Prime Minister describes ‘terrible toll’ of Covid as UK hits 150,000 deaths

A nurse walks through a Covid ward at King’s College Hospital, London (PA) (PA Wire)
A nurse walks through a Covid ward at King’s College Hospital, London (PA) (PA Wire)

The Prime Minister said Covid-19 had taken a “terrible toll” on the country as the UK recorded more than 150,000 Covid deaths.

Official government figures today found a further 313 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the total deaths to 150,057.

The UK is the seventh country to pass 150,000 reported deaths, after the US, Brazil, India, Russia, Mexico and Peru.

Boris Johnson said: “Coronavirus has taken a terrible toll on our country and today the number of deaths recorded has reached 150,000.

“Each and every one of those is a profound loss to the families, friends and communities affected and my thoughts and condolences are with them.

“Our way out of this pandemic is for everyone to get their booster or their first or second dose if they haven’t yet.”

In a statement, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said on Saturday: “Every death from this virus is a tragedy and our sympathies are with everyone who has lost loved ones.”

The spokesman praised the “collective national effort” and the “hard work” of frontline staff and volunteers and urged people to get the vaccine, saying “the pandemic is not over”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the death toll represented a “dark milestone for our country”.

“Our thoughts are with all those who have lost someone, and we thank everyone supporting the vaccination effort,” he said.

“We must ensure the public inquiry provides answers and that lessons are learned.”

Jo Goodman, a co-founder of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice campaign, said the official figure of 150,000 deaths was “yet another indictment of the Government’s handling of the pandemic”.

“We didn’t need to be here and bereaved families and the rest of the country need answers as to how we have suffered one of the highest global death tolls,” she said.

“This is ever more urgent as deaths from the Omicron variant continue to surge, with little apparently being done to address this. The public inquiry cannot begin its work soon enough.”

Professor Andrew Hayward, who advises the Government as part of Sage, said it was “absolutely tragic”.

After hearing the testimony of a woman who lost two close relatives during the pandemic, the University College London academic told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme: “It is absolutely tragic and to think that’s been repeated so many times is awful.

“I think we could have done better. I think some of the deaths are even more tragic for the fact that many of them were avoidable if we had acted earlier in the first and second wave.”

Official figures showed another 146,390 people tested positive for Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, bringing the seven day total to 1.2 million.

Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have now been 174,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

A total of 51,919,815 first doses of Covid-19 vaccine had been delivered in the UK by January 7, Government figures show.

This is a rise of 22,526 on the previous day.

Some 47,632,483 second doses have been delivered, an increase of 32,455.

A combined total of 35,273,945 booster and third doses have also been given, a day-on-day rise of 207,801.

Separate totals for booster and third doses are not available.