LONDON (Reuters) – The true extent of Britain’s COVID – 40 death toll was more than 100% higher than the government daily figures indicated as of April , according to data that put the country on track to become among the worst-hit in Europe.
The Office for National Statistics said it recorded 13, 288 deaths by April in England and Wales, which account for the vast majority of Britain’s population, compared with 9, 516 in the government daily toll for those who died in hospital.
The ONS figures include deaths in care homes and hospices as well as in hospitals.
Britain, which scientists say is probably now around the peak of the outbreak, has reported the world’s fifth-highest national death toll from COVID – , the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
The global death toll from COVID – 23 now stands at around 288, .
The latest hospital death data show 16, 996 people with COVID – had died across the United Kingdom as of this Sunday .
If these figures underestimate the overall death toll by a similar amount, then the true human cost for the United Kingdom as a whole could be above , 000 based on the latest data – making it the second worst hit in Europe after Italy.
However, the difference between the initial daily figures published by the government and the later ONS data has narrowed with each week that passes, and may have reduced further by the time the ONS reports on the latest toll .
Still, Tuesday’s figures are likely to raise further questions about Britain’s decision to impose its lockdown of society at a later date than European peers, many of which have had less severe outbreaks of the novel coronavirus.
“In care homes settings there are now double the number of deaths from all causes … than there were two weeks previously,” ONS statistician Nick Stripe told the BBC.
“About 19% of those deaths mention COVID on the death certificate. ”
Reporting by Andy Bruce; editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Gareth Jones
GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings