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Johnson accused of ducking COVID-19 comparisons with European nations

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain’s COVID-19 death toll was “deeply horrifying” on Wednesday, May 13, 2020 after he was accused of avoiding comparisons with other European nations.

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer told parliament he was “baffled” by the government’s withdrawal of daily graphs comparing Britain’s deaths and infections with those of other countries

He said that the charts had been “used for seven weeks to reassure the public.”

Johnson did not explain why the graphs were no longer used, but he said scientific advisers believed international comparisons were “premature… (until) we have all the excess death totals for all the relevant countries.”

“Now I am not going to try to pretend that the (British) figures, when they are finally confirmed, are anything other than stark and deeply, deeply horrifying,” he said.

Pressed again on the dropping of daily comparisons, Johnson said the government was “watching intently what is happening in other countries.”

Signs of increasing infections in some nations that had already relaxed lockdowns gave “a very clear warning not to proceed too fast or too recklessly,” he added.

Britain has reported Europe’s highest official death toll of more than 33,000. Health data analyst Jamie Jenkins estimated on Tuesday that its true total is more than 60,000, based on seasonal excess deaths.

Johnson allowed a minor easing of Britain’s lockdown this week, encouraging people who are unable to work from home to resume their journeys to work from Wednesday.

Schools are scheduled to gradually reopen from June 1.

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