UK death toll passes 24,000 and becoming one of Europe’s worst
LONDON : Britain is on track to record one of the worst coronavirus death tolls in Europe, after data published on Tuesday showed nationwide fatalities topped 24,000 nine days ago.
A day after its Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke of success in dealing with the outbreak, the new figures showed the week ending April 17 was Britain's deadliest since comparable records began in 1993.
Britain's Office for National Statistics (ONS) said 21,284 people had died in England by April 17 with mentions of Covid-19 on their death certificate.
Together with figures from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the total death toll for the UK was at least 24,000 as of April 19.
"The United Kingdom is going to be right up there among the worst-hit nations in the initial surge," said Mr Bill Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
"With the most optimistic views of the amount of immunity that might be generated, it would still not be close to having enough to be able to return to normal," he said.
"The crucial part of the next stage is to have enough testing and early warning systems to avoid ending up back where the UK is now."
Unlike the hospital death tolls announced daily by the government, Tuesday's ONS figures include deaths in community settings, such as care homes, where overall fatalities have trebled in a few weeks.
Across the Channel, France's coronavirus death toll closed in on 24,000 on Tuesday, as Prime Minister Edouard Philippe detailed the government's plan to start unwinding the lockdown imposed on March 17.
From May 11, schools will gradually reopen and businesses will be free to resume operations, Mr Philippe said.
Restaurants, cafes and beaches, though, will remain closed until at least June, while professional sports are suspended until September.
Mr Philippe said France, which has the fourth highest coronavirus death toll in the world, would adopt an aggressive new doctrine on Covid-19 testing from May 11.
But he also warned the authorities might reverse course if the number of daily new confirmed cases rises above 3,000 again, which it did on Monday. - REUTERS