Matt Hancock says 'stay at home' over Easter as nearly 1,000 people die in a day

Health Secretary Matt Hancock issued a stark warning for the people to stay home during the Easter weekend as he confirmed that nearly 1,000 people had died with coronavirus in a day.

A total of 8,958 patients have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm yesterday, Mr Hancock said, up by 980 from 7,978 the day before.

The Health Secretary said that 15 testing drive-through centres - including one in Leeds - had been opened across the UK to enable more testing for frontline staff.

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Speaking at the daily press conference, he said: "This is a national effort, and every single person in this country can play their part in this plan.

Matt Hancock. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA WireMatt Hancock. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA Wire
Matt Hancock. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA Wire | pa

"This Easter will be another test of the nation's resolve. It's a time of year when people normally come together.

"But however warm the weather, however tempting your local beach or park, we need everyone to stay at home.

"Because in hospitals across the country, NHS staff are battling day and night to keep desperately sick people breathing, and they need you to stay at home."

He added: "A front door is better than any face mask."

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Chief nursing officer for England, Ruth May, said: "The actions that you take this weekend will have consequences. I want you to remember the sacrifices that others are taking."

In response to a question from the press, she said it was "very, very frustrating" to see people not socially distancing, giving an example of "hoards of cyclists" together in Westminster today.

She also said that colleagues had received abuse from their neighbours for driving off to work.

Giving an update on the Prime Minister's condition, Mr Hancock said Boris Johnson wanted to "personally thank" the hospital team.

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"I'm very happy to report that the Prime Minister's condition continues to improve," Mr Hancock told the briefing.

"He wants to personally thank the whole clinical team at St Thomas' for the incredible care that he has received.

"His thoughts are with all of those who have been affected by this terrible disease."

Mr Hancock said 19,116 coronavirus tests were carried out across Great Britain on Thursday, of which 5,706 came back positive.

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He said the number of people in hospital who have tested positive for the disease stood at 19,304.

Mr Hancock added that a "Herculean logistical effort", involving the Armed Forces, to provide PPE equipment to relevant workers.

Some 742 million pieces of such kit have been delivered, he said.

Deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam said the UK was still in a "dangerous phase" in regard to the number of new coronavirus cases.

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Quoting data from March 16 to April 10, he said: "You can see the broad trend, that we have been in an increase phase and we are now at a point where we are at a high level and the numbers are varying day by day.

"We are in a dangerous phase still. And I need to reinforce that again to you, that this is not over."

In regard to the number of people occupying hospital beds after being diagnosed with Covid-19 between March 20 and April 9, he said: "There has been a steady increase, but possibly you can see that the curve is bending.

"It's impossible to say we have peaked. London has gone down in the last day, but Yorkshire and the North East has gone up."