In Brief

ONS: deaths have nearly doubled to 20-year high

There were 18,500 deaths in the week up to 10 April - 8,000 more than usual at this time of year

Deaths in England and Wales have nearly doubled above expected levels, reaching a 20-year high.

The Office for National Statistics said there were 18,500 deaths in the week up to 10 April - about 8,000 more than what would be expected at this time of year.

The data show that the total number of coronavirus-related deaths in England and Wales up to 10 April was 41% higher than the government's hospital-only figures for the same period.

However, the Department of Health said it was “simply not valid” to say there was such a discrepancy between the two sets of figures.

“They count slightly different things and complement each other,” a spokesperson claimed.

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One in three deaths in the UK were linked to the coronavirus but the BBC points out that but deaths from other causes have also increased, “suggesting the lockdown may be having an indirect impact on health”.

Nick Stripe, head of health analysis at ONS, said it could “take years” to understand why non-coronavirus deaths are rising.

He suggested that it could be that people with other conditions were avoiding going to hospital for treatment. Visits to accident and emergency units have halved since the pandemic started. 

It has further been suggested that an under-reporting of Covid-19 cases could be behind the deaths not linked to the virus. 

The data showed that there were 4,927 deaths in care homes in the week ending April 10. In the week ending March 13, when the first Covid-19 deaths were registered, there were 2,471.

Stripe added that it was important to remember the human stories behind all of the figures. He said: “Each one is a person. Each one has a family. We must always remember this.”

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