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UK coronavirus death toll rises above 32,000 to highest in Europe

PUBLISHED: 19:16 05 May 2020 | UPDATED: 19:16 05 May 2020

Medical staff in respiratory emergency department. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Medical staff in respiratory emergency department. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

The UK now has the highest death toll in Europe from coronavirus after new official figures revealed that more than 32,000 people have died from the virus.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that 29,710 deaths involving Covid-19 in England and Wales had been registered up to May 2.

A further 693 people had died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Monday.

MORE: Three more coronavirus deaths at Norfolk’s hospitals

Together with the latest equivalent numbers for Scotland and Northern Ireland, it means a total of 32,375 deaths involving Covid-19 have now been registered across the UK

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, during a media briefing in Downing Street. Picture: Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA WireForeign Secretary Dominic Raab, during a media briefing in Downing Street. Picture: Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA Wire

The figure exceeds the death toll of 29,315 in Italy – until now Europe’s worst-hit country.

The full picture in both countries will not be known for some time, however. With governments and health authorities across Europe taking different approaches to recording deaths - and the potential of some Covid-19 deaths not being recorded at all - it is impossible to know exact comparable death tolls at this stage. And even in the UK, there are different ways of measuring deaths involving Covid-19.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the Downing Street press briefing on Tuesday that 29,427 people in the UK who had tested positive had died.

The government’s total is based on reported deaths of people who have tested positive for Covid-19, while the ONS total for registered deaths is based on all mentions of Covid-19 - including suspected cases - on a death certificate.

Italy’s total does not include suspected cases.

MORE: 18 new coronavirus deaths in Norfolk care homes

The Foreign Secretary dismissed international comparisons: “All I would just say is first of all 29,427 lives lost is a massive tragedy, something in this country, on this scale, in this way, we’ve never seen before.

Infection Control nurse looks out from a Covid-19 recovery ward. Picture: Niall Carson/PA WireInfection Control nurse looks out from a Covid-19 recovery ward. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

“In terms of the comparison you’re suggesting... 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.”

But, in his defence of the Government, Mr Raab said there are different ways of counting death.

“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,” he said.

Testing again failed to meet the 100,000 target set by the Government, which was met at the end of April but has since dropped off.

Mr Raab said 84,806 tests were carried out on Monday. Some 194,990 people have tested positive for coronavirus, an increase of 4,406 from 24 hours earlier.

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