COVID-19: Number of weekly coronavirus deaths in England and Wales at lowest level in six months, ONS data shows

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The number of COVID-related deaths in England and Wales in a week has fallen to the lowest level in six months, new figures show.

A total of 362 deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending 16 April mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This is the lowest number since the week ending 2 October 2020.

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The figure is also down by 4% on the previous week's total, although the ONS said the number of deaths registered is likely to have been affected by the recent Easter bank holidays.

Around one in 29 (3.5%) of all deaths registered in England and Wales in the week to 16 April mentioned coronavirus on the death certificate.

The latest data also showed a massive 97% fall in COVID deaths in the 70-and-over age group, with 196 virus-related fatalities registered in the week ending 9 April compared with 7,049 in the week ending 22 January.

Deaths for those aged 65 to 69 decreased by 96% during the same period, with drops of 95% for those aged 60 to 64, 94% for those aged 55 to 59, and 96% for those aged 50 to 54.

Overall, COVID-19 deaths were down by at least 95% since the second-wave peak among people in all 50-and-over age groups, the ONS said.

People over 50 were prioritised in the early months of the UK's vaccine rollout as they have accounted for the overwhelming majority of deaths since the pandemic began, and the jabs programme has now moved on to people in their 40s - with those as young as 42 now able to book an appointment in England.

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COVID-related deaths of care home residents have also fallen, according to the latest official figures, with 69 registered in the week to 16 April - a 5% drop on the week before.

A total of 152,205 deaths - 42,331 of these in care homes across England and Wales - have now occurred in the UK since the start of the coronavirus pandemic where the virus was mentioned on the death certificate, the ONS said.

The highest number of deaths to occur on a single day was 1,477 on 19 January.

During the first wave of the virus, the daily death toll peaked at 1,461 deaths on 8 April 2020.

Separate figures from the ONS show the total number of deaths registered in England and Wales have remained below the pre-pandemic average for the sixth consecutive week.

Some 10,438 total deaths were registered in the week to 16 April, 0.8% below the average for the corresponding period in 2015-19.