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Coronavirus: UK now has Europe’s HIGHEST death toll

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Another 436 people were today confirmed to have died of COVID-19 in England, Scotland and Wales, taking the number of victims past 29,000 and making Britain the worst-hit nation in Europe. 

And separate backdated figures from the Office for the National Statistics show the figure appears to have already been higher than 32,000 by April 24 – 10 days ago. 

That number is 42 per cent higher than the count announced by the Department of Health at the time, suggesting the current total could be higher than 40,000 – this would mean COVID-19 has killed more Britons in eight weeks than died over seven months during the Blitz bombings in World War Two.

Today’s data confirms that more people have died of the coronavirus in the UK than in Italy, which is still considered to be the worst-hit country in the world and had suffered 29,079 fatalities by this morning. 

Only the US has now announced more deaths than Britain – almost 70,000 – while there have been 25,600 in Spain and 25,200 in France.

While experts caution that these numbers are incomparable because countries record deaths so differently, they admit even raw data can show that the UK has been hit harder than, for example, Germany, where fewer than 7,000 people have died despite a comparable number of positive tests (166,000 in Germany, 190,000 in UK). 

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. A further 2,219 people had died in Scotland, according to National Records Scotland, and 393 in Northern Ireland, its statistics agency, NISRA, shows. This was a total of 32,322. 

The Department of Health had, by that time, counted only 22,173 fatalities linked to the virus, meaning the ONS records put the country’s death toll 42 per cent higher.

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 42 per cent higher – could be 40,802. One former head health analyst at the ONS, Jamie Jenkins, suggested that the numbers of excess deaths could put the UK’s coronavirus death toll at more than 45,000, while the Financial Times estimates it is higher than 53,000 already.

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 deaths of any cause in care homes appeared to still be rising on April 24, with 7,911 people dying in homes that week – some of these may have been indirect casualties of the virus outbreak or people who had it but were never diagnosed.

COVID-19 fatalities in care homes appear to have peaked in the official count on April 17, when 415 people died – this was nine days after the daily peak in NHS hospitals, on April 8, with 867 deaths.

The virus has led to unprecedented numbers of people dying each week – more than 44,000 people died between April 11 and April 24, the two deadliest weeks since records began. The average number of deaths per week is around 10,000 for that time of year. 

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. 

In other coronavirus news:

  • The Government today launches a trial on the Isle of Wight of the NHS’s contact-tracing mobile app, which will alert people when they have been in close contact with someone who might have the coronavirus;
  • The Virgin Atlantic airline will lay off 3,000 of its staff and stop flying out of Gatwick Airport as it faces huge financial difficulties;
  • McDonald’s has started to reopen for delivery orders, starting with 15 stores nationwide – six of which are in Luton and Chelmsford;
  • Chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, has said it is unlikely people will develop total immunity to COVID-19 after having it once;
  • The Government’s furlough scheme is now paying the wages of 6.3million people, meaning it’s subsidising half of the country’s workforce. The Chancellor said it is ‘not sustainable’ but would continue;
  • Unions have warned they will not accept members being put at risk as lockdown eases and could call for strikes if health and safety demands are not met. 

The UK now has more confirmed COVID-19 deaths - according to backdated statistics from the Office for National Statistics, National Records Scotland, and Northern Ireland's NISRA - than any other country in Europe

The UK now has more confirmed COVID-19 deaths - according to backdated statistics from the Office for National Statistics, National Records Scotland, and Northern Ireland's NISRA - than any other country in Europe

The UK now has more confirmed COVID-19 deaths – according to backdated statistics from the Office for National Statistics, National Records Scotland, and Northern Ireland’s NISRA – than any other country in Europe

The number of people dying each week during the UK's coronavirus crisis has been significantly higher - more than double in recent weeks - than the average number of deaths for this time of year

The number of people dying each week during the UK's coronavirus crisis has been significantly higher - more than double in recent weeks - than the average number of deaths for this time of year

The number of people dying each week during the UK’s coronavirus crisis has been significantly higher – more than double in recent weeks – than the average number of deaths for this time of year

NHS England today announced 366 more people, aged between 29 and 99 years old, died in its hospitals between May 4 and March 19.

Hospital patients have accounted for a majority of the people who have died during Britain’s COVID-19 outbreak but increasing numbers of reports are emerging from care homes as statistics are backdated. 

CORONAVIRUS IN CARE HOMES PEAKED ON APRIL 17 – A WEEK AFTER CRISIS IN HOSPITALS

The COVID-19 death toll in care homes peaked more than a week after it did in hospitals, according to official figures released this morning.  

ONS statisticians trawled through all the coronavirus deaths in England and Wales to analyse when they actually occurred. 

April 8 (1,318 deaths) was found to be the darkest day of the outbreak – which officially began to spread on British soil back in February.

Data showed this coincided with the peak in hospital deaths (983), which have since plummeted (402 on April 24).

However, the daily care home death toll did not peak until nine days later – April 17 (415), according to the ONS analysis. 

DATE 

01-Apr

02-Apr

03-Apr

04-Apr

05-Apr

06-Apr

07-Apr

08-Apr

09-Apr

10-Apr

11-Apr

12-Apr

13-Apr

14-Apr

15-Apr

16-Apr

17-Apr

18-Apr

19-Apr

20-Apr

21-Apr

22-Apr

23-Apr

24-Apr

CARE

76

99

135

139

171

187

224

252

269

281

310

363

289

329

338

399

415

358

337

330

325

345

302

285

HOSPITAL

683

743

730

823

815

772

867

983

841

806

829

790

748

705

714

702

637

598

570

596

522

520

463

402

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 – 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 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).

Liz Kendall, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Social Care, said: ‘These figures show that talk of being “past the peak” of this awful virus simply does not hold true for social care.

‘Ministers must take urgent action to get to grips with this problem – including getting proper PPE to the frontline, making care workers a top priority for testing and ensuring the NHS does more to support social care services and help keep elderly and disabled people safe.’ 

Monitoring deaths in homes is complex because there has not been routine testing for residents.

Deaths of all causes have risen significantly during the outbreak but not all are accounted for in the records of COVID-19 fatalities. It’s likely that many of them should have been but were missed because the patient couldn’t get diagnosed.

And some may have missed out on medical care as a result of the outbreak, meaning the virus had contributed to their death even if they didn’t contract it themselves.  

Health Secretary Matt Hancock today admitted there was a ‘huge amount’ of work to do to get care home deaths down.

Responding to a question from Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, Mr Hancock said: ‘I’m glad that in the numbers released this morning… the number of deaths in care homes is slightly lower, but it is still far too high and there is a huge amount of work still to do.

‘People who need treatment should get that treatment and we’re opening up and reopening the NHS, including any temporary closures that may have taken place, for instance in A&E that need to reopen.’    

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

COVID-19 KILLED MORE THAN THE BLITZ, DATA SUGGESTS 

The COVID-19 outbreak could end up killing as many British people as the Blitz air raids did in the Second World War.

Data published by the Office for National Statistics today suggests that, by the time all the virus victims have been accounted for, they will number more than 40,000 in the UK.

The Blitz, a seven-month bombing campaign waged against Britain by Nazi Germany in 1940 and 1941 killed around 40,000 people, according to Parliament UK

A family clean up debris outside their house in Bexleyheath, London

A family clean up debris outside their house in Bexleyheath, London

A family clean up debris outside their house in Bexleyheath, London

Most of the raids took place in London after beginning with ‘Black Saturday’ on September 7, 1940, when the Luftwaffe attacked the London Docklands.

They would go on to bomb the capital city day and night for months, switching to night-only operations in October.

While the air raids mainly targeted London, where they wreaked havoc and killed thousands, they were carried out across the UK, with devastating attacks aimed at Bristol, Birmingham, Coventry, Bath, Cardiff, Clydebank, Liverpool, Manchester, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Sheffield, Southampton, Swansea and Swindon before the campaign came to an end in May 1941, seven months after it had began.    

Between September 7, 1940, and May 21, 1941, more than 20,000 tonnes of explosives were dropped on British cities.

London was attacked 71 times and bombed by the Luftwaffe for 57 consecutive nights. More than one million houses were destroyed or damaged in the city and, of those who were killed in the bombing campaign, more than half of them were from London.

Adolf Hitler had intended to demoralise Britain before launching an invasion using his naval and ground forces, but the Blitz came to an end towards the end of May 1941, when Hitler set his sights on invading the Soviet Union instead.

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.’

Professor James Naismith, a structural biology expert at the University of Oxford, said: ‘The data indicate that the peak of daily deaths in care homes has passed but occurred later than the peak in hospitals. 

‘The peak of deaths in hospitals was April 8th suggesting softer measures may have had some benefit. We need to fully understand the effect of each of the measures we introduced, on viral spread in the community and in care homes. 

‘These new studies are vital, the virus has not gone away and its potential to spread rapidly and overwhelm the health care system is likely to be undiminished.’

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. 

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

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.

Professor Naismith said: ‘The UK has been hit very hard in this wave of COVID-19 and each death will have brought sadness to families.

‘We are now well past the peak number of deaths in hospital. The deaths in hospital represent the majority of the deaths from COVID-19 and thus the overall number of daily deaths has peaked.’    

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 have been directly caused by COVID-19.

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

The Office for National Statistics data is different to the Government’s in that it doesn’t rely on someone being officially diagnosed with the virus.

Anyone who has the coronavirus mentioned on their death certificate will be included in ONS statistics. This includes those who died out of hospital and had the virus mentioned because their doctor suspected they had it, for example.

As a result it will include people who were suspected or confirmed to have the illness but died of something else such as cancer or a stroke, and it will also include people who were suspected of having the virus but may actually have just had flu, for example. 

Department of Health officials only count people if they had tested positive for COVID-19.

However, throughout most of March and April – during which thousands of people died and millions are believed to have been infected – the Government did not allow members of the public to get tested unless they were in hospital as patients or staff.

As a result, thousands of people are believed to have died with the disease but not to have officially tested positive. 

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, notably heart attacks, have plummeted since the outbreak started because people are afraid of catching the virus in hospital. 
Officials were forced to remind the public that it’s still safe for them to go to hospitals after the number of people going to A&E dropped by 40 per cent.
Routine operations were also cancelled and cancer treatments delayed to make space in hospitals, which is expected to have contributed to other deaths which might have been prevented or delayed were NHS hospitals operating normally.
These are called ‘excess deaths’ and, scientists say, will provide the best measure of the true scale of COVID-19’s impact on the nation’s health when it is collated and investigated in future. 

Professor Naismith added: ‘There are so called “excess” deaths this year compared to last year, that are not identified as COVID-19.

‘We urgently need to identify the cause of these deaths. There are many plausible theories as to their cause, however, we need real data on this urgently. As we go forward, we want to minimise all deaths, not just those tagged as COVID-19.’ 

Coronavirus has been a contributing factor in significant proportions of all deaths during the outbreak.

When the number of COVID-19 patients dying was at its highest in hospitals, around April 8, it was still relatively low in care homes, which then surged in the days and weeks following

When the number of COVID-19 patients dying was at its highest in hospitals, around April 8, it was still relatively low in care homes, which then surged in the days and weeks following

When the number of COVID-19 patients dying was at its highest in hospitals, around April 8, it was still relatively low in care homes, which then surged in the days and weeks following

Almost four in every 10 people who died between April 11 and 24 had the disease mentioned on their death certificate, and most recently this rose to half (50.5 per cent) in London.

The North West and North East recorded that between 38 and 39 per cent of everyone who died in the most recent week had COVID-19. 

And although all age groups have been affected by the virus, it is the elderly who make up the vast majority of people who die after catching it.

Over-70s accounted for 21,304 of the 29,710 people who had died by April 24, with those aged between 80 and 89 making up the majority of those (54 per cent).

Scientists still cannot pinpoint why exactly older people are so susceptible to the illness, but suggest it may be because of age-related frailty and higher rates of serious illnesses like high blood pressure and heart disease.

Elderly people are usually less likely to survive hospital stays and may be unable to tolerate more aggressive treatment such as ventilation, which can be damaging even for healthy lungs. 

Today’s statistics come as a study from the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has revealed there were at least 12 different strains of the coronavirus in circulation in Britain in March.

WHY WE SHOULD BE WARY ABOUT DEATH TOLL COMPARISONS 

Scientists say that accurately comparing countries is difficult and unreliable because each government records death and disease differently, making like-for-like comparisons impossible.

Professor David Leon, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said the data could only amount to ‘simplistic comparisons’.

Differences in how countries record data – and not knowing exactly what those differences are – make the numbers unreliable, Professor Leon said. 

Understanding the failings in UK’s gathering of data – only recently including people from care homes or those who die at home, and only counting people who have officially tested positive – gives an insight into why other countries’ data may be unreliable.

However, more detailed statistics may take weeks or months more to become available. 

Raw rolling data, in the meantime, may go some way to show how badly a country has been affected and how well authorities there have coped with it. 

Professor Leon told MailOnline: ‘This data is of limited usefulness – the most comparable way of looking at how different countries have been affected is to look at mortality from all causes of death during the pandemic and compare it to what we would expect to see had the pandemic not occurred.’

But he said that the raw data was enough to see that the UK had been hit hard.

He said: ‘None of this detracts from the fact that the indications are, even from the crudest data, that the UK is really not doing particularly well.

‘But exactly where it will end up compared to Italy, we don’t know. It’s certainly not doing as well as Norway, Czech Republic or Australia.

‘I think the timings and the extent of the excess deaths will begin to tell us something about the adequacy of the Government response. It won’t be definitive but it will give us an indication.’

DailyMail Online


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