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Questions as UK's 40,000 death toll is the worst in Europe

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Prime minister Boris Johnson is under pressure over the UK’s alarmingly high death toll

Prime minister Boris Johnson is under pressure over the UK’s alarmingly high death toll

PA

Prime minister Boris Johnson is under pressure over the UK’s alarmingly high death toll

The United Kingdom's Covid-19 death toll now exceeds 40,000, by far the worst yet reported in Europe, raising more questions about prime minister Boris Johnson's handling of the coronavirus crisis.

Figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for England and Wales brought the UK's official death toll to 38,289 as of May 3, according to a tally of death registrations that includes Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Since then, at least 2,251 people have died from the virus in English hospitals, according to the latest daily data, bringing the true all-UK death toll as of yesterday to just over 40,000.

While different ways of counting make comparisons with other countries difficult, the figure confirmed the UK was among those hit worst by a pandemic that has killed more than 285,000 people worldwide.

The data came a day after Mr Johnson set out a gradual plan to get the UK back to work, including advice on wearing homemade face coverings, although his attempt to lift the coronavirus lockdown prompted confusion.

The leaders of the devolved nations - Scotland, Wales and North Ireland - said advice given by Mr Johnson only applied to England. They told people to remain at home.

Such a high UK death toll increases the pressure on the prime minister.

Opposition parties say he was too slow to impose a lockdown, too slow to introduce mass testing and too slow to get enough protective equipment to hospitals.

Grim

The data painted a grim picture of care homes, which have been especially hard hit by the virus.

"Care homes are showing the slowest decline, sadly," ONS statistician Nick Stripe said.

"For the first time that I can remember, there were more deaths in total in care homes than there were in hospitals in that week."

Dr Anthony Fauci, America's top infectious disease expert, has warned the US Congress that reopening the economy too soon will result in "needless death".