SCOTLAND recorded the highest number of peacetime excess deaths in 129 years in 2020 as the pandemic led to 6,324 more deaths than the average previous five years.

The stark figures statistics, from the National Records of Scotland , have been labelled "absolutely tragic".

Scottish Labour has claimed the SNP has been "slow to act and slow to learn from its mistakes" during the pandemic.

They show a provisional total of 64,084 people died last year – compared to an average of 57,760 in the previous five years – highlighting a staggering 6,324 excess deaths.

Of the 6,834 deaths involving Covid-19 between March and December 2020, 93 per cent had at least one pre-existing condition, with dementia and Alzheimer’s the most common.

Excess deaths are a measure of how many more people than would have been expected, based on the previous five years of data.

If wartime years are included in the analysis, 2020 would have been the highest number of excess deaths since 1940 – where there were 7,094 more deaths than expected, all civilians but included casualties from bombing.

But in peacetime years, 2020 recorded the highest number of excess deaths since 1891.

People living in the most deprived areas were 2.2 times as likely to die with Covid-19 than those in the least deprived parts of Scotland.

The most recent NRS statistics show 7,448 people have now died in Scotland with confirmed or suspected coronavirus.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland's vaccination rollout 'not lagging behind'

Scottish Conservatives health spokesperson, Donald Cameron, said: “The number of excess deaths to occur in Scotland last year is absolutely tragic and my thoughts are with those who are grieving the loss of a loved ones.

“It is clear that there are serious questions for the SNP to answer as to why there have been so many deaths and why mistakes appear to have been made when it comes to protecting our most ‘at risk’ individuals.”

He added: “Our care homes in particular have been badly let down during this pandemic by the SNP, who have failed to set up a public inquiry to find out what went wrong there, as the Scottish Conservatives have repeatedly called for.

“As we continue to fight rising hospital admissions, SNP Ministers must guarantee that every measure has been put in place to stop the number of deaths from spiralling even higher.”

Scottish Labour interim leader, Jackie Baillie, said:  “Scotland’s Covid-19 death rate is among the highest in the world, and our thoughts are with every family which has lost a loved one due to Covid-19 and the consequences of the pandemic.

"In many instances since last March, the SNP government has been slow to act and slow to learn from its mistakes.

"The people of Scotland don’t want a government which congratulates itself over questionable comparisons with other UK nations - they want a government which takes responsibility and puts saving lives and livelihoods first.”

Boris Johnson warned “there will be more to come” when asked about the record daily number of Covid-19 deaths, which reached a total of 1,820 across the UK today.

The 1,820 people who have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Wednesday, brings the UK total to 93,290.