One in five deaths in England and Wales are linked to Covid-19, will spring slow the spread of this virus?
The Office for National Statistics data showed the virus was mentioned on 3,475 death certificates in the week ending 3 April.
It helped push the total number of deaths in that week to more than 16,000 – a record high and 6,000 more than expected at this time of year.
Normally the number of deaths falls as winter ends.
This is because there is less flu circulating.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, which is caused by the coronavirus, there has been some confusion as to what it is, how it is different to the flu and what the symptoms are for both.
But what is not clear is what else is contributing to this spike in deaths – the coronavirus cases contributed just over half of the “extra” 6,000 deaths.
It could be that cases of coronavirus are going undetected or other factors related to the lockdown and outbreak are having an impact, such as people not seeking treatment for other conditions or mental health deaths going up.
The 16,000 weekly deaths is the highest number seen since the ONS started publishing data in 2005 and tops the highest toll during the 2015 flu outbreak, the most severe of recent years.
Coronavirus: COVID-19 cases worldwide top two million
Most of the world’s cases are in the US, Spain, Italy, France, Germany and the UK. All these country’s have had exceptionally warm winters.
Almost 700,000 of those cases are people diagnosed with COVID-19 in the US, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Spain has 170,000 and Italy has almost 160,000, with France, Germany, the UK, and China also having a high number of cases.
Another 778 people have died after contracting coronavirus, taking the UK death toll to 12,107, the Department of Health (DoH) has confirmed.
Today’s jump in deaths is another huge daily increase, following a rise of 717 yesterday and 737 on Sunday. The toll was updated today after England recorded another 744 deaths. Scotland reported 40 deaths, while 19 were recorded in Wales and 10 in Northern Ireland.
The combined figure from the four nations comes to 813, which is higher than the number – 778 – later released by the DoH this afternoon.
The government has said this difference is because each devolved authority often makes amendments to their own data after reporting deaths to the DoH each day.
What is coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The most recently discovered coronavirus causes COVID-19 and on Wednesday, the WHO declared the outbreak a pandemic, which it defines as the worldwide spread of a new disease.
What is the flu?
Influenza, most commonly known as the flu, is a viral infection affecting the lungs and airways, according to Public Health England (PHE).
Both can result in fever, tiredness and a dry cough – although according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, some patients can also suffer with vomiting at times, diarrhoea, aching body, fatigue and pneumonia.
Patients with the flu can also suffer with a headache, muscle and joint pain, sore throat and a runny nose, according to the WHO.
But with COVID-19, symptoms can also include a shortness of breath.
Just like the flu, coronaviruses are respiratory diseases and both can be mild, severe and even cause death – and they can spread when an infected patient coughs or sneezes, spraying small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth, which may contain the virus.
Although it is currently unclear how long COVID-19 can survive on hard objects and surfaces, some experts have suggested its lifespan could be upwards of 24 hours.
The WHO recently warned banknotes may become a public health risk because of the rate at which they change hands, picking up all manner of bacteria and viruses along the way.
Although the WHO says it is still learning about this new virus, it has said COVID-19 adversely affects elderly people and those with pre-existing medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes.
It has also warned those over 60 or with long-term illnesses, to try to avoid crowded places to cut the risk of catching coronavirus.
Influenza is more dangerous for pregnant women, under fives, over 65s, people with chronic medical conditions such as HIV/AIDS, asthma, heart and lung diseases and diabetes.
Whatever the effect of temperature is on SARS-CoV-2, we will still need to take precautions
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention states that “at this time, it is not known whether the spread of COVID-19 will decrease when [the] weather becomes warmer”. It also says that, whilst seasonal viruses like the common cold and flu spread more in the winter, it is still possible to catch these illnesses in other months.
The WHO has stressed that cold weather and snow cannot kill SARS-CoV-2, reiterating the advice that “The most effective way to protect yourself against the new coronavirus is by frequently cleaning your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or washing them with soap and water.”