The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has reduced the coronavirus death toll by more than 5,000 following a review of how figures are calculated.

Officials said as of Wednesday August 12 the number of all deaths in patients testing positive for Covid-19 in the UK within 28 days was 41,329.

Earlier Government figures said 46,706 people had died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK, as of 5pm on Tuesday.

Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have been 56,800 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

The DHSC said the change came after the UK Government and devolved administrations agreed to publish the number of deaths that have occurred within 28 days of a positive lab-confirmed Covid test result each day.

Previously deaths were included for anyone who had died following a positive coronavirus test at any point.

But Health Secretary Matt Hancock last month ordered an urgent review into how Public Health England (PHE) calculates daily Covid-19 death figures.

It came after researchers criticised “statistical flaws” in the way the deaths are reported across England.

A new set of figures showing the number of deaths that occur within 60 days of a positive test will also be published weekly in England, the DHSC said.

Deaths that occur after 60 days will also be added to these figure if Covid-19 appears on the death certificate, it added.

Professor John Newton, director of health improvement at PHE, said: “The way we count deaths in people with Covid-19 in England was originally chosen to avoid underestimating deaths caused by the virus in the early stages of the pandemic.

“Our analysis of the long-term impact of the infection now allows us to move to new methods, which will give us crucial information about both recent trends and overall mortality burden due to Covid-19.”

The DHSC said that the new methodology follows the recommendation of the four UK chief medical officers that a “single consistent” measure should be adopted across the four countries.

In its review PHE considered epidemiological evidence to see how likely it was that Covid-19 was a contributory factor to a death at different points in time after a positive test, the department added.

Analysis of data in England found 96% of deaths occurred within 60 days or had Covid-19 on the death certificate while 88% of deaths occurred within 28 days, the DHSC said.

The DHSC said that the new methodology had been peer reviewed by independent academics to ensure that the best possible indicators are used, and that the methods are applied consistently across the nations of the UK.

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