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Coronavirus: Seven charts that show the true scale of the UK outbreak

Latest figures reveal how UK compares to other countries in terms of deaths per capita, case-fatality ratio and Covid-19 testing

Anthony Cuthbertson
Wednesday 21 October 2020 12:56 BST
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The UK had the second slowest response to the coronavirus pandemic, behind Sweden
The UK had the second slowest response to the coronavirus pandemic, behind Sweden (Getty Images)

The UK's coronavirus death toll has overtaken Italy's to become the highest in Europe. With over 33,000 deaths involving Covid-19, only the US has a higher toll worldwide.

The UK government has faced criticism for its lack of testing compared to other countries, as well as a delayed response to introducing strict lockdown measures.

Even US President Donald Trump, whose own coronavirus policy has been heavily criticised, has called Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s approach “catastrophic”. The US is by far the worst affected country in terms of coronavirus confirmed cases and deaths, with more infections recorded than Spain, Italy, France, Germany, China and the UK combined.

These figures are at least in part reflective of the larger population size of the US, and when this is taken into account it becomes clear that the UK is actually faring far worse in terms of Covid-19 deaths.

Of the worst hit countries, only Spain and Italy have a higher number of coronavirus deaths per capita, though both of these countries have significantly higher recovery rates.

When it comes to total ongoing cases, the UK is second only to the US.

Looking at the case-fatality ratio paints an even grimmer picture. The UK is second only to Belgium by this metric, which has a population six-times smaller than the UK.

One of the key areas for understanding and containing the pandemic is testing, and the UK has consistently lagged behind other nations.

The government set a target of 100,000 tests per day by the end of April but has only achieved it twice. After briefly hitting its target in early May, the UK has since dropped back below its goal.

The UK has been much slower in ramping up its testing for coronavirus compared to other countries, with Germany regularly testing 100,000 people or more at the start of April.

Less than 2 per cent of the UK population has so far been tested for coronavirus, ranking it 47th in the world by this metric.

Since containment measures were introduced, the daily number of coronavirus deaths has begun to fall in the UK and other countries.

But when it comes to "flattening the curve", figures show that the UK has been one of the slowest countries to achieve this.

Despite performing far worse than other countries on a variety of key measures, the UK government's handling of the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak has actually had a positive impact on its public approval ratings.

The government's approval rating has coincided with a boost in popular support for nearly every government around the world, though this could be accounted for by the phenomenon of populations rallying around their leaders at times of crisis.

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