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UK coronavirus death toll surpasses 5,000 as PM remains in hospital

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Virus Outbreak Britain
Virus Outbreak Britain   -   Copyright  Ian Vogler / Pool via AP, File
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The UK's foreign secretary has announced 439 people died in the last 24 hour period from coronavirus, taking the UK's total death toll from the disease above 5,000.

Dominic Raab gave the UK government's daily update alongside health officials, as the Prime Minister Boris Johnson remained hospitalised with COVID-19 symptoms.

Asked why the Prime Minister is continuing in charge of the country's response, if he is ill enough to be hospitalised, Raab said he is in hospital as a precaution due to the symptoms persisting.

Johnson tweeted from hospital to say he is "in good spirits", after spending a first night there to undergo tests after being diagnosed with coronavirus 11 days ago.

The Conservative PM described the tests as "routine" but added that he was "still experiencing coronavirus symptoms".

"I'm in good spirits and keeping in touch with my team, as we work together to fight this virus and keep everyone safe," he said.

He also tweeted to thank the "brilliant" health service staff, saying those working at this "difficult time were the "best of Britain".

Johnson remains in charge of government despite being sent to St Thomas’ Hospital in London on Sunday after COVID-19 symptoms of a cough and fever persisted.

The move following advice from his doctor is said to be a "precautionary step", according to a Downing Street spokesman.

He said: “The Prime Minister thanks NHS staff for all of their incredible hard work and urges the public to continue to follow the Government’s advice to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”

Johnson posted a video on March 27th stating that he had tested positive for the virus and was experiencing "mild symptoms".

"I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus," he said in late March.

Johnson's pregnant fiancée Carrie Symonds said on Twitter over the weekend that she had spent a week in bed with the symptoms of coronavirus but that she was feeling better.

Health minister Matt Hancock also tested positive for the virus and has since recovered from the illness and is back at work. England's chief medical officer Chris Whitty is self-isolating after experiencing COVID-19 symptoms as well.

For most people this coronavirus causes mild to moderate illness but some people, especially those who are elderly or who have underlying conditions, can develop more severe disease and require hospitalisation.

More than 47,000 people in the UK have tested positive for COVID-19 and nearly 5,000 people have died.

In a rare address to the British public on Sunday, the Queen recognised the challenge of the unfolding coronavirus pandemic and urged people to stay strong.