More people in the Braintree district have died at home during the coronavirus pandemic than in the years before it, figures suggest.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show there were 686 deaths at homes in Braintree between the start of 2020 and August 20 this year.

Of those, 427 occurred last year – 90 more than the annual average of 337 recorded between 2015 and 2019.

And so far in 2021 there have been 259 deaths at private homes, compared to an average of 223 for the same period in pre-pandemic years.

Across England and Wales, there were around 99,000 deaths at home in the first 33 weeks of 2021 – 23 per cent more than the five-year average.

By contrast, hospitals saw a three per cent fall, and care homes a five per cent fall.

Around two per cent of the deaths at private homes in Maldon had any mention of Covid-19 on the death certificate, compared to three per cent nationally.

End of life charity Marie Curie said many people across England and Wales avoided hospitals during the crisis because they wanted to protect the NHS, or feared catching coronavirus.

The health service is open and we urge anyone to come forward to seek treatment if they need it

Sam Royston, director of policy and research at Marie Curie, said: “A higher proportion of deaths last year happened at home as people responded to the government advice which was to protect the NHS by staying at home to save lives.

"Many people nearing the end of their lives or living with a terminal illness were fearful of going into hospital and potentially catching the virus, not being able to see their loved ones, and sadly the possibility of dying alone."

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: "The health service is open and we urge anyone to come forward to seek treatment if they need it.

“We are committed to backing the NHS at every turn, ensuring it has everything it needs to provide excellent care to the public and this year we have provided a further £29 billion to support health and care services, including an extra £1 billion to tackle the backlogs that have built up during the pandemic.”