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UK passes 20,000 Covid-19 coronavirus deaths; criminals seek to benefit from the crisis

By Scott Maclennan

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Downing Street briefing.
Downing Street briefing.

The nation is grieving, Home Secretary Priti Patel has said, as the number of deaths from Covid-19 exceeded 20,000.

In total 20,319 people in the UK have now lost their lives to the virus, with around 1200 of those in Scotland.

Ms Patel said the death toll had reached another “tragic milestone” leaving the "entire nation grieving."

The rate of infection and the number of people in hospital, however, fell slightly while the death rate also subsided.

At today's Downing Street briefingf Ms Patel also spoke about those engaged in criminal activities during the pandemic, including those attempting to traffic drugs.

She said: “We know that the most sophisticated criminals continue to exploit and capitalise on this horrendous crisis, so today I have a message for them – our world-class law enforcement is on to you. Their efforts are paying off.

“Last week, Border Force found £1 million worth of cocaine set to be smuggled into the United Kingdom through the Channel Tunnel hidden in boxes of face masks. The National Crime Agency (NCA) is taking down multiple websites running phishing scams selling bogus PPE.

“Last week, they arrested two people suspected of trying to sell unregistered coronavirus testing kits.

"The NCA have alerted the police of 1300 potential child sexual abuse cases.

“They have made arrests and safeguarded children.

"This is a sickening reminder of the frightening activity that is targeted towards our children every single day.

“International action to crush criminal gangs and to shut drug supply lines continues and the National Crime Agency helped to seize 700 kilograms of heroin in Pakistan potentially bound for the United Kingdom.”

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