UK records four more coronavirus deaths

UK records four more coronavirus deaths – taking total to 41,365, preliminary figures show

  • Figure likely to be higher when numbers across all settings are released later 
  • Scotland reported 43 cases and no deaths. Wales reported 18 cases and 2 deaths
  • Today’s figures follow reports that Matt Hancock is axing Public Health England 

A further four people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in the UK, preliminary figures show.

This brings the country’s total deaths during the pandemic to 41,365.

This will likely be much higher when figures across all settings – including care homes and the wider community – are released.

England has not yet released its figures for new cases.

Scotland reported 43 new cases and no deaths, while Wales reported 18 cases and two deaths. 

Today’s figures follow reports that Matt Hancock is axing Public Health England and will replace it with a new body to deal specifically with a pandemic as early as next month.

A further four people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in the UK, preliminary figures show

The Health Secretary will announce this week that the pandemic response work of PHE will be merged with NHS Test and Trace.

According to The Sunday Telegraph, the new National Institute for Health Protection will become ‘effective’ next month though it will take until spring 2021 to totally break up PHE, an executive agency of the Department for Health.  

Tory peer Baroness Harding, the ex-TalkTalk boss who currently runs NHS Test and Trace, is being tipped to lead the organisation, the paper said. 

It follows reports that the government has been frustrated with PHE during the coronavirus crisis, with Boris Johnson slamming its ‘sluggish’ response. 

The move also comes amid fears of a second Covid wave this winter, with parts of the UK grappling with lockdowns as infections rise. 

Matt Hancock is axing Public Health England and will replace it with a new body to deal specifically with a pandemic as early as next month. The Health Secretary will announce this week that the pandemic response work of PHE will be merged with NHS Test and Trace

According to The Sunday Telegraph, the new body – the National Institute for Health Protection – will become ‘effective’ next month but will take until spring 2021 to totally break up PHE, an executive agency of the Department for Health

Meanwhile a senior minister said the new body’s goal will be ‘to ensure that Britain is one of the best equipped countries in the world to fight the pandemic’.

They told the paper: ‘We want to bring together the science and the scale in one new body so we can do all we can to stop a second coronavirus spike this autumn.’ 

The move is aimed at bringing together the science expertise at PHE and scale of the NHS Test and Trace operation in one new body, so that the country can be prepared to stop a potential second coronavirus spike this autumn.   

The institute’s new chief will report to ministers at the Department of Health and to Professor Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer, in a move which gives political appointees direct control over its response to pandemics. 

Test and Trace call centres will be wound down over the next few months and replaced by local teams run by councils. 

PHE’s anti-obesity will also be handed over to local councils and doctors, who are being encouraged to intervene to encourage people to lose weight.

The model for the new institute is the Robert Koch Institute in Germany, which published daily situation reports during the Covid outbreak. 

Meanwhile the Health and Safety Executive, run by Tory MP Sarah Newton, will assist companies in getting more staff back to work.   

Tory peer Baroness Harding, the ex-TalkTalk boss who currently runs NHS Test and Trace, is being tipped to lead the organisation, the paper reported

Ex-Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘The one thing consistent about Public Health England is that almost everything it has touched has failed.’  

A DHSC spokesman said: ‘Public Health England have played an integral role in our national response to this unprecedented global pandemic.

‘We have always been clear that we must learn the right lessons from this crisis to ensure that we are in the strongest possible position, both as we continue to deal with Covid-19 and to respond to any future public health threat.’ 

A government source told The Sunday Telegraph: ‘One of the many problems with PHE is that it has been spread too thin during the full pandemic.

‘Instead of having an organisation that is constantly on alert for pandemics you have an organisation that has been concentrating on prevention of ill-health.’

PHE was criticised for not having enough diagnostic testing capacity to properly track the progress of the virus early in the pandemic. 

Health officials are also furious with PHE for counting all deaths from Covid, rather than just those within the first 28 days of contracting the virus. 

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