BORIS Johnson was today accused of a coronavirus cover-up after the Government dropped the daily death comparison graphs.
It comes as the UK death total went above 33,000, with more than 3,000 people testing positive for the bug in the last 24 hours.
Boris Johnson was accused of trying to hide the UK has the worst death toll figures in Europe today
Sir Kier Starmer claimed the Government has stopped publishing the graphs to try and keep the comparisons down
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer spoke out in today’s PMQ’s, after Downing Street stopped releasing the international death toll comparison.
He told the House of Commons he believes it is because it would show the UK is the worst affected nation in Europe.
The graphs had been a daily fixture of each Number 10 press conference, but have not been published recently.
Sir Kier said: “For many weeks the Government has compared the UK number against other countries.
“Last week I showed the Prime Minister his own slide, showing that the UK now has the highest death total in Europe and second highest in the world.
“A version of this slide has been shown at the Number 10 press conference every day since the 30th of March. That is seven weeks.
“Yesterday the Government stopped publishing the international comparisons and the slide has gone. Why?”
At the end of last month the graphs did suggest the UK has a higher coronavirus death rate than France, Italy and Spain. But differences in how each country reports its data means the grim-looking comparison might not be quite as it appeared.
This graph from the end of last month suggests the death toll in the UK is now worse than France, Italy and Spain’s were at the same point of their outbreaks
While this graph from the same point, which takes into account population size, suggests the UK is worse off than France and Italy at the same point of their outbreaks but better off than Spain
However each country’s population is different, and has a different way of recording the deaths, and countries are also at different points of the pandemic – which makes direct comparisons difficult.
The PM seemed to allude to thus when he hit back: “As he knows very well, the UK has been going through an unprecedented, once in a century epidemic and he seeks to make comparisons with other countries which I am advised are premature because the correct and final way of making these comparisons will be when we have all the excess death totals for all the relevant countries.
“We do not yet have that data. I am not going to try to pretend to the House that the figures when they are finally confirmed are anything other than stark and deeply, deeply horrifying.”
It comes as coronavirus deaths in the UK have risen to 33,186 after 494 fatalities were recorded in the last 24 hours.
A total of 229,705 have now tested positive for the bug across Britain – up 3,242 from yesterday.
The latest death toll refers to those who have died in all settings – including care homes, hospices and the wider community. The rise is smaller than it was yesterday, when 627 more deaths were logged.
This is likely to be due to a lag in reporting over the long weekend, with figures only catching up yesterday.
Today’s jump does however remain the smallest daily rise recorded on a Wednesday in the UK for the last seven weeks.
In England, the total number of Covid-19 deaths rose to 23,952 today – up 244 from yesterday.
Patients were aged between 49 and 99 years old and the majority had underlying health conditions.
In Scotland, a total of 1,973 patients have died after testing positive for coronavirus – up by 61 from yesterday.
In Wales, 22 more deaths were recorded overnight, bringing the overall tally there to 1,154.
New analysis published yesterday suggests the overall death toll from the virus is in fact far higher – and has already passed 40,000.
The grim figure, tallied up by the Office for National Statistics, refers to all deaths where Covid-19 was mentioned on death certificates this year until the beginning of May, including suspected cases.
The data also suggests that 8,300 deaths in care homes have been linked to the virus since the epidemic started – roughly double the official tally.
Separate modelling by The Time takes the toll further, estimating that the overall figure for the UK is closer to 61,000 – when those caused directly and indirectly by the virus are included.
Among the latest UK deaths is Kapalu Musenyesa, a Zambian student studying at Middlesex University.
The 22-year-old business student was found dead in his North London flat after complaining of a fever and trouble breathing.
Dr Douval Thompson-Davis, of Greenford in London, also died after testing positive for coronavirus as he was treated for an arm injury.
The 59-year-old, who taught science at Greenford High School, tragically died on May 4 – nearly a month after being admitted.
He joins more than 71 frontline workers who have now died from the bug – although health chiefs say this figure has been largely under reported.
Separate analysis by the PA Media news agency has found that 162 health and social care workers have in fact died after contracting Covid-19 since March 11.
This graph shows the devastating impact of coronavirus in England’s care homes
Experts from the University College London have suggested shielding the most vulnerable is the only way to keep Britain’s coronavirus death toll below 73,000 in the next year.
And they warn excess fatalities could still rise to 400,000 if current lockdown restrictions are lifted too fast.
It comes as new data suggest a quarter of Brits who have died as a result of the pandemic were never actually infected with the bug.
Experts say the unexplained extra deaths are in fact “collateral damage” of the “Stay At Home” message, which left heart attack and stroke victims avoiding hospitals.
Meanwhile leaked documents from the Treasury suggest the lockdown could lead to tax hikes of £165 a year for millions of workers.
The virus’ impact could also bring about an end to the triple lock on state pensions and a two-year freeze on pay for nurses, teachers and police as part of a menu of options the Chancellor is looking at to balance the books.
At the same time, the UK economy is dropping at its fastest rate since the 2008 financial crisis.
As Rishi Sunak announced plans to extend the Government’s furlough scheme until October, critics have said some Brits are enjoying a “paid holiday” as bosses struggle to get them back to work.
The chancellor has described the thousands of British jobs lost so far as “heartbreaking”.
His unprecedented job-retention scheme will therefore remain the same until July – with workers paid 80% of their wages by the Government – before changes are put in place from August to October.