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Coronavirus was a factor in 21% of all deaths in England and Wales in the week leading up to April 3, figures from the Office for National Statistics have revealed – with Covid-19 involved in 3,475 deaths.
It represents a major week-on-week jump of coronavirus-related deaths, with Covid-19 mentioned on 539 of death certificates the week before – around 4.8%.
In London, the figure is even more dramatic: almost half (46.6%) of all deaths in the capital registered in the week of April 3 involved coronavirus, the ONS said. The virus also accounted for 22.1% of all deaths in the West Midlands.
The new statistics include people dying outside of hospitals whose death certificates mentioned Covid-19, including in combination with other health conditions. National figures released by the Department of Health and Social Care, on the other hand, only include patients who have died in hospital.
Nick Stripe, the head of health analysis at the ONS, said: “When looking at data for England, this is 15% 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.”
However, of all the suspected or confirmed coronavirus-related deaths registered in England and Wales that week, more than 90% occurred in hospital.
In total, 16,387 deaths were registered in England and Wales during the week ending April 3 – the highest weekly total since the data was first compiled back in 2005, and 6,082 more than the five-year average of 10,305.
Coronavirus almost certainly accounted for some of that increase, but not all. One explanation is that the five-year average may in fact be artificially low because Easter has fallen during this week in previous years: fewer deaths are typically registered in the days around Easter Sunday because registration offices are closed.