Boris Johnson to give surprise Covid-19 statement after virus deaths top 100,000

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Boris Johnson will make a surprise Commons statement regarding Covid-19 on Wednesday afternoon, it has been announced.

The Prime Minister's statement will replace one scheduled to have been made by Health Secretary Matt Hancock at around 1:15pm.

The announcement comes after the UK reached 100,000 coronavirus-related deaths — more Brits killed than by the Great Plague, the AIDS pandemic, the Blitz and all terror attacks and wars since 1945 combined.

Britain passed the grim milestone on January 7, the Office for National Statistics confirmed on Tuesday.

Mr Johnson said he was "deeply sorry" for the shocking death toll — one of the highest in the world — but insisted his government "did everything we could" to limit the virus' damage.

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"The years of life lost, the family gatherings not attended and, for so many relatives, the missed chance even to say goodbye – I offer my deepest condolences to everyone who has lost a loved one," he said in a Downing Street press conference.

When asked what went wrong with the UK's response to the pandemic, Mr Johnson said: "I think on this day I should just really repeat that I am deeply sorry for every life that has been lost, and of course as I was Prime Minister I take full responsibility for everything that the government has done.

"What I can tell you is that we truly did everything we could, and continue to do everything that we can, to minimise loss of life and to minimise suffering in what has been a very, very difficult stage, and a very, very difficult crisis for our country, and we will continue to do that."

In response, the Labour Party said the Prime Minister was wrong to claim the government had done everything possible to keep deaths down.

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth told the Today programme: "It's just horrendous on every front.

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  • "I'm sorry, I'm really sorry, I just do not believe that Boris Johnson did everything we could, I just can't accept that.

    "We all accept these are challenging times for any government, this is a virus which has swept across the world with speed and severity and it continues to spread ferociously.

    "But monumental mistakes have been made, we have had a litany of errors in the last 12 months, and he didn't have to make these mistakes."

    On Tuesday evening Prof Calum Semple, a Liverpool University professor and member of Sage, predicted another 50,000 deaths in Britain this year.

    "It would really not surprise me if we're looking at another 40,000 or 50,000 deaths before this burns out," he told Newsnight.

    "The deaths on the way up are likely to be mirrored by deaths on the way down and each one again is a tragedy, and each one represents also probably four or five people that survive but are damaged by Covid."

    • Boris Johnson
    • Coronavirus

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