The UK’s declared death toll from coronavirus is now the highest in Europe.
The grim milestone was reached as official figures showed the death toll of confirmed cases was 29,427 – including more than 1600 confirmed deaths in Scotland.
The official number of Covid-19 deaths in Italy, the European country which was first to experience the true horror of coronavirus, stands at 29,315.
It comes after Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures which suggested that including suspected Covid-19 deaths, more than 32,000 have lost their lives across the UK.
Foreign secretary Dominic Rabb dismissed international comparisons during the UK Government’s daily briefing on Tuesday.
He said: “You are asking me to speculate there. All I would just say is first of all 29,427 lives lost is a massive tragedy, something in this country, on this scale, in this way, we’ve never seen before.
“In terms of the comparison … I don’t think we’ll get a real verdict on how well countries have done until the pandemic is over and particularly until we’ve got comprehensive international data on all cause of mortality.”
But, in his defence of the UK Government, Raab said there were different ways of counting death.
“We now publish data that includes all deaths in all settings and not all countries do that so I’m not sure that the international comparison works unless you reliably know that all countries are measuring in the same way,” he said.
“And it also depends on how good frankly countries are at gathering their statistics and our own Office for National Statistics is widely acknowledged as a world leader.
“I don’t think you can make the international comparisons you’re suggesting at this stage, at least I don’t think you can make them reliably.”
Existing lockdown restrictions are expected to remain in place following a review of the evidence due to be carried out by Thursday, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to set out a “roadmap” of future steps later in the week.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon – who has been closely involved in UK-wide decision-making through the Cobra system – set out her own blueprint for lifting the lockdown on Tuesday.
Among measures under consideration in Scotland were the prospect of joining a social “bubble” – a small, defined groups of friends and family from different households – for gatherings, even if that was only possible outdoors.
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