293 ‘daily’ Covid deaths likely cover more than one day after technical issue

3 November 2021
What was claimed

On 2 November it was reported that 293 Covid-19 fatalities were recorded in just 24 hours.

Our verdict

293 Covid-19 deaths were reported on 2 November, but the government says that due to a technical fault affecting death recording, and more general delays in reporting deaths over the weekend, this data likely covers more than one day.

“Covid deaths up by 15% in a week with 293 fatalities recorded in just 24 hours”

The UK has reported another 293 deaths following Covid-19, following the latest release of data on 2 November 2021.

This is the highest number reported on a single day since 315 deaths were reported on 3 March 2021 (not February as the Evening Standard and The Guardian suggested). 

However, some coverage of the statistics, including a report from the Daily Mirror, do not mention a key caveat which explains why the number is at the level it is, and why that may give an inflated indication of daily deaths.

The government’s coronavirus dashboard says: “Deaths data were not received from NHS England on 1st November 2021. This means that two days’ worth of data from this data source are potentially included in today’s figures.”

It included additional details from NHS England, which stated: “Due to a technical fault, the system used to collect daily data on individuals who’ve died with COVID-19 in hospitals was offline on Sunday. As a result, the data over the next few days may be higher while the records are entered into the system.”

So while 293 deaths were reported in the daily figures on 2 November, that doesn’t necessarily mean 293 people died over the course of one day from Covid-19. 

Even without technical issues, Tuesdays in general see notably higher numbers of coronavirus deaths being reported compared to the numbers reported on preceding Mondays and Sundays, due to delays in reporting statistics over the weekend.  

For example, while 293 deaths were reported yesterday, this followed 74 deaths reported on Sunday and 40 deaths reported on Monday. 

The number of deaths has been increasing in recent weeks. But as the trend in deaths lags behind the trend in cases (because it takes time for an infection to cause death) data on new infections is more useful at understanding the spread of the disease right now. 

New infections have been falling over the past two weeks, although they remain considerably higher than at the beginning of summer. 

Finally, these death figures represent deaths within 28 days of a Covid-19 infection. As such they may overcount people whose death was caused by something other than Covid and undercount those people who died of Covid without being tested for it, or more than 28 days after being tested.

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