Covid-19 deaths more than doubled in a week in North East hitting 288 in just seven days
The North East had the lowest number of COVID-19 deaths in England and Wales at the beginning of the month.
According to the latest figures, coronavirus was a factor in 422 fatalities across the region in the first two weeks of April.
But the overall number of deaths is still significantly higher than would usually be expected at this time of year.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released data for the week ending Friday, April 10, showing 288 out of a total of 849 deaths in the North East mentioned the virus on death certificates.
This is more than double the 134 recorded in the previous week (ending April 3), which showed the first surge in mortalities across the UK following the outbreak.
But this was also accompanied by a further rise in deaths not believed to be related to coronavirus, prompting concerns it could be delaying treatment or diagnosis of other life-threatening conditions.
And it led bosses at the County Durham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to warn ‘now is not the time to ignore symptoms and hope they will go away’.
Wales recorded slightly more COVID-related deaths than the North East over the two weeks, with the South West the next highest English region.
London remains the area most affected, with 1,506 in the week to April 10 and 1,170 the week before.
Nationally, figures for the week to April 10 show COVID-related deaths accounted for roughly a third of the 18,516 total, which was also nearly 8,000 higher than the average for this time of year.
“COVID-19 was mentioned in 6,213 of the deaths, representing the majority of this excess,” said Martin Hibberd, Professor of Emerging Infectious Disease at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
“With limited testing being carried out, it may be that all of the 7,996 excess deaths were directly due to COVID-19.
“But it is also likely that at least some of these were indirectly involved, such as through inability to access typical medical care for other conditions because of COVID-19 activities.”