Around one in 14 COVID-19 related deaths in England and Wales could be taking place outside hospitals, new data suggests.
Figures compiled by the Office for National Statistics show that in the week ending 27 March, 38 out of the 539 deaths that were registered with coronavirus mentioned on the death certificate occurred in hospices, care homes or other locations.
Of the 38 deaths that did not take place in a hospital, 20 took place in care homes, 15 were in private homes, two were in hospices and one happened elsewhere.
The provisional figures are the first to give an indication of what proportion of coronavirus-related deaths are happening outside of hospital settings.
However, the vast majority of coronavirus-related deaths are taking place in hospitals, and the ONS stressed that this is only preliminary analysis, and the figures cover just one week of data for England and Wales.
The figures come amid suggestions that daily death totals being reported by the Department of Health are not showing the full picture because they only include hospital deaths.
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Sky’s economics editor Ed Conway said: “There have been some question marks about perhaps over-reporting and under-reporting of COVID-19 deaths from the official numbers that we get from the government every day.
“These numbers are from the ONS and give you a comprehensive view, not just of how many people have died from COVID-19, but how many people have died of all causes in England and Wales over the week to the 27 March – when the lockdown was implemented.
“These numbers include deaths which happen outside hospitals.”
The ONS data published on Tuesday also showed there were 1,639 deaths relating to COVID-19 in England and Wales up to 27 March, if deaths that were registered up to 1 April were taken into consideration.
Of these deaths, 1,568 were in England. This compares with 1,649 deaths reported by NHS England for the same period, the ONS said.
The difference is due to different methods of counting and reporting.
The ONS counts all deaths, whereas the daily figures released by the Department of Health relates only to deaths in hospitals.
And, the ONS figure is often behind the Department of Health figure, because it can take a while before deaths are reported to register offices.
But once ready, they are the most accurate and complete information available, the ONS said.
On Monday, the Department for Health said another 439 patients had died across the UK after contracting coronavirus – bringing the total reported as having died in hospitals to 5,373.
Public Health Wales and Public Health England released their own figures.
Welsh authorities said that an extra 27 deaths occurred in Wales, taking the overall number of deaths reported in hospitals there to 193.
English authorities said the number reported by 5pm Sunday in England had risen to 4,897.