With the threat of a second wave of infection, lessons must be learned to prevent further avoidable loss of life Health Foundation response to weekly ONS mortality data for England and Wales

9 June 2020

Commenting on Office for National Statistics (ONS) analysis of Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales, provisional: week ending 29 May 2020, Dr Jennifer Dixon, Chief Executive at the Health Foundation, said:

'Deaths from COVID-19 continue to fall from the peak of the pandemic in April, but remain 20.2% above the five-year average for the same period. Clearly COVID-19 remains a considerable threat to health.

'The number of weekly deaths are falling – particularly in hospital where they are back to near normal levels. But care homes and the community continue to be the hardest hit, with 819 deaths in residents of care home and 868 deaths of people in private homes above the five-year average. The figures mean that firm action to reduce avoidable deaths outside of hospitals is needed, through regular and effective testing and tracing and ensuring consistent supplies of PPE. The announcement yesterday of a taskforce to protect vulnerable people in care homes and the community is welcome, but much of the government action to prevent deaths in care homes has come far too late.

‘The UK has seen amongst the highest of total deaths directly and indirectly related to COVID-19 since the pandemic began – over 60,000 more deaths than would be expected over that period. With the threat of a second wave of infection looming, we must take the time to fully understand the reasons why the UK has been so badly hit and how to prevent further avoidable loss of life. This includes implementing an effective test and trace programme, protection of the vulnerable, and action to ensure people who need health care are able and confident to access it.'

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