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PM told he must accept ‘personal responsibility’ for high Covid-19 death toll

THE PM must “take personal responsibility” for England suffering the highest numbers of excess deaths in Europe during the first half of 2020, Labour charged today. 

Shocking figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed today that England endured the “longest continuous” period of excess deaths during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

PM Boris Johnson responded by saying the recent reduction in deaths has been a “massive success.”

The ONS analysis, which looked at 23 European countries, showed that by the week ending May 29 the cumulative mortality rate in England was 7.55 per cent higher than the average mortality rate during the same period from 2015 to 2019. 

The data read: “While England did not have the highest peak mortality, it did have the longest continuous period of excess mortality of any country compared, resulting in England having the highest levels of excess mortality in Europe for the period as a whole.”

Excess deaths refers to the difference in the number of deaths compared with the average during that period in previous years. 

Spain ranked second with 6.65 per cent, followed by Scotland (5.11 per cent), Belgium (3.89 per cent) and Wales (2.78 per cent).

Other countries suffered higher peak mortalities at certain localities but managed to control the rate earlier on than England. 

Edwin Morgan, from the ONS, explained that while other countries including Spain suffered higher peak excess mortalities in certain locations, the four British nations had a greater mortality overall due to deaths being geographically widespread throughout the pandemic.

“Combined with the relatively slow downward ‘tail’ of the pandemic in the UK, this meant that by the end of May, England had seen the highest overall relative excess mortality out of all the European countries compared,” he added. 

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner described the figures as “devastating,” pinning the blame on Mr Johnson.

“The PM must take personal responsibility for this terrible and tragic failure in preparation for and handling of this crisis,” she said. 

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “We can no longer hide from the fact that the government has not handled this crisis well and needs to urgently learn lessons from its mistakes.  

“Boris Johnson must now take responsibility for why we were so badly prepared.”

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