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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has admitted it is "hard to compute" the UK's coronavirus death toll passing 100,000 – and took full responsibility for his government's handling of the crisis.
And in a grim press conference, medical experts warned deaths will remain at a high level for at least the next two weeks.
Speaking from No.10, the Prime Minister started his address by telling the nation: "I'm sorry to have to tell you that today the number of deaths recorded from Covid in the UK has passed 100,000.
"It's 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 lost chance to say goodbye"
The PM went on to offer his deepest condolences to everyone who had lost a loved one in the crisis.
He went on: "To all those who grieve we make this pledge, that when we've 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-lines who gave their lives to save others."
Professor Chris Whitty, England's Chief Medical Officer, went on to make the grim warning that there were still "an incredibly high number" of people in hospital with Covid and was "substantially over the peak in April".
That sadly meant, he warned, that the number of deaths across the UK was currently "flattening out, but at a very high level".
He said: "We have to be realistic, that the rate of mortality and the number of people dying per day, will come down relatively slowly over the next two weeks."
Boris was then pressed by journalists on "what went wrong" in the UK's handling of the crisis.
He replied: "Of course as Prime Minister I take full responsibility for everything the government has done.
"What I can tell you is, we truly did everything we could and everything we can to minimise loss of life and minimise suffering in what has been a very every difficult crisis for our country, and we will continue to do that."
The briefing was held just hours after the country's coronavirus death toll went past the grim 100,000 mark, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.
Data released on Tuesday morning reveals that by January 15, coronavirus had been mentioned on 103,704 death certificates.
The UK is one of just five countries to pass the grim 100,000 coronavirus deaths milestone, following the USA, India, Mexico and Brazil, meaning the country now has the highest death toll in Europe.
Back in March last year as the outbreak tore across the world, the government's Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Patrick Vallance said that a nationwide death toll of 20,000 would be "a good result".
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It follows news that the Prime Minister is looking at the option of introducing quarantine hotels for those coming to Britain from virus hotspots worldwide to prevent the risk of "vaccine-busting" new coronavirus variants entering the country.
Home Secretary Priti Patel declined to comment on "speculation" about quarantine hotels as she answered an urgent question in the Commons.
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But she said the Government "will not hesitate to take further action" to protect the UK from new strains, and said "measures are always under review".
And speaking from another Downing Street press conference on Monday, health Secretary Matt Hancock refused to be drawn on any timetable for lifting current lockdown measures across the country.
He said: "Of course I understand the yearning people have to get out of this.
"The prime minister has said that we would be looking at the death rate, the number of hospitalisations, the new variants that affect the pandemic and the success of the vaccine rollout, so we'll look at all of these factors and make sure we take the steps as soon as it's safe to do so."
What have you made of the PM's announcement? Let us know in the comments below
- Boris Johnson
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