THE UK coronavirus death toll has risen to 18,002 after 665 more people died in England.
Patients were aged between 26 and 102 years old, NHS England confirmed today.
It brings the total number of coronavirus deaths in hospitals across England to 16,272.
Of them, 26 patients (aged between 48 and 95) had no underlying health conditions.
The rise in England is lower than it was yesterday, which saw another 778 people die from the killer bug.
It is almost identical, however, to the rise recorded on the same day last week (651).
On Sunday and Monday, the spike in deaths across England was far lower, sitting at 482 and 429 respectively – this is likely to be due to a backlog in records taken over the weekend.
In Scotland, the number of coronavirus deaths in hospitals has now passed 1,000 (1,062), after 77 more coronavirus deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours.
In Wales, a further 15 deaths have been recorded in the last 24 hours, bringing the total death tally in Wales to 624.
Among the latest UK deaths was Julie Penfold, an “exceptional” nurse, 53, who had fostered more than 20 children in her lifetime.
She joins more than 100 frontline medics who have died from covid-19, including orthopaedic surgeon Sadeq Elhowsh, 58, – whose coffin was clapped by hundreds of NHS workers in an emotional send off.
Meanwhile, new stats suggest the UK’s death toll could be 40% higher than reported.
Figures revealed yesterday that 13,121 fatalities in England and Wales up to April 10 – compared to the 9,288 announced at the time.
The difference is down to deaths that happened outside hospital – including at care homes, hospices and private homes – as well as delays in recording fatalities.
It comes as officials revealed as many as 2,000 people may have died in care homes over the four day Easter weekend.
Many have blamed the number of deaths on a lack of PPE for frontline workers.
In yesterday’s daily coronavirus briefing, health secretary Matt Hancock said: “I am determined to get people the PPE they need.”
He added that the government was “working to improve the delivery system” and they have a “diverse range of suppliers”.
This morning, an RAF plane sent to pick up an 84-tonne consignment of PPE from Turkey arrived back in the UK – but only around half of the supplies may have been onboard.
Meanwhile, experts have warned that millions of Brits in their fifties and sixties should be isolating like older people.
Members of the public are also to be told to wear face masks at work and on public transport after scientists told ministers they could help stop the spread of the virus.
It is one measure which could be used to avoid a second wave of the virus when lockdown restrictions are eased.
Robin Shattock of Imperial College said the NHS could be hit badly if the lockdown was relaxed and Covid-19 re-emerged at the same time as the flu.
But senior government figures have braced the nation to expect a very long path out of coronavirus restrictions.
A “suck it and see” plan is now being drawn up based on scientists’ data crunching to see what restrictions to try easing first.
One senior figure told The Sun: “We will try a bit at a time, and then pause, so we can see what effect that has on the transmission rate. The pace will be very gradual”.
And Tory sources claimed Boris Johnson was resisting calls to end the lockdown early because of his own battle with the virus.
A Conservative MP told The Times that fighting for his life in intensive care had changed the Prime Minister.
They said: “The Prime Minister is in a funny place, I think he’s quite frightened.
“His illness and the warning from the doctors has really hit him hard.
“To find himself floored like this has got into his head.
“He has become really tentative.”
Mr Johnson is still not working, but instead getting daily updates from his team.
Mr Johnson had stressed back in March he expected the country to be able to “turn the tide” in 12 weeks.
Now recovering at Chequers after being released from hospital a week ago, the PM is considered one of the “doves” who oppose lifting lockdown early.
He is joined by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who also contracted the virus.
The “hawks” are those more worried about the economic impact of a long-term shutdown and want to ease restrictions sooner.
These are said to include Chancellor Rishi Sunak, the Trade Secretary Liz Truss and Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove.