U.K. Coronavirus Cases Exceed 3 Million; Deaths Top 80,000

The U.K. became the first country in western Europe to report more than 3 million coronavirus cases, as it grapples with a new strain that’s putting pressure on its health service.

The country reported an additional 59,937 cases on Saturday, taking the total to 3,017,409. That’s the most in Europe, and fifth-highest in the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The country passed 1 million cases on Oct. 31, which doubled seven weeks later on Dec. 19. It took just three weeks to reach 3 million cases.

A further 1,035 people were reported to have died within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, bringing the total to more than 80,800, also the most in Europe. Reported deaths are usually lower at the weekends.

The new strain of the coronavirus has led to a surge in new cases, forcing the government to place the country under a third national lockdown, closing schools and non-essential businesses.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a “major incident” in the U.K. capital Friday as the country’s daily death toll reached the highest level since the start of the pandemic. Khan warned the state-run National Health Service in London is at risk of being overwhelmed.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised to inoculate 15 million elderly and vulnerable people by the middle of next month. Today, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband the Duke of Edinburgh, both in their 90s, received the first dose of Covid vaccinations at Windsor Castle, according to a statement from Buckingham Palace.

The one bright spot in Britain’s virus story is its approach to the vaccines. The U.K. was the first country in the western world to approve a Covid immunization last month, giving the green light to the Pfizer-BioNTech shot, and is significantly ahead of its European neighbors with delivering injections.

Globally, there have been more than 89 million cases and 1.9 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins. The U.K. is the worst-affected country in western Europe, coming behind the U.S., India, Brazil and Russia in the number of infections.

(Updates with London emergency in sixth paragraph, vaccinations in seventh.)

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