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Death toll of 20,000 would be ‘good outcome’ as 55,000 may now have virus in UK

Chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance has said that 20,000 deaths or fewer would be a ‘good outcome’ of the coronavirus outbreak.

He also described the prospect of there already being 55,000 cases of Covid-19 in the UK as a ‘reasonable ball park estimate’.

In an evidence session led by the House of Commons health and social care committee, Dr Vallance said: ‘To put it in perspective, every year in seasonal flu, the number of deaths is thought to be about 8,000 excess deaths.

‘So if we can get this down to numbers of 20,000 and below, that is a good outcome in terms of where we hope to get to with this outbreak, but it is still horrible.

‘That is still an enormous amount of deaths and it is an enormous pressure on the health service. And having spent 20 years as an NHS consultant as well as academic, I know exactly what that looks and feels like.’

NHS England yesterday announced that it will cancel all non-urgent operations to free up 30,000 beds to care for coronavirus patients.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister took to the latest of the daily press conferences yesterday to state: ‘We may well have to go further and faster in the coming days, to protect lives and the NHS.’

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has also advised British nationals against international travel, for at least 30 days, while the Chancellor announced a three-month break in mortgages, and that business rates for the hospitality and entertainment sectors will be frozen for a year.