Britain becomes first European country to reach 100,000 Covid-19 deaths

Surge of infections in late 2020 pushed pandemic crisis to new levels

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Coronavirus has cost the lives of 100,162 British people since the outbreak began, officials said on Tuesday, as the country crossed a European milestone for the disease.

A further 1,631 deaths were reported, up from Monday’s 592, taking the UK above the 100,000 mark.

The UK also reported 20,089 new coronavirus infections, down slightly from Monday’s 22,195.

The US has recorded more than 400,000 Covid-19 deaths, the world’s highest total, but its population of about 330 million is about five times that of Britain.

The global total is more than two million dead. Britain is the fifth country in the world to record 100,000 virus-related deaths, after the US, Brazil, India and Mexico.

Boris Johnson, the UK Prime Minister, paid tribute to the victims and the efforts that people across the country were making to cope with the pandemic.

"To all those who grieve we make this pledge: that when we've come through this crisis, we will come together as a nation to remember everyone we lost, and to honour the selfless heroism of all those on the front line who gave their lives to save others," Mr Johnson said.

"It’s hard to compute the sorrow contained in that grim statistic, the years of life lost, the family gatherings not attended, and for so many relatives the missed chance, even to say goodbye."

Health Secretary Matt Hancock also offered his condolences to the relatives of those who died.

“My thoughts are with each and every person who has lost a loved one," Mr Hancock said. "Behind these heart-breaking figures are friends, families and neighbours."

TOPSHOT - Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson looks down at the podium as he attends a virtual press conference on the Covid-19 pandemic, inside 10 Downing Street in central London on January 26, 2021. More than 100,000 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in Britian since the pandemic took hold last year, official data showed on January 26. / AFP / POOL / JUSTIN TALLIS
"It’s hard to compute the sorrow contained in that grim statistic." said British Prime Minster Boris Johnson. AFP

Current lockdown rules, imposed to slow the spread of a new, more transmissible virus variant first identified in south-east England, have made people stay at home for all but essential trips and barred them from any foreign travel.

With the most recent seven-day average of deaths running at 1,242 and more than 35,000 in hospital with the disease, there is no end in sight to the crisis stage of the pandemic.

A vaccine programme has now covered more than 10 per cent of the population and Mr Johnson said that was the ultimate route to ending the emergency restrictions and deaths.

The vaccination campaign has "seen us immunise over 6.8 million people across the United Kingdom", he said.

"And when those vaccines have finally freed us from this virus and put us on a path to recovery, we will make sure we learn the lessons and reflect and prepare."