60 Covid-19-related deaths in Leeds care homes, as total estimated at 249

Almost 250 deaths in Leeds have been linked to Covid-19, a meeting of city chiefs has heard.

Wednesday, 22nd April 2020, 4:33 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd April 2020, 4:34 pm

The comments came from a senior council officer during a meeting of Leeds City Council’s executive board, where it was added dozens of deaths in care homes were registered as being related to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the leader of the council’s opposition Conservatives group warned against drawing too many conclusions from these figures, as it was unclear how many of the deaths were exclusively caused by Covid-19.

It follows a report which stated that death certificates registered in Leeds between March 27 (the date of the first Covid-19 death in Leeds) and 5pm on April 15, there were 159 deaths which were described as relating to Covid-19.

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Testing for coronavirus (Ben Birchall / PA Wire).

However, updated figures are said to show this number had increased to 249.

Although these cannot be confirmed as official Covid-19 deaths, they include deaths connected to the condition in hospitals as well as care homes, homes and elsewhere.

Council leader Judith Blake (Lab) said: “There is an area I need to give exposure to – at the moment the deaths on a daily basis are deaths in hospital settings.

“Sadly we know more people are losing their lives who are not in hospital. This is something that needs to be picked up and highlighted so the full impact of the virus can be understood.”

The council’s director of communities and environment James Rogers said: “Our own statistics in Leeds are from March 27 to yesterday on April 21.

“The deaths being identified as the cause of death being Covid-19 related stands at 249 – 168 dying in hospitals, 61 dying in care homes and 20 dying in a hospice or at home.

“Of all the deaths we have registered in that time, 30 percent were registered as Covid-19 related.

“If we compare last week to equivalent week in 2019, we saw a 124 per cent increase in deaths.”

Coun Andrew Carter (Con) said: “Nobody in their right mind wouldn’t take this seriously.

“But [the figures have] a series of caveats – most of the people passed away did not have a Covid-19 test. We rely on the death certificate saying related to Covid in some way.

“We don’t want to be in a position where we are accused of inflating those figures. The public need to know, but there are a number of imponderables in this section.

He also asked whether other regions or countries were recording deaths in the same way, as this could lead to uneven figures that were difficult to compare.

Coun Carter added “Is everyone else doing this kind of in-depth work? If not, we are not going to get a proper comparison.”

Mr Rogers responded: “Coun Carter is right to point to the caveats, and not all were subject to a Covid-19 test. What I can say is that there has been clear guidance issued on when people determine Covid-19 relation in the absence of a test.”

“I would agree with the view that the greater consistency we can get with these figures, the better.”

Another council officer added that reporting was starting to get more consistent, and that using the registered deaths allowed the authority to capture the data earlier.”

Coun Mohammed Rafique (Lab) stated that if a doctor listed Covid-19 on a death certificate this had to be trusted, adding: “The difference between this and last year, it’s not just horpital deaths, it’s others as well.”

A report presented to the members of the committee stated: “The difference in this data and hospital reported deaths will relate to the difference in definition between tested cases in the trust and non-tested suspected cases in a non-hospital settings, as well as reporting delays.”