Nearly 6,400 people with coronavirus have died in care homes in England, with numbers still rising even as the wider outbreak slows, new figures showed Tuesday.
Although care home deaths are now included in the official daily toll, the new data suggests the national figure is underestimating the full extent of the outbreak in Britain -- one of the worst affected countries.
Care homes reported 6,391 deaths where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate to the Care Quality Commission watchdog between April 10 and May 1.
Some 2,044 of those were reported in the last week of that period -- when Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that Britain was "past the peak" of its outbreak.
Total deaths in care settings, including those not related to Covid-19, are also significantly higher than the five-year average for this time of year.
"Almost four times more deaths than we would expect to see at this time of year were registered in that last week," Nick Stripe, head of health analysis at the ONS, told the BBC.
The Department of Health said Monday that 28,734 people in Britain had died with coronavirus, almost on a par with Italy, the worst-hit country in Europe.
But the new ONS figures showed 27,356 deaths by April 24 alone in England and Wales, where coronavirus was mentioned on the death certificate.
Stripe warned against comparing the figures with other countries' death tolls.
"No country reports on death registrations data as fast, frequently, or to such breadth and depth as we can in the UK," he wrote in a message on Twitter.
Stripe said the ONS has recorded a total of around 42,000 so-called "excess deaths" -- how many more people have died in total than would normally be expected -- in the past five weeks.
A total of 21,997 deaths were registered in England and Wales in the week ending on April 24 -- down 354 on the previous week, but 11,539 more than the five-year average.
"We've now seen in the last five registration weeks 38,500 excess deaths across England and Wales," Stripe told BBC television.
"If you add in the latest figures from Scotland and Northern Ireland, that's about 42,000 deaths above average in the last five-week period."