‘Significant’ jump in Death rates in England and Wales last month

Pallbearers from W. Uden & Sons Family Funeral Directors bow their heads to a coffin during a funeral service in Bromley, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in south east London, Britain, January 28, 2021. Picture taken January 28, 2021. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Mortality rates in England and Wales in September were “significantly” higher this year than in 2020, new figures show.

Some 966.2 deaths per 100,000 people were registered in England last month, up from 885.5 in September 2020.

In Wales the figure was 1,056.4 per 100,000, up from 946.2 in 2020.

Both increases were described as “significant” by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which compiled the figures.

There continue to be many more people dying than usual for this time of year, with 7,215 extra deaths registered in England last month, 19.4% above the pre-pandemic average.

In Wales 489 extra deaths – or “excess deaths” – were registered, or 19.8% above average.

Only some of these deaths can be linked to coronavirus, however.

In England, 2,955 deaths registered last month were due to Covid-19 – 41.0% of the total number of excess deaths.

There were 253 deaths due to Covid-19 in Wales – 51.7% of the total excess deaths.

Covid-19 was the third leading cause of death in both England and Wales in September, unchanged from August in England, but up from seventh in Wales.

The leading cause of death in England was dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, while in Wales the leading cause was ischaemic heart disease.

Deaths due to “symptoms, signs and ill-defined conditions” in England were “significantly higher than the five-year average”, the ONS said.

This category is used for deaths that are typically ascribed to old age, but is also used for causes such as “frailty”.

There were 1,272 deaths registered in this category in England last month, or 28.0 per 100,000 people, compared with a pre-pandemic average of 905 or 21.4 per 100,000.

A similar jump in mortality rates for this cause of death was seen in Wales, up from a pre-pandemic average of 22.2 per 100,000 to 28.1 per 100,000.

The mortality rate for the leading cause of death in England last month, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, was slightly higher (107.3) than average (101.3).

In Wales the rate for the leading cause of death, ischaemic heart disease, was slightly lower (100.0) than average (107.9).