All the data in the seven graphs below come from the Office of National Statistics released on the 5th May and show the place of death by local authority, up until April 24 – but registered up to May 2.
At first sight the deaths from Covid-19 in Kent have not influenced deaths from other causes.
This is in marked contrast to the overall picture across the country, where non-Covid deaths rose in synch with deaths reportedly caused by the virus, and more or less by the same amounts as the virus.
In the 33 London Boroughs these trends are even more pronounced.
However, in Kent the picture changes when one breaks down the figures by place of death.
In Kent care homes, there has been a distinct rise in reported non-Covid deaths in the last few weeks, suggesting Covid-19 deaths may have been under-reported here.
However, that surge is offset by a reported drop by about 39% in non-Covid deaths in Kent hospitals in the last three weeks.
This bucks the trend across the UK, which like care homes shows a rise in non-Covid deaths. One possible explanation is that already very sick hospital patients who might have been expected to die from pre-existing conditions succumbed instead to the virus. This can only be conjecture without any additional information, but if so, it might suggest that the final cause of death was reported more honestly in Kent hospitals than elsewhere. In any event it raises the issue of a grey area when people die who were not in a healthy state at the time. If they suffer from other life-threatening conditions and are infected by the virus, what is recorded on the death certificate may be a matter of opinion by doctors.
Moving onto deaths at home, the ONS data shows nationally 8,200 more people have died in their own homes since the start of the pandemic than in normal times; which strongly indicates people are not going to hospital for treatment.
The graph above is replicated nationally and shows their have been fewer deaths from other causes in hospitals not just for Kent but England Scotland & Wales. It is of course possible that, in addition to this, Covid-19 is being missed in people who remain outside of hospital.
Another plausible explanation is that people are dying of other causes that would not have happened under normal conditions – these are the people some are calling the collateral damage of the lockdown.
For now though we have no definitive explanations based on the available data.
Deaths at home in Kent, indicate a slight increase in non-Covid deaths in recent weeks might be explained by people choosing not to go to hospital or to contact the emergency services out of fear of coming into contact with Covid-19 in hospital. This as we said above is replicated nationally and shows nearly 8,200 have opted to die at home so one suspects it is part of a wider trend rather than a natural variation
With the remaining three places where ONS records deaths, the numbers for Kent are too small to reach any firm conclusions. Other communal establishments presumably includes prisons. There are eight prisons in Kent. This category records just 5 deaths from the virus, and possibly one or two more than might be expected in recent weeks from other causes. If there has been an outbreak of the virus in Kent prisons leading to multiple fatalities, it may be that the victims were taken to hospital first, and the deaths recorded there. But this can only be speculation. Certainly prisons are the ideal breeding ground for the virus. As at April 15th, according to the Daily Mail, more than half of UK prisons were infected with Covid-19.
These seven graphs clearly show – the stats released by the ONS on the 5th May by local authority, health board and place of death up until April 24, but registered up to May 2 – there are some serious anomalies with the data which cannot be explained.
The stats also appear to indicate the public, are being led up the garden path. The reason we say that is because we have repeatedly asked the Office of National Statistics for an explanation of the anomalies; and an answer there has come none.
The Shepwayvox Team
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