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This article was updated on 01 December 2020
Each week the Office for National Statistics (ONS) publishes Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales. This data provides provisional counts of the number of deaths registered in England and Wales, including deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19). To allow time for registration and processing, these figures are published 11 days after the week ends. So the figures published on 1 December 2020 show weekly deaths in 2020 up to the week ending 20 November 2020.
The ONS figures are based on the date the death was registered rather than the date the death occurred. There is usually a delay of at least five days between a death occurring and being registered.
Latest ONS data (week ending 20 November)
All registered deaths and COVID-19 deaths
Figures from the ONS show all registered deaths including people who died in the community as well as in hospital. This allows us to see how many more people have died from all causes than we would usually expect by looking at the 5 year average. Increases in deaths above the average for the last five years are often known as ‘excess deaths’. The latest data show the number of registered deaths are above the five year average. The data also show the number of COVID-19 deaths in Wales starting with 2 in the week ending 20 March 2020.
Weekly provisional deaths registered in Wales in 2020 compared to the average over the previous 5 years
Place of COVID-19 deaths
ONS data is also published by local authority, health board and place of death which includes hospital (acute or community, not psychiatric), home, care home, hospice, other communal establishment and elsewhere.
From the week ending 20 March 2020 to the week ending 20 November 2020, 69.0% (2,441) of COVID-19 deaths occurred in hospitals, 24.7% (872) in care homes, 4.9% (175) at home and 1.4% (48) in other places.
COVID-19 deaths by local authority and place of death
The graph below shows the total number of COVID-19 deaths occurring in Wales from week ending 20 March 2020 to week ending 20 November 2020 but were registered up to 28 November, by local authority of residence and place of death. This shows that Rhondda Cynon Taf has the highest number of COVID-19 deaths and Ceredigion the lowest.
COVID-19 deaths by local authority of residence and place of death occurring from 20 March 2020 to 20 November 2020, registered up to 28 November 2020
Why are the ONS figures different to the PHW figures?
ONS explain these figures differ to those published by Department of Health and Social Care in England (DHSC) and Public Health Wales (PHW):
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 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. (my emphasis)
PHW figures include reported deaths in a hospitalised patient or care home resident where COVID-19 has been confirmed with a positive laboratory test and the clinician suspects this was a causative factor in the death. PHW death figures are published by local health board but not by local authority or place of death.
If you are interested in reading more about PHW statistics see our blog Coronavirus: statistics.
Article by Helen Jones, Senedd Research, Welsh Parliament
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