MORE than 32,000 people in the UK have died with suspected Covid-19, the highest official toll yet reported in Europe, according to data published on Tuesday.
The Office for National Statistics said 29,648 deaths had taken place as of April 24 in England and Wales with Covid-19 mentioned in death certificates.
Including deaths for Scotland and Northern Ireland, the official toll now stands at 32,313. That is more than Italy (29,079), previously Europe’s worst hit country, though its toll does not include suspected cases.
Ministers and officials, however, avoid comparisons of the headline death toll, saying that excess mortality — the number of deaths from all causes that exceed the average for the time of year — is a more meaningful metric.
ONS chief Ian Diamond on Sunday had spoken against death toll “rankings”.
“I’m not saying that we’re at the bottom of any potential league table – it’s almost impossible to calculate a league table — but I’m not prepared to say that we’re heading for the top,” he said.
He, however, recently warned about “indirect deaths” due to the pandemic.
“Changes in the prioritisation of the health service — for example, reductions in cancer screening — will lead to deaths over the next few years,” Diamond told BBC.
“If we have a lengthy and deep recession… that can lead to increased deaths as people are pushed into lengthy periods of unemployment.”
Globally, more than 3.59 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus and 250,386 have died.
The US has the world’s highest total of infections and deaths, at almost 1.2 million and 68,000, respectively.
Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.