Luton records almost 30% more deaths than 2019 so far

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Luton has recorded almost 30% more deaths in the first nine months of this year than last, official figures show.

The total number of monthly deaths across England and Wales rose in September for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, though deaths due to coronavirus were not in the top 10 leading causes.

Office for National Statistics figures show 1,352 deaths were recorded in Luton between January and September – 30% more than by the same point last year.

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Of these, 108 occurred last month, 13 more than in September 2019.

(Stock image)(Stock image)
(Stock image)

Across England and Wales, 453,026 deaths were recorded by the end of September – 62,104 (16%) more than in 2019.

The monthly total for September 2020 (42,432) was 6% more than in 2019, and the first time since April, during the first peak of the pandemic, that the monthly tally has increased.

Separate ONS figures show the age-standardised mortality rate in September due to Covid-19 was 12.6 per 100,000 people in England.

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Age-standardised mortality rates are used to allow comparisons between populations that may contain different proportions of people of different ages.

This figure was up from 7.2 per 100,000 in August and is the first increase since April.

But the figure is still much lower than the peak of the virus in April when it was 623.2 deaths per 100,000 people.

The ONS said: “In September 2020, the number of deaths and mortality rate due to Covid-19 remained significantly below levels seen in March 2020 – the first month a Covid-19 death was registered in England and Wales.

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“However, the mortality rate due to Covid-19 was significantly higher in England in September 2020 compared with the previous month, August 2020."

Deaths that were "due to Covid-19" were the 19th most common cause of death in England last month, and the 24th most in Wales.

These are different from those “involving Covid-19”, which includes those where the virus is mentioned anywhere on a death certificate.

Professor Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at The Open University, said the increase in deaths from August to September in England and Wales was "definitely not" due to deaths directly caused by coronavirus.

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He said: "In both countries, the most common cause of death is dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, which is typical for this time of year, and indeed this has been the leading cause of death over the whole year since 2015.

"In England, the death rates from most of the top 10 causes are actually lower than the five-year average, though in most cases the difference is too small to conclude that things have really changed.

"The biggest difference is in deaths whose underlying cause was influenza and pneumonia combined, where the death rate was 27.7% lower than the five-year average. That’s a really big drop."

The ONS said this might have been because deaths from influenza and pneumonia occurred earlier than normal in 2020, but Prof McConway suggested the use of social distancing from older people may have contributed as well.

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A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “Every death is a tragedy and our deepest sympathies go to the families and loved ones of those who have died.

“Throughout the global pandemic the NHS has remained open for urgent care and we continue to urge anyone who needs healthcare to come forward.”

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