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Boris Johnson has hailed the nation’s “massive success” in reducing the number of coronavirus deaths as new figures revealed England had the highest excess death rate in Europe.

Official statistics issued on Thursday revealed the UK’s cumulative mortality rate was higher by the end of May than even Italy and Spain, which were hit earlier by the virus.

Asked if he was ashamed over the Office for National Statistics analysis during a visit to North Yorkshire, the Prime Minister said he “mourns every loss of life”.

“Clearly this country has had a massive success now in reducing the numbers of those tragic deaths,” he added.

“We’ve got it at the moment under some measure of control. The numbers of deaths are well, well down.

“But I have to tell you that we’re looking at a resurgence of the virus in some other European countries. You can see what’s been happening in the United States.”

An ONS spokesman confirmed that the four nations and regions of the UK together had a combined rate that was higher than any other country in Western Europe.

By the end of May, England was top of the table with a death rate 7.55 per cent higher than usual, the ONS said.

It overtook Spain, which had suffered a higher peak earlier in the crisis, and by May 29 had an excess death rate of 6.65.

Speaking in Northallerton, Mr Johnson urged people to not lose their focus and discipline in observing the coronavirus guidelines in place.

“Let’s be clear, there is only one way of controlling the coronavirus at present, obviously we’re making great progress with drugs like dexamethasone, remdesivir, we’re able to deal with [it] in ways we weren’t able to do in early March,” he said.

“But broadly speaking, the only way to control coronavirus is if everybody collectively obeys the social-distancing rules and works together to drive the virus down.”

He added: “Together we’ve really reduced the incidence of the virus and we’ve got the number of deaths down.

“But it can come up again, and we’ve seen what is happening in other European countries, so what I’m saying to people is don’t lose focus, don’t lose discipline, continue to observe those guidelines and if you have symptoms, get a test.”

Reiterating warnings of a resurgence in cases, Mr Johnson said “we’re not out of the woods”.

Self-isolation period for those with Covid-19 symptoms extended to 10 days

He said: “It’s absolutely vital as a country that we continue to keep our focus and our discipline and that we don’t delude ourselves that somehow we’re out of the woods or that this is all over, because it isn’t all over.”

It comes as Health Secretary Matt Hancock also voiced concerns about a second spike with cases “starting to roll” across Europe.

“There is a serious concern about a second wave which is clearly now moving across Europe and we need to take action to protect this country and the people in it,” Mr Hancock said.

“I am worried about a second wave. I think you can see a second wave starting to roll across Europe and we’ve got to do everything we can to prevent it from reaching these shores and to tackle it.”

It was also confirmed on Thursday that those who test positive for coronavirus or display symptoms such as a persistent cough, a high temperature or loss of sense of smell, must now self-isolate for 10 days.