Boosted virus death toll in England, Wales

Within the 552 38 had no known underlying health condition

Hertfordshire coronavirus: ONS figures show high rate of care home deaths | Stevenage, Hitchin, Letchworth, Biggleswade News

The equivalent figure for hospital deaths over the period is 14,796.

That's compared with 79 Covid-19 related deaths in Essex care homes, and 31 in Norfolk.

Separately, the ONS said there were 1,220 deaths which occurred outside hospital, excluding care home deaths, in England and Wales up to April 17.

Many of these patients are also thought to have been at private care homes, according to Hertfordshire County Council.

Figures announced by the Government each day only include cases recorded in hospitals. while data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) includes people in care homes.

Of the deaths registered in week sixteen (the week ending 17 April), the ONS reports 39.3% mentioned COVID-19, rising to 55.5% in London, 42.3% in the North West and 41/1% in the North East.

The ONS said the figures may be an underestimate due to notification delays.

Nationwide there were 4,343 such deaths in the same period.

However, worrying research from the Financial Times suggests that the United Kingdom total is expected to be well over double the latest figures reported by the government.

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The new ONS data also lays bare the catastrophe unfolding in Britain's care homes.

"I would push my neck out that it is plausible that there are now as many COVID-labelled deaths occurring out of hospital as there are in hospitals in England", said David Spiegelhalter, professor of the public understanding of risk at the University of Cambridge.

The figure - from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) - covers the fortnight to 24 April.

Six people died in hospital, one person died at home and two died in care homes the following week. The information has been released as concerns mount over outbreaks in these homes.

Mr Zeichner said that he had been told by a Cambridge care home manager of the supply chain problems for PPE, and heard from a care home worker that the virus was spreading through the building they were working in but that they did not feel properly or adequately equipped or protected.

"The crucial part of the next stage is to have enough testing and early warning systems to avoid ending up back where the United Kingdom is now".

"We hope not, but it might be that the numbers will actually be higher".

"This is a monumental government failure and afterwards we will need to learn lessons as this must never be allowed to happen again".

The figures underline the scale of the challenge facing Johnson as he returns to work after himself recovering from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and the dangers of relaxing Britain's lockdown too soon.

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