Coronavirus UK: Death toll hits 21,731 but could be 55% higher

By | April 29, 2020

Government pledges to publish REAL daily death totals including non-hospital deaths as Britain suffers 586 more coronavirus deaths after ONS suggest true total may now be 55% higher at more than 33,000

  • NHS England today declared 552 more COVID-19 deaths in hospitals and more announced across the UK
  • The figure is almost double the number of new deaths yesterday – Mondays are always low because of a lag
  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock today said the Government will now release care home death data every day 
  • More than 4,300 people died in care homes between April 10 and April 24, according to the care regulator
  • When backdated statistics catch up the real death count could be over 33,000, an ONS report suggested 
  • April 11 to 17 was the deadliest week for England since records began in 1993, with 22,000 deaths recorded
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

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From tomorrow the Government will count care home deaths and others that happen outside of hospitals in its daily coronavirus updates, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced today.

Until now these victims have only been counted once a week in Office for National Statistics reports which date back 10 days or more, meaning many remain uncounted. The Care Quality Commission today said a total of 4,343 people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 died in care homes between April 10 and April 24 alone. 

ONS statistics published today show that more than a quarter of all COVID-19 deaths are happening outside of hospitals – by April 17 there had been 4,316 non-hospital deaths out of a total 19,112.  

England, Scotland and Wales today announced a further 586 coronavirus deaths in hospitals today, with the official death toll now standing at 21,678 in Britain.  

But an ONS report revealed that the true scale of the outbreak may be 55 per cent higher because the Department of Health’s stats don’t include people dying outside of hospitals. 

The statistics body found that, by April 17, England and Wales had recorded 22,351 coronavirus fatalities – a significant rise on the 14,451 counted by health chiefs. If the same increase – 54.6 per cent – were applied to the total UK death toll confirmed today (21,678) it could mean the real number of victims is in the region of 33,500.

ONS data, which is released each week and offers the only true picture on how many people have died outside of hospitals, recorded 3,096 COVID-19 care home deaths by April 17. This was almost triple the 1,043 total announced the week before, with 2,000 new fatalities in the space of a week.

One leading statistician today revealed he believes the life-threatening infection is now killing more Brits outside of hospital than inside, when deaths other than in care homes are included. New figures compiled by the CQC show care homes in England are now reporting around 400 COVID-19-linked deaths a day – similar numbers are occurring daily inside NHS hospitals.  

Many of those who die outside of hospitals are not tested for the coronavirus while alive, meaning this data shows Britain’s outbreak is much larger than it appears. Some are never officially diagnosed and are only suspected to have had the illness.

So many people are being killed by the virus that the week from April 11 to 17 was the deadliest for England and Wales since records began in 1993 and had a death toll (22,351) more than double the yearly average (10,497). Four out of every 10 people who died in that week were infected with coronavirus.

Mr Hancock also announced that routine testing will now be available for everyone in care homes, residents and staff, regardless of whether they have symptoms. The same will be applied to hospital staff and patients, and members of the public who have symptoms and are 65 or over will also qualify for a test.

The Office for National Statistics report also revealed:

  • The number of people dying in care homes of all causes has tripled since March – 7,316 deaths were recorded between April 11 and 17, compared to 2,471 between March 7 and 13; 
  • New records compiled by England’s regulator – the Care Quality Commission – showed 4,343 people died in care homes with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 between April 10 and April 24;
  • Three of the 10 deadliest weeks since 1993 have happened in the past month, each recording significantly more than the average 10,000 deaths for this time of year;
  • More than 6,500 people have died with the coronavirus outside of hospitals in England and Wales and one person is dying of coronavirus every 69 seconds; 
  • County Durham has had more COVID-19 care home deaths than any other area in England, with  84, followed by Sheffield (79) and Birmingham (71);
  • Men aged between 75 and 84 are most at risk of dying from the coronavirus, while women are more likely to die over the age of 85;
  • The North West of England is the worst-hit region outside of London when all victims are taken into account, followed by the South East.

Office for National Statistics shows a difference of 53 per cent between the daily death counts and the backdated information it releases once a week

Office for National Statistics shows a difference of 53 per cent between the daily death counts and the backdated information it releases once a week

Mr Hancock said at this afternoon’s public briefing: ‘From tomorrow we will be publishing not just the number of deaths in hospital each day, but the number of deaths in care homes and the community too.’

‘This will supplement the ONS and CQC weekly publication and all add to our understanding of how this virus is spreading day by day, and it will help inform the judgments that we make as we work to keep people safe,’ he said.

Experts say they cannot yet be sure that the coronavirus outbreaks in care homes have hit their peak.

The new data is being collected by Public Health England from the ONS and the CQC and will date back to the beginning of March – there is expected to be a surge in Britain’s death toll tomorrow as a result. Only test-confirmed cases will be included. 

In other developments to the coronavirus crisis today: 

  • More than two-third of Britons believe the lockdown should not be eased until coronavirus has been ‘fully contained’, according to a poll;
  • Health chiefs insisted they are ‘unaware’ of any deaths in children from a serious ‘inflammatory syndrome’ thought to be linked to the coronavirus – despite Matt Hancock admitting that ‘some’ youngsters have mysteriously died with no underlying conditions;
  • Nicola Sturgeon broke ranks with Boris Johnson again by declaring that Scots should wear face coverings on public transport and in shops;
  • The Prime Minister was so badly affected by coronavirus because he is ‘significantly’ overweight, an NHS doctor revealed;
  • A BBC documentary last night claimed ministers counted every glove individually instead of in pairs to boast of delivering one billion bits of PPE to NHS staff frontline in their fight against the coronavirus;
  • Nandos and Burger King both announced plans to reopen restaurants in more signs of Britain easing itself out of lockdown as traffic jams return to the roads despite the ongoing coronavirus lockdown;
  • Michael Gove revealed more than 3,200 fines have been issued to people flouting the coronavirus lockdown rules as he said that number is expected to ‘increase considerably’;
  • Pubs could reopen if landlords rationed beer to two or three pints per customer then asked them to go home to help with social distancing measures, it was claimed;
  • Dragons’ Den star Peter Jones became the latest multi-millionaire businessman to take advantage of taxpayers cash through the Government retention scheme.

WEEKLY CARE HOME DEATH COUNT TRIPLES IN A MONTH AMID THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS 

The number of people dying each week in care homes has tripled in a month, according to a shock report.

ONS data shows 7,316 fatalities were recorded in homes across England and Wales in the week that ended April 17 – including 2,050 involving COVID-19.

In comparison, just 2,471 deaths were registered in care homes in the week that ended March 13 – before the crisis began to spiral in Britain.

But the rate has risen in line with the coronavirus outbreak, jumping to 3,769 in Week 14 (March 27-April 3) and 4,927 in Week 15 (April 3-10).

It means the official care home death toll from COVID-19 – registered up until April 17 – in England and Wales stands at 3,096.

But the true figure is likely to be much higher because it does not take into account a registration lag.

For example, separate figures show the number of care home deaths that occurred in England up until April 17 but registered by April 25 was 3,936.

Meanwhile, England’s care regulator – the CQC – says the number of COVID-19 fatalities in homes is at least 4,300. This tally includes both suspected and confirmed cases.

County Durham has so far had the highest number of COVID-19 fatalities in care homes with 84, followed by Sheffield (79), Birmingham (71) and Liverpool (67).

NHS England today confirmed 552 more patients had died with COVID-19 in its hospitals between March 19 and April 27.

Patients were aged between 29 and 100 and 213 of the deaths occurred on Sunday, April 26. The 29-year-old did not have any other known health problems.

London accounted for 87 of the deaths announced today (14 per cent), while 55 happened in Midlands, 55 in the North East & Yorkshire, and 41 in the North West. 

It has now become clear that the hospital fatalities announced each day only show a fraction of the true outbreak in Britain.

The World Health Organization has warned that half of COVID-19 deaths happening in Europe are taking place in nursing homes, and the UK’s count is rising fast. 

British officials have faced heavy criticism for not offering enough support to the sector and chief scientist Sir Patrick Vallance yesterday admitted experts warned ministers ‘very early on’ about the risk COVID-19 posed to care homes.

Office for National Statistics data, released once a week and backdated 10 days, provides the most accurate picture because it adds up numbers from all sources – including care homes and private homes – and releases complete records. Those published by the Department of Health and NHS are rolling updates.  

The ONS also counts everyone who has COVID-19 mentioned on their death certificate, whether it has been confirmed with a test or not. 

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This means it records using a wider net than the NHS – it may include some wrong diagnoses but also include those who would never normally have been tested.

The downside to the data, however, is that it is backdated and takes a long time to record, meaning it’s 10 days out of date by the time it gets published.

It also does not include Scotland or Northern Ireland, which have their own records. 

In a bid to speed up recording, the sector regulator the Care Quality Commission has also been drafted in to collect reports of confirmed and suspected deaths caused by COVID-19.

BRITAIN’S DEADLIEST EVER WEEK SAW 22,000 PEOPLE DIE – INCLUDING 8,700 FROM COVID-19 

More than 22,000 people died in England and Wales during the week that ended April 17, 2020 – the deadliest seven-day spell since records began.

ONS statistics showed 22,351 fatalities were registered between April 11 and 17 – more than double the five-year average (10,497).

COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate of 8,758 victims (39.2 per cent). This is up from 33.6 per cent in the week that ended April 10.

Not all of the deaths will be as a direct result of COVID-19. For instance, scores of victims who tested positive will have died from other causes.

Statisticians said there was 3,835 more deaths registered during the seven-day spell than the week before, when 18,516 fatalities were counted.

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 at make-shift morgues.  

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 or burdening the NHS.

And others have faced treatment delays or cancellations – all non-urgent operations have been cancelled, and some cancer therapies delayed – which risks putting their health at risk.

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

17/04/2020

07/01/2000

08/01/1999

10/01/1997

10/04/2020 

14/01/2000

03/01/1997

17/01/1997

03/04/2020 

09/01/2015

22,351

20,566

20,116

18,541

18,516 

17,776

17,646

16,652

16,387 

16,195

The CQC’s data has been reported today for the first time and shows that 4,343 people are believed to have died with the disease in care homes between April 10 and 24. 

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, a statistician at the University of Cambridge, has said he believes more coronavirus deaths are now occurring in care homes and at home than in hospitals.

He told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme: ‘I think we can be very confident that our deaths in English hospitals peaked around April 8 – we had about 850 deaths and now they are down to around 400 deaths a day occurring in English hospitals – a steady but slow decline.

‘However, we’ve now just got new data that the Care Quality Commission have been reporting on notifications from care homes about deaths from Covid.

‘They receive those really quite up to date, only a couple of days’ delay, but that goes right up until April 24 – just a few days ago – when they were getting 400 notifications a day of deaths in care homes from Covid.

‘When we add on deaths at home from Covid, makes me – slightly sticking my neck out – believing that recently that more deaths occurring from Covid out of hospital than in hospital.’ 

So many people are being killed by the virus in England that more people died in the week from April 11 to April 17 than in any other week since records began in 1993.

A total 22,351 deaths were recorded in just seven days – one person every 27 seconds –  and 8,758 of them had COVID-19 mentioned on their death certificate.

The total was more than double the average for that week of the year – 10,497 – and coronavirus deaths almost hit the average on their own.

Not all of the deaths in ONS figures will be as a direct result of COVID-19. Many who tested positive or had the virus mentioned on their death certificate will have died from other causes.  

The number of people dying each week in care homes has tripled in a month amid the coronavirus crisis, according to a shock report.

ONS data shows 7,316 fatalities were recorded in homes across England and Wales in the week that ended April 17 – including 2,050 involving COVID-19.

In comparison, just 2,471 deaths were registered in care homes in the week that ended March 13 – before the crisis began to spiral in Britain.

But the rate has risen in line with the coronavirus outbreak, jumping to 3,769 in Week 14 (March 27-April 3) and 4,927 in Week 15 (April 3-10).

It means the official care home death toll from COVID-19 – registered up until April 17 – in England and Wales stands at 3,096.

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But the true figure is likely to be much higher because it does not take into account a registration lag.

For example, separate figures show the number of care home deaths that occurred in England up until April 17 but registered by April 25 was 3,936.

Meanwhile, England’s care regulator – the CQC – says the number of COVID-19 fatalities in homes is at least 4,300. This tally includes both suspected and confirmed cases.

County Durham has so far had the highest number of COVID-19 fatalities in care homes with 84, followed by Sheffield (79), Birmingham (71) and Liverpool (67).

It comes after Britain’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance , yesterday revealed that he and other senior scientists warned politicians ‘very early on’ about the risk COVID-19 posed to care homes.

Sir Patrick, who chairs the group along with Professor Chris Whitty , said they had ‘flagged’ the risk of care home and hospital outbreaks at the start of the epidemic.

While warnings about hospitals sparked a ‘protect the NHS ‘ mantra and a scramble to buy ventilators and free up beds, nursing homes saw no such efforts.

The Government has been slated for its lack of support to nursing homes, with no routine testing available, no up-to-date records of the number of people infected or dead, and ‘paltry’ attempts to deliver adequate protective clothing for staff. 

Care home staff and residents say they feel ‘forgotten’ and bosses accused officials of a ‘shambolic’ attempt to help nursing homes fend off the disease, which is lethal for elderly people in particular. 

Explaining how SAGE works in a briefing yesterday, Sir Patrick Vallance said: ‘Very early on we looked at a number of topics, we looked at nosocomial infection very early on, that’s the spread in hospitals, and we flagged that as something that the NHS needed to think about. 

‘We flagged the fact that we thought care homes would be an important area to look at, and we flagged things like vaccine development and so on. So we try to take a longer term view of things as well as dealing with the urgent and immediate areas.’

The SAGE committee, which draws in leading researchers from around the UK and rifles through scientific evidence about COVID-19, was activated on January 3 when Sir Patrick became concerned about the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan.

It met for the first time on January 22, suggesting ‘very early on’ in its discussions was likely the end of January or the beginning of February.

HOW DO COVID-19 DEATHS BREAK DOWN OVER AGE GROUPS? 

The Office for National Statistics provides information about the ages of all patients who have died with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 between the start of the outbreak and April 17, by which time the total number of victims was 22,351.

This is how it breaks down by age:

  • <1 year old: 0 deaths (0% of total)
  • 1-4 years old: 1 (0.004%)
  • 5-9 years old: 0 (0%)
  • 10-14: 1 (0.004%) 
  • 15-19: 7 (0.03%)
  • 20-24: 12 (0.05%)
  • 25-29: 26 (0.1%)
  • 30-34: 41 (0.2%)
  • 35-39: 69 (0.3%)
  • 40-44: 120 (0.5%)
  • 45-49: 242 (1%)
  • 50-54: 444 (2%) 
  • 55-59: 739 (3.3%)
  • 60-64: 1,111 (5%)
  • 65-69: 1,454 (6.5%)
  • 70-74: 2,340 (10%)
  • 75-79: 3,232 (14%)
  • 80-84: 4,272 (19%) 
  • 85-89: 4,242 (19%)
  • 90+: 3,998 (18%)

Note: Percentages add up to 99% because some were rounded down   

The first care home death in England and Wales was not officially recorded until March 31.

Care homes, which house some 400,000 people around the UK, are at particular risk from coronavirus because elderly people are the most likely to die if they catch it.

The Alzheimer’s Society said 70 per cent of all people living in care homes have dementia, making them especially vulnerable.

Directory of policy at the charity, Sally Copley, said: ‘While we are not in the least surprised we are still devastated to hear nearly a quarter of confirmed coronavirus deaths in England are now confirmed as coming from care homes, and still rising every week, exposing the true growing scale of the crisis that is happening in our nation’s care homes. 

‘With 70 per cent of people in care homes living with dementia this pandemic is taking a dreadful toll on the families we work with. The Government must make sure that every single death is examined and counted.

‘We know that this is a terrifying time for those with loved ones with dementia in care homes. 

‘People are dying, alone, because it’s clear that care homes are just not receiving the testing and protective equipment they were promised by the Government.’ 

Today’s ONS statistics show that people in their 80s account for 38 per cent of all deaths related to the coronavirus.

Of the 22,351 people who had died by April 17, 8,514 were aged between 80 and 89. A further 3,998 (18 per cent) were 90 or older, and 3,232  (14.5 per cent) were between 79 and 75.

Deaths decline on a sliding scale through the younger age groups, with only 38 people in their 20s (0.17 per cent) succumbing to the disease, along with nine children and teenagers (0.04 per cent).

Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that people in their 80s and over account for the most COVID-19 deaths of any age group

Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that people in their 80s and over account for the most COVID-19 deaths of any age group


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