Weekly coronavirus deaths in England and Wales have fallen to their lowest level since before the lockdown, official figures show.
There were 217 Covid-19-related deaths recorded in the week ending July 24, which represented only 2.4% of all deaths during that period.
This is a decrease of 26.4% from the previous week, when there were 295 deaths for which the coronavirus was mentioned on the death certificate.
The last time deaths involving coronavirus were this low was in the week ending March 20, before the lockdown, when there were 103 deaths.
By comparison, more than 1,000 people have died in the UK every day for 22 consecutive days at the height of the crisis in April.
England and Wales are experiencing fewer deaths than one would normally expect for the sixth week in a row, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
But there are growing fears that a resurgence of Covid-19 is starting to emerge in the UK, following an increase in the number of cases.
Nearly 1,000 people were diagnosed with the virus in the UK yesterday, the highest number in six weeks.
But because of the approximately three week period it takes for a patient to become seriously ill and die, deaths may not enter the data for several weeks.
The ONS report also showed that the total number of confirmed or suspected victims is around 56,000.
Health ministry officials said the number of laboratory-confirmed deaths – which only includes victims who tested positive for the disease – stands at 46,210.
There were 217 deaths recorded in the week ending July 24 involving Covid-19 – accounting for 2.4% of all deaths
Overall, deaths remain below the number usually expected at this time of year, based on an average of the previous five years.
There were 8,891 registered deaths in England and Wales in the week ending July 24 – 161 deaths below the five-year average.
Although deaths remain below average, 68 more deaths were recorded compared to the previous week.
The death toll in nursing homes and hospitals was also below the five-year average, but the death toll in private homes remains above, with an additional 727 deaths during the week.
The number of deaths involving Covid-19 has fallen in all parts of England except Yorkshire and the Humber and the East Midlands.
WHERE ARE THE 20 AREAS THAT HAVE HAVE THE LESSEST COVID-19 DEATHS?
Îles Scilly: 0
City of London: 4
Southern hams: 12
West Devon: 17
Mid Devon: 18
West Lindsey: 23
North of Devon: 26
Ribble Valley: 27
Isle of Anglesey: 34
WHERE ARE THE 20 AREAS THAT HAVE REGISTERED THE MOST COVID-19 DEATHS?
Birmingham: 1 221
County Durham: 706
East Cheshire: 552
Cheshire West et Chester: 411
The South East had the highest number of weekly deaths involving Covid-19 (40), while the East Midlands had the highest proportion of deaths involving coronavirus (4.4%).
All regions except the North East, East Midlands and West Midlands have recorded fewer deaths than the five-year average.
In Wales, there was one death below the five-year average recorded in the week ending July 24. More than 56,600 deaths involving Covid-19 have now been recorded in the UK.
Figures from the ONS on Tuesday show that 51,596 deaths involving Covid-19 had occurred in England and Wales through July 24 and were recorded on August 1.
The equivalent figures for Scotland recorded through July 26 and Northern Ireland through July 29 bring the total to 56,651.
Professor Heneghan, director of the Center for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford, said the figures released by the ONS were further evidence of Public Health England’s inaccuracies.
These are deaths recorded in the United Kingdom where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, including suspected cases.
Carl Heneghan, professor of evidence-based medicine at the University of Oxford, said the figures released by the ONS were more evidence of Public Health England’s inaccuracies.
It emerged last month that PHE was classifying people as victims of Covid-19 if they died of any cause after testing positive for Covid-19 – even though they had been hit by a bus months after winning potentially fatal infection.
The statistical flaw was discovered by Professor Heneghan and Dr Yoon Loke of the University of East Anglia, who estimate that more than a thousand people have had their deaths wrongly attributed to the disease.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced a fortnight ago that an “urgent” review was underway into how the government agency was counting deaths.
Professor Heneghan said: “These deaths [ONS’] do not match data from Public Health England, which reported 442 deaths in England alone for the week to July 24. Due to the inaccuracies in the PHE data set, it should be discontinued.
Despite falling death rates, Britain yesterday recorded its highest number of coronavirus infections in nearly six weeks.
Some 938 Britons have tested positive for Covid-19, up a fifth from Sunday’s figure (789) and nearly 40% more than the 678 recorded last Monday.
It’s not since June 27 – a week before pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and cinemas opened when the lockdown was lifted on ‘Super Saturday’ – that daily cases have been so high (960) .
But figures show that only 100 patients are hospitalized each day, suggesting that an increase in the number of tests given to people with mild symptoms is behind the increase in transmission rates.
The most recent admissions figures – which only go back to August 1 due to delays in hospital registrations – show 104 people were hospitalized with the virus in England and Wales on July 31.
During the darker days of the UK coronavirus crisis in April, around 3,500 people were taken to hospital each day after being struck by the infection.
Health chiefs also recorded nine more deaths linked to Covid-19 yesterday, bringing the total number of victims of the pandemic to 46,225. All of the deaths were in England.