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UK official coronavirus death toll drops by 5,377 after Matt Hancock's urgent review over 'extra deaths'

THE UK's official coronavirus death toll today dropped by more than 5,000 after a shake-up of how cases are recorded.

From now on the UK will only count coronavirus deaths that happen within 28 days of a positive test in future – after officials overestimated thousands of extra cases.

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Previously a death from Covid was always recorded in the daily figures – even if the person had been hit by a bus months after they got the virus.

Matt Hancock ordered an urgent review last month after realising there could be as many of 5,000 extra deaths being put into the UK's official stats.

As of Wednesday August 12, the number of all deaths in patients testing positive for COVID-19 in the UK within 28 days was 41,329.

The Department of Health's death total previously stood at 46,706, but was today revised to 41,329.

All four UK chief medical officers came to the decision to use the standard method.

Professor John Newton, Director of Health Improvement at Public Health England, said tonight: “The way we count deaths in people with COVID-19 in England was originally chosen to avoid underestimating deaths caused by the virus in the early stages of the pandemic.

“Our analysis of the long-term impact of the infection now allows us to move to new methods, which will give us crucial information about both recent trends and overall mortality burden due to COVID-19.”

Analysis of data in England found 96% of deaths occurred within 60 days or had COVID-19 on the death certificate. 88% of deaths occurred within 28 days.

In England, a new weekly set of figures will also be published, showing the number of deaths that occur within 60 days of a positive test.

Yesterday 1,009 new cases were diagnosed – bringing the total number of positive tests to 313,798.

However, the number of new cases diagnosed is lower than yesterday, when 1,148 people were confirmed to have the virus.

A total of 1,001 people are currently in hospital with the virus, 90 of whom are in ventilator beds.

In the 24-hour period covered by the figures, 142 people were admitted to wards suffering with Covid.

In England, a further six people have died with the virus in hospital.

Casualties were aged between 57 and 96. All had known underlying health conditions.

Five more died in Wales, while Scotland has marked the 30th consecutive day without a death.

The figures for Northern Ireland have not yet been published.

It comes as:

  • UK unemployment since March rose to 730,000 after another 114,000 Brits lost their jobs last month alone
  • Tui has cancelled more flights and holidays to Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and Morocco
  • It was announced that four in ten A-Level grades will have been changed ahead of tomorrow's results
  • Russia's 'world-first coronavirus vaccine' causes 'swelling pain and fever'
  • The NHS Test and Trace system has announced 6,000 contact tracer jobs will go – as employees were 'sitting around watching Netflix'

Rishi Sunak today warned "hard times are here" as the UK economy enters into the "worst ever" recession.

The economy shrunk by a record 20.4 per cent in just three months.

It’s the first time in 11 years that the UK has tipped into a recession.

There are also fears Oldham will be the latest place to go back into strict lockdown after a spike in new cases – many of which involve people aged in their 20s and 30s.

Oldham is currently the worst-hit area in England for Covid-19.

The latest figures show there have been 255 cases – a rate of 107.5 cases per 100,000 people.

Just one week earlier there were 137 cases – a rate of 57.8 per 100,000.

Meanwhile, it was announced this week that three different daily coronavirus death tolls are set to be published.

It comes after Public Health England (PHE) were said to have “exaggerated” the tally.

Health secretary Matt Hancock ordered a review after scientists discovered that anyone who tests positive and later dies of Covid-19 is currently included in the PHE numbers – even if they recover, and are then hit by a bus months later.

A review is due to be published within days and three new tolls are expected to be used after a deal was reached between ministers and scientists.

It was also revealed this week that coronavirus deaths in England and Wales are at the lowest level since before lockdown began in late March.

The number of people dying from the deadly bug has dropped drastically, with fatalities now around the same as they were 19 weeks ago.

And flu has killed more people in the UK than coronavirus for seven weeks in a row.

Almost five times as many people are now dying of influenza or pneumonia than Covid-19, according to the latest data.

However, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) yesterday said the UK's true death toll – which includes all fatalities where Covid-19 was listed on the death certificate – has now passed 56,800.

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