Coronavirus: UK passes 20,000 Covid-19 hospital deaths

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THE UK has become the fifth country to pass 20,000 deaths in hospital from Covid-19, behind the US, Italy, Spain and France.

The grim milestone came as the coronavirus lockdown continued into its fifth weekend.

The UK is the fifth country to pass 20,000 Covid-19 deaths, behind the US, Italy, Spain and France.

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Last month, chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance told MPs the hope was to keep the death toll to under 20,000 - an ambition that was later echoed by NHS England medical director Professor Stephen Powis, who said the UK would have ‘done very well in this epidemi’ if deaths remained below that figure.

UK has passed 20,000 coronavirus deaths. Picture: Naomi Baker/Getty ImagesUK has passed 20,000 coronavirus deaths. Picture: Naomi Baker/Getty Images
UK has passed 20,000 coronavirus deaths. Picture: Naomi Baker/Getty Images | Getty Images

Sir Patrick appeared before the Commons Health Select Committee on March 17, when the UK death toll stood at 71.

Asked whether it was hoped that deaths could potentially get below 20,000, he said: ‘That is the hope, that we can get it down to that. To put that into perspective, every year in seasonal flu the number of deaths is thought to be 8,000.

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‘If we can get numbers down to 20,000 and below, that's a good outcome in terms of where we would hope to get to with this outbreak.’

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On Saturday, the Department of Health said a total of 20,319 patients had died in hospital after testing positive for Covid-19 in the UK as of 5pm on Friday - up by 813 from the day before.

That figure does not include deaths in the wider community, such as in care homes, which means the true toll will be higher by several thousand at least.

But Dr Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, said the true figure could already be double that amount.

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‘The World Health Organisation said yesterday that about half of all deaths in Europe are occurring in residence of elderly care homes,’ he said.

‘We know for a fact the figures reported every day are an underestimate, possibly a significant underestimate of the total number of deaths.’

The UK is well on track to hit 30,000 deaths in hospital, perhaps even 40,000 before the pandemic is brought under control, he said.

‘We are undoubtedly going to have one of the highest death rates in Europe,’ Dr Hunter added.

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Amid more warm weather on Saturday, queues built up outside some DIY stores as shoppers flocked to stock up on hardware and gardening goods. But beaches and major roads remained largely quiet.

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