UK first in Europe to pass grim milestone of 100,000 Covid-19 deaths

Workers wearing protective suits bury the body of a person at a cemetery in Chislehurst on the outskirts of London on January 12, 2021
Workers wearing protective suits bury the body of a person at a cemetery in Chislehurst on the outskirts of London on January 12, 2021 © Hannah Mckay, Reuters
10 min

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was "deeply sorry for every life lost" as Britain passed the tragic milestone of 100,000 deaths from Covid-19 on Tuesday.

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Johnson said his government had done everything it could to minimise loss of life in the coronavirus pandemic as the country became the first in Europe to pass the grim milestone.

"It’s hard to compute the sorrow contained in that grim statistic," a sombre Johnson said at a televised news conference.

"I take full responsibility for everything that the government has done," the prime minister added. "What I can tell you is that we truly did everything we could, and continue to do everything we can, to minimise loss of life and to minimise suffering."

Britain has the fifth highest toll globally and reported a further 1,631 deaths and 20,089 cases on Tuesday, according to government figures.

The 100,162 deaths are more than the country's civilian toll in World War Two and twice the number killed in the 1940-41 Blitz bombing campaign, although the total population was lower then.

"My thoughts are with each and every person who has lost a loved one – behind these heart-breaking figures are friends, families and neighbours," Health Minister Matt Hancock said earlier on Tuesday.

"I know how hard the last year has been, but I also know how strong the British public’s determination is and how much we have all pulled together to get through this," Hancock added.

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England, by far the most populous of the UK's four nations, re-entered a national lockdown on Jan. 5, which includes the closure of pubs, restaurants, non-essential shops and schools to most pupils. Further travel restrictions have been introduced.

In December, Britain became the first country in the world to approve Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine and has set itself the task of offering jabs to everyone 70 and over, those who are clinically vulnerable, frontline health and social care workers and older adults in care homes by mid-February.

A total of 6,853,327 people have now received a first dose and 472,446 a second dose. 

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

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