The UK’s official coronavirus death toll has passed 43,000 after 154 more deaths were reported in the last 24 hours.
A total of 43,081 people have now died of the disease in all settings, including hospitals, care homes and the community.
There has been a total of 306,862 cases of coronavirus in the UK as of today.
This is the third day running that new positive tests have dipped below 1,000.
Today the Department of Health said 232,086 tests were carried out or dispatched in the past 24 hours.
In total, 8,542,186 tests for the virus have now been carried out.
The figure for the number of people tested has been “temporarily paused to ensure consistent reporting” across all methods of testing, the Department of Health has said.
However, the true death toll is believed to be at least more than 54,000 based on death certificates mentioning Covid-19 as a cause.
Yesterday’s 874 new cases of coronavirus was the second day running that new positive tests dipped below 1,000.
Earlier today the NHS revealed the UK’s Covid-19 hospital death toll has increased to 32,953 after 64 more fatalities were reported in the last 24 hours – the lowest rise on a Wednesday in lockdown.
England reported 51 new deaths, Wales had eight, Scotland recorded four and Northern Ireland had one.
On recent Wednesdays, the hospital death toll increased by 97 on June 17, 109 on June 10, 215 on June 3, 209 on May 27 and 235 on May 20.
The biggest rise on a Wednesday was 936 on April 8, when the UK was in the deadliest days of its outbreak.
A week ago today, 184 deaths were recorded by the Department of Health, 30 more than today, while 1,115 positive cases were recorded, 462 more than today.
The declining numbers of deaths and cases come as Boris Johnson has announced major changes to the England lockdown, with pubs, hairdressers and restaurants reopening on July 4.
The two-metre distancing guidance has also been relaxed to a one-metre plus rule.
But in a worrying move, Britain’s leading medical exparts have written an open letter to Johnson’s government urging it to prepare for a second wave of coronavirus after it was accused of missteps and not taking the initial outbreak seriously enough.
The letter published in the British Medical Journal calls for an urgent review of whether the country is properly prepared for the “real risk” of another fight against Covid-19, as earlier modelling suggested a new peak could hit after Christmas and kill as many as 60 people a day.
The letter warns ministers urgent action is needed to prevent further loss of life and to protect the economy amid growing fears of a renewed outbreak over the winter.
The appeal is backed by the presidents of the Royal Colleges of Physicians, Surgeons, GPs and Nursing – as well as the chairman of the British Medical Association.
The letter comes as former chief scientific advisor Sir David King, who now leads the unofficial ‘Independent Sage’ group, told Sky News the lockdown easing is “ extraordinarily risky”.
He said lifting lockdown too quickly means “the risk of running into a second wave becomes very significant”.
He added: “We must aim to completely get rid of the virus of this country before the winter”.
“We still see 1,000 new cases at least a day in this country. I don’t think there’s anyone who can believe from the scientific point of view that this is a wise move.”
However, not everyone agrees.
Imperial College economist Professor David Miles told BBC Radio 5 the easing of lockdown measures was overdue.
He said: “We probably have gone past the point some weeks ago where the benefits of keeping in place the lockdown were large enough to match the rising and enormous costs of lockdown.”