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UK's COVID-19 death toll at 19,506 with 684 hospital deaths

While the new toll is higher on the previous day's total of 18,738 by 768, the discrepancy of 84 is down to unreported deaths from Thursday by one health board in Wales.

Published: 24th April 2020 11:55 PM  |   Last Updated: 24th April 2020 11:55 PM   |  A+A-

A woman wearing a protection mask to protect against coronavirus walks over Westminster Bridge in London

A woman wearing a protection mask to protect against coronavirus walks over Westminster Bridge in London. (Photo| AP)

By PTI

LONDON: The UK's coronavirus death toll stood at 19,506 after 684 hospital deaths were reported on Friday.

While the new toll is higher on the previous day's total of 18,738 by 768, the discrepancy of 84 is down to unreported deaths from Thursday by one health board in Wales.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who led the daily Downing Street briefing to provide the latest figures, said there were some "tentative signs" that Britain is making progress in its efforts to control the spread of the deadly virus as the number of hospitalisations continued their downward trajectory.

"The main reason is the way Britain has responded to the guidelines to stay at home and maintain social distancing," said the Cabinet minister.

"It isn't over, we're riding perhaps, we hope, a downward trend but it is by no means, no means established yet," he said.

He went on to announce a series of packages related to transport and trade, including a transport support unit dedicated to fighting the pandemic.

The measures include a trilateral agreement with France and Ireland committed to keeping freight open throughout the crisis for trade of food, medicines and other essential items, protecting ferry routes with funding of up to GBP 17 million and 26 freight routes with the rest of Europe to be protected.

The minister said there is "spare capacity" because of a reduced transport service during the lockdown, with around 9,000 vehicles available to help in the fight against the virus and would be deployed to distribute packages to the vulnerable.

There will also be a review into how drones might be used to deliver medical supplies, he said.

The minister was questioned by reporters about the government's website set up for key workers to be able to book swab tests for the novel coronavirus, which shut down within hours of going live on Friday.

He stressed that the site had not crashed but had reached full capacity when it stopped taking further bookings.

"It looks like the trajectory for more than 100,000 by the end of April will be met in terms of capacity," he insisted, in reference to the government's target set for testing people for Covid-19 in an effort to gradually ease the lockdown in place to control the spread of the novel coronavirus.

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