Weekly Covid deaths in England and Wales top 1,000 for first time since June

The number of people dying from coronavirus each week in England and Wales has risen above 1,000 for the first time since June, official figures reveal.

The Office for National Statistics said the virus was mentioned on 1,379 death certificates in the last week of October, a 41 per cent surge or 401-death increase from the 978 deaths recorded in the previous week. 

This is the first time the grim milestone has been crossed since June 12, and the highest number since the week ending June 5, when 1,588 Covid-19 deaths were registered.

But fewer than 200 of these deaths would have the virus registered as the underlying cause, according to experts, because only one in seven of these cases should be attributed to the virus. 

Total excess deaths remained only 10 per cent above the five-year average, at 996 above the expected 9,891 fatalities, because deaths from other causes not involving Covid-19 declined for the third week in a row.

Excess deaths are considered to be the most accurate way of measuring the impact of the epidemic because they include people who have died with Covid-19 without testing positive, as well as those who die of other causes as an indirect result of the outbreak.

Although the coronavirus outbreak stalled in England and Wales before the second lockdown was imposed as Tier Three put a lid on the spread of the virus, deaths are expected to continue to rise for at least another two weeks.

This is because it takes weeks for someone who has caught the virus to develop symptoms leading to hospitalisation and finally to succumb to the infection.

The grim tally comes after Pfizer announced yesterday its vaccine was revealed to be 90 per cent effective in early trials, sending stock markets soaring at the prospect life may soon be able to return to normal.

The UK’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said he thought the news meant life may be able to return to normal by the spring.

But the Prime Minister sought to dampen expectations last night, reminding everyone that the vaccine will need to be approved by regulators and that they should still adhere to social-distancing regulations.

The UK is in line to receive 30million doses of the vaccine, which would be enough to inoculate almost half of the country’s population. Other vaccines including the Oxford vaccine are expected to report later this month.


London was the only region in England and Wales to see deaths fall below average for this time of year, according to the Office for National Statistics.

In the final week of October the capital’s deaths dropped 4.3 per cent below average, falling to 888 compared to the five-year average of 928. 

In the previous week its deaths were 2.2 per cent above average, at 922 compared to the 902 expected at this time of year.

It is unclear whether the fall is due to Tier Two restrictions slowing the spread of the virus, which were imposed in Mid-October.

The North West suffered the biggest surge in deaths, which were 31.4 per cent above average.

Officials counted 1,754 deaths from all causes in the last week of October, compared to the five-year average of 1,335.

The second biggest surge was recorded in Yorkshire and the Humber, where cases were 18.5 per cent above average at 1,168 compared to the five-year average of 986.

As the world waits for a vaccine to be approved by regulators:

  • The Government orders the British Army and NHS to prepare to give out Pfizer jab doses at the start of December;
  • FTSE 100 climbed 25.9 points at the news many businesses may soon be able to come out of the deep-freeze;
  • But social distancing and mask wearing measures are set to stay in force for months as the vaccine is rolled out;
  • Lockdown fails to stop Britons heading to work as cities remain congested;
  • All students in the UK could be swabbed before heading home for Christmas under plans set to be unveiled next week; 
  • The UK recorded 194 Covid-19 deaths yesterday, a surge of 42 per cent, and 21,350 cases, a surge of 12 per cent compared to last week.

ONS data reveals that fatalities where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate more than quadrupled in October, after they rose above 1,300 from 321 at the beginning of the month.

Deaths are expected to continue to rise for several more weeks because of an earlier spike in infections recorded throughout the two UK nations. 

The total number of deaths recorded in England and Wales reached 10,887 in the last week of October, a rise of one per cent compared to the previous week’s 10,739 fatalities.

An experimental ONS statistical model, however, suggested the toll may actually be declining.

It estimated there were 10,658 deaths in the last week of October from all causes compared to 10,949 in the previous week, a decline of 2.7 per cent.

Statisticians said the drop may reflect a ‘decrease in death occurrences’, but could also be an ‘increase in the average time for deaths to be registered’.

‘These are provisional estimates,’ they said, ‘and assume that the (weekly number of deaths) can be based on previous years.’ 

The number of fatalities involving Covid-19 was still below those involving pneumonia and flu, where the common diseases were linked to 1,922 deaths. 

But only 15 per cent of these deaths recorded the infections as the underlying cause – the factor that led to the person’s death – compared to 80 per cent of all Covid-19 linked deaths.

Experts have warned that medics may be over-zealously attributing deaths to the novel virus rather than other causes because it is a new virus.


The number of excess deaths that have occurred in private homes in England and Wales since the start of the coronavirus pandemic has now passed 30,000.

Excess deaths are the number of deaths that are above the average for the corresponding period in the previous five years.

There were 31,684 excess deaths in homes in England and Wales registered between March 7 and October 30, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Of this total, 2,676 – 8 per cent – were deaths involving Covid-19.

Any death involving Covid-19 is counted as an excess death because Covid-19 did not exist before this year.

Those aged between 85 and 89 saw the biggest increase in fatalities in the last week of October, with 93 more deaths recorded. They also suffered the largest number of deaths where the virus was mentioned on the death certificate, at 281.

The second highest number was recorded in those aged between 80 and 84 and those over 90, as both age groups each recorded 259 deaths from the virus.

There were no fatalities in people under the age of 24 for the second week in a row.

Deaths in private homes topped 30,000 for the first time since the start of the pandemic, and remained above the five-year average at 871 fatalities.

Those in hospitals also rose above the average (at 244) but those in care homes and other locations were below average for the time of year.

The ONS figures are considered to be more accurate than those released by the Department of Health every day, as they also include people thought to have died from the virus but never received a test to confirm the diagnosis.

At the height of the first wave, officials were unable to test enough people meaning they relied heavily on ONS numbers to establish the actual death toll in the country.

Each death is also confirmed with a death certificate, meaning there is no risk of duplication of figures. 

The figures will continue to climb following the imposition of a second national lockdown in England as it will take time to drive down the total number of new infections. 

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