UK deaths rise to almost 50,000 as govt grapples with virus

A nurse cares for a Covid-19 patient at the intensive care unit of Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge last month. (AP pic)

LONDON: The United Kingdom’s Covid-19 death toll neared 50,000 on Tuesday, a grim figure for Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he takes steps to ease the coronavirus lockdown.

The toll now stands at 49,646, including death certificate data for England and Wales released on Tuesday up to May 22, previous figures for Scotland and Northern Ireland, and recent hospital deaths in England.

In March, Britain’s chief scientific adviser said keeping deaths below 20,000 would be a “good outcome”. In April, Reuters reported the government’s worst-case scenario was 50,000 deaths.

The government says that while it may have made some mistakes it is grappling with the biggest public health crisis since the 1918 influenza outbreak and that it has ensured the health service was not overwhelmed.

Unlike the daily death toll published by the government, Tuesday’s death certificate figures include suspected cases and confirmed cases of Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

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