Queen Elizabeth gives rare address as UK sees record spike in coronavirus deaths

LONDON -- Queen Elizabeth II appealed to Britons on Sunday to exercise self-discipline in "an increasingly challenging time" as the country saw a record 24-hour jump in coronavirus deaths that even outpaced the daily toll in hard-hit Italy.

Britain recorded 708 new coronavirus deaths, bringing its overall toll to 4,313 as infections rose past 42,000, while Italy reported 631 deaths. Those coming down with the virus in the U.K. include Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the health secretary, England's chief medical official and Prince Charles, heir to the British throne.

In an address to the nation televised later Sunday, the 93-year-old queen said the pandemic had caused enormous disruptions, bringing grief, financial difficulties and daunting challenges to everybody. It was only the fourth time since her reign began in 1953 that she has given such an address.

"I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge," she said in pre-released remarks. "And those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any."

WATCH: Queen Elizabeth II's address to the nation


The queen's son, Charles, on Friday remotely opened a vast temporary hospital for corona patients in a London convention center after completing a week of isolation. Johnson as of Friday still had a fever but his infected pregnant fiancee, Carrie Symonds, tweeted she is "on the mend" after a week in bed.

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As the sun shone and the temperatures rose toward 68 degrees Fahrenheit, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said sunbathing in public places was not allowed and the U.K. might even ban outdoor exercise if people still ''flout the rules.''

"The vast majority of people are following the public health advice, which is absolutely critical, and staying at home," Hancock told Sky TV. "But there are a small minority of people who are still not doing that - it's quite unbelievable, frankly, to see that."

Worldwide, more than 1.2 million people have been confirmed infected and more than 65,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. The true numbers are certainly much higher, due to limited testing, different ways nations count the dead and deliberate under-reporting by some governments.

Almost 250,000 people have recovered from the virus, which is spread by microscopic droplets from coughs or sneezes. The virus causes mild to moderate symptoms in most but for some, especially older adults and the infirm, it can cause pneumonia and lead to death. The World Health Organization says 95% of the known coronavirus deaths in Europe have been in people over 60.

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