How many people have really died from coronavirus in Lancashire?

The coronavirus pandemic has claimed hundreds of lives in Lancashire.

Saturday, 16th May 2020, 3:45 pm

But saying exactly how many is surprisingly difficult.

There are a range of statistics being published - so we know there have been at least 678 deaths linked to Covid-19 in the county - but none of them alone give us the full picture.

Each day we are told how many people have died with the virus in hospital, including more than 170 in Preston and Chorley since the start of the crisis.

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We know Covid-19 has played a part in more than 600 deaths in Lancashire since the start of the coronavirus pandemic - but saying exactly how many more is surprisingly difficult.

But this does not include those who have died in other places - such as care homes or their own homes. And getting a true figure for Lancashire is difficult because some hospital trusts operate across county boundaries.

We have also been able to report the number of deaths linked to Covid-19 in each neighbourhood. But those figures only include deaths before April 18 - and we know many more people have died since then.

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So the total of 678 deaths in Lancashire - which includes 64 in Chorley and 57 in Preston - is the most comprehensive figure we have. But we know more people will have died in the two weeks since May 1.

And, of course, it remains possible more people will have been infected but were never diagnosed. So the true total could be higher still.

Other figures from the ONS show that while we know of 34,000 deaths linked to coronavirus across the UK, the number of deaths over and above what would normally be expected at this time of year is around 50,000 since the start of the pandemic.

While those deaths will include some that had nothing to do with Covid-19, by comparing them to the average number of deaths at the same time in previous years, it gives a strong indication of the overall impact of the virus. This would include people avoiding going to hospital for other health complaints due to concerns linked to Covid-19, or those with long-term conditions made worse by being in lockdown.

So the true toll of the virus in Lancashire is likely to go beyond the official figures published so far - and while the number of deaths is falling, there are fears of a second peak.

The head of the ONS, Prof Sir Ian Diamond, said: “We are through the current peak.

“It does seem to me we need to be worried as a nation that as we come through this current peak we do not seed another one.”