PHE publishes new data on COVID-19 fatalities, wider tests rolled out

A new method of reporting daily COVID-19 deaths will from this week include deaths that have occurred in all settings where there has been a positive COVID-19 test, including hospitals, care homes and the wider community. The total number of deaths reported by Public Health England is about 17% higher than previous data showed.

The figures have been revised retrospectively by PHE since the first death on 2nd March 2020 to include additional data sources. This, it said, brings the total number of deaths in the UK to 26,097 from 2nd March until 28th April, including 765 deaths reported in the 24 hours to 5pm on 28 April.

PHE stressed that the data did not indicate a sudden one day increase and is broadly in line with trends seen by the ONS in their data, which already reports out of hospital deaths.

Medical director, Dr Yvonne Doyle said: "Every death from COVID-19 is a tragedy. Tracking the daily death count is vital to help us understand the impact of the disease.

"These more complete data will give us a fuller and more up-to-date picture of deaths in England and will inform the government’s approach as we continue to protect the public. It will remain the case that ONS data, which publishes every week with data from 11 days ago, includes suspected cases where a test has not taken place. ONS figures will therefore continue to include more deaths than our daily series."

PHE will each day link data from three different sources: the NHSE dataset collected manually from trusts; deaths collected electronically from NHS information systems; and reports from PHE Health Protection Teams as part of their local outbreak management.

Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales already report out-of-hospital deaths.

The news comes as the government announced the roll-out of a major home testing programme designed to track levels of infection in the community.

Some 100,000 people will be sent self-testing kits to determine if they are currently infected.

Businesses will be waiting for these results as the focus shifts towards a gradual easing of lockdown measures and a subsequent return to work.

Official data on cases and fatalities in the UK are available here:

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