May 12, 2020 / 4:59 PM / 20 days ago

Exclusive: At least 20,000 people died due to the coronavirus outbreak in UK care homes - Reuters calculation

LONDON (Reuters) - At least 20,000 people have died in care homes in England and Wales as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Reuters calculations based on official data.

In the eight weeks to 1 May, 37,627 people died in care homes of all causes in England and Wales, according to data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

Based on a comparison of the average of weekly deaths in care homes in the same period over 5 years, Reuters calculated that excess deaths have totalled over 19,900 in England and Wales.

These figures update a Reuters calculation one week ago, published in a Special Report published that estimated the excess deaths to be at least 12,700.

The new total excludes hundreds of further deaths in Scotland and deaths that occurred since May 1. Other care home residents were transferred to hospital and died there. These are also not included in this figure.

Comparisons of excess deaths over average mortality is considered by statisticians the most accurate way to judge the consequence of the pandemic, including deaths directly caused by the pandemic or other deaths indirectly caused, for example by reduction in provision for other health problems.

The United Kingdom’s total COVID-19 death toll now exceeds 40,000, by far the worst yet reported in Europe, new data showed on Tuesday, raising more questions about Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.

Reporting by Stephen Grey and Ryan McNeill; editing by Guy Faulconbridge

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