Coronavirus linked to one in four deaths in last week of November

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said there were 3,040 deaths registered where “novel coronavirus” was mentioned on the death certificate in the week ending 27 November, accounting for 24.4 per cent of the total deaths that week.

One in four deaths in England and Wales registered in the last week of November have been linked to coronavirus, according to official figures.

This was the highest number of deaths involving Covid-19 since the week ending 15 May during England’s first national lockdown.

The data was published as the UK began its mass vaccination programme for the virus using the Pfizer/BioNTech jab which was approved by regulators last week.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said on Tuesday morning that he hoped “several million” people would be vaccinated by Christmas as he warned that the public would still need to stick with social restrictions for some time.

“As of this morning, right now several dozen people have been vaccinated and by Christmas several million people will have been vaccinated,” Mr Hancock told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“But we’ve got to protect those who are vulnerable.”

He added: “The second dose is in three weeks’ time, and then it takes a week to get full immunity, so, even for those who were the first to be vaccinated, we’ve still got a month until they are protected.

“And then we’ve got to ensure that people who are vulnerable to this disease are protected and then we can lift the restrictions and that will take months, so we’ve got to stick at it.”

Figures from the ONS on Tuesday also showed that more than 75,000 deaths involving Covid-19 had now occured in the UK since the start of the pandemic.

In the week ending 27 November, the overall number of deaths registered in England and Wales (12,456) was 20 per cent higher than the average number of deaths for this period over the past five year.

The ONS added that all regions in England had recorded a higher number of deaths than the five-year average for the third week in a row.

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