Coronavirus: England highest level of excess deaths

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The UK saw some of the biggest rises in deaths rates in Europe in the months until the middle of June, official analysis shows.

England saw the largest increase in death rates in Europe, with Scotland seeing the third largest increase.

The Office for National Statistics says that Spain saw the highest peak in rates of death in Europe.

But the UK had the longest period of above-average deaths and so overall saw higher death rates.

By 29 May, the death rate in England was 7.5% higher than it has been in recent years.

Spain’s increase, 6.7%, was the second highest in the countries studied followed by Scotland’s rise of 5.1%.

Wales and Northern Ireland both also featured in the list of hardest-hit countries.

The ONS analysis also looked at how individual cities were affected.

Cities in Spain and Italy, like Barcelona, Milan and Madrid, were harder hit than any city in the UK.

But the analysis also shows the epidemic in the UK was more widespread than in other countries.

Seven of the 15 cities with the biggest rise in death rates are in the UK.

Edward Morgan of the ONS said the wide spread of the virus combined with the relatively slow downward “tail” of the pandemic in the UK were key reasons that England saw ‘the highest overall relative excess mortality out of all the European countries compared”.

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During a visit to North Yorkshire, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was asked if he was ashamed that England had the highest excess death rate in Europe.

He said: “We mourn every loss of life that we’ve had throughout the coronavirus epidemic.”

‘I live my sister’s death every day’

Karren Fraser-Knight’s identical twin sister Paula Greenhough was admitted to Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport with coronavirus symptoms in March.

The 55-year-old was put on a ventilator but died on 3 April.

“This is not grief, it is trauma, it is PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), I live my sister’s death every single day of my life,” Ms Fraser-Knight told the BBC.

“If they (the government) had acted immediately, thousands of people including Paula Greenhough would not be dead today.

“These people should not have died and the government must accept responsibility for not locking down [fast enough], for not closing airports, we must have an inquiry.”

Boris Johnson committed to an independent inquiry earlier this month into the coronavirus pandemic.

The prime minister said that the country owes it to the families of those who died “to continue our work in driving the virus down”, adding that it had “massive success” in reducing the number of deaths.

The virus was “under some measure of control” while “we’re looking at a resurgence of the virus in some other European countries” as well as in the US, Mr Johnson said.

The new analysis adds to previous studies of excess deaths by taking account of the ages of the population in each country.

At its worst, the death rate in Spain was nearly 2.5 times its usual level.

That was worse than in the UK where the peak number of deaths was nearly 2.1 times its usual level.

But deaths in Spain returned to normal levels faster, so over the whole year so far, England has seen more deaths compared with previous years.

14,000

45,200

Let’s use the UK as an example. If 2020 had been an average year, the dotted line in the chart below shows how many people we would have expected to die each week. This is known as expected deaths and is calculated based on the number of deaths in previous years.

Coronavirus: England highest level of excess deaths

14,000

45,200

Any deaths above those expected are known as excess deaths. During the coronavirus pandemic, many countries have recorded significantly more deaths than expected this year.

Coronavirus: England highest level of excess deaths

14,000

45,200

Many of these excess deaths can be explained by the number of people who were officially confirmed to have had Covid-19. But in many places, that does not account for all the excess deaths.

Coronavirus: England highest level of excess deaths

14,000

45,200

These other excess deaths may have been, directly or indirectly, caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus: England highest level of excess deaths

14,000

45,200

The total number of excess deaths shows a more complete picture of the human scale of the coronavirus outbreak.

Coronavirus: England highest level of excess deaths

SOUNDS: More or Less: Why did the UK have such a bad Covid-19 epidemic?

ANALYSIS: What do global death patterns reveal about the UK?

AROUND THE WORLD: What is the true death toll of the coronavirus pandemic?

VIDEO: Why count “excess deaths”?

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