GOVERNMENT ministers today revealed figures that show the UK doesn’t have Europe’s worst coronavirus death rate despite the toll passing Italy’s.
Data showed the UK still has a lower death rate than Spain and Italy when population is taken into account – although we are worse than Italy at the same point of their outbreak.
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The figures show that the UK has currently recorded 452 deaths per million – just below the 485 fatalities per million in Italy.
Meanwhile, Spain has recorded 25,613 deaths amid the population of 46.7million, equating to 548 per million.
Health authorities today confirmed the overall number of fatalities in the UK had hit 30,076 as the deadly bug continues to spread.
Italy, the European country that bore the brunt of the outbreak, currently has a death toll of 29,684 according to the John Hopkins Resource Center.
But differences in how each country reports its data means that the grim-looking comparison might not be quite as it appears.
Speaking at the daily Downing Street briefing, Public Health England’s Professor Yvonne Doyle warned it could take a year to properly be able to compare the deaths across the globe.
She said: “It is far too early to say how countries have fared.”
Prof Doyle said that the best way to compare in the future would be to use excess deaths which are calculated by subtracting the expected number of deaths from the total number recorded in a certain period, adjusted for age.
And the Secretary of State for Housing Robert Jenrick today agreed that making international comparisons with certainty was “difficult”.
But he added: “We saw disturbing scenes in Italy and were concerned about the potential impact on the NHS but we haven’t seen those scenes in the UK. We have had sufficient ICU places and ventilator capacity.”
Yesterday, shocking figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed 29,648 deaths in England and Wales involved coronavirus up to April 24.
The ONS figures are extremely wide – counting all fatalities, wherever they occur, that mention Covid-19 on the death certificate.
But suggestions emerged this week that Italy’s coronavirus death toll is far higher than the official figures.
The country’s National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT) officials released new data that shows during the period from February 20 to end of the March when the country was facing the full force of the virus, excess deaths were 39 per cent higher than the average from the past five years.
The figures suggest Italy’s official death toll has missed thousands of victims as at the end of March health authorities had only counted just over 12,000 deaths from coronavirus.
Countries are also at different points of the pandemic, which makes direct comparisons difficult.
Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus cases in the UK today rose above 200,00 after an additional 6,111 people tested positive.
The rise corresponds to an increase in testing over the past few weeks as the government vowed to expand capacity with 1,448,010 tests undertaken in total.
While coronavirus continues to spread, the number of deaths by the UK’s population remains lower than Spain, tracking just above Italy and France.
In good news, less than a third of critical care beds are now occupied by coronavirus patients – a steady decrease over the past two weeks.
The nation’s top scientist this week said he was “optimistic” that Britain will avoid a second deadly wave of coronavirus.
Sir Patrick Vallance told MPs: “I think if we do test, track and tracing well, and we keep the social distancing measures at the right level, we should be able to avoid a second wave.”
PM Boris Johnson is to reveal this weekend how restrictions will be eased.
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