This month saw the highest weekly total of deaths recorded in England and Wales since the first seven days of 2000, figures released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal.
The provisional data shows that there were 18,516 deaths in the week ending 10 April 2020, which was 2,129 more than in the previous week, and 7,996 more than the five-year average.
Of these, 6,213 people were found to have died with COVID-19 symptoms, up from 3,475 the previous week, representing approximately one-third of all deaths.
The number of deaths from other causes also increased, perhaps suggesting that lockdown measures are having an adverse impact on health.
Moreover, separate ONS data shows that total COVID-19 deaths had hit 13,121 by 10 April, compared with the 9,288 recorded by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
This could be due to the different way coronavirus deaths are recorded, with some media outlets suggesting that the UK's true death toll could be 40% higher than reported by the government.
“ONS and DHSC COVID-19 death numbers have different criteria,” the ONS said. “The DHSC count deaths where a person has been tested positive for coronavirus, and for England this is in hospitals only.
“The ONS counts deaths where COVID-19 (including suspected cases) was mentioned on the death certificate, regardless of location.”
Of the total coronavirus deaths registered up to 10 April 2020, the ONS said that 83.9% occurred in hospital, with the remainder taking place in care homes, private homes and hospices.
A comparison of different data sources for COVID-19 deaths up to 10 April is shown below:
COVID-19 deaths recorded by NHS England, which come from the same source as DHSC but are continuously updated, show 2,256 fewer deaths registered by 10 April than the ONS figures.
Meanwhile, the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries' Continuous Mortality Investigation has published its analysis of today's ONS figures.
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This shows that the cumulative mortality improvement for 2020 is –2.7% as of 10 April, compared to +0.1% as of 20 March, with 77% more deaths registered in week 15 of 2020 than during the same week of 2019.
“Numbers produced by the ONS take longer to prepare, because they have to be certified by a doctor, registered and processed,” the ONS said. “But once ready, they are the most accurate and complete information.”