UK coronavirus hospital deaths surpass 15,000 after another 888 patients die

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(Photo: Sohu)

LONDON, April 18 (Xinhua) -- Another 888 people who tested positive for COVID-19 have died in hospitals in Britain as of Friday afternoon, bringing the total number of coronavirus-related deaths to 15,464, the Department of Health and Social Care said Saturday.

As of Saturday morning, 114,217 people have tested positive for the virus, marking a daily increase of 5,526, said the department.

The figures were announced amid growing concerns over a serious shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline medical staff in hospitals.

On Friday, Public Health England changed its guidance, which includes asking doctors and nurses to reserve the gowns for surgical operations and procedures that are likely to transmit respiratory pathogens and to reuse items such as surgical gowns.

As for testing, Professor John Newton, national coordinator of Britain's coronavirus testing program, has warned against the purchase of unapproved antibody testing kits in a statement released on Saturday.

Antibody tests are designed to detect if people have had the virus and are now immune. Several reports have emerged of organizations seeking to purchase antibody tests for their employees, or of individuals purchasing these tests online for personal use.

Antibody tests offer hope for people wanting to find out if they have had the novel coronavirus, are now immune and could get back to work. But so far no country in the world, including Britain, has found a reliable antibody test, according to the statement.

Professor Newton said that unapproved tests could be misleading by providing inaccurate or inconsistent results, potentially putting those tested and those around them at risk.

The government is currently working with several companies who are offering these tests and are evaluating their effectiveness.

However, so far, the antibody tests that have gone through the validation process have not proven accurate enough to be rolled out for public use, according to the statement.