Deaths in England’s July heatwave up 7% on rest of the month

ONS says deaths peaked on day of record 40C temperatures, and Covid deaths were also higher on hot days

The daily number of deaths in England was higher during the July heatwave than in the rest of the month, Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show.

On average there were 1,224 deaths a day during July’s three “heat periods”, as labelled by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), which was 7% higher than the daily average across the rest of the month.

The three heat periods were between 10 July and 22 July, 23 and 25 July and 30 and 31 July.

On 19 July, when temperatures exceeded 40C for the first time on record in the UK, the number of deaths in England peaked at 1,775.

The figures also show that the number of deaths due to coronavirus in England during the heat periods was on average almost a third higher than the number on other days.

The ONS said excess deaths during this period could be due to a combination of factors, and not just the heatwave. “Further investigation is required to understand this fully, including more deaths being registered,” it said.

The figures mark the first analysis of deaths during heatwave periods in 2022. Official statistics on the number of excess deaths – the number of deaths more than would usually be expected – will be published by the UKHSA after the summer.

In 2021 the agency estimated that 1,634 more people died during heatwave periods than otherwise would have done. Older people are particularly affected by heat: 90% of excess deaths during heatwaves in 2021 were among people aged 65 and older. In 2020, this age group made up 87% of the 2,556 excess heatwave deaths recorded.

In Wales, there were an average of 83 deaths on heat-period days last month, 12% higher than an average of 74 on other days. Deaths due to Covid-19 in Wales averaged four on heat-period days, compared with three on other days.

The Met Office issued its first red warning for extreme heat in July, saying amid high temperatures “illness and death may occur among the fit and healthy and not just in high-risk groups”.

The weather also led to a drought being declared in England in August, after the driest July in England since 1935.


Tobi Thomas and Michael Goodier

The GuardianTramp

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