The coronavirus death toll has fallen in every region of England and Wales for the first time since the pandemic began, figures show.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Tuesday that all areas of the two countries had a weekly decrease in the percentage of deaths involving COVID-19.
The South East had the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in the week ending 1 May, meaning it was the first time that London wasn’t the worst affected area.
There were 966 deaths involving COVID-19 in the South East that week, compared to 910 in the North West and 785 in London, 651 in the West Midlands and 281 in Wales.
The number of deaths involving COVID-19 in the UK has now passed 40,000, according to the latest available data.
For the first time, all regions showed a decrease in the percentage of deaths involving #COVID19 in week 18.— Office for National Statistics (ONS) (@ONS) May 12, 2020
The South East had the highest number of COVID-19 deaths, making this the first week that London did not have the highest count https://t.co/39Ojm53jhG pic.twitter.com/RLCHQfWrMK
Tuesday’s ONS figures show there were 35,044 deaths involving COVID-19 in England and Wales up to May 1 (and which were registered up to 9 May).
Together with the latest figures from Scotland and Northern Ireland, and hospital patients in England who died between 2 and 10 May, the overall total is more than 40,000.
It means the UK has the highest death toll in Europe and is second worldwide only to the US.
Latest coronavirus news, updates and advice
The ONS figure of 35,044 deaths is 33% higher than the 26,251 reported by the Department of Health and Social Care for the same period.
This is because the ONS figures include all mentions of COVID-19 on a death certificate, including suspected COVID-19, and are based on the date that deaths occurred.
The Department of Health figures are based on when deaths were reported, and are for deaths where a person has tested positive for COVID-19.
The ONS also said care home deaths accounted for 40% of coronavirus-related fatalities registered in England and Wales in the week ending 1 May, with at least 10,535 of all deaths to date taking place outside hospitals.
Watch the video below
Of the 6,035 deaths linked to COVID-19 and registered in the week ending 1 May, 2,423 (40%) were in care homes, compared with 3,214 (53%) in hospitals.
This weekly number of care home deaths is a slight dip from 2,794 in the previous seven days and is the first week-on-week decrease since 20 March, the ONS said.
Of all deaths involving coronavirus up to 1 May, 22,873 took place in hospitals, while 10,535 were elsewhere.
In the week ending 1 May, there were 17,953 deaths registered across England and Wales – a decrease for the second week running.
But Nick Stripe, head of health analysis at the ONS, said this is still about 8,000 deaths above the average for this time of year.
Speaking to BBC News, he said: “That is about 4,000 lower than it was the week before but it is still 8,000 above the average that we would expect to see in this week at this time of year.
“So it is actually the seventh highest weekly total since this data set started in 1993 so we have had four out of the top seven weeks in the last four weeks.”