Health officials in the UK have confirmed 53 new Covid-19 related deaths in England. The increase brings the UK’s death toll to 233, and comes as the government races to equip its health system against the illness.
The increase in deaths – the largest in a single day since the deadly virus reached British shores last month – came as the British government scrambled to prepare hospital beds for critical patients.
The National Health Service struck a deal with private hospitals on Saturday that will see 20,000 healthcare staff join the health service’s response to the pandemic, which has infected nearly 300,000 people worldwide and killed more than 12,000 since emerging in the Chinese province of Hubei before Christmas.
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The deal will also see 8,000 additional hospital beds and thousands of ventilators being made available across the UK, to handle the expected surge in cases.
Britain has been slow to implement containment measures, compared to other European nations. A national lockdown was ordered by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday, almost two weeks after Italy did the same, and a week after almost all businesses in neighboring Ireland shut their doors.
The UK government also mulled a plan to allow majority of the British population to catch Covid-19 in waves, in an effort to build ‘herd immunity’ to the virus. A similar approach has been taken by the government of the Netherlands.
However, last week the UK secretary of state for health and social, Matt Hancock, said that was not the major policy.
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