The UK now has the second-highest coronavirus death toll in Europe according to updated government figures that show more than 26,000 people have died from the virus.
The government’s official figures previously only covered those who had died in hospital from coronavirus. But the government from today is taking into account fatalities in all settings, including care homes.
Britain has now suffered 26,097 deaths according to the new figures, foreign secretary Dominic Raab said at a press conference today.
The new total reflects an additional 3,811 deaths that were added to the tally today. Raab said they were spread out across the period since the start of March. Roughly 70 per cent of these were outside hospital.
The foreign secretary said that the latest figures showed there had been 765 more deaths since yesterday. Public Health England said there had been 4,076 new cases, taking the total to 165,221.
The change to the figures means the UK’s official death toll is now higher than France and Spain’s. In Europe, only Italy has suffered more deaths, with 27,682. The US has the highest fatality toll, with close to 60,000.
There is a great deal of uncertainty about the total number of cases and deaths in most countries, including the UK, however. This is largely due to the difficulty of establishing the correct cause of death if someone has not been tested.
Analysis by the Financial Times has suggested coronavirus could be killing more than double the number of people recorded in the daily figures from hospitals.
Direct comparisons of death tolls do not take into account the population sizes. Raab earlier today said it was “far too early” to make international comparisons.
However, the jump in the official death figures will add to the pressure on the government. Opposition Labour party leader Keir Starmer today said it had been too slow with the lockdown and was failing on testing.
The government’s chief scientific adviser said in March that keeping the death toll below 20,000 would be a “good outcome”.