COVID-19: UK records lowest daily death toll at 55

Aditi Khanna

London, Jun 8 (PTI) The UK on Monday recorded its lowest daily death toll during the coronavirus pandemic of 55, which marks the lowest level since before the country went into lockdown on March 23, alongside London hospitals registered no new deaths.

The UK's total COVID-19 death toll now stands at 40,597, which reflects no new deaths announced in both Scotland and Northern Ireland for a second consecutive day.

While some of these figures are expected to be a result of an established trend of a weekend lag in collating data, the government welcomed the latest set of statistics as a promising sign that the virus is in retreat as it gradually lifts lockdown restrictions in phases.

'The number of new fatalities each day is thankfully falling,' UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons.

'Today's figure records 55 fatalities, the lowest number since the 21st of March before lockdown began. They also show that there were no deaths recorded in London hospitals, which is a real milestone for the capital which in the early stages of this pandemic faced the biggest leap,' he said.

The minister also updated Parliament on the R rate, or the reproduction rate, of the deadly virus which must remain under the crucial mark of one.

He said the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has confirmed that the rate remains between 0.7 and 0.9 in every region of the country.

'This means the number of new infections is expected to continue to fall. So there are encouraging trends on all of these critical measures. Coronavirus is in retreat across the land. Our plan is working and these downward trends mean we can proceed with our plans [to ease lockdown] with caution,' he said.

Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had earlier said she is 'optimistic' that the region's coronavirus restrictions could be eased further on June 18, after a second day with no recorded deaths.

The leader of the devolved administration said the continuing 'steady decline' in the death rate was 'obviously very encouraging'.

'I can't tell you how much I've longed to report such a development,' said Sturgeon.

'We are making significant progress against this virus, but it is at a very sensitive and critical juncture. We need a safe foundation to lift restrictions more meaningfully in the weeks to come,' she said. PTI AK IND IND