Care home deaths involving coronavirus have increased by more than a third in the space of a week, with at least 8,828 Covid-19 deaths outside hospital to date, figures show.
There were 2,794 care home deaths linked to Covid-19 and registered in the week ending April 24, up from 2,050 during the previous seven days.
This is an increase of 36%, bringing the total to 5,890 coronavirus-related care home deaths registered up to April 24 in England and Wales.
Of deaths involving coronavirus up to that point, 19,643 (71.8%) took place in hospitals and 7,713 were elsewhere.
– 5,890 took place in care homes
– 1,306 took place in private homes
– 301 took place in hospices
– 105 took place in other communal establishments
– 111 elsewhere
The ONS said the numbers are based on where Covid-19 is mentioned anywhere on the death certificate, including in combination with other health conditions.
Of deaths that occurred up to April 24 and which were registered by May 2, the number rises to a total of 8,828 deaths involving coronavirus outside hospital.
Including data from Scotland and Northern Ireland, a total of 32,375 deaths involving Covid-19 have now been registered across the UK.
But deaths from all causes registered in England and Wales fell for the first time since March 20,
In the week ending April 24, there were 21,997 deaths, down by 354 from the week ending April 17.
Nick Stripe, head of health analysis at the ONS, told the BBC it was “reassuring” to see the overall number of deaths has slightly dropped.
He said: “We would kind of expect to see that impact of the lockdown now, so it’s reassuring to see that the number of deaths have slightly dropped from that very high peak.”
But he cautioned that the number of excess deaths in the week ending April 24 is still the second highest since records began in 1993.
Of the total deaths from all causes in the week up to April 24, 37.4% (8,237) mentioned “novel coronavirus (Covid-19)”
There were 11,539 more deaths than the five-year average of 10,458,
Over the last five weeks where data has been recorded, he calculated there have been around 42,000 deaths above average in the UK.
Mr Stripe said that hospitals are still seeing about 75% more deaths than usual at this time of year but the situation in care homes is “more stark”.
He continued: “So, almost four times more deaths than we would expect to see at this time of year were registered in that last week, about 280% more deaths registered in care homes above that five-year average, and that number is going up.
“And 35% of those mentioned Covid on the death certificate.”
Carl Heneghan, professor of evidence-based medicine, University of Oxford, said the potential for a larger proportion of the excess deaths to not involve Covid-19 “is a real phenomenon”.
He said: “It really does concern me and I think what’s happening here is that the context of the collateral damage of just focusing on a single disease that’s now dominating our health services is now creating significant problems.”
When looking at the ONS figures by date of death, they suggest a peak in daily care home deaths may have taken place on April 17, when 415 deaths occurred.
During the following week, daily deaths declined consecutively for all days but one – April 22, when deaths rose by 20.
The corresponding peak for deaths in hospitals is April 8, when 983 occurred.
It is unclear if daily care home deaths will continue to decrease as the available data only covers up to a week after April 17.
Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, chairman of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication, University of Cambridge, said a peak “quite possibly” may have been reached but that this cannot be said with the same confidence as when pronouncing the hospital peak.
Prof Heneghan said: “When we come to nursing homes, as I said it’s because of this seeding effect, I think we cannot be confident.
“It will really come down now to the attention paid in nursing homes to helping them out, in the way that we’ve done for hospitals.”
He added: “And I think we should be doing that today, based on these figures, and I think we should have been doing it some time ago.”
The number of registered deaths involving Covid-19 occurring in hospitals fell from 6,107 in the week ending April 17 to 4,841 in the week ending April 24 – a decrease of 21%.
It comes as separate data showed care homes notified the Care Quality Commission (CQC) of 6,391 deaths of residents in homes between April 10 and May 1.