The UK has recorded another 235 hospital deaths from COVID-19 today, taking the official total to at least 35,576.
NHS England said 166 people had died in its hospitals, between the ages of 33 and 99, while 50 more victims were confirmed in Scotland, 14 in Wales and five in Northern Ireland.
The Department of Health is expected to announce an all-UK figure including care home deaths later this afternoon.
It comes as Public Health England testing data from yesterday shows that not a single case of COVID-19 have yet been diagnosed in London or the South East from swabs taken on Monday, May 18.
It calculated that the crucial ‘R’ reproduction rate – the average number of people an infected patient passes the virus on to – has fallen to just 0.4 in the capital, with the number of new cases halving every 3.5 days.
At the start of the outbreak London was the worst affected part of the UK but the latest numbers suggest it is now ahead of every other area in terms of recovery and it could see all new cases eliminated by June. In contrast, the North East of England is recording 4,000 daily infections and has an R rate of 0.8, twice that of the capital.
The ONS revealed that excess deaths – the number of people who have died above the average amount expected for this time of year – has now almost hit 55,000. That figure includes direct and indirect victims of COVID-19, such as people who may have missed medical treatment because hospitals were overloaded.
The Department of Health’s figures shows that as of 5pm on 18 May, of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings (hospital, care homes and community), 35,341 have died.