The UK no longer has the worst COVID death rate in the world

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  • Covid-19
 Commuter wearing a face mask walks past a sign reminding the public about a fine for not wearing a face mask, after arriving at London Waterloo railway station in London. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that there was evidence that the new variant of the coronavirus is more deadly. (Photo by Thomas Krych / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
The UK no longer has the worst death rate in the world for COVID-19. (PA)

The UK no longer has the worst coronavirus death rate in the world, figures have revealed.

Statistics compiled by the University of Oxford research platform Our World In Data showed the UK has the second worst rate.

On Monday, it revealed that, based on a rolling seven-day average, the UK had a rate of 18.31 deaths per million people.

Although this was an increase on the 16.7 deaths per million recorded last Tuesday, when the UK had the worst record globally, it has dropped a place.

Watch: The epicentre of the UK’s COVID-19 crisis

The unwanted top spot is now held by Portugal, with 22.53 deaths per million people as of Monday.

Slovakia is in third position with 15.54 deaths per million, followed by the Czech Republic on 13.75 and African nation Eswatini on 12.68.

Nine of the countries in the top 10 are in Europe – Ireland is in ninth place with 10.47 deaths per million people.

COVID-19 deaths per million people, rolling 7-day average:

1. Portugal 22.53

2. UK 18.31

3. Slovakia 15.54

4. Czech Republic 13.75

5. Eswatini 12.68

6. Slovenia 12.37

7. Liechtenstein 11.24

8. Lithuania 10.71

9. Ireland 10.47

10. Latvia 10.01


Government ministers have been repeatedly asked to explain why the UK has one of the worst coronavirus death rates in the world.

On Monday, work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey cut short an interview on ITV’s Good Morning Britain after being asked about the high death rate.

She told the programme: “There’ll be a variety of reasons why people unfortunately have died because of this.

Watch: Therese Coffey disconnects her camera from GMB interview

“Some of that will be recognising the age of our population, some of that will be recognising the obesity of our population.”

GMB co-presenter Piers Morgan then asked her: “Are you saying that the reason for us having the worst death rate in the world is because of the public – they’re too old and they’re too fat?”

Coffey replied: “I think that’s a very insulting thing you’ve just said.”

Seconds later, she turned off her camera and abandoned the call, saying she had to give another interview elsewhere.

Read more: What you can and can't do under current lockdown rules

On the same programme last Tuesday, Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis said it was “too early” to explain the UK’s high death rate.

He said: “You can’t do a direct comparison of that type with this virus in terms of death rates.

“It’s too early to draw direct comparison on something like that. The pandemic is still moving around the world.”


There have been more than 10,000 COVID-19 deaths and more than 636,000 cases in Portugal, according to Johns Hopkins University. That’s across a population of 10 million people.

A state of emergency has been declared until 30 January, despite the country going to the polls on Sunday to vote in presidential elections, amid warnings the health system is on the verge of collapse.

LISBON, PORTUGAL - JANUARY 24: A woman wearing a protective mask shows her ID at the polling station in the presidential election at Jorge Barradas School during the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic on January 24, 2021 in Lisbon, Portugal. The country's incumbent president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, is running for a second term as head of state, a largely ceremonial role, albeit one with the power to dissolve parliament in the event of a political crisis. (Photo by Horacio Villalobos#Corbis/Getty Images)
Portugal went to the polls on Sunday despite the coronavirus pandemic. (Getty)

People must stay at home and only supermarkets, pharmacies and dentists can remain fully open.

Restaurants and cafes are permitted to operate for takeaways only, while hairdressers, gyms, museums and sports facilities are all closed to the public.

Last week, Portugal’s prime minister announced that all flights into and out of the UK would be suspended.

It followed the British government’s own ban on flights from Portugal after the emergence of a new coronavirus variant in Brazil, because the two nations have “strong travel links”, said transport secretary Grant Shapps.

Schools in Portugal were closed last Friday as the country tries to get to grips with the pandemic.

The government has blamed the rise in cases on the new variant of the virus, but doctors say it did not prepare for a new surge when it relaxed restrictions over the Christmas and new year holidays.

Watch: Portugal votes in presidential election

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