Eighth person in UK dies as World Health Organisation declares coronavirus outbreak a pandemic

  • Video report by ITV News Health Correspondent Emily Morgan

Two further people have died from coronavirus in the UK, bringing the death toll to eight, as the World Health Organisation declares the outbreak a pandemic.

NHS England said the eighth person died in Warwickshire, but did not confirm where the seventh death took place.

The total number of cases in the UK has risen to 456 - the biggest daily increase since the outbreak began - as Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned the UK could hit a peak number of Covid-19 cases within a few months.

UK cases have more than doubled in just four days, as Ireland reported its first death from the virus.

The World Health Organisation has declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. Credit: AP

Four new cases were confirmed in Wales, bringing the total number to 15, and in Scotland cases have increased by a third, with 36 people now having tested positive for the disease.

While in Northern Ireland, there are 18 confirmed cases.

On Wednesday night, it was revealed a Cabinet member is self-isolating having been tested for coronavirus and are due their test results by tomorrow.

It comes a day after Health minister Nadine Dorries tested positive for the disease.

The UK has recorded 456 coronavirus cases. Credit: PA

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who heads the UN agency, said the WHO is “deeply concerned by the alarming levels of spread and severity” of the outbreak.

He also expressed concern about “the alarming levels of inaction."

Dr Tedros said: "Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly.

"It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death."

He added: "Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this coronavirus. It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do.

"We have never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus. And we have never before seen a pandemic that can be controlled at the same time. WHO has been in full response mode since we were notified of the first cases."

Dr Tedros repeated his call for countries to "take urgent and aggressive action."

“All countries can still change the course of this pandemic. If countries detect, test, treat, isolate, trace and mobilise their people in the response,” he added.

The WHO said countries 'can still change the course of this pandemic.' Credit: PA

Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed that parliament would stay open despite minister Nadine Dorries testing positive for Covid-19.

He said: I've spoken to the leader of the House and we have had discussions Mr Speaker, and we have resolved that we will keep Parliament open.

"Of course, in some ways this House may have to function differently, but the ability to hold the Government to account and to legislate are as vital in a time of emergency as in normal times - our democracy is the foundation of our way of life."

Mr Hancock also said that he expects the UK will hit its peak number of coronavirus cases "in a matter of a couple of months, rather than a matter of a couple of weeks".

It comes after the deputy chief medical officer said on Tuesday the UK could hit the upper limit within a fortnight.

Meanwhile Chancellor Rishi Sunak set out plans for the health service in his first Budget and pledged security and support for those who are sick and unable to work due to the spread of Covid-19.

Mr Sunak said: "Whatever extra resources our NHS needs to cope with coronavirus it will get...Whether it's millions of pounds or billions of pounds, whatever it needs, whatever it costs, we stand behind our NHS."

He offered support to any workers who become too ill to work, with new measures including the ability to obtain a sick note by contacting 111 rather than having to visit a GP.

And he said those working in the gig economy or who are self-employed will get quicker and easier access to benefits.

Mr Sunak said he was setting aside a £5 billion emergency response fund to support the NHS and other public services, adding that he "will go further if necessary".

Rishi Sunak has pledged money in the Budget for those who are sick from coronavirus. Credit: PA

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