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There have been more than 250,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK and more than 36,000 people have lost their lives, government figures show.

However, these numbers only include people who have been tested, and the total number of deaths relating to coronavirus is thought to be higher.

Two different measures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggest bigger figures.

The first, counting death certificates mentioning the virus, suggests deaths reached 41,000 by the week beginning 8 May, while the second, recording deaths over and above the expected number, suggests a toll of 54,000 by the same date.

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UK coronavirus deaths are falling

The new coronavirus, which causes the disease Covid-19, was first confirmed in the UK at the end of January, but the number of daily confirmed cases and related deaths only began to increase significantly by the second half of March.

Although strict social distancing measures introduced at the end of that month helped bring daily deaths down, the UK has the highest official death toll in Europe and the second highest in the world. However, the government and many experts say it is too soon to make international comparisons.

A further 282 deaths were announced on Saturday, bringing the official government total number of deaths in the UK to 36,675.

The majority of the UK’s deaths have been in England, with 32,666 so far – about 90% of the total for the UK.

In Scotland, the official government figure for deaths is 2,261, but data on death registrations from the National Records of Scotland (NRS) suggests it is at least 3,500.

In Wales, the death toll stands at 1,260, while there have been 505 deaths in Northern Ireland.

While government figures announced each day count those who have tested positive for the virus, other measures are being used to calculate the full impact of the disease.

The ONS, which looks at all death certificates mentioning Covid-19, suggests the total number of deaths was more than 41,000 by 8 May.

Separate ONS data that records the number of people who have died over and above the expected total for this time of year suggests the number of such “excess deaths” could have been more than 54,000 by the same date.

Some of those deaths are likely to include people with undiagnosed coronavirus or who died as an indirect result of the pandemic.

Most recorded coronavirus deaths have been among the elderly, with NHS England figures showing more than half of deaths have been among people aged over 80.

ONS data also suggests more than a quarter of all coronavirus-related deaths in the UK have been in care homes.

Data collated by the ONS has also suggested people living in more deprived areas of England and Wales are more likely to die with coronavirus than those in more affluent places.

It also found that black men and women were nearly twice as likely to die as white people, with the risk persisting after taking into account age, where people live and some measures of deprivation and prior health.

However, other preliminary research released by the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said that ethnic-minorities in the UK are no more likely to die of coronavirus than white people when the effects of other illnesses and deprivation are taken into account.

What is the R number in the UK?

The latest infection rate, or “R number”, sits between 0.7 and 1.0, according to the Sage group of advisors.

This number, the average number of people an infected person will pass the disease on to, has remained steady for two weeks.

If R is below one then the number of people contracting the disease will fall; if it is above one, the number will grow.

In England, Public Health England estimates the number to be 0.72-0.77, in Scotland the estimate is between 0.7 and 1.0, in Northern Ireland it is just above 0.7.

Wales has not released an official estimate but the Chief Executive of the NHS in Wales, Dr Andrew Goodall, has said it is below one.

Daily confirmed cases are falling

The number of new daily confirmed cases has been falling since a peak in April, despite an increase in the number of people being tested.

A further 2,959 cases were announced on Saturday.

Cases were originally concentrated in London, the Midlands and the North West.

But South Wales and parts of the North West and North East also have a high proportions of cases.

The government estimates that around 137,000 people, or 0.25% of the population in England, had the virus between 4 May and 17 May.

Hospitals are seeing fewer coronavirus patients

The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 has been gradually declining since a peak over Easter.

On Saturday, the government said the number of people in hospital with coronavirus had fallen to just over 9,300 – an 11% drop from the same time last week.

However, the picture is different across the UK’s nations and regions, with numbers falling faster in some areas than others.

Testing is now available to more people

Figures on testing for coronavirus in the UK show that more than two million people have been tested.

There were 116,585 tests in the 24 hours to 09:00 on Saturday, according to government figures.

The daily total includes test kits sent to individuals or to testing locations but not yet analysed or returned, as well as tests fully processed through the relevant UK labs.

Anyone over the age of five years and displaying symptoms can now arrange an antigen test to determine whether they currently have the virus.

All residents and staff in care homes in England, and patients and staff in the NHS can book tests regardless of whether they have symptoms.

The prime minister has set a target for a daily capacity of 200,000 by the end of May – although some health professionals have raised concerns over the accuracy of tests and how long it takes to get results.

Increased testing is essential for the government’s strategy to “test, track and trace” potential coronavirus cases.

As part of this plan, an app is being piloted on the Isle of Wight which alerts people that they may have been exposed to a potential coronavirus case.

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