Thursday 25 June 2020 3:36 pm

UK coronavirus deaths rise by 149 as lockdown lift looms ahead

A further 149 coronavirus deaths have occurred in the UK, the Department for Health and Social Care announced today.

The new toll takes the total number of Covid-19 deaths in Britain to 43,081. 

The figure takes into account people who have died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm yesterday. It does not include all deaths involving coronavirus in the UK, which are thought to have exceeded 54,000.

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The Department for Health added that 167,023 tests were carried out or dispatched in the 24 hours up to 9am today, of which 1,118 came back positive for coronavirus. The figure for the number of people tested has been “temporarily paused to ensure consistent reporting” across all methods of testing.

It comes as scientists have warned that the government must prepare the UK for the risk of a second wave of coronavirus infections.

Medical experts yesterday wrote an open letter calling on politicians to draw up a “rapid and forward-looking assessment” of England’s readiness for a second wave. They said it was critical to protect people and the economy from the threat of a second spike.

They wrote: “While the future shape of the pandemic in the UK is hard to predict, the available evidence indicates that local flare ups are increasingly likely and a second wave a real risk.

“Many elements of the infrastructure needed to contain the virus are beginning to be put in place, but substantial challenges remain.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week announced a substantial easing of England’s coronavirus lockdown.

Despite one of the world’s worst death tolls the PM said pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and more can reopen from 4 July. And the two-metre social distancing gap will be cut to “one metre-plus”.

Households will be able to meet other households inside and outside as long as only two households meet at a time.

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However, other sectors of the economy – namely nightclubs, theatres and casinos – must remain closed for now.

Johnson has warned England could re-enter lockdown if a second wave emerges.

The medical experts wrote that politicians’ strategy to prevent a second wave “should focus on those areas of weakness where action is needed urgently to prevent further loss of life and restore the economy as fully and as quickly as possible”.