LONDON

The death toll in the UK due to the novel coronavirus pandemic exceeded 26,000 on Wednesday.

At a daily press briefing, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab confirmed a total of 26,097 fatalities across the country.

The figure is the first that includes deaths at home and the wider community, along with the usual hospital fatalities, not just deaths in hospitals.

Fatalities increased by 3,811 since Tuesday, but Raab stressed that this did not necessarily indicate a surge, as the new figures included deaths from March 2 to April 28.

He said the daily increase had been 765.

He also cautioned against lifting the lockdown too early, saying Germany had seen since a rise in cases after easing restrictions.

The UK now has the third-highest coronavirus death toll in the world after the US and Italy.

Prime Minister’s Questions

Raab stood in for Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions, a weekly Wednesday session that sees the prime minister of the day answer questions from the leader of the opposition and parliament.

It was announced that Johnson had a new son after his fiance gave birth earlier in the day.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer slammed the “truly dreadful” UK coronavirus death toll, saying it was on course to being one of the worst in Europe, and pointing out that it was over the 20,000 mark that the government said last month would be a “good outcome.”

“We are clearly way above that number and we are only partway through this crisis. We are possibly on track to have one of the worst death rates in Europe,” said Starmer.

Raab hit back: “I’m going to disagree with him that it is far too early to make international comparisons. If they are to be done, they should be on a per capita basis. We are already seeing there are different ways that deaths are measured not just in the UK, but across Europe and across the world.”

Earlier in the day, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown was invited to advise the Welsh government on its response to the pandemic. Brown had led the UK and wider global response to the 2008 financial crisis.

The chair of the House of Commons’ treasury committee, conservative lawmaker Mel Stride, said hopes of a quick economic bounce back were fading.

She told the BBC: “The idea that we will have this quick V-shaped bounce of a recovery is probably receding fairly quickly now.”

“I think there will need to be a debate around which parts of the economy have been impacted the hardest, who is in the best position to be able to shoulder the burden going forward, but with a very strong emphasis on getting business back up on its feet and the economy growing again,” she said.

Home Secretary Priti Patel told the House of Commons’ home affairs select committee that the UK was considering enforced quarantine measures and thermal screening at British borders to prevent the coronavirus from spreading further.

After originating in China last December, COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has spread to at least 185 countries and regions across the world. Europe and the US are currently the worst-hit regions.

The pandemic has killed more than 224,500 people, with total infections exceeding 3.15 million, while nearly 957,000 have recovered from the disease, according to figures compiled by the US-based Johns Hopkins University.

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