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Rise in Covid-19 death registrations shows signs of slowing

People view and leave messages at Sanctuary, a national memorial to honour the UK’s loss to Covid-19 in Bedworth, Warwickshire (Jacob King/PA)
People view and leave messages at Sanctuary, a national memorial to honour the UK’s loss to Covid-19 in Bedworth, Warwickshire (Jacob King/PA)

The number of deaths involving Covid-19 registered each week in England and Wales has risen for the sixth week in a row – but there are signs the increase may be slowing down.

A total of 810 deaths registered in the seven days to July 29 mentioned coronavirus on the death certificate, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This is up 9% on the previous week and is the highest number since the seven days to April 29.

It is the smallest percentage increase since mid-June, however.

The upward trend in deaths is due to the recent wave of Covid-19 infections caused by the spread of the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

The wave has now peaked, but it will take a couple more weeks for this to be reflected clearly in the death figures.

This is because the trend in deaths always lags behind the equivalent trend in infections, due to the length of time between someone catching the virus and becoming seriously ill, as well as the time it takes for deaths to be registered.

During the two previous Omicron waves earlier in 2022, weekly deaths in England and Wales peaked between 1,000 and 1,500.

This was some way below the peak seen during the Alpha wave in January 2021, when the weekly total reached nearly 8,500.

High levels of Covid antibodies among the population – either from vaccination or previous infection – mean the number of people seriously ill or dying from the virus this year has stayed low.

The total number of deaths registered in England and Wales in the week to July 29 was 18% above the average for this time of year, the ONS said.

This cannot be directly linked to the record-breaking temperatures seen in parts of the country in late July, however.

It is the eighth week in a row that deaths have been above average, with similar high percentages seen in June.

It can also take several days or even weeks for a death to be registered, meaning the figures do not reflect what is happening in real time.

The ONS will publish detailed analysis later in August on deaths that took place last month.