Prime Minister Boris Johnson offered his “deepest condolences to everyone who has lost a loved one”, as the Covid-19 death toll surpassed 100,000 people.
At a Downing Street press conference on Tuesday (26 Jan), Mr Johnson announced the latest coronavirus death toll, calling it a “grim statistic”.
Mr Johnson said: “I am sorry to have to tell you that today the number of deaths recorded from Covid in the UK has surpassed 100,000, and it is hard to compute the sorrow contained in that grim statistic.
“The years of life lost, the family gatherings not attended and, for so many relatives, the missed chance even to say goodbye.”
The Prime Minister said he offers his “deepest condolences to everyone who has lost a loved one: fathers and mothers; brothers and sisters; sons and daughters and the many grandparents who have been taken.”
‘We will come together as a nation to remember everyone we lost’
Mr Johnson pledged that the nation will come together to remember the lives of those lost, including those who died on the front line.
He said: “And, to all those who grieve, we make this pledge: that when we have come through this crisis, we will come together as a nation to remember everyone we lost, and to honour the selfless heroism of all those on the front line who gave their lives to save others.”
Mr Johnson said that the nation will remember “the courage of countless working people,” including NHS and care workers, shop workers, transport staff, pharmacists, teachers, police, armed forces, emergency services and many others “who kept our country going” during the pandemic.
He also said that “we will celebrate the genius and perseverance of those who discovered the vaccines,” alongside the nationwide effort to distribute them.
“And when those vaccines have finally freed us from this virus and put us on a path to recovery, we will make sure that we learn the lessons and reflect and prepare,” Mr Johnson added.
“And, until that time, the best and most important thing we can all do to honour the memory of those who have died is to work together with ever greater resolve to defeat this disease.
“And that is what we will do.”
‘We’re going to have to continue to learn the lessons from this pandemic’
The notion of learning lessons from the pandemic is something which Professor Chris Whitty also addressed during the press conference.
Mr Whitty said: “We now understand the virus in a way we didn’t and some of the science has undoubtedly changed, some of our understanding of what the science meant has changed.”
“We’ve learned things operationally, very obviously, that means that we can do things now that we were not able to do and didn’t understand how to do early on,” he added.
“We will continue to learn and I think we need to realise we’re going to have to continue to learn the lessons from this pandemic, because there is a lot for us to learn from it.”
Government faces criticism over handling of coronavirus pandemic
Although the Prime Minister has insisted that the Government has done “everything we could” to minimise deaths and suffering, it has come under criticism from other MPs over the way in which the pandemic has been handled.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said Boris Johnson was “behind the curve at every stage” of the Covid pandemic, and that “there has been a reluctance to take tough decisions when they needed to be taken.”
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth also said that “litany of errors” by the Government has led to the UK reaching 100,000 coronavirus deaths.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Mr Ashworth said: “I’m sorry to say it, I really am, but I just don’t believe that the Government did do everything we could.”