The United Kingdom’s COVID-19 death toll topped 38,000 as of early May, by far the worst yet reported in Europe, raising questions about Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, APA reports citing Reuters.
Figures published by the Office for National Statistics for England and Wales brought the United Kingdom’s official death toll to 38,289 as of May 3 — up nearly 6,000 in the space of a week, according to a Reuters tally of death registrations data that also includes Scotland and Northern Ireland.
While different ways of counting make comparisons with other countries difficult, the figure confirmed Britain was among those hit worst by a pandemic that has killed more than 285,000 worldwide.
The data came a day after Johnson set out a gradual plan to get Britain back to work, including advice on wearing home-made face coverings — though his attempt to lift the coronavirus lockdown prompted confusion.
Such a high UK death toll increases the pressure on Johnson: opposition parties say he was too slow to impose a lockdown, too slow to introduce mass testing and too slow to get enough protective equipment to hospitals.
The data painted a grim picture in care homes, which have been especially hard hit by the virus.
“Care homes (are) showing the slowest decline, sadly,” ONS statistician Nick Stripe told BBC TV.
“For the first time that I can remember, there were more deaths in total in care homes than there were in hospitals in that week.”
Care homes now account for a third of all COVID-19 deaths in England and Wales.
Unlike the daily death toll announced by the government, Tuesday’s figures include suspected deaths from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
In March, Britain’s chief scientific adviser said keeping deaths below 20,000 would be a “good outcome”. In April, Reuters reported that the government’s worst case scenario was a death toll of 50,000.