UK death rate up to 15 per cent higher due to missed care home deaths

More than 13 per cent of UK care homes have outbreaks, with almost 100 reporting cases overnight

General view of a temporary mortuary in Wanstead Flats as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, London, Britain, April 14, 2020. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
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New figures show the UK Covid-19 death rate could be 15 per cent higher than thought as fears mount that care home deaths are being missed.

On Tuesday, the latest figures released by the Office of National Statistics revealed 6,235 people had died in England and Wales by April 3 with the virus.

The figures for deaths in England are 15 per cent higher than the official figure that was released at the time.

The UK official death figure stood at 11,329 on Monday but includes only those who died in British hospitals.

“The latest comparable data for deaths involving Covid-19 with a date of death up to 3 April, show there were 6,235 deaths in England and Wales,” said Nick Stripe, head of health analysis and life events at the ONS.

“When looking at data for England, this is 15 per cent higher than the NHS numbers as they include all mentions of Covid-19 on the death certificate, including suspected Covid-19, as well as deaths in the community.

“The 16,387 deaths that were registered in England and Wales during the week ending 3 April is the highest weekly total since we started compiling weekly deaths data in 2005.”

That figure is far higher than the five-year running average for the same period, which is 10,305.

The missing deaths raise fears many are dying of Covid-19 in care homes.

The April 3 figures show 4,102 people died of Covid-19 in England, five per cent of whom were in care homes.

More than 13 per cent of homes have had residents diagnosed with the virus, the country’s chief medical officer Chris Witty has revealed.

On Monday, the number of care homes with outbreaks rose by almost 100 overnight.

In County Durham in northern England, the Stanley Park care home confirmed that 13 of its residents had died after displaying symptoms of Covid-19.

The British death toll is the fifth highest globally and a senior scientific adviser to the government has said the country risks becoming the worst-hit in Europe.

The UK’s Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance said he expected the number of daily deaths from Covid-19 to continue to rise this week, then to plateau for two to three weeks before falling.

On Monday, the UK revealed there would be no imminent easing of the three-week lockdown, which is expected to last until early May.

The government’s panel of scientific advisers is due to review the evidence on the effectiveness of social distancing measures this week, but Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab signalled that was unlikely to result in any easing of restrictions.

“We don’t expect to make any changes to the measures currently in place at that point, and we won’t until we’re confident as we realistically can be, that any such changes can be safely made.”

In Edinburgh, Scotland’s top medical officer asked the public not to delay relatives’ funerals in the hope that social distancing measures would soon be lifted, because such delays would risk overwhelming mortuaries and funeral homes.

Finance minister Rishi Sunak has told colleagues the UK’s gross domestic product could shrink by up to 30 per cent this quarter because of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is presently convalescing after spending several days in intensive care with the disease.