Announcing the UK’s latest numbers during a news conference Wednesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that 359 additional people have died after contracting Covid-19. That number is higher than the total deaths of all 27 EU countries combined as they recorded a total of 332. In his address, the Prime Minister said the country was taking steps to keep transmission rates on the decline in the hope of preventing a second wave.
“We need to take steps to manage the flare-ups and stop the virus from re-emerging,” Mr Johnson said.
He also insisted he was “very proud” of his government’s response to the pandemic, despite the UK passing the 50,000 death mark and continuing to hold the worst toll of all European countries. Only the US has a worse official toll.
The news was covered by many European outlets including the German Deutsche Welle and EuroNews Political Editor Darren McCaffrey tweeted the news with astonishment.
Wow! From my calculation the UK today announced more #coronavirus deaths, 359 than the entire EU 27 combined, 324 – quite extraordinary
Has this happened before? pic.twitter.com/D7yi1lF0AK
— Darren McCaffrey (@DarrenEuronews) June 3, 2020
The Sunday Telegraph’s Editor Allister Heath is today Thursday urging Boris Johnson to drop the pretense that Britain’s handling of the pandemic has been a success.
“Johnson should give a televised address to the nation in which he accepts that bad mistakes have been made,” Heath writes, “where he states that the system he inherited turned out to be catastrophically unfit for purpose and where he vows to change it.”
“He must announce sweeping changes, high-profile sackings, greater accountability, a new policy to cocoon care homes, the abolition of PHE [Public Health England] … and an NHS that reports directly to the secretary of state. The longer Johnson waits, the more toxic the errors of the past few months will become for him,” Heath continued.
The British government has struggled to get on top of the crisis, facing growing criticism for its lack of early preparation to tackle the virus, its abrupt shifts in strategy, its failure to provide adequate protective equipment for its medical staff and other key workers, and its inability to organise testing on the scale that many say is vital. Its communications have been widely described as evasive and shambolic – with many left confused as the Cabinet has battled to provide a coherent account of its plans to lift the lockdown.
In the EU, Italy, France, Spain, Belgium and Germany rank among the top 10 countries in terms of deaths. Of the EU countries that sent updated case numbers to the WHO for its June 3 report, France had the highest number of new deaths with 107 reported by Wednesday morning.
Though the data in the WHO report appears to show a stark difference between the number of new deaths reported by the UK and those reported by the EU’s 27 countries, the organisation warned that the data was not complete and that all countries were operating on different virus-reporting timelines.
“Differences are to be expected between information products published by WHO, national public health authorities, and other sources using different inclusion criteria and different data cut-off times,” the WHO’s report said. “While steps are taken to ensure accuracy and reliability, all data are subject to continuous verification and change.”