COVID-19: UK records another 529 coronavirus deaths and 19,609 further cases

Wednesday 18th November 2020 18:00 GMT

Both figures are a slight dip compared to Tuesday - with the number of new reported fatalities down by 69 and infections by 442.

But they bring the total number of deaths to 53,274 and cases to 1,430,341 since the pandemic began, according to government data.

Separate figures from the UK's statistics agencies show there have been 68,000 deaths involving the virus.

England is in the middle of a national lockdown, and in Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has put 11 areas into the highest band of measures for the first time since introducing a regional system of restrictions - effective from 6pm on Friday.

Wales has come out of its temporary "fire breaker" but is still banning most social mixing in people's homes, and Northern Ireland has extended its "circuit breaker" so stricter limits remain on what businesses can open.

Boris Johnson was challenged at Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday over how harshly hit the UK has been by COVID-19, and admitted the country had been "badly affected".

Responding to a question about why the number of deaths are well above the 20,000 the government's chief scientific adviser said in March would be a "good outcome", Mr Johnson said "this is a global pandemic".

He added: "We mourn every life that has been lost.

"I have absolutely no doubt that we will get through this strongly by next spring, as the scientific advisers and the medical officers have said.

"We have the tools to do it and we have the scientific weaponry to do it."

News of success among two vaccines has boosted hopes the pandemic may not drag long into 2021.

The Pfizer-BioNTech jab is 95% effective, both firms behind it say, while Moderna claims its own product is 94.5% effective.

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