THE number of deaths in Scotland has fallen below the five-year average for the first time in three months, as the rise in fatalities from Covid continues to slow.

The National Records of Scotland said the infection had been implicated in 4,155 deaths by June 28, an increase of just 35 on the previous week’s running total.

It was the lowest weekly increase in the total since the first week of the outbreak in March, when 10 lives were lost.

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

Covid accounted for 3% of all deaths registered last week, down from a peak of 36%.

The total number of deaths in Scotland from June 22 to 28, from all causes, was 1,006, below the five-year average of 1,026, the first time this has happened since late March.

At the Covid peak in April, the total number of deaths was 80% above average, with 878 so-called ‘excess deaths’ in a single week.

At the daily briefing, Nicola Sturgeon said the figures were "very significant" and makred "real and sustained progress" in tackling the disease.

She also confirmed one death overnight from Covid, tackling the total for laboratory-confirmed deaths to 2486, a number than excludes suspected fatalities.

According to latest death registration figures collated by NRS, total Covid deaths fell last week from 49 to 35, compared to weekly peak of 659 in mid-April.

In the 15 weeks since the first Covid death was reported in Scotland, there have been 4,906 above-average excess deaths from all causes.

These include 2,463 excess deaths in care homes, 67% above average; 2,417 excess deaths at home or in non-institutional settings, 56% above average; and 34 excess deaths in hospitals, less than 1% above average. 

After an early peak during April, hospital deaths have now fallen to below average levels.

More than three quarters (77%) of all deaths involving Covid were among the over-75s. 

Deaths in care homes fell from 20 to 16 last week, while deaths in hospitals fell from 28 to 16. 

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 1,934 deaths in care homes, or 46.6%, and 1,925 on wards, or 46.3%.

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 2,482 deaths recorded by HPS as of June 28.

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

"In the week ending 28th June, 35 COVID-19 related deaths were registered, representing the second smallest weekly total since the start of the pandemic in Scotland.

“This week also marks the first time since the start of the pandemic in Scotland that the total number of deaths from all causes is below the five-year average for this time of year.

“Producing these statistics, alongside the other important evidence being made available by the Scottish Government and Health Protection Scotland, provides vital information to help understand the progression and impact of the virus in Scotland.”