THE Prime Minister, Health Secretary and chief medical officer are all self-isolating after developing symptoms of coronavirus which has already claimed 759 lives in the UK.

In the absence of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the daily briefing yesterday was delivered by Michael Gove, chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Health secretary Matt Hancock has also tested positive and the chief medical officer Chris Whitty has taken the decision to self-isolate after experiencing symptoms.

Mr Gove said 113,777 people have now been tested for the virus of which 14,543 have tested positive, an increase in the last day of 2,885. "The best scientific analysis now is that the rate of infection has been doubling every three to four days and, of those who have contracted the virus, 759 have sadly died," he said.

This total is a rise in the number of deaths of 181 from yesterday. He said the figures were a powerful reminder for the need for us to act to slow the spread of the virus and strengthen the NHS. This includes expanding the number of beds available for new patients (as of yesterday 33,000 beds were made available to treat further coronavirus patients), increasing the numbers of staff in hospitals and investing in life-saving equipment. A new hospital is being fitted out in East London. Go ahead was given for two further NHS hospitals at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham and Manchester Central Convention Centre. Mr Gove said: "This is a united national effort and the spirit of selflessness shown by so many is truly inspiring."

The PM is continuing to lead Government's response, chairing meetings and communicating with key members of his team via video conferencing. Increased testing capacity for frontline health and social care workers will be trialled immediately.