U.K. coronavirus death toll now highest in Europe

The U.K. death toll from COVID-19 is now the highest in Europe after more than 30,000 deaths were recorded since the outbreak of the pandemic.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) 29,648 deaths linked to coronavirus had taken place in England and Wales as of 24 April.

Including deaths for Scotland and Northern Ireland, the toll on this measure now amounts to 32,313.

This figure is higher than the death toll of 29,029 in Italy, which has been until now, Europe's worst-hit country. Italy's total does not include suspected cases.

It is important to note that ONS figures are based on mentions of COVID-19 on death certificates, whether or not the deceased had tested positive for coronavirus. ONS statistician Nick Stripe told the BBC: "Almost four times more deaths than we would expect to see at this time of year were registered."

Only last week, the government began to include data on deaths outside hospitals in cases where people had tested positive for coronavirus, in the daily death toll figures for the virus.

The ONS also confirmed there were 7,713 deaths involving Covid-19 outside hospitals in England and Wales, as of April 24. The equivalent number for hospital deaths over this period is 19,643.

However ministers have urged against making international comparisons.

This is because differences exist between nations due to population density as well as in differing statistical practices when it comes to recording deaths.

ONS figures also show that in the week to April 24 more than 11,000 extra people died in England Wales, compared to a five-year average.

The ONS also cited figures from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), an independent regulator of all health and social care services in England, which showed that the numbers of deaths in care homes in England recorded between April 10 and May 1, stood at 6,391 deaths involving COVID-19.

This is a developing story, more to follow

The U.K. now has the highest COVID-19 deaths in Europe
The U.K. now has the highest COVID-19 deaths in Europe Getty