Britain’s coronavirus crisis may have killed 34 per cent more people than the Government’s daily statistics update shows.
Office for National Statistics data today revealed that 29,710 people in England and Wales had COVID-19 mentioned on their death certificate by April 24.
The Department of Health had, by that time, counted only 22,173 fatalities linked to the virus.
Delays in death reports, uncounted victims who died at home or in care homes, and a refusal to count anyone who hasn’t been tested mean the daily death counts are not the most accurate measure of how many people are being killed by the illness.
Yesterday the Health Secretary announced that a total of 28,734 people had died after testing positive for the disease. This suggests the true total – if 34 per cent higher – could be 38,506.
Other statistics in the ONS bulletin today showed that one in five of all people who have died so far in the crisis have been care home residents. Some 5,890 people in homes succumbed to the disease by April 24.
And fatalities in care homes appear to have peaked on April 17, when 415 people died – this was nine days after the peak in NHS hospitals, on April 8, with 867 deaths.
ONS data is the most accurate picture of how many people have died with COVID-19, but the statistics are backdated so only relate to a period two weeks earlier.
By April 24, a total of 5,890 people had died in care homes with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, out of a total of 27,356 people (21.5 per cent). The 27,356 is lower than the 29,710 total for that date because of a recording cut-off.
The scale of care home deaths is expected to continue rising as the National Records of Scotland last week revealed that 39 per cent of victims there have been in nursing homes.
Elderly people and those with long-term health issues are known to be the most at risk of the virus and close proximity living makes outbreaks difficult to stop.
Deaths in care homes also appeared to keep accelerating after the virus deaths peaked in England’s hospitals, ONS data shows.
The week between April 18 and 24 was another weekly high for the number of people succumbing to the virus in nursing homes.
A total 2,794 residents died and had coronavirus mentioned on their death certificate that week, up from 2,050 the week before (36 per cent higher).
In hospitals, the peak of deaths caused by the outbreak was almost certainly on Wednesday, April 8, when hospitals in England saw 867 people die with the illness.
Nationally, the ONS has recorded that 1,318 people died on that day.