THE number of deaths from coronavirus in Scotland last week was the lowest since the start of the lethal outbreak in March. 

The National Records of Scotland said the infection has been implicated in 4,119 deaths by June 21, an increase of 49 on the previous week’s running total.

It was the lowest weekly increase in the total since the first deaths were seen in mid-March, when 10 lives were lost.

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The number of weekly deaths has now fallen for eight consecutive weeks.

However for the second week, the total number of deaths of females exceeded those for males, reversing a clear trend seen for most of the pandemic.

By June 21, 2068 coronavirus deaths were of females and 2015 were of males. 

Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs the figures showed "real and sustained progress" against the disease.

According to death registration figures collated by NRS, total Covid deaths fell last week from 69 to 49, compared to a weekly peak of 659 in mid-April.

Deaths in care homes fell from 35 to 20 last week, while deaths in hospitals rose from 27 to 28. 

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.

In the week to May 31, total deaths in care homes overtook those in hospitals for the first time, with 1,818 in homes and 1,815 on wards since the outbreak began in February.

Last week, the cumulative total was 1,917 deaths in care homes, or 46.6%, and 1,909 on wards, or 46.3%.

However at least another 154 care home residents are known to have died in hospital from Covid, making the total number of care home residents dying from the disease at least 2,071, or just over half of all coronavirus deaths in Scotland.

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

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

The NRS cumulative figure was 67% higher than the 2,472 deaths recorded by HPS as of June 14.

The total number of deaths registered in Scotland from June 15 to 21, from all causes, was 1,058, or just 4% higher than the five-year average of 1,019.

At the peak of the infection, there were 878 excess deaths in a single week.

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Over the 14 week period from 16th March to 21st June, the number of excess deaths was 4,917.  

Of these excess deaths, 2,463 were in care homes which is 72% above average, 2,329 were at home or in non-institutional settings which is 58% above average, and 133 were in hospitals, 2% above average.

NRS Statistical Services Director Pete Whitehouse said: “Since the peak in mid-April, the number of registered Covid-19 related deaths has fallen for eight successive weeks.

“In the week ending 21st June, 49 Covid-19 related deaths were registered, representing the second smallest weekly total since the start of the pandemic in Scotland. 

“At the peak of the pandemic, 36% of all registered deaths referenced Covid-19. 

“The latest weekly figure reports that this is now the case in 5% of registered deaths.”