UK COVID-19 death toll tops 47,000

LONDON (Reuters) – The United Kingdom’s COVID-19 death toll surpassed 47,000 on Tuesday, a dire human cost that could define the premiership of Boris Johnson.

The Office for National Statistics said 42,173 people had died in England and Wales with suspected COVID-19 as of May 15, bringing the UK total to 47,343 – which includes earlier data from Scotland, Northern Ireland, plus recent hospital deaths in England.

While different ways of counting make comparisons with other countries difficult, the figure underlined Britain’s status as one of the world’s worst-hit countries in a pandemic that has killed at least 345,400 globally.

Johnson, already under fire for his handling of the pandemic, has had to defend his top adviser Dominic Cummings who drove 250 miles from London to access childcare when Britons were being told to stay at home to fight COVID-19.

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