The death toll from coronavirus has risen sharply to more than 26,000 after the government included fatalities from outside hospitals in its daily announcement for the first time.
It means a total of 26,097 people have died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community in the UK after contracting COVID-19 – a rise of 4,419 from Tuesday.
The sharp increase means the UK’s toll makes it the second worst hit country in Europe, based on each nation’s official reporting of deaths, and globally ranks behind only the US’s total, which is above 50,000, and Italy.
Previously, the UK government reported deaths taking place in hospitals, with care home deaths in England and Wales later appearing in Office for National Statistics (ONS) data.
There are now 165,221 confirmed coronavirus cases in the country, a rise of 4,076 from yesterday.
A slide in Wednesday’s briefing showed how the UK is tracking above other European countries’ death trajectories.View photos
A slide in Wednesday’s briefing showed how the UK is tracking above other European countries’ death trajectories.
The absence of those figures has skewed the nation’s true COVID-19 death toll.
There are also 3.1 million confirmed cases around the world, with 217,000 deaths and 932,000 recoveries, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Public Health England medical director Dr Yvonne Doyle said: “Every death from COVID-19 is a tragedy.
“Tracking the daily death count is vital to help us understand the impact of the disease.
“These more complete data will give us a fuller and more up-to-date picture of deaths in England and will inform the Government’s approach as we continue to protect the public.”