The UK has become the fifth country to pass 20,000 deaths in hospital from coronavirus, behind the US, Italy, Spain and France.
The Department of Health announced today that a further 813 people had died after testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the total to 20,319,
The US hit the 20,000 mark on April 11, according to data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Italy reached 20,000 on April 13, Spain on April 18 and France on April 20.
The figures for each country are problematic to compare as each government has its own counting criteria.
Dr Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia and adviser to the WHO, warned that the UK was on course to having one of the highest Covid-19 mortality rates in Europe.
He said: “Our deaths are increasing more rapidly than any other country really apart from the US.
“But the US is still a long way behind us in terms of deaths per one million of the population.”
Speaking today at the daily press conference, the Home Secretary Priti Patel, said the 20,000 figure was a “tragic and terrible milestone” and warned the country “we’re not out of the woods yet”.
Last month the government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said keeping deaths below 20,000 would be a “good outcome”.
He told a committee of MPs on March 17: “If we can get this down to 20,000 and below, that is a good outcome in terms of where we would hope to get to with this outbreak.”
The figure does not include deaths in care homes, which the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates could account for half of all deaths in Europe.
These deaths are measured separately by the Office of National Statistics and based on death certificates. They are announced weekly.
Global deaths linked to the new strain of coronavirus have also now passed 200,000.
Confirmed cases of the virus are expected to hit three million in coming days.
More than half of the fatalities have been reported by the United States, Spain and Italy.
The first death linked to the disease was reported on January 10 in Wuhan, China.
It took 91 days for the death toll to pass 100,000 and a further 16 days to reach 200,000, according to a Reuters tally of official reports from governments.