Coronavirus: 15 more deaths in Black Country, Staffordshire and Birmingham
A further 15 coronavirus patients have died in hospitals across the Black Country, Birmingham and Staffordshire.
The NHS figures announced on Wednesday mean the Covid-19 death toll in the region's hospitals is now at 2,132.
At least 427 people have also died with the virus in care homes in the region, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics covering April 10 to May 8. There are currently no figures for before or after this period.
The UK-wide death toll released by the Government, which includes deaths in and out of hospitals, increased by 494 to 33,186 today but the true figure is thought to be substantially higher.
The number of deaths in hospitals in England has increased by 244 to 23,952.
Among the deaths announced in hospitals on Monday were two at the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Russells Hall Hospital, taking the total to 235.
Two more patients were announced to have died at the University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust which runs Stafford's County Hospital and Royal Stoke University Hospital, taking the death toll to 252.
No new deaths were confirmed at the Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, where the total remains 316, or the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, which runs New Cross and Cannock Chase hospitals, where 255 have died.
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There were also no new deaths reported at the Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, where the total remains 186.
A further 11 deaths were confirmed at the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, taking the total to 837. The trust runs Queen Elizabeth, Heartlands, Good Hope and Solihull hospitals.
Two new deaths were announced in Worcestershire, where the hospital death toll increased to 252.
As well as including patients who tested positive for the disease, the hospital statistics now also include patients who died in hospital and hadn't tested positive but for whom Covid-19 is documented as a direct or underlying cause of death on their death certificate.
This included eight deaths in the Midlands – but it not known where in the Midlands these deaths took place.
A spokesman for NHS England said: "A further 244 people, who tested positive for coronavirus have died, bringing the total number of confirmed reported deaths in hospitals in England to 23,952.
"Patients were aged between 49 and 99 years old. Of those, four of the 244 patients – aged between 51 and 78 years old – had no known underlying health condition.
"Their families have been informed."
The daily figures include Covid-19 patients whose deaths were confirmed in the previous 24 hours, not who died in that period.
Some deaths are not included in the statistics for several days due to testing or family members being informed. Wednesday's figures included patients who died between March 27 and May 12.
He said this would enable a “track-and-trace approach” to be taken with any confirmed cases, as schools plan to begin a phased reopening from June 1.
He added that based on the medical and scientific advice, the reintroduction of classroom teaching next month was “the right thing to do and the only reasonable thing to do”.
Nine unions, representing school leaders, teachers and support staff, have accused the Government of showing a “lack of understanding” about the dangers of the spread of coronavirus in schools.
The joint statement, published by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), warns that staff will “not be protected” by social distancing if primary schools reopen to more year groups from next month.
It says: “We call on the Government to step back from June 1 and work with us to create the conditions for a safe return to schools based on the principles and tests we have set out.”
The Prime Minister insisted the number of outbreaks and fatalities in care homes is now “well down”, as he sought to defend his handling of the crisis.
Figures released on Tuesday suggested that care home deaths accounted for some 40% of coronavirus-related fatalities registered in England and Wales in the week ending May 1.