UK death toll rises to 39,369 after further 324 people die with coronavirus

A further 324 people have died with coronavirus in the UK, bringing the official death toll to 39,369.

The number of Covid-19 cases in the country also rose by 1,613, after 135,643 tests were carried out nationwide, the Department of Health and Social Care confirmed. This brings the total number of confirmed cases in the UK to 277,985.

The death toll includes deaths inside hospitals, care homes and the wider community. Earlier today NHS England confirmed a further 143 deaths in hospitals, while Scotland reported 12 and Wales seven. Northern Ireland is yet to release up-to-date data.

However, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), along with the most recent NHS England figures, suggests the total number of coronavirus deaths across the UK is substantially higher than the government’s statistics.

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In the week ending May 22, 2,589 deaths in England and Wales were linked to Covid-19 – the lowest in seven weeks, and down from 3,810 the week before, ONS data shows. This means the death toll for those countries at that time was 43,837.

When added to the death tolls in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and fatalities announced by the Department for Health and Social Care since that date, the figure rises to nearly 50,000.

The data also revealed that, by May 22, 286,759 people had died from all causes in England and Wales, which is 51,466 more than the five-year average. Coronavirus-related deaths made up 15.3% of the number.

The majority of Covid-19 deaths, 64.2%, were recorded in hospitals, while more than a quarter happened in care homes. A further 1,991 people died in private homes, 582 in hospices and 366 elsewhere.

The ONS data uses information contained on death certificates where coronavirus is listed as a cause of death or a contributory factor. The information takes more time to process and so it usually 10 days behind the date it is published.

In March, before the UK went into lockdown, the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser said that keeping the coronavirus death toll under 20,000 would be considered a ‘good outcome’ for the nation.

Appearing before the Health Select Committee, Sir Patrick Vallance also referenced the seasonal flu to put the pandemic ‘in perspective’, noting that it is responsible for ‘about 8,000 excess deaths’ each year.

He continued: ‘So if we can get this down to numbers of 20,000 and below that is a good outcome in terms of where we hope to get to with this outbreak, but I mean it is still horrible.

‘That is still an enormous amount of deaths and it is an enormous pressure on the health service. And having spent 20 years as an NHS consultant as well as an academic, I know exactly what that looks and feels like.’

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