UK virus death toll up 980 in largest rise

UK health secretary Matt Hancock has urged people not to leave their homes over the Easter holidays.
UK health secretary Matt Hancock has urged people not to leave their homes over the Easter holidays.

The UK death toll from COVID-19 has risen by 980 to 8958, health minister Matt Hancock says, its biggest daily rise to date.

The toll exceeded the deadliest day reported by Italy on March 28, the country worst hit by the coronavirus.

Hancock urged Britons not to leave their homes over the Easter holidays, during which hot weather is expected.

"This Easter will be another test of the nation's resolve," he said at a news conference in Downing Street on Friday.

Hancock confirmed that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's health was improving after leaving a three-night spell of intensive care on Thursday.

Johnson, who is being treated for COVID-19, is now able to take short walks, a Downing Street spokesman said earlier.

Australian Associated Press