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UK daily coronavirus death toll drops to lowest level since lockdown began

By Gregor White

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A total of 170 deaths from Covid-19 were recorded in the UK in the past 24 hours – the lowest daily total since lockdown started.

While potentially promising, death tolls are often lower at weekends than on week days due to delay in the reporting of deaths in hospitals.

The overall UK death toll now stands at 34,636, the highest in Europe though the government has repeatedly argued that direct comparisons between countries with different recording methods are difficult.

Today's Downing Street briefing was led by UK business secretary Alok Sharma who revealed the government was committing £84 million to work towards developing a vaccine for Covid-19.

"This new money will help mass produce the Oxford vaccine so if trials are successful we have dosages to start vaccinating straight away," he said.

A total of £38 million is also being invested in creating a "rapid deployment facility" to ensure, if a vaccine is created, it can be made widely available across the UK, though Mr Sharma also admitted a vaccine may never be found.

On the ongoing row between unions and the government over plans for schools in England to start welcoming pupils back from the start of next month he said discussions were continuing.

Discussing plans to quarantine people arriving in the UK from abroad -– with the exception of the Republic of Ireland and France – he said: "I think there's a trade off between the health of the nation and the health of the economy.

"The health of the nation is not different from making sure we take care of the health of the economy."

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