Coronavirus deaths are nearly double from previous official figures

Coronavirus deaths are nearly double from previous official figures

by Danielle Thompson (May 2020)

THE number of people who have died due to the coronavirus is nearly twice as high as the figure we hear announced every day.

Daily figures are released by the Department for Health and Social Care on the number of coronavirus deaths reported across the UK.

By May 1, the number of coronavirus deaths announced by the UK government was just over 28,000. But looking back at death registrations filed then, the figure is higher: just over 36,000 death certificates mentioned the coronavirus. The measure preferred by experts, counting all deaths above what would be expected, was over 50,000.

This is partly because the official figures only include the deaths of people who officially tested positive for the coronavirus.

That means that when testing was largely limited to hospitals in the UK, those daily figures were missing most of the deaths in the community. On top of this, different countries use different definitions. For example, England excluded deaths outside hospitals from its daily count until a few weeks ago, while Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland didn't. Belgium for example included suspected cases in its daily count, which makes their figures look unusually high compared to other countries. That makes it hard to do precise like-for-like comparisons between countries, and scientists warn against reading too much into small differences in these daily statistics.

The government’s furlough scheme will be extended to October, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced. He confirmed that employees will continue to receive 80% of their monthly wages up to £2,500 – but the government will ask companies to ‘start sharing’ the cost of the scheme from August onwards. A quarter of the workforce, some 7.5million people, are now covered by the scheme, which costs £14bn a month. The chancellor said that from August, employers currently using the scheme will be able to bring furloughed employees back part-time.

Meanwhile, the ‘normal holiday season’ is not expected to take place this year. Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed yesterday that the big-break season is ‘unlikely’ as social distancing will have to be maintained for some time. He said: “It is unlikely that big, lavish international holidays are going to be possible this summer."

His comments came as many airlines detailed plans to restart flights. Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary announced plans to operate nearly 1,000 flights a day from July, up from 30 yesterday. He said face coverings being worn by all crew and passengers and cashless on-board transactions would help keep passengers safe as well as a new system for toilet breaks. Passengers will have to ask crew to use the toilet to stop queues forming. Meanwhile, EasyJet has announced that it does not yet have a date for restarting flights.

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