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Rise in number of Covid-19 deaths cause for concern

The NHS confederation said the government must ‘think extremely carefully’ about its next steps as the number of people hospitalised with Covid-19 rises and the variant first identified in India continues to spread.

According to the latest mortality figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the number of deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending 14 May 2021 (Week 19) was 10,164.

This was 2,178 more deaths than the previous week (Week 18) and 6.1% above the five-year average (588 more deaths).

The ONS said the number of deaths registered in England and Wales was affected by the Early May Bank Holiday. It estimates that the number of deaths actually occurring (rather than registered) in Week 19 in England and Wales was between 7,728 and 9,682.

Of the deaths registered in Week 19 in England and Wales, 151 mentioned ‘novel coronavirus (Covid-19)’ accounting for 1.5% of all deaths; this was an increase compared with Week 18 (129 deaths).

The number of deaths involving Covid-19 in England increased to 145 in Week 19 compared with 124 in Week 18; for Wales the number remained similar, 5 deaths in Week 18 versus 6 deaths in Week 19.

The number of deaths registered in the UK in the week ending 14 May 2021 was 11,556, which was 651 more than the five-year average; of deaths registered in the UK in Week 19, 164 involved Covid-19, that is, 25 more than in Week 18.

Responding to the statistic, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: ‘Any rise in the number of deaths involving COVID-19 is cause for concern, and with reports of rising hospitalisations as the variant first identified in India continues to spread, the government must think extremely carefully about its next steps.

‘If this increase continues, it must be ready to adjust or reverse the timetable for easing lockdown.

‘Given the warnings on the increased transmissibility of the variant, it is also vital that the government goes further to overcome financial barriers to self-isolation in our poorest communities.’

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Last week, health bosses outlined its plan to halt the spread of the B1.617.2 variant of concern first identified in India.

It said additional surge testing, tracing and isolation support measures are being deployed at pace across Bedford, Hounslow, Burnley, Leicester, Kirklees and North Tyneside.

DHSC said the government is working in close partnership with local authorities to ensure the right action is taken at the right time, and to boost uptake of the approved vaccines for those eligible in these areas.

It is also providing support to the Scottish Government, who are adopting similar action to control the spread of variants in Glasgow and Moray.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘We are determined to do all we can to ensure this new variant doesn’t put our recovery at risk.

‘So we’ve acted fast, to guard the gains that we’ve made together. We are putting in place more testing – more testing sites and on vaccinations, we are making more vaccinations available to everyone who’s eligible.

‘To everyone in these areas, please exercise caution, get a test, and as soon as you’re eligible, get the jab.’

Photo Credit – Viktor Forgacs

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