Coronavirus death toll is nearly 10,000 higher than previously reported, new figures show

James Morris
Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK

England’s coronavirus death toll is nearly 10,000 higher than previously reported by the government, new statistics show.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Tuesday show that by 15 May, there had been 40,096 deaths involving COVID-19.

This compares to the government’s official England death toll of 30,753 for that day, making a difference of 9,343.

The discrepancy is because the government’s daily figures are based on a different criteria to that of the ONS.


The Department of Health only counts deaths where the person had tested positive for COVID-19, whereas the ONS counts deaths where the virus, including suspected cases, was mentioned on the death certificate.

The ONS said: “Numbers produced by the ONS take longer to prepare because they have to be certified by a doctor, registered and processed. But once ready, they are the most accurate and complete information.”

Tuesday’s new figures also show the number of deaths involving coronavirus in England and Wales had reached its lowest weekly level for six weeks: 3,810 in the week ending 15 May.

The percentage of deaths involving COVID-19, as well as the total number of excess deaths compared with the five-year average, also continued to decrease.

Read more: Customers 'should not try clothes on' when shops reopen

However, during the week up to 15 May, deaths in care homes accounted for more than half of the total number of COVID-19 deaths for the first time.

On 9 May there were 214 deaths in care homes: 51% of the total, while 191 (46%) happened in hospitals.

Coronavirus: what happened today

Click here to sign up to the latest news, advice and information with our daily Catch-up newsletter

Read more about COVID-19

How to get a coronavirus test if you have symptoms
What you can and can’t do under lockdown rules
In pictures: How UK school classrooms could look in new normal
How public transport could look after lockdown
How our public spaces will change in the future

Help and advice

Read the full list of official FAQs here
10 tips from the NHS to help deal with anxiety
What to do if you think you have symptoms
How to get help if you've been furloughed