Covid: Over 40% of deaths in mid-January linked to virus

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A nurse in ICU in a hospital in TootingImage source, PA Media

There were more than 9,000 deaths linked to Covid in the week ending 22 January, an analysis of death certificates show.

The figure, from the UK national statistical agencies, is up by nearly 1,300 on the week before.

It represents 44% of all deaths during the week - the highest proportion since the pandemic started.

But daily monitoring by the government suggests the rise in deaths has now slowed and may be levelling off.

That data looks at deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, whereas death certificates rely on the expert judgement of doctors - but the two measures are tracking each other quite closely.

'Long way'

Sarah Scobie, of the Nuffield Trust think tank, said it looked like the peak was passing.

But the figures from the Office for National Statistics and its counterparts in Northern Ireland and Scotland showed the "terrible and deadly" impact of the second wave.

There were 20,700 deaths in total - more than 5,700 higher than the average for this time of year.

"This is a long way from a typical winter," Ms Scobie added.

'Tragic toll'

There have now been a total of nearly 113,000 death certificates that mention Covid.

And nine out of every 10 of these recorded Covid as the cause of death.

Dr Layla McCay, of the NHS Confederation, which represents health managers, said the figures represented a "tragic toll".

"While there have been early signs in recent days that some of the pressure may be easing, the NHS is far from out of the woods," she said.

"And while some battles have been won, the war is still raging."