A pedestrian walks posters promoting community spirit, erected during the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, in Manchester, northern England on June 2, 2020. - British MPs will return to parliament on Tuesday as the virtual system introduced during coronavirus pandemic is ended, with controversial plans to quarantine people entering the country set to be presented. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

The UK’s Covid-19 death toll neared 50,000 on Tuesday (2), confirming its place as one of the worst-hit countries in the world.

The toll now stands at 49,646, including death certificate data for England and Wales released on Tuesday up to May 22, previously published figures for Scotland and Northern Ireland, and recent hospital deaths in England.

The tally, based on Office for National Statistics figures, includes suspected and confirmed cases of Covid-19 deaths.

The confirmed death toll stood at 39,045 on Monday, with an addition of 111 deaths — the lowest daily toll since the start of the nationwide lockdown on March 23.

By either measure, the toll was Europe’s worst, and put Britain behind only the US in officially announced deaths.

The ONS data also showed there had been 56,308 more deaths in England and Wales than the five-year average since the pandemic broke out in March.

The large death toll has prompted criticism of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has been accused of not doing enough to counter the pandemic.

The government has conceded that it may have made some mistakes while grappling with the biggest public health crisis since the 1918 influenza outbreak, but highlighted that it ensured the health service was not overwhelmed.

Still, the grim death toll surpasses even some projections by the government’s own scientific advisers.

In March, Britain’s chief scientific adviser said keeping deaths below 20,000 would be a “good outcome”.

Epidemiologists say excess mortality — deaths from all causes that exceed the five-year average for the time of year — is the best way of gauging deaths from a disease outbreak because it is internationally comparable.

Some 62,000 more people than usual have died in the UK during the pandemic, according to the latest available data, an ONS expert said on Tuesday.