Deaths more than double usual rate during April in Sunderland as coronavirus takes hold

Deaths in Sunderland more than doubled above the usual level in April as the coronavirus crisis took hold, new figures show.
Coronavirus pushed the death rate in Sunderland up by 105% in AprilCoronavirus pushed the death rate in Sunderland up by 105% in April
Coronavirus pushed the death rate in Sunderland up by 105% in April

Office for National Statistics data shows 534 deaths were recorded in the city during the month – 273 more than the 261 recorded in April last year.

That increase – 105% – the second biggest increase among Tyne and Wear's five local authorities.

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The figure in Gateshead was 126%

The British Medical Association says the “true devastation wrought by Covid-19” is starting to become clear.

Ministers and health experts leading the public response to the coronavirus crisis have consistently said excess mortality figures will be the most accurate measure of the overall impact.

Across England and Wales, the April death toll rose by more than 44,000 in April, climbing from 44,123 in 2019 to 88,153 this year.

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The figures include all deaths, not just those directly attributed to Covid-19.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the BMA council, said the figures showed the “widespread and tragic” impact the crisis is having on the population, which is extending far beyond the direct effects of the virus.

She said: “The response of the health service to adapt to the Covid crisis has been nothing short of remarkable, but because the NHS was severely overstretched prior to the pandemic, this could only be achieved by diverting resources away from other areas of care.

“Many non-Covid patients have been unable to access treatments or been deterred from attending hospital or contacting their GP practice.

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“Consequently, as many ill patients are not getting the care they so desperately need, their conditions are worsening, with some maybe even dying as a result.”

The Local Government Association says councils have stepped up to cope with the surge in deaths and subsequent funerals.

Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the LGA's community wellbeing board, said: “Every death from coronavirus, both directly and indirectly, is a tragedy.

"Councils have risen to the challenge of managing excess deaths but Government needs to ensure that councils are properly funded, to make sure that provision is made for all those who die to be treated with dignity and respect.”

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