UK coronavirus death roll rises to more than 16,000 as 596 patients die in hospital

The coronavirus death toll in hospitals has risen by 596 to 16,060 in the UK, the Department of Health confirmed.

The number of deaths is an increase from 15,464 the day before.

The latest increase comes on the day when the government's early response to the Covid-19 crisis was criticised.

A Sunday Times investigation claimed Prime Minister Boris Johnson missed five Cobra meetings in late January and early February and the government shipped protective equipment to China in February.

Michael Gove said that is true, Mr Johnson did not attend those meetings, but he told BBC's One’s The Andrew Marr Show missing Cobra meetings was normal for a PM.

Rows of new graves being prepared at a cemetery in Nottingham. Credit: PA

Mr Gove said: "Most Cobra meetings don't have the Prime Minister attending them" and added they were “led by the relevant secretary of state in the relevant area”.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster insisted criticism of Boris Johnson over this was "grotesque".

Mr Gove poured cold water on suggestions a "traffic light" strategy is about to be brought in which would see some schools and businesses allowed to reopen in mid-May.

He told The Andrew Marr Show: "We have stressed that the reporting in today's newspapers that schools will reopen on May 11, that is not true, we have not made that decision."

Supplies of PPE are running 'critically' low in the UK. Credit: PA

A delivery of 84 tonnes of PPE for frontline NHS staff due to arrive in the UK from Turkey on Sunday afternoon was delayed.

The government has been under fire for weeks over the distribution of PPE, with some frontline staff warning that they have had to work in situations where they feel unsafe.

It is not know when the shipment - including 400,000 gowns - will arrive instead or what caused the delay.

The supplies have been described as “critical” by NHS Providers, which represents hospital trusts.

On Monday, the country will enter its fifth week in lockdown, with continued clamour for a relaxation of measures that have shut schools and businesses, scaled back transport and closed parks and public spaces, as Britons are advised to pay heed to social distancing guidelines.

The virus has now claimed the lives of more than 2 million people worldwide.

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