The very reliable Financial Times has estimated that 10,000 people have died from coronavirus in UK care homes, and that the total number of fatalities in the UK is close to 40,000, whereas the figure published by the Government is just over 20,000. The UK Government uses deaths only in hospitals for its official fatality figure.

In compiling its figures the FT used official sources, including the ONS. However, many media outlets in the UK and internationally, such as euronews, quote the lower figure as representing the true situation in the UK.

If the 40,000 figure is correct, or even if it is 30,000, the UK is far and away the worst-hit country in Europe. To date, Italy has recorded 26,977 deaths, Spain 23,521, and France 22,856. This did not prevent British Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying on Monday that the UK had obtained an “apparent success” in handling the deadly virus.

Some observers, including John Harris writing in the Guardian newspaper, have argued that the UK under-reporting of deaths reflects a deliberate cynicism regarding the elderly. “…Deaths in these settings – estimated to be at least 7,500 – seems to have been woefully under-represented in official statistics. Along with the fact that the pored-over daily figure for Covid-19 deaths omits care homes, this compounds a sense that such fatalities do not quite count.”

PHOTO: UK Prime Minister Johnson