19 death toll nears 55,000 including suspected cases

A Reuters Special Report on Monday detailed a series of missteps and failures by officials and government agencies that doctors and epidemiologists say cost lives.

Johnson has said the government has followed the best scientific advice and in April described its response to the pandemic as an “apparent success.”

The Office for National Statistics (ONS), which updates the figures on a weekly basis, said on Tuesday the number of deaths involving COVID-19 in England and Wales up to June 19 rose to 49,610.

Epidemiologists say excess mortality – deaths from all causes that exceed the five-year average for the time of year – is the best way of gauging deaths from a disease outbreak because it is internationally comparable.

Britain has fared badly, with around 65,000 more people than usual dying during this year’s pandemic – although the increase appears to have petered out.

Deaths from all causes in England and Wales during the week to June 19 fell below the five-year average for first time since mid-March, the ONS said. (Reporting by Andy Bruce; editing by Michael Holden and Angus MacSwan)

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