Coronavirus accounted for four in 10 deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending January 15 – the highest proportion recorded during the pandemic, figures show.
There were 7,245 deaths registered where “novel coronavirus” was mentioned on the death certificate in England and Wales, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
This is a 19.6% rise from the previous week, when 6,057 deaths were registered.
It is also the third highest weekly number recorded during the pandemic and, at 40.2%, the week with the highest proportion of deaths involving Covid-19 recorded so far.
The number of deaths involving Covid-19 in care homes continued to rise, with 1,271 deaths in care homes registered in the week ending January 15.
This is up 32.3% from 960 the previous week.
Overall, there were 1,719 deaths of care home residents involving coronavirus either at home, in hospital or another location, up 25.4% from the previous seven days.
Separate Care Quality Commission data shows it was notified of 2,314 deaths of care home residents in the week ending January 22.
This is a rise of 32% from the 1,752 notifications it received in the week ending January 15.
More than half (57.4%) of hospital deaths and a third (35.9%) of care home deaths registered in the latest week involved Covid-19, the figures show.
Nuffield Trust deputy director of research Sarah Scobie said: The building pressure is still felt right across the health and care system and, as we have only recently hit record daily reporting of deaths, we know registrations will remain high for another few weeks.
“The number of registered deaths from Covid of care home residents has increased by 25% since last week.
“The sector is again feeling the strain and, while the vaccine rollout for the most vulnerable is continuing at impressive speed, it will be a while until the benefits feed through to the figures.”
Prof Sheila Bird, from the MRC Biostatistics Unit, University of Cambridge, said: “It is too early to know if the peak of Covid-mention deaths in England and Wales has been reached in the week ending 15 January 2021 or if there is worse to come in the subsequent two weeks.”
It is also not certain whether the number of weekly registered deaths will exceed the pandemic’s previous highest weekly peak, but “we should be fearful”, she added.
The Independent Care Group, which represents providers in York and North Yorkshire, said the figures make “grim reading” and demonstrate the need to avoid complacency.
Chairman Mike Padgham said: “Yes, we now have vaccines, and the Government is to be congratulated on the speed at which it is protecting the vulnerable.
“But Covid-19 is not beaten yet and we must remain cautious and on our guard, observing all the guidance and keeping everyone in care settings – care and nursing homes and those receiving care in their own homes – as safe as we can, alongside those who are caring for them.
“The news that carers are going to be supplied with lateral flow tests they can do at home is another positive step and will hopefully have an impact and help protect carers who are selflessly looking after others.”