The United Kingdom surpassed Italy to report the highest official death toll from coronavirus in Europe, figures released on Tuesday showed, increasing pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson over his response to the crisis.
Weekly figures from Britain’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) added more than 7,000 deaths in England and Wales, raising the total for the United Kingdom to 32,313 as of late April, according to news agency Reuters.
Only the United States has suffered more deaths than Britain, according to the data so far.
“The UK has been hit very hard in this wave of COVID-19 and each death will (have) brought sadness to families,” said Professor James Naismith of Oxford University, who is director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute of medical research.
Opposition politicians said the figures proved the government was too slow to provide enough protective equipment to hospitals and introduce mass testing.
“I’d be amazed, if when we look back, we don’t think: yep we could have done something differently there,” the government’s chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, said in response to lawmakers’ questions on testing.