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England Battle Coronavirus: Deaths rise to 167 with 39 confirmed in 24 hours

The number of coronavirus deaths in England has risen to 167 with a further 39 reported in the last 24 hours.

It comes after a second coronavirus hotspot has broken out in the Midlands and the Health Secretary has warned officials “don’t know why”.

Hospitals in the area have accounted for around 20% of the 144 fatalities that have so far been recorded in the UK from the virus.

The Midlands has recorded 282 coronavirus cases as of Thursday night, behind only London and the South East of England, with 28 confirmed deaths in the West Midlands.

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But Health Secretary Matt Hancock admitted they do not know why the hotspot has emerged.

Speaking about plans over the coming days, Hancock said 1.4million people who are ‘at risk’ from catching coronavirus will be sent guidance next week advising them to stop all social contact.

He said the very most vulnerable will be told to carry out social distancing measures in place for 12 weeks from Monday.

A fuller policy with details will be announced “in the coming days”, a Downing Street spokesman said.

Hancock said it was a “really big ask and really difficult” but are for “people’s own protection” – adding people in those categories should “take themselves away from all social contact from Monday onwards”.

Almost all those affected are expected to get a text message to their mobile phone before Monday.

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These people include:

  • People with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radiotherapy

  • People with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia who are at any stage of treatment

  • People with severe chest conditions such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma (requiring hospital admissions or courses of steroid tablets)

  • People with severe diseases of body systems, such as severe kidney disease (dialysis)

Speaking about the measures to Sky News, Mr Hancock said: “The first thing we’re going to do is set out exactly what conditions that applies to.

“We expect about 1.4million people to then get a communication from the NHS to say they are part of this and what they need to do.

“Many of these people have pre-existing health conditions and so will be very worried right now and I understand that.

“They’ll need very specific sets of action – for instance, how do you go about still getting your chemo if you have cancer, whilst also social distancing.

“If you have cancer it’s particularly important to stay away from other people, but you also, of course, have got to keep going with your chemotherapy.

“So these are some of the most difficult and challenging cases. We’ll be getting in contact with them.

“If people think they are on this list and don’t receive communication from the NHS, they also need to get in contact.”

We’ll be bringing you the very latest updates,

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