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UK reports worst day, with nearly 1,000 virus deaths; Johnson improves

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson needs time to recover from the new coronavirus and is unlikely to be back at work soon, his father said Friday, as millions of Britons began an Easter holiday weekend in lockdown and the UK recorded its worst day yet with almost 1,000 more COVID-19 deaths than the day before.

Britain’s official death toll of people with the coronavirus leapt by 980 Friday to 8,958 — a bigger daily increase than was seen in Italy and Spain, the two European countries with the greatest number of fatalities. Italy recorded a high of 969 deaths on March 27 and Spain 950 deaths on April 2.

The figures may not be directly comparable, however. The UK deaths reported each day occurred over several days or even weeks, and the total only includes deaths in hospitals.

As Johnson recovered in the hospital, his government implored people not to travel to see relatives or visit second homes over the Easter holiday weekend as Britain’s death toll from COVID-19 continues to rise.

UK authorities say restrictions on business and public activity imposed March 23 to try to slow the spread of the virus are likely to last at least several more weeks.

While the number of new cases and hospitalizations appears to have plateaued, deaths are still rising.

“It’s still too early to really be confident that we are turning the corner,” said Stephen Powis, medical director of the National Health Service in England.

Some British officials have been accused of flouting their own rules, which bar most travel outside the home except for essential shopping and exercise.