UK shad­ows Italy as worst hit in Europe

Kuwait Times - - Internatio­nal -

LON­DON: The United King­dom’s COVID19 death toll rose 621 to 28,131 as of May 1, just short of Italy which has so far had the world’s sec­ond most deadly out­break of the dis­ease after the United States. As Bri­tain shad­ows Italy for the grim sta­tus of be­ing the worst hit coun­try in Europe, Prime Min­is­ter Boris John­son is fac­ing crit­i­cism from op­po­si­tion par­ties who say his gov­ern­ment stum­bled in the early stages of the out­break.

Hous­ing min­is­ter Robert Jen­rick gave the lat­est UK fig­ures at a Down­ing Street brief­ing on Satur­day. The United States has had 64,740 deaths, fol­lowed by Italy with 28,710 and the United King­dom on 28,131 and then Spain on 25,100, ac­cord­ing to a Reuters tally. Italy, which has a pop­u­la­tion of 60 mil­lion, said its death toll rose 474 as of Satur­day. The United King­dom has a pop­u­la­tion of about 67 mil­lion.

John­son, 55, ini­tially re­sisted in­tro­duc­ing a lock­down to re­strict eco­nomic and pub­lic ac­tiv­ity, but changed course when pro­jec­tions showed a quar­ter of a mil­lion peo­ple could die. John­son him­self bat­tled COVID19 last month, spend­ing three days in in­ten­sive care. He re­turned to work on Mon­day, telling the na­tion that peo­ple around the world were look­ing at the United King­dom’s “ap­par­ent suc­cess”.

Tests for eas­ing lock­down

He has said the coun­try is over the peak but that it is still to early to re­lax the lock­down he im­posed on March 23 be­cause there could be a sec­ond peak that he fears might over­whelm hos­pi­tals. The $3.0 tril­lion Bri­tish econ­omy, the world’s fifth largest, is stalling and John­son is due next week to present a pos­si­ble way to get the coun­try back to work with­out trig­ger­ing a sec­ond spike in cases. He has set five tests that must be met be­fore he can lift the lock­down - with a re­duc­tion in the daily death toll and pre­ven­tion of a sec­ond deadly peak among the key ones. Gov­ern­ment sci­en­tists say that while the daily death tolls show a down­ward trend they ex­pect them to plateau for a while.

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