The UK has become the fifth country to pass 20,000 deaths in hospital from coronavirus behind US, Spain, France, and Italy.

The US hit the 20,000 marks on April 11, according to data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Italy reached 20,000 on April 13, Spain on April 18 and France on April 20.

The figures for each country are problematic to compare as each government has its own counting criteria.

Instead, Saturday's figures can be seen as a symbolic milestone, as it proves the Government has definitively missed its best-case scenario of deaths of 20,000 or below.

The figure does not include deaths in care homes, which the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates could account for half of all deaths in Europe.

Dr Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia and adviser to the WHO, warned that the UK was on course to have one of the highest Covid-19 mortality rates in Europe.

He told the PA news agency: "Our deaths are increasing more rapidly than any other country really apart from the US.

"But the US is still a long way behind us in terms of deaths per one million of the population."

Matthew Reed, chief executive of end of life charity Marie Curie, said it was important not to forget the humans behind the figures.

Marie Curie estimates at least 100,000 people will now be grieving for a Covid-19 victim while isolated from their support networks by the lockdown rules.

Many thousands more will have lost a loved one to a different cause and are having to deal with bereavement in isolation.

Marie Curie is now calling for a national day of mourning for those who have lost their lives in the pandemic.

Mr Reed added: "Our information and support line is available seven days a week and now offers bereavement, spiritual and emotional support to the public and frontline health and social care professionals who need us."