UK Health Secretary calls for COVID-19 death toll to be reviewed

Authorities may have included natural deaths under COVID-19 deaths too

BRITAIN-POLITICS/YORK A woman walks in downtown York, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman declared that a government hub is considered to be established in the city, in Britain | Reuters

Coronavirus death tolls may not be as high as reported, as Public Health England (PHE) reported those who died of natural causes to have died of COVID-19, too. This has led Health Secretary Matt Hancock to call for an urgent review into how coronavirus deaths have been recorded in England. 

According to the UK government site, "There have been claims that the lack of cut-off may distort the current daily deaths number. There have been 40,528 deaths linked to the virus in England.”

According to a government source, hospital death numbers were falling, but community deaths were high, and this caused health officials to wonder what could be the reason.

People who were tested positive for the coronavirus earlier, but later died of other causes, have been counted as death due to coronavirus—this seems to be cause for a higher COVID-19 death toll.

"By this PHE definition, no one with COVID in England is allowed to ever recover from their illness," Prof Carl Heneghan from the University of Oxford was quoted as saying in a BBC report. 

As per PHE figures, just under 10 per cent of coronavirus deaths in England happened more than 28 days after a positive test. In nearly half of those cases, COVID-19 has been recorded as the main cause of death.

Dr Susan Hopkins, from Public Health England, said there was no agreed method of counting deaths from COVID-19. "Now is the right time to review how deaths are calculated," Dr Hopkins said. "As we go into the winter, it will get incredibly confusing and concerning if you have an increase in deaths while you are still counting and combining deaths from within the first phase," Prof Heneghan said.