Southwark among UK regions with highest excess death rate during COVID-19 peak

Katherine Johnston (30 July, 2020)

England's outbreak was longer and more widespread than elsewhere in Europe

35313Picture of the coronavirus

Newly published data show Southwark had one of the highest rates of excess deaths in the UK in March.

The ‘all cause’ mortality figures published today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show the total number of deaths compared to the average figure in the same regions over the last five years.

Its statisticians have compared UK figures with those in continental Europe and, shockingly, put England highest among its neighbours.

Edward Morgan, from the ONS, explained: “Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the first half of 2020 saw extraordinary increases in mortality rates across countries in western Europe above the 2015 to 2019 average.

“The highest peak excess mortality at national level was in Spain, with some local areas in Northern Italy and Central Spain having excess mortality levels as high as 847.7% of the average.

“While none of the four UK nations had a peak mortality level as high as Spain or the worst-hit local areas of Spain and Italy, excess mortality was geographically widespread throughout the UK during the pandemic, whereas it was more geographically localised in most countries of western Europe.

“Combined with the relatively slow downward ‘tail’ of the pandemic in the UK, this meant that by the end of May, England had seen the highest overall relative excess mortality out of all the European countries compared.”

The worst affected British city as a whole was Birmingham, reaching 249.7% in the same week.  It was followed by London (226.7%, week ending 17 April) and Manchester (198.4%, week ending 17 April).

The highest excess mortality in the UK was was seen in Brent in the week ending April 17, at 357.5% above average.

In England, many London boroughs had relative age-standardised mortality rates above 30 per cent in the week ending March 27 including Wandsworth, Ealing, Brent, Westminster, Hackney and Newham, Lewisham and Southwark, Lambeth, Bexley and Greenwich, Barking and Dagenham and Havering, and Tower Hamlets. West Kent also had an abnormally high figure of 53.5%.

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