MILLIONS of Brits tonight took part in the seventh nationwide clap to thank our NHS frontline workers who are risking their to help coronavirus victims.

Clap For Our Carers has become a weekly event across the UK as locked-down communities come together to applaud from their doorsteps and flat balconies.

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It comes as the UK coronavirus death toll today hit 30,615 after 539 more fatalities were recorded.

Downing Street has insisted the PM will announce only a "very limited" easing of the social distancing rules when he sets out his "road map" for the way out of the nation's virtual house arrest on Sunday.

Speaking at tonight's press briefing, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: "Any changes in the short term will be modest, small, incremental and carefully monitored."

More than one form of daily exercise is expected to be among the first signs of easing.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has indicated outdoor cafés could soon open.

On Tuesday, the number of deaths recorded in the UK passed Italy's total, becoming the highest in Europe.

Mr Raab tonight said the rate of infection was between 0.5 and 0.9 and the number of new coronavirus cases and daily death toll were both "steadily falling".

However he warned: "The virus is not beaten yet, it remains deadly and infectious."

But outbreaks in care homes and hospitals means the "R value" – the number of people that one infected person will pass the bug on to – has actually gone up.

Professor John Edmunds, from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said it is currently between 0.75 to 1 across the UK.

He said that is a rise from a range of 0.6 to 0.8 two weeks earlier.

Last night there was further embarrassment for the government over its handling of the crisis after it emerged 400,000 gowns for medical staff from Turkey had been impounded as they were deemed "useless" by health and safety inspectors.

Terrified NHS staff are having to wear scuba masks, bin bags, kitchen aprons and even holding their breath to treat patients thanks to the "utter shambles" of the PPE crisis.

Nurses and doctors also use swim and ski goggles, out-of-date masks and put clinical waste bags on their heads and feet as they fight coronavirus.


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