The United Kingdom’s death toll from confirmed cases of COVID-19 has risen by 324 to 38,161, finance minister Rishi Sunak said on Friday.
NHS England national medical director Professor Stephen Powis told the briefing that the estimate of the rate of infection – the now (in)famous R number – across all regions in England is below one.
2,095 new cases were registered in the previous day, taking the tally to 227,222.
He said: “Which means that although there might be some difference in underlying infection rates, the trend is downwards in all parts of the country.”
On local lockdown, he said: “I think what we might find as we continue to see a reduction in the amount of infection is much more localised outbreaks.
During the same press conference, Sunak announced fresh help to employers hit by the coronavirus shutdown on Friday, announcing that future contributions they must make to the government’s costly wage subsidy scheme will be phased in slowly.
In August, companies will only have to make pension and social security payments for the workers they have temporarily laid off while the government will continue to pay 80% of their wages.
Employers would then be asked to pay 10% of the wage costs in September and 20% in October, reducing some of the huge burden on the public finances but a lighter requirement than reported by media before the announcement.