UK’s coronavirus hospital deaths surge by 401 as R rate falls

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The number of coronavirus deaths in the UK's hospitals has increased by 401 today.

NHS England said 326 people had died in its hospitals including two people aged between 20 and 39.

Health authorities in Scotland said 32 people died there, while Wales recorded 31 patient deaths. Northern Ireland registered 12 fatalities today.

Yesterday it was announced that a further 501 people have died with Covid-19 in all settings.

Some 22,915 more people tested positive for the bug, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 1,453,256.

Speaking during the Scottish Government's daily coronavirus briefing, Ms Sturgeon said 32 deaths from coronavirus and 1,018 positive tests had been recorded in the past 24 hours.  

There have been a further 1,020 cases of coronavirus in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 70,517.

The coronavirus death toll has risen sharply today
(Image: Getty Images)

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Northern Ireland's Department of Health has said there were also another 369 confirmed cases of the virus recorded in the last 24-hour reporting period.

A total of 49,085 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Northern Ireland since the pandemic began.

Scientists have declared the crucial R number, which measures how fast  coronavirus  is spreading in the UK, is now almost down to 1.

SAGE today said the number across the UK is between 1.0 and 1.1, down from 1.0-1.2 last week.

That means every 10 people with Covid-19 pass the virus to 10 or 11 others.

And because the figures come on a time lag of up to three weeks, R may be below 1 already in England, SAGE said.

Britons could be allowed to gather with their family for Christmas thanks to a drop in new infections, Health Secretary matt Hancock has said.

"It of course won't be like a normal Christmas, there will have to be rules in place," Hancock told Sky News.

He said he hoped that restrictions, which include a strict lockdown in England, could be eased to "allow for a bit more of that normal Christmas that people really look forward to".

Hancock said he was working with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – which manage their own policies on combating the pandemic – for a UK-wide approach to rules for Christmas.

November has seen a sharp rise in the number of deaths
(Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

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There are "substantial differences" in Covid-19 infection rates across England, with increases in London, the East of England and the South East, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Data from November 8 to 14 suggests the overall national infection rate for England is similar to the week before, but there are stark regional divides, with rising rates in primary school aged children.

The ONS said: "Over the last week, infection rates have continued to increase in London, the East of England and the South East, however rates now appear to be decreasing in the North West and the East Midlands.

"The highest Covid-19 infection rates remain in the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber."

Britain's lockdown is set to continue into December
(Image: Daily Mirror/Andy Stenning)

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford told BBC TV that there would be a meeting next week to work out the details, and he hoped people in Wales would be able to see relatives and friends in England "in the most simple and straightforward way that we can devise together".

The head of London's Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, said that while police might try to stop wild parties, there were better uses of police time than trying to catch families out.

"Let's see what the rules are, but I have no interest in interrupting family Christmas dinners," she told LBC radio.

England has been under lockdown for two weeks, which Hancock said was helping to flatten case numbers. It is due to end on Dec. 2, although ministers have not ruled out that it could be extended.

We'll be bringing you the very latest updates, pictures and video on this breaking news story.

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