United Kingdom outpaces Italy with Europe's highest official virus death toll

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The United Kingdom has overtaken Italy as the country in Europe with the most coronavirus deaths, with official figures published on Tuesday putting the figure at 32,313 fatalities.

Although care home deaths are now included in the official daily toll, the new data suggests the national figure is underestimating the full extent of the outbreak in Britain - one of the worst affected countries.

Stripe said the ONS had recorded a total of around 42,000 "excess deaths" - how many more people have died in total than would normally be expected - in the past five weeks.

By contrast the ONS figures include all deaths where Covid-19 is mentioned on death certificates.

Of deaths that occurred up to April 24 and which were registered by May 2, the number rises to a total of 8,828 deaths involving coronavirus outside hospital. The official death toll in the U.S. now stands at more than 70,000, according to figures collected by Johns Hopkins University.

Last week Boris Johnson was ridiculed for claiming that Britain's response to coronavirus had been a "success", saying "there will be many people looking now at our apparent success" in dealing with the outbreak.

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"The UK has been hit very hard in this wave of COVID-19 and each death will (have) brought sadness to families", professor James Naismith of Oxford University, who is director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute of medical research, told Reuters.

The latest ONS figures for the week ending 24 April show there were 21,997 deaths, which is 11,539 more than the average for that week.

Worldwide comparisons are not flawless because countries count deaths in different ways and with varying levels of accuracy.

Critics accused Britain's Conservative government of responding too slowly when COVID-19 began to spread and failing to contain the outbreak by widely testing people with symptoms, then tracing and isolating the contacts of infected people.

"In this country, we have - in my opinion, and let me be clear I would say this, wouldn't I - but I think we have the best reporting, the most transparent reporting, and the most timely reporting, because we include death registrations - we've been pushing our death registration reporting as fast as we possibly can".

The government hopes to roll out the app across the country in the "middle of this month", according to Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

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