According to the Department of Health, more than 20,000 people have now died in the hospitals of the UK due to the deadly coronavirus.
The number of deaths increased in just a single day by 813. Whereas, the latest figures show a total of 20,319 deaths in the UK.
Britain is now the fifth country to pass the highest number of deaths in the world, alongside US, Italy, Spain and France.
Both Stephan Powis, the national medical director for England and Patric Vallance, the government’s chief scientific advisor said last month that keeping deaths below 20,000 would be ”a good outcome”.
When asked about the comment on Saturday, Mr Powis said: “When [we] made that comment a number of weeks ago, what we were emphasising is that this is a new virus, a global pandemic, a once-in-a-century global health crisis. And this was going to be a huge challenge not just for the UK, but for every country.”
“A very sad day for the nation” and that the current crisis was “not something we are going to get over in the next few weeks”. He added, “I think moving past 20,000 deaths just reminds everybody that it is still absolutely critical that we continue to follow the social distancing guidelines.”
Home secretary, Priti Patel, described the figure as a ”tragic and terrible milestone”, at the daily Downing Street briefing on Saturday.
”We are not out of the woods yet”, she warned adding that people must continue to take precautionary and social distancing measures to control further spread of the virus.
The situation is alarming as the government’s figures are likely to be much higher because they do not cover the deaths which have occurred in care homes, at home, in hospices or elsewhere in the community. The weekly figures which are announced every Tuesday are measured separately by the Office for National Statistics, based on death certificates.
”The hope” for keeping the death toll below 20,000 was encouraged by Sir Patrick on 17 March when the total number of deaths in UK hospitals stood at 71.
Prof Stephan Powis also encouraged the same ambition and said that the UK would have ”done very well in this epidemic” if death tolls remained below 20,000.
On Saturday’s briefing, after the news came out about the total figures of deaths in the UK hospitals, Prof Powis said it was a ”very sad day for the nation”, adding that his ”heart goes out to all the families and friends of those loved ones.”
Prof Powis, when asked about his and Sir Patricks previous comments, said:
“What we were emphasising is that this is a new virus, a global pandemic, a once-in-a-century global health crisis. And this was going to be a huge challenge not just for the UK, but for every country.”
“This is not a sprint, this will be a marathon,” he added.
Ms Patel said that the government was doing everything they good to control the outbreak and return the UK to normal. She also added that five tests must be met before lockdown measure can be lifted,
“Quite frankly that is not right now,” she said.