COVID-19: Death toll in UK climbs to 11,329

LONDON (AA): British health authorities announced on Monday that the countrywide death toll from the coronavirus increased by 717 over the past 24 hours, as decision on lockdown renewal is due by Thursday.

The Department of Health said: “290,720 people have been tested of which 88,621 tested positive.

“As of 5pm on 12 April, of those hospitalised in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus, 11,329 have sadly died,” it added.

At a news briefing earlier in the day at 10 Downing Street, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said: “The prime minister is focusing on his recovery and he is not currently carrying out government work.”

Johnson is recovering at Chequers, the U.K. premier’s country house, after a week of treatment in hospital following a bout with coronavirus.

This has created confusion as to how the decision regarding the lockdown will be taken. It must be taken by this Thursday at the latest, and is widely expected to be renewed for another three weeks.

This came as some within the British government and media have started to warn about the economic costs of the lockdown.

The prime minister’s spokesman also said that 18,000 tests were being carried out per day. This figure is short of the 100,000 tests per day promised by Matt Hancock.

The lack of testing of both frontline healthcare workers as well as the wider population has been a focus of critics of the government’s handling of the outbreak.

Meanwhile, government minister Michael Gove was criticized for securing a test for his daughter, who tested negative for coronavirus.

The spokesman defended this decision, saying it was done on government medical advice, and that Gove chairs one of the most important ministerial groups dealing with the outbreak, so he needed to get back into the office.

Gove reportedly told the health officials to prioritise his daughter’s test as it would allow him to quickly get back to government duties.

Since appearing in China last December, the virus has spread to at least 185 countries and regions, according to figures compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

Some 1.8 million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed worldwide, with more than 115,000 deaths and 440,000 recoveries.