Coronavirus no longer the leading cause of death in England and Wales for first time since October

Ellen Manning
·3-min read
Red hearts that form the National Covid Memorial Wall, a tribute to the 150,000-plus British victims of the Coronavirus pandemic on 1st April 2021, in London, United Kingdom. Bereaved family and friends of Covid-19 victims have started working on the wall located outside St Thomas' Hospital. (Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images)
ONS figures show coronavirus was no longer the leading cause of death in England and Wales. (Getty)

Coronavirus was no longer the leading cause of death in England and Wales in March – for the first time since October, new figures have shown.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in both countries in March - making up 9.2% of all fatalities registered in England and 6.3% in Wales.

The virus was the leading causing of death every month from November to February. 

According to the ONS data, the leading cause of death in England in March was dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, accounting for 10.1% of all deaths registered that month, while in Wales it was ischaemic heart disease which made up 11.8% of all fatalities that month.

ONS figures showed that COVID-19 dropped from being the leading cause of death in England and Wales in March for the firs time since October. (ONS)
ONS figures showed that COVID-19 dropped from being the leading cause of death in England and Wales in March for the firs time since October. (ONS)

The data comes a day after the government said a further 22 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19 as of Wednesday, bringing the UK total to 127,327.

Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have been 151,000 deaths registered in the UK where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

Read more: Sweden threatens new crackdown if COVID infection rate doesn't go down

The figures also come on the same day health secretary Matt Hancock said the number of patients admitted to hospital with coronavirus had dropped to the lowest level since September.

Hancock tweeted to say the figure stood at under 2,000 - a stark contrast to the 37,475 people in hospital with coronavirus on January 18.

The health secretary also celebrated figures of the ongoing vaccine rollout, saying more than 43 million people have been vaccinated so far – 33,139,742 with a first dose and 10,775,817 with a second.

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The positive data comes as the UK moves towards the next phase of its roadmap out of lockdown. 

Non-essential retail, hairdressers, gyms and outdoor hospitality reopened on April 12 and have seen Brits enjoying a return to some kind of normality

The next step is due on 17 May when indoor hospitality can reopen and there could potentially be a return of international travel for leisure.

However, some experts have warned of a third wave of coronavirus and urged caution in the easing of restrictions.

Earlier in April, Dr Mike Tildesley, from the University of Warwick and a member of the Spi-M modelling group which advises the government, said “there may well be” a third wave in the UK but probably not as high as some modelling predicts.

He said there could be a potential rise in infections as more social mixing is permitted.

Professor Sir Mark Walport, former chief scientific adviser to the government, said “very good progress” was being made on the roadmap but a third wave was possible if the brakes were taken off completely.

Watch: How England will leave lockdown