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Public urged not to break lockdown rules for protests, as UK Coronavirus death toll climbs above 40,000

Public urged not to break lockdown rules for protests, as UK Coronavirus death toll climbs above 40,000

More than 40,000 people are now confirmed to have died from the COVID-19 Coronavirus in the UK, according to the latest government figures.

According to government figures, a total of 40,261 people have died across all UK setting after testing positive for the virus. The death toll sees the UK become only the second country (after the United States) to record more than 40,000 deaths from the virus.

It is feared that the actual number of deaths could be considerably higher. According to data from the Office for National Statistics, there had been over 48,106 deaths in the UK where COVID-19 was recorded on the death certificate up to 22 May. Some reports have suggested the Coronavirus related death toll in the UK could now be over 50,000.

Speaking at the Downing Street Coronavirus briefing on Friday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the number deaths from the Coronavirus in the UK represented "a time of sorrow for us all". He added that each death represents "a family that will never be the same again".

During the briefing on Friday, Mr Hancok appealed to people not to attend large demonstrations with more than six people. The plea came ahead of Black Lives Matter protests which are expected to take place across the UK this weekend, following the death of George Floyd in the United States last month.

Protests and marches have taken place in multiple UK cities over the last week, making social distancing very difficult. Speaking on Friday, Mr Hancock said;

"Like so many, I am appalled by the death of George Floyd and I understand why people are deeply upset, but we are still facing a health crisis and coronavirus remains a real threat.

"The reason that it is vital that people stick to the rules this weekend is to protect themselves and their family from this horrific disease. 

"So please, for the safety of your loved ones, do not attend large gatherings, including demonstrations of more than six people."

Under current lockdown rules in England, only six people are allowed to gather together outside - with those from separate households also needing to observe the 2m social distancing rules.

Mr Hancock also announced on Friday that all hospital visitors and outpatients will be required to wear face coverings and all staff will have to wear surgical masks at all times. It comes after the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said on Thursday that from 15 June, face coverings will be mandatory on public transport.

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