150,000 hearts painted in London to remember COVID victims

A campaign group for bereaved families has begun hand-drawing almost 150,000 hand-drawn hearts on a wall opposite Britain's Houses of Parliament as a memorial to victims of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The mural is expected to stretch for hundreds of metres along the southern bank of the River Thames outside St Thomas' hospital, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson was put in an intensive care unit after he contracted the virus and fell seriously ill last year.

It has been organised by the group Covid-19 Bereaved Families For Justice UK, which has called for a public inquiry into the government's handling of the pandemic.

Spokesman Labby Akinnola told Reuters the group wanted the inquiry to investigate why so many people lost their lives.

Early in the pandemic, government scientists estimated a death toll closer to 20,000.

Britain's government has promised to build a permanent memorial once the pandemic is over.