Lockdown could kill 75,000 from cancelled ops, missed diagnoses and recession, official Sage meeting forecast reveals
THE coronavirus lockdown could kill 75,000 Brits due to cancelled operations, missed diagnoses and a deep recession, an official SAGE meeting forecast reveals.
Research presented to the group of key advisers lays bare the devastating hidden impact of lockdown on public health – as Downing Street mulls whether to introduce further restrictions this winter.
The 188-page document, seen by the Daily Mail, reveals that 16,000 Brits died in care homes and hospitals in March and April alone, as health services were almost entirely consumed by the fight against the virus.
It estimates that 26,000 more people will die within a year if people continue to stay away from A&E over fears of contracting the virus in hospital.
A further 31,900 deaths could occur over the next five years as a result of missed cancer diagnoses, cancelled operations or the health impacts of a recession, the document claims.
The estimates were drawn up by civil servants from the Department of Health, the Office for National Statistics and the Home Office and presented to SAGE at a meeting on July 15, the Mail reports.
However the document emphasises that the coronavirus could have killed 400,000 Brits had a lockdown not been imposed in March – with the figure rising to 1.4 million if the NHS was overwhelmed.
It reads: "We estimate changes to emergency care may account for 6,000 existing excess deaths in March and April 2020.
"If emergency care in hospitals continues to be low for a full 12 months, this could result in an additional 10,000 excess deaths.
"We estimate there were approximately 10,000 non-Covid-19 excess deaths of care home residents in March and April 2020… there could be an additional 16,000 non-Covid-19 excess deaths over 12 months in care home residents."
Stretched across a five year period, officials believe that 12,500 fatalities could occur because of cancelled operations.
When added to coronavirus fatalities, the total number of deaths as a result of the pandemic will stand at 101,000 in the UK by next March.
This could rise to almost 150,000 in five years, according to the estimates.
Professor Chris Gale, a cardiologist at the University of Leeds, told the paper: "These are deaths that should not have happened.
"We were in full lockdown and the message to stay at home was taken literally. People were not seeking care and many died as a result.
"The indirect death toll may well end up surpassing the direct toll of Covid."
However, the document also acknowledges that the lockdown has prevented around 4,000 fatalities as a result of "healthier lifestyles in the short-term".
Factors including better air quality, a reduction in road accidents and less childhood disease could mean 1,000 less deaths a year.
It comes as a worrying surge in cases nationally has meant that over a quarter of Brits are now living under extra restrictions.
A ban on households mixing in each other's homes came into effect at midnight last night in Wigan, Stockport, Blackpool and Leeds in a bid to stem transmission.
The UK recorded its highest single-day figure of infections yesterday, with 6,874 confirmed cases.
Restrictions are already in place across large swathes of north-west England, West Yorkshire, the North East and the Midlands, as well as parts of west Scotland.
In the latest tightening of national restrictions, the Prime Minister stopped short of imposing another national lockdown but ordered pubs to shut at 10pm.
Ministers have not ruled out a second 'circuit-breaker' lockdown should the virus continue to spread this winter, but are waiting to see whether new restrictions reduce the rate of transmission.
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