Coronavirus linked to almost 20% of all deaths in Sunderland in 2020
According to the latest government figures, COVID-19 was referenced on 298 out of 1,568 death certificates issued in the city since the start of 2020.
And the numbers issued by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also showed that at the peak of the outbreak, the virus accounted for more than half of all fatalities in Wearside in its most deadly week.
Similar figures were also seen in Gateshead and South Tyneside, which, along with Sunderland, data from NHS chiefs confirmed, are all in the top three areas of the North East for coronavirus infections per 100,000 people.
In the North East, only Middlesbrough has so far suffered a higher proportion of deaths linked to the disease.
However, health bosses were also keen to stress that a large number of confirmed cases was more likely to reflect the number of tests carried out, rather than the ‘underlying prevalence of disease in the community’.
The ONS figures, which run up to May 15, show the number of deaths in which COVID-19 was thought to be a factor has fallen for the fifth week in a row, as has the overall number of deaths in the city.
The number of coronavirus-linked fatalities in care homes however has remained flat for the last three weeks, at 14, even as the total number of deaths in Wearside’s care homes has fallen.
“These numbers confirm a steady downward trend in both deaths from all causes and from COVID that has been evident since the middle of April,” said Prof David Leon, Professor of Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
“This downward trend is seen in all settings.
“In care homes and hospitals, total deaths [nationwide] in this most recent week ending 15 May have more than halved compared to their respective peaks.”
Prof Leon also said the latest data suggested so-called ‘collateral deaths’ of people who had delayed treatment or diagnosis of some health conditions due to the coronavirus outbreak may also be falling.
But he added it may take years to see the impact on other chronic conditions, such as cancer.