Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }
Coronavirus information
Coronavirus information
The Zero Canada Project provides resources to help you make the most of staying home.
Visit the hub

A medical worker tests someone for COVID-19 at a drive-in testing facility at the Chessington World of Adventures Resort, in Greater London, on April 28, 2020.

BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images

Britain is on track to record one of the worst coronavirus death tolls in Europe, after data published on Tuesday showed nationwide fatalities topped 24,000 nine days ago.

A day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke of success in dealing with the outbreak, the new figures showed the week ending April 17 was Britain’s deadliest since comparable records began in 1993.

The Office for National Statistics said 21,284 people had died in England by April 17 with mentions of COVID-19 on their death certificate. Together with figures from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the total United Kingdom death toll was at least 24,000 as of April 19.

Story continues below advertisement

“The United Kingdom is going to be right up there among the worst-hit nations in the initial surge,” said Bill Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“With the most optimistic views of the amount of immunity that might be being generated, it would be still not be close to having enough to be able to return to normal,” he said. “The crucial part of the next stage is to have enough testing and early warning systems to avoid ending up back where the U.K. is now.”

Unlike the hospital death tolls announced daily by the government, Tuesday’s ONS figures include deaths in community settings, such as care homes where overall fatalities have trebled in a few weeks.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Tuesday that daily figures for deaths in the community would be published from Wednesday.

“I would push my neck out that it is plausible that there are now as many COVID-labelled deaths occurring out of hospital as there are in hospitals in England,” said David Spiegelhalter, professor of the public understanding of risk at the University of Cambridge.

Over all, Tuesday’s figures for COVID-19 deaths in England and Wales up to April 17 were more than 50 per cent higher than the daily toll for deaths in hospitals initially announced by the government.

The figures underline the scale of the challenge facing Mr. Johnson as he returns to work after recovering from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and the dangers of relaxing Britain’s lockdown too soon.

Story continues below advertisement

He warned on Monday that it was still too dangerous to relax stringent measures wreaking havoc on the economy, for fear of a deadly second outbreak.

In a reminder that much is still unknown about the novel coronavirus, Mr. Hancock said some children with no underlying health conditions had fallen ill from a rare inflammatory syndrome that researchers believe to be linked to COVID-19.

U.K. CRISIS

The ONS bases its figures on mentions of COVID-19 in death certificates, including suspected cases rather than those who actually tested positive.

Scotland last week reported 1,616 deaths that mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate as of April 19. Northern Ireland posted 276 as of April 17. Another 1,016 had died in Wales.

A British death toll of more than 24,000 puts it among the worst-hit in Europe, exceeding France – which also counts deaths in care homes – by around 5,000 at that point in time.

Britain’s true toll is likely to be closer to Spain or even Italy, Europe’s worst-affected countries, although their reporting of deaths outside hospital is patchy so exact comparisons are difficult.

Story continues below advertisement

The latest daily figures released by Britain’s health ministry for COVID-19 deaths in hospitals hit 21,678 on Tuesday, a rise of 586.

Including all causes of death, 22,351 people died in England and Wales in the 16th week of 2020, the biggest total since comparable records began in 1993, the ONS said.

This was 11,854 more than average for the week. Given that only 8,758 cases mentioned COVID-19 in death certificates, it is likely that even the comprehensive ONS data are undercounting the true toll.

These excess deaths will eventually provide the best estimate for the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak, Cambridge academic Prof. Spiegelhalter said.

“In a flu year, that’s not done by counting what’s on death certificates, that’s done by us looking at the excess deaths, allowing for temperature changes,” he said.

“That is the kind of calculation that I will trust more than counting what’s on the certificate.”

Story continues below advertisement

Amanda Antoine, manager of a medical clinic in a small Ontario town, was forced to self-isolate when she tested positive for the coronavirus. She shares her debilitating COVID-19 symptoms and the impact of her illness on her family and her workplace. The Globe and Mail

Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters and editors.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies