It is “hard to compute the sorrow” of the number of people who have died from coronavirus, Boris Johnson has said, after the UK passed 100,000 deaths on Tuesday.
Speaking at a news conference the prime minister said when the pandemic was over the country would “commemorate the small acts of kindness, the spirit of volunteering and the daily sacrifice of millions”.
“I am deeply sorry for every life that has been lost and as prime minister I take full responsibility for everything the government has done,” the prime minister said, when asked about hopes at the start of the pandemic that the death toll could be kept within 20,000.
Asked how he would describe the UK’s record, Mr Johnson said: “You’d exhaust the thesaurus of misery. It’s an appalling and tragic loss of life and there’s no question about it. All we can do now is … work together with the tools that we have of the stay at home principle, plus the vaccines, to defeat the virus. As I say, I’m sure that we will.”
Asked whether some of the deaths could have been prevented, the prime minister replied: “We did everything we could to minimise suffering and minimise loss of life in the country as a result of the pandemic and I am deeply sorry as a result of every life lost.
“What I can say is that the government will continue to minimise life lost as we go forward. I continue to urge people to follow that guidance, stay at home, protect the NHS, and save lives.”
Speaking at the same press conference, England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty declared that it was a “very sad day”.
The top medical advisor said the number of people testing positive for coronavirus was “still at a very high number, but it has been coming down”.
But cautioned that Office for National Statistics data demonstrates a slower decrease, adding: “I think we need to be careful we do not relax too early”.
He added that the number of people in hospital was still an “incredibly high number”, and “substantially above the peak in April”.