Madrid Desk, May 5 (efe-epa).- The United Kingdom on Tuesday overtook Italy to become the deadliest Covid-19 hotspot in Europe, according to the latest official figures.
The government said another 693 people had died from coronavirus in all settings in the UK in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of fatalities in the country to 29,427, nudging it above Italy’s official count of 29,315.
However, the UK’s national statistics office earlier said the number of deaths in the UK and Wales alone was 29,648, which when added to reported figures in Scotland and Northern Ireland would put the overall figure closer to 32,000.
Similarly, Italy’s national statistics office Itstat warned the country’s real death toll could be higher than officially reported.
Dominic Raab, the UK’s foreign minister, said in a daily press conference that it was too soon to “reliably” say that the country had the highest death toll in Europe.
However, if confirmed, the figures would give the UK the second-highest number of fatalities in the world after the United States, where at last 69,079 people have died, according to John Hopkins University.
Raab said the government was coming up with a roadmap to leave the national lockdown, adding however that the government would not reel back any restrictions if there was a risk of a second wave of infections.
According to several media reports, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to give further details of the exit strategy on Sunday.
Italy’s Civil Protection agency on Tuesday said 236 people had died from Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, an increase that pulls the daily toll back above the 200-mark for the first time in two days.
While the UK was still mulling its eventual process of de-escalation, authorities in Rome were closely for any upticks in figures as a result of their own gradual lifting of the lockdown, which began on 4 May.
“Now we need to control the effects of this reinitiation in order to proceed as soon as possible with the reopening of the remaining economic activities, always under strict safety measures,” Giuseppe Conte, the prime minister, said.
Around 4.5 million people returned to work on Monday, mainly in industry and construction.
The head of government praised the population for their behaviour in the process.
“Aside from a few isolated incidents, there has been very responsible behaviour from the Italians,” he said. “The response of the citizens shows they are able to face up to difficult situations,” he added in an interview with Affaritaliani.it.
There have been more than 213,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Italy overall.
In the north of Europe, Dutch police arrested dozens of people near the central Hague train station during a protest against the confinement measures in place to stem the spread of coronavirus.