Deaths in Scotland below average for first time in months

There were just 35 deaths involving Covid-19 in the country in the week ending June 28.

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Deaths registered in Scotland last week fell below the five-year average for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown began.

There were just 35 deaths involving Covid-19 in the country in the week ending June 28, the ninth weekly fall in a row.

They accounted for 3% of the 1006 deaths registered that week, down from a peak of 36% in one week in April.

The average number of the deaths in that period over the last five years was 1026, meaning there were 2% fewer deaths (20) registered last week than the average.

The 35 deaths which cited coronavirus on the death certificate last week – including both confirmed and cases – is a fall of 14 on the week before.

It brings the death toll as of Sunday up to 4155, and up to 4159 including the four deaths reported by the Scottish Government so far this week.

Weekly deaths fall for ninth straight week. (Chart: STV News - Source: NRS)
Weekly deaths fall for ninth straight week. (Chart: STV News – Source: NRS)

Over the 15-week period from March 16 – when the first Covid death was recorded – to June 28, the country has had 4906 excess deaths, according to the National Records of Scotland (NRS) statistics.

That’s the number of deaths on top of the five-year average number of deaths for the same period.

Last week is the first since the week beginning March 23 where there were no excess deaths.

Over the 15 weeks of the pandemic so far, there were 2463 excess deaths in care homes – two thirds (67%) higher than the five-year average.

There were 2417 excess deaths at home or in non-institutional settings, 56% above average.

In care home and hospitals, Covid-19 was the cause of the majority of excess deaths, whilst in home and non-institutional settings there were far fewer excess deaths involving the virus.  

Cancer, circulatory deaths, and deaths from other causes accounted for most of the excess deaths in these settings.

In hospital settings there were lower than average numbers of deaths from all causes other than Covid-19.

Fatalities in hospitals overall were less than 1% above average levels over the full 15-week period but saw an early spike in April.

Hospital deaths have now fallen to below average levels.

A total of 46% of deaths related to Covid-19 in the week from June 22 to 28 took place in care homes, the same percentage as in hospitals.

In recent weeks, care homes have typically seen a higher proportion of deaths to hospitals, at one point accounting for 60% of Covid fatalites.

The number of care home residents who lost their lives to the virus fell for a ninth week, by four to 16.

More than three quarters (77%) of all deaths involving coronavirus to date were of people aged 75 or over.

And over-85s account for 43% of all virus-linked deaths, or 1083 of the total.

Coronavirus deaths by age group and gender. (Chart: STV News - Source: NRS)
Coronavirus deaths by age group and gender. (Chart: STV News – Source: NRS)

Pete Whitehouse, NRS director of statistical services, said: “These statistics represent the heartbreak of many families across the country who have lost loved ones and every death from this virus is a tragedy.

“Since the peak in mid-April, the number of registered Covid-19 related deaths has fallen for nine successive weeks.

“In the week ending June 28, 35 Covid-19 related deaths were registered, representing the second smallest weekly total since the start of the pandemic in Scotland.

“This week also marks the first time since the start of the pandemic in Scotland that the total number of deaths from all causes is below the five-year average for this time of year.”

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s daily coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, Nicola Sturgeon said one death had been reported in the last 24 hours, taking this week’s total to four.

The country had gone four days in a row with no Covid-19 deaths announced.

The First Minister also said eight new cases of the virus had been confirmed, taking Scotland’s total over the course of the outbreak to 18,259.

A total of 785 patients are being treated with confirmed or suspected Covid in hospital, a drop of 100 on the day before.

Of those, 17 are being tended to in intensive care, two fewer than Tuesday.

Exactly 4071 people previously hospitalised with coronavirus have been able to go home since March 5.

Sturgeon said the weekly deaths figure dropping below the five-year average was “very significant” and showed Scotland was making “real and sustained progress” in suppressing Covid-19.

As a result, she said she hoped to be able to announce changes to the lockdown for children “which will help to make this a slightly more normal and less frustrating summer holiday for many young people”.

The FM added: “We know how important it is for you to be able to see a bit more of your friends over the summer as well as — I hope — being able to go back to school in August.”

Sturgeon indicated she would announce the changes at Thursday’s coronavirus briefing, including some different measures for children who are shielding.