LONDON: Britain on Tuesday overtook Italy with the second-highest number of coronavirus deaths worldwide after the US, as countries accelerated plans to ease lockdowns aimed at halting the deadly pandemic.
The grim landmark came in from Britain as global deaths topped a quarter of a million, the majority in hard-hit Europe, though several of the worst-affected countries are finally seeing deaths and new infections drop.
But the United States, where the pandemic has already claimed 68,700 lives, warned of a further surge in fatalities and Russia became the new hotspot of infections in Europe.
Deaths in Britain are now over 32,000, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics — the highest single-country toll in Europe.
“No country reports on death registrations data as fast, frequently, or to such breadth and depth as we can in the UK,” Nick Stripe, head of health analysis at the ONS, said on Twitter.
Elsewhere in Europe, hard-hit Italy, Spain and France have reported a levelling off of figures, offering hope life could start returning to normal.
Many governments in the west were stepping up the pace in easing stay-at-home measures in a bid to revive badly hammered economies, with experts warning of a global recession not seen in decades.
Financial markets saw a light at the end of a tunnel as businesses in Europe and the United States tentatively reopened, and stocks and oil prices rallied Tuesday.