Britain facing worst coronavirus death rates in Europe, former World Health Organisation director warns

Another 847 deaths in the UK were announced on Friday, bringing the toll to 14,576. 

While the number of new deaths has remained fairly steady in the last week, before then the daily figures surpassed the deadliest days in Italy and Spain.

The UK has also been criticised for only counting hospital deaths in its daily statistics. 

At the same hearing of the Commons health committee, the Health Secretary was repeatedly questioned about the Government’s approach to testing.

Matt Hancock on Friday pledged to expand testing far more widely, offering it to those in the police, fire service, army, prison staff, and others in the public sector.

He said the NHS would soon be able to test everybody with symptoms – but claimed demand from healthcare staff has been far lower than officials had expected. 

It came as the head of the Royal College of Nursing said some sick NHS workers had been forced to drive two hours to a testing station, with some turned away by officials. 

In recent weeks, the Government has come under fire for failing to offer tests to care workers and those living in care homes, amid growing outbreak.

On Wednesday Mr Hancock pledged that all workers who need tests should get them, along with all residents with symptoms.

But on Friday he told MPs that the extension had come about because fewer NHS staff had come forward to have tests than had been expected. 

“Frankly the number of NHS staff coming forward  wasn’t as high as expected and therefore we extended it very quickly to social care – both to residents and staff in social care – and because capacity is going up sharply we have been able to expand it further,” he said. 

He also said the Government was looking at introducing routine testing for asymptomatic health workers. 

Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said sick NHS workers were still struggling to get tested, with some forced to drive two hours to centres, only to be turned away. 

Source Article