The number of weekly registered deaths involving coronavirus in England and Wales has fallen for the first time since Christmas, new data shows.
There were 7,320 deaths registered in the week ending February 5 where “novel coronavirus” was mentioned on the death certificate, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
This is a fall of 1,113 deaths (13.1%) compared with the previous week.
The last time deaths fell was the week ending December 25, which included one bank holiday which likely had an impact on registrations.
Coronavirus accounted for 42.6% of the overall deaths registered during the seven days, which also fell from the previous week.
All regions in England and Wales saw a decrease in the number of deaths involving Covid compared to the previous week, but still have an overall higher number of deaths compared to the average for this time over the past five years.
Some 2,175 care home resident deaths involving Covid-19 in England and Wales were registered in the week to February 5 – a drop of 13% on the previous week.
This is the first fall since the week ending December 31.
The number of deaths of residents notified to the Care Quality Commission also fell – from 695 in the week ending February 5 to 536 in the week ending February 12.
A total of 37,895 care home residents in England and Wales have now had Covid-19 recorded on their death certificate, the ONS said.
Some 10,133 care home resident deaths involving coronavirus have been registered so far this year – more than a quarter (26.7%) of the total number of care home resident deaths involving Covid registered during the pandemic.
The figures cover deaths of care home residents in all settings, not just in care homes.
Taking into account figures from Northern Ireland and Scotland, which only include deaths that took place in care homes, this means more than 40,000 care home deaths have been registered in the UK.
Of the 41,770 deaths registered since the start of the pandemic, around a quarter (10,757) have been registered since the start of 2021.
Dr Layla McCay, director at the NHS Confederation, welcomed the fall in deaths involving coronavirus but said they remain very high.
She said: “We hope to start seeing the impact of the vaccination programme soon, with more than 15 million doses now given, but it remains vital that there is clarity and certainty about supply, especially as NHS teams continue to face huge pressures, with more than 23,000 people still in hospital with Covid-19.
“We continue to urge the Government to be extremely cautious about easing lockdown, and to do so with these pressures at the forefront of its thinking.”
Prof Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at the Open University, said there is “still a very long way to go”.
“The pattern of deaths is a very great deal different from what we’d have seen before the Covid-19 pandemic.
“In that latest week, the number of deaths from all causes in England and Wales was 41% higher than the five-year average number for the same week.
“That’s 5,500 more deaths in a week than average for this time of year – fewer than a week before, but still a distressingly large number.”
Independent Care Group chairman Mike Padgham said: “Whilst today’s figures are certainly a move in the right direction, we have to remain on our guard.
“There is understandably an increasing call for restrictions to be relaxed but we have to be cautious and not come out of lockdown too quickly as I think we have done before.
“I think people would rather this was the last lockdown and so restrictions should be eased slowly and safely to avoid the figures going up again.”