The death tolls have been shocking, week after week… First, China’s Hubei province, then Italy, Spain and France. Now, the United Kingdom has surpassed them all as it reports more deaths from the Covid-19 coronavirus than any country in Europe, reaching a grim milestone that piles further scrutiny on the response to the pandemic by PM Boris Johnson’s government.

The UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said yesterday that 29,427 people have died of Covid-19 since the outbreak began, more than in Italy and Spain, and lower only than the US. The official figure includes 693 new deaths in the most recent 24 hour period.

The UK has a population of 66 million and the US has a population of 328 million.

Italy raised its death count to 29,315 yesterday. The official death toll in the US now stands at more than 70,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. International comparisons are not flawless, because countries count deaths in different ways and with varying levels of accuracy. Mr. Raab noted at the daily press briefing that a “real verdict on how countries have done will not be fully available until after the pandemic is over”.

But Italy and Spain, previously Europe’s two hardest-hit countries, are significantly further along in their outbreaks than the UK and are already tentatively lifting some lockdown restrictions.

The new numbers come just days before the UK PM Boris Johnson is due to address his country again on Sunday. He is expected to announce the nation’s next steps, with widespread reports in UK media this week of how the country will now ease its emergency measures.

“It’s now clear that the second phase will be different. We will need to adjust to a new normal. We want to make sure that the next phase is more comfortable, is more sustainable. But we need to be under no illusions, the next stage won’t be easy.”

Even the most recent government figures only tell a partial story: new data, released only yesterday, indicate that the true number of deaths by late April far exceeded that which was reported daily by ministers. England’s Office of National Statistics said there were 29,998 deaths in which Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate in the period ending on April 24, including suspected coronavirus-related deaths in all settings, including care homes.

That figure far exceeds the death toll of 20,732 announced by the government at the same time, as the government did not include patients who died from Covid-19 outside of hospitals.

The UK government only last week began including data on deaths outside hospitals in cases where people had tested positive for Covid-19. Previously, UK figures were only for hospital deaths.

SOURCE: CNN | BBC

Jack Burton

Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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