Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales, provisional: week ending 23 April 2021

Provisional counts of the number of deaths registered in England and Wales, including deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19), by age, sex and region, in the latest weeks for which data are available.

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Contact:
Email Sarah Caul

Release date:
5 May 2021

Next release:
11 May 2021

1. Main points

  • The number of deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending 23 April 2021 (Week 16) was 9,941; this was 497 fewer deaths than the previous week (Week 15) and 5.3% below the five-year average (556 deaths fewer).
  • The number of deaths registered in England in the week ending 23 April 2021 (Week 16) was 9,312; this was 470 fewer deaths than in the previous week (Week 15) and 4.9% below the five-year average (475 deaths fewer).
  • The number of deaths registered in Wales in the week ending 23 April 2021 (Week 16) was 616; this was 28 fewer deaths than in the previous week (Week 15) and 6.8% below the five-year average (45 deaths fewer).
  • We estimate that the number of deaths actually occurring (rather than registered) in Week 16 in England and Wales was between 8,547 and 10,718.
  • Of the deaths registered in Week 16 in England and Wales, 260 mentioned “novel coronavirus (COVID-19)” accounting for 2.6% of all deaths, a decrease of 102 deaths compared with Week 15 (3.5% of all deaths).
  • The number of deaths involving COVID-19 in England decreased to 244 in Week 16 compared with 346 in Week 15; for Wales the number remained the same with 14 deaths in both Week 15 and Week 16.
  • The number of deaths registered in the UK in the week ending 23 April 2021 was 11,349, which was 499 fewer than the five-year average; of deaths registered in the UK in Week 16, 290 involved COVID-19, that is, 112 lower than in Week 15.
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2. Deaths registered by week

Figure 1: The number of deaths registered was below the five-year average for Week 16 in both England and Wales

Number of deaths registered by week, England and Wales, 28 December 2019 to 23 April 2021

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Notes:
  1. Figures exclude deaths of non-residents.
  2. Based on date a death was registered rather than occurred.
  3. All figures for 2020 and 2021 are provisional.
  4. The number of deaths registered in a week are affected when bank holidays occur.
  5. The average for 2015 to 2019 provides a comparison of the number of deaths expected per week in a usual (non-pandemic) year.
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The provisional number of deaths registered in England and Wales decreased from 10,438 in Week 15 (week ending 16 April 2021) to 9,941 in Week 16 (week ending 23 April 2021). The number of deaths was 5.3% below the five-year average (556 deaths fewer).

In England, the number of deaths decreased from 9,782 in Week 15 to 9,312 in Week 16, which was 475 deaths (4.9%) fewer than the Week 16 five-year average (Figure 1). This is the seventh consecutive week that deaths have been lower than the five-year average in England. Of these, 244 involved the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Week 16, a 29.5% decrease compared with Week 15 (346 deaths). Of all deaths registered in Week 16, 2.6% mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate.

In Wales, the number of deaths decreased from 644 in Week 15 to 616 in Week 16, which was 45 deaths (6.8%) fewer than the Week 16 five-year average (Figure 1). Of these, 14 involved COVID-19 in Week 16, which remained the same as Week 15. Of all deaths registered in Week 16, 2.3% mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate.

Figure 2: The number of deaths involving COVID-19 decreased in Week 16

Deaths involving and due to COVID-19 and Influenza and Pneumonia, England and Wales, deaths registered in 2020 and 2021

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Notes:
  1. Figures include deaths of non-residents.
  2. Based on date a death was registered rather than occurred.
  3. All figures for 2020 and 2021 are provisional.
  4. The number of deaths registered in a week are affected when bank holidays occur.
  5. The average for 2015 to 2019 provides a comparison of the number of deaths expected per week in a usual (non-pandemic) year.
  6. The International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition (ICD-10) definitions are as follows: coronavirus (COVID-19) (U07.1, U07.2, U09.9 and U10.9) and Influenza and Pneumonia (J09 to J18).
  7. A death can be registered with both COVID-19 and Influenza and Pneumonia mentioned on the death certificate. Deaths where both were mentioned have been counted in both categories.
  8. We use the term "due to COVID-19" or "due to Influenza and Pneumonia" when referring only to deaths where that illness was recorded as the underlying cause of death. We use the term "involving COVID-19" or "involving Influenza and Pneumonia" when referring to deaths that had that illness mentioned anywhere on the death certificate, whether as an underlying cause or not.
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Of the 260 deaths in England and Wales that involved COVID-19, 176 had this recorded as the underlying cause of death (67.7%, Figure 2). Of the 1,203 deaths that involved Influenza and Pneumonia, 278 had this recorded as the underlying cause of death (23.1%).

Deaths that involved both COVID-19, and Influenza and Pneumonia, have been included in both categories for consistency when comparing with the underlying cause of death.

We have developed an experimental statistical model to estimate the number of deaths that actually occurred in a given week, rather than the number registered. For Week 16, we estimate that 9,527 deaths occurred in England and Wales, with a 95% confidence interval of 8,547 to 10,718. This is 522 fewer deaths than the mean for the period 2015 to 2019 in Week 16, and an increase of 274 from the Week 15 2021 estimate of 9,253 (8,987 to 9,581).

These are provisional estimates that assume the pattern of occurrences can be predicted based on experience in previous years. The estimate for the most recent week always has a wider margin of error than for earlier weeks, so it should be treated with caution.

Figure 3: Deaths from all causes were below the five-year average in Week 16

Number of deaths registered by week, England and Wales, 28 December 2019 to 23 April 2021

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Notes:
  1. Figures include deaths of non-residents.
  2. Based on date a death was registered rather than occurred.
  3. All figures for 2020 and 2021 are provisional.
  4. The International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition (ICD-10) definitions are available in the measuring the data section.
  5. The number of deaths registered in a week are affected when bank holidays occur.
  6. The average for 2015 to 2019 provides a comparison of the number of deaths expected per week in a usual (non-pandemic) year.
Download the data

.xlsx

Analysis in this section includes deaths from Week 11 of 2020 (week ending 13 March 2020, the week of the first registration of a death involving COVID-19) through to Week 16 of 2021 (week ending 23 April 2021), to ensure full coverage of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Using the most up-to-date data we have available, the number of deaths from the week ending 13 March 2020 up to 23 April 2021 was 709,330 in England and Wales. Of the deaths registered by 23 April 2021, 139,203 (19.6%) mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate. During this period, the number of excess deaths above the five-year average was 114,971 deaths.

In England, the number of deaths between the week ending 13 March 2020 and 23 April 2021 was 665,428 and of these, 131,159 deaths (19.7%) mentioned COVID-19. This was 110,222 deaths above the five-year average.

In Wales, the number of deaths was 43,044 and of these, 7,860 deaths (18.3%) mentioned COVID-19. This was 5,645 deaths above the five-year average.

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3. Deaths registered by age group

In Week 16 (week ending 23 April 2021), the number of deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) in England and Wales decreased in the majority of the five-year age groups compared with Week 15. The biggest decrease was seen in those aged 85 to 89 years (32 fewer deaths). The majority (59.6%) of deaths involving COVID-19 were in people aged 75 years and over.

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4. Deaths by region in England and Wales

Figure 5: The number of deaths in Week 16 was lower than the five-year average in Wales and the majority of the English regions

Number of deaths in Wales and regions in England, registered between 28 December 2019 and 23 April 2021

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Notes:
  1. Based on area of usual residence. Geographical boundaries are based on the most up-to-date information available at the time of publication.
  2. Figures exclude deaths of non-residents.
  3. Based on date a death was registered rather than occurred.
  4. All figures for 2020 and 2021 are provisional.
  5. The International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition (ICD-10) definitions are available in the measuring the data section.
  6. The number of deaths registered in a week are affected when bank holidays occur.
  7. The average for 2015 to 2019 provides a comparison of the number of deaths expected per week in a usual (non-pandemic) year.
Download the data

.xlsx

In Week 16 (week ending 23 April 2021), the total number of deaths registered was lower than the five-year average in every English region apart from London (Figure 5). The largest decrease compared with the five-year average was in the South East and East of England (8.1% lower).

Deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) decreased in the majority of regions except for Yorkshire and The Humber, where it increased, and East of England, and Wales, where it remained the same. The largest decrease was reported in the North West (22 fewer deaths). More detailed geographic analysis can be found in our Monthly mortality analysis release.

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5. Deaths registered by place of occurrence

Between Weeks 15 and 16, the number of deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) decreased in hospitals (65 fewer), care homes (10 fewer), private homes (25 fewer) and hospices (1 fewer). No deaths involving COVID-19 were reported in other communal establishments for the second consecutive week.

Deaths involving COVID-19 in hospitals as a proportion of all deaths in hospitals fell to 4.0% in Week 16 (5.3% in Week 15). Deaths involving COVID-19 in care homes accounted for 2.6% of deaths, a decrease from Week 15 (2.8%).

Detailed analysis on deaths of care home residents is available in Deaths involving COVID-19 in the care sector, England and Wales: deaths occurring up to 12 June 2020 and registered up to 20 June 2020.

From Week 1 2021 (week ending 8 January 2021) onwards, we have published a dataset of weekly deaths of care home residents.

As well as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) data, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) provides numbers of deaths involving COVID-19 in care homes in England that are based on the date the death was notified to the CQC. From 10 April 2020 (the first day when data were collected using the CQC's new method of identifying deaths involving COVID-19) to 30 April 2021, there were 29,110 deaths of residents in care homes involving COVID-19. Of these deaths, 19 were notified in the week up to 30 April 2021. More information on the data provided by the CQC can be found in our joint transparency statement.

In Wales, the Welsh Government publishes the number of deaths of care home residents involving COVID-19 notified to the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW). Between 1 March 2020 and 22 April 2021, there were 1,920 deaths of residents in care homes involving COVID-19.

Figure 6: Deaths in Week 16 were above the five-year average in private homes and other settings, but below the five-year average in hospitals and care homes

Number of excess deaths by place of occurrence, England and Wales, registered between 7 March 2020 and 23 April 2021

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Notes:
  1. Based on area of usual residence. Geographical boundaries and communal establishments are based on the most up-to-date information available.
  2. Figures include deaths of non-residents.
  3. Based on date a death was registered rather than occurred.
  4. All figures for 2020 and 2021 are provisional.
  5. The International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition (ICD-10) definitions are available in the measuring the data section.
  6. "Other" includes deaths in communal establishments other than hospitals and care homes, in hospices, and that occurred "elsewhere". More information on the place of death definitions used is available in the accompanying dataset.
  7. The average for 2015 to 2019 provides a comparison of the number of deaths expected per week in a usual (non-pandemic) year.
Download the data

.xlsx

In Week 16, the number of deaths in private homes was 32.3% above the five-year average (782 excess deaths) and deaths in other settings were 1.5% above the five-year average (12 excess deaths). Deaths within care homes were 19.8% below the five-year average (443 deaths fewer) and deaths in hospitals were 18.1% below the five-year average (907 deaths fewer).

In addition, more detailed analysis of excess deaths in England is produced by Public Health England (PHE) on a weekly basis.

Figure 7 is based on date of death for deaths registered up to 1 May 2021, rather than date of registration. As more deaths are registered, deaths per day are likely to increase, especially for later dates. Looking at the number of deaths that occurred in Week 16, 78.5% of deaths occurred in hospitals, and care homes accounted for 9.8% of all deaths involving COVID-19; this may change as more deaths are registered.

The earliest known death involving COVID-19 occurred in the week ending 31 January 2020 (Week 5).

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6. Deaths registered in the UK

Across the UK, there were 11,349 deaths (all causes) registered in Week 16 (week ending 23 April 2021), which was 499 deaths fewer than the UK five-year average, and 509 deaths fewer than in Week 15 (week ending 16 April 2021).

Using the most up-to-date data we have available, from the week ending 13 March 2020 up to 23 April 2021, the number of deaths was 802,874. The number of deaths involving COVID-19 was 151,533, and the number of excess deaths above the five-year average was 118,647.

Deaths in England and Wales were below the five-year average in Week 16 and deaths in Northern Ireland and Scotland were above the five-year average in Week 16.

Of these deaths, 290 involved the coronavirus (COVID-19), 112 fewer deaths than in Week 15 (27.9% decrease) (Figure 8).

In Week 16, England had the highest number of deaths involving COVID-19 with 244 deaths, followed by Scotland with 23 deaths, Wales with 14 deaths and Northern Ireland with 7 deaths.

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7. Comparison of weekly deaths occurrences in England and Wales

This section will look at the number of deaths involving COVID-19 by date of death produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) compared with death notifications reported on the GOV.UK Coronavirus in the UK dashboard. For Wales, we can also compare the data by date of death released by Public Health Wales (PHW).

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8. Deaths data

Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales, provisional
Dataset | Released 5 May 2021
Provisional counts of the number of deaths registered in England and Wales, by age, sex and region, in the latest weeks for which data are available. Includes data on coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths.

Death registrations and occurrences by local authority and health board
Dataset | Released 5 May 2021
Provisional counts of the number of deaths registered in England and Wales, including deaths involving COVID-19, by local authority, health board and place of death in the latest weeks for which data are available.

Number of deaths in care homes notified to the Care Quality Commission, England
Dataset | Released 5 May 2021
Provisional counts of deaths in care homes caused by COVID-19 by local authority. Published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Care home resident deaths registered in England and Wales, provisional
Dataset | Released 5 May 2021
Provisional counts of the number of deaths registered of care home residents in England and Wales, by region. Includes data on coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths. Data are weekly and provisional.

Try the new way to filter and download these data:

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9. Glossary

Coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths

Coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths are those deaths registered in England and Wales in the stated week where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate. A doctor can certify the involvement of COVID-19 based on symptoms and clinical findings – a positive test result is not required. Definitions of COVID-19 for deaths in Scotland and Northern Ireland are similar to England and Wales.

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10. Measuring the data

More quality and methodology information on strengths, limitations, appropriate uses, and how the data were created is available in the Mortality statistics in England and Wales QMI.

To meet user needs, we publish very timely but provisional counts of death registrations in England and Wales in our Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales, provisional dataset. These are presented by sex, age group and regions (within England) as well as for Wales as a whole. To allow time for registration and processing, these figures are published 11 days after the week ends. Because of the rapidly changing situation, in this bulletin we have also given provisional updated totals for death occurrences based on the latest available death registrations, up to 1 May 2021.

Because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, our regular weekly deaths release now provides a separate breakdown of the number of deaths involving COVID-19: that is, where COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 was mentioned anywhere on the death certificate, including in combination with other health conditions. If a death certificate mentions COVID-19, it will not always be the main cause of death but may be a contributory factor. This bulletin summarises the latest weekly information and will be updated each week during the pandemic.

The data for 2020 are based on a 53-week year. Because the number of days in a week is seven, when there are 52 weeks, we only cover 364 days of the 365 days in the year, which results in one remaining day each calendar year not included in the 52 weeks. With the occurrence of leap years, it is sometimes necessary to add a 53rd week to the end of the calendar, which was the case in 2020. This happens every five years, with the last time there was a Week 53 being in 2015. Given the low frequency of Week 53, it is more appropriate to compare the 2020 figures with the average for Week 52, than to compare it with a single year from five years previous.

From the bulletin dated 3 November 2020, we have added two additional analyses.

Previously, we gave a breakdown of deaths involving COVID-19 into those where COVID-19 was the underlying cause of death (“due to COVID-19”) and those where it was a contributory factor (“involving COVID-19”) in the Monthly mortality analysis; because of high public interest, this distinction is now shown in Figure 2 of the weekly bulletin.

Influenza and Pneumonia has been included for comparison (Figure 2), as a well-understood cause of death involving respiratory infection that is likely to have somewhat similar risk factors to COVID-19.

This bulletin is based mainly on the date deaths are registered, not the date of death, because of the time taken for a death to be registered. Deaths in England and Wales are normally registered within five days, but there can be a considerably longer delay in some circumstances, particularly when the death is referred to a coroner.

We have developed a statistical model to estimate the number of deaths likely to have occurred in each week, based on previous experience of the pattern of registration delays, including the effects of bank holidays. The method is described in the article Predicting total weekly death occurrences in England and Wales: methodology and the results are shown in the tab, “Estimated total deaths 2020”, of the accompanying dataset.

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 its 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.

From 29 April 2020, the DHSC started to publish as their daily announced figures on deaths from COVID-19 for the UK a new series that uses improved data for England produced by Public Health England (PHE). These figures provide a count of all deaths where a positive test for COVID-19 has been confirmed, wherever that death has taken place – a change from previously reporting only confirmed COVID-19 deaths in hospitals.

Figures for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland had already begun to include deaths outside hospitals, so this change ensured that the UK-wide series had a shared and common definitional coverage. A statement was published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which provides more detail of the changes.

On 12 August 2020, the PHE data series was revised to include two measures: deaths of positively tested individuals where the death occurred within 28 days and deaths within 60 days of a positive test. More information on these changes can be found in their technical summary (PDF, 854KB).

In contrast to the GOV.UK figures, we include only deaths registered in England and Wales, which is the legal remit of the ONS. Tables 4 and 5 provide an overview of the differences in definitions between sources.

From the week ending 26 February 2021 (Week 8), new International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) codes for COVID-19 issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) have been implemented for deaths involving COVID-19. The new codes are U09.9 (Post-COVID condition, where the acute COVID had ended before the condition immediately causing death occurred) and U10.9 (Multisystem inflammatory syndrome associated with COVID-19 (also called Kawasaki-like syndrome), a specific, uncommon effect of COVID-19 in children). These are in addition to the existing codes of U07.1 (COVID-19, virus identified) and U07.2 (COVID-19, virus not identified, that is, COVID-19 stated to be unconfirmed or suspected).

We will publish accompanying articles periodically, giving enhanced information such as age-standardised and age-specific mortality rates for recent time periods and breakdowns of deaths involving COVID-19 by associated pre-existing health conditions.

There is usually a delay of at least five days between occurrence and registration. More information on this issue can be found in our impact of registration delays release.

Our User guide to mortality statistics provides further information on data quality, legislation and procedures relating to mortality and includes a glossary of terms.

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11. Strengths and limitations

Figures are based on the date the death was registered, not when it occurred. There is usually a delay of at least five days between occurrence and registration. More information on this issue can be found in our impact of registration delays release.

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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Sarah Caul
health.data@ons.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)1329 444110