UK Becomes Fifth Country to Exceed 50,000 Coronavirus Deaths

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The United Kingdom on Wednesday became the fifth country in the world to record more than 50,000 coronavirus-related deaths.

Figures from the British government showed that 595 more people in the country died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus, the highest daily number since May. The figure took the U.K.’s total death toll in the pandemic to 50,365.

The U.K, which has persisted in having the most virus-related deaths of any European country, joins the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico in reporting more than 50,000 COVID-19 deaths, according to a tally maintained by Johns Hopkins University.

The U.K.’s death toll is widely considered to be higher as the total only includes those who have tested positive for the virus and doesn’t include those who died of COVID-related symptoms after 28 days.

Like other nations in Europe, the U.K. is experiencing a resurgence of the virus and has imposed new restrictions to curb infections over the past few weeks. England is currently in the midst of its second lockdown, which is due to expire on Dec. 2.

Following the news about the death toll exceeding 50,000, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the U.K. is better equipped to handle outbreaks than it was during the first wave in the spring, when the country reported more than 40,000 deaths.

In addition to the prospect of a vaccine or vaccines against the coronavirus coming through in the next few months, Johnson cited far more widespread testing, which he said should help authorities obtain a better idea of how prevalent the virus is in the U.K.

“It is a global pandemic whose effects, whose treatments, whose implications for the economy all those have been becoming clearer and clearer as the months have gone on,” Johnson said.

The British government also said that another 22,950 people tested positive for the virus since a day earlier. While the number of new cases reported Wednesday is much higher than 24-hour statistics recorded in the summer, daily confirmed cases appear to be stabilizing, or at least, growing far more slowly.

Because of time lags, most scientists expect the number of people being hospitalized and dying to continue rising for weeks, even after the number of confirmed infections do start going down.

Sadly the upward trend is likely to continue, and it will be several weeks before any impact of the current measures and the sacrifices we are all making is seen and is reflected in the data,” said Dr. Yvonne Doyle, medical director of Public Health England.

Under the terms of the current lockdown in England, non-essential places such as pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, golf courses, gyms, swimming pools, entertainment venues and stores selling items like books, clothing and sneakers, must remain closed until at least Dec. 2.

Unlike the U.K.’s spring lockdown, schools and universities in England are remaining open this time, as are construction sites and factories.

In a visit to a supermarket in southeast London, Johnson said that hopefully the four-week lockdown in England will be eased enough for people to have a Christmas that is as normal as possible. (AP) .