A new report on deaths in England and Wales from the UK’s Office of National Statistics (ONS) has indicated that hundreds more people have been dying at home and at hospital recently than in a normal year.
The figures for deaths in private homes and hospitals are 678 and 835 higher respectively than the five-year average in the week ending December 18, the ONS study found.
However, deaths in care homes and other places were below the five-year average (7 and 68 fewer deaths respectively), contrasting with doctors’ fears that elderly residences are the “perfect storm” for the spread of Covid-19.
Another key point of the ONS report was that the number of deaths registered in England and Wales in Week 51 was 13,011 in total – some 719 more than in Week 50.
ONS analysis suggested that the increase was at least in part due to Covid-19, as the number of fatalities with ‘novel coronavirus’ on the death certificate in the two countries had increased across the same period.
The apparent increase in virus-related deaths comes as British Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Wednesday announced that millions more people will be placed under England’s strictest Tier 4 restrictions.
Under the measures, people are ordered to “stay at home,” and non-essential services are to close.
The tougher measures were anticipated after the UK posted its record daily tally of 53,135 new Covid-19 infections on Tuesday, which medical experts said was “unprecedented” and a cause of “extreme concern.”
The UK also recorded 414 fatalities within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test, taking the total death toll to 71,567, according to official data.
On Wednesday, the UK approved use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine against the virus, which is set to be rolled out from January 4, alongside the already-deployed Pfizer vaccine.
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