UK ‘will have done very well’ if coronavirus death toll is under 20,000

The head of the NHS says the UK "will have done very well" if fewer than 20,000 Brits die from coronavirus.

It comes as the death toll surges past 1000 in the most deadly day since the pandemic began.

On Saturday afternoon, business secretary Alok Sharma and Medical Director of NHS England Stephen Powis held a press briefing on developments in the battle to get Covid-19 under control.

They heralded the daily press conference in place of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is currently in self-isolation after testing positive for coronavirus.

Mr Powis said that if the UK government can keep deaths below 20,000, "we will have done very well in this epidemic".

"We can beat this virus, we can reduce the number of deaths," he said – but only if everyone takes responsibility and participates in effective social distancing.

"Now is not the time to be complacent. It's not somebody else's responsibility, it's all of our responsibility. Every one of us has a part to play, and we know that can work."

In the coming days NHS workers on the frontline will be tested for Covid-19, allowing those who have already had the virus to return to work in the knowledge they have some immunity.

Mr Powis said the government is working with NHS organisations "as I speak" and more test will be available in the next few days.

Mr Sharma announced that the government will be removing administrative barriers to the production of face masks and hand sanitiser in an effort to keep as many people safe as possible.

London hospitals have not yet reached full capacity as more and more coronavirus patients require medical attention, Mr Powis said.

New beds are being opened "all the time", he said.

In the last 24 hours the UK death toll rose to 1,019.

At least 17,089 Brits have tested positive for coronavirus so far.

  • Coronavirus
  • NHS

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