The daily death rate has been accelerating by between six percent and 10 percent over the past week and there were almost 7,300 deaths globally reported last Thursday. It now compares with London’s Great Plague in the mid-1660s, which killed 100,000 people, about a third of the city’s population at the time. But it is still far short of the toll from the Spanish flu pandemic which began in 1918 and is estimated to have killed more than 20 million people before it petered out in 1920.
We are in a dangerous phase still
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam
Britain, along with Spain, Italy, France, Algeria and the Netherlands, is reporting that more than 10 percent of all confirmed cases have been fatal.
And while North America now accounts for more than 30 percent of cases worldwide, Europe has reported a disproportionate number of fatalities as countries with older populations such as Spain and Italy have been severely affected.
Southern Europe alone accounts for more than a third of global deaths, despite recording just 20 percent of cases.
In many countries, including the UK, official data includes only deaths reported in hospitals, not those in homes or nursing homes.
The US coronavirus death toll stands at 18,600 with health officials warning daily fatalities would probably peak this week.
In New York, the epicenter of the US outbreak, 7,844 people have died from COVID-19.
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Cases of coronavirus in the US have topped 500,000 and are rising by 30,000 to 35,000 cases a day.
Only Italy has more coronavirus deaths than the US with 18,849, although it has a much smaller population.
The global figures were published after Britain recorded its highest daily death toll from coronavirus since the outbreak began.
The latest data from the Department of Health and Social Care showed that as of Thursday there were 8,958 hospital deaths from the disease – an increase of 980 on the previous day.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has insisted the NHS has the capacity to cope with the rising numbers of cases.
With the Government due to carry out the first three-week review of the lockdown measures next week, ministers are facing calls to explain how the restrictions will ultimately be lifted.
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Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is deputising for Mr Johnson, has said the Government’s scientific advisory group for emergencies (Sage) would be studying the evidence but they would not be able to say more until the end of the week.
Downing Street declined to comment on reports that while ministers hoped restrictions such as the closure of schools and shops could lifted in early June, other social distancing measures might have to remain, potentially indefinitely or until a vaccine is found.
But deputy chief medical officer for England, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, warned it was “premature” to think the outbreak had reached its peak.
While he said there were signs the “curve is bending” in terms of hospital admissions, he said it was still too soon to start lifting the lockdown.
He said: “We are in a dangerous phase still.
“It’s premature to say we are at a peak and the push we are making with social distancing just has to continue.”
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