UK could have the most coronavirus deaths in Europe, researchers predict

George Martin
·3-min read
Police officers patrol Primrose Hill, north London, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus
Police officers patrol Primrose Hill, north London, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. (PA)

The UK’s death toll could be over three times higher than other countries in Europe, researchers have predicted.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington's School of Medicine found that Britain could experience 66,000 COVID-19 deaths by July.

The number is far higher than in Italy, the next most severely impacted, with about 20,000. Spain and France were next, with 19,000 and 15,000 predicted deaths, respectively.

According to the institute, the US could see up to 80,000 deaths in the virus’s first wave.

LOMBARDY, ITALY  APRIL 7, 2020: Russian military sanitary workers carry out a full disinfection and sanitising of indoor premises and the adjacent area of the San Giuseppe care home in Gorlago, Lombardy, northern Italy. Russia has sent military virologists, epidemiologists and CBRN specialists to Italy to help battle the pandemic of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Russian Defence Ministry/TASS (Photo by Russian Defence Ministry\TASS via Getty Images)
Russian military sanitary workers carry out a full disinfection of a care home in Italy. (Getty)

"We are expecting a foreboding few weeks for people in many parts of Europe," said IHME director Christopher Murray.

"It seems likely the number of deaths will exceed our projections for the United States."

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A total of 6,159 patients have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Monday, the Department of Health said, up by 786 from 5,373 the day before.

The IHME models include the predicted effect of social distancing, and Murray said it was vital that measures aren't relaxed too suddenly once countries pass their morality peak.

US Navy personnel wearing surgical masks to protect against the coronavirus, arrive at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, Tuesday, April 7, 2020, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
US Navy personnel wear masks as researchers predict the US could see up to 80,000 deaths. (Getty)

"It is unequivocally evident that social distancing can, when well implemented and maintained, control the epidemic, leading to declining death rates," Murray said.

"Those nations hit hard early on implemented social distancing orders and may have the worst behind them as they are seeing important progress in reducing their death rates.

"Each nation's trajectory will change – and dramatically for the worse – if people ease up on social distancing or relax other precautions."

So far, the pandemic has infected more than 1.3 million people worldwide and over 74,000 deaths have been recorded.

The UN’s labour organisation estimates the equivalent of 195 million full-time jobs could be lost in the second quarter of the year alone from the COVID-19 outbreak, with businesses and factories shuttered worldwide.

The projection from the International Labour Organisation is based on an emerging impact of the virus, and it amounts to a big increase from its 18 March prediction for an extra 25 million job losses for all of 2020.

The agency said full or partial lockdown measures now affect nearly 2.7 billion workers or about 81% of the global workforce.

Some 1.25 billion are in hard-hit sectors such as hotel and food services, manufacturing and retail.

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