England is counting anyone who has died there and had a coronavirus test come back positive at any point as a coronavirus death, Public Health England announced Friday.
This comes after the British government ordered a review of how daily coronavirus death figures in England are tallied after some claimed that the figures were inflated.
“Although it may seem straightforward, there is no WHO agreed method of counting deaths from COVID-19,” said Dr. Susan Hopkins, England’s public health incident director. “In England, we count all those that have died who had a positive COVID test at any point, to ensure our data is as complete as possible.”
Hopkins noted that the coronavirus is “a new and emerging infection and there is increasing evidence of long term health problems for those affected.”
On some days, England has seen more than 100 daily virus-related deaths as opposed to none in the other parts of the United Kingdom, according to the Associated Press.
“A patient who has tested positive, but successfully treated and discharged from hospital, will still be counted as a COVID death even if they had a heart attack or were run over by a bus three months later,” said Yoon Loke and Carl Heneghan, two leading health professionals in the country, who added that a “statistical flaw” has occurred, leading to an inflated tally by Public Health England.
“By this PHE definition, no one with COVID in England is allowed to ever recover from their illness,” the pair wrote in a recent blog post. They also recommended time limits, such as 28 days in Scotland and Northern Ireland, after which people are determined to be free of COVID-19.
More than 45,000 people have been recorded as dying from the coronavirus in the U.K. Of those, around 90% occurred within 28 days of a positive test, the department said.
Of those who died after 28 days, COVID-19 was stated as the main cause of death on the death registration form for 47%.
Health officials explained that counting only those who died within 28 days of a positive virus test “would include 35,664 deaths, and exclude 4,149 deaths in people with laboratory confirmed infection.”
After experiencing a peak in mid-March, coronavirus cases in the U.K. fell to fewer than 1,000 per day in July.
Some pundits and medical experts have questioned how coronavirus death tolls in the United States and around the world are being calculated, as well as their accuracy. In Florida, local television station FOX 35 in Orlando found discrepancies in how positivity rates percentages are being reported by the state.