Coronavirus deaths in England and Wales are lowest in 22 weeks, ONS stats reveal

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·Freelance Writer
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson, wearing a face mask, talks with paramedic Cindy Fu during a visit to the headquarters of the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust.
Boris Johnson, wearing a face mask, talks with paramedic Cindy Fu during a visit to the headquarters of the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust. (PA)

Death registrations in England and Wales involving COVID-19 fell to 138 in the week ending 21 August – the lowest figure since March.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), there were 9,631 deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending 21 August – 239 higher than in the previous week.

Deaths mentioning COVID-19 saw a slight 0.7% decrease compared with the week ending 14 August (1 death), accounting for 1.4% of all deaths in England and Wales.

The total number of deaths registered was 5.2% above the five-year average (474 deaths higher), marking the second consecutive week that weekly deaths have been above the five-year average.

The number of deaths involving COVID-19 has decreased to the lowest level in 22 weeks. (ONS)
The number of deaths involving COVID-19 has decreased to the lowest level in 22 weeks. (ONS)
Deaths involving COVID-19 since the end of 2019. (ONS)
Total deaths involving COVID-19 since the end of 2019. (ONS)

However, the rise is not down to COVID-19, according to the ONS, which says high temperatures during the middle of August may be behind it.

The number of deaths involving COVID-19 decreased or remained the same across the majority of the English regions, and two of the nine regions had fewer overall deaths than the five-year average.

In Wales, the number of deaths involving COVID-19 decreased to 11 deaths from 14 deaths in the previous week.

At the height of the pandemic in the week ending 17 April, 8,758 deaths involved coronavirus – accounting for 39.2% of all deaths.

The figures come as some northern areas saw their lockdown restrictions lifted overnight – despite an uptick in cases.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham urged residents to ignore the new guidelines and to continue avoiding social gatherings, saying there was “no logic” to the government’s decision.

Even as lockdown has been lifted for some, Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon enforced new measures on Glasgow following a rise in cases.

She said the measures, which are expected to be in place for two weeks, are “essential” to stopping the spread of coronavirus.

As the colder months start to approach, the World Health Organization’s European regional director Hans Kluge warned on Wednesday that hospitals were likely to see an increase in the number of COVID-19 patients this autumn.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that local lockdowns were the best way to target any outbreaks, not national shutdowns.

“Let’s not forget that we’re entering three phenomena – one is the reopening of the schools for the academic year, the second is the flu season, and the third is the excess mortality in the elderly population during the winter,” he said.

The number of deaths not involving COVID-19 increased above the five-year average for the second week in a row. (ONS)
The number of deaths not involving COVID-19 increased above the five-year average for the second week in a row. (ONS)

“So I wouldn’t be surprised, unfortunately, if we see an increase (of hospital admissions) in October, especially towards late November – there’s no reason for panic but we have to be aware.

“It is far too early to draw all the conclusions for the time being, but we know what needs to be done.

“This is the key message: if we look back in February, the full option was lockdown and re-booting but now we should target the virus and not the schooling, the economy and society.”

Coronavirus: what happened today

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