UK virus lethal cases ballooned with deaths outside hospitals

Nearly one in 10 coronavirus-related deaths in England and Wales happened outside hospitals in the week ending 3 April, according to the Office for National Statistics cited by British media. The 406 deaths were not included in the daily NHS and Department of Health figures, which only count hospital deaths. The number is made up of 217 deaths in care homes, 33 in hospices, 136 in private homes, three in other communal establishments, and 17 elsewhere.

Some 3,716 virus-related deaths were in hospitals during the week in question - or 90% of the total, said the ONS. The period in question does not cover last week - the UK's worst for hospital deaths - when more than 900 people died for two days in a row. The figures suggest the total number of virus-related deaths in this country is significantly higher than believed.

Looking at all virus-related deaths since the outbreak began last year until 3 April, the ONS says there have been around 2,100 more deaths than quoted by the Department of Health hospital figures. Around 2,000 care homes are believed to have had outbreaks of the virus, according to remarks on Monday by the chief medical officer.

Professor Chris Whitty said in the government's briefing that 13.5% care homes in England had recorded cases of Covid-19. A London School of Economics report looking at five other European countries, including Spain, Italy and France, suggests the proportion of virus deaths in care homes could be around half. The ONS figures count any death certificate which mentions Covid-19. It means the virus may have been a contributory factor and not necessarily the main cause of death and a positive test is not required.

And while in London, nearly half (46.6%) of deaths registered involved Covid-19, in the West Midlands it was 22.1%. The 16,387 deaths registered in England and Wales (from all causes) is up 5,246 from the week before, and the highest since the ONS started compiling the data in 2005. Covid-19 was listed on 21.2% of all death certificates, up from 4.8% the week before.

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