UK would do 'well' to keep deaths below 20,000, as deaths top 1,000

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Britain will have done “very well” to keep deaths from coronavirus below 20,000, a senior health official said Saturday

The U.K.'s total fatalities crept past 1,000 on Saturday, with reports saying 260 people died in the past 24 hours.

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NHS England medical director Prof. Stephen Powis and UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma provided the update during a press conference.

The comments come as the total number of deaths in Europe has surpassed 20,000.

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Prof. Powis stated that London is not yet at capacity for hospital beds, though, and that further beds are being opened all the time to produce “extra surge capacity.”

“If we can reduce the transmission rate, then the virus will start to decline. That is a simple set of maths,” Prof. Powis said.

“If we comply with the measures, we will see a drop.”

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Alok Sharma, UK Business Secretary, said that the UK was working “around the clock” to get citizens back into the country from abroad.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is showing mild symptoms of the coronavirus, but is “absolutely leading the response from the front,” Mr. Sharma said. He further revealed that Prime Minister Johnson had held a video conference on Saturday morning.

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In this image made available by British government because no media allowed into 10 Downing Street because of the coronavirus pandemic, a press coronavirus briefing at Downing Street with Business Secretary Alok Sharma, right, and Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis, during a Digital Press Conference in London, Saturday March 28, 2020.

In this image made available by British government because no media allowed into 10 Downing Street because of the coronavirus pandemic, a press coronavirus briefing at Downing Street with Business Secretary Alok Sharma, right, and Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis, during a Digital Press Conference in London, Saturday March 28, 2020. (10 Downing Street via AP)

Mr. Sharma also said that the government would reduce restrictions on producing hand sanitizer in hopes of quickly increasing the supply on the market.

"We are also introducing a range of measures to boost the supply of personal protective equipment, such as face masks, to protect frontline NHS staff," he said.

Tensions in the U.K. are running high after the country implemented strict social distancing protocols.

Members of the public who claimed to have coronavirus have taken to spitting or coughing on members of the NHS and the police. One such individual has been jailed for a year, though, he did not appear to actually have the virus.

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In addition to closing all nonessential businesses, citizens have been restricted to exercising once a day (requiring it be solitary exercise) and may only leave their house for “absolute essentials.”