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Deaths from coronavirus in the UK 40% higher than previously reported, official figures reveal

The ONS data shows a much higher number of Covid-19 related deaths (PA)

3 min read

The total number of deaths from coronavirus in the UK is 40% higher than previously thought, according to new official data.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show there were 13,121 fatalities linked to Covid-19 in England and Wales up to 10 April, compared to the 9,288 previously reported by the Government.

This is because the the ONS total includes coronavirus deaths outside hospital, such as in care homes, which the daily stats from the Department of Health and Social Care do not.

It also suggests that the total number of Covid-19 deaths in the UK is already well over 20,000 - far higher than the official total of 16,509.

Liz Kendall MP, Labour's shadow minister for social care, said: "These awful figures are only scratching the surface of the emerging crisis in social care, because they are already 11 days out of date.

"The Government must now publish daily figures of Covid-19 deaths outside hospital, including in care homes, so we know the true scale of the problem. 

"This is essential to tackling the spread of the virus, ensuing social care has the resources it needs and getting vital PPE and testing to care workers on the frontline.”

Currently the Department for Health and Social Care count deaths where a person has been tested positive for coronavirus, and for England this is in hospitals only. 

Meanwhile the ONS counts deaths where Covid-19, including suspected cases, was mentioned on the death certificate, regardless of location.

The ONS say: “The figures published on GOV.UK are valuable because they are available very quickly and give an indication of what is happening day by day. 

“Their definition is also clear, so the limitations of the data can be understood. 

"But they do not include all deaths involving Covid-19, such as those in England that are not in a hospital, or where no test result was available.”

The stats body’s new batch of data also reveals in the week ending 10 April the total number of deaths registered in England and Wales was 18,516, almost double the five-year average for this time of year.

And it also represents the highest weekly total since the beginning of January 2000, when the UK faced its worst flu outbreak for decades.

Ian Hudspeth from the Local Government Association said: “Today’s sad and shocking figures highlight just what a severe challenge we face in care homes and other community settings. 

“Council social care staff and care homes need urgent access to reliable and ongoing supplies of quality PPE, increased rapid and comprehensive testing and greater support with staffing and other equipment, on an equal footing with the NHS.

“Data on all deaths from Covid-19 needs to be published promptly and accurately, so we can have full confidence and transparency in these figures as part of our plan to defeat this deadly virus.”

A DHSC spokesperson said: “This virus can sadly have a devastating effect on some of our most vulnerable people. Our deepest sympathies go out to the families who have sadly lost relatives due to COVID-19’.

“It is simply not valid to simply to say there is a 40% difference between our figures and the ONS data.

“They count slightly different things and complement each other. That is not a discrepancy, it is a defined and clear difference in coverage, which is fully explained and reported transparently.’’

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