Home Secretary Priti Patel has said she was sorry if anyone felt there had been failings over the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

It comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed 19 NHS workers had now lost their lives after contracting Covid-19.

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The Government has been dogged by criticism since the pandemic hit UK shores that not enough PPE was being made available to health workers, especially those working in social care.

Ms Patel, fielding questions at a Downing Street briefing on Saturday, said she was “sorry” if people felt there had been failings regarding the supply of PPE.

After being asked twice if she would apologise to NHS staff and their families over the lack of “necessary PPE”, Ms Patel said: “I’m sorry if people feel that there have been failings. I will be very, very clear about that.

“But at the same time, we are in an unprecedented global health pandemic right now.

Coronavirus graphics(PA Graphics)

“It is inevitable that the demand and the pressures on PPE and demand for PPE are going to be exponential. They are going to be incredibly high.

“And of course we are trying to address that as a Government.”

Police have also revealed that 1,084 fines have been issued for breaches of coronavirus regulations in England and Wales.

Martin Hewitt, chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said only a “small minority of people” had failed to follow the Government guidance.

Priti PatelMs Patel takes questions from the media (Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street)

The Prime Minister announced a lockdown three weeks ago that banned travel outside of the home, except for exercise, to shop for essential goods, to go to a job that cannot be done from home or to provide care.

The fines were issued from across 37 different forces, Mr Hewitt said.

“Across all of those forces, that is an average of less than 84 a day,” he told the press briefing.

“This shows that the overwhelming majority of people are abiding by the rules and are staying at home to protect the NHS and save lives.”

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Mr Hewitt said police will publish enforcement data every fortnight during the crisis.

The news came after the Department of Health said a total of 9,875 people had died in hospital in the UK after testing positive for coronavirus as of 5pm on Friday, up by 917 from the same point on Thursday.