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March death toll in Cornwall below usual levels despite coronavirus

March death toll in Cornwall below usual levels despite coronavirus

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 9:31am 10th May 2020.

Fewer deaths were recorded in Cornwall in March than a year ago, despite thousands of excess deaths elsewhere nationally as the coronavirus crisis unfurled.

But experts have warned the outbreak could have far-reaching consequences on mortality rates across the UK in the months to come, including among those who do not catch the virus.

Office for National Statistics figures show 509 deaths were recorded in Cornwall during March.

That was 57 fewer than the number recorded in March 2019, a drop of 10%.

Across the 30 local authorities in the South West however, death counts increased by 9%, climbing from 4,715 to 5,127.

Across England and Wales, 5,826 extra deaths were registered this March than in the same month last year – 49,641 in total, an increase of 13%.

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

But medical experts have warned the death toll could go far beyond just those who contract the virus, as the effects of the shutdown begin to be seen on mortality rates in other areas of healthcare.

A report from University College London and DATA-CAN, the Health Data Research Hub for Cancer, has warned 18,000 more people could die from cancer across England in the next year.

They attributed this to a drop in urgent referrals for suspected cancer cases and fewer patients accessing chemotherapy.

Professor Harry Hemingway, director of the UCL Institute of Health Informatics and senior author of the report, said: "The overall impact of the Covid-19 emergency on deaths in cancer patients could be substantial".

"There are many factors operating here, including rapid changes to diagnosis and treatment protocols, social distancing measures, changes in people's behaviour in seeking medical attention and the economic impact of Covid-19, as well as deaths due to Covid-19 infection."

             Professor Harry Hemingway, director of the UCL Institute of Health Informatics

The British Heart Foundation has warned people are putting their "lives at risk" by delaying seeking treatment for heart attacks.

This followed a 50% drop in the number of people attending A&E with possible heart attack symptoms in March.

An ONS spokeswoman said there could be many reasons why deaths not related to the coronavirus may have increased, and work is ongoing to try to understand the trends.

β€œIn the four weeks up to April 17, approximately 30% of deaths registered above expected levels for the time of year did not have Covid- 19 mentioned on death certificates. There may be many reasons for this. We have a programme of more complex analyses of death involving Covid-19 and investigating excess deaths not involving Covid-19 is one of them. These pieces of analysis are complex, requiring multiple data sources. This analysis is currently underway, and we will be able to make further announcements when these will be released in the coming weeks.”

             ONS spokesperson 

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