United Kingdom Reports Highest Covid Death Toll In 6 Months

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Joe Walsh   Forbes U.S. Staff

United Kingdom Reports Highest Covid Death Toll In 6 Months

The United Kingdom reported 532 new coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, the largest daily spike since May, as the country grapples with a severe Covid-19 resurgence that has led to thousands of deaths and sparked a second round of lockdown restrictions across England.

KEY FACTS

- Some 2,520 Britons have died of Covid-19 over the last seven days according to government data, a 33.7% increase from the previous week and a precipitous spike from the country’s summertime lull, when the United Kingdom averaged just 10 daily deaths.

- The country’s Covid-19 death toll began trending upward in September, though it is still below its mid-April peak of 1,073 Covid-19 fatalities in a single day.

- New coronavirus infections have held steady at just over 20,000 per day for the last three weeks, far more than the 4,800 daily cases reported over the spring, though the country has more than quadrupled its testing capacity since then.

- Almost 13,000 Britons were in the hospital for Covid-19 as of Thursday, the most recent day for which data was available, gradually approaching the country’s April peak of almost 20,000 and prompting fears about hospital staffing shortages.

- Nonessential businesses closed across England starting Thursday and residents were warned to stay at home unless absolutely necessary, part of a four-week-long lockdown aimed at curbing the virus’ spread, and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have also begun enforcing regional restrictions.

BIG NUMBER

49,861. That’s the total number of Covid-19 deaths in the United Kingdom since the start of the pandemic, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University. The country has suffered from the world’s fifth deadliest coronavirus outbreak, and the deadliest in Europe.

TANGENT

Other European countries are also contending with Covid-19 upticks. France and Germany entered lockdowns late last month after coronavirus cases spiked to new peaks, and Spain is enforcing a nationwide curfew to tame one of the worst outbreaks in Europe.

KEY BACKGROUND

The United Kingdom first imposed lockdown restrictions in late March, following the lead of other European countries. Some officials contemplated leaving schools and businesses open, in a bid to allow healthy people to catch the virus and develop immunity, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson — who was himself hospitalized with Covid-19 — quickly nixed this idea following a steep rise in cases and widespread criticism from experts. The country’s infection rate was one of the highest in Europe over the spring, but cases and deaths began falling by late April, and officials eased restrictions throughout the summer as a result. But after Britons enjoyed months with fewer restrictions, cases spiked again and officials became worried about complacency, causing them to re-enter a partial lockdown last week.

CRUCIAL QUOTE

“This is not a repeat of the spring. These measures, though they are tough, are time-limited,” Johnson said last week. “There is light at the end of the tunnel.”

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

England’s current lockdown is set to expire in early December. Some experts believe the virus could resurge yet again as soon as restrictions are lifted, and officials have not ruled out extending the measures if needed. However, some members of Johnson’s Conservative Party are wary of a prolonged lockdown and could resist any plans to extend it.

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Joe Walsh   Forbes U.S. Staff

I am a breaking news reporter at Forbes. Previously, I covered local news for the Boston Guardian, and I graduated from Tufts University in 2019.