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What do the latest statistics tell us about UK Covid-19 deaths?

There have been nearly 60,000 excess deaths in the UK since the outbreak began.

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A nurse disinfects work surfaces at the Mater Hospital Covid-19 recovery ward in Belfast (Niall Carson/PA)

A nurse disinfects work surfaces at the Mater Hospital Covid-19 recovery ward in Belfast (Niall Carson/PA)

A nurse disinfects work surfaces at the Mater Hospital Covid-19 recovery ward in Belfast (Niall Carson/PA)

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published its latest data for the number of deaths involving coronavirus in England and Wales.

Here are five things the figures tell us about the situation across the whole of the UK.

– The number of deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK has passed 47,000

Tuesday’s ONS figures show that 42,173 deaths involving Covid-19 had occurred in England and Wales up to May 15, and had been registered up to May 23.

Latest figures from the National Records of Scotland, published last week, showed 3,546 deaths involving Covid-19 had been registered in Scotland up to May 17.

And data from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, also published last week, showed 664 deaths involving Covid-19 had been registered in Northern Ireland up to May 20.

Together these figures mean that so far 46,383 deaths have been registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, including suspected cases.

A further 964 hospital patients in England who had tested positive for Covid-19 died between May 16 and May 24, according to figures published on Monday by NHS England.

Together with the total figure of 46,383 registered deaths, this puts the overall death toll for the UK at just over 47,300.

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– The ONS figures for England and Wales are around a third higher than the number reported by the Government

The ONS says there were 42,173 deaths involving Covid-19 in England and Wales up to May 15, and which were registered up to May 23.

This compares with 31,944 deaths of people testing positive for Covid-19 reported by the Department of Health and Social Care for the same period.

The ONS total is 32% higher than the Department of Health total.

This is because the ONS figures include all mentions of Covid-19 on a death certificate, including suspected cases, and are based on the date that deaths occurred.

The Department of Health figures are based on when deaths were reported, and are for deaths where a person has tested positive for Covid-19.

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– There have been nearly 54,000 excess deaths in England and Wales since the outbreak began

The ONS figures show that 135,575 deaths were registered in England and Wales between March 21 and May 15 2020.

This was 53,960 more deaths than the average for this period in the previous five years.

Covid-19 was responsible for 76% of these excess deaths.

The remainder – excess deaths not linked with Covid-19 – might have been caused by factors connected to wider changes in England and Wales since the lockdown began: a reluctance on the part of some people to visit a doctor or a hospital, for instance, or the result of long-term health conditions being made worse by having to remain at home.

The ONS said it is continuing to investigate the number of non-Covid-19-related deaths and will publish detailed analysis on this in the future.

– There have been nearly 60,000 excess deaths in the UK since the outbreak began

Data published last week by the National Records of Scotland showed there were 4,434 excess deaths in Scotland between March 23 and May 17, while the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency put the figure for Northern Ireland at 834 excess deaths between March 21 and May 15.

Together with the 53,960 excess deaths in England and Wales reported by the ONS, this means the total number of excess deaths in the UK across this period now stands at 59,228.

All figures are based on death registrations.

Due to the inconsistent way coronavirus-related deaths are recorded and reported across the world, excess deaths is a more reliable measure for comparing the UK’s experience of Covid-19 with other countries.

Full analysis of excess deaths in 2020 will only be possible once numbers have been adjusted for the latest age distribution of the population and for seasonal variation.

– Hospital deaths now make up around half of Covid-19 deaths in England and Wales

The proportion of deaths involving Covid-19 taking place in hospitals has fallen since the outbreak began.

The latest ONS figures show that, in the week ending March 20, 90% of deaths in England and Wales occurred in hospitals.

The following week the proportion was 87%, then 83%.

For the week ending April 10, it was 74%, then it dropped to 64% and 57%.

By the week ending May 1, the proportion had settled at 52%, where it remained for the following two weeks.

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In contrast, the proportion of deaths taking place in care homes has risen every week, from 4% in the week ending March 20 to 31% in the week ending April 17. It has now reached 44% (week ending May 15).

There was a peak on April 17 in the number of deaths in care homes in England and Wales, since when the daily total has been on a broadly downwards trend.

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