Britain is one of the three countries projected to have the worst coronavirus death toll in the coming days, according to a forecast by scientists.
The forecast, by the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis based within the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at Imperial College London, predicts that the UK, along with the United States and France, will see more than 5,000 reported deaths in the coming week.
The warning comes as the death toll in the UK reached 13,729 as of 5pm on Wednesday, according to figures from the Department of Health.
According to the forecast, Belgium, Brazil, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Turkey are all predicted to see between 1,000 and 5,000 deaths in the coming week.
Other countries are grouped into brackets of 100 to 1,000 deaths, while countries forecast to have fewer than 100 deaths including China and South Korea.
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The forecast, put together by a group of researchers using figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, aims to forecast the number of deaths in the week ahead for each country with what it calls active transmission - when at least 100 deaths have been reported in a country so far.
Describing how COVID-19 is progressing in various countries, it puts the UK alongside 18 other countries where it says the virus is “likely stabilising”, while it describes it as “likely growing’ in a total of 16 other countries.
It comes as the UK was among a handful of countries singled out by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for having “tempered” positive signs that Europe is passing the peak of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Dr Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, said while there have been “optimistic signs” in countries worst affected by coronavirus, others such as the UK demonstrate “sustained or increased levels of incidents”.
He said: “Of the 10 countries in the region with the highest numbers of cases, there have been optimistic signs in terms of the climbing numbers in Spain, Italy, Germany, France and Switzerland in recent weeks.
“But small positive signals in some countries are tempered by sustained or increased levels of incidents in other countries, including in the UK, Turkey, Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.”
On Thursday the UK’s lockdown was extended by three weeks as officials continue to fight to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Latest figures from the Department of Health show 13,729 patients had died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Wednesday – an increase of 861 on the previous day.
During the weekly WHO Europe briefing on Thursday morning, Dr Kluge said “the storm cloud” of Covid-19 “still hangs heavily over the European region”.
He added: “The next few weeks will be critical for Europe. Make no mistake – despite the spring weather, we are in the middle of a storm.”