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‘One in 14’ coronavirus-related deaths not in hospital, figures suggest

Around one in 14 coronavirus-related deaths in England and Wales could be taking place outside hospitals, new figures suggest.

In the week ending March 27, for those deaths that were registered with Covid-19 mentioned on the death certificate, 38 out of 539 occurred in hospices, care homes or other locations – 7% of the total.

The provisional figures, compiled by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), are the first to give an indication of what proportion of coronavirus-related deaths are happening outside of hospital settings.

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Of the 38 deaths that did not take place in a hospital:

  • 20 occurred in care homes
  • 15 were in private homes
  • two were in hospices
  • and one happened elsewhere

The ONS stressed that this is only preliminary analysis, and the figures are just for England and Wales covering one week of data.

But the numbers suggest that the vast majority of coronavirus-related deaths in these parts of the UK are taking place in hospitals, with the remainder occurring elsewhere.

The latest figures also show that the total number of deaths involving Covid-19 in England and Wales that occurred up to March 27, and which were registered up to April 1, stands at 1,639.

Of these deaths, 1,568 were in England. This compares with 1,649 deaths reported by NHS England for the same period, the ONS said.

The difference between these particular figures for England is due to different methods of counting and reporting.

The figure of 1,649 deaths in hospitals in England up to March 27 (published by NHS England on April 5) is slightly higher than the ONS figure of 1,568 deaths both within and outside of hospitals in England up to March 27 (and registered by April 1), because numbers produced by the ONS take longer to prepare as they have to be certified by a doctor, registered and processed.

But once ready, they are the most accurate and complete information available, the ONS said.

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Additional figures published on Tuesday by the ONS show that, of the 647 deaths involving Covid-19 registered in England and Wales up to March 27, 233 (or 36%) were people aged 85 and over while 215 (33%) were people aged 75-84.

A total of 120 deaths (19%) were people aged 65-74, 70 (11%) were people aged 45-64 and nine deaths (1%) were in the 15-44 age group.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said the government is “completely transparent” about how it collects data.

The spokesperson said: “DHSC publishes daily figures to show the number of deaths of patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 in hospital.

“This is the best way to get consistent, up to date and reliable daily figures so that people can track the development of the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

“Our figures are now complemented by the ONS who are able to draw in data on deaths outside of hospital from death certificates, which takes longer to compile.”

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