Nearly 3,000 further coronavirus deaths have been added to the UK’s official death toll after a data error was discovered. An extra 2,714 deaths within 28 days of a positive test were added to the figures on Wednesday, bringing the total number of deaths according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to 169,095.
The UKHSA said the 2,714 deaths, which all occurred in England this year, were “not reported in a timely manner” due to a “data processing error”. They have now been retrospectively added to the official death toll.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) records its own death toll based on the number of people who have Covid-19 recorded on their death certificate. Under this method of counting, the death toll currently stands at just over 190,000.
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Both the ONS and UKHSA death figures have shown a small increase in the number of daily fatalities recorded in recent weeks, which reflects the impact of the surge of infections driven by the Omicron BA.2 variant. However, the number of deaths per day remains well below levels reached during the first and second waves of the pandemic.
It comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) said Covid-19 deaths have fallen globally in the last week. The number of cases reported globally also continues to fail.
In its latest pandemic report, the WHO said nine million cases were reported last week, a 16 per cent weekly decline, alongside more than 26,000 new deaths from Covid-19. However, the organization warned that the reported numbers carry considerable uncertainty because many countries have stopped widespread testing for the coronavirus, meaning that many cases are likely going undetected.
The WHO said it is also tracking an Omicron variant that is a recombination of two versions – BA.1 and BA.2 – first detected in the UK in January. It said early estimates suggest the recombined Omicron could be about 10 per cent more transmissible than previous mutations but further evidence is needed.
Last week, Covid infection levels hit a record high in the UK on the same day universal free Covid-19 testing ended in England. The ONS estimated that 4.9 million people in the UK had Covid-19 in the week ending March 26, up from 4.3 million in the previous week, with one in 13 people in England infected.
Meanwhile, the number of people with Covid-19 in hospital in the UK climbed to its highest level for more than 13 months this week. Government figures show that a total of 20,398 patients were in hospital on April 4, which is up 6 per cent week-on-week. Despite the rise, patient levels remain much lower than the all-time high of 39,256 reached on January 18 last year.
Separate figures show that hundreds of thousands of Brits are currently suffering from the symptoms of Long Covid. More than 750,000 people in the UK say they have experienced long Covid that has lasted for at least a year, new figures show.
The ONS estimates that 1.7 million people were likely to be experiencing symptoms of Long Covid in the four weeks to March 5, the equivalent of 2.7 per cent of the population. That is up 13 per cent from 1.5 million people a month earlier, and includes 784,000 people who first had Covid-19, or suspected they had the virus, at least one year ago – the highest number so far.
The new data also shows long Covid symptoms are estimated to be adversely affecting the day-to-day activities of 1.1 million people, around two-thirds of those with self-reported Long Covid. Some 322,000 people (19 per cent) reported their ability to undertake day-to-day activities has been “limited a lot”, the ONS said. Fatigue continues to be the most common symptom (experienced by 51 per cent of those with self-reported long Covid), followed by shortness of breath (34 per cent), loss of smell (28 per cent) and then muscle ache (24 per cent). cent).
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