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UK becomes first European country to pass 30,000 deaths from COVID-19

Published on 07/05/20 at 11:31am
Photo by Chatham House

Britain has become the first European nation to pass 30,000 deaths from the coronavirus, putting it only behind the US as the worst hit country in the world in terms of fatalities.

Over 30,000 people have now died in hospitals and the wider community, and this has pushed the UK past the number of deaths in Italy to become the highest in Europe. This puts the UK only behind the US which has had 70,000 deaths.

However, experts have warned that it could be months until global comparisons can be accurately made as every country has had a different amount of testing. For example, Italy has tested more people than the UK.

Professor David Spiegelhalter, the Chair of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication at Cambridge University and also a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), commented on the numbers and said: “We are not doing very well and it’s been another very bad week. I really don’t like this league table of who’s top and who’s not, but there’s no denying that these are really serious numbers.”

Dr Claudia Paoloni, president of the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association trade union, called the government’s handling of the crisis as “inadequate”, adding: “This is a very sobering and unwelcome milestone. It’s of extreme concern that the UK now has the largest number of Covid deaths in Europe. There will have to be a full investigation of the handling of the Covid response in due course – a public inquiry – to understand why we are experiencing such large numbers in comparison to the rest of Europe.

“It puts into question whether the government’s tactics at the start of the pandemic were sufficiently fast, and especially whether the lockdown should have happened earlier and whether we should have been better prepared with increased capacity for viral testing and contact tracing from the start.”

In response to the being one of the leading countries in terms of coronavirus deaths, Foreign Secretary Dominac Rabb said that it is not yet accurate to compare the death toll to other countries. He said that: “We now publish data that includes all deaths in all settings and not all countries do that so I’m not sure that the international comparison works unless you reliably know that all countries are measuring in the same way.”

Conor Kavanagh

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