COVID deaths spike by 50% in England and Wales in highest weekly total since June

An ambulance crew from the South Central Ambulance Service remove their PPE3-level clothing after responding to a false alarm call for a heart attack, near Portsmouth, Britain May 5, 2020. Picture taken May 5, 2020. Leon Neal/Pool via REUTERS
Weekly coronavirus deaths in England and Wales doubled, ONS figures show. (Leon Neal/Pool via Reuters)

Weekly coronavirus deaths in England and Wales rose by 232 in the period to 16 October, a roughly 50% rise on the previous toll, new Office for National Statistics data shows.

A total of 670 deaths involving COVID-19 took place, compared with 438 in the previous week.

The proportion of overall deaths involving the virus also grew, with the 670 fatalities accounting for 6.4% of the 10,534 deaths in England and Wales, compared with 4.4% in the week prior.

It puts the COVID toll closer to that seen in June, when weekly deaths like the 783 recorded in the week to 19 June were reported.

Prof Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at The Open University, said: “The weekly ONS data release on deaths, based on death registrations, provides sobering reading.

“The latest week covered is 10-16 October. The total number of deaths from all causes in England and Wales that week was about 7% above the average figure for the same week in the previous five years, and indeed the weekly deaths have been above the five-year average since the beginning of September.

“This would be concerning whatever the actual cause of these excess deaths is, but the ONS data indicate very clearly that the main cause of the excess is COVID-19.”

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Across the UK, there were 11,928 total deaths registered in the week ending 16 October, which was 726 higher than the five-year average, and 569 higher than the week before.

Of those UK-wide deaths, 761 involved COVID-19, up 287 from the week before.

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A total of 622 of the COVID-19 deaths took place in England, with the North West seeing 229 fatalities from the virus.

Several areas there, including Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region, are under local lockdown.

In England and Wales, the number of deaths in hospitals was 184 below the five-year average for the same time of year, while private home fatalities were over the average at 776 excess deaths, as were care homes with 90 above the average.

Government UK-wide data shows 44,000 people have died from the virus, and 890,000 have tested positive over the course of the outbreak, though the true number of people who have caught it is likely to be far higher.

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