Aug. 12 (UPI) -- The British economy has fallen into the deepest recession of any country in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, government figures showed Wednesday.
The statistics said Britain's gross domestic product declined in the second quarter by 20.4%, the nation's worst quarterly plunge in history.
The Office for National Statistics said the second-quarter decline came on top of the 2.2% decline in the first quarter. Economists define a recession as two consecutive quarters of contracting gross domestic product.
Britain is now in the most severe recession of any major economy.
"There have been record quarterly falls in services, production and construction output in Quarter 2, which have been particularly prevalent in those industries that have been most exposed to government restrictions," the ONS said in a statement.
"This [data] captures the direct effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the government measures taken to reduce transmission of the virus."
Britain's last recession occurred in 2008 and lasted for more than a year.
The opposition Labor Party blamed Prime Minister Boris Johnson for the economy's misfortunes.
"I've said before that hard times were ahead and today's figures confirm that hard times are here," Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said. "Hundreds of thousands of people have already lost their jobs and, sadly, in the coming months many more will.
"While there are difficult choices to be made ahead, we will get through this and I can assure people that nobody will be left without hope or opportunity."
Data showed Britain's construction and service sectors saw the steepest declines, falling 35% and 20%, respectively.