The UK now has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus-related deaths in Europe and the second-highest in the world.
Data released on Tuesday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), shows a total of 32,375 deaths involving COVID-19 have now been registered across the UK up to May 2, surpassing Italy’s total of 29,079.
Only the U.S. with 69,925 has reported more deaths linked with coronavirus.
But on Sunday, the head of the ONS warned against making comparisons with other countries, saying it was “an unbelievably difficult thing to do.”
Sir Ian Diamond told the BBC’s Andrew Marr: “In this country we have – in my opinion, and let me be clear I would say this, wouldn’t I – but I think we have the best reporting, the most transparent reporting, and the most timely reporting, because we include death registrations – we’ve been pushing our death registration reporting as fast as we possibly can.
“And then even after you look at the actual deaths, it’s incredibly important to recognize the context – so deaths are going to be more concentrated… in inner cities. If you have a rural country then it’s likely that your death rates will be lower.
“I’m not saying that we are at the bottom of any potential league table – it’s almost impossible to calculate a league table – but I’m not prepared to say that we’re heading for the top.”
Across Europe, including in the U.K., official statistics have left out thousands of people who likely died from the coronavirus. It will likely be some time before the true scale of the pandemic is fully known.
The ONS figures reveal 29,710 deaths in England and Wales, 2,272 in Scotland up to April 26 and 393 in Northern Ireland up to April 29.
In each case, the figures are based on all mentions of COVID-19 on a death certificate, including suspected COVID-19.
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