The UK saw the second highest increase in coronavirus deaths in the world this week, behind only the US.
As of 4.45pm on 24 April, the UK had recorded a rise of 2,997 deaths from Monday, taking its total to 18,738 while the US had reported 9,678 in the same period for a total of 50,243.
In France, 1,591 more deaths were recorded this week, while Spain recorded an increase of 1,672 and Italy confirmed 1,435 deaths.
Italy had recorded a total of 25,549 yesterday, while Spain’s total stands at 22,524 with France having suffered 21,856 deaths.
When comparing between countries, differences in recording can have an impact – the UK is one of the countries that has not been adding care home figures to its daily death toll, while France has.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said this week that the UK had reached the peak of the outbreak, meaning that numbers of deaths are stabilising and may soon begin to reduce.
“We are at a peak and we have high confidence that we are at a peak in this disease, but obviously we need to see that come down,” he told MPs.
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Ministers have said the lockdown will not be lifted until they are sure the death rates are consistently falling. They are hoping to be able to test people for coronavirus and track their contacts to try and keep infections down when lockdown is eased.
Hancock said: “The fewer new cases, the more effective test, track and trace are as a way of keeping the disease down, and therefore the more of the social distancing measures can be lifted.”
Professor Jim Naismith at the University of Oxford said “we have clearly passed the peak of the announced hospital deaths in this first wave”.
“The UK has been one of the hardest hit countries in this first wave and we still have to add in deaths from care homes and wider community,” he added.
Italy, Spain and France, which have also been badly hit by the coronavirus, are recording fewer daily deaths.
They have all suffered more deaths than the UK but are considered to be further ahead into their outbreaks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s director Dr Robert Redfield told CNN last week America was “coming to the peak as we sit here today, we're able to see the other side of the curve, and we’ll see this outbreak continue to decline over the weeks ahead”.
The US is the worst-affected country, with more than 870,000 confirmed infections, followed by Spain on 219,000 and Italy with 189,000.