Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales, provisional: week ending 16 April 2021

Provisional counts of the number of deaths registered in England and Wales, including deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19), by age, sex and region, in the latest weeks for which data are available.

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Cyswllt:
Email Sarah Caul

Dyddiad y datganiad:
27 April 2021

Cyhoeddiad nesaf:
5 May 2021

1. Main points

  • The number of deaths registered in England and Wales was 10,438 in the week ending 16 April (Week 15), 1,340 more deaths than the previous week (Week 14).
  • In Week 15, the number of deaths registered in England and Wales was 0.8% below the five-year average (82 fewer deaths); this is the sixth consecutive week that deaths have been below the five-year average.
  • Of the deaths registered in Week 15 in England and Wales, 362 mentioned "novel coronavirus (COVID-19)", a decrease of 17 deaths compared with Week 14.
  • In Week 15, deaths involving COVID-19 accounted for 3.5% of all deaths in England and Wales, compared with 4.2% in Week 14.
  • Of the 362 deaths involving COVID-19 in Week 15 in England and Wales, 275 had this recorded as the underlying cause of death (76.0%).
  • Of the 1,312 deaths that involved Influenza and Pneumonia, 265 had this recorded as the underlying cause of death (20.2%).
  • In England, the total number of registered deaths increased from 8,512 (Week 14) to 9,782 (Week 15); the number of deaths registered involving COVID-19 increased in the North West, West Midlands, London and the South West but decreased in all other English regions compared with Week 14, with the largest increase recorded in London (18 more deaths).
  • In Wales, the total number of deaths registered increased from 576 (Week 14) to 644 (Week 15); in Wales, the number of deaths registered involving COVID-19 decreased from 19 (Week 14) to 14 (Week 15).
  • The number of deaths registered in the UK in the week ending 16 April 2021 was 11,851, which was 59 fewer than the five-year average; of deaths registered in the UK in Week 15, 402 involved COVID-19 (20 lower than in Week 14).

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Trends in this week’s release should be interpreted with caution due to the potential impact of the recent Easter bank holidays.

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2. Deaths registered by week

Figure 1: The number of deaths registered remained below the five-year average for Week 15 in both England and Wales

Number of deaths registered by week, England and Wales, 28 December 2019 to 16 April 2021

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Notes:
  1. Figures exclude deaths of non-residents.
  2. Based on date a death was registered rather than occurred.
  3. All figures for 2020 and 2021 are provisional.
  4. The number of deaths registered in 2020 Weeks 19, 20, 22, 23, 36, 37, 52 and 53 and in Weeks 1 and 14 2021 were affected by early May, late May, August, Christmas, New Year, Good Friday and Easter Monday Bank Holidays (Friday 8 May 2020, Monday 25 May 2020, Monday 31 August 2020, Friday 25 December 2020, Monday 28 December 2020, Friday 1 January 2021, Friday 2 April 2021, Monday 5 April 2021); the impact of the early May Bank Holiday was analysed in our Week 20 bulletin.
  5. The Week 52 five-year average is used to compare against Week 53 deaths.
  6. The five-year average has been provided for 2015 to 2019 (rather than 2016 to 2020) because of the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on deaths registered in 2020. The average for 2015 to 2019 provides a comparison of the number of deaths expected per week in a usual (non-pandemic) year.
  7. The Easter Monday Bank Holiday appears in different weeks across different years. For 2015 it was in Week 15, for 2016 it was in Week 13, in 2017 it was in Week 16, in 2018 it was in Week 14 and in 2019 it was in Week 17.

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The provisional number of deaths registered in England and Wales increased from 9,098 in Week 14 (week ending 9 April 2021) to 10,438 in Week 15 (week ending 16 April 2021). Weeks 13 and 14 both included a bank holiday (Good Friday and Easter Monday respectively) when register offices are likely to be closed. Therefore, trends should be interpreted with caution in this week's publication.

The number of deaths was 0.8% below the five-year average (82 fewer deaths). The Good Friday and Easter Monday Bank Holidays appear in different weeks depending on the year. For 2015, the Easter Monday Bank Holiday appeared in Week 15, for 2016 it was in Week 13, in 2017 it was in Week 16, in 2018 it was in Week 14 and in 2019 it was in Week 17. Comparisons with the five-year average should be treated with caution for Weeks 13 to 17.

In England, the number of deaths increased from 8,512 in Week 14 to 9,782 in Week 15, which was 25 deaths (0.3%) fewer than the Week 15 five-year average (Figure 1). This is the sixth consecutive week that deaths have been lower than the five-year average in England.

In Wales, the number of deaths increased from 576 in Week 14 to 644 in Week 15. The total number of deaths remained below the five-year average for Wales for the seventh consecutive week (27 fewer deaths; 4.0% below the five-year average).

Figure 2: The number of deaths involving COVID-19 decreased in Week 15

Deaths involving and due to COVID-19 and Influenza and Pneumonia, England and Wales, deaths registered in 2020 and 2021

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Notes:
  1. Figures include deaths of non-residents.
  2. Based on date a death was registered rather than occurred.
  3. All figures for 2020 and 2021 are provisional.
  4. The International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition (ICD-10) definitions are available in the Measuring the data section.
  5. A death can be registered with both COVID-19 and Influenza and Pneumonia mentioned on the death certificate. Deaths where both were mentioned have been counted in both categories.
  6. We use the term "due to COVID-19" or "due to Influenza and Pneumonia" when referring only to deaths where that illness was recorded as the underlying cause of death. We use the term "involving COVID-19" or "involving Influenza and Pneumonia" when referring to deaths that had that illness mentioned anywhere on the death certificate, whether as an underlying cause or not.
  7. The number of deaths registered in 2020 Weeks 19, 20, 22, 23, 36, 37, 52 and 53 and in Weeks 1 and 13 2021 were affected by early May, late May, August, Christmas, New Year, Good Friday and Easter Monday Bank Holidays (Friday 8 May 2020, Monday 25 May 2020, Monday 31 August 2020, Friday 25 December 2020, Monday 28 December 2020, Friday 1 January 2021, Friday 2 April 2021, Monday 5 April 2021); the impact of the early May Bank Holiday was analysed in our Week 20 bulletin.
  8. The Week 52 five-year average is used to compare against Week 53 deaths.
  9. The five-year average has been provided for 2015 to 2019 (rather than 2016 to 2020) because of the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on deaths registered in 2020. The average for 2015 to 2019 provides a comparison of the number of deaths expected per week in a usual (non-pandemic) year.
  10. The Easter Monday Bank Holiday appears in different weeks across different years. For 2015 it was in Week 15, for 2016 it was in Week 13, in 2017 it was in Week 16, in 2018 it was in Week 14 and in 2019 it was in Week 17.

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The number of death registrations in England and Wales involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) decreased from 379 in Week 14 to 362 in Week 15, a 4.5% decrease. Of all deaths registered in Week 15, 3.5% mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate.

In England, the number of deaths involving COVID-19 in Week 15 was 346, accounting for 3.5% of all deaths compared with 4.2% in Week 14.

In Wales, there were 14 deaths involving COVID-19, accounting for 2.2% of all deaths compared with 3.3% in Week 14.

Of the 362 deaths in England and Wales that involved COVID-19, 275 had this recorded as the underlying cause of death (76.0%, Figure 2). Of the 1,312 deaths that involved Influenza and Pneumonia, 265 had this recorded as the underlying cause of death (20.2%).

Deaths that involved both COVID-19 and Influenza and Pneumonia have been included in both categories for consistency when comparing with the underlying cause of death. Influenza and Pneumonia have been included for comparison as a well-understood cause of death involving respiratory infection that is likely to have somewhat similar risk factors to COVID-19. More detailed analysis is available in our Deaths due to coronavirus (COVID-19) compared with deaths from influenza and pneumonia release.

We have developed an experimental statistical model to estimate the number of deaths that actually occurred in a given week, rather than the number registered. For Week 15 we estimate that 8,724 deaths occurred in England and Wales, with a 95% confidence interval of 7,855 to 9,781. This is 1,498 fewer deaths than the mean for the period 2015 to 2019 in Week 15, and a decrease of 167 from the Week 14 2021 estimate of 8,891 (8,660 to 9,176). For the second consecutive week, the estimated number of death occurrences is below the number registered in the current week (Week 15). This is likely to be caused by the two bank holidays in the Easter weekend, which has a large short-term effect on the pattern of registration delays. The estimate should therefore be treated with extreme caution.

These are provisional estimates that assume the pattern of occurrences can be predicted based on experience in previous years. The estimate for the most recent week always has a wider margin of error than for earlier weeks, so it should be treated with caution.

Figure 3: Deaths from all causes were below the five-year average in Week 15

Number of deaths registered by week, England and Wales, 28 December 2019 to 16 April 2021

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Notes:
  1. Figures include deaths of non-residents.
  2. Based on date a death was registered rather than occurred.
  3. All figures for 2020 and 2021 are provisional.
  4. The International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition (ICD-10) definitions are available in the Measuring the data section.
  5. The number of deaths registered in 2020 Weeks 19, 20, 22, 23, 36, 37, 52 and 53 and in Weeks 1 and 13 2021 were affected by early May, late May, August, Christmas, New Year, Good Friday and Easter Monday Bank Holidays (Friday 8 May 2020, Monday 25 May 2020, Monday 31 August 2020, Friday 25 December 2020, Monday 28 December 2020, Friday 1 January 2021, Friday 2 April 2021, Monday 5 April 2021); the impact of the early May Bank Holiday was analysed in our Week 20 bulletin.
  6. The Week 52 five-year average is used to compare against Week 53 deaths.
  7. The five-year average has been provided for 2015 to 2019 (rather than 2016 to 2020) because of the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on deaths registered in 2020. The average for 2015 to 2019 provides a comparison of the number of deaths expected per week in a usual (non-pandemic) year.
  8. The Easter Monday Bank Holiday appears in different weeks across different years. For 2015 it was in Week 15, for 2016 it was in Week 13, in 2017 it was in Week 16, in 2018 it was in Week 14 and in 2019 it was in Week 17.

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Analysis in this section includes deaths from Week 11 of 2020 (week ending 13 March 2020, the week of the first registration of a death involving COVID-19) through to Week 15 of 2021 (week ending 16 April 2021), to ensure full coverage of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Using the most up-to-date data we have available, the number of deaths from the week ending 13 March 2020 up to 16 April 2021 was 699,389 in England and Wales. Of the deaths registered by 16 April 2021, 138,911 (19.9%) mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate. During this period, the number of excess deaths above the five-year average was 115,527 deaths.

In England, the number of deaths between the week ending 13 March 2020 and 16 April 2021 was 656,116, and of these, 130,883 deaths (19.9%) mentioned COVID-19. This was 110,697 deaths above the five-year average.

In Wales, the number of deaths was 42,428 and of these, 7,846 deaths (18.5%) mentioned COVID-19. This was 5,690 deaths above the five-year average.

More about coronavirus

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3. Deaths registered by age group

In Week 15 (week ending 16 April 2021), the number of deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) in England and Wales decreased or remained constant in most age groups compared with Week 14. The biggest decrease was seen in those aged 75 to 79 years (14 fewer deaths). The majority (61.0%) of deaths involving COVID-19 were in people aged 75 years and over. There were also some age groups that increased; the largest increase was seen in the 85 to 89 years (9 more deaths) compared with Week 14.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic (up to week ending 16 April 2021), 54.3% of all deaths involving COVID-19 have been in males (Figure 4). There have been more deaths in females aged 85 years and over (31,556) than males aged 85 years and over (26,322). However, these numbers do not account for the population structure where there are more women aged 85 years and over than men.

Figure 4: The majority of deaths involving COVID-19 have been in people aged 75 years and over

Number of deaths involving COVID-19 by sex and age group, England and Wales, registered between 28 December 2019 and 16 April 2021

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Notes:
  1. Figures include deaths of non-residents.
  2. Based on date a death was registered rather than occurred.
  3. All figures for 2020 and 2021 are provisional.
  4. The International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition (ICD-10) definitions are available in the Measuring the data section.
  5. Individual weeks may not sum to the year-to-date analysis as previous weeks have been recalculated to have the most up-to-date figures.
  6. Does not include deaths where age is either missing or not yet fully coded.

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4. Deaths by region in England and Wales

Figure 5: The number of deaths in Week 15 was above the five-year average in five out of nine English regions but lower than the five-year average in Wales

Number of deaths in Wales and regions in England, registered between 28 December 2019 and 16 April 2021

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Notes:
  1. Based on area of usual residence. Geographical boundaries are based on the most up-to-date information available at the time of publication.
  2. Figures exclude deaths of non-residents.
  3. Based on date a death was registered rather than occurred.
  4. All figures for 2020 and 2021 are provisional.
  5. The International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition (ICD-10) definitions are available in the Measuring the data section.
  6. The number of deaths registered in 2020 Weeks 19, 20, 22, 23, 36, 37, 52 and 53 and in Weeks 1 and 13 2021 were affected by Early May, Late May, August, Christmas, New Year, Good Friday and Easter Monday Bank Holidays (Friday 8 May 2020, Monday 25 May 2020, Monday 31 August 2020, Friday 25 December 2020, Monday 28 December 2020, Friday 1 January 2021, Friday 2 April 2021, Monday 5 April 2021); the impact of the Early May Bank Holiday was analysed in our Week 20 bulletin.
  7. The Week 52 five-year average is used to compare against Week 53 deaths.
  8. The five-year average has been provided for 2015 to 2019 (rather than 2016 to 2020) because of the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on deaths registered in 2020. The average for 2015 to 2019 provides a comparison of the number of deaths expected per week in a usual (non-pandemic) year.
  9. The Easter Monday Bank Holiday appears in different weeks across different years. For 2015 it was in Week 15, for 2016 it was in Week 13, in 2017 it was in Week 16, in 2018 it was in Week 14 and in 2019 it was in Week 17.

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In Week 15 (week ending 16 April 2021), the total number of deaths registered was higher than the five-year average in five out of nine English regions but was lower than the five-year average in Wales (Figure 5). The largest increase on the five-year average was in the East Midlands (6.1% higher) and the largest decrease was in the North West (5.2% lower). Caution should be used when comparing Week 15 with the five-year average because of the potential impact of the recent Easter bank holidays.

Across the English regions, London had the largest number of deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19), with 56 deaths, as well as the highest proportion of deaths involving COVID-19 where 5.8% of deaths from all causes involved COVID-19.

Deaths involving COVID-19 decreased in five out of nine regions, with the South East reporting the largest decrease (16 deaths) and London reporting the largest increase (18 more deaths) More detailed geographic analysis can be found in our Monthly mortality analysis release.

In Week 15, there were 14 deaths involving COVID-19 registered in Wales – a 26.3% decrease compared with Week 14 (19 deaths).

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5. Deaths registered by place of occurrence

Of deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) in 2020 and up to Week 15 (week ending 16 April 2021), 69.1% (96,005 deaths) occurred in hospitals, with the remainder occurring in care homes (32,021 deaths), private homes (7,817), hospices (2,064), other communal establishments (499), and elsewhere (505).

Between Weeks 14 and 15, the number of deaths involving COVID-19 increased in private homes (14 deaths), elsewhere (3 deaths) and hospices (1 death). However, the number of deaths involving COVID-19 decreased in hospitals (26 fewer), care homes (8 fewer) and other communal establishments (1 fewer) compared with Week 14.

Deaths involving COVID-19 in hospitals as a proportion of all deaths in hospitals fell to 5.3% in Week 15 (6.6% – in Week 14). Deaths involving COVID-19 in care homes accounted for 2.8% of deaths, a decrease from Week 14 (3.9%).

Detailed analysis on deaths of care home residents is available in Deaths involving COVID-19 in the care sector, England and Wales: deaths occurring up to 12 June 2020 and registered up to 20 June 2020.

From Week 1 2021 (week ending 8 January 2021) onwards, we have published a dataset of weekly deaths of care home residents. The term "care home resident" used in this dataset refers to all deaths where either the death occurred in a care home, or the death occurred elsewhere but the place of residence of the deceased was recorded as a care home. The figures should not be confused with "deaths in care homes" as reported within this bulletin, which refers only to the first category.

As well as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) data, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) provides numbers of deaths involving COVID-19 in care homes in England that are based on the date the death was notified to the CQC. From 10 April 2020 (the first day when data were collected using the CQC's new method of identifying deaths involving COVID-19) to 23 April 2021, there were 29,091 deaths of residents in care homes involving COVID-19. Of these deaths, 31 were notified between 17 and 23 April 2021. More information on the data provided by the CQC can be found in our joint transparency statement.

In Wales, the Welsh Government publishes the number of deaths of care home residents involving COVID-19 notified to the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW). Between 1 March 2020 and 23 April 2021, there were 1,920 deaths of residents in care homes involving COVID-19.

More information on how these numbers have compared throughout the pandemic can be found in our previous Comparison of weekly death occurrences in England and Wales release.

Figure 6: Deaths in private homes and other settings were above the five-year average in Week 15 but remain below the five-year average in hospitals and care homes

Number of excess deaths by place of occurrence, England and Wales, registered between 7 March 2020 and 16 April 2021

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Notes:
  1. Based on area of usual residence. Geographical boundaries and communal establishments are based on the most up-to-date information available.
  2. Figures include deaths of non-residents.
  3. Based on date a death was registered rather than occurred.
  4. All figures for 2020 and 2021 are provisional.
  5. The International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition (ICD-10) definitions are available in the  Measuring the data section.
  6. "Other" includes deaths in communal establishments other than hospitals and care homes, in hospices, and that occurred "elsewhere". More information on the place of death definitions used is available in the accompanying dataset.
  7. The Week 52 five-year average is used to compare against Week 53 deaths.
  8. The five-year average has been provided for 2015 to 2019 (rather than 2016 to 2020) because of the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on deaths registered in 2020. The average for 2015 to 2019 provides a comparison of the number of deaths expected per week in a usual (non-pandemic) year.
  9. The Easter Monday Bank Holiday appears in different weeks across different years. For 2015 it was in Week 15, for 2016 it was in Week 13, in 2017 it was in Week 16, in 2018 it was in Week 14 and in 2019 it was in Week 17.

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In Week 15, the number of deaths in private homes was 37.5% above the five-year average (906 excess deaths) and was 0.6% above the five-year average in other settings (5 deaths). Deaths in hospitals and care homes were below the five-year average. Deaths within hospitals were 14.4% below the five-year average (732 fewer deaths), deaths in care homes were 11.7% below the five-year average (263 fewer deaths).

Looking in more detail at deaths in private homes in Week 15, males accounted for 505 excess deaths compared with 401 for females.

The Deaths in private homes release provides analysis for deaths registered from 28 December 2019 to 12 September 2020. In addition, more detailed analysis of excess deaths in England is produced by Public Health England (PHE) on a weekly basis.

Caution should be used when comparing Week 15 with the five-year average because of the potential impact of the recent Easter bank holidays.

Figure 7 is based on date of death for deaths registered up to 24 April 2021, rather than date of registration. As more deaths are registered, deaths per day are likely to increase, especially for later dates. Looking at the number of deaths that occurred in Week 15, 73.7% of deaths occurred in hospitals, and care homes accounted for 17.1% of all deaths involving COVID-19; this may change as more deaths are registered.

The earliest known death involving COVID-19 occurred in the week ending 31 January 2020 (Week 5).

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6. Deaths registered in the UK

Across the UK, there were 11,851 deaths (all causes) registered in Week 15 (week ending 16 April 2021), which was 59 fewer deaths than the UK five-year average, and 1,451 more deaths than in Week 14 (week ending 09 April 2021).

Using the most up to date data we have available, from the week ending 13 March 2020 up to 16 April 2021, the number of deaths was 791,517. The number of deaths involving COVID-19 was 151,243, and the number of excess deaths above the five-year average was 119,138.

Deaths in all four countries of the UK were below the five-year average in Week 15 for the sixth consecutive week.

Of these deaths, 402 involved the coronavirus (COVID-19), 20 fewer deaths than in Week 14 (4.7% decrease) (Figure 8).

In Week 15, England had the highest number of deaths involving COVID-19 with 346 deaths, followed by Scotland with 24 deaths, Northern Ireland with 16 deaths and Wales with 14 deaths.

Caution should be used when comparing Week 15 to the five-year average because of the potential impact of the recent Easter bank holidays.

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7. Comparison of weekly deaths occurrences in England and Wales

We previously published this section as a separate article, which provided a more thorough description of the differences between different data sources. This section will look at the number of deaths by date of death produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) compared with death notifications reported on the GOV.UK dashboard. For Wales, we can also compare the data by date of death released by Public Health Wales (PHW).

On 12 August 2020, Public Health England (PHE) revised their data series to include two measures: deaths of positively tested individuals where the death occurred within 28 days and deaths within 60 days of a positive test. More information on these changes can be found in their technical summary.

In England, including deaths that occurred up to 16 April 2021 but were registered up to 24 April 2021, of those we have processed so far, the number involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) was 131,176.

The comparative number reported on GOV.UK (based on data from PHE) where the deaths occurred within 28 days of testing was 111,948 for deaths based on date of notification, and the number of deaths by date of death showed 111,990.

In Wales, including deaths that occurred up to 16 April 2021 but were registered up to 24 April 2021, of those we have processed so far, the number involving COVID-19 was 7,853.

The comparative number of deaths reported on GOV.UK (based on data from PHW) where the death occurred within 28 days of testing was 5,535 for deaths based on date of notification, and the number of deaths by date of death was 5,540.

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8. Deaths data

Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales, provisional
Dataset | Released 27 April 2021
Provisional counts of the number of deaths registered in England and Wales, by age, sex and region, in the latest weeks for which data are available. Includes data on coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths.

Death registrations and occurrences by local authority and health board
Dataset | Released 27 April 2021
Provisional counts of the number of deaths registered in England and Wales, including deaths involving COVID-19, by local authority, health board and place of death in the latest weeks for which data are available.

Number of deaths in care homes notified to the Care Quality Commission, England
Dataset | Released 20 April 2021
Provisional counts of deaths in care homes caused by COVID-19 by local authority. Published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Care home resident deaths registered in England and Wales, provisional
Dataset | Released 27 April 2021
Provisional counts of the number of deaths registered of care home residents in England and Wales, by region. Includes data on coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths. Data are weekly and provisional.

Try the new way to filter and download these data:

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9. Glossary

Coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths

Coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths are those deaths registered in England and Wales in the stated week where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate. A doctor can certify the involvement of COVID-19 based on symptoms and clinical findings – a positive test result is not required. Definitions of COVID-19 for deaths in Scotland and Northern Ireland are similar to England and Wales.

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10. Measuring the data

More quality and methodology information on strengths, limitations, appropriate uses, and how the data were created is available in the Mortality statistics in England and Wales QMI.

To meet user needs, we publish very timely but provisional counts of death registrations in England and Wales in our Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales, provisional dataset. These are presented by sex, age group and regions (within England) as well as for Wales as a whole. To allow time for registration and processing, these figures are published 11 days after the week ends. Because of the rapidly changing situation, in this bulletin we have also given provisional updated totals for death occurrences based on the latest available death registrations, up to 24 April 2021.

Because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, our regular weekly deaths release now provides a separate breakdown of the number of deaths involving COVID-19, that is, where COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 was mentioned anywhere on the death certificate, including in combination with other health conditions. If a death certificate mentions COVID-19, it will not always be the main cause of death but may be a contributory factor. This bulletin summarises the latest weekly information and will be updated each week during the pandemic.

The data for 2020 are based on a 53-week year. Because the number of days in a week is seven, when there are 52 weeks, we only cover 364 days of the 365 days in the year, which results in one remaining day each calendar year not included in the 52 weeks. With the occurrence of leap years, it is sometimes necessary to add a 53rd week to the end of the calendar, which was the case in 2020. This happens every five years, with the last time there was a Week 53 being in 2015. Given the low frequency of Week 53, it is more appropriate to compare the 2020 figures with the average for Week 52, than to compare it with a single year from five years previous. Therefore, the five-year average used in this bulletin for 2020 is the same as the five-year average used for Week 52.

From the bulletin dated 3 November 2020, we have added two additional analyses.

Previously, we gave a breakdown of deaths involving COVID-19 into those where COVID-19 was the underlying cause of death ("due to COVID-19") and those where it was a contributory factor ("involving COVID-19") in the monthly mortality analysis; because of high public interest, this distinction is now shown in Figure 2 of the weekly bulletin.

This bulletin is based mainly on the date deaths are registered, not the date of death, because of the time taken for a death to be registered. Deaths in England and Wales are normally registered within five days, but there can be a considerably longer delay in some circumstances, particularly when the death is referred to a coroner.

We have developed a statistical model to estimate the number of deaths likely to have occurred in each week, based on previous experience of the pattern of registration delays, including the effects of bank holidays. The method is described in the article Predicting total weekly death occurrences in England and Wales: methodology and the results are shown in the tab, "Estimated total deaths 2020", of the accompanying dataset.

These figures are different from the daily surveillance figures on COVID-19 deaths published by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) on the GOV.UK website, for the UK as a whole and its constituent countries. Figures in this report are derived from the formal process of death registration and may include cases where the doctor completing the death certificate diagnosed possible cases of COVID-19, for example, where this was based on relevant symptoms but no test for the virus was conducted.

From 29 April 2020, the DHSC started to publish as their daily announced figures on deaths from COVID-19 for the UK a new series that uses improved data for England produced by Public Health England (PHE). These figures provide a count of all deaths where a positive test for COVID-19 has been confirmed, wherever that death has taken place – a change from previously reporting only confirmed COVID-19 deaths in hospitals.

Figures for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland had already begun to include deaths outside hospitals, so this change ensured that the UK-wide series had a shared and common definitional coverage. A statement was published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which provides more detail of the changes.

On 12 August 2020, the PHE data series was revised to include two measures: deaths of positively tested individuals where the death occurred within 28 days and deaths within 60 days of a positive test. More information on these changes can be found in their technical summary (PDF, 854KB).

In contrast to the GOV.UK figures, we include only deaths registered in England and Wales, which is the legal remit of the ONS. Tables 2 and 3 provide an overview of the differences in definitions between sources.

From the week ending 26 February 2021 (Week 8), new International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) codes for COVID-19 issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) have been implemented for deaths involving COVID-19. The new codes are U09.9 (Post-COVID condition, where the acute COVID had ended before the condition immediately causing death occurred) and U10.9 (Multisystem inflammatory syndrome associated with COVID-19 (also called Kawasaki-like syndrome), a specific, uncommon effect of COVID-19 in children). These are in addition to the existing codes of U07.1 (COVID-19, virus identified) and U07.2 (COVID-19, virus not identified, that is, COVID-19 stated to be unconfirmed or suspected).

We will publish accompanying articles periodically, giving enhanced information such as age-standardised and age-specific mortality rates for recent time periods and breakdowns of deaths involving COVID-19 by associated pre-existing health conditions.

There is usually a delay of at least five days between occurrence and registration. More information on this issue can be found in our impact of registration delays release.

Our User guide to mortality statistics provides further information on data quality, legislation and procedures relating to mortality and includes a glossary of terms.

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11. Strengths and limitations

Figures are based on the date the death was registered, not when it occurred. There is usually a delay of at least five days between occurrence and registration. More information on this issue can be found in our impact of registration delays release.

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Manylion cyswllt ar gyfer y Bwletin ystadegol

Sarah Caul
health.data@ons.gov.uk
Ffôn: +44 (0)1329 444110