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UK coronavirus death toll rises to 29,427, becoming highest in Europe

‘I don’t think we’ll get a real verdict on how well countries have done until the pandemic is over’, minister says

Vincent Wood
Tuesday 05 May 2020 18:10 BST
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UK coronavirus death toll rises to 29,427 after 693 more die

The UK has recorded the highest death toll as a result of the Covid-19 coronavirus in Europe, with 29,427 having passed away after testing positive, Dominic Raab has said.

The figure is a 693 rise from Monday’s figure of 28,734, the first minister and foreign secretary added - leaving the UK’s recorded total higher than that of Italy, once the epicentre of the virus in Europe, for the first time.

However Mr Raab said the severity of the figure reflected the abilities of the nation to effectively record deaths in all settings – including in the community and in care homes – adding that the UK only appeared to be the worst effected country in Europe because it is a “world leader” in “collecting statistics”.

“I don’t think we’ll get a real verdict on how well countries have done until the pandemic is over and particularly until we’ve got comprehensive international data on all cause of mortality”, he added.

Mr Raab went on to note that as of 9am on Tuesday, there have been 1,383,842 tests in total after another 84,806 tests in the past 24 hours – once again falling below the government’s target to be conducting 100,000 tests for the virus on a daily basis.

It comes as the government begins to move towards easing lockdown measures across the country – with the prime minister due to outline his plans for the removal of social distancing measures later this week.

The foreign secretary said the next phase of the response to coronavirus would be to create a sustainable “new normal” which would protect the NHS but also safeguard the economy.

He told the Downing Street briefing: “As we consider the decisions that we will take next to protect life but also to protect our way of life, it’s now clear that the second phase will be different.

“We will need to adjust to a new normal where we as a society adapt to safe new ways to work, to travel, to interact and to go about our daily lives.

“We have never experienced anything like this first stage of Covid-19 in terms of the scale of the lives lost but also the lockdown it has required.

“As we go forward we want to make sure that the next phase is more comfortable, is more sustainable and prevents lasting damage to jobs and livelihoods.”

Labour's shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “Today’s confirmation we have the highest official death rate in Europe is a tragic reminder of the severity of this horrific disease. The public will rightly ask why our death rate is so high.

“We should take all action necessary to suppress the virus, save lives and minimise harm. We have set out the principles for what should happen next and urge ministers to work constructively with us to take these forward.”

And Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Munira Wilson said: "It is extremely sad that the UK now has the most deaths from coronavirus in Europe. Each death is a tragedy, and heartbreaking for the family and friends who are grieving.

"It is also deeply concerning that the numbers of deaths in care homes continue to grow, and still weeks into the crisis many care home workers still do not have the PPE they need.

“There will undoubtedly be questions about why the government abandoned testing and tracing in March, and how ministers will scale up to the level we need in the coming weeks. The government must ensure as a priority that we do not leave lockdown until it is safe. We must have an at-scale system for Test, Trace and Isolate to keep people safe.”

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