COVID-19: Weekly deaths climb to three-month high in England and Wales

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Coronavirus deaths have climbed to the highest level in three months in England and Wales, latest data from the Office for National Statistics shows.

A total of 327 deaths were registered in the week ending 23 July with COVID-19 mentioned on the death certificate.

This is an increase of 50% on the previous week, when 218 deaths were recorded.

It is also the highest total since 362 deaths in the week to 16 April.

Deaths fell to as low as 84 in the week to 11 June.

In England, the number of COVID-related deaths increased to 308 in the latest week compared with 213 in the previous week.

Meanwhile, deaths involving coronavirus in Wales increased to 16 in the week to 23 July compared with four the week before.

The numbers of COVID deaths increased in eight of the nine English regions in the latest week - and the largest increase was reported in the North West with 26 more deaths.

Deaths in the latest week of figures are 7.2% above the pre-pandemic five-year average, the ONS said.

It reflects the impact of the third coronavirus wave which hit the UK in May, prompting a sharp increase in the number of new cases, as well as a slight rise in hospital patients.

Cases have fallen in recent weeks, but the data for deaths is yet to reflect this because of the length of time between someone getting COVID-19, becoming seriously ill, and then dying.

And while the number of deaths in the latest week is the highest for three months, it is still well below the level seen at the peak of the second wave - with some 8,433 deaths registered in the week to 29 January.

COVID deaths in care homes have also increased, with a total of 35 care home residents dying with the virus in England and Wales in the week to 23 July, up from 27 deaths in the previous week.

In total, 42,649 care home residents in the two regions have had COVID-19 recorded on their death certificates since the pandemic began.

The ONS figures include deaths of care home residents in all settings, not just in care homes.

A total of 155,133 deaths involving coronavirus have now occurred in the UK, the ONS said.

The highest number of fatalities to occur on a single day was 1,484 on 19 January.

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

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