Health

Coronavirus: Why the UK death count is an inexact science

The Office for National Statistics has released new figures on the number of deaths involving coronavirus.

Unlike the statistics we have heard about before now, these include every community death linked to Covid-19 in England and Wales.

According to the data, there were 210 deaths up to the 20 March – the day that pubs and clubs were ordered to shut down to help tackle the outbreak.

That is 40 more than the official figure of 170 released at that time.

Why the increase?

The latest data captures more than only the hospital deaths of patients who had tested positive for coronavirus and so definitely had the infection.

It looks at community deaths – people who died at home or in residential care who doctors recorded on the death certificate as probably having Covid-19.

What does that tell us?

Experts have always said there will be more coronavirus deaths happening than those recorded in the hospital data.

Currently, there are not enough tests to check how many people in the community are infected, or how many deaths are linked to Covid-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.

So while these provisional new community figures are important to collect and analyse to help better understand Covid-19, they can't shed much light on the true toll.

For now, the daily government figures on hospital deaths are still the most accurate measure that we have of the outbreak and how the NHS is coping.

Why do they only go up to 20 March?

It takes at least five days for most deaths to be certified by a doctor, registered and the data processed, meaning the figures are always slightly out of date.

There will be weekly updates from the ONS about hospital and community coronavirusRead More – Source