By Grahame Anderson

The Office For National Statistics today revealed there have been more than 44,000 coronavirus-related deaths in the UK. These figures are one third higher than those announced by the government.

Why the difference? Because the ONS figures include all mentions of COVID-19 on a death certificate, including suspected coronavirus. All are based on the date deaths occurred.

Telling Figures

Breaking them down – 9,980 COVID-19-related deaths were recorded in English and Welsh care homes. The ONS said in the week ending May 8, 42.4% of deaths happened in the care home sector in both countries. This represented a drop on the previous week for the second week running.

In the same time coronavirus-related deaths in England and Wales saw a drop of 2,105 deaths from the previous week. Bear in mind this could be partly attributed to the early May bank holiday.

The Department of Health figures are based on when deaths were reported, on people who tested positive for COVID-19.

In The Regions

Meanwhile, the latest data has shown in the North-East, Sunderland and South Tyneside have had the second and third most cases, relative to population, respectively. Up to May 10 this equates to a COVID infection rate of 477.6 per 100,000 on Wearside, while in South Tyneside it was 447.9.

Gateshead proved to be the highest in the region along with Middlesbrough and Cumbria, who are integrated into the same regional care system. All carried rates above 400 per 100,000.

In the Bradford district, figures show 281 people have died from the virus – 183 in Bradford Teaching Hospitals, 96 at Airedale and two at Bradford Care Trust.

Another 14 coronavirus patients have died in hospitals across the Black Country, Birmingham and Staffordshire. At the time of writing no further deaths had been reported in London.

Liz Kendall Questions

In the Commons Liz Kendall MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Social Care, pressed the health secretary on PPE, coronavirus testing and a policy of not testing coronavirus hospital patients being discharged into care homes. She also asked about about guidance claiming care home residents were “very unlikely to be infected”.

She told Asian Sunday in a statement: “Ministers claims to have formed a protective ring around care homes ring hollow when we see these numbers.

“These figures are still ringing alarm bells, as deaths involving COVID-19 as a percentage of all care home deaths continued to rise this week.

“The Government is still being too slow in its response. MPs have received reports of complete confusion around care home testing, with the new portal only available for care homes for over 65s and the portal not accepting care homes who try to apply.

“Ministers must give social care the resources, support and attention it needs to stop the spread of this awful virus.”

Health Secretary Reply

In reply Mr Hancock said: “What’s important is that infection control procedures are in place”.

“Those infection control procedures were put in place at the start of this crisis and have been strengthened…as we’ve learned more and more about the virus all the way along.”

Parliamentary Committee

Prof Terry Lum, head of social care policy at Hong Kong University, has told the UK parliament’s health and social care select committee Hong Kong treated the outbreak like Sars, another killer virus affecting Asia in 2003 and saved lives. He compared this to the UK’s response, based on planning for a flu pandemic. In fact, there had been no recorded deaths in care homes from COVID-19 In Hong Kong. This was due to a strict regime of infection control – measures not used in the UK.

As the debate goes on levels of deaths in the UK from COVID-19 continue to decrease.