The number of NHS staff who have died after contracting Covid-19 has risen to 27, the Health Secretary confirmed.
Matt Hancock said there had “very sadly” been 27 verified deaths amongst those working for the health service during the pandemic.
This updated figure is an increase from Sunday, when he said there had been 19 deaths during the pandemic.
NHS choir's tribute to those who have given their lives to save others
But announcements from NHS trusts and tributes from loved ones indicate the true number is higher still, with more than 40 NHS staff now said to have died with coronavirus.
One of the latest victims identified is Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapong, a pregnant nurse at Luton and Dunstable University Hospital who died on Sunday.
Announcing the latest official death toll, Mr Hancock told BBC Breakfast on Thursday the story of 28-year-old Ms Agyapong was a “terrible one”.
The nurse tested positive for the disease on April 5 and was admitted to the hospital she worked at on April 7.
Her baby daughter was delivered successfully by caesarean section and is doing well, according to the hospital, although it is not clear whether the infant has also tested positive for Covid-19.
Speaking to ITV News, Mr Hancock said: "The story of Mary shows the nation's love and support and gratitude to all those that are working in the NHS and social care and doing those frontline jobs that are so important."
He added: "It is very important that our NHS colleagues who catch coronavirus, including those who sadly have died, it's very important we look into each case, also where they may have caught it, because it isn't necessarily always at work, but it may well be."
Mr Hancock told the BBC: “Very sadly, there are now 27 verified deaths amongst NHS colleagues.
“I think these are incredibly heart-rending. The story of Mary, as you say, is a terrible one.
“It’s something that I feel very strongly and I think the whole country, uniting as we are in our support for the NHS and carers across the board.
“We’re all deeply touched and moved by deaths of nurses like this.”
Mr Hancock said every death amongst healthcare workers was being investigated to find out “what we can do better” to protect those on the front line.
He told BBC Breakfast: “Because of course some of my NHS colleagues will have caught coronavirus from patients in the line of duty, others may have it caught it and not been at work.
“What we want to learn is what we can do better to protect our frontline workers both in the NHS and in social care, hence investigating each case to find out what happened.
“And I think we owe that to our colleagues as well who have given their lives in duty and in service.”
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