Simultaneously good and bad COVID-19 news was waiting for the UK on the first day of May. On the one hand, the target number of daily tests had not only been reached, but even exceeded. On the other, the country is now on track to becoming Europe’s new virus death hotspot.
Shortly after announcing that a record 122,347 were conducted in the UK for the last day of April, health authorities went on to give the latest daily death number: 739.
Now up to 27,510 deaths, the UK is hot on the heels of the only other worse-hit country in the continent, Italy. The only difference is the tricolore peninsula seems to have already passed through the worst of this first wave.
Sitting at a 28,236 total deaths, Italy has been seeing a steadily decreasing daily death reate, with the country registering a comparably smaller toll of 269 deaths yesterday.
Indeed, this marks Italy’s last weekend under strict lockdown, with president Mattarella yesterday giving the nation a message of hope.
“A recovery is possible because, over the past two months, we managed to mitigate significantly the dangerousness of the epidemic,” Mattarella said on Friday, going on to say the country had a vital obligation to “defend this result”.
As for the other Mediterranean hotspot, Spain now has more cases than both countries – 213,435 – but less deaths, 24,543.
Of course, the situation in the two countries is vastly different… but the UK passing Italy’s previously-unbeatable death count would definitely be a grim milestone.
Everything from population density and average ages to the way both countries have been dealing with their own curves add a variety of variables that are unique to each, but Britain’s latest infection statistics are still nothing to write home about.
The increased daily tests is definitely a massive achievement, hitting 10 times the initial goal set out one month ago. However, the looming death count milestone is already too close for comfort, and the next couple of days could easily usher in a new leader on the unwanted throne.
Meanwhile, Britain’s own R0 factor has showed some significant improvement, with the number dropping below 1 throughout the country.
Since returning to work after his own serious experience with the virus, however, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been erring on the side of caution, warning the UK’s R0 could easily spike again if social distancing measures are lifted too abruptly.