True coronavirus death toll rises past 44,000 in Britain - 10,000 more than the Department of Health's count - as devastating statistics show more than 11,000 how now died in care homes

  • A combination of the most recently available data puts death toll at 44,094
  • In comparison Italy, the next worst hit country in Europe, has recorded 32,007
  • At least 11,000 people - a quarter of total - died in England & Wales care homes
More than 44,000 people have now been killed by COVID-19 in the UK, devastating statistics confirmed today.
And more than 11,000 victims were care home residents in England and Wales.
The weekly Office for National Statistics data has lumped almost 10,000 extra fatalities on top of the Department of Health's official count of 34,796 yesterday.
The number of people dying with the virus each week continues to fall, the ONS's research shows, but the ongoing crisis in care homes means there are still more deaths than would be expected in an average year.
Britain's status as the worst-hit country in Europe is underlined by the figures, with Italy so far recording 32,000 deaths, by comparison.
ONS data, which covers England and Wales, confirmed 39,071 people had died with the coronavirus by May 8.
At least 1,211 further people were known to have died in English hospitals between May 9 and May 17, according to the NHS, taking the England & Wales total to 40,282.
In addition, National Records of Scotland - the equivalent of the ONS north of the border - counted 3,213 deaths by May 10, and Northern Ireland's Statistics Agency, NISRA, added 599 up to May 13.
This takes the total for the UK to at least 44,094. 
Hospital deaths have now tapered off so much that the numbers of people dying in hospitals is lower than average for this time of year, for the first time since the lockdown was introduced. 
The government said yesterday that there are now fewer than 10,000 people in hospital in England because of the virus. 
In care homes, however, there were still more than 2,000 'excess deaths' in the week between May 2 and May 8.
Not all of this will have been caused directly by COVID-19, but they would not have been expected to happen if the pandemic didn't hit Britain. 
This shows that the coronavirus outbreak is now mostly persisting mainly in care homes.
ONS data today showed that 9,980 people had died in care homes in England and Wales by May 8, and a further 1,411 happened between then and May 15, according to the Care Quality Commission and Care Inspectorate Wales.
This puts the total care home deaths at at least 11,391.
The figure only includes home residents who died in the homes, however, whereas experts say many are taken to hospital before they die, meaning their death is recorded differently and the total is higher. 
It was last week predicted to be higher than 12,500 already.  
But 343 care homes have announced outbreaks of COVID-19 in the past week, with four out of every 10 in the country saying they have had cases at some point, the Prime Minister's spokesman confirmed.
Officials have come under fire for not offering enough support to care home staff and residents at the beginning of the outbreak. 
Bosses say homes were not given enough personal protective equipment, were given hospital patients who hadn't been tested for the virus, and it has now emerged that untested temporary staff may have been inadvertently spreading the illness in the sector's scramble to fill vacancies left by workers in self-isolation. 
A Department of Health and Social Care Spokesperson said today: 'Supporting the social care sector throughout this pandemic is a priority. 
'We are working around the clock to give the social care sector the equipment and support they need.
'We are ensuring millions of items of PPE are available to care workers, using our increased testing capacity to test care home residents and staff regardless of symptoms and introducing our new £600m Infection Control Fund to help prevent the spread in care homes.' 
The statistics announced today showed the number of weekly coronavirus-related deaths in England and Wales has fallen by more than a third in the space of a week.
There were 3,930 deaths registered in the week up to May 8 mentioning 'novel coronavirus' on the death certificate, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
These accounted for 31.1 per cent of all deaths during those seven days. It represents a drop of 2,105 deaths (34.8 per cent of the total) from the previous week, when there were 6,035 COVID-19 deaths registered.
The ONS said the early May bank holiday had affected the number of registrations of deaths from all causes, with 88 deaths registered on May 8 compared with 2,950 the previous Friday.
Weekly coronavirus-related deaths in care homes also fell to 1,666 in the week ending May 8.
This is the second weekly fall in a row, down from 2,423 deaths in the previous seven days - a decrease of 31 per cent.
But the proportion of coronavirus deaths taking place in care homes rose, with care home deaths accounting for 42.4 per cent of all the COVID-19 deaths, up from 40 per cent in the week from April 25 to May 1. 
Last week, the ONS said more than 12,500 people living in care homes have died with COVID-19, with the majority dying in their care home.
That data included all care home residents who died with coronavirus either at their care home or in hospital.
It suggests the overall care home resident death figure is 25 per cent higher than the total reported by the ONS today.

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