THE number of coronavirus fatalities in Scotland looks set to be much higher than reported.

New figures published by National Records of Scotland (NRS) reveal that 354 people who died between March 18 and April 5 had Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate.

Until now, the Government – through Health Protection Scotland (HPS) – has only been able to publish the number of deaths where the patient who died had been tested for coronavirus.

In effect, that meant only those who died in hospital were counted in the daily toll.

The NRS figures include those patients as well as people who haven’t been tested for the virus, but where doctors believe it was a contributory factor to the death.

That should mean those who die at home and those who die in care homes will be counted.

Nicola Sturgeon said the weekly report would paint a “truer” picture of how the pandemic was affecting Scotland.

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By way of comparison, the HPS figures for the same time period had the total number of deaths at 220.

The new statistics also reveal more details about the spread of the disease.

The first mention of Covid-19 in a death registration was the week beginning March 16, 2020.

Over three weeks ago, the virus was responsible for 1% of all deaths in Scotland.

Two weeks ago that number rose to 6%, and last week it hiked up to 16% of all deaths.

The total number of deaths registered in Scotland from March 30 to April 5 was 1741. The average number of deaths registered in the same week over the last five years was 1098.

Coronavirus was implicated in 282 of those extra 643 deaths.

Over 60% of all deaths (222) involving coronavirus were people aged 75 or over, though the virus has also been responsible for four deaths in the 15 to 44-year-old age bracket, 44 in the 45 to 64 age group, and 82 in the 65 to 74 year old demographic.

No-one under 15 years old has died from the virus in Scotland.

Analysis of the data by age and gender shows that males aged between 75 and 84 are the highest risk group.

Greater Glasgow and Clyde has recorded the highest number of Covid-19 deaths in the year up to April 5, with 122 deaths registered, just under a third of the Scottish total.

Next is Lanarkshire with 48, ahead of Lothian on 41.

Ayrshire and Arran are both on 27, while Tayside is on 17.

Borders and Highland are on 16, with Fife on 15, and Aberdeen and Dumfries and Galloway on 12.

To date, no Covid-19 related deaths have been registered in Orkney and Western Isles. There has been one in Shetland.

The new figures from the NRS – which are recorded by date of registration rather than date of death – will be published every Wednesday.

The First Minister said this new weekly total would “almost certainly be more accurate” than the HPS totals.

“These breakdowns show that those who are older are more likely to die of Covid-19 but they show that nobody is immune, so everybody should follow the instructions,” Sturgeon said.

She continued: “This information is also essential to help us understand who is most severely impacted by the virus and where there are any hotspots. It also helps us plan for beds in hospitals and when the peak is likely to pass.

“I understand that the figures can make us feel powerless and something we can’t see or feel is taking lives, but by following the rules and by self-isolating, all of us can help to reduce the number of deaths.”

The Government will still announce the daily HPS totals.

Yesterday, it was revealed that under this system of reporting, there had been a further 70 deaths in Scotland in the previous 24 hours, taking the total to 366.

210 Scots are in intensive care.

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