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UK pandemic death toll double that of Blitz bombing

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson is “deeply sorry” for every life lost to coronavirus as the UK marks 100,000 COVID-19-related deaths, but he insists his government did “everything we could” to minimise deaths and suffering.

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The UK is the first country in Europe to reach the figure and has the fifth-highest toll globally. It reported a further 1631 deaths and 20,089 cases on Tuesday, according to government figures.

The 100,162 deaths are more than the country’s civilian toll in World War II and twice the number killed in the 1940-41 Blitz bombing campaign.

Johnson told journalists at a news conference in Downing Street it was “hard to compute the sorrow” brought by the “grim statistic”.

Johnson said he had spoken to families of those bereaved from the coronavirus and “will continue to do so”.

“I am deeply sorry for every life that’s been lost, and as prime minister I take full responsibility for everything that the government has done,” Johnson said on Tuesday.

“What I can tell you is that we truly did everything we could, and continue to do everything that we can, to minimise loss of life and to minimise suffering in what has been a very, very difficult stage.”

Joining him at the news conference, England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty warned Britain would see “quite a lot more deaths” during the next few weeks before the effects of the vaccines kicked in.

England re-entered a lockdown on January 5, which includes the closure of pubs, restaurants, non-essential shops and schools to most pupils.

Further travel restrictions have been introduced, and British MPs were due to announce new quarantine plans on Tuesday that could see travellers being forced to quarantine in hotels for 10 days upon arriving back in Britain.

In December, the UK became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and has set itself the task of offering jabs to everyone 70 and older, those who are clinically vulnerable, frontline health and social care workers and older adults in care homes by mid-February.

A total of 6,853,327 people have now received a first dose and 472,446 a second dose.

-AAP

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