UK now has highest death toll from coronavirus in Europe, Latest World News - The New Paper

UK now has highest death toll from coronavirus in Europe

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Death toll likely to increase political pressure on PM Boris Johnson over his response to the pandemic

LONDON : Britain has overtaken Italy as the country with the highest official death toll from the coronavirus in Europe with over 32,000 deaths, figures released yesterday showed.

The number of fatalities could increase political pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who waited longer than other European leaders to order a lockdown to curb the spread of the virus in March.

Weekly figures from Britain's national statistics office added more than 7,000 deaths, raising the total to 32,313.

The figure is one of several methods for calculating deaths and difficult to compare with other countries, but it offers the clearest sign yet that Britain could emerge as the worst-hit country in Europe, despite being hit later than other nations.

Opposition parties have raised questions about Mr Johnson's initial decision to delay a lockdown at a time when hospitals in Italy were being overrun.

They also say his government was too slow to introduce mass testing and provide enough protective equipment to hospitals.

The true figure for deaths from coronavirus may be even higher. The Office of National Statistics said 33,593 more people had died than the average up to April 24 in England and Wales, compared with the 27,365 cases in which the coronavirus was mentioned on the death certificates.

As Britain took top spot for number of deaths in Europe, Russia claimed the most infections.

Health officials there reported 10,102 new infections, a decrease of 531 cases from Sunday's record surge, bringing Russia's total to 155,370.

Russia has now emerged as a new coronavirus hotspot even as many European countries unveil plans to ease lockdown measures after their numbers of new infections and deaths began to fall.

In the US, a new forecast projects nearly 135,000 deaths there due to Covid-19 through the beginning of August, mainly due to reopening measures under way, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington said on Monday.

The new projection reflects rising mobility and the easing of social distancing measures expected in 31 states by May 11, said the IHME, whose models are used by the White House. The increasing contacts among people will promote transmission of the coronavirus, it said.

"This new model is the basis for the sobering new estimate of US deaths," said IHME director Christopher Murray, referring to the reopening measures.

The IHME forecast increases the projected number of deaths in the US by more than 62,000, with a rise of more than 8,700 deaths in New Jersey and more than 7,800 in New York state for the same period, up from estimates released last month.

But former New Jersey governor Chris Christie said that "there are going to be deaths no matter what," and called for leaders to allow people to get back to work.

Speaking on The Daily DC Podcast hosted by CNN's Dana Bash on Monday, Christie said: "We have to start letting people get back to work.

"I can see in my own state the economic devastation is equally sad." - REUTERS, AFP