We are getting regular updates on Covid-19 cases and deaths – but we must wait until August for data on total deaths in March

Questions have been raised about how many people are dying of Covid-19 in the United Kingdom.

They stem from the way coronavirus deaths are counted in the UK – primarily who is counted and when.

The “official” death toll, according to the data presented by the UK government every day in Downing Street, was 26,097 deaths at 5pm 28 April.

Until the previous day, this figure focused solely on people who have died in hospital, according to an analysis in The Guardian.

But an additional 3,811 deaths in care homes and the community had been included.

Deaths in all settings where a positive Covid-19 test had been recorded by Public Health England henceforth would be reflected in the figures each day, according to the government.

But The Guardian was concerned that …

Figures recorded by the Office for National Statistics and the Care Quality Commission show at least 4,996 deaths were recorded in care homes in the two weeks to 24 April – a toll which is clearly at odds with the government’s latest figures, as many of the deceased will not have been tested. In addition to this, the key government figure is lagging, as it can take days or weeks for some deaths to be counted. Clearly this widely circulated figure, even when deaths in the community are included, is an undercount.

It will take weeks to get to a proper sense of how many people have died.

The final official figure will come from the statistical agencies of the four nations,  based on the number of death certificates which mention Covid-19.

The number of Covid-19 fatalities exceeded 20,000 in England and Wales on 15 April, but the official figure released by the government only passed 20,000 on 25 April.

We now know that as of 17 April the true total number of deaths was 55% higher than the official figure from the Department of Health and Social Care in England and Wales.

Point of Order asked Stats NZ if it – or any other agency in this country – gathered and published statistics which record weekly deaths and the causes of those deaths?

The answer:

Stats NZ publishes monthly deaths but March data won’t be available until August because of the lag in having it sent to us.

The data is supplied to us by the Department of Internal Affairs – http://www.dia.govt.nz/Contact-Us

Ministry of Health publish cause of death data. They normally have a lag of a couple of years while some cause of death data is finalised; however, Covid-19 related deaths are published on the government Covid-19 page – https://covid19.govt.nz/covid-19/about-covid-19/latest-data/  

The latest data at time of writing showed –

As at 9.00 am, 3 May 2020
Total Change in last 24 hours
Number of confirmed cases in New Zealand 1,136 2
Number of probable cases 351 0
Number of confirmed and probable cases 1,487 2
Number of cases currently in hospital 8 3
Number of recovered cases 1,266 3
Number of deaths 20 0




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