The United Kingdom has surpassed 50,000 deaths linked to COVID-19, with a recent rise in infections leading to a new grim milestone for the European country hit hardest by the pandemic.
New government figures showed 595 new deaths of people within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 on Wednesday, the highest daily figure since 614 deaths were reported on May 12.
That brought the total death toll from COVID-19 to 50,365.
The UK has the biggest official death toll in Europe, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered England back into a month-long national lockdown amid concerns that a second wave of infections could overwhelm the health service.
Asked about the milestone, Johnson told broadcasters: “Every death is a is a tragedy and we mourn everybody who’s gone.”
Meanwhile, Italy surpassed the one-million infections mark on Wednesday, leap-frogging Mexico to become one of the top 10 worst-affected countries globally.
The Italian health ministry said the country had registered 32,961 new cases over the past 24 hours, taking its total tally since the contagion first struck in February to 1.028 million.
The country has reported some 42,953 deaths so far, the second-highest number in Europe after Britain.
More than 300,000 people have died of COVID-19 across Europe, and authorities fear that fatalities and infections will continue to rise as the region heads into winter despite hopes for a new vaccine.
With just 10% of the world’s population, the continent accounts for almost a quarter of the 1.2 million deaths globally, and even its well-equipped hospitals are feeling the strain.
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