UK announces 697 more coronavirus deaths taking the total number of fatalities to 11,309  

The UK has announced 717 more coronavirus deaths today, taking the total number of victims to 11,329 across all four countries.  

And 4,342 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, taking the number of official cases to 88,621. 

It comes after Britain yesterday passed the grim milestone of 10,000 deaths, which has only happened in four other countries – the US, Spain, Italy and France. 

NHS England said the 667 victims in its hospitals were aged between 17 and 101 and 40 of them had no other health problems, the youngest 37 years old. 

The death toll today is a drop on yesterday and the lowest figure since Monday last week, but a pattern has emerged of fatalities falling on Sundays and Mondays and then surging later in the week, so it should not be interpreted as a trend.

Government scientists have said they expect the number of deaths being reported each day to keep rising until the peak has passed.

It takes days or even weeks for a fatality to be put on record, so if the country is in the peak of its outbreak now – as was predicted in the lead-up to Easter – death numbers are unlikely to drop significantly for at least another week. 

The number of new cases – which will be announced later in the Department of Health’s UK-wide roundup – may provide a clearer picture. 

Today marks the first time in a month that the majority of announced deaths have not been in London, with the Midlands counting 170 compared to 158 in the capital. 

Outside of those two regions, the North West recorded 102 more victims, the East of England 83, North East & Yorkshire 79, the South East 48 and the South West 27. 

 Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said there are ‘optimistic signs’ the coronavirus lockdown is working but restrictions will continue. 

A total of 6,067 people have now tested positive for the virus in Scotland, up 155 from 5,912 the day before, with nine more deaths.

There are 211 people in intensive care with coronavirus or coronavirus symptoms, a decrease of 10 on Sunday, and 1,797 people are in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19.

The First Minister said labs in the Tayside and Ayrshire and Arran health board areas have not reported testing figures from the last 24 hours and death figures are often lower after the weekend.

‘There are early optimistic signs that the steps we are taking are working but until we know more, until we have solid evidence, we must stick with it,’ she said.

A review of lockdown measures will take place this week but Ms Sturgeon said this is unlikely to lead to a lift in restrictions.

Amid concern over deaths in care homes, Ms Sturgeon said the Government is working with the Care Inspectorate to take action.

‘I want to give a very strong assurance firstly, that we’re working hard with the Care Inspectorate to provide appropriate support to care homes, their staff and their residents,’ she said.

‘Secondly, we’re working hard to ensure that we can publish full and robust information about numbers of cases in care homes, which we hope to do later this week.’

The First Minister also announced £17 million of a £50 million fund has been earmarked for charities supporting people through the crisis.

Some £10 million has been allocated for ‘immediate priorities’ and the other £7 million will be handed out in small grants to around 2,000 charities.

The remaining £33 million is open to bids from charities.

A helpline will also be launched on Tuesday to support people who are vulnerable but not in one of the shielded groups.

Interim chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith urged families of those who have died during the outbreak not to delay funerals, in a bid to stop a backlog.

Dr Gregor Smith said: ‘The sector can cope, if everyone understands and appreciates the circumstances that we find ourselves in and continues to arrange a funeral for loved ones as normal, and I do stress, without delay.’

He added: ‘At this time, it’s very important that people do not delay funerals of their loved ones.

‘It’s important that people are able to grieve the passing of a loved one, but delaying the funeral in anticipation of social distancing measures being lifted could increase strain on funeral and mortuary services responding to coronavirus.’

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said the NHS in Scotland has enough capacity to deal with the outbreak having trebled capacity to treat intensive care patients.

She said work is still being undertaken to increase capacity, with a target of quadrupling the initial capacity.