The deaths in the UK from coronavirus on Tuesday rose to 32,375, making it the worst-hit country in Europe from the pandemic. The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) data takes the UK’s figure past the 29,079 in Italy – so far with the region”s highest death toll from the deadly virus.

The ONS figures, which are collated on a weekly basis, are based on all mentions of COVID-19 on a death certificate, including suspected cases of the disease. “Figures are based on the date the death was registered, not when it occurred. There is usually a delay of at least five days between occurrence and registration of a death,” the ONS said.

“Figures in this report are derived from the formal process of death registration and may include cases where the doctor completing the death certificate diagnosed possible cases of COVID-19, for example, where this was based on relevant symptoms but no test for the virus was conducted. Our figures also include any deaths that occur outside hospital,” it noted.

The latest ONS statistics are for the week ending April 24 and show a weekly total of 21,997 deaths, which is 11,539 more than the average for that week. But the total weekly death toll dipped slightly by 354 deaths, from the record level of 22,351 the week before. This marks the first decrease in weekly deaths since the start of the coronavirus outbreak and confirms other figures showing the UK is past the peak of infections.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a COVID-19 survivor is set to unveil a “comprehensive plan” on getting the UK out of the lockdown in place to curb the spread of the virus later this week, with the state-funded National Health Service (NHS) initiating the process with a trial of its new contact tracing app in the Isle of Wight region on England on Tuesday.

Council and healthcare workers will be the first to try the app, which alerts users to get tested if they come in contact with someone with COVID-19 symptoms. The rest of the island will be able to download the app from Thursday and if the trial is successful, it could be available UK-wide within weeks. Concerns have been raised over privacy, though ministers say the app has been designed with all safety provisions.

“By downloading the app, you are protecting your own health, you are protecting the health of your loved ones and the health of your community. Where the Isle of Wight goes, Britain follows,” said UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock. The island was chosen for the trial because it has a lower number of new infections, is covered by a single NHS trust and because travel to and from the island is quite restricted. The app is seen as a crucial part of the UK government”s “test, track and trace” strategy for coming out of the current stay-at-home social distancing measures in place.

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