The UK’s coronavirus death toll has soared to 3,605 after 684 patients died in just 24 hours – the biggest single day increase yet.
The figure does not include people who have died at home. The previous total stood at 2,921 deaths.
The number of confirmed cases has increased to 38,168 after 4,450 more people tested positive.
Most of the deaths have been in England (3,244), followed by Scotland (172), Wales (141) and Northern Ireland (48).
Two NHS nurses, who were both mothers in their 30s with three young children, are among the latest patients to die after battling Covid-19 in hospital.
The grim news came as Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who is back at work after battling the virus, said the Government expects the virus to peak in Britain in the next few weeks and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is still infected with Covid-19 and isolating, urged people to stick with social distancing in a bid to flatten the curve.
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The Department of Health said: “As of 9am on 3 April 2020, 173,784 people have been tested, of which 38,168 were confirmed positive.
“As of 5pm on 2 April 2020, of those hospitalised in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus, 3,605 have died.”
Public Health England said 11,764 tests were carried out on Thursday in England, while testing capacity for inpatient care in the country currently stands at 12,799 tests per day.
Two NHS nurses were among the latest patients to die.
Mum-of-three Areema Nasreen, 36, was in intensive care on a ventilator after testing positive for the virus.
She worked at Walsall Manor Hospital in the West Midlands.
In Kent, Aimee O’Rourke, 38, died at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate, where she worked.
The mum-of-three was hailed as a “brave angel” as her family said in a tribute: “Aimee was a beautiful woman and a valued NHS nurse.”
More than 10,000 tests carried out
Friday’s figures from the Department of Health show that for the second day running more than 10,000 new people were tested in the UK for coronavirus.
A total of 10,590 new people were reported as being tested in the 24 hours to 9am April 3.
The equivalent figure for April 2 was 10,215.
The total number of people in the UK tested since the outbreak began is now 173,784.
This is the equivalent of around 261 people in every 100,000, or 0.3% of the population.
The number of coronavirus-related hospital deaths reported by the Department of Health stood at 3,605 as of 5pm April 2.
It took 19 days for this number to pass 300. It has taken further 11 days to pass 3,000.
Meanwhile, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK has taken two weeks to go from just under 4,000 (3,983 as of 9am March 20) to just under 40,000 (38,168 as of 9am April 3).
Commenting on the death of Ms Nasreen, Mr Hancock said: “I pay tribute to the NHS staff who’ve died serving the NHS, serving the nation.
“It shows the incredible bravery of every member of the NHS who goes into work knowing that these dangers are there.
“I think it is a testament to every doctor and nurse and paramedic and other health professional who is working in the NHS in these difficult times.
“And I think the whole nation is grateful.”
About 35,000 front-line NHS staff are not currently in work due to coronavirus, said Mr Hancock.
He said testing figures for health staff “should” rise to thousands a day in the next few weeks.
The Government has set a goal of testing 100,000 people a day across the whole of the UK by the end of April following widespread criticism of its testing strategy.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said the 5,000-plus NHS staff who had been tested had mainly been tested at new testing sites.
A total of 172 patients have died in Scotland after testing positive for coronavirus, up by 46 from 126 on Thursday.
3,001 people have now tested positive for the virus in Scotland, up from 2,602 the day before.
Officials said 176 people are in intensive care with coronavirus or coronavirus symptoms, and increase of 14 on Thursday.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned: “I want to be very clear that nothing I have seen gives me any basis whatsoever for predicting the virus will peak as early as a week’s time here in Scotland.”
A total of 24 patients have died after testing positive for coronavirus in Wales, bringing the total number of deaths in the country to 141, health officials said.
Public Health Wales said 345 new cases had tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Wales to 2,466.
Dr Robin Howe, from Public Health Wales, said “345 new cases have tested positive for Covid-19 in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 2,466, although the true number of cases is likely to be higher”.
Dr Howe added: “Twenty-four further deaths have been reported to us of people who had tested positive for Covid-19, taking the number of deaths in Wales to 141.
“We offer our condolences to families and friends affected, and we ask those reporting on the situation to respect patient confidentiality.”
The Welsh Government will introduce a law compelling all employers to make sure their workers keep two metres apart, Wales’ First Minister has said.
Mark Drakeford said the social distancing legislation, the first in the UK, would require bosses to “put the needs of their workforce first” when it comes into force on Monday or Tuesday of next week.
The number of people who have died in Northern Ireland after contracting coronavirus has risen by 12 to 48, health officials said.
Testing has resulted in 130 new positive cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the region to 904.
In England, two siblings of Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, the 13-year-old London boy who died after testing positive for coronavirus, have also developed symptoms, according to a family friend who launched an online appeal.
The development means Ismail’s mother and six siblings are forced to self-isolate and cannot attend his funeral in Brixton on Friday, Mark Stephenson said.
Meanwhile, Prince Charles, who tested positive for coronavirus last month, officially opened the NHS Nightingale Hospital at the ExCeL centre in east London.
The Prince of Wales, 71, appeared via video-link from his Scottish home of Birkhall and spoke to those gathered at the entrance of the new temporary hospital.
He said: “It is without doubt a spectacular and almost unbelievable feat of work in every sense, from its speed of construction – in just nine days as we’ve heard – to its size and the skills of those who have created it.
NHS Nightingale Hospital – the facts
The NHS Nightingale Hospital has been built in east London in the ExCel convention centre.
The facility will be used to treat Covid-19 patients transferred from intensive care units across London
Just one ward will need 200 members of staff
“An example, if ever one was needed, of how the impossible could be made possible and how we can achieve the unthinkable through human will and ingenuity.”
Charles added: “The creation of this hospital is above all the result of an extraordinary collaboration and partnership between NHS managers, the military and all those involved to create a centre on a scale that has never been seen before in the United Kingdom.
“To convert one of the largest national conference centres into a field hospital, starting with 500 beds with a potential of 4,000, is quite frankly incredible.”
The prince and Mr Hancock both recently ended self-isolation after contracting the virus and Charles commented on the fact they had recovered.
He said: “Now I was one of the lucky ones to have Covid-19 relatively mildly and if I may say so I’m so glad to see the Secretary of State has also recovered, but for some it will be a much harder journey.”
Shortly after he spoke, Buckingham Palace confirmed the Queen has recorded a special broadcast on the coronavirus outbreak to be broadcast on Sunday night.
Previously, it was said that the 93-year-old monarch, who is isolating with Prince Philip, 98, at Windsor Castle, was preparing to make a televised address to calm the nation’s nerves, but was waiting for the “right moment” to address the country.
Mr Hancock, meanwhile, praised all those involved in the setting up of the hospital, adding the “extraordinary project”, the core of which was completed in just nine days, was a “testament to the work and the brilliance of the many people involved”.
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He also praised the NHS and the way its staff are dealing with the virus crisis.
The Health Secretary said: “In these troubled times with this invisible killer stalking the whole world, the fact that in this country we have the NHS is even more valuable than before.”
Asked about the number of ventilators currently in use and how many are expected to arrive next week, Mr Hancock said: “We’ve obviously got a big programme to ramp up the number of ventilators and we now have more ventilators than we had before.
“And we’re going to need them for this hospital and I’m just going to go and have a look at that now.”
Pressed for exact numbers, Mr Hancock did not respond.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme earlier, Mr Hancock said it is unclear whether he is now immune to Covid-19.
He described having coronavirus as a “pretty unpleasant experience” with an “incredibly” sore throat and a feeling of “having glass in my throat”.
He said he has lost half a stone in weight.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson remained in isolation in Downing Street after testing positive for the virus.
He was “feeling better” but still had a fever on Friday.
In a video on social media, the Prime Minister urged the public to stick with social distancing and not be tempted to “hang out” in the warmer weather predicted for this weekend.
“In my own case, although I’m feeling better and I’ve done my seven days of isolation, alas I still have one of the symptoms, a minor symptom, I still still have a temperature,” he said.
“So, in accordance with government advice I must continue my self-isolation until that symptom itself goes.”
Mr Johnson said people must not be tempted to break social distancing rules as the weather warms up even if they were going “a bit stir crazy”
In England, more than 26.7 million units of personal protection equipment (PPE) were delivered to 281 NHS “trusts and providers” on Thursday, Downing Street confirmed.
Mr Johnson’s spokesman said: “That included 7.8 million aprons, 1.7 million masks and 12.4 million gloves.”
It follows the new guidance issued by Public Health England about the level of protection health staff should wear depending on the patient situation.
There would be no new guidance published on the public wearing masks or face coverings when out of the house, said the spokesman.
The spokesman said “surveillance” of the population to determine the spread of coronavirus was ongoing, with 3,500 antibody tests carried out per week.
“This is a population surveillance programme which we have been carrying out since February,” said the spokesman.
“It is being done by Public Health England at their campus which is at Porton Down.
“We currently have capacity for 3,500 of these surveillance tests to be carried out this week which is enough for small-scale population sampling.”
Two newly-planned temporary hospital sites have been agreed at the University of the West of England and the Harrogate Convention Centre.
They will join other sites due to open at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre and Manchester’s Central Complex.
Construction of a temporary hospital called the NHS Louisa Jordan is underway in Glasgow.