THE UK coronavirus death toll has risen to 31,241 after 626 more fatalities were recorded.
The deadly bug has continued to spread across the country – with 211,364 cases after a 4,649 rise in the last 24 hours.
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The figures, announced by Environment Secretary George Eustice during today’s daily coronavirus briefing, include those who have died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community.
Today's jump is greater than it was yesterday, when 539 further deaths were announced.
It is smaller, however, than any rise recorded on a Friday for the last six weeks.
The number of people in hospital with the deadly bug have also fallen by 18% in the last week – down to 11,788 compared with 14,346 the week before.
Today, another 332 people died in hospitals across England, bringing the death toll there to 22,764.
It was the smallest rise recorded in England on a Friday for the last six weeks.
Scotland's deadly toll hit 1,811 today, after a further 49 deaths were confirmed.
In Wales, 28 more people have died, bringing the overall tally there to 1,090.
It comes as…
- Britain's lockdown is extended for three weeks
- Brits urged not to sunbathe this weekend or freedoms could be lost
- Man City's Kyle Walker faces cop quiz after breaking lockdown
- Brits mark VE Day during coronavirus lockdown
- Scientists warn 20,000 are contracting Covid-19 every day
Mr Eustice insisted today that Brits continue to abide by social distancing measures over the long bank holiday weekend, despite the sunny weather.
He said: “I am conscious that there is a great deal of speculation about what the Prime Minister might say on Sunday when he outlines a roadmap for the future."
But he added: "It is vitally important that we continue to abide by the current restrictions."
It comes as scientists warn as many as 20,000 Brits are contracting coronavirus every day due to a spike in care home infections.
Experts admit the bug is now being passed on to more people overall than it was a fortnight ago – sending the "R value" up.
It follows a warning from Dominic Raab last night, who said: "The virus is not beaten yet. It remains deadly and infectious".
But he said after making decisions at the right time, the UK was now able to start thinking about the next phase in the pandemic.
He added that the PM will address the nation on Sunday and is expected to relax some small measures – but the lockdown will carry on in most forms after being formally extended for three more weeks yesterday.
Today, Sajid Javid called for different lockdown rules based on people's ages to kickstart the economy.
The former Chancellor urged the Government to relax restrictions on younger people to get the nation working again.
And Boris Johnson could ease restrictions in fortnightly stages over several months before it's fully lifted.
The Prime Minister will meet with his cabinet on Sunday before revealing his “road map” for Britain in a televised address that evening.
According to The Telegraph the PM wants to ease some restrictions and assess them fortnightly before relaxing any more.
He hopes to bring in small changes such as relaxing limits on exercise and picnics before looking at analysis to see what impact it has.
This was echoed this morning by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, who warned the public any changes would be “tentative” and could even be reversed.
Speaking on the Today Programme, he said: “Let’s wait and see what the PM says, we have discussed this at cabinet and he will set out a roadmap.
“It’s right to say where do we go next and he will set out the different stages.
“At each stage we’ll take a supremely cautious approach and it will only be if the public health allows us to do so that we will take that step of unlocking.
“If we see a variation from that for example the R rate starts to rise in an uncontrollable fashion then we won’t hesitate to step back again.”
VE DAY SPIRIT
Today, millions of Brits skipped traditional Victory Day celebrations as they marked the 75th anniversary of VE Day from home.
Defiant families celebrated the end of the Second World War from their doorsteps, taking part in a two minute silence to remember our fallen heroes.
And Boris Johnson called for the nation to channel its VE Day spirit in the battle of coronavirus.
He said: “People of every age, race and background came together in one supreme effort and they paid a grievous price with over 450,000 British people laying down their lives.
"We are now engaged in a new struggle against the coronavirus which demands the same spirit of national endeavour.
“And that means we can't hold the parades and street celebrations we enjoyed in the past."
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