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Coronavirus death toll surges to 44,000 as figures show half are outside hospital

HALF of all coronavirus deaths are now taking place outside hospitals, it emerged yesterday as the official UK total passed 44,000.

More than 11,000 elderly residents are known to have died in care homes but thousands more will have died after reaching hospital.

Britain’s total of 44,094 is more than a third higher than Italy’s official figure and 16,000 more than Spain’s, cementing the UK as Europe’s worst hotspot.

The weekly Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures include all those with coronavirus listed as a cause on their death certificates — not just those who tested positive.

They show deaths from coronavirus in English and Welsh care homes fell from 2,423 to 1,666 in the week ending May 8 but the virus was responsible for 42 per cent of care home deaths — up 40 per cent on the previous week. The weekly death toll from coronavirus fell from 6,035 to 3,930.

Nick Stripe, of the ONS, warned the figures would have been suppressed by the VE Day Bank Holiday when just 88 deaths were registered — compared with 2,950 the previous Friday.

The true toll may be higher because 55,000 more people died across the UK between January and May than in the same period last year, he added.

‘About 25 per cent of excess deaths are not explained by Covid being on the death certificate,’ Mr Stripe told the BBC, adding the Covid-19 death toll in care homes could be 15,000. Labour’s Liz Kendall cited separate ONS figures showing excess deaths in care homes had reached 23,000 since the start of the year amid fears the crisis was preventing non-infected residents getting needed treatments.

‘Ministers have been too slow to tackle the problem in care homes, social care has not had the same priority as the NHS and the services have not been treated as inextricably linked,’ she said.

The Department of Health said: ‘We are working around the clock to give the social care sector the equipment and support they need.

‘We are ensuring millions of items of PPE are available to care workers, using our increased testing capacity to test care-home residents and staff regardless of symptoms and introducing our new £600million infection control fund to help prevent the spread in care homes.’

Health minister: Virus is racist, fattist and sexist

CORONAVIRUS is ‘racist, fattist and sexist’, a health minister told peers.

Tory Lord Bethell was replying to concerns raised over growing evidence that Covid-19 is especially deadly to black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people. Obese patients also appear more vulnerable, and men seem to be affected worse than women.

During a virtual House of Lords question time, Lord Bethell said: ‘This disease is racist, fattist and sexist and we need to understand why it is discriminatory in all these areas.’

Labour’s Baroness Lawrence asked him what was being done to protect BAME health workers. He said NHS trusts had begun to risk-assess all staff.