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Health Secretary Matt Hancock has caused a backlash after suggesting the UK can be proud of limiting the amount of Covid-19 fatalities in care homes to “only a quarter” of all deaths linked to the virus.

During an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today program Hancock insisted that measures to keep people apart and suppress the spread of infection had begun earlier in care homes than in the general community.

He then appeared to boast about the UK’s record on battling Covid-19, saying that “only around a quarter of the deaths that have happened have been in care homes. That’s much lower than most international comparators.”

Hancock also claimed that the coronavirus death rate among healthcare workers has not been higher than the general population, adding: “I think that is a really good thing.”

However, data published by the UK Office for National Statistics on Tuesday ostensibly contradicts Hancock’s care home death toll figures. It showed that coronavirus deaths in English and Welsh care homes had surged to 8,312 by May 1, meaning 40 percent of fatalities linked to the deadly virus occurred in care homes.

The health minister has been roasted by many people online, voicing their anger at Hancock’s somewhat flippant remarks about elderly fatalities suffered in care homes. Some branded it a “horrible and callous take” and asked why he couldn’t simply just apologize for the error made by the UK government in its response to the pandemic.

‘Only thousands of dead humans?? That’s alright then.😡

One commenter sarcastically joked that if it’s a case of “only a quarter” then their “grieving loved ones should celebrate then??” Another called it “an extraordinary claim,” labeling care home deaths “a national disgrace.”

Coronavirus: Matt Hancock claims success in care homes because they ‘only’ make up a quarter of all deaths.I did shout at the radio when I heard this. What an extraordinary claim. The number of deaths in care homes is a national disgrace. https://t.co/OSL8v9VtG4

The latest ONS figures for the period up to May 1 show that 38,355 deaths have been registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, including suspected cases.

However, the true up-to-date data is likely to show deaths surpassing 40,000, with NHS figures showing a further 1,678 hospital patients in England who had tested positive for coronavirus died between May 2 and May 10.

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