Another 260 people have died of coronavirus in the UK in the largest daily jump since the outbreak began.
The Department of Health said 1,019 people have now lost their lives to Covid-19, up from 759 yesterday.
In England, a further 247 people died, while Scotland recorded seven more deaths, Wales four and Northern Ireland two.
There are now 17, 089 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the UK, while 103,687 people have tested negative for the virus.
The new figures come after Scottish Secretary Alister Jack revealed he had developed mild symptoms of coronavirus and was self-isolating.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is already having to lead the response to the pandemic from video calls in Downing Street after he was diagnosed with the disease.
He has been accused of failing to follow his own social distancing rules after Health Secretary Matt Hancock tested positive and England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty began self-isolating with symptoms.
At a press briefing yesterday, Cabinet minister Michael Gove declined to be drawn on whether MPs had been ‘negligent’ and ‘careless’ when it came to obeying the lockdown rules in Westminster.
Defending the government’s approach, he said the fact both Mr Johnson and Mr Hancock had Covid-19 showed the ‘virus does not discriminate’, adding: ‘We are all at risk.’
Unlike several other countries, the UK is not doing wide-spread testing, meaning the number of people infected with the disease is likely to be much higher than official figures suggest.
Mr Gove said the rate of infection across the UK was doubling every two to three days and revealed plans to ramp up testing for frontline hospital staff who have symptoms, or who live with people who have symptoms.
Critical care doctors and nurses will be prioritised first, with testing expected to follow for A&E staff, paramedics and GPs.
The government has faced criticism for failing to do this already, with the British Medical Association saying the move is ‘long overdue’.
Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have already began testing health workers there.
Currently, about 6,000 people are tested daily, but the government wants to increase that number to 10,000 a day by the end of March and 25,000 a day by mid-April.
In other developments:
- NHS workers began being tested for coronavirus at a temporary drive through station in the car park of Chessington World of Adventures
- Photos revealed the inside of the ExCel centre in London which is being made into a temporary hospital with two wards, each for 2,000 people, to help tackle the coronavirus response.
- The British Red Cross said evictions of asylum seekers from Government accommodation are to be halted amid fears about the disease.
- Police urged motorcyclists to stay out of the countryside and told them they cannot claim it is part of their permitted daily exercise under lockdown rules.
- Derbyshire Police said it has decided to dye the ‘blue lagoon’ in Buxton black to try and make the site ‘less appealing’ to people wanting to visit
- County councils are warning residents some services, such as recycling centres or adult education centres, will be significantly scaled back or stopped to prioritise keeping people safe from coronavirus
- The Local Government Association says council workers are being physically and verbally abused for implementing the government’s social distancing policy. Workers have been spat at, sworn at and racially abused, it said
Coronavirus latest news and updates