London: The UK's death toll from the novel coronavirus on Wednesday registered a jump of thousands and reached 26,097 as the government began counting the COVID-19 related fatalities across the country's hospitals, care homes and the wider community.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab cautioned at the daily Downing Street briefing that the figure includes data going back to early March and should not be seen as a particular spike in deaths from the deadly virus in recent days.
The overall hike in death toll over the previous figure is 3,811, with the daily increase from Tuesday's figures at 765 deaths. "We must never lose sight of the human lives behind the statistics," said Raab, who was back standing in for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson who remains with fiancee Carrie Symonds who gave birth to their baby boy earlier on Wednesday.
"There is light at the end of the tunnel. But we need to be patient and careful as we come through the phase of maximum risk," said Raab, as he stressed that it is too early to look at easing the lockdown measures in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The minister said that as the UK was "still coming through the peak", it is now undergoing what is the most "delicate and dangerous moment". He pointed to Germany's experience as a cautionary tale, where there is a move towards a second lockdown due to a rise in infections after social distancing measures had been lifted recently.
"We mustn't gamble the sacrifice and progress we have made. We must continue to take the right decisions at the right time," he said. Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director of Public Health England, added at the briefing that the latest COVID-19 data were more "comprehensive" and shows a continued downward trend in the number of hospitalisations with the coronavirus, as she reiterated the need for lockdown measures to be kept in place."Most people are making huge efforts to stay at home, so please, do continue to stay at home," she said.