Black Country and Birmingham coronavirus death toll doubles in one day
The number of patients who have died after contracting coronavirus in the Black Country and Birmingham has doubled in one day.
The UK death toll jumped by more than 100 for the first time on Thursday, with 40 of these new deaths taking place in the Black Country and Birmingham.
Eighteen patients were being treated in Wolverhampton - the highest of any health trust in the country - and 22 were being treated in Sandwell and Birmingham.
The 107 English patients included in Thursday's figures were aged between 32 and 102 and all but two patients, aged 71 and 86, had underlying health conditions.
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It means a total of 78 Covid-19 patients have now died in the Black Country and Birmingham, up from 38 on Wednesday.
All of the latest coronavirus deaths were confirmed between 5pm on Tuesday and 5pm on Wednesday, but some of the patients included in the figures died as long ago as last Monday.
The large increase can in part be accounted for by a change in reporting by the Department of Health which meant Wednesday's figures of 28 deaths only included deaths confirmed in an eight-hour period.
Eighteen of the patients confirmed to have died on Thursday were being treated by the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, which runs New Cross Hospital, while 11 were in the care of Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust.
However as the trust runs both Sandwell General in West Bromwich and City Hospital in Birmingham it is not yet known specifically how many died at each site.
The UK death toll now stands at 578, with 521 of these in England.
Thirty-one people have now died after testing positive for Covid-19 in Wolverhampton and 34 have died in Sandwell and Birmingham. Before the latest figures two had died in Sandwell and 10 had died in Birmingham.
Eleven people have died in Dudley, two in Walsall and three in Staffordshire.
Meanwhile, a national salute will take place on Thursday evening to honour the hardworking NHS staff who are trying to battle coronavirus.
In a gesture of thanks to the frontline healthcare heroes, everyone across the nation has been invited to join a a mass round of applause from their doorsteps, windows and balconies at 8pm.
Earlier the nephew of a former Walsall councillor who died in self-isolation warned people to take the virus seriously.
Alex Peart encouraged people to "take every measure you can" to reduce the risk of catching the virus after his aunt Stephanie Peart died aged 60 while showing symptoms of Covid-19.
The news came as Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a £9 billion package of support where self-employed people will be given a grant worth up to £2,500 a month to help them cope with the effects of coronavirus.
Mr Sunak said the scheme which will be open for at least three months and will cover 80 per cent of a self-employed person’s average monthly profits.
But it may not be available until June and will only be available to those who have a tax return for 2019, meaning the newly self-employed will be ineligible.
Mr Sunak’s scheme will be open to those with a trading profit of less than £50,000 in 2018-19 or an average trading profit of less than £50,000 from 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19.
To qualify, more than half of their income in these periods must come from self-employment.
Elsewhere the police have been given new powers to fine and arrest people who flout the new restrictions on movement.
Officers were out in Wolverhampton this morning stopping cars to make sure they were only on the road for essential journeys.
Those who ignore the rules on movement could be hit with a £60 fine initially and another for £120 for a second offence, the Home Office warned.
Officers in England were given the power to enforce rules on staying at home and avoiding non-essential travel as of 1pm on Thursday.
As of 9am on Thursday 11,658 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in the UK.