The United Kingdom now has the most COVID-19 deaths in Europe, overtaking Italy as the region’s worst hit country in terms of fatalities. The country’s Office for National Statistics released on Tuesday, 5 May, data indicating that 29,648 people have died from coronavirus in Wales and England. The addition of fatalities that occurred in Northern Ireland and Scotland bring the total to 32,13 deaths.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called the grim statistic “a massive tragedy.”
Italy’s total at the time of announcement stood at 29,315. It is important to note, however, that Italy’s figures do not include suspected cases. Italy’s statistics agency ISTAT also previously claimed that thousands of deaths in the country have not been officially established to be COVID-19 deaths.
Experts have also advised caution in making international comparisons, as countries have differences in demographics as well as testing regimes and employ varying ways of measuring the number of deaths. The UK, for instance, only recently started adding community deaths, such as those in nursing homes, while previously only recording hospital deaths.
Six weeks have passed since Britain was put on lockdown. Nonessential businesses have been closed throughout the country, with fines imposed on people violating the lockdown’s rules. Opposition parties have previously criticised the government’s actions, citing Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s slow response to the pandemic especially in its early stages.
With pressure mounting, Johnson has said that the UK will have a different strategy to be unveiled later this week. The leader has claimed the country is already “past the peak” and is now on a “downward slope.”
Restrictions, however, are set to remain in place until five criteria have been met:
The UK government has claimed that it has carried out 122,347 tests last Thursday, 30 April, well beyond the self-imposed target of 100,000 tests by the same date.