Men, over 75s, and people in urban or deprived areas more likely to die with Covid-19

Men, the over 75s, and people in urban or deprived areas are all more likely to die with Covid-19, according to the latest report from the National Records of Scotland (NRS).

The Registrar General’s Annual Review of Demographic Trends was released yesterday.

It shows that to Sunday September 27, there were 4,257 deaths registered in Scotland where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

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Men are 1.4 times as likely to die with the virus than women, and mortality rates are over four times higher in large urban areas than in remote rural areas.

Those in the most deprived areas are over twice as likely to die as those in the least deprived areas.

Midlothian had the second-highest age-standardised death rate in the country, at 294 per 100,000 people.

Edinburgh was 10th, at 198 per 100,000, with East Lothian and West Lothian sitting further down the table at 152 and 139 respectively.

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The oldest age groups have been most affected, with more than three quarters of deaths among those aged 75 and over.

To date 47% of Covid-19 deaths have been in hospitals. Another 46% were in care homes and 7% at home or non-institutional settings.

In the early stages of the pandemic most deaths were in hospitals, but this was then overtaken by care home deaths, with the proportion now more or less equal.

The report also revealed Covid-19-related deaths rose sharply in the first six weeks of the pandemic and then fell at a slower rate, taking 11 weeks to get back to the level seen in the first week. Since then numbers have remained low.

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At publication here had been 47,410 deaths in Scotland from all causes in 2020, 4,306 excess deaths compared to the average over the last five years. There had been 2,512 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.

Pete Whitehouse, Director of Statistical Services said: “Understanding Scotland’s population plays an important role in monitoring the impact of Covid-19, and allowing us to analyse the effect of the pandemic.

NRS will continue to publish regular statistics and analysis on deaths involving CovidOVID-19, as well as monthly numbers of births and deaths. Next spring we will release our first population estimates that take the pandemic into account, and next autumn we will publish the first statistics on how it has affected life expectancy in Scotland.”

The report is largely devoted to more general population trends in Scotland as of 2019, but also examined Covid-19-related deaths.

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It also revealed that 2019 saw the lowest number of births in Scotland since records began in 1855.

Fewer than 50,000 births were registered, along with an all-time low of marriages at just over 26,000.

But Scotland’s population was at a record high at 5.46 million. Deaths have outnumbered births in Scotland for the last five years, meaning that the recent population increase is due to immigration.

Edinburgh and Midlothian are the fastest-growing population areas, both up by 13 percent in the decade to 2019. East Lothian was up by nine percent.

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Midlothian is projected to see the highest population growth in the country over the next decade, at 13.8 percent to 2028.

East Lothian is forecast to grow 7.2 percent, and Edinburgh 6.6. percent. Population in West Lothian is projected to increase 5.0 percent.

The current population of Edinburgh was estimated at 524,930. There were 4,266 deaths registered in 2019, 2618 marriages and 23 civil partnerships, the highest number of any council area in the country.

The Scottish population as a whole is ageing, with 42,000 fewer people under the age of 20 than there were in 2009, and 174,000 more people over 65.

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Life expectancy, which had been improving for several decades, has now stalled over the last five years at around 77 years for men and 81 years for women.

Births were at an all-time low. It is expected that birth rates for 2020 will not be much affected by Covid-19, as most babies born this year will have been conceived before the pandemic started.

About one in five people in Scotland live alone, according to projections based on 2018 data, with single-person households making up more than a third of the country’s households.

Older people are more likely to fall into this group, with nearly one in two women and one in four men over 70 living alone.

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In contrast to the rest of Scotland, in Edinburgh and Glasgow the average household size is increasing, in Edinburgh by 5 percent in the decade to 2019.

Conservative Lothian MSP Miles Briggs said of the population growth in the Lothians: “Edinburgh and the Lothians have the fastest growing populations in Scotland and we need the infrastructure to go with it.

“Edinburgh city bypass is already at capacity and developments, such as Sheriffhall junction, are crucial for reducing congestion for commuters.

“A growing population and more houses, will mean more schools and more teachers, who we are already short on under this SNP Government.

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“Investment in NHS Lothian will be key to meeting increased demand due to a growing population and fair funding for NHS Lothian, under the NRAC fourmla, is something I will continue to campaign for.

“SNP Ministers failure to implement an effective workforce plan means that we are already under resourced for the number of doctors and nurses needed in Lothian.”

Brian Sloan, Chief Executive of Age Scotland, warned that the ageing population will put further pressure on services.

"It’s vital that our health and social care services are prepared for the changing population. The last six months have shown just how much pressure our care services are under. With more older people living alone, demand is only going to keep rising,” he said.

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“There’s also a clear need for more accessible, energy efficient, and age-friendly housing. Most older people want to live independently as long as possible, but far too many are stuck in unsuitable, hard-to-heat homes.”

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