THE total number of coronavirus deaths in Scotland’s care homes now exceeds those in the country’s hospitals.

The grim milestone was confirmed by official weekly data showing Covid-19 has been implicated in 3,911 fatalities up to May 31, up 3.5 per cent on the previous week.

However the number of weekly deaths has now fallen for a fifth consecutive week.

According to death registration figures collated by National Records of Scotland (NRS), total Covid deaths fell last week from 230 to 131, a drop of 43 per cent, and well below the weekly peak of 659 in mid-April.

Deaths in care homes fell from 124 to 68 last week, a fall of 45%, while deaths in hospitals fell from 95 to 42, a fall of 42%.

The number of deaths per week from Covid in care homes has been running ahead of those in hospital since the week ending April 27.

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It is only now that the accumulated total in care homes has overtaken those in hospital. 

The figures show that since the start of outbreak in February and the first death in Scotland in mid-March, 1,818 of the 3,991 deaths or 46.5% have been in care homes.

This compares to 1,815 or 46.4% in hospitals.

However NRS also published data for the first time showing many long-term residents of care homes had died in hospital, and not been counted towards the care home total.

This showed that by May 17, the number of Covid deaths in homes was 1,623 but another 154 care home residents had died on a ward of Covid.

Applying this 9.5% uplift to the latest figures suggests the true number of care home residents who have died of Covid - whether in a home or a hospital - is around 1,990.

This is fractionally below half of all Covid deaths in all locations in Scotland, at 49.8%.   

In England, official statistics suggest only a quarter of deaths are in care homes, leading Nicola Sturgeon to complain there has been "under-reporting" south of the border.

The NRS tally includes cases where suspected Covid-19 was recorded as a factor on the death certificate.

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It is considered more accurate than the daily running total produced by Health Protection Scotland (HPS).

The NRS cumulative figure was 65.5% higher than the 2,363 deaths recorded by HPS as of May 31.

The total number of deaths registered in Scotland from 25th to 31st May, from all causes, was 1,125, or 11% higher than the five-year average of 1,017.