THE number of excess deaths in the UK since the coronavirus outbreak began is nearly 60,000.

It means only Spain has a higher coronavirus death rate among countries that collect comparable data, analysis by the Financial Times found.

Its research suggests Covid-19 has directly or indirectly killed 891 people per million in the UK, the highest rate among any countries which produce similar statistics aside from Spain.

The UK had been the worst-hit country by that measure until Spain updated its figures this afternoon, increasing its death rate to 921 per million.

Only the US has recorded a higher overall number of excess deaths than the UK.

Tuesday's figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), showing 53,960 excess deaths in England and Wales between March 21 and May 15 2020, follow figures last week showing the equivalent numbers for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The National Records of Scotland found there were 4434 excess deaths in Scotland between March 23 and May 17, while the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency put the figure for Northern Ireland at 834 excess deaths between March 21 and May 15.

Together, this means the total number of excess deaths in the UK across this period now stands at 59,228.

All figures are based on death registrations.

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The ONS figures also show that there were 42,173 deaths involving Covid-19 in England and Wales up to May 15 (and which were registered up to May 23).

This compares with 31,944 deaths of people testing positive for Covid-19 reported by the Department of Health and Social Care for the same period.

The ONS total is 32% higher than the Department of Health total.

This is because the ONS figures include all mentions of Covid-19 on a death certificate, including suspected Covid-19, and are based on the date that deaths occurred.

The Department of Health figures are based on when deaths were reported, and are for deaths where a person has tested positive for Covid-19.

A UK Government spokesperson said it was “wrong and premature to be drawing conclusions at this stage” and that excess deaths should be adjusted for age. 

They added: “We will, of course, learn lessons from our response to this virus, but these must be drawn from an accurate international analysis in the future.”