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UK covid-19 official death toll passes 30,000

By Conrad Quilty-Harper
and Layal Liverpool

woman standing at lectern

Executive Chair of NHS Test and Trace, Baroness Dido Harding in No 10 Downing Street.

Pippa Fowles / No 10 Downing Street

Latest coronavirus news as of 5 pm on 28 May

England’s test and trace system won’t be fully operational until end of June

England’s test and trace system, which is designed to identify people who might have been exposed to people who have tested positive for coronavirus, won’t be fully operational until the end of June, Dido Harding, who is leading the NHS Test and Trace scheme, told MPs today. UK prime minister Boris Johnson said last week that the system would be in place and able to track 10,000 people a day using text, phone and email by 1 June. Harding also described the NHS covid-19 contact tracing app, which was meant to launch on 15 May but was delayed until 1 June, as “the cherry on the cake rather than the cake itself.”

In England, people will be allowed to meet in public places and private gardens in groups of up to six starting on Monday, and in Scotland, groups of up to eight people from two different households will be allowed to meet outdoors from tomorrow. Northern Ireland allowed groups of up to six people to meet outside from 18 May. People from different households will still be required to keep a distance of two metres.

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Other coronavirus developments

There have been more than 100,000 deaths from covid-19 in the US since the outbreak began, according to Johns Hopkins University, the largest number of any country. The number of daily new confirmed cases has been rising over the last week in 18 states, including California, Florida and Louisiana. In New York, the country’s worst-hit state with more than 369,000 cases in total, the number of daily new cases has fallen to around 1,200, down from a peak in early April of over 10,000 a day.

An analysis by the Financial Times suggests the UK had the second highest rate of coronavirus deaths among 19 countries with comparable data. The UK registered 59,537 more deaths than would normally be expected to occur since the week ending 20 March, a death rate of 891 per million people, higher than Italy and the US, and second only to Spain. The FT analysis also found a link between countries that locked down earlier in their outbreaks and lower death tolls.

Boris Johnson’s senior aide Dominic Cummings might have breached the UK’s coronavirus restrictions when he drove to Barnard Castle in April, but the incident does not warrant further action, Durham police said in a statement today.

An estimated 133,000 people in England outside hospitals and care homes had covid-19 between 11 and 24 May, according to results from a random swab testing survey in England by the Office for National Statistics. The figure is down slightly from 148,000 between 27 April and 10 May.

UK health minister Matt Hancock responded today to a letter from the UK Statistics Authority to clarify that the government’s target of 200,000 coronavirus tests per day by Sunday doesn’t refer to the number of tests actually performed. Instead it refers to the testing capacity.

The number of passengers arriving in the UK by plane in April was 99 per cent lower than it was in the same month last year, according to a Home Office report published today. 112,300 passengers arrived in the UK by air in April this year, down

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