March 26, 2020 / 6:48 PM / 2 months ago

Coronavirus deaths in UK jump to 578 as recording method changes

People wearing a mask and gloves on Primose Hill at dusk, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, London, Britain, March 26, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) - Another 115 people have died in the United Kingdom after testing positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of deaths to 578, the government said on Thursday.

The number of confirmed cases rose to 11,658 on Thursday from 9,529 on Wednesday, the health ministry said on day three of a nationwide lockdown ordered by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Britain was slower than some of its European neighbours to tighten social distancing measures, with Johnson waiting until Monday night to tell pubs and restaurants to close and people to stay at home unless absolutely necessary.

The number of cases and deaths in Britain is lower than in Italy, Spain and France, but health officials and scientists have been warning that the peak of the epidemic lies several weeks ahead.

The figures published on Thursday could not be directly compared to those released the previous day because the system for recording cases has changed.

The Wednesday figures comprised the period from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on March 24, an eight-hour window, while the Thursday figures cover the period from 5 p.m. (1700 GMT) on March 24 to 5 p.m. on March 25, a 24-hour time lapse.

In future, figures will be published every day around 2 p.m. covering the 24-hour period that ended the previous day at 5 p.m.

Reporting by Andy Bruce and Estelle Shirbon; editing by Stephen Addison

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