Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Science & Tech
  2. Coronavirus
5 May 2020updated 04 Sep 2021 12:56pm

UK coronavirus death toll passes 32,000, now the highest in Europe

By Samuel Horti

The number of coronavirus-related deaths in the UK has surpassed 32,000 and is now the highest in Europe.

New Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures showed 29,648 people had died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate in England and Wales up to 24 April. When added to figures from Scotland and Northern Ireland, the UK death toll exceeds 32,000. Italy has recorded 29,029 deaths, which was previously the most in Europe.

The ONS data showed that, in total, 38,554 more people have died during the coronavirus crisis than would normally be expected, with only 71 per cent attributed to Covid-19, leaving thousands of deaths officially “unexplained”. Many of these were likely linked to coronavirus, either directly or because other healthcare services have been impacted. These “excess deaths” are determined by comparing the death toll with comparable weeks over the past five years.

In the week to 24 April alone, 21,997 people died in England and Wales, more than twice the average of 10,458 deaths over the past five years.

However, today’s figures show the number of excess deaths, and the number of total deaths from all causes, both fell slightly in the week to 24 April compared to the previous week. That suggests the peak of fatalities may have passed.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

The chart below shows that the number of weekly deaths from all causes was generally in line with expectations before the start of the coronavirus outbreak in March. 

Content from our partners
How automation can help telecoms companies unlock their growth potential
The pandemic has had a scarring effect on loneliness, but we can do better
Feel confident gifting tech to your children this Christmas