UK coronavirus death toll rises by 155 to 44,391

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A further 155 people in the UK have died after testing positive for coronavirus, bringing the official death toll to 44,391.

The Government figures do not include all deaths involving Covid-19 across the UK, which are thought to have passed 55,000.

The Department of Health and Social Care also said that in the 24-hour period up to 9am on Tuesday, there were 581 positive test results. Overall, a total of 286,349 cases have been confirmed.

It comes after just 16 new deaths involving Covid-19 were reported yesterday, the lowest daily figure for a Monday since the nation went into lockdown.

Staff with a patient in a UK hospital (AP)

No deaths were reported in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland on Monday, the first day without coronavirus-linked deaths in all three of those countries since the start of lockdown.

Figures on Mondays have tended to be lower because of weekend lags in reporting.

The news comes after Boris Johnson came under fire for comments about care homes during the coronavirus crisis. The Prime Minister suggested that “too many” homes had not followed correct coronavirus procedures.

Nearly 20,000 people are confirmed to have died with coronavirus in care homes in the UK. The Government has been criticised for treating care home patients as an “afterthought”.

Around 25,000 people were discharged from UK hospitals to care homes without being tested for coronavirus, according to a National Audit Office report.

A UK hospital worker with a patient (AP)

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer slammed Mr Johnson’s “shameful” comments.

He said in a Twitter post: “At least 20,000 people have died from Covid-19 in care homes. Residents went without tests. Staff were left without PPE. And all after a decade of cuts to social care.

“Shameful of Boris Johnson for trying to blame others for his government’s failures.”

The Independent Care Group said Mr Johnson’s comments were “a real slap in the face” to care workers who have “sacrificed so much.”

Chairman Mike Padgham added: “We hope he will reflect on those comments and see the incredible work the care sector has done in the recent months to care for older and vulnerable people, with late and conflicting advice and poor support in terms of personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing during this awful pandemic.

“And we hope it will spur him into long-promised action to reform the sector and end the crisis in social care which left us so vulnerable to a virus like Covid-19.”

NHS providers paid tribute to the “amazing” efforts of care workers during the pandemic.

Deputy chief executive Saffron Cordery said: “The Prime Minister’s comments risk undermining the key role played during the pandemic by social care services, which in many places has been nothing short of heroic, and has doubtless saved many lives.

Nearly 20,000 may have died after contracting coronavirus in care homes (Reuters)

“A crisis will always shine a light on weaknesses and vulnerabilities and the issues social care continue to face are indicative of continued, long-term neglect by successive governments and a failure to fully fund the sector.”

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister played down Mr Johnson’s comments on Tuesday and said he would not apologise.

The spokesperson said: “Throughout the pandemic care homes have done a brilliant job under very difficult circumstances.

“The Prime Minister was pointing out that nobody knew what the correct procedures were because the extent of asymptomatic transmission was not known at the time.”