Coronavirus: UK records almost 64,000 excess deaths since start of COVID-19 outbreak

The number of excess deaths in the UK since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak has reached almost 64,000.

The latest figures also revealed that there has been a 45% increase in deaths in private homes during the pandemic.

On Tuesday, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported 57,961 excess deaths in England and Wales between 21 March and 29 May.

Added to figures for Scotland (4,729) and Northern Ireland (906) published last week, it means a UK total of 63,596. All of those figures are based on death registrations.

However, data also showed that the number of excess deaths was also at the lowest level since the start of the pandemic, according to Sky News.

Across the UK, 1,798 more people died in the week to 29 May than historically have done at this point in the year – the lowest total since late March.

The ONS data was published as scientists predicted the UK could begin reporting zero daily coronavirus deaths by next month.

Travelers, wearing face masks, leave London's Underground Baker Street station, Tuesday, June 9, 2020. Wearing a face mask will become compulsory on the London TFL public transport service starting from June 15, 2020, as a safety measure to contrast the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Commuters wearing face masks Baker Street Tube station in London on Tuesday (AP Photo)

The ONS figures released on Tuesday showed that COVID-19 was responsible for 78% of the excess deaths registered in England and Wales between 21 March and 29 May.

There were 45,408 deaths where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, including suspected cases.

Excess deaths are the number of deaths above the average for this period in the previous five years.

On Monday, the UK recorded its lowest daily deaths since 22 March, with 55 deaths reported by the government, taking its death toll to 40,597.

However, there is usually a lag in reporting deaths over the weekend, while the government’s total is much lower than the actual death toll.

Analysis of the latest available data shows the number of deaths involving COVID-19 in the UK is now almost 52,000.

On Tuesday, the ONS revealed that 46,421 deaths involving COVID-19 had occurred in England and Wales up to 29 May (and had been registered by June 6).

When added to figures from Scotland (3,911) and Northern Ireland (757) that were published last week, it results in 51,089 deaths where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, including suspected cases.

However, a further 677 deaths were reported in England, Wales and Northern Ireland between 30 May and 7 June, bringing the UK total to 51,766.

On Sunday, Dr Mike Osborn, chair of the death investigation committee at the Royal College of Pathologists, told The Guardian that the bodies of some people who died alone from COVID-19 have lain in their homes for up to two weeks.

On Tuesday, the ONS said the number of deaths in private homes was 45% above the five-year-average, but that excluding COVID-19 deaths they still would have been 42% higher than normal.

It said there had been 2,070 deaths from COVID-19 in private homes during the pandemic up to 29 May.

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Nick Stripe, head of health analysis at the ONS, said: “Some deaths that might normally occur in hospitals have been occurring in private homes and care homes.”

Of all deaths involving COVID-19 in England and Wales up to 29 May, 64% (29,227 deaths) occurred in hospital.

A further 29% (13,460 deaths) took place in care homes, with 5% (2,070) in private homes and 1% (612) in hospices.

The overall number of excess deaths registered per week has fallen from a peak of 11,854 in the week ending 17 April to 1,653 in the week ending 29 May.

Less than a fifth of deaths registered in the week ending May 29 in England and Wales involved coronavirus - the lowest proportion since the week lockdown was imposed.

Of the total 9,824 deaths registered that week, 1,822 involved COVID-19 - 18.5% of the total that week and the lowest number of weekly coronavirus deaths for eight weeks.

On Monday, separate research from Imperial College London claimed the lockdown prevented 470,000 deaths.

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