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Britain’s coronavirus death toll may be 34% higher

Britain’s coronavirus crisis may have killed 34 per cent more people than the Government’s daily statistics update shows.

Office for National Statistics data today revealed that 29,710 people in England and Wales had COVID-19 mentioned on their death certificate by April 24.

The Department of Health had, by that time, counted only 22,173 fatalities linked to the virus. 

Delays in death reports, uncounted victims who died at home or in care homes, and a refusal to count anyone who hasn’t been tested mean the daily death counts are not the most accurate measure of how many people are being killed by the illness.

Yesterday the Health Secretary announced that a total of 28,734 people had died after testing positive for the disease. This suggests the true total – if 34 per cent higher – could be 38,506.

Other statistics in the ONS bulletin today showed that one in five of all people who have died so far in the crisis have been care home residents. Some 5,890 people in homes succumbed to the disease by April 24.

And fatalities in care homes appear to have peaked on April 17, when 415 people died – this was nine days after the peak in NHS hospitals, on April 8, with 867 deaths.

ONS data is the most accurate picture of how many people have died with COVID-19, but the statistics are backdated so only relate to a period two weeks earlier.

Its release next Tuesday is expected to show evidence of the virus starting to taper off as the last of the pre-lockdown patients’ hospital stays ended in death or discharge; some patients may spend more than three weeks in hospital.

FOUR OF 10 DEADLIEST WEEKS IN ENGLAND AND WALES WERE IN APRIL, DATA SHOWS 

Four of the 10 deadliest weeks ever recorded in England and Wales occurred in April, MailOnline can reveal.

ONS figures show 22,351 deaths were registered during the week that ended April 17 – the worst seven-day spell since records began.

It was followed by the week that finished April 24, which saw 21,997 deaths recorded across England and Wales.

In comparison, the average number of fatalities registered each week across the two countries is around the 10,500 mark. 

More than 18,500 deaths were recorded in the week that ended April 10, while 16,387 fatalities were registered in the previous seven-day period.

COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate of 8,237 victims (37.4 per cent) in Week 17 (ending April 24).  

Not all of the deaths will be directly from COVID-19. For example, scores of victims who tested positive will have died from other causes.

As well as people dying as a result of catching the virus and falling ill with it, people are also believed to be becoming indirect COVID-19 victims.

A&E attendances for all conditions, and notably heart attacks, have plummeted since the outbreak started because people are afraid of catching the virus in hospital. 

Only one other week in modern times has seen more than 20,000 deaths in England and Wales – January 1-7 2000 (20,566).

The huge spike came during the worst flu outbreak to hit Britain in decades, which saw hospitals use lorries as make-shift morgues.   

THE 10 DEADLIEST EVER WEEKS IN ENGLAND AND WALES, SINCE ONS RECORDS BEGAN

17/04/2020

24/04/2020 

07/01/2000

08/01/1999

10/01/1997

10/04/2020

14/01/2000

03/01/1997

17/01/1997

03/04/2020

22,351

21,997 

20,566

20,116

18,541

18,516

17,776

17,646

16,652

16,387

By April 24, a total of 5,890 people had died in care homes with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, out of a total of 27,356 people (21.5 per cent). The 27,356 is lower than the 29,710 total for that date because of a recording cut-off.

The scale of care home deaths is expected to continue rising as the National Records of Scotland last week revealed that 39 per cent of victims there have been in nursing homes.

Elderly people and those with long-term health issues are known to be the most at risk of the virus and close proximity living makes outbreaks difficult to stop.

Deaths in care homes also appeared to keep accelerating after the virus deaths peaked in England’s hospitals, ONS data shows.

The week between April 18 and 24 was another weekly high for the number of people succumbing to the virus in nursing homes.

A total 2,794 residents died and had coronavirus mentioned on their death certificate that week, up from 2,050 the week before (36 per cent higher).

In hospitals, the peak of deaths caused by the outbreak was almost certainly on Wednesday, April 8, when hospitals in England saw 867 people die with the illness.

Nationally, the ONS has recorded that 1,318 people died on that day. 

Professor David Paton, an industrial economics expert at Nottingham University, said in a tweet today’s data showed ‘Confirmation that peak… was on 8 April & steady decline since.’

The coronavirus outbreak has pushed Britain into an unprecedented number of weekly death registrations.

The weeks April 11 to 17 and April 18 to 24 were the two deadliest weeks since records began 1993.

Some 44,000 people died in those two weeks – more than double the five-year average for a fortnight at that time of year.  

ONS figures show 22,351 deaths were registered during the week that ended April 17 – the worst seven-day spell since records began.

It was followed by the week that finished April 24, which saw 21,997 deaths recorded across England and Wales.

In comparison, the average number of fatalities to be registered each week is around the 10,500 mark. 

More than 18,500 deaths were recorded in the week that ended April 10, while 16,387 fatalities were registered in the previous seven-day period.

COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate of 8,237 victims (37.4 per cent) in Week 17 (ending April 24). 

Not all of the deaths will be directly from COVID-19. For example, many of victims who tested positive will have died from other causes.

As well as people dying as a result of catching the virus and falling ill with it, people are also believed to be becoming indirect COVID-19 victims.

A&E attendances for all conditions, and notably heart attacks, have plummeted since the outbreak started because people are afraid of catching the virus in hospital. 

Only one other week in modern times has seen more than 20,000 deaths in England and Wales – January 1-7 2000 (20,566).

The huge spike came during the worst flu outbreak to hit Britain in decades, which saw hospitals use lorries as make-shift morgues. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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