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Total UK deaths 'now 50,000 above average'

Official statistics have recorded 50,841 more deaths up to May compared to the five-year average.

A paramedic coutside St Thomas' Hospital in Westminster.
A paramedic coutside St Thomas' Hospital in Westminster.
Image: PA Images

THE UK’S OFFICE for National Statistics has said more people have died from the coronavirus in the UK than the official national toll suggests, after more care home deaths were linked to the outbreak.

The ONS and regional health bodies registered 36,473 deaths from or mentioning Covid-19 up until May 1, in contrast to the government tally which said 27,510 people had died up to that day.

The government’s rolling daily toll on Monday stood at 32,065, which already makes Britain the worst-affected country in Europe and the second-worst globally.

The figures also indicated that Britain’s excess mortality, which experts have said is the truest indicator of the virus’ impact, was close to 50,000 by 1 May.

The total number of people who died in England and Wales since the outbreak took hold was 46,494 higher than the five-year average, the ONS data showed.

“There’s now 50,841 across the UK, above average,” ONS statistician Nick Stripe said.

Ministers have repeatedly pointed out that each nation has a different method of recording and registering their data.

But the new ONS figures heap fresh pressure on the government, which has been criticised for its response to the outbreak, and its plan to ease strict stay-at-home measures.

The ONS data showed that 8,312 people died in care homes across England and Wales by May 1.

“If we feed in the figures from… last week, there’s about another 1,500, 1,600 notified,” Stripe told BBC News. 

“So that puts us close to 10,000 Covid-related deaths in care homes by 8 May.”

Despite a steep overall drop in the death rate over the week ending 1 May, the toll in care homes was not coming down as quickly, he warned.

“In the last (published) week, 40% of all deaths that mention Covid were in care homes — that’s up from 34% last week and about four weeks ago, that was about five percent.

“So care homes is showing the slowest decline, sadly… There were more deaths in total in care homes than there were in hospitals in that week, I’ve never seen that before.”

Lockdown

Britain is in the eighth week of its economically crippling lockdown.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday announced a more detailed plan to begin lifting the stringent social distancing regime.

Among the first set out in the 50-page plan is the reintroduction of unlimited outdoor exercise from tomorrow. People can also meet one person from outside their household and drive to places for recreation.

It urges those working in construction, manufacturing and other manual jobs to return to work, while encouraging those able to work from home to continue to do so.

The government is now also advising people to wear face coverings in enclosed spaces such as shops and public transport.

Opposition parties, unions and business leaders say there is a lack of clarity about the new recommendations — and have voiced concerns about the safety of people returning to work.

© – AFP 2020

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