It is “vital that lessons are learnt” from the pandemic, a leading health organisation has said, as the UK coronavirus death toll exceeded 50,000.
The British Medical Association (BMA) said the figures were a “terrible indictment” of the Government’s lack of preparation and organisation with regard to handling the virus.
As of Wednesday, a further 595 people are reported to have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the total in the UK to 50,365.
It is the first time the total has passed 50,000 and the second day in a row where the daily number of reported deaths has been the highest since May 12.
Responding to the news, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: “This is a point that should never have been reached.
“In March, Professor Steve Powis said that if the public adhered to the nationwide lockdown the total toll could be kept below 20,000.
“Today’s figure is a terrible indictment of poor preparation, poor organisation by the Government, insufficient infection control measures, coupled with late and often confusing messaging for the public.”
Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths when Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have now been more than 65,000 deaths involving coronavirus in the UK.
These figures are based on deaths where coronavirus is mentioned anywhere on the death certificate while the Government’s data counts only those people who died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19.
The Government added, as of 9am on Wednesday, there had been a further 22,950 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.
It brings the total number of cases in the UK to 1,256,725.
Dr Nagpaul continued: “Since the start of this virus, the BMA has been at the forefront of calling for fundamental improvements to the way the pandemic has been managed.
“As we look towards the hope of a vaccine, it’s vital that lessons are learned from the last nine months to ensure that nothing on this scale ever happens again.
“A public inquiry must go over every step with a fine-tooth comb, from testing issues and shortages of PPE, to the crisis in care homes and the delayed protection of the BAME community – all of which had a major impact on the progression of this virus and how the NHS was able to cope with rising cases.
“Lessons must be learnt, future generations protected, and most importantly, the life of every single person taken by this dreadful disease remembered.”
Dr Yvonne Doyle, medical director of Public Health England, said that the upward trend of infections and deaths is “likely to continue” and that it would be several weeks before the impact of lockdown measures were felt.
NHS England said on Wednesday that a further 361 people who tested positive for coronavirus had died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 35,324.
Patients were aged between 43 and 102. All except 20, aged between 58 and 95, had known underlying health conditions.
The deaths were between October 13 and November 10.
Eleven other deaths were reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.