Nursing homes’ virus deaths push UK’s under-reported toll to 22,351

Nurses guide a resident at Wren Hall nursing home in the central England village of Selston. (AP pic)

LONDON: A surge in deaths at care homes from suspected Covid-19 contributed to a record number of deaths in England and Wales to mid-April, according to new data published on Tuesday.

The Office for National Statistics said 22,351 deaths were registered in the week ending April 17 – up 3,835 from the previous week and 11,854 more than the five-year average in the highest weekly total since 1993.

The publication, which does not include deaths in Scotland and Northern Ireland, comes amid concern about under-reporting of deaths from coronavirus, as Britain currently only publishes daily tolls of people who tested positive for Covid-19 in hospital.

The ONS said 21,284 deaths in England alone up until April 17 were due to coronavirus, compared with the official announcement on that day from National Health Service England of 13,917.

The government announced on Monday that 21,092 who tested positive for coronavirus had died in hospital across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC), which collates deaths in English care homes, said 4,343 mentioning Covid-19 had been registered up until April 24, although there is usually a “two to three days” lag in reporting.

Getting a true picture of the number of Covid-19 deaths in Britain is complicated, as the devolved administrations in Scotland and Northern Ireland report deaths outside hospital separately.

That – and different reporting periods for registrations of deaths – has led to varying estimations in the British media.

But taking the ONS and UK government statistics together, the figures indicate Britain was on course to being as badly hit by the virus as neighbouring European countries – or worse.

According to an AFP tally from official sources at 11am on Tuesday, Italy had 26,977 deaths, followed by Spain with 23,822 and France on 23,293.

Meanwhile, the UK fell silent for a minute at 11am on Monday to honour key workers who have died of the virus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who returned to work on Monday after his own brush with death, joined the tribute from his Downing Street office.

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