Scotland has recorded more than 23,000 deaths which the second highest number of winter deaths in 30 years.

There were 23,370 deaths registered during the four months of winter between December 2020 and March 21 — a total of 4,330 higher than the average before and after that period.

The number of deaths was 10% higher than the average of the previous five winters, according to the National Records of Scotland (NRS).

The seasonal increase in mortality of 4,330 for winter 2020-21 was the second highest in more than 20 years.

Covid-19 caused 2,850 of the 4,330 additional deaths, accounting for almost two thirds of cases (65.8%).

Only winter 2017-18 had a larger seasonal increase (4,810) since the turn of the millennium.

The other causes of death with the largest seasonal increases last winter were dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease – both with 210 additional deaths each.

Very few deaths were directly due to cold weather such as hypothermia, the NRS said, while mental, behavioural or nervous system conditions resulted in 70 additional deaths, and cancer accounted for 60.

Accidental falls was recorded as the underlying cause of 50 additional deaths.

Pete Whitehouse, director of statistical services at the NRS, said: “These figures show again the significant impact Covid-19 had on Scotland last winter.

“Compared to the average of the previous five winters, the winter of 2020/21 saw a 10% higher level of mortality, with the majority of additional deaths being due to Covid-19.”

Last winter, of those aged 85 and over there were 13 additional deaths per 1,000 of the population, compared with fewer than one death per 1,000 amongst those aged under 65.