We’ve passed a peak – but are coronavirus deaths now falling?
One of the Government’s five tests for adjusting the lockdown is whether there has been “a sustained and consistent fall in daily deaths from coronavirus”.
But to see whether this is happening, we need to know precisely when those deaths are taking place.
This information is not included in the running total announced each day by the Government, which is based on when deaths have been reported, not when they actually happened.
To find out when deaths are taking place, we need to look at different statistical sources.
The only source that publishes frequent updates of when coronavirus-related deaths are taking place is NHS England, which releases figures every day for the number of deaths in hospitals in England of patients who have tested positive for Covid-19, together with the date on which the death occurred.
The latest figures from NHS England, covering hospital deaths up to 5pm on May 3, show that since a peak on April 8, the numbers do seem to be trending downwards.
No date since April 16 has seen more than 600 deaths take place, and no date since April 24 has seen more than 400 deaths.
The figures from NHS England are revised every day to incorporate deaths that have taken several days or even weeks to be confirmed.
There is a small chance that revisions made in the next few days could affect those ‘benchmark’ dates of April 16 and April 24, making the trend harder to detect.
But for now, the figures suggest a drop in hospital deaths as the month of April continued.
The next benchmark to look out for will be the point when deaths no longer go above 200 each day.
Remember these figures are only for people dying in hospital in England who have tested positive for Covid-19.
They don’t give a full picture of what is happening elsewhere, particularly in care homes.
But on Tuesday we will get the latest weekly figures for deaths involving Covid-19 in England and Wales in all settings – inside and outside hospitals – based on death certificates.
This is the widest possible measure of deaths linked to coronavirus, and includes the date on which the deaths occurred.
These figures will enable us to see if the trend suggested by the hospital data in England is reflected across England and Wales as a whole – and provide more evidence as to whether that trend is “sustained and consistent”.