Coronavirus: Minister denies ‘grotesquely’ underestimating front line COVID-19 deaths

Claims the government is “grotesquely underestimating” the number of coronavirus-related deaths among front line NHS staff and carers, have been denied.

According to official figures, 43 people who work in care homes or in the NHS have died as result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, during an interview, ITV’s Piers Morgan showed culture secretary Oliver Dowden a newspaper report that suggested the real figure was 80.

The minister insisted he was using the most “up to date” numbers available to him.

Mr Dowden was also accused of downplaying the number of people who had died with coronavirus that were in care homes – which is believed to be in the region of 7,500 – much higher than official data.

He said: “We have figures from the ONS (Office for National Statistics) which is 217 but of course the figure is much larger than that because there’s a time lag with those.

“I’m using the most up-to-date figures I have been given, and the figure I was given this morning is the one I quoted to you. I have told you the figures we currently have. Of course there is a time lag with non-hospital figures.

“With hospitals, we get those figures out very rapidly and that gives you a snapshot, and that is comparable with other countries around the world.”

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