Covid deaths: UK passes milestone of 100,000

Covid deaths: UK passes milestone of 100,000

More than 100,000 people have died with Covid-19 in the UK, after 1,631 deaths within 28 days of a positive test were recorded in the daily figures.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he took “full responsibility” for the government’s actions, saying: “We truly did everything we could.”

“I’m deeply sorry for every life lost,” he said.

A total of 100,162 deaths have been recorded in the UK, the first European nation to pass the landmark.

Earlier, figures from the ONS, which are based on death certificates, showed there had been nearly 104,000 deaths since the pandemic began.

The government’s daily figures rely on positive tests and are slightly lower.

A further 20,089 coronavirus cases have also been recorded.

  • Why is the UK’s death toll so bad?
  • Kuenssberg: Grim milestone in an abnormal year

Mr Johnson told Tuesday’s Downing Street press conference that it was “hard to compute the sorrow contained in this grim statistic”.

He said he offered his “deepest condolences to everyone who’s lost a loved one”, saying: “Fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, and the many grandparents who’ve been taken.”

The UK is the fifth country to pass 100,000 deaths, coming after the US, Brazil, India and Mexico.

It follows a surge in cases last month, leaving the UK with one of the highest coronavirus death rates globally.

The number of cases in the UK has been falling in recent days, but the number of people in hospital remains high, as do the UK’s daily death figures.

Graph showing the total number of deaths in the UK with coronavirus

Mr Johnson said the coronavirus infection rate remained “pretty forbiddingly high” to ease lockdown restrictions – which have been in place in England since 5 January.

But he said “at a certain stage we will want to be getting things open”.

“What I will be doing in the course of the next few days and weeks is setting out in more detail, as soon as we can, when and how we want to get things open again.”

Under the national lockdown, people in England must stay at home and only go out for limited reasons – including for food shopping, exercise, or work if they cannot do so from home. Similar measures are in place across much of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

‘Sad day’

Speaking alongside the prime minister, Prof Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, described it as a “very sad day”.

But he said the number of people testing positive for Covid-19 in the UK “has been coming down” and the number of people in hospital with Covid has “flattened off” – including in London, the South East and East of England.

However, there were “some areas” where the hospital figures were “still not convincingly reducing”.

He said the number of people dying “will come down relatively slowly over the next two weeks – and will probably remain flat for a while now”.

Prof Whitty said the new coronavirus variant had “changed the situation we’re in very substantially”, saying the data showed that “the rates are just about holding with the new variant with what everybody’s doing”.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said there had been “continuing improvements in hospital treatment for severely sick coronavirus patients”.

He said he expected more treatments within the next six to 18 months, adding: “We can see a world in which coronavirus may be more treatable, but for now, it’s a combination of reducing infections and getting vaccinations done.”

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Analysis box by Nick Triggle, health correspondent

It’s a terrible milestone – and one that represents unimaginable loss.

However you look at it, the UK has seen one of the highest death tolls in the world.

From death certificates, we know in nine out of 10 cases Covid is judged by doctors to be the cause of death, not just a contributory factor.

People are dying of the disease, not just with it.

What is also clear is that Covid has preyed on the vulnerable.

Three quarters of deaths have been among the over 75s. Just 1% have been in under 45s.

Those with underlying health conditions have been at particular risk.

Most of the deaths have come in two waves – the sharp, sudden surge in the spring followed by a slow and sustained rise throughout autumn and winter.

Mistakes have been made – the delay locking down back in March is one that is often cited even by the government’s own advisers.

The UK, like much of Europe, was also woefully underprepared with limited testing and contact tracing systems.

But the ageing population, high rates of obesity, the fact the UK is a global hub and its inter-connectedness with Europe are also factors that meant we were tragically never going to escape lightly once the virus got a foothold.

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Dr Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England, said it was a “sobering moment in the pandemic”, saying: “Each death is a person who was someone’s family member and friend.”

“This virus has sadly taken millions of lives across the world, but we have learnt a lot about this coronavirus over the past year,” she said.

Graphic showing the ways of measuring UK deaths

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was “heartbreaking” that the UK’s coronavirus death toll had passed 100,000 and warned there was a “tough period ahead”.

“The vaccine offers the way out, but we cannot let up now,” he said.

More than 6.8m people in the UK have had their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, according to the latest figures.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said it was a “national tragedy” to have reached 100,000 deaths.

The government had been “behind the curve at every stage” of the pandemic and had not learnt lessons over the summer, he added.

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Published at Tue, 26 Jan 2021 18:29:07 +0000

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