Europe's worst-hit Covid zones laid bare: Time-lapse map reveals death rates were NINE times higher than normal in parts of Italy during darkest days of pandemic

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  • Bergamo, in Italy, logged 156.1 deaths per 100,000 people at the peak in 2020
  • The figure is 800.5 per cent higher than the average for that time of year

Deaths were nine times higher than normal in parts of Europe during the darkest days of Covid, official figures show. 

Bergamo, a city in northern Italy, recorded 156.1 deaths per 100,000 people in the week to March 20 in 2020 — 800.5 per cent higher than the average for that time of year.

This means it logged Europe’s deadliest spell during the Covid crisis, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). 

For comparison, Birmingham, where deaths spiked most in the UK, saw a 239.5 per cent rise during mid-April.

Nationally, Italy, the first European nation to be engulfed by the virus, saw deaths skyrocket the most.

In the UK, Birmingham logged the highest death rate compared to the pre-pandemic average, with a spike 239.5 per cent in the week to April 17, 2020. London (220.8 per cent), Manchester (206.8 per cent) and Cardiff (146.6 per cent) logged their peaks in deaths that same week

In the UK, Birmingham logged the highest death rate compared to the pre-pandemic average, with a spike 239.5 per cent in the week to April 17, 2020. London (220.8 per cent), Manchester (206.8 per cent) and Cardiff (146.6 per cent) logged their peaks in deaths that same week

The bars shows the percentage of weeks between January 2020 and July 2022 when the death rate was above the average and larger among the under-65s than elderly

The bars shows the percentage of weeks between January 2020 and July 2022 when the death rate was above the average and larger among the under-65s than elderly

The ONS looked at relative age-standardised mortality rate across Europe for every week between December 28, 2019 and July 1, 2022.

The figures show the difference between the death rate logged for each of these weeks compared to the average logged between 2015 and 2019.

Nationally, statisticians found that the peak in death rates was logged by Italy in the week to March 27, 2020, when 74.1 per cent more people died than expected.

Italy was the first country in Europe to be swept by Covid. It spotted its first case in February 2020, in the northern region of Lombardy, and its first wave of deaths peaked in March.

The nation’s high death toll has been put down to its ageing population and overstretched healthcare system.  

Revealed: Europe’s worst-hit Covid zones 

The percentages show the difference between the average death rate logged between 2015 and 2019 and the peak deaths logged in 2020. 

Bergamo, Italy: 800.5 per cent 

El Hierro, Spain: 621 per cent

Segovia, Spain: 620.4 per cent

Cremona, Italy: 554.6 per cent

Piacenza, Italy: 478.4 per cent

Brescia, Italy: 474.3 per cent

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Spain (138.5 per cent) and France (50.2 per cent) logged their peak one week later, with deaths concentrated around Madrid and Paris.

The UK saw the most deaths in the week ending April 17, 2020, when there was 38 deaths per 100,000 people — 97.9 per cent higher than expected.

Deaths in England (38.7 per 100,000, 107.6 per cent) and Wales (34.8 per 100,000, 68.7 per cent) spiked that same week.

The fatality rate in Scotland skyrocketed in the week to April 10 (37.4 per 100,000, 71.7 per cent), while deaths reached their highest point in Northern Ireland in the week ending April 24 (28.7 per 100,000, 48.2 per cent).

The ONS broke down rates by areas — called Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics — of which there are 179 in the UK and 1,166 in Europe.

After Bergamo, El Hierro, one of the Canary Islands, logged the highest spike in death rates in 2020 (621 per cent), followed by Segovia, northern Spain, (620.4 per cent) and Cremona, northern Italy (554.6 per cent).

In 2021, El Hierro (595.7 per cent), Lungau, south west Austria (389.1 per cent), and Mayotte, a French overseas territory (379.1 per cent) saw the biggest increases.

The largest spike in deaths in 2022 were reported in Lungau (376 per cent), Außerfern in Austria (228.9 per cent) and Eilean Siar in Scotland (184.1 per cent).

The graph shows the age-standardised mortality rate in London per week between December 28, 2019 and July 1, 2022. The figures signal the difference between the death rate logged for each of these weeks compared to the average logged between 2015 and 2019

The graph shows the age-standardised mortality rate in London per week between December 28, 2019 and July 1, 2022. The figures signal the difference between the death rate logged for each of these weeks compared to the average logged between 2015 and 2019

The ONS also examined which areas saw high excess deaths for the longest period. Bucharest, in Romania, recorded a death rate at least 50 per cent higher than expected for a quarter of all weeks over the 30-month period

The ONS also examined which areas saw high excess deaths for the longest period. Bucharest, in Romania, recorded a death rate at least 50 per cent higher than expected for a quarter of all weeks over the 30-month period

The ONS also examined which areas saw high excess deaths for the longest period.

Bucharest, in Romania, recorded a death rate at least 50 per cent higher than expected for a quarter of all weeks over the 30-month period. 

It was followed by Sofia, in Bulgaria (17 per cent), and Birmingham (9.4 per cent). 

In the UK, Birmingham logged the highest death rate compared to the pre-pandemic average, with a spike 239.5 per cent in the week to April 17, 2020.

London (220.8 per cent), Manchester (206.8 per cent) and Cardiff (146.6 per cent) logged their peaks in deaths that same week. 

Since the pandemic began, nearly 7million virus deaths have been reported to the World Health Organization. The UK has logged around 230,000 fatalities whose death certificate has mentioned Covid as one of the causes.




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