UK has highest total coronavirus death toll of any country in Europe

5 May 2020, 11:31 | Updated: 5 May 2020, 13:02

The UK's coronavirus death toll is now the highest in Europe
The UK's coronavirus death toll is now the highest in Europe. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The UK now has the highest coronavirus-related death toll of any country in Europe and is the second-worst hit in the world behind the US.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show there were 29,648 deaths linked to coronavirus in England and Wales as of 24 April.

Adding the deaths for Scotland and Northern Ireland, the toll rises to over 32,000. The death toll for Italy, which was previously the hardest-hit country in Europe, stands at 29,079, according to the latest figures.

The UK is now second to only the USA in the world for the total number of people to die after contracting the disease.

ONS data shows deaths in England and Wales stood at just below 30,000
ONS data shows deaths in England and Wales stood at just below 30,000. Picture: ONS

However, UK health officials have stated that country-to-country comparisons are extremely difficult due to differences in population age, density, recording measures and other variables.

Nonetheless, the government has included global comparisons in its slideshows at the daily coronavirus press briefings.

When the Scottish and Northern Irish numbers are added in, it takes the UK's total to 32,313.

The ONS data shows there were 7,713 deaths involving Covid-19 in England and Wales registered up to 24 April that occurred outside hospitals.

Of these 5,890 took place in care homes, 1,306 in private homes, 301 in hospices, 105 in other communal establishments, and 111 elsewhere. The equivalent number for hospital deaths over this period is 19,643.

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The ONS said the numbers are based on where Covid-19 is mentioned anywhere on the death certificate, including in combination with other health conditions.

Their figures also reveal another weekly rise in the number of registered deaths involving Covid-19 occurring in care homes in England and Wales.

The total for the week ending 24 April was 2,794, up from 2,050 in the week ending 17 April 17, or an increase of 36 per cent.

But the number of registered hospital deaths involving Covid-19 fell from 6,107 in the week ending 17 April to 4,841 in the week ending 24 April, or a decrease of 21 per cent.

Meanwhile, overall deaths in England and Wales dropped for the first time since 20 March by 354.

It comes as separate data from the Care Quality Commission showed there were 6,391 care home deaths between 10 April and 1 May.

Speaking at the Health and Social Care Committee, the government's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said we are still "quite early" in the epidemic.

He said: "Although most countries are getting on top of the first peak in some ways it doesn't mean the whole thing's gone away."

He was asked if he knew back in March what is known now, whether events such as Cheltenham and the Champions League match would have been allowed to go ahead.

He replied: "In terms of what would I do in retrospect, if we knew then what we know now, I think that's something for the future to look at and certainly there will be times when evidence didn't allow decisions to be made that you could make now, and there'll be times at which you look back and say that something might have been done differently, I've got no doubt about that.

"When you look at everything that happened, the speed at which it happened, maybe days either way would have made a difference, but I think it's difficult to look back and say three weeks was an obvious point to do it, I don't think that was clear, I don't think it's clear now."

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