Breaking: UK Covid-19 death toll overtakes Italy, now highest in Europe

The UK’s true coronavirus death toll is the highest in Europe and the second highest in the world, according to new figures.

New data shows there were 29,648 Covid-19 deaths in England and Wales as of April 24, higher than Italy’s current toll of 29,079.

It means the UK’s true toll is almost 10,000 fatalities, or just under 50 per cent, higher than previously reported.

On April 24, the Department of Health was reporting 21,399 deaths, NHS England was reporting 19,033 and Public Health Wales was reporting 848.

The report also revealed the second highest weekly death total recorded in England and Wales, which was 11,539 more than the five-year average.

It came as overall Covid-19 deaths trended down during the week ending April 24 due to a decline in hospitals, but care home deaths soared by 36%.

There were 6,391 deaths in care homes involving coronavirus reported by care home providers in England to the Care Quality Commission up to May 1, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The figures show there were 7,713 deaths involving Covid-19 in England and Wales registered up to April 24 that occurred outside hospitals.

There has been another rise in the weekly number of registered deaths involving Covid-19 occurring in care homes in England and Wales, the ONS figures show.

The total for the week ending April 24 was 2,794, up from 2,050 in the week ending April 17 – an increase of 36%.

The number of registered deaths involving Covid-19 occurring in hospitals fell from 6,107 in the week ending April 17 to 4,841 in the week ending April 24 – a decrease of 21%.

The Department of Health’s latest death toll for all settings was 28,734 as of 5pm on Sunday after a daily rise of 288 fatalities, but there is a lag in confirming and reporting coronavirus-linked fatalities.

It said the number of confirmed cases has increased by 3,985 to 190,584 as of 9am on Monday.

The figures were announced amid concerns over the Government’s coronavirus contact-tracing app, its plans to ease lockdown restrictions and PPE shortages that are causing “really high” levels of stress for care workers.

Colin Angel, UK Homecare Association (UKHCA) policy director, said sourcing PPE is causing “really high” levels of stress for care providers.

He told BBC Breakfast: “I think every homecare provider in the country is really struggling to get a sure supply of PPE, and having enough to be confident that they can continue providing care services across, sometimes even days, if not just a few weeks.

“And it’s a real stress. I have a provider who was telling me he was spending 90% of his time trying to phone round and get PPE delivered.

“That means he’s looking for PPE rather than being able to run the rest of his service.

“And that’s a huge problem, and the levels of stress it’s creating both for providers delivering care and their frontline care workers is really high.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he believed that, as lockdown is eased, it is “inevitable” masks will be needed where people cannot socially distance, such as on public transport.

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