overnight, stating clearly that people are able to play outdoor sports such as tennis or golf with one other person from another household.

Men working in the lowest-skilled jobs such as cleaners, security guards and drivers are FOUR TIMES more likely to die of coronavirus than accountants and lawyers 

Men working in low paid jobs are significantly more likely to die of COVID-19 than anyone else between the ages of 20 and 64, a ‘horrifying’ report has revealed. 

Those who work as security guards have one of the highest death rates along with social care workers, drivers and chefs. 

And they are up to four times as likely to die as university graduates working in ‘professional’ jobs, such as accountants, lawyers, engineers and teachers. 

Men made up two thirds of the workforce killed by the virus in the first month after lockdown was introduced in Britain, showing they are far worse affected than women of the same age, the Office for National Statistics data showed. 

The ONS found that people working in what it calls ‘elementary’ jobs, such as cleaners and construction workers, had the highest risk of death.

Those low-paid workers are also likely to have been working throughout the crisis or to be the first back to work as Britain gets back to its feet this week. 

Men working as security guards had one of the highest death rates, at 45.7 deaths per 100,000 – this was more than quadruple the average for all men of the same age (9.9). 

And while men in ‘professional’ occupations died at a rate of 5.6 per 100,000, this was four times higher at 21.4 for those in ‘low skilled elementary occupations’.

The reasons for this are not clear but people working in better paid jobs are likely to live in less deprived areas, to have better general health and to spend less time in public-facing work, which could put people at extra risk of catching the virus. 

The average death rate for working women was 5.2 per 100,000 – women were dying at highest rates if they were hairdressers (18.1 per 100,000), factory or warehouse workers (15.6) or carers (12.7).

Both men and women working as carers had a ‘significantly’ higher than average risk of dying from the disease, even though doctors and nurses did not.

Other jobs in which men were put at particularly high risk included taxi drivers, chaffeurs, bus and coach drivers, chefs, and shop assistants.

And factory and warehouse staff of both sexes are dying in considerably higher than average numbers, showing that the worst paid are also the worst affected. 

The statisticians admitted that their analysis could not prove that it was people’s jobs that put them at risk because they only accounted for ages, not for other factors such as where they lived, who they lived with, how well off they were, or their race.

However, GMB, a trade union for more than half a million people, said the stats were ‘horrifying’ and one expert added more attention should be paid to protecting workers outside of the health and care sectors.

Data released by the Office for National Statistics shows that, generally, the risk of dying of the coronavirus increases as jobs become lower paid

Data released by the Office for National Statistics shows that, generally, the risk of dying of the coronavirus increases as jobs become lower paid

The security sector appeared to put men most at risk of dying with the coronavirus, followed by factory work ('process plant operations') and construction work. All these 'elementary service occupations' have higher death rates than the average for men of the same age

The security sector appeared to put men most at risk of dying with the coronavirus, followed by factory work (‘process plant operations’) and construction work. All these ‘elementary service occupations’ have higher death rates than the average for men of the same age

A total of 2,494 people of working age – between 20 and 64 – had died with COVID-19 in England and Wales by April 20. This was 9.7 per cent of the nationwide death toll of 25,770 at the time.

While people below retirement age are significantly less likely to die if they catch the pneumonia-causing disease, all are not equal. 

John Phillips, acting general secretary at GMB, said: ‘These figures are horrifying, and they were drawn up before the chaos of last night’s announcement. 

‘If you are low paid and working through the COVID19 crisis you are more likely to die – that’s how stark these figures are. 

SOCIAL CARE WORKERS FACE ‘SIGNIFICANTLY’ HIGHER DEATH RISK

Office for National Statistics data shows that care workers, whether they are male or female, face a ‘statistically significantly’ higher risk of dying of COVID-19.

Doctors, nurses and other medical workers, however, do not face the same risk.

Care homes and the care sector have endured a hidden crisis with thousands of people dying throughout the outbreak and the Government has been slammed for failing to offer enough support to some of the most vulnerable people in the country.

The ONS said there had been 131 deaths among care workers between the ages of 20 and 64 by April 20.

Male care workers were more than twice as likely to die – with a rate of 23.4 deaths per 100,000 carers – compared to women who had a death rate of 9.6 deaths per 100,000. 

For men, this was significantly higher than the working age average death rate of 10 per 100,000; and for women it was higher than their average 5 per 100,000.

Professor Keith Neal, an epidemiologist at the University of Nottingham, said: ‘This may reflect poorer provision and effective use of PPE [personal protective equipment], or that [carers] are dealing with people early in their COVID-19 infections when they may be asymptomatic and or more infectious, or a combination of both.’ 

‘Ministers must pause any return to work until proper guidelines, advice and enforcement are in place to keep people safe.’

While a lot of emphasis has been put on medical workers and carers being put at risk by the coronavirus, experts say this shows other occupations are high-risk, too.

Regular close contact with other people, such as in cars or in the hospitality sectors where they work, may be increasing people’s risk of becoming seriously ill. 

Professor Neil Pearce, Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: ‘This important report confirms that in the working age population COVID-19 is largely an occupational disease.’ 

‘The findings are striking,’ he added, ‘and emphasise that we need to look beyond health and social care, and that there is a broad range of occupations which may be at risk from COVID-19. 

‘These are many of the same occupations that are now being urged to return to work, in some instances without proper safety measures and PPE being in place.’

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain agreed that more focus needs to be put on protecting workers outside of hospitals and care homes. 

IWGB general secretary Jason Moyer-Lee said: ‘The workers on the front lines, who cannot work from home, and often work for some of the worst employers in the UK are at extreme risk. 

‘Their health and safety needs to be treated with far more care.’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s call last night for people to return to work if they can, but not to use public transport, has sparked anger because it is likely to affect poorer workers disproportionately.

Mr Johnson told people to drive, cycle or walk to work if they could and to avoid public transport.

Decisions like this may be easier for people with more money, critics say, and London mayor Sadiq Khan has come under fire for refusing to run more trains so people can social distance more effectively.

The Mayor of London said in a statement that the ‘lockdown hasn’t been lifted’ and that you must not use transport for ‘unnecessary journeys’.  

Thousands of commuters have heeded Mr Johnson’s advice and headed back out on the road, or onto crowded tubes that still have no social distancing measures in place.  

IN WHICH SECTORS ARE THE MOST MEN DYING? 

  1. Security occupations (43.2 deaths per 100,000 workers)
  2. Factory/warehouse (37.7) 
  3. Food preparation & hospitality (36.4)
  4. Caring personal services (26.3)
  5. Hospitality/leisure managers (26.3) 

Source: ONS 

IN WHICH SECTORS ARE MOST WOMEN DYING?

  1. Hairdressers (18.1 deaths per 100,000 workers) 
  2. Factory/warehouse (15.6) 
  3. Caring personal services (10.1) 
  4. Food prep & hospitality (10)
  5. Government administration (7.9)

Source: ONS 

Commuters have already reported large traffic jams in major roads such as the M25, and in London, people have been pictured crammed onto tubes with no social distancing in place at all.

British actor Adil Ray said in a tweet last night: ‘It’s the most vulnerable communities we are trying to encourage to go back to work; BAME, service workers working class and the low paid with no or few rights. 

‘They are the ones most likely to die. Our system is broken.’

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) advised its members not to work if they felt unsafe.

It said the Government was shifting away from the stay at home message, which would unleash a surge in passengers breaching social- distancing measures with ‘potentially lethal consequences’ for staff and the public.

The statement said: ‘To be clear no agreement has been made to change any working practices or social distancing arrangement…

‘Therefore if two metre social distancing cannot be maintained we consider it to be unsafe and members have the legal right to use the worksafe process.’  

British actor Adil Ray said low-paid working class people, who are at more risk of dying of the coronavirus, are the ones who will be forced to return to work first

British actor Adil Ray said low-paid working class people, who are at more risk of dying of the coronavirus, are the ones who will be forced to return to work first

Mr Johnson urged people not to use public transport if they can avoid it, but this may be more difficult for people who earn less money (Pictured: Passengers on a platform at Canning Town Underground station in east London today)

Mr Johnson urged people not to use public transport if they can avoid it, but this may be more difficult for people who earn less money (Pictured: Passengers on a platform at Canning Town Underground station in east London today) 

The ONS said its data was not perfect and couldn’t be used as proof because it didn’t take into account people’s lives outside of their jobs.

It said: ‘The results of the analysis do not prove conclusively that the observed rates of death involving COVID-19 are necessarily caused by differences in occupational exposure. 

DOCTORS, NURSES AND PARAMEDICS ARE NOT DYING MORE OFTEN THAN PUBLIC

Today’s ONS data showed that medical workers, including doctors and nurses, do not appear to be at greater risk of dying of COVID-19 than the general public.

NHS staff of course have to take far more precautions than other people, such as wearing masks and gloves all the time, but these measures appear to be protecting them well. 

The report said: ‘Among healthcare workers, rates of death involving COVID-19 were not found to be statistically different to rates of death in the general working population’. 

Data showed deaths rates of 10.2 per 100,000 people among male healthcare workers, and 4.8 per 100,000 for women. Both were the same as estimates for all people of the same age group, regardless of job. 

This analysis included doctors, nurses, midwives, nurse assistants, paramedics, ambulance staff and porters.

A single-job breakdown could only be produced for female nurses, who had a death rate of 6.7 per 100,000. This was slightly higher than the average for working women but not statistically significant, suggesting their job was not the cause, the ONS said.  

Professor Keith Neal, an epidemiologist at the University of Nottingham, said: ‘This suggests that PPE [personal protective equipment] is working, or that by the time patients are ill enough to be admitted to hospital, often after over a week, they may be less infectious, or a combination of both factors.’

‘In the analysis we adjusted for age, but not for other factors such as ethnic group, place of residence or deprivation. 

‘Additionally, the analysis only considers the occupation of the deceased. We have not taken account of the occupations of others in the household, which could increase exposure to other members of the same household.’ 

The data shows that care workers, whether they are male or female, face a ‘statistically significantly’ higher risk of dying of COVID-19.

Doctors, nurses and other medical workers, however, do not face the same risk.

Care homes and the care sector have endured a hidden crisis with thousands of people dying throughout the outbreak and the Government has been slammed for failing to offer enough support to some of the most vulnerable people in the country.

The ONS said there had been 131 deaths among care workers between the ages of 20 and 64 by April 20.

Male care workers were more than twice as likely to die – with a rate of 23.4 deaths per 100,000 carers – compared to women who had a death rate of 9.6 deaths per 100,000. 

For men, this was significantly higher than the working age average death rate of 10 per 100,000; and for women it was higher than their average 5 per 100,000. 

On the other hand, however, the data showed that medical workers, including doctors and nurses, do not appear to be at greater risk of dying of COVID-19.

The report said: ‘Among healthcare workers, rates of death involving COVID-19 were not found to be statistically different to rates of death in the general working population’. 

Data showed deaths rates of 10.2 per 100,000 people among male healthcare workers, and 4.8 per 100,000 for women. Both were the same as estimates for all people of the same age group, regardless of job. 

This analysis included doctors, nurses, midwives, nurse assistants, paramedics, ambulance staff and porters.

A single-job breakdown could only be produced for female nurses, who had a death rate of 6.7 per 100,000. This was slightly higher than the average for working women but not statistically significant, suggesting their job was not the cause, the ONS said. 

One of the biggest differences between care staff, who have higher rates of death, and medical workers has been the focus on getting them personal protective equipment (PPE).

While the Government has been scrambling to get PPE, such as gloves and masks, to hospitals throughout the outbreak, no such effort has been made for the care sector.

Care home bosses last month accused officials of ‘palty’ and ‘haphazard’ deliveries of protective equipment, saying insufficient amounts put their staff at risk.

Professor Keith Neal, an epidemiologist at the University of Nottingham, said of today’s statistics: ‘The rate amongst health care workers is similar to comparable people. This suggests that PPE is working, or that by the time patients are ill enough to be admitted to hospital, often after over a week, they may be less infectious, or a combination of both factors.

‘A high rate amongst care workers is consistent with what we know about outbreaks in care homes. 

‘This may reflect poorer provision and effective use of PPE, or that they are dealing with people early in their COVID-19 infections when they may be asymptomatic and or more infectious, or a combination of both.’ 



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