Boris Johnson has said he takes “full responsibility” for the government’s actions that have led to the UK passing the 100,000 mark for the number of people who have died with coronavirus.
A sombre prime minister insisted his government “truly did everything we could” to fight the virus and limit deaths caused by Covid, yet the UK has one of the worst death rates in the world.
“I’m deeply sorry for every life lost,” Johnson told today’s press briefing at Downing Street, while refusing to discuss the possible reasons for the disastrous mortality rate.
‘We truly did everything we could,’ claims PM
“I think on this day I should just really repeat that I am deeply sorry for every life that has been lost, and of course as I was prime minister I take full responsibility for everything that the government has done,” the prime minister replied, when asked what had gone wrong with the UK response to the pandemic.
“What I can tell you is that we truly did everything we could, and continue to do everything that we can, to minimise loss of life and to minimise suffering in what has been a very, very difficult stage, and a very, very difficult crisis for our country, and we will continue to do that.”
Each number is a person
The archbishops of Canterbury and York, Justin Welby and Stephen Cottrell, in a letter to the nation wrote: “100,000 isn’t just an abstract figure. Each number is a person: someone we loved and someone who loved us.”
The King’s Fund chief executive Richard Murray responded: “This time last year, it would be almost impossible to believe that a wealthy island nation with a universal healthcare system would go on to have one of the highest death tolls from the emerging coronavirus pandemic.”
In his statement, Johnson said he is “sorry” to have to “tell you today” about the number of people dying passing 100,000, which he described as an “appalling and tragic loss of life”.
“[I]t is hard to compute the sorrow contained in that grim statistic,” said Johnson. “The years of life lost, the family gatherings not attended and, for so many relatives, the missed chance even to say goodbye.”
UK is Europe’s first nation to record 100,000 deaths of people with Covid
Today’s figures means the UK has become the first European country to pass the bleakest marker with 100,162 deaths recorded within 28 days of a positive test.
Figures released earlier today by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) where Covid is on the death certificate put the figure at almost 104,000 up to January 15 – almost two weeks ago, meaning the toll will be much higher, and is continuing to rise.
“Unfortunately, we are going to see quite a lot more deaths over the next few weeks,” the chief medical officer for England, Prof Chris Whitty told today’s Downing Street briefing.